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Looking after SEN child and baby during lockdown

(48 Posts)
crazydiamond222 Sat 11-Apr-20 10:30:33

I was wondering if anyone could offer any advice on managing the competing demands of a 5.5 month old who is very clingy and only naps on me and a school age child with severe learning disabilities (autism plus a genetic condition which gives high anxiety and sensory seeking behaviour) who normally has one to one support to learn.

At the moment I feel my older child is very neglected and spends most of the day on his ipad becuase he gets very anxious if I try to do anything with him whilst the baby is on me in a sling or in the room making any noise. Whilst baby is sleeping on me I give the older child the ipad becuase otherwise he undertakes sensory seeking behaviour mainly chewing on books or toys, he will not play on his own.

Currently our day looks like this:
5am older child wakes up and made to stay in room until 6am
6am baby wakes up, has feed, plays on mat whilst older child has breakfast
7am baby has nap on me whilst older child on ipad
8am give baby his breakfast (just started weaning) clean up, get baby dressed
9am baby due another nap on me - older child still on ipad
10am we all go outside, trampoline for older child and walk for all of us
11.30am prepare lunch. Leave older child with his lunch and ipad whist I do another nap
12.30pm have my lunch, try to do some reading with older child whilst baby plays. Time in garden
2pm do another nap whilst older child on ipad
2.30pm Dad finishes work and does cooking with older child ( he is working 6am to 2.30pm during lockdown)
3.30pm I do some reading with older child whilst Dad has baby
4.30pm all have dinner and tidy up
6pm I put baby to bed whilst Dad plays with older child
7.30pm I put older child to bed and I go to bed becuase baby wakes a lot during night

I would say in total out of the 14 hours he is awake the older child has an ipad for 10 hours. Does anyone have any suggestions how I can reduce this?

If I could get baby to nap in his cot that would really help free up some time for my older child. Does anyone have any tips on this? Baby naps on me in a sling but will wake if I try to do something with my older child also the older child does not like me wearing baby in a sling when I am trying to do things with him. This is also the only time I have to myself as I go to bed and get up when the children do. I manage all the night wakings for the baby, Dad manages our older son at night who often wakes a couple of times too.

OP’s posts: |
dyscalculicgal96 Sat 11-Apr-20 10:34:23

Do you have any support or not?

crazydiamond222 Sat 11-Apr-20 10:38:05

I have my husband who has changed his work hours from 6am to 2.30pm. He cannot help during these times but is helpful outside these hours.

OP’s posts: |
Porcupineinwaiting Sat 11-Apr-20 10:59:16

I think you need to teach baby to nap in his cot/in pushchair/wherever but not on you for all your sakes. But there will likely be some crying involved- would that upset your older child?

crazydiamond222 Sat 11-Apr-20 11:06:17

The house is big enough to keep my older son out of earshot when baby is in the cot. I have however tried putting baby down sleepy in the cot but even with crying ( I tried up to 10 minutes in dispersed with patting) he will not nap there during the day.

He will nap in the pushchair but it is not possible to do this at the moment with lockdown and my older son - it takes a long walk to get him to fall asleep there and he does not stay asleep when the pushchair stops moving.

OP’s posts: |
Porcupineinwaiting Sat 11-Apr-20 11:25:01

Well ime it takes more than 10 min of crying , so youd have to be happy with that. Or just accept that your older child will be on the tablet a lot for a few weeks, which is not the end of the world.

crazydiamond222 Sat 11-Apr-20 11:28:10

Ok thanks porcupine. How much crying do you think I would need to try? After 10 minutes he was really hot and sweaty and that was with me trying to calm him. Is sleep training for naps possible at 5 months?

OP’s posts: |
Pinkdelight3 Sat 11-Apr-20 11:53:38

Absolutely sleep training for naps is possible at that age - and sounds vital in your circumstances. There's lots of different methods - we used pick up/put down, but there's various detailed in the Sleep topic on here - but fundamentally as PP says, you'll have to leave the baby for longer than you have been doing and not get too worried about it or keep going back too often. Maybe have your partner take the lead on it. At that age, in these conditions, it's not sustainable to have DC only nap on you.

Wintersun13 Sat 11-Apr-20 11:53:41

Wow, that's a tough situation to be in even outside of lockdown.

I think pp is right that the only way out of this is for baby to learn to sleep in their cot. But, I'm assuming you've let the baby sleep on you since birth, so it may not be easy. Also, every child is different so what works for one may not work for the other. But teaching the baby to sleep in the cot will also be good for you, as it hardly seems like you get any time to yourself at all.

Here are a few things I'd try :

- put baby in cot. Make sure they have anything that can help them self-soothe (pacifier, blanket with your smell on it, white noise/soft music, small light, etc).
- allow them to cry for 5-10min. They're crying for you because not used to being on their own, which is very normal.
- after 5-10min go in the room, settle, soothe, then put them back in the cot. The idea is to show them that they are safe alone, and that if they need you, you're not far away.
- rinse and repeat.

Do not stay in the room with the baby. If they see you they won't even attempt to soothe themselves.

It may take a while so I'd suggest sticking it out for a few days and seeing if there's any improvement, don't give up after the first time.

Anyway, this is what I'd try, obviously it may not work for you for whatever reason.

Wintersun13 Sat 11-Apr-20 11:55:31

Forgot to add, as baby gets used to being without you start waiting longer to go in and soothe. And also having your partner put baby to sleep might help, as they're not used to sleeping on him.

Wintersun13 Sat 11-Apr-20 11:57:35

And if it helps I'll tell you what my mother told me - if baby is clean, fed, safe and comfortable, crying for a few minutes won't hurt. Even if it's hard for the parent !

chicken2015 Sat 11-Apr-20 12:04:21

I just wanted to say dont have any advice but have a 1 year old and 3 year old , 3 yr old has autism, non verbal possible GDD , its hard i feel like im also neglecting my younger girl as having to watch 3 yr old all time has no sense of danger , they have been watching lot of tv its only way, we just have to do what we have to do to get through it

PurpleGoose Sat 11-Apr-20 12:15:03

Have you tried getting baby to nap in the sling and then transferring to the cot once asleep? A wrap is easier than a buckle sling for this, but it is possible.

Also, do you use a sleep bag? If not you could give that a try - made a lot of difference for my youngest and naps.

smartiecake Sat 11-Apr-20 12:19:53

Can your older child play in the garden while you watch from indoors? My son has ASD and huge sensory seeking behaviour. He loves water so will happily play outside with water/hose by himself and is safe doing this as long as i keep an eye on him. He also loves to run round the garden by himself.

Porcupineinwaiting Sat 11-Apr-20 12:35:27

@crazydiamond222 so I started teaching ds1 to go to sleep in his cot (rather than on the boob,) at 5.5 months because I was going back to work at 6 months and didnt wanted leave my mum with a baby that not only wouldn't feed from a bottle but wouldn't sleep either.

Had over an hours crying on several occasions which I found v upsetting at the time. But he's 14 now and a v chilled out teen, and was always a v happy and chilled out child, so I conclude it did him no harm.

He also learnt to accept a bottle from my mum within a week. I expect there was a good deal of crying involved in that too, but she never told me about it.

DownWhichOfLate Sat 11-Apr-20 12:38:23

I wouldn’t “sleep train” a 5.5 month baby. Terrible idea. Can you go for two walks per day? I know guidelines say one, but if you are rural and it’s beneficial to your older child this is better than iPad. Also, do you have any specific sensory toys? Does he enjoy water play? Fill a bowl with water and let him wash i.e. toy cars? It sounds very hard work and unsustainable at the moment.

Pinkdelight3 Sat 11-Apr-20 12:48:56

I wouldn’t “sleep train” a 5.5 month baby. Terrible idea

How so @DownWhichOfLate? Lots of people do and it's not terrible at all. How do you think continuing to have baby only nap on her is going to work out over the months/years to come?

DownWhichOfLate Sat 11-Apr-20 12:56:07

Because babies cry to communicate a need. They continue to cry as that need (mainly comfort if left to sleep alone) isn’t being met. Which isn’t great, is it? We wouldn’t leave any other age to cry to sleep.

HTruffle Sat 11-Apr-20 12:56:34

That sounds hard. It sounds like your baby is napping little and often. Could you stretch out the periods of awake time between naps and hope he will nap for longer? He may not be tired enough to fall asleep in the cot. Perhaps you can get him to fall asleep in your arms and then pop him in his cot. I wouldn’t worry too much about the iPad as such. They are very educational and this is only a short phase in his life. As long as he’s getting exercise and cuddles and reading etc too.

Porcupineinwaiting Sat 11-Apr-20 12:58:25

The OPs baby doesn't need to sleep on her, it only thinks it does. Which is fine as long as it's working for the OP and her family but it doesn't sound like it is now.

DownWhichOfLate Sat 11-Apr-20 13:05:58

Either way, if you’d comfort a 5.5 month old baby if it cried when scared / hurt during the normal course of a day you should also comfort them when they need it to go to sleep or stay asleep. Otherwise you are treating them as an inconvenience. Anyhow. Back to the OP - have you the budget or space for a wobble board? Your older child may enjoy one.

Embracelife Sat 11-Apr-20 13:12:34

If the only issue is iPad Time then just let it go.
Ds asd sld always enjoyed cbeebies videos now iPad. Your day sounds fine. Try get bzby to sleep in cot but for now go with iPad as needed. Tell yourself it s ok.

wejammin Sat 11-Apr-20 13:13:17

Hi, my oldest has ASD although he is relatively manageable. I feel for you, I really do.
My youngest is a toddler and originally would only nap on me, but I got him down successfully using a toddlepod (like a snuzpod but bigger) and white noise. If you haven't got a pod, maybe try a sleeping bag, rock to sleep in the bag with the white noise on, and see if you can get him down? When I was without the pod, eg at my parents' house, I would replicate the pod with a rolled up towel arrangement. It makes them think they are in arms.
White noise heartbeat sounds work with sling babies because they're used to being on your chest, although his favourite is washing machine!

Pinkdelight3 Sat 11-Apr-20 13:50:41

To be fair, it is an inconvenience having to act as a bed for a baby to this extent. Doesn't mean OP needs to feel guilty or like a bad mother for trying to get her baby to nap in a cot so she can tend to her other DC (and not feel guilty about treating them as an inconvenience either - surely a baby crying for a little while has to be balanced against DC having to be on iPad for hours on end). The baby will cry to begin with as - as PP says - it thinks it needs to sleep on her, but will soon realise that's not the case and will have learned a valuable skill in self-soothing.

DownWhichOfLate Sat 11-Apr-20 13:54:47

“Self soothing”? Maybe babies should learn to self soothe when they hurt themselves? It’s a valuable skill hmm. Babies don’t have the mental capacity to “self soothe”. I do hope when you are upset your husband / partner / whatever leaves you alone to self soothe.

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