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to think I'm making my baby's sleep worse?

(119 Posts)
lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 16:42:17

Ds is nearly 11 months old and a terrible sleeper. He wakes hourly to two hourly or less, often cries when he wakes and won't re-settle, and won't go in his cot beyond the first hour or two (and I'm struggling even to get him to do that).

Every weekday evening (I work ft) he's super tired after being at the childminder and just cries and feeds from the moment we get home until he's asleep. I get back after picking him up at around quarter past 6 and literally sit feeding him while I try to have some dinner before bedtime, when I feed him to sleep. Even this isn't failsafe any more as sometimes he just won't drop off for up to two hours - I have to be in a completely dark room, lying down, otherwise no joy. I then go straight to bed myself as it's normally at least 9 if not 10 by that point. After his first wake - which could be after 20 minutes or 2 hours if I'm lucky - he normally comes into bed with us and we co-sleep, as otherwise I spend the whole night awake trying to resettle him in his cot.

DH generally does most of the bedtime routine - right now he's not working so he's also been collecting ds from the childminder so I don't have to rush home from work - but ds cries most of the time he's with him (normal behaviour at this age, I know). But since ds will only feed to sleep, DH can't put him to bed - and in the night ds literally only wants boob except when he doesn't and then I'm at a total loss as to how to resettle him - so he can't help at all with any of the night waking (although wakes almost as regularly as me thanks to ds crying!).

I've never been able to put ds in his cot awake - literally I have to wait for him to detach from me, completely and utterly fast asleep, even if he's been 'sleep-sucking' for an hour, before I attempt to transfer him, as otherwise he wakes immediately and cries. If I put him down awake he screams and gets hysterical - I can't do any gradual retreat or similar as he gets so worked up.

Have I created this situation somehow? Am I making it worse by co-sleeping? I know that bf babies do naturally wake more but I can't help but feel his sleep just gets worse and worse and nothing I do seems to help. DH would love to help more but literally there's nothing he can do - ds only wants me. At night when ds wakes he's immediately crying and searching for boob, and nothing else will do.

We do have the odd 'good' evening when he's a bit happier and won't scream through his bath, or will fall asleep quickly (hurray!) and then go in his cot for 2 hours before waking - and he's also a lovely, lovely little boy who just gets more and more fun all the time. I don't really mind the night waking as I'm really used to it now, but am starting to vaguely dread going home after work as I know what awaits me!

I know all babies are different so maybe I've just ended up with one who hates sleep (don't even get me started on naps), but I can't help but feel I'm doing something wrong. Surely at nearly a year old he should be sleeping a bit better than this? Or is this just the sign of a really strong attachment and I should be happy because he's going to be so well-adjusted and clearly will sleep amazingly when he's a toddler? <hopeful>

mistermagpie Wed 14-Dec-16 16:47:46

No real advice but that all sounds like torture. It's not for everyone but have you considered a dummy? It sounds like the 'feeding' is for comfort rather than because he's hungry? I take it he has 'real' food during the day?

Again, not for everyone, but have you thought about controlled crying?

I didn't breastfeed so no help there but I think by 11 months he should be sleeping longer than two hours at a time, for your sanity as much as anything else, so maybe it's time to try and change things.

lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 16:53:32

No dummy - he would never take one although had an undiagnosed tt that was snipped at 5 months so maybe would now? He's definitely sucking for comfort! I don't know much about dummies but thought they should be weaned off them by this age, not being introduced to them! It would be amazing if he could suck something other than me...

He eats well during the day at the childminder, extra portions sometimes, so I don't think it's always hunger, but could be thirsty too I suppose. He won't take water instead though.

Rixera Wed 14-Dec-16 16:55:12

Sometimes babies just don't like sleep, I reckon. I had help from the sleep clinic, followed their techniques and advice, and she just didn't sleep much until 15 months. She would nap once a day after 1 or 2 hours of screaming and rolling up and down the cot, and be up every hour or so at night. Now at 19 months, doing everything identical to how I have been since the last sleep clinic visit, she started sleeping all night (bar teething, colds, nightmares, next door's dog...) From 8pm til 7, with an hour and 30 nap in the day.

No magic formula, just months and months of persistence and the realisation on her part that she needed sleep sometimes. She now asks to go to bed early if tired.

You're doing your best OP, some children just don't sleep well.

Froggie13 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:03:33

Sorry no advice here OP but I just wanted to tell you you're not alone in this. I have exactly the same issues with my DD, same age, also won't take a dummy (not back in work yet but will be soon!). Will only settle with me in the bed. I really feel for you as it's so exhausting. I have tried everything and am at the point where I'm accepting that she's just not going to be a sleeper. Hoping there'll be someone along with some good advice soon! flowers x

MaverickSnoopy Wed 14-Dec-16 17:09:08

Have you thought about expressing so DH could try giving a bottle? Maybe he's tired and not sucking efficiently at the end of the day. It would certainly give you some respite.

GemmaB78 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:12:12

Our LB was exactly the same. He went to nursery at 13 months and for the first few weeks needed rocking to sleep, which could take up to 15 mins. By 15 months, he was putting himself to sleep within minutes. So at that point we decided to wean him. I stopped letting him nurse to sleep. He could nurse but once he stopped swallowing and just suckled, I took him off and let him fall asleep whilst being cuddled. For a couple of weeks, this could take up to an hour and involved tears of frustration and rolling around trying to put himself to sleep. Then, it all fell into place. At 16 months, he tells us when he's ready for bed. We go upstairs, he brushes hia teeth, into his sleeping bag, a cuddle and kiss and into his cot. Usually around 8pm. He then puts himself to sleep within minutes and either sleeps through, or if he wakes, puts himself back to sleep.

I guess this is a longwinded way of saying that if you can, keep going. He will show you when he's ready.

lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:13:43

Thanks - I accepted his crappy sleep ages ago but have just started wondering lately if maybe I've been too complaint about accepting it and am in fact just making it worse! It's good to know others are in the same boat although sucks for you too flowers

I think it's recent nights when even feeding him hasn't led to him sleeping that have had me losing faith a bit!! But I know it's all just a phase, blah-de-blah.

Good luck Froggie with your dd's sleep and return to work! And Rixera I hope you're finally getting some sleep yourself, sounds like you definitely deserve it! I'll make 15 months my next milestone and hope for the best... wink

lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:15:40

Maverick he won't take a bottle and I honestly don't know when I'd find time to express!! But thank you for the suggestion smile

Gemma thanks for sharing your experience, I know when it eventually does happen I'll wonder what I was worrying about. I'll look forward to those days!

Whatsername17 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:16:52

At 11 months milk is no longer his main source of nutrition, therefore his feeding is for comfort rather than because he's hungry. I would look to create a more routine based bedtime and feeding. No more feeding to sleep. Bath, feed, put down into cot. If I'm honest, I'd stop breastfeeding because a bottle comes to an end, whereas the booby can go on and on. However, I realise that is a very personal decision. I think the reason he is waking is because of his sleep cycle- we naturally go through periods of lighter and deeper sleep. During his 'lighter' cycles he is realising he is no longer attached to the boob and it wakes him up. Imagine falling asleep in your bed and waking up in the car - you would completely freak out. That is what your baby is doing. You would be better off trying to settle him whilst he is awake and powering through his resistance. I never left my dd to cio, but put her down in a dark room and didn't talk to her or engage her. I just kept laying her down and waited. After a few nights of it taking hours and her screaming in resistance she got the message that mum was still there and went to sleep within minutes. Night time waking reduced too because she was used to being in bed. Good luck with whatever you try. flowers

iamadaftcoo Wed 14-Dec-16 17:18:07

I had a very similar issue with my LO and I'm not exaggerating when I say it was making me suicidal. It wasn't only the lack of the sleep it was the total lack of any evening time whatsoever to myself - I just felt like a walking pair of tits and frankly I hated co sleeping.

We tried every gentle method with no success and then we did controlled crying. Worked in four days. He now claps and laughs when we start bedtime. I put him in his cot, give him a kiss, he smiles, rolls over and goes to sleep.

His mood is 1000x improved as he's now getting proper sleep and I can enjoy him again.

So I know cc is controversial but it worked miracles for us and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

LotisBlue Wed 14-Dec-16 17:20:07

Ds is very similar, you have my sympathy.
He is 13 months and in literally the last few weeks we've discovered that if he isn't hungry he will sometimes go to sleep with do cuddling him in bed. Could you give it a try?

lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:23:39

Whatsername that's the sort of approach I think I should be taking. You're right, he's clearly distressed when he wakes and boob isn't there! When we're co-sleeping it (usually) doesn't take long for him to latch on, settle himself then latch off again. But other times he'll be sucking for aaaages and I can't always sleep.

iamadaftcoo glad cc worked for you! We're in a flat so I honestly don't think we could subject our neighbours to it but I know what you mean about co-sleeping. I enjoy it sometimes but pregnancy left my weak hips even weaker and I'm in agony in bed as it is without being on one side for hours at a time. I'm literally hobbling around for the first hour after waking and the pain keeps me awake lots of nights even when ds is asleep. Plus any move I or DH make risks waking him, so loo visits have become a luxury which I doubt my bladder will thank me for!!

MummaGiles Wed 14-Dec-16 17:24:45

It's a personal decision but I think I would be looking to get him off the boob completely. If you're working full time he must go without it all day 5 days a week and still drink something somehow. He's nearly 12 months so if you don't want to express or used formula put cows milk in a cup for him at bedtime or give him water if he's thirsty. The boob is for comfort. You might have to go through a few painful nights while he learns how to self settle but in the long run it might save your sanity. You must be incredibly tolerant to have got so far on so little sleep or time to yourself, I'm in awe.

lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:25:27

Lotis it works occasionally - sometimes I can just cuddle him back to sleep - but he then tends to wake quite quickly once he's back in his cot. And most times he wakes (every time, to be honest, most nights) he gets upset unless boob is offered quite quickly sad

LittleSausageFingers Wed 14-Dec-16 17:26:52

Sympathies OP, my 10 month old sounds like your boy. It's tough! No suggestions I'm afraid, bottle, dummy, white noise, light shows, putting down awake but sleepy, etc etc, nothing works! But I'm there with you flowers

lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:28:07

Mumma I'm far too nice wink. My childminder keeps telling me I should wean him completely. It is tempting as we have a similar issue with naps where he'll only sleep in the sling, and when he's really tired he wants to nurse - he's very rarely hungry for milk in the daytime any more so it's just a comfort thing where he needs to get to sleep and my boobs are the only way he knows how.

Maybe we should wean in the new year when he can drink cow's milk. He won't take formula at all (have tried many times as has the childminder!). It would probably make DH's life better too as ds would be less reliant on me being physically present.

lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:30:06

Argh, sorry to hear you're in the no-sleep club too LittleSausageFingers. 10 month sleep regression definitely hasn't helped!!! Hope things improve for you soon too.

Katkin14 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:30:25

Another vote for controlled crying. I know it's not for everyone, but for us DS was settling himself and sleeping through within 3 nights of starting. Then everyone was better rested and happier. I know quite a few people now who've had success with it after trying lots of other approaches first.

iamadaftcoo Wed 14-Dec-16 17:39:38

We're in a flat too op, I just had a word with my neighbours beforehand

Of the babies I know who have had these issues (and there have been a lot obviously including mine), not one has simply outgrown it, they have all had to be sleep trained in some way.

This is the problem when they have a particular sleep crutch which needs frequent replacing. It really all depends with how much you can cope with at the end of the day - we all have different breaking points!

lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 17:44:36

I feel like I'm fine with the frequent waking but it's the inability to get him to sleep in the first place that's the killer. I haven't had an evening with DH since ds was born - no time to just sit down and watch telly or eat in peace or just cuddle. And with ds in bed we obviously have no time for cuddles then either wink

I've been fine with it as I know it's not forever but now I've been back at work a couple of months I'm starting to really feel the lack of any personal time at all. I spend my whole time rushing to the childminder/work/home, have no lunch breaks (although it's a bit more relaxed right now with Christmas next week!) and then am all ds wants all the time. I guess it wold just be nice to know the end of this particular phase is in sight but I've been thinking that since his sleep went rubbish at 3 months! I have friends with newborns who sleep better than him grin

toptoe Wed 14-Dec-16 17:46:21

Best advice I had was to have my dp take over night feeds with bottles of milk. Stopped the whole baby keeping one eye open to make sure he was right next to my boob all night. He'd take the bottle and sleep longer. And I got the rest I needed. Dp was on board and glad to be able to do something helpful at last!

iamadaftcoo Wed 14-Dec-16 17:54:48

I feel like I'm fine with the frequent waking but it's the inability to get him to sleep in the first place that's the killer

Yes that's exactly how I felt. The tipping point for me came when we visited my cousin for the weekend and she was still co sleeping with her five year old and having to lie next to him for an hour to get him to go to sleep. I could totally see that happening with ds and it terrified me.

lilyb84 Wed 14-Dec-16 18:08:41

she was still co sleeping with her five year old and having to lie next to him for an hour to get him to go to sleep.


Oh god, I'm going to be that mum, aren't I?

Whatsername17 Wed 14-Dec-16 18:11:07

I wouldn't worry about your neighbours. It won't last long enough for it to be a problem- I promise. Set yourself a date to really go for it and do not, no matter what, revert back. With my dd, we did bath, milk, story then lie down in her cot. Id sing a song and then leave the room. As soon as she started to cry I went back in, shushed her and then left again. Unless she was crying in which case I'd stand next to the cot. Sometimes I'd rub her tummy. Id never pick her back up no matter how much she protested. She'd stand up and I'd lay her down again. As soon as she was quiet I left the room only to return if she started properly crying (rather than moaning). We always put her to bed at 6.30pm. The first night she cried for two hours. After four nights it was about 20 minutes and then barely so much as a whimper. My theory was that I was teaching her that mummy wasn't going away. If she cried, I'd be there. But no amount of 'out mummy!' was going to get me to pick her up because it was sleep time. We did this at 10/11 months and her sleeping improved to just 1-2 wake ups for a quick drink and then she went back to sleep. She didn't sleep all of the way through the night until she was 2.5, but she is now 5 years old, goes to bed at 7.30 and sleeps in until 8am at the weekend! It will get better but you have to pick a sleep plan and stick to it. I couldn't leave her to cry on her own but I did let her cry with me in the room. It worked very quickly and she was much happier as a result. She hated naps and dropped them completely by 18 months. I never fought her on naps to be honest. If we were in the car and she dozed off, great. But if she wouldn't go for a sleep in the day I never forced it. Id just spend an hour or two trying to get her to go to sleep for 20 minutes. It wasn't worth it.

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