at wits end over bedtime - suggestions please!

(25 Posts)
digsydel Mon 13-Jan-14 22:30:27

Hello! This is my first post on here and it's a biggie!

So the title says it all. My 4 month old fights bed times (and nap times for that matter) like her life depends on it. Bar one blissful 2 week period when she was about 2 months old where she would go down relatively easily and sleep for 7 hours, it has for the most part been a constant nightmare trying to get her to sleep. I feel like I've tried everything I "should" be doing and a bunch more I shouldn't and nothing seems to be working. I've tried putting her down awake and putting her down asleep; feeding her to sleep and not feeding her to sleep; a totally dark room and a slightly light room; ignoring her and talking to her; dummy and no dummy; staying with her, leaving her; me putting her down or her dad putting her down etc etc etc and every combination of the above imaginable.

We've had a bedtime routing since she was 7 weeks old that has varied only in that it's got slightly longer by about 10-20 minutes as it was taking too long and pushing over bedtime, but she still puts up a fight. For the record she sleeps in a crib next to our bed although we would like to move her into her own room soon - just not sure whether to do it while her sleeping is a problem already or wait till we get it sorted and potentially break it again - and she's EBF bar the odd time I have a drink on a weekend and she gets a bottle of formula. I have also tried a formula feed before bed time to see if that would help (both in getting her to sleep and to sleep longer) but no such luck.

Bed time is approx 7-7:30 depending on her previous nap (how long and when it was). She doesn't sleep reliably enough during the day or at night for me to have succeeded in implementing a decent sleep routine yet but for the most part she's awake 90-120 minutes between naps and naps 3-4 times a day for anything from 30-90 minutes.

Anyway, here's what we do currently:
1 hr before bed we have a bath - this takes about 25 minutes all in (getting undressed and dressed again etc).
After bath we read a short story once or twice depending on her mood - this takes about 5 minutes max.
I then feed her - this takes about 20 minutes, give or take 5 mins either way.
I then hold her while listening to a lullaby (4 minutes long)
And now we put her down.

Invariably what happens next is that she cries/fusses/plays/does anything to avoid sleep despite obvious signs of tiredness (eye rubbing, yawning etc) until she's gone past the sleep point and headed into overtired territory. Then she starts to get very upset and half an hour later ends up screaming hysterically . Occasionally she starts to fall asleep while eating at which point I TRY to detach her, wind her and get her down without too much fuss but honestly that rarely works - she either gets upset when taken off the breast or she just falls asleep before I get a chance to finish winding her, but then cries when being put down.

Very occasionally all the planets align and I put her down, she oohs and ahs and goes to sleep or sometimes she cries and fusses for a few minutes but allows us or a dummy to soothe her before going to sleep within 5-20 minutes. 7 times out of 10 though we end up still there 1-2-3 hours after she should have been asleep with a hysterically tired baby thats screaming itself hoarse and a mom thats about to have a nervous breakdown and/or sobbing herself.

We do possibly have a teething issue going on as well - the HV said 10 days ago that she can see top teeth under her gums but not to expect them to come through any time soon and in the meantime I think I've spotted bottom ones showing white under the gums too. With that in mind I've tried bonjela and teething powders and on the nights that she seems super upset, calpol but never really noticed them make any difference. Sometimes when nothing else works we can get her to go to sleep on us (and sometimes not even that works) but invariably at the slightest, tiniest motion to put her down she jolts and cries herself awake again.

I am really at my wits end and have no idea what to try next. I will say now though I'm not into any CC or CIO methods - I've lightly dabbled in them and it just makes both of us far too upset. I'm not against a baby crying, but I am against a baby so hysterical it can barely breathe and me ignoring it, be it for 2 minutes or 2 hours which is where either of those methods tends to lead us. I have read the no-cry sleep solution but found it lovely in theory, not so great in practice, not for me anyway. I've also read in to the wonder weeks and 4 month sleep regression but this seems to have been going on for so long and so frequently that I can't seen to tie it in to any real age period that would explain it.

DH and I are on our 6th night straight of it taking in excess of 2 hours to get her to sleep and we're both stressed and exhausted. And honestly, I almost wouldn't mind so much if I thought that was it for a few hours, but her night sleeping is getting worse and she will invariably be awake in a couple of hours again and every couple of hours after that too. And it's the screaming I can't handle, it's just way too emotionally draining for me to hear her like that every night and not seem to find anything that comforts her - as her mother I feel totally useless and it's getting me pretty down and upset

Anyway, if anyone can see where I'm going wrong or has any suggestions that could help I would really appreciate it.
TIA

MamaMolho Mon 13-Jan-14 22:55:48

No advice I'm afraid as my DD is roughly the same age and we have a lot of the same problems as you are having. Used to be ok at sleeping though but took hours to get her to bed, now we have that and she's waking every two hours! Hopefully some wiser people will be along with some good advice for us both. Hope you get a decent night tonight.

Gerty1002 Tue 14-Jan-14 09:32:42

Have you looked into the possibility or reflux, silent or otherwise? Have you tried putting LO on side or front to sleep? I know SIDS guidelines say not to but sometimes you just have to do what works, sleep is vital for you all.

My DS has reflux and sleeps so much better since we put him on his side with a big warm rolled up blanket at his back and a small one at his front... when we put him down it is almost like he is still being cuddled. He then watches the nightlight on his mobile with the lullaby on and sends himself off to sleep. We do get screaming at nap time but eventually this method works once I soothe him again.

However my DS wakes from naps after about 25 mins and it's difficult to get him back over, so it's not fool proof!

digsydel Tue 14-Jan-14 10:33:06

Hi gerty1002

Thanks for the response. I had considered silent reflux however I would have thought (and correct me if I'm wrong please) that it would affect her lying down almost constantly? Instead she's happy to lie and sleep in her pram when moving, or in her cot to play with her mobile or, most importantly, in the middle of the night when she wakes to eat, she (mostly) goes straight back down to sleep again with just a little half asleep fussing. It's really just initially getting her to sleep at bedtime and for naps that's an issue. She also often starts off lying down happily but as time wears on and she gets OT, she starts to get upset.
That said, I do occasionally put her down on her front for naps when nothing else works, and that's got a result a couple of times but not always.

Gerty1002 Tue 14-Jan-14 14:10:42

hmm, perhaps the world is simply too interesting now. I seem to have made a breakthrough with my DS naps... we have a short story and a cuddle before he goes in his cot. Seems to be working, almost like a mini bedtime routine. You may have tried it already but just giving any suggestions I can think of.

plantsitter Tue 14-Jan-14 14:17:08

If she's 4 months and you've tried all that I think maybe you need to concentrate on one me this for a bit.

My preferred routine is pretty much like yours (though my kids are older and don't have a bed time feed). When you've put her in bed, make sure the room is completely dark and stay with her, singing if you like. You have to try the same thing for at least a week in my experience. Also CRUCIAL is that you yourself are calm and thinking 'sleep time now' not panicking about getting her to sleep or in a pleading frame of mind.I know that sounds ridiculous but it's really true.

Having said all that, she is tiny yet. If it is stressing you out I would just keep her up with you for a bit and try again later.

plantsitter Tue 14-Jan-14 14:17:35

Me this =one thing!

Emmasmummy2013 Tue 14-Jan-14 14:57:23

Maybe you should try her in her own room? Will she have a cot in their rather than being in the crib?

The only reason I say that i that my DD would not sleep in her crib! The first 2 weeks she was born me or DH had to hold her otherwise she would simply not sleep. If we put her down in the crib she wouls awake instantly!

Our HV suggested she may prefer a moses basket, so thinking it was worth a try we got a cheap one. It was like a miracle! She slept for 2/3 hour period from then on and would settle pretty quickly, I was sooo relieved.

She has turned into a pretty good sleeper, although saying that the last 4 weeks she has stopped sleeping for as long periods( currently 16 weeks), I'm starting to wonder whether she has actually never slept as well since we transferred her from Moses basket to cot and am considering buying one of these to make it more like a moses basket for her!
https://www.google.co.uk/aclk?sa=l&ai=C2v_NMFDVUsybOOHi7gai8IGYA9_pzNQE56Ceo3CX1a-50wEICRACIN7Nzx4oDVCe4p_4AmC7rq6D0AqgAYmt8vsDyAEHqQJjJDhDo5O7PqoEJk_QPBJzfpOnEpDTtFOlOS2naQXx8KPVBMROJdXTTgu5sELgmoR8wAUFoAYmgAff0o0EkAcC4BKTxq7WpdyD51s&sig=AOD64_3aY-W97_mRa7l7dxwm8FDbBGXwNw&ctype=5&ved=0CGIQ2CkwAQ&adurl=http://clickserve.dartsearch.net/link/click%3Flid%3D93700001498125459%26ds_s_kwgid%3D58700000178202834%26ds_e_adid%3D30089810191%26ds_e_source%3Dpla%26ds_e_product_target_id%3D56760199831%26ds_e_product_id%3D%26ds_url_v%3D2%26ds_dest_url%3Dhttp://www.notonthehighstreet.com/safedreams/product/cot-wrap-four-sided%253Futm_source%253DGoogleShopping%2526utm_medium%253DSale%2526utm_campaign%253D222050

TheABC Thu 16-Jan-14 22:57:23

A few suggestions -please ignore if you have already tried them.

1) Consider an abbreviated bedtime ritual; an hour to prepare may be simply too long for your little one and she may be ready to sleep long before you put her down. Could you watch for the start of her sleepy cues and get her into her pyjamas/quiet room more quickly? Bathtime tends to be very bright and noisy, so it may be worth switching it to the morning.

2) You mentioned she cries when put down. Could you feed/cuddle her to sleep on your bed and then transfer her to her cot, 15mins later, when she has entered the deeper part of her sleep cycle? I do this when DS is extra fussy.

3) If motion soothes her to sleep, would it be worth looking at a hammock crib or rocking cot for her?

4) We found that temperature was the key for DS; he woke up as soon as he was put on cold sheets and started fussing. I now use a fleece liner and a hot water bottle on cold nights. For naps, he gets wrapped in a light blanket before his feed/cuddle, which makes it much easier to put him down.

I hope you do find a solution and get a happy nights sleep.

Midori1999 Fri 17-Jan-14 09:25:50

As was said on the BF thread, I think the problem is largely your expectations and also maybe reading too many of the wrong sort of books... (Sorry!)

It's normal for babies to need to be fed or cuddled to sleep until much older and it's also normal for them to want to be very close to their parents. You won't create any bad habits by doing this, your baby will gradually learn to settle by herself and also naturally become more independent as she gets older.

Personally, I would do whatever it takes for everyone to get the most sleep and/or rest for now. I've got five children and frankly, I'm too knackered to spend any amount of time at all messing about getting children/babies to sleep or in bed. Plus, I'm quite paranoid about SIDS, do follow their advice strictly about keeping baby with me/in the same room for all sleeps and naps until 6 months. So, until at least then, we just fit the baby around us and feed when he's hungry (to sleep if he's tired) and hold/cuddle him all evening. If he's wakeful he has a play on his mat, but he mostly naps and cluster feeds all evening. Then when we go up to bed we either transfer him to his carrycot (usually this only happens if he's been asleep for an hour or so by then) or he comes in the bed next to me. He often sleeps a five hour stretch or longer then, but sometimes he cluster feeds all night and if he does, bed sharing is a life saver. He's 3 months old now.

I appreciate this approach isn't for everyone, but I've done the same or similar with all my children and it is much less hassle in the short term and they have all slept well as older babies/toddlers/children.

Gg21313 Sat 18-Jan-14 11:12:04

Hi, really feel for you as we tried everything too. Have you tried to swaddle. Babies need security and we found our dd woke herself up with all the jerky hand and feet movements. Breastfeed to sleep most night but in shawl, swaddle before feed then seemed to work. Short bedtime routine worked too as from tired signals to actually getting to sleep was too long for our dd. sometimes missed out bath all together as was too much for her.
All the best.

Sounds like mine. I thought I'd create children who could never self settle, but I've two good sleepers and one godawful one, but he's a twin and his twin sleeps so i know its him not me/my methods. The twin who doesn't sleep has reflux. Late diagnosis- he was initially suspected at 11 months, finally on max doses at 15 months. It worked instantly. He did vomit, a lot. We didn't think it was reflux though, we thought it was too full, regular vomit after meals, or too cross, for the regular evening bedtime refusal and vomiting. He'd lie on his back and play. He'd lie on his tummy and play. Other signs I know now (from dietician and paediatrician) were total spoon refusal from 7 months (reflux babies want to control what's going into their mouths) so he totally blw'ed himself, very poor sleep (he first slept a three hour stretch aged 16 months!!) Frequent small feeds.

Your baby could still have reflux. She could just not be ready to self settle. I have always responded to every cry with mine, always fed twin2 to sleep too (the one who self settles and sleeps through now- sometimes anyway). Just do whatever's needed. Oh and white noise really helped my twins. Loud at first, as loud as their loudest cries. Once/if.they settle to it you can turn it down.

abby81 Sat 18-Jan-14 19:37:09

Hi, I don't really have any advice but I am watching with interest. Dd was going thru a shitty sleep patch and altho it's got better ans she only usually wakes twice in the night. We have a similar routine and I start when I see tiredness signs and yet an hour later we are still rocking a screaming baby. I don't know what it is with this screaming malarky, it hurts so much doesn't it!?

Fair enough lots of people say our expectations are too high but its so hard when something works day/week and it doesn't the next!!

Currently my dd is hysterical and has got herself into such a state with dh that I am going to have to intervene.....again. This always happens!!!!! As I said, no advice but I feeeeeeeel ur pain.

digsydel Sat 18-Jan-14 22:03:31

Just an update - I'm in a bit of a state tbh and need to vent.
So I decided yesterday that it was more important that she sleep than how/where/when she sleeps and was willing to give feeding her to sleep and letting her fall asleep on me a go again. I know already from the last couple of weeks that falling asleep while eating isn't working that well - she tends to doze and then wake herself after about 10 minutes all ready to go having had a "power nap". That is exactly what's happened each and every time I've tried that for naps or bedtime in the last 48 hours. As for holding her to sleep / it seemed to work ok for naps yesterday but last night no matter how long I held her for - 5 mins or 50 - as soon as I tried putting her down she would wake upset with 10 minutes if not immediately. I tried to let her sleep on me but ultimately neither of us got much sleep - she never slept for more than a little over an hour straight and I barely slept at all!

Tonight has been just a repeat of the other nights if not worse. We went through our routines and she was showing signs of tiredness as I took her out the bath. She fell asleep while eating, dozed for 10 and then woke ready to play! I alternated between holding her and putting her down -picking her up and holding her again if she started to get upset. We did this for 90 minutes and then suddenly she started to get more and more upset despite being in my arms. Eventually she was screaming hysterically to the point where she stopped breathing and even blowing in her face was only getting desperate short gasps in, not actual breathing, for about 10 seconds.

I'm not sure how I'm going to keep this up. Physically I'm limited- she's a 7kg baby and I can only hold her so long before I get really bad back ache and have to put her down (I've already got torn knee cartilage from carrying her up and down stairs). I'm doing my best but as well as the back ache she's tough to hold when she's upset and I'm covered in scratches and marks on my chest from her hysterics. And emotionally... I'm just not certain how many more nights I can spend sobbing desperately over her as we go through this again and again.

It's worth noting btw that DD has previously been a decent sleeper on and off - up until about 13 weeks she had learnt to go down to sleep on her own with only brief encouragement from us in the sidelines, and she was sleeping 6+ hours before waking. I want to add that for the most part I don't care too much about the waking at night - babies do that. I get it - it's the hysteria trying to get her to bed and the overall lack of sleep that's really worrying me.
She's gone from sleeping 15+ hours a day, 11 of which were overnight (albeit broken) to sleeping 10-11 hours in a 24 hour period. Sometimes as little as 7 overnight. I know there's 4 month sleep regression but this started before Christmas when she was 3 months old so I'm not sure what the issue is. We did have a good patch a couple weeks ago where it seemed it was coming right but after a couple of days it turned and has got progressively worse again.
Also, according to wonder weeks she should be out of her bad stage now although I'm not sure how accurate their time frames are.

I'm sorry if that's really rambling, I'm just exhausted and distressed at the moment and I'm really starting to worry about how this may be affecting her.
Does anyone have anything for me please?!?!??

NoWayNoHow Sat 18-Jan-14 23:31:58

Sounds like you're having a very tough time - sorry to hear it...

I agree with TheABC - sounds like you're maybe taking a little too long over getting her ready for bed. Does she need to bath every night? Does she enjoy it? If not, then she might be upsetting herself before bed time even begins. If she likes it, is she becoming hyper-alert because of it?

Maybe try bringing the routine forward a little and shortening it so that when she's finished chatting or playing in her crib, she'll be ready to sleep rather than past the point of no return? Sorry, all I can think of to try...

Yardarm Sat 18-Jan-14 23:42:24

None of my babies could settle in the evening. From 7-10pm they were unsettled and only liked sleeping in our arms on the sofa or being gently swayed. They grew out of it, but can't remember quite when. Would you consider giving co-sleeping a try? It worked well for me.

Heathbaby Sat 18-Jan-14 23:54:50

You're doing really well!! It is absolutely knackering and emotionally draining when you're doing your best and nothing seems to help. My only advice from my own experience is: everything is in phases - my 6-month old goes through 2 weeks of x pattern, then flips - so don't worry about creating a rod etc, do whatever works; change your expectations and if possible make sure you get a break/ treat yourself at other times so that you can cope with crappy night times; personally, I might try going to bed with her and spending the first part of the night co-sleeping. Sorry if you've tried that and I know it has its downsides, but my dd is calmer when close to me.

It will end. Sending you best wishes.

mumbaisapphirebluespruce Sun 19-Jan-14 00:28:30

Do you play a white noise sound? If you have not tried it I would recommend it. You can download free apps from itunes. Works for us, and helps to soothe baby when distressed and usually has her asleep in minutes.

SoonToBeSix Sun 19-Jan-14 00:45:59

The only thing I would say is 7.30 seems very early for a baby under six months. I have always kept mine downstairs until I went to bed under six months probably older.(SIDS guide lines say they shouldn't sleep in a different room to you even before you go to bed until then anyway.)
I always found that if they dozed a bit downstairs then had a feed and went in their cot around 10 /11 they settled quite easily.

trilbydoll Sun 19-Jan-14 20:59:33

I don't have any wonder cures but DD was the same, really fought sleep. Around 7 months she suddenly got better, we didn't do anything different, but she generally only needs 10 minutes of rocking now.

She also seems to have accepted i don't rock her standing up, DH does but i use the rocking chair.

I hope this gives you some hope! I would not give anyone sleep advice, we rock her to sleep and cosleep, but it has improved over the last few weeks.

Yes. This. My two refluxers did this. My dd, with no reflux issues, screamed like this for hours at bedtime from about 5-9 weeks old and it was so tough. I thought. Til the dts arrived. Both are dairy intolerant. Does a ff affect her? To be fair, mine would never ever have slept 6 hours, ever by then. It'd a recent thing now and they're 21 months!!

But, might be worth discussing with hv/GP/lactation consultant? Not sure they'll help. I was constantly reassured it was 'normal', both were given 'colic' labels. It really delayed me figuring out Dt1 was dairy soya and egg intolerant and Dt2 dairy intolerant. I sobbed, every night, for about their first 8 months. They only slept on one of us and of course if one was asleep, the other was awake. They were so unhappy, I was so unhappy. They got hardly any sleep. Now, they're doing everything, ahead of milestones- talking in 3 word sentences, jumping. Running, they love each other and me. One is very chilled, sleeps through quite regularly. T'other is a nightmare, but he still has big intolerance/reflux issues plus a temper!!! So don't worry about what she'll be like when she's older, she'll be just perfect.

It's very hard though. Just consider keeping a food diary and seeing if eg big dairy days worsen things, consider asking the GP re reflux- back arching, fighting, inconsolable is a sign. Be kind to yourself, you'll get through it.

abby81 Sun 19-Jan-14 21:27:29

Again, I have no advice but was speaking to a health professional friend earlier whi advised me that I should just scrap the expectation of 7.30 bedtime. As someone said below, before 6 months is maybe to early. I only started doing the night time routine after listening to others at a baby group and how they have a night time routine and their babies sleep thru blah blah blah. So tonight I just watched dd and althi I kept the routine ish, I was prepared to bring her back down stairs if she got too upset. In the end she went down so hey ho.

Have u spoken to a health visitor about it? That holding the breath thing sounds scary. Also do u have a carrier you can put her in during the day? Might give your shoulders a bit.more support if u have aches and pains.

I do think u are very strong tho to be able to share and ask for help. You are obviously an awesome, caring Mummy who wants to do the best by her lo. Although that doesn't help with the screaming and lack of sleep!!

digsydel Tue 28-Jan-14 22:05:16

Sorry to bring this up again as I know a lot of people have sleep issues but I'm in a pretty bad way.
Things are just getting worse and worse. I've tried lowering my expectations of what a 20wk old needs but expectations be arsed. I physically cannot continue to walk her around for 5 hours every day to try get her to sleep. I physically cannot spend 3 hours every night trying to get her to sleep while she screams so loudly my ears ring afterwards. And I physically cannot sit up in bed holding her until 5am every night because any attempt to put her down, whether she's been asleep for 5 minutes or 50, results in more screaming. And I can't spend every day in tears anymore. I'm absolutely broken, my husband is broken and it's effecting his work and I'm really worried it's breaking our marriage as well.
I really really don't know what to do anymore, I feel like I've tried everything. Longer day naps hasn't helped, not has shorter, her own room hasn't helped, putting her to bed later isn't helping either. I know I need to try each of these things for like a week to see if they stick but I'm so all over the place I'm battling g to keep track of what we have or haven't tried and when we get such a violent reaction it's hard to think it'll be best to do that again. I'm really starting to worry about my little girl - it can't be good for her to be that upset every day and I feel completely and utterly lost and helpless.
I really just want someone to tell me what to do to fix this.
Has anyone used a sleep trainer before? I contacted one a week or two ago but they just told me that my 80th centile baby was hungry and I should give her formula and this would solve all our woes. I didn't buy it and haven't really looked at anyone else but would be willing to give it a go again if anyone has used and can recommend?

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Tue 28-Jan-14 22:20:50

In five years' time, you will look at your DD and see absolutely no signs of harm from all this.

Use this thread to help you keep track. Decide tonight what you are going to try this week, and report back whenever you want.

Next Tuesday, think if you want to change and if so, what.

Why is putting her to bed later not helping? If you keep her up till 10pm, is she happy till then or grouchy?

digsydel Tue 28-Jan-14 23:29:02

She starts getting grouchy because she's tired at about 7 so to keep her up later really means she would need a nap in the evening and I can't get her to sleep at all be it nap or bed

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