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sleep problem - how much crying is acceptable?

(30 Posts)
Broucek Tue 23-Sep-08 16:06:40

the full story: 4.5 mth DS who won't nap in his cot (only very ocassionally after he has been crying on and off for varying times) and only accepts being pushed in his pram to sleep - i.e. he uses motion as a prop to nap. He tends to need 3 naps a day, ideally each 1.5 hr long. This is easier in a pram as when he finishes his sleep cycle, and starts to moan I can push him back to sleep again. However I really want him to start napping in his cot now as our house isn't big enough to keep a pram inside and also I am worried that by keeping doing this I am perpetuing a bad habit. at night time, he tends to get v. tired before 6 PM (his last nap of the day is approximately 3-4.30 as he would hardly ever sleep after that) but I resist putting him down before 6.45 as he'd wake up even earlier than normal - 5-6 AM, after he's had a bath, massage and a feed by which point he falls asleep while BF. then I can either move him to his cot asleep (I know, I shouldn't do that!) or gently wake him up and put him down at which point he'll cry for up to 30 mins. He also doesn't sleep thru night and wants the breast even though i know that he's not hungry. Typically, I feed him at 10PM, 3AM and 5-6AM and which point he's still tired but won't sleep more. My dilema is this - I don't want to let him cry it out as I think that's cruel but equally feel he needs to learn to fall asleep on his own and the longer I'll leave it the harder it will be! If I stay with him until he falls asleep and pat him and sing to him, he still cries a lot and it upsets us both (and eventually falls asleep)but it seems like the only middle way I can think of. Is this as bad as letting him cry it out? I should add that if i pick him up (but don't nurse or push in pram) he doesn't get comforted by that. Please help, I am desperate! Any suggestions would be VERY welcome.

MarlaSinger Tue 23-Sep-08 16:09:25

If he falls asleep BF and you can move him to the cot and he stays asleep then why wake him?

don't worry about habits, go with what works for you and him.

He is too little to be left, really.

does he need to learn to fall asleep on his own right now? at this age? my 11 month old is still fed or rocked to sleep and life is peaceful.

he is just about learning to self-settle when he wakes - so don't assume that what you do now sets the path forever!

witchandchips Tue 23-Sep-08 16:22:43

my view is 5-10 mins is enough if the child is tired but not overtired. You might want to experiment with different timings for naps to see if that works better, also make sure that your dc has some physical exercise, fresh air, + some mental stimulation between each nap. It really helps even at 4 months!

LavenderTea Tue 23-Sep-08 19:27:40

I have the exact same situation with my dd who is 4.5 months too. I think it is overtiredness, because she rarely rarely naps during the day and if she does it is that she fell asleep in the pushchair or on the breast, but if I dare to put her down she wakes immediately or occasionally will take 30 mins.
Her routine is breast feed 4:30pm and try to help her nap. Formula feed at 5.30 and bath about 6.15 then finish bottle of formula with daddy and bed for 7pm. We have a crying session every night before bed, which starts as soon as I am putting her night-clothes on after her bath, unless by some miracle she manages to drink her bottle and fall asleep before she gets overtired. SHe then will sleep till 8.30 am with a random pattern of no waking/waking for 2 or 3 hours or waking for a feed or 2 and then straight back to sleep again. The only predictable part is the 7pm till 8.30 am bit ....but nothing in between is constant...
.But it is the inconsolable crying that I am at a loss with. Nothing seems to change it, and we have had this routine since she was 6 weeks old. I just don't think she wants to go to bed.

morningpaper Tue 23-Sep-08 19:31:30

IME children WILL learn to sleep themselves in their own time - but that might take 2 or 3 years. It is your choice whether you think that is unreasonable, and train them to sleep by themselves before that, but these babies are extremely young, and "sleep training" involving crying is not presently recommended by any experts (as far I know) before 12 months of age.

juuule Tue 23-Sep-08 20:29:03

I agree with MP.

EffiePerine Tue 23-Sep-08 20:31:03

4.5 months is very young to be left to cry IMO. Also big growth spurt time, so she may be grumpy and hungry anyway. I'd go with the flow for now and think about sleep training (if yu want to) after about a year.

EffiePerine Tue 23-Sep-08 20:35:39

oh and DS never napped reliably in his cot - much better in the pushchair. He did sleep that way so I tried not to worry too much. Even now he'll sleep in his cot at night but will nap in the pushchair (if we're out) or in our bed.

monthlymayhem Tue 23-Sep-08 21:18:56

My DS is 6mo and up until about 4 mths ish was a nightmare to put down for naps during the day, and I would endlessly walk around trying to rock him to sleep while he screamed blue murder.

I read virtually every baby book out, and the one thing that did work for us was 'shush patting' (baby whisperer - it's the only thing in the book that did work for us!). Basically we swaddled him, and said 'ssshh' while patting him so that the patting sounds like a ticking clock. The first week I had to hold him while doing it, and then once he looked sleepy you place them in the cot but continue to shush pat them until asleep.

I can honestly say I was very cynical about it working at first, but he gradually got better and better, and now we can just swaddle him, dummy in, make sure there is something he can rub his nose against ( hmm ) and lay him down anywhere and walk away - 99% of the time he will settle himself to sleep without a single cry.

Every baby is different, but it definitely worked for us!

monthlymayhem Tue 23-Sep-08 21:20:20

I should say, he still gets up twice during the night and wants fed so it hasn't helped with that part!!

monthlymayhem Tue 23-Sep-08 21:21:47

I should say, he still gets up twice during the night and wants fed so it hasn't helped with that part!!

BroccoliSpears Tue 23-Sep-08 21:30:02

Why shouldn't you move him to his cot asleep?

At 4.5 months I really don't think he "needs to learn" anything. He is a tiny baby who "needs" to be cuddled and fed and kept clean and dry and warm, and that's about it. Listen to your instinct, trust yourself and do whatever makes you and your baby happy, not what you feel you ought or ought not to do.

Broucek Wed 24-Sep-08 19:51:11

thank you all for your input! I completely agree with you in that 4.5 mths old baby is too small to be left crying and I don't ever do that, but sometimes he cries while I am comforting him and I don't think there is much I can do about that? It's like he's desperate to be put down (he pushes me away when I pick him up and cries) but when I do he cries as well. I then feel pretty useless that I can't comfort my own baby! I am gald that you all think that at this age I don't need to worry about bad habits, that's what I instinctively feel but why do all the books say something else? It's soooo frustrating! Also, I'd let him happily fall asleep on me but the problem is that I'd have to stay up all night because as soon as I remove my nipple form his mouth he wakes up! Though admitedly that doesn't happen every night. Tonight for example he fell asleep all by himself!!!! Hurray!

Dropdeadfred Wed 24-Sep-08 19:59:39

crying for 30 mins at his age is so sad sad
go and comfort him, he's still so little

Broucek Wed 24-Sep-08 20:04:15

Dropdeadfred - I don't leave him to cry, he cries while being comforted unless I put him back on breast, that's the problem!

pinata Wed 24-Sep-08 20:05:40

i think leaving to cry can be a last resort if nothing else works, but you need to listen to what sort of cry it is - if it's a half hearted tired one, then fair enough, you could probably leave him for a while. full-pelt screaming probably no more than a minute or 2 just to see if he settles

i wouldn't dismiss it out of hand if he's clearly tired and won't be comforted, but would try other methods first

Dropdeadfred Wed 24-Sep-08 20:10:11

Sorry for not reading properly - Does he actually feed when you put him on the breast? be honest my dd3 was like this and I ended up just feeding her to sleep all the time - it was a grim time but I do think it tought her that she was secure and would never be left alone if hungry, frightened, cold etc

She is 3 now and sleep 11-12 hours every night grin

Broucek Wed 24-Sep-08 20:19:04

dropdeadfred - he often just sucks for comfort but again, i haven't devised a way of not waking him up when taking off the breast and putting to bed as he has a strong grip!
Glad to hear that your DD is a good sleeper now!

calsworld Wed 24-Sep-08 20:29:04

Broucek, I agree with what others have said that there is plenty of time yet for DS to 'learn' good sleep patterns and that now is the time for cuddles and comfort.

I just thought I'd mention that you said in your post that it feels like he wants to be put down as he pushes himself away when you are trying to comfort him but I don't think he is yet old enough to understand the consequence of his actions - he's just tensing his arms / legs whatever, and doesn't understand that this results in him being further away from you physically.

I wonder if perhaps swaddling would help, have you tried wrapping him in a blanket or sheet and then holding him close to see if that provides comfort?

Also, you could try a gro-bag (or asda / sainsbury's cheapie alternative) to restrict some but not all movements and see if that helps him to settle?

barnsleybelle Wed 24-Sep-08 20:30:07

I've honestly never really understood the reluctance to let a baby cry. Allowing your baby to cry and observing them allows them to communicate with you. By doing this i very quickly learnt what actually my children were crying for. Not all cries are necessarily a " come get me cry". If my children were fed, clean and dry and well winded they were put down in their cots at sleep time. If they cried and i knew it was simply an " i can't get to sleep cry" then i left them, reassuring them with a shh every 5 mins or so but not picking them up. A cry is simply a way of communicating. Sometimes in the night i can't sleep and huff and puff in frustration but i wouldn't want someone to lift me out of bed and bounce me around in their arms. I certainly would never leave my child to cry for great lengths of time without popping in to reassure them, but i do honestly think the reason people have so many sleep issues these days is because babies won't be left..

calsworld Wed 24-Sep-08 20:31:13

x-posted - When you break him off the breast do you do it by poking a finger into the side of his mouth to break the seal? I used to then let DS latch onto my finger for a couple of moments before extracting that too...

Broucek Wed 24-Sep-08 20:37:03

barnsleybelle - I see where you're coming from as I have friends who have sucessfully used this method and none of their babies/ children seem to be unhappy. I really sit on a fence and keep changing my mind about what's best - but I do think that doing everything on baby's demand can land one with a demading baby. Having said that I HATE seeing my little one upset.
calsworld - I do the finger thing but he knows it's no nipple and starts to cry - clever little thing!wink

likessleep Wed 24-Sep-08 20:49:09

I agree with Barnsleybelle too. My DS used to go all day without a nap, when I attended to his every cry to pick him up and cuddle him.

He was absolutely exhausted and just wouldn't sleep and totally overtired. I genuinely think he cried more when I picked him up and tried to comfort him. I wouldn't have left him for more than 10 minutes, but he needed to cry himself to sleep (sometimes when I went in, his eyes were half shut and he was just making crying noises - he'd jump out of his skin / wake up if he saw me). Any stimulation whatsoever just woke him up.

I also think the jerking movements are when they are trying to get comfy to get to sleep.
It did also give me the opportunity to learn his different cries. Normally now he just whimpers a bit and then goes to sleep. However, now he is in a habit of waking too early from his post-lunch nap and screams very distressed. I go straight in and comfort him and talk gently to him.

I think it is about differentiating the various types of cries, whilst also being mindful that I think babies sometimes do need to just be given the peace and stillness to go to sleep. My DS certainly did anyway!

barnsleybelle Wed 24-Sep-08 20:49:56

I also agree that you have to do what's comfortable for you and i know many people will not listen to their babies cry. I have also noticed with a number of friends and posters that it's more often than not the people who allow their children to learn to settle themselves to sleep that are the ones having uninterrupted nights from an early age. A good nights sleep and a good afternoon nap makes for a much less cranky baby.

likessleep Wed 24-Sep-08 20:51:51

Some cries are easier to tolerate than others.
But we all have our individual comfort levels as to what is 'tolerable' and I am sure all of these babies will turn out just fine smile

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