Please please please could someone help me - my baby WILL NOT go to sleep without crying and crying EVERY night :(

(52 Posts)
Debzarella Wed 19-Dec-12 22:57:49

Hi, I wonder if anyone could help me please as I am at the end of my tether sad

My baby is 5.5 months old and is a lovely happy little girl generally. She sleeps very well through the night and has done from birth but our problem is actually getting her to sleep in the first place.

We have tried:
>feeding her to sleep - works sometimes, sometimes it doesn't, she tends to wake the minute her head touches the mattress
>rocking her to sleep - used to work pretty well (would take about 45 mins to an hour) but is not working anymore, infact I think it makes her cry more now
>putting her down sleepy in the cot and using all sorts of mobiles, light projectors, Ewan the dream sheep etc, these all appear to wake her up more (and certainly don't sto the crying)
>putting her down sleepy and singing lullabies to her
>putting her down sleepy and then sitting by her and holding her hand / stroking her head (doesn't stop the crying at all)

We have tried leaving her to cry for a while once and it made both my husband and I really upset and our baby even more upset so I never want to do that again sad

Our routine is read books and sing some songs at 5.30, bath at 6, put her pjs and sleeping bag on, settle down to breast feed for 45 mins or so (she keeps nodding off as I feed so I stir her and get her to continue as she seems to sleep through the night better when I do this). She tends to fall asleep doing this so at about 7.30 we then put her gently down in her cot but 9.5 times out of 10 she wakes the minute her head hits the mattress and that's it then - she cries and cries for anything between an hour and 3 hours. Once she finally goes to sleep (usually from pure exhaustion) she sleeps beautifully.

Sorry it's so long but I really really don't know what else to do and its really starting to affect my sanity and I'm constantly taking it out on my Hubbie which is mean sad

Thanks in advance xxx

Impatientwino Wed 19-Dec-12 23:32:56

I know this sounds silly but when she cries do you try and feed her again? I only ask because my DS nods off alot too and sometimes ill put him down and as soon as I do he wakes and gets upset because he wasn't finished?

I put him back on the boob and he will then feed a little bit more then go down no problem (only for a while though but that's a different thread!)

Sorry if you said that you already try this I can't see your post now I've started typing and I'm VERY sleep deprived!

Debzarella Wed 19-Dec-12 23:38:07

Hi impatient, thank you for your reply! Yes, I have tried feeding again but she just keeps pulling off and looking around and crying so I give up. After she has cried for an hour or so I then try feeding again and that sometimes does the trick (tonight she finally went down at 10pm with another token feed) but rarely works without her having a good crying session first sad x

aimingtobeaperfectionist Wed 19-Dec-12 23:40:45

Does she have a dummy?

mamasr Wed 19-Dec-12 23:41:28

could it be the temperature difference from you/cot.. try a warm hot water bottle on the cot which you can move off before you put him down? This helped us when our DS was younger.. We also always used the same lullaby every time we put him to bed (still do) and although this took a few weeks it definitely helped in him settling to sleep.

nkf Wed 19-Dec-12 23:44:55

When you say "we" do you mean you are both doing it together? If so, then I would suggest you take a night each. And that way, you both get some sleep.

It's hell I know. My second child did this waking instantly so I can relate to the frustration.

Is it colic? I think that happens in the evenings.

God, I'm useless. Try to get some sleep yourselves.

aimingtobeaperfectionist Wed 19-Dec-12 23:45:03

My DD keeps changing routine on what helps her fall asleep so whenever we have a 'sure fire' way of getting her to go down she changes and we have to play all sorts of games to find what she wants now. Not very helpful I'm afraid but it's not just you if that helps?! probably not

Debzarella Thu 20-Dec-12 03:51:13

Thank you aiming - that does help (in a weird way :-))
Have tried a dummy a billion types (and different types) but she will not take it.

Haven't tried warming cot up mama, will do that tomorrow. We play the same lullaby cd every night but she appears to be oblivious to the music.

Nkf, yes we have started doing it together as the one downstairs feels guilty listening to the other struggle upstairs! Also, feeding seems to be the only thing that ends up working atm which only I can do as she is bf (and won't take a damn bottle!)

re the colic suggestion, she doesn't appear to be in pain - she suffered from colic when she was newborn and did the whole drawing up her legs etc then and that's not happening now.


Flatasawitchestit Thu 20-Dec-12 03:58:23

No cry sleep book?

Not a fan of parenting books but this has good reviews

belindarose Thu 20-Dec-12 04:05:08

Have you tried giving up, taking her downstairs, and trying again later? My DS is the same age and on the evenings he doesn't fall asleep easily, I find this far preferable to being with him while he cries. I have a 3yo DD too, who would hate to hear him crying for long.

We use a white noise app on the phone when he needs help to fall asleep. Have you tried something like that? Also, DS sometimes cries, writhes etc in my arms when he WANTS to go in his cot and in holding him.

Hope something works for you soon. My DD was a very difficult sleeper as a baby. This one wakes frequently, but at least is quite easy to get there.

JollyGolightly Thu 20-Dec-12 04:21:37

What are her naps like in the day? Is she overtired by bedtime? This can result in awful crying like this. My ds is only 15 weeks but needs putting down for naps in dark quiet places in an organised way, or we have a horror show in the evening.

She's over-stimulated. You'd be amazed at how easily a small baby can get like this. Take her into a completely dark room, and hold / rock her in silence. A dummy would be useful too.

MrsLyman Thu 20-Dec-12 04:38:16

Do you put her down as soon as you've finished feeding? DS1 was similar to this we had to keep him upright for at least 20 minutes after he had finished feeding and only put him down when he was totally asleep.

No cry sleep solution worked for us, I liked it be ause it gives a range of things to try rather than one magic cure.

Debzarella Thu 20-Dec-12 07:39:30

Thanks so much for all these suggestions smile

Flat, I have not looked at the no cry sleep book, will look for it today.

Belinda, we have tried all sorts of white noise but she ignores all sounds unless its me! (and even then I can't get her to sleep by singing / talking etc). We haven't tried giving up and going downstairs as I guess I'd feel like a failure and would be teaching her that if she cries too much she gets to come downstairs?

Jolly, I have always struggled with her naps sad she started off having 3 per day, one at 10, one at 1 and one at 4. These times are when she started showing tired signs. She will only sleep for 45 mins max though - I have tried helping her sleep fir longer but its not happening! Also, she will not nap in her cot - the same as bedtime happens. She naps in either her pram or the car. Yesterday I tried her having only 2 naps, one at 10 and one at 2, she slept till 3.10 which was great but by bedtime she was knackered and miserable.

Long, whilst we are trying all this the bedroom is pitch black and we don't talk - although we have her lullabies on - do you think we should turn that off? She won't take a dummy sad

Mrs l, its difficult because the longer we keep her upright the more awake she becomes! Perhaps we could try that rather than feeding to sleep but I think we will still have the crying as I don't think its discomfort crying.


megandraper Thu 20-Dec-12 08:01:28

Is she just more of a co-sleeper baby? All 3 of mine still slept on my lap / in sling downstairs in the evening at that stage. And in bed with me at night. They needed that body warmth to feel secure I think. They moved gradually to sleeping in the cot in the evening somewhere between 8 and 12 months and to sleeping all night in cot around 18 months. Some people would be aghast at this but you have to find what suits your baby. That howling cry can be a call for comfort/security I think.

Sympathies - you sound like lovely parents and all will be we'll in the end.

tsetohje Thu 20-Dec-12 08:14:42

My daughter was hard to settle at that age, it went on for a few weeks I think but we stopped trying to put her down upstairs and did car/pram/my lap instead. I'm with bedhopper, I think they're still very little to be alone in the dark.

I understand what you're saying about taking her back downstairs but honestly such a little baby isn't going to learn anything by you taking her back down again and it would save you and DH a lot of hassle and give you a bit of an evening back?

Hope it will be some consolation to tell you that I had totally forgotten my DD did this till I read your OP, she's only 2 and a half! It will pass but is v stressful in the eye of the storm.

BertieBotts Thu 20-Dec-12 08:15:58

Will she sleep on you? If so you might be able to get her to sleep that way but transfer her to the cot when she's deeply asleep.

Or if she falls asleep ok in buggy in the day, you could try putting her in the buggy and pushing it back and forth, then again transfer when in a deep sleep.

My suggestions would be

- try putting her down wide awake
- overtired so earlier bed
- bring her down for a bit to change the scenery if she is over crying - we do this occasionally and worry she will never go to bed again buy that doesn't seem to happen

Hope something works! Brief typing as bf

Earlier bedtime! Her maxium stay-awake time will be about 2 hours at this age (still is for my 8 month old!), so if she's awake at 5pm, she needs to be in bed by 6.45pm. Put her down awake, not sleepy, so go for 6.30pm if she seems sleepy then.

aimingtobeaperfectionist Thu 20-Dec-12 08:27:16

I second tse you won't teach her bad habits at this age so it might be worth just taking her downstairs and giving yourself a break.
How do you feel about co sleeping? If done properly it might just give you enough sleep to feel more 'normal' to be able to deal with things.

TeamBacon Thu 20-Dec-12 08:29:54

Do you use sleeping bags? They're good when babies need cuddling to sleep and then putting in the cot, as they're already nice and warm.

Sounds like she might be a bit overstimulated to me. I'd get rid of the music and lights and everything else, and just go back to basics. I think at that age we used the rocking chair and I just hummed to DS a bit, and he'd calm down.

The other thing that worked was standing in front of a plain wall with him so there was nothing for him to see or to distract him - that really calmed him down when he was overstimulated and fighting sleep.

TeamBacon Thu 20-Dec-12 08:33:12

Oh god, that's brought back memories. I remember rocking in the chair with DS until he'd fall asleep and then I'd have to count to 300 (about 5 minutes) before I could move and put him in the cot, because otherwise he'd spring awake again. Anything over 5 mins and he'd be just about safe to put down... but had to do it soooo slowly.

He's 5 now. One day this will all be a dim and distant memory and it will make you smile

NigellaTufnel Thu 20-Dec-12 08:34:16

Hate to say this but this may be just a stage you have to grit your teeth and accept that she will grow out of it soon.

Lots and lots of us have been there and feel your pain. But you WILL get through it.

Belmo Thu 20-Dec-12 08:35:41

Mine just slept on me downstairs at that age, not a great solution I know but might be better if it stops her crying?

noblegiraffe Thu 20-Dec-12 08:38:46

I seem to remember that they have a sleep cycle of 10 minutes after first falling asleep, my DS would always wake up if we put him down in the first 10 minutes after falling asleep but if we waited till after this, his eyes would flick open around the 10 minute mark then he'd be good to put down.

MrsHoarder Thu 20-Dec-12 08:45:45

Sleeping bag our swaddling straight agree her bath and them feed to sleep lying on your bed. If its not working just take her downstairs and cuddle for a while.

What this teaches her is bit that she can get out of bedtime but that if she's scared and crying you will help. I know you are doing everything you can already, but relax about routines and bad habits.

Ds changed at 5 months to go to sleep for the night relatively easily. It well pass and you will get your evenings back.

I agree about the earlier bedtime. My dd2 is a similar age, nearly 5 months, & I find that if she's in bed before 7, she tends to drift off no problem, but if it gets much later, she starts to get agitated. I have an older dd, who is 2.9, and initially, I was reading them a story together, settling dd1, then feeding & settling dd2, but I soon realised that this wasn't working for the baby, as she was getting very agitated & overtired. Since I swapped their bedtimes round, she usually settles really well.

When dd1 was a baby, I always fed her to sleep, which was great until it stopped working, at around 10 months! We eventually ended up having to do controlled crying when she was just over a year old, which I didn't really want to do, but it worked a treat, & she's slept brilliantly ever since! With dd2, I really want to avoid this, so I've been trying to get her to self settle, & I'm amazed it usually works! Initially, this meant letting her have a little grizzle, but leaving her to see what would happen. I wouldn't leave her doing full blown crying, but I have found that sometimes, if I start shhhing & patting, it seems to make things worse. I suppose if you were trying to go to sleep & someone kept tapping you, it might be rather annoying!

Not sure if any of this is any help to you, but I hope things improve for you soon. Remember, they're still so tiny, & there will be many things to disrupt their sleep in the future, most notably teething, so I wouldn't get too hung up about this, as it can change all too quickly!

I agree what others have said about bringing her back downstairs if you really can't settle her, we do this on occasion, & I don't believe it forms a bad habit at this age.

I also agree that you may be overstimulating with all the lights & music, & I do think that just one of you should put her to bed, it all sounds a bit full on as it is.

brainonastick Thu 20-Dec-12 09:18:40

She sounds overtired to me. I would focus on the daytime naps and an earlier bedtime.

jamboncru Thu 20-Dec-12 09:19:08

Another vote for overtired I think op. Both mine have done this and we ended up having really short bedtime routines, eventually had no trouble getting them to sleep (keeping the 9mo asleep is a whole other thread....) As others have said though, this too shall pass. My son is still asleep upstairs having been snoring away since 7.30 last night - he is 3! It may take a while (and a lot of caffeine) but you will get there!!brew

MrsLyman Thu 20-Dec-12 11:49:45

I meant feeding to sleep, then keeping her upright before putting her down, obviously no good if she wakes up when tipping. Agree with the lights off music off tip though. You can use those as part of the pre-bed routine but turn both off before starting the feed.

Good luck smile

Fairylea Thu 20-Dec-12 11:57:38

Earlier bedtime (ds 6 months goes to bed at 5ish)... completely black room and no noise, no talking, nothing... feed by the bed and put down when sleepy and leave to settle for a few mins. If crying go back in pick up until settled and put down again. Keep doing this. Never talk, never say anything. Make night time totally different from day time.

Has worked for me and my two dc. Worth a try !

Yes - no lullabies. Utter silence, or try shhing loudly. Google "the happiest baby on the block" for an example of what I mean. It works v well for DD - I don't do the rocking/ jiggling though

mummybare Thu 20-Dec-12 17:58:18

The only thing I can add is that, for us, consistency is key. And this is for naps, bedtime routine, even wake up time in the morning. When I say us, I mean DD. I have never been a routine person but, at 7.5 months, she's got me whipped into shape!

The most important thing, I found, was to find the optimum awake time. If I get this right, she goes down like a charm, but if she is even a little under- or overtired, she'll fight sleep like nobody's business. It sounds like your DD might be the same. It has been a bit of a trial and error thing - and it does change as they get older, of course - but it made a massive difference.

Good luck, OP. as you can see from the response to this thread, lots of us have been there, but it doesn't last forever.

Debzarella Thu 20-Dec-12 23:18:28

Thanks so much everyone, I feel like I'm not alone anymore! Everyone in real life tells me their babies never cry and go down like a dream so I start believing there is something wrong with what we are doing.
I have shown my hubby this thread and we are going to try putting her to bed earlier and turning her lullabies off. If she gets really hysterical we are going to give up fighting it and just bring her downstairs for quiet cuddles until she settles then try again.
I'm going to try and work on extending the length of her day naps and prob drop them to 2 longer ones if I can? Can anyone give me a bit of a structure to follow as I'm totally clueless......

Mummybare, what do you mean by optimum awake time? (sorry if I'm being dumb)

Thanks all x

megandraper Fri 21-Dec-12 00:06:31

My view (honed with DC3) is that the key sleep association you really want to develop is of sleep being a pleasant experience. It doesn't matter for a small baby if that's happening on your lap/in a sling/ with a lot of wake-ups for feeding or comfort etc.

It's pretty easy to change sleep circumstances (co-sleeping to cot etc) when you do it at the right time (sometimes a bit of trial and error!) as long as they like falling asleep and being asleep. I really advocate not letting your child cry at all for a while. It sounds as if it is becoming a battle, and there are no winners (not you, not your DC) there.

With regard to naps & daytime sleep, you might find [ this] helpful.

Personally, I never managed to get dd1 to nap anywhere but the car or pushchair, unless she fell asleep after a feed, & dd2 seems much the same, so her naps can vary a lot, depending in what we're doing. She does seem to settle more easily if she's had a decent amount of daytime sleep though.

Oh, and those people who say their babies always settle without a fuss? They're lying! Everyone goes through rough patches, even if they mostly settle well.

Best of luck with it all!

Sorry, will try that link again! here

mummybare Fri 21-Dec-12 07:32:19

By optimum awake time I mean the amount of time she can stay awake between sleeps. I think at 5.5 months it was about 2 hours.

I read that a 30 minute nap means overtiredness and a 45 minute one, particularly if they wake happy, is often undertiredness. While 45 minute naps are pretty common and can often be developmental, so this is not a hard and fast rule, I did find it a quite useful rule of thumb. I did do LOADS of resettling at the 45 minute mark when DD was about 4 or 5 months old, mind you. (Holding her arms to stop them flailing about and stroking her head while shushing worked for us.)

Sorry, brain-dumping a little here. DD has now finished feeding and is clambering all over me so I'll come back in a bit to check this post makes sense! grin

Joycey29 Fri 21-Dec-12 07:40:46

Debz - you are so not alone. Had colicky first and had screaming for hours. Only when I had second did I get the one that went to sleep.

Interestingly, one of the antenatal group with a sleeper first time rang up after her second (a non sleeper) to say 'I m so sorry I wasn't sympathetic enough!'
They had thought that the two of us with criers were doing something wrong - nothing wrong just different baby types.
On the positive side, we got dd1 into a great bedtime routine, all dark, no lullabies etc and she still goes to bed like a dream age 6!

We all completely understand and know how hard it is - stick with it wink

brainonastick Fri 21-Dec-12 08:44:00

I agree with mummybare - I used to go in and shush or feed back to sleep at the 45 minute mark for the middle of the day nap, to try to encourage this one to be a good long 2 hours or so. It worked, with a bit a lot of persistence.

So at 5/6 months I think our day went something like
- 2 hours after getting up (eg 7am get up, so 9 to 9.30ish), a 30/45 min nap (to about 10)
- about 2 hours after getting up from that nap, a long 2 - 2.5 hr nap (so about 12-2pm)
- some point mid afternoon, a short nap of 15-45 mins (probably around 4pm)
- bedtime again about 2 hours after getting up from that (so about 6.30-7)

Nb big feeds before the long nap to try to make sure they were totally full (in fact mine fed 2 hourly anyway in the day at this age, but much longer stretches at night thank goodness)

But - they are all different, this is just what I did. If something else works for you, then that's fine and normal. I just posted as you asked for an idea of nap structures. Good luck!

Debzarella Fri 21-Dec-12 09:33:31

Thank you brain and mummybare, that's really useful. Will have a bash at extending her day sleeps today.
Thank you joycey for the reassurance smile
In fact, thank you everyone for making me feel more normal!

Debzarella Fri 21-Dec-12 22:34:17

Tonight has been hideous sad

She has finally gone down out of sheer exhaustion, but she has been in tears, I have been in tears, even my dad came round to take over for half an hour!

I can honestly say that bringing her back downstairs does NOT work!


Oh dear, so sorry to hear you've had a bad time. If nothing else, at least you know that bringing her downstairs isn't right for her. For some babies, it calms them enough to then settle to sleep, but obviously not for your little one. Remember, tomorrow is a new day, & as with everything in parenting, it won't last forever! Is it possible she could be teething? My dd1 got her first tooth at 6 months, but I believe they start pushing through a while before they emerge. We had a nightmare journey back from friends when she was about 5 months, & she just wouldn't stop crying, & in hindsight, I wonder if her teeth were starting to push their way up.

Debzarella Fri 21-Dec-12 22:52:04

Hi nuzzle, she has been teething for a little while now but she shows none of the symptoms of teething at night - usually if she is teething she drools like mad and chomps on her finger whilst kind of howling like a wolf!! I actually gave her Calpol at about 9 tonight to see if that helped at all as I was at a total loss as to what to do. sad

Oh well, as you say, tomorrow is another day.......... Xx

TeamBacon Fri 21-Dec-12 22:55:57

neurofen for teething. Much much more effective.

cobblestone Fri 21-Dec-12 23:47:19

Hi, I don't have the same problem as you but my friend did. Her little boy has never slept well and ends up in their bed most nights. She was so desperate she contacted a baby whisperer but she lived too far for a visit so she bought her sleep DVD instead. I was interested so we watched it together. It was really nice to watch and easy to follow. My friend tried the techniques and sleep routine and he went to bed the first night. He is sleeping so much better now. My friend breast feed's before the bath and not after, she does this with all his feeds and I cant believe he is the same baby, he is so much happier. I'm recommending it to my other friends! She is called Cheshire Baby Whisperer and the DVD is Sweet Baby Dreams

brainonastick Sat 22-Dec-12 08:58:46

Oh op, sounds very draining sad

Have these problems only started recently, or has she always cried for hours at bedtime?

Debzarella Sat 22-Dec-12 12:10:20

She has always cried at bedtime but it has got worse in the last week. It used to be much easier to settle her with rocking or feeding but that doesn't seem to be working now.

Thanks cobble, will look for that now x

brainonastick Sat 22-Dec-12 12:22:47

Ok, in which case here is my take on the situation - I think you need to try to teach her to self settle. It sounds like she's tired out, but can't go to sleep on her own, but is also so tired that the added sensory input from you/dp being around are winding her up even more, and a whole spiral starts from there until she is so wound up she passes out through sheer exhaustion.

It might be worse in the last week if she is ill or teething, but if Calpol and/or calprofen doesn't make any difference then it's less likely. You could try one night of giving her some medicine at 6 or 6.30, so it's ruled out any discomfort before you try bedtime.

Teaching them to self settle is like the holy grail of parenting a baby though! There are loads of ways to try to do it - no cry sleep solution/gradual withdrawal/controlled crying (which is leaving them for 2 mins, then 4, then 6 etc, NOT leaving them to cry indefinitely), or not trying and co-sleeping instead. Different things will work for different babies, and different parents, but once you pick a method you need to stick with it for a good week or two to see if it works.

Big hugs, it sounds very hard. You will eventually find the answer though, stick in there.

brainonastick Sat 22-Dec-12 12:28:40

she keeps nodding off as I feed so I stir her and get her to continue as she seems to sleep through the night better when I do this

This also stands out from your op. she may sleep through the night better, but she is crying for hours before she goes down. Have you tried putting her down at the first nodding off? Yes, she'll be up in the night, but you need to be prepared to make that trade off for a more peaceful and earlier bedtime.

One other thought is that she may be getting ready for solids.

Lots of things to try. Keep it to one thing at a time for a few days.

fufulina Tue 25-Dec-12 19:41:50

Marking place. My 10 month old is still like this, and she started it at about 4 months. She is I'll and teething, so we are in holding position, but I can emphatically say that consistency of approach has done sod all for my girl in the last six months! Huge sympathy. Am at end of rope also.

smile4me Sun 30-Dec-12 07:56:46

Debzarella i've just posted almost exactly the same thing on another thread! Am equally at the end of my rope, and probably also approaching hearing loss as the only way I can get my 3mo daughter to sleep now is on my shoulder, jiggling and with much grizzling (morning) and screaming (afternoon) on her behalf. She was a dream up to 10 weeks... fed to sleep of would sleep in frontpack, now only with lots of screaming. Car/buggy have no effect on her at all, frontpack/sling no longer puts her to sleep either, will not feed to sleep except at dreamfeed when we go to bed.

I have jut given up for the evening after over an hour of screaming of shoulder, refused to feed, she gave in a couple of times and nodded off but only for 5 mins then back to full on screaming again. She is totally happy and lovely when awake, just turns into an evil monster at nap times.

And to make it worse, she very rarely sleeps (during the day) for more than 45mins, no matter how much shhing and hand holding I do, just lies there clucking to herself until I pick her up (starts getting pretty insistent after 5 mins). However she is good at night. I can sometimes put her down once she's asleep, but more often than not she's awake 5 mins later, so i essentially have to spend 90% of my day as a bed for her.

So I'm also house bound... can't go anywhere as we get so much screaming!
I'm totally with you on the can't leave her to cry front... also tried it once in desperation and I ended up in more tears than her.

Nerves are totally shot and feel like a total failure.

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