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Struggling with a spirited 5 month old

(32 Posts)
Chocolateyclaire76 Mon 29-Apr-13 10:05:46

Some days are OK but today, a Monday morning, was spent crying for at least an hours as the thought of a whole week entertaining a highly spirited 5 months old who will only nap when pushed in the pram became too much!

She was very hard as a small baby and it has got marginally better the older she has got but her demanding screams, constant struggling and sleep fighting are so tough.

I have to walk her at least twice a day for her naps and even then she usually wakes and screams for a bit. I keep meaning to start sleep training her to go in her cot but I just don't think I'm mentally strong enough anymore! I attempted it a few weeks back, going in at 5, 7, 10 minute intervals but she just screamed and screamed for over 45 mins. I gave in then and put her in her pram and went for a walk.

She can be very giggly and happy which is lovely but then the slightest thing happens - like me leaving the room to go to the toilet - and all hell breaks loose!

Can anyone offer me advice on coping mechanisms or let me know when the light at the end of the tunnel may be visible!!

Chocolateyclaire76 Fri 03-May-13 13:03:38

Amazingface - sorry for posting same question twice, for some reason it didn't show on my iPhone. I think I'm doing exactly the same as you - I've got the lullaby on constant on my phone but my OH called me the other day and I nearly hit the roof! I'll try rocking pram at 25 mins next week whilst crossing fingers - small steps and all that!!

amazingface Fri 03-May-13 12:52:46

Hmm - can't fully remember, but I think that she had probably mostly adjusted by then (from the pram trick) to naturally going into a second sleep cycle, so she was more ready to do it in a cot. I do seem to remember that for the first few days she did wake after 30 mins. I think I just made myself not get stressed about it and just got her up from the nap if that happened.

For the first while, I think I also played the lullaby AND white noise on repeat (on my phone!) for the entire duration of her nap. (N.B. if you do this text your OH first and tell him not to ring or text you for the next while!). That helped.

It goes without saying (or maybe not - took me ages to figure this out!) that the single best thing you can do to get your dd to nap well is to not let her get overtired. I think at 5 months her maximum awake time should be no longer than 2 hours. 1hr 45mins might even be better. according to this link. So you should aim to have her ready and in nap position (sling, pram or cot - wherever) & lullaby by that time.

Honestly, that is the BEST advice I ever got. Being overtired makes babies of that age insane.

Chocolateyclaire76 Fri 03-May-13 12:17:24

Amazingface - what about when you transitioned to her cot, how did you cope with the 30 min sleep cycle then?

amazingface Thu 02-May-13 10:49:29

Not that she slept all night at that age without waking with the white noise, I should add! Just that the white noise let her sleep in proper chunks of 3,4 or 5 hours, so that she would wake up when she actually needed to (i.e. for a feed) instead of every 45 mins just because she didn't know how to go back to sleep.

<shudders at memory of 4-month sleep regression>

amazingface Thu 02-May-13 10:42:34

Yes, she did. I did it all really gradually. So, once she had 'learned' how to sleep through that first cycle and onto the second (by me resettling her with the gentle rocking) in the pram, I stopped the rocking completely. Sometimes she would still wake slightly and protest, but if I held my breath long enough she would usually go back to sleep.

After a while of that, I transferred to the cot. The key for that was, I think, being incredibly consistent with the lullaby and routine. Once they start associating the lullaby with naptime you're almost there - it becomes a really powerful association. smile So by the time I transferred dd to the cot I think she knew what the drill was. I sat by the cot and just shushed her and held her hand till she fell asleep. It really didn't take long at all - was sorted within a week.

Two other things really helped with this. One was that I got dd a little teddy comforter, and that was also part of the routine - me putting the teddy in beside her face so she could snuggle into it. (If you're breastfeeding keep it down your top before you introduce it!). The other was white noise. The white noise really really helped to keep her zoned out enough to enter into another sleep cycle, IMO. You can get it free at
I used to play the white noise all night at one point when she was about 5/6 months old - and I swear by it.

But like Poppy said - you're just around the corner from solids, and the routine of that WILL really help. Your dd will soon be at an age where the length of her naptime naturally increases.

Eskino Thu 02-May-13 10:31:53

She isn't "spirited". She needs you.

Take her with you when you go to the toilet.

I promise you, keeping your baby by your side until she is ready to venture away from you is the secret to having a well-adjusted, non clingy, independent happy, secure child.

Chocolateyclaire76 Thu 02-May-13 09:51:20

amazingface - thanks for showing me the glimmer of light! I'll try the rocking of the pram at 25mins, that's a good approach. What happened when you transitioned to cot though, did she eventually sleep through the 30 min barrier?

PoppyWearer Wed 01-May-13 22:38:00

Jumperoos are amazing things!

amazingface Wed 01-May-13 22:28:10

Ooh, re. the waking after 30 minutes - I used to put DD down in the pram in my kitchen, check the time, and after about 25 mins had passed I started to rock the pram very gently to coincide with her coming out of one sleep cycle. The rocking helped her settle back into another sleep cycle. Try it, it can really work and might just buy you time to have a second cup of tea!

amazingface Wed 01-May-13 22:24:27

hey OP, it sounds like you're beginning to turn a corner, that's great. FWIW everything started to get a little bit better for me once dd had passed the 5 month mark. She was so so high maintenance until then. I think you're onto a winner with the 'lullaby + down in pram without moving' approach. That's what I did and the good news is that it eventually transfers well to the cot - meaning that you end up with the best of both worlds, a baby who'll nap in both the cot and the pram! Here's hoping, anyway smile

I remember how grim and exhausting it all was, I was googling 'high needs babies' thinking that there was something wrong with my dd - there wasn't, she was just spirited, like you say, and very young! She's brilliant now and at 15 months is a fantastic sleeper.

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 01-May-13 21:47:55

Glad things are a little better for you smile

Chocolateyclaire76 Wed 01-May-13 09:45:44

mummy2benji, funny you should mention the jumperoo as we've just bought one and she does like it, but only for short periods. It's a start though! As for dummies, before I had her I hated the idea of using them but then I didn't think my baby would be such a screamer (I guess no one does!). I use one for naps but not a night so it's not too bad.

I haven't got the Fisher Price sea horse but I have downloaded a lullaby CD and keep it playing during naps - she has managed to go down in her pram without me moving it for the first time ever with this music! Her nap was still only 30 mins but better than nothing!

mummy2benji Tue 30-Apr-13 21:16:18

You could try a jumperoo and see if she'll be happy in that for short spells during the day - my 2 dc's both loved it. It would give you a rest from cuddling / rocking for a bit and has the advantage of tiring them out so they are more likely to go down for their nap. Sorry to those who frown upon them but I have found a dummy so helpful for settling overwrought babies. And I recommend a Fisher Price sea horse which plays soothing lullabies and has a soft light - has helped my dd2 go down for naps in her cot. x

PoppyWearer Tue 30-Apr-13 14:51:57

FWIW my roughest time by far with my DC1 was at 5mo. She started to get really difficult about naps and she and I spent many days crying about it!

Honestly honestly it gets easier from here on. Weaning etc - it helps to enforce the routine. You have to get the hang of it, having extra stuff to worry about (preparing the food) but once you're in the groove, it does help with the routine and things should fall into place a bit more.

I do feel for you, wish I could give you a hug! At least the weather is a bit sunnier and you'll be keeping fit with all that walking. Take care.

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 30-Apr-13 14:50:25

Mummy could that be teething causing the weird crying? Have you seen the separation anxiety info on kellymom too? smile

mummy2lola Tue 30-Apr-13 14:44:15

My 5 month old sounds the same. Has suddenly become very clingy. Usually a very happy smiley baby, although can burst into tears very suddenly for no apparent reason, and has a temper on her!!!
This morning I kissed her on the cheek, and she screamed for 40 mins!!! Weird!
I think it's separation anxiety and frustration at not being able to do what they want, as they are not physically able yet. Hope it gets better x

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 30-Apr-13 10:02:16

Posted too soon! Had to grin at dewdrop's borstal comment. Only know one devoted BW follower and her dd still wakes at 8 years......

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 30-Apr-13 09:53:47

Had an inkling that your birth had caused you done distress from your post, poor you. Did you get a debrief? Has anyone told you about the Birth Trauma Association? I think both would help you with how you are feeling now, a traumatic birth can take a lot more getting over than many people expect smile

So glad the chill out time worked too. What does she have for her teething? I found ibuprofen and dentinox gel to be very good. They both also like to chew on a cool, clean, wet flannel.

Hope she is as good for you today smile

DewDr0p Tue 30-Apr-13 09:51:10

Fwiw I think this stage can be quite tough. Teething is the pits too. It's hard to go to sleep when your mouth is so sore!

I found it got much easier once they were old enough to sit up and could do a bit more. I think at this age they are really interested in everything and maybe can be a bit frustrated by not being able to do much!

Chill out time before the nap sounds like a brilliant idea. You might want to think about nap timing as well - I found mine all napped much better on relatively full tummies and wished I'd never read that bloody Baby Whisperer advice about them ending up in borstal if I let them feed to sleep

Chocolateyclaire76 Tue 30-Apr-13 09:44:43

JiltedJohnsJulie - luckily yesterday wasn't too bad. I really persevered with chill out time before her naps and played some lullabies. She went down in her pram without me having to move it, that has NEVER happened! She also seemed happier for having a sleep in a quiet environment and not out and about. As for the birth it was fairly traumatic, I had no previous complications but ended up being induced and had horrific contractions for 48 hours before having an emergency caesarean because she was progressing. Not something I wish to go through again!

As for slings and carriers, she never really liked them to sleep in as she's too busy looking around, especially now she's a bit bigger!

She's is teething so that's not helping. She got her first 2 teeth at 3 months and I think some more may be about to make an appearance.

MooseBeTimeForSpring Mon 29-Apr-13 20:43:16

Have you tried a sling or baby carrier?

JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 29-Apr-13 20:36:17

How has today gone? Hope it wasn't as bad as you anticipated.

The wonder weeks websites is here. Does that sound like what could be happening?

And here's some info on sleep regression, mentioned by smear smile

smearedinfood Mon 29-Apr-13 19:11:42

I'd also google sleep regression

JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 29-Apr-13 15:06:57

claire what was the birth like too? Did you suffer any trauma?

CabbageHead Mon 29-Apr-13 12:44:19

Hi choc have a browse thru our high needs thread v, see if any of these posts sound familiar to you. My DS is high needs and ALWAYS fights naps, even now and he is 12mths old, so you have my complete sympathy. (he has just learnt to STTN, 2weeks before he turned 1...!!!!)

The relentlessness of the constant nap battle is horrendous, time consuming, creating fatigue for both of you. It also made me anxious a lot which of course made DS even worse! That 4,5 mth age was the absolute worst for me, I actually got so desperate I rang and org sleep school.

For me it was a combination of teething, reflux, developmental milestones, super alert baby becoming aware if the world around him (I had to make the room darker and darker, and darker again, lot sof white noise loud etc etc... Everyone thought I was bonkers but I couldn't care less I was drowning in stress and sleep dep!)

Hangin there, it will get better, but you need to survive in the meantime. So do woteva u can to make it easy for yiurself... As in, get help cooking dinner, doing chores etc, because u need rest and timeout to recuperate so u can cope during those long days...

Chck out the high needs threads... It may just be a comfort to know there are other people going thru similar situation. Promise it will get better, just not yet!

Do you have a swing (motorized) that u can use for naps? Maybe good way of transitioning her from pram. See troublesome tots website too. In hindsight I wish I had bought one, cos I realise now, I was fighting naps so much because DS was such a crap sleeper, and the swing could've at least helped him catchup on much needed sleep otherwise u r in that endless cycle. (sleep begets sleeps, rested child not so cantankerous)

Take care smile

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