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Help and advice needed for 5 month old who won't sleep

(24 Posts)
themadsinger Tue 16-Sep-08 13:41:44

We have two children - a 31 month old boy and a little girl who will be 5 months next week and arrived 5 weeks early. I am dad by the way.

Our son has been a very good sleeper since I got him into a routine early on (I nearly always put both to sleep in the evenings). He always used to ahev a nap in the morning and a nap in the afternoon but now just has one early afternoon. Anyway, he is not the problem.

Since out daughter arrived, she has been very problematic with the sleeping. For afew months she would not sleep at all unles you held her. If you put her down asleep she would immediately wake up and cry.

I managed to get through that to a degree and we got to a stage where she would go down at 19:00 taking a bottle which would see her through the evening at least. She got to taking 5 - 7 oz on the bottle and would go til 00:30 - 01:30 and would then typically awake around 05:00 for another feed (would only take 3 - 4oz at the first waking). But would normally go back down quite easily after the feed. However, last few weeks things have gone down hill.

She will not only take 4 oz when she goes down and then wakes about 22:00 when it can take a couple of hours to get her back down. An hour later and she is awake again and same thing applies. It is very very draining and we are both really at the end of our teather. We have no immediate support structure (family etc) close by to help).

Also, in the day she will not normally sleep for much more than 10 minutes or so unless held. Mum has started phasing out the breast feeding as daughter did not seem to be getting enough as she was having to feed almost constantly. She is better on the bottles in the day (but the start if phasing out did not coincide with the start of thigns going down hill).

Last night but other half was getting extremely stressed so I sent her on to bed and said I would take care of things for the night. Basically got about an hours sleep up to 04:00 at which time mum got up to our son and took over because I was getting to the end of my tether. Felt guilty as I wanted her to get a full night's sleep, but work today is very difficult and the way things are there is no opportunity to catch up on the sleep.

Part of the problem is, I think, that we have to put her down asleep - she won't settle herself, but from what I have read it is too early to try controlled crying etc.

I think part of the problem the last day or 2 might be teething as she is difficult to settle even when you are holding her, but she is fine in the day?

Can anyone help?

Things are really getting critical.

blinks Tue 16-Sep-08 14:38:08

things to consider-

- sounds very very teethy so try all the usual calpol, gel, teething rings etc chances are it will be a bout of teething and then calm, followed by another bout etc until her tooth comes through
- don't worry too much about the going to bed asleep thing...she's still very little to learn how to settle herself. Try to notice her sleepy signs though and practice by popping her in pram/sling/playpen etc when she's rubbing eyes etc
- try to keep her cot/basket only for night time sleeps
- I don't think cutting out breastfeeding is the answer as it's common for a disrupted sleep routine at this age and cluster feeding indicates growth spurts, not necessarily that she's not getting enough milk...would you consider co-sleeping and breastfeeding during the night? It's worked well for my children.
- you sound like a great daddy!

Wade Tue 16-Sep-08 14:55:15

I agree with blinks but also I think you're right when you say.

'Part of the problem is, I think, that we have to put her down asleep - she won't settle herself'

Try 'the baby whisperer'. Suitable for 5 month olds unlike controlled crying.

themadsinger Tue 16-Sep-08 15:22:46

Can you give me more info on the baby whisperer system.


macaco Tue 16-Sep-08 16:24:38

much better than the baby whisperer
*healthy sleep habits, happy child by marc weissbluth*
It's all about settling themselves and hwo to get them sleeping properly, _without crying_

Ellibop Tue 16-Sep-08 17:14:33

Ooh I read Healthy Sleep Habits etc and found it great - hated the Baby Whisperer, totally unrealistic and made me feel useless for cuddling my tiny baby to sleep - wouldn't have worked with my ds who was also one who would only sleep when held and no matter how fast asleep he was would wake the minute we tried to put him down. He just seemed to develop and be able to go down awake gradually, I think they probably all reach the stage at different times. But Marc Weissbluth's book really helped us to get into an earlier bedtime routine and to get him into daytime naps in his own bed. I'd deffo recommend it.

lemonlady Tue 16-Sep-08 17:36:57

tms, you sound like a lovely dad.
cc worked for me with both dd and ds at various times, even after back from holiday ds 2.11 stil trying to get in my bed.
The thing with it you have to start at say 1 min go into her and then increase it by 1 min each time. I'll warn you it will be horrendous at first but does work if you are consistent. If the end result your dd sleeps you will all be happy.
Not sure if they say cc from 6 months, but good luck in whatever you try.
I think dd was 7 months when we tried and ds 5/6 months.

Yanda Tue 16-Sep-08 18:29:36

My DD was exactly as you descibe and I really really feel for you because sitting with them for the early morning hours when they are awake and NOTHING you do gets them back to sleep is soul destroying. We also have no family nearby and it felt at times as if we would keel over with sleep deprivation.At your DD's age we used the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and also found the Sleep Book by Dr Sears good (much of that is available on ) It worked to a managable extent and then when she was about 11 months we tried what LemonLady suggests which is what actually finally settled her alot more, but I never ever left her for more than 5 minutes at a time and I needed a large glass of wine to get through it. I know some people don't agree with CC and it felt like the worst thing in the world to do, but we needed to sleep and it was putting us all at risk.

Yanda Tue 16-Sep-08 18:30:09

My DD was exactly as you descibe and I really really feel for you because sitting with them for the early morning hours when they are awake and NOTHING you do gets them back to sleep is soul destroying. We also have no family nearby and it felt at times as if we would keel over with sleep deprivation.At your DD's age we used the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and also found the Sleep Book by Dr Sears good (much of that is available on ) It worked to a managable extent and then when she was about 11 months we tried what LemonLady suggests which is what actually finally settled her alot more, but I never ever left her for more than 5 minutes at a time and I needed a large glass of wine to get through it. I know some people don't agree with CC and it felt like the worst thing in the world to do, but we needed to sleep and it was putting us all at risk.

Wade Tue 16-Sep-08 19:43:06

'The baby whisperer' is a book of which you would have to read at least several chapters (relevant to your lo's age). I couldn't really summarise it for you. Before I read the baby whisperer the only way I could get my dd to sleep was to cuddle her. I spent hours in the night trying to cuddle her back to sleep then carefully put her down without waking her up. BW suggests a method for getting then to sleep when you put them in the cot awake. BW didn't work overnight but I never felt horrible and it didn't feel wrong. Good Luck I'm sure one of these techniques will work for you.

pudding25 Tue 16-Sep-08 20:05:04

First of all, take her to gp and check she is ok ie does not have an ear infection or anything like that.

Secondly, make sure you try and get her to have a nap around 2 hrs after she last woke. For example, if she woke at 7am, try and get her to have a nap around 9am. If she is rubbish at settling and napping, take her out in the pram/car (wherever she sleeps best) at the time you want her to nap. This will get her used to napping. It may mean a lot of walking but it will be worth it.

Thirdly, make sure you have a really good bedtime routine in place which stays the same every night. Is she on solids yet? If she is, not sure how you do that at night (my dd is only 4mths). Have a bath, story, bottle (in their room in the dark), bed.
Introduce a dream feed around 10.30/11pm. This is where your baby pretty much feeds in their sleep. Pick them out of the cot, give them a bottle in their room, no nappy change, no talking, no lights. They are relaxed so don't need burping. You may find that your baby does not take much at first but they will take more. This feed should hopefully get her through for another few hrs. Try not to feed her until around 4 hrs after her previous feed. So, if she has a dreamfeed at 11pm, try not to feed her until 3am. If she wakes before that, try and soothe her back to sleep.

Some techniques to use if she won't settle are the pick up put down method as in 'baby whisperer'. Baby goes in cot, she cries, you pick her up, as soon as she stops crying, you put her down, if she starts crying as soon as she is put down, then pick her up again. You need to perserve as it can take 100 pick up put downs if not more at first.

Some babies find this too stimulating. If you are up to it, you can try contolled crying but keep it simple and go in often. So leave her for 2 mins, go in, leave for 3 mins etc etc

Or you could sit with her for a certain time eg 20 mins while she cries - you are there next to her but not picking her up. Pat her, stroke her, shush her. If she is still crying after 20 mins, leave for 5 mins, go back in for 10 mins, leave for 10 mins etc etc until she stops. It should get better each night.

I hope some of this helps and good luck.

barnsleybelle Tue 16-Sep-08 20:13:41

I swear by Gina ford, contented baby book of sleeping. I always roused mine before laying them down if they fell asleep on the bottle or in my arms. The way i see it is, if that's how they fall asleep they will look for the same when they come into a light sleep in the night.

I used to follow a bedtime routine, then bottle and bed in a dark room. If they cried (which was before 6 months), i would wait 5 mins at a time and go in and say Shhhh, whilst giving a gentle rub on their tummies, then i would say "goodnight sweetheart" and leave. I would continue this for as long as it took them to settle. Incredibly hard work, but so is the alternative. Both mine were settling themselves to sleep by 4 months and are happy and well adjusted kids.

I would hate it if when i woke in the night i needed a prop to help me sleep, so i honestly think gently teaching your baby to self settle is a great gift.

lemonlady Tue 16-Sep-08 20:44:57

pudding and barnsley -

Totally agree with bedtime routine and making them settle on their own. It is hard work but end result great.
My neice has no routine, up til 10pm most nights and has to be woken early in the morning due to parents work. she is knackered, narky, un sociable.parents fault totally. new baby on the way in their house and wonder how they are going to cope. more so my brother. he has had 1 lie in since neice born 3.6 years ago

pudding25 Tue 16-Sep-08 21:29:52

If you do get the Gina Ford book, just use it as a guideline which is what we did.

I feel so sorry for kids like that lemonlady. People go on that babies do not need routines but the alternative, if like your niece, is a million times worse.

starkadder Wed 17-Sep-08 14:23:34

The Mad Singer - I remember your posts from a few months ago. Our baby is about the same age as yours and was 3 wks early. I remember you were asking about cc and a few people kind of jumped on you which seemed a bit full on at the time as you were only asking - however, I understand it is a sbject which people, rightly, have strong feelings about.

Anyway, I don't have any answers for you (sorry) but did want to say that our baby is going through something similar at the moment. He's always been a better sleeper than yours, by the sounds of it, and at one stage was even sleeping right through from about 8pm to 4am, 5 or 6 on some momentous nights. In the last month though, things have been going downhill and the last few nights he is only really happy at night if in bed with us, feeding, basically. This is pretty exhausting and I am supposed to be going back to work next week so also a bit scary.

He has started some solids (fruit and carrot puree) which he loves but which has not helped with the sleeping.

He is also taking less daytime naps than he used to - generally we try to get him to nap 1.5 hrs after he last woke up (he can't cope with much longer) but recently it's increasingly difficult to get him to sleep, even pushing him around streets in pram.

I am putting it down to teething and also big developmental jumps - I think his little brain is buzzing with activity, which makes it hard for him to wind down.

I am telling myself that it is a stage and that if no improvement by 7 months, I will consider cc but def going in to reassure him very frequently, gradually increasing time (i.e. not leaving him to scream for hours and hours, I don't think i could cope with that at all). Actually, I am not sure I will be able to do any form of cc but telling myself I'll give it to 7 months means the sleepless nights now don't seem so endless, if you see what I mean.

Sorry this is such a long rambling post...! Good luck

MamaChris Wed 17-Sep-08 14:32:04

ds has never been a great sleeper, but when things went from bad to worse around 5 months I found lots of people saying their dcs had done the same at this age. I think it's a growth spurt/developmental thingy. And ds is now back to just bad, so it does pass. Like blinks I don't know that cutting back breastfeeding is necessary - cluster feeding is normal for growth spurts, but the 5 month one is longer than all the previous ones, I think. It's a difficult time, but it will pass. Hang in there!

themadsinger Thu 18-Sep-08 08:34:42

People have touhed on the sleeping aspect of the post but no-one has suggested any solution to the feeding side of things.

She is now waking almost every 2 hours for a feed and has about 4 oz - can;t get her to take anymore. In the day, she hardly feeds. Should we not feed her every two hours in the night and try to sooth her through to 4 hours, hoping that this will get her to take more in the day (we cannot seem to get her to take any more in the day at the moment than she currently is).

The two issues may go hand in hand, but if anyone has any comments or suggestions, they would be welcomed (last night she went down at 19:00 with 5oz, woke up at 22:00, again at 01:00, 03:00, I took over on this one from 04:00 as she would not settle and I got back to bed at 05:00. up at 06:30 for work.....oh bundle of joy!! I always thought the second one was supposed to be easier).

MamaChris Thu 18-Sep-08 09:04:33

Have you tried feeding in a quiet dark room during the day (no distractions) so she eats more daytime and is less hungry at night? Didn't work for my ds who still wakes every two hours at night, but it might help your dd if she's not eating much daytime right now.

What's worked for us is just accepting this is how it is, giving up on the cot once we come to bed and cosleeping, and breastfeeding when he wakes. I don't think I even wake up to feed him now, so we get a better night's sleep even though he wakes just as much as he always did. Might not suit everyone though.

barnsleybelle Thu 18-Sep-08 14:01:13

Is she falling asleep with the milk and being put down asleep? If this is the case when she comes into a light sleep she may be looking for the milk as she associates that with going to sleep?? Just a thought.All babies come into a light sleep regularly through the night. It's a perfectly normal part of the sleep pattern. Babies who fall asleep on the bottle/breast/parents arms etc are often the ones who cry during the light sleep as they are unable to settle themselves back without the prop they are used to. If they are taught to settle themselves at the start of the night then they will be able to do the same through the night.

I accept it may be hunger. How much milk does she take in the day?

IAteDavinaForDinner Thu 18-Sep-08 14:13:07

It's entirely possible she just prefers small feeds and is having a period of rapid growth. This also IM (limited) E makes them tired and therefore grumpier, overtired and wakeful.

I think you should really forget about amounts for now and try as much as possible to demand feed her. I know (believe me, I do!) how exhausting and miserable this is for you all but it won't last forever. it probably feels a million times worse because your son was so good.

At her age it is likely she is less interested in daytime feeds because her awareness of her surroundings will be much greater now. Could she just be too distracted? If you get her to feed in a dark, quiet room during the day she may well take more. Alternatively, try using toys to keep her attention when feeding in the daytime. In my case neither was much help but DS got over this by himself after a few weeks and started back on the daytime feeding again.

Do you guys have a sling you could carry her in during the day? You might well find she learns to sleep soundly while carried (it seems she's that sort of baby!) and with better daytime naps she may well sleep a lot better during the night. Sounds wrong but in many cases it seems to make a big difference. Slings also offer a calm and secure environment, a degree of protection from outside stimulation and handsfree for the parents!

We never put our DS down awake and yet now at 14 months he always goes down awake (unless I have fallen asleep BFing him blush). He just learned to do this by himself as he got older. So I would advise against stressing yourselves out about that.

If everything fails just hang tight, it will get better again even if you do nothing different

pudding25 Fri 19-Sep-08 09:13:42

I disagree - I think you should try and space out the feeds as she will then take more at each feed. But start doing it gradually. So if she is currently feeding every 2 hrs, for the next couple of days, get her to feed every 2.5 hrs, then every 3hrs until you are getting her to feed every 4 hrs during the day. This will help her night feeding.

At night, try and get her to do a dream feed at 10.30pm. If she wakes before this, hold her off until 10.30pm. Then, do not feed her until 4 hrs later. So if you did a feed at 10.30pm, the next feed will be due at 2.30pm. If she wakes before this, try and hold her off until at least 2.15pm.
To hold her off between feeds, during the day, distract her. Walk around with her, watch tv, play with toys, show her some flowers in the garden etc It is harder at night - shush her, pat her, hold her.

Try this for a couple of days and see how it goes.

pudding25 Fri 19-Sep-08 09:20:30

Just read your post again and you said she is hardly feeding in the day. Someone else suggested feeding her in a quiet room. That combined with only trying to feed her every 4 hrs during the day, shoudl help. Sorry, thought you said she was feeding every 2 hrs during the day too.

So get her up around 7am. Maybe wait until 7.30am to feed her so you hope she is a bit hungrier. Feed her every 4 hrs during the day in a quiet place (this helped my dd to feed more). At night, you could try what I said about the dream feed and then holding off feeding her for 4 hrs after the dreamfeed.

shuffle Fri 19-Sep-08 11:25:32

Similar thing happened to us, baby had been sleeping from 1am to 8am and feeding really well then started waking earlier and earlier and became increasingly unsettled during day. Tried extra milk feeds, out in pram, all the usual stuff with no success and poor baby just cried all day. Feeding became more and more fraught, he was so hungry he would gulp the feed, get a sore belly and then cry even more. Decided to try weaning early and have never looked back. within a week of starting solids baby slept from 10.30pm to 8am and continues to do so despite teething. Started with baby rice mixed with lots of milk from bottle. I am not advocating early weaning for everyone. It just worked for us. (Would also agree with the people who said to try and space out the daytime feeds). Good luck!

lemonlady Fri 19-Sep-08 18:52:34

Silly idea I know but are her days/nights mixed up. I know she is kind of old for this and usually it is newborns, but the more she feeds in the night and less in day the more of that routine will keep going on until you can switch it.

Does that make sense atall

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