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Getting REALLY desperate: baby hijacks our evenings

(133 Posts)
TrixieLox Fri 20-Sep-13 08:03:14

I really thought this would resolve itself by 3 months but it seems to be getting worse: my 15 week old baby girl simply will not settle from the time she has her bath etc to about 9pm or 10pm. My hubby and I have to take it in turns to have dinner and just can't relax. The last straw came last night when I went to cinema and came home to find my hubby hadn't eaten dinner cos our daughter had played up all evening.

By playing up, I mean she either cries or yelps in excitement, trying to get our attention and refusing to sleep.

We've tried everything: putting her in her crib upstairs (she screams hysterically so we have her downstairs in her vibrating chair or sitting on us), starting her bedtime routine earlier / later (yes, she has a routine: naked kickaround, story, bath), low lights and sounds, ignoring her, 'tricking' her by pretending to sleep upstairs, etc etc. Sometimes, some of these work and we think we've cracked it. Then she's at it again. She's perfect in every other way and sleeps through from 9pm or 10pm to 7am.

The advice we're getting divides into two camps: a) You're too soft, time to start controlled crying, or b) This is just what babies do, it'll sort itself out soon.

I feel 3 months is too early to start CC but am actually on the verge of trying it now. I also feel that no, it won't sort itself out and no, babies shouldn't be like this at this age. She's got into a habit and unless we stop it, it'll be the story of our lives for the next few years. I know people who's kids don't have their bedtime until 9pm or 10pm and evenings are havoc, I DO NOT want to be in that situation.

Please help before I start controlled crying (or maybe you recommend I do?!).

curlew Sun 22-Sep-13 10:33:33

"Now, he is almost 3yo and sleeps 7.30-7.30. You do get your evenings back eventually"

And briefly!

Things change. I don't think it's psychologically helpful to think of it in terms of "getting things back" Look forward to a new and different life.

delasi Sun 22-Sep-13 16:32:10

Fwiw, babies can sleep 12h that age, but not always at a time convenient for you! DS started doing midnight to midday at 3mo hmm We had to gently nudge his bedtime earlier but couldn't get any earlier than 10pm. Then at 5-6mo he started sleeping less so it became 10pm to 8am, this continued until 9mo. At 9mo he suddenly, all of his own accord, started going to sleep at 7-8pm and waking at 8am. And I know we have a baby that sleeps very well, I know a lot of parents and they're amazed when they ask about DS' sleeping pattern, so you're definitely doing very well with 10pm to 7am!

At 3mo they're not doing that much - DS spent a lot of time in the bouncer or the baby gym, often staring at things or napping, and we had no problems with eating dinner or having a coffee. If he was grizzly or just wanted to be closer then I would have him sleep on my lap and use it as a great excuse to put my feet up grin DH was left with DS two evenings a week from 3wo, because of my studies, and he was fine having DS in the bouncer, the gym or occasionally in his arms whilst he watched the TV. Other people have already discussed this, but I agree that it's more the approach to it rather than the reality - enjoy what you have and follow your baby and not other parents. Try to consider and approach things very relaxed and open, eg if you think your DC isn't sleeping much then do some research (like you have here), work out if it seems normal/reasonable, and then go from there. There's no sense in creating further stress for yourselves smile

delasi Sun 22-Sep-13 16:33:22

NB: I mean fortunate/totally normal when I say 'doing well', not that if it was otherwise that it'd be wrong in some way...

campion Sun 22-Sep-13 16:51:30

Think it could be your dh who needs some training if he thinks babies are all sorted at 3 months.

Sounds like you've got one easy baby there if she's sleeping 10 till 7 so young.Have you tried a dummy/soother for the times she won't settle....or is that forbidden on mumsnetwink

3littlefrogs Sun 22-Sep-13 16:57:34

This is normal.

I think you and your DH had better get some books about babies, toddlers and children or you are going to have a very frustrating next 18 or so years.

Sorry - I don't mean to be unkind, but did you do any reading/antenatal classes before you decided to start a family?

The trouble is, you probably won't get much chance to read a book for the next year or so...

Your baby cannot possibly survive not being fed for 12 hours at a stretch!

LadyGoodman Sun 22-Sep-13 17:46:48

You need to completely change your expectations and show your dh this thread to put him straight too. What did u think a baby would do to your evenings? Sorry if that sounds harsh but you have made her sound like a massive inconvenience to you. Your life for now should fit around her she is so little still it won't be forever.

Whoever is telling u to consider cc at 15 wks is a cruel idiot too.

Oh and not to scare u but my 20mo DS slept through until 18 wks bang 4mo sleep regression and I think we were up every night until he was 1 for something or other. Hopefully it wont affect u but Lower your expectations in case it does

3littlefrogs Sun 22-Sep-13 19:48:27

I am really impressed you have managed to go out to the cinema.

When mine were that age I was still wandering about in a fog. If I had gone to cinema it would have been a complete waste because I would have been fast asleep the minute the lights dimmed.

TrixieLox Mon 23-Sep-13 08:41:51

Thanks again everyone. My baby was born premature so all the classes we were due to go to we couldn't make as they were in the last 4 weeks (I signed up for NHS antenatal classes when I was 12 weeks pregnant but classes didn't come through until later stages of my pregnancy, which was frustrating). So we relied a lot on what our friends said. Sure, I did some research, am book mad! But that was mainly about wonder weeks and stuff like that.

But when people are telling you to your face how things are, you listen. And honestly, so many of them told me their LOs were sleeping 12 hours by 3 months. They've clearly all been BSing judging from this post ;-) And yes, completely realise how lucky I am now.

I've taken a lot of your advice and we've been more chilled in the evening, not expecting LO to sleep. I think she senses it because she has a nice little play in her bouncy chair or on her mat and evenings have become less fraught for us all.

Thanks for all your advice.

valiumredhead Mon 23-Sep-13 09:25:27

Your friends are either not remembering things as they were, making it up or extra ordinarily fortunate as I've only known of one baby that slept through from this young.

Babies change their pattern all the time and just because she's doing it now it doesn't mean in a month's time she'll be able to.

You get a few years where you get your evenings alone but it doesn't last long as they hit teenage years and go to bed later than youwink

Fairylea Mon 23-Sep-13 09:47:35

Ok I'm in a rush so haven't read all replies, sorry.

I have two babies (well one is a dd aged 10 now) and have also fostered many. All of them, with one or two exceptions have slept from 7-7 from about 12 weeks. I don't agree with controlled crying, at all. I do however do pick up / put down. Meaning that if they stir or start crying I pick them up and rock until they are calm and put them down again. And again and again. Yes, tiring but consistency is key.

I really believe in the following -

1. Completely blacked out room and a bath before bed.
2. Chair for feeding by the cot. Feed baby, pop in a dummy whilst baby is already cosy in a sleeping bag (should be part of the bedtime routine getting in the bag in the bedroom), rock for a few mins and put down. (In the beginning baby might fall asleep feeding, this is fine... you want them to have positive associations with the dark room and sleep etc).
3. If they won't settle do pick up put down.
4. Once asleep if they wake up (as in your case about 9/10) offer another feed and repeat bedtime routine. No talking, no lights, no changing bums. Put down again. Repeat.

Basically do not ever bring them downstairs if they wake up once you have put them to bed. Otherwise you are teaching them it's another nap time... ie sleep for a bit and get up again.

Don't engage with them. Be as boring as possible. Don't talk to them.

Cuddle, feed, rock, dummy, etc etc. Nothing else. Everything stays in the sleeping room.

Always offer a feed first, if they refuse it fine but it often encourages sleep and they will drop it when ready. (All mine have gradually taken less and less then stopped altogether).

I love dummies. I wouldn't be without them. I tend to keep them just for bedtime to be only associated with sleep. So they "live" upstairs. Again creating a sleep association.

I don't know if any of that helps... !

Just my personal experience.

Fairylea Mon 23-Sep-13 09:56:48

Also look at your naps... you want two naps (or three if your baby really needs it) of no more than 2 hours max at a time, the last one no later than 4.30 finish if you want them to go down for the night at 6.30/7. Timing naps is key.

Ds is 15 months and he still has two naps... one at 9.45 for an hour and one from 2-3pm. He wakes himself up now but when he was younger I used to space his naps out and wake him up gently.

I always nap my babies in their cots, the same as for bedtime, dark room etc. If I am out for the day I try to ensure I get back for the afternoon nap as if this is cut short it impacts on night sleep.

georgeannaskala Mon 23-Sep-13 10:05:58

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georgeannaskala Mon 23-Sep-13 10:06:06

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QTPie Mon 23-Sep-13 10:21:36

He he... Actually your life has been hijacked for the next 18 years (not just your evenings)! ;)

I am not an earth mother or a "let your child do anything" type (I am a routine driven mum with strong feelings on behaviour and manners etc). DS is now 3years 8 months. BUT I completely agree that you have far too high expectations of a 15 week old. They all vary, but many have disrupted times (between 6 months and 2 years) and evenings don't really settle down for some time.

My DS started sleeping through reliably at 12 weeks. At 15 weeks his last feed would start at about 8.15/8.30, but go on to about 9.16/9.30 (he was breastfed). So he was in bed at about 9.30. He won't then sleep through until 6 or so. I felt so lucky!

Some babies will sleep through from 7 until 7 by 15 weeks, but for the huge majority that is completely unrealistic. Either they will wake for a feed or go to bed early and wake up early (4/5am is not fun...) or go to bed late and get up at a good time (what you have).

You are doing really well! Your daughter is not "playing up" as such - you need to give her time. You also need to be mindful that things may well get tougher at some point in the future (I thought that once babies slept through, they always slept through - until teething happened!).

In the mean time, unfortunately the best way is to work your evenings around them (mainly): prioritise things like eating. With babies there doesn't seem like any such thing as "a leisurely meal together" (unless you leave baby at home with a sitter...).

Famzilla Mon 23-Sep-13 18:06:21

DD is 6mo and dinner has been eating either by jiggling her on my lap and eating with one hand or taking it in turns.

She screams from 9-9.30 every night without fail no matter what we do. She then will sleep til 5am if we co-sleep. Otherwise she'll wake up every 30 mins and want feeding to sleep again.

I tell people she sleeps through. They don't need to know the sacrifices it takes to get her to do it and I can't be arsed with the unwelcome and often cruel "advice" either!

dippydaydream Tue 24-Sep-13 20:10:24

Gosh both mine would be usually up until at least 10-11 at this age and the only way they would be happy would be if they were being walked around with. It is a bit of shock to start with but neither of them had proper bedtime until they were at least 9 months and then it was a bit hit miss. We used to joke that we could never watch a whole programme on tv in the evening as they both would wake up every couple of hours in their second year. I am only now getting the occasional full nights sleep now my youngest is 3 so believe me if you your little one is sleeping through at this age I am very envious!!

hardboiledpossum Tue 24-Sep-13 21:03:21

Even if they self settle and sleep through at 12 weeks its pretty likely that in a few months time they Will be back to needing you to cuddle to sleep and two hourly wake ups. This was the case with my own ds. I was so smug at 12 weeks.

mimitwo Tue 24-Sep-13 21:15:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

delilah89 Wed 25-Sep-13 11:30:32

LOL read this in disbelief and envy -- OP my baby is nearly 1 and still can take an hour to settle and then up several times in the night. You're really lucky! All those other mums are lying through their teeth. Yours is truly the best baby I've ever heard of.

I know it's difficult when the baby interrupts dinner, you're so tired and hungry. I remember many a meal with bleary-eyed LO perched on my lap. It will get better and you'll find ways around it. One thing is just to put the baby to bed later. If you move bed time til 9 then bebe might just go to sleep. But seriously, I am so jealous of you going to the cinema. Give yourselves a pat on the back and order more take aways xx

zatyaballerina Wed 25-Sep-13 20:48:11

Wow, 10-7envy Your baby sounds perfectshock

omuwalamulungi Thu 26-Sep-13 00:22:21

My baby is always covered in crumbs because I have to eat while I'm holding him or most times I don't eat... smile

He wakes up once, sometimes twice through the night for a brief feed and usually has half an hour of incessant shouting at 6am but basically sleeps from 8/9-8/9. He's 16 weeks and I consider it nothing short of a massive win.

Unfortunately it's just one of those areas where we have to adjust our expectations and adapt our lives. I agree with a pp who said don't look at it in terms of getting things back. You're getting so many other new and wonderful things in exchange smile

Pitmountainpony Thu 26-Sep-13 05:50:41

errm that sounds on the good side of normal to me- 10 pm bedtime normal at that age and my 18 month still wakes at least once in the night.....i do not believe cc is recommended that early...i think people must fib about how good their babies are as it is such a rare thing in a baby- none of my friends have babies that sleep through like sound like you need to do CP...controlled parenting.....relax and enjoy what sounds like a dreamy baby! I want one....))

sleepywombat Thu 26-Sep-13 06:07:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

marriedinwhiteisback Thu 26-Sep-13 06:14:19

I don't know if you are still checking in OP but there was a tiny sentence in the your OP that made me think ".....will not settle from the time she has her bath".

Every baby is different just like every child, teenager, adult is different. Do you think the bath might be waking her up rather than soothing her - it does me.

FWIW OP your baby is sleeping fine just not when you want her to. Our ds slept from 10-6ish from about five weeks - we spent months if not years trying to sort out a better bed time routine and we did try controlled crying at about 8 months and after two/three nights he was fast asleep by 8pm - just waking up at 4am. We did years of that before we decided to go with the flow and let him go to bed when we went to bed - because that way he slept all of the time we wanted to sleep.

The bit you won't like is that he has never needed more than 7-8 hours sleep - even as a teenager he never did more than that. Our dd was a bit different - would go at 7 or 8 and then I would be up every two hours for years and years.

They are 15 and 18 now and still very different - being a parent is about learning to adjust and you will. Good luck.

PS: The posts about other mums telling porkies are true - it's a habit they have to make themselves feel better and not lose face. I found out by the time my youngest started school.

Sunnysummer Thu 26-Sep-13 06:20:41

The three of you are doing amazingly! Yet another recommendation here for the No Cry Sleep Solution - but one thing she does clarify early on is that under 6 months, sleeping from 12-5am IS sleeping through. Either your mothers group are being economical with the truth, or they are all secretly dosing their babies with laudanum, or they have temporarily perfect sleepers and will feel a lot less smug when they hit the 4 month sleep regression / teething / toddlerhood. If you are able to go out to the cinema then you're certainly managing to do more thab at least 3/4s of the mums on here, you should be really proud of you and PFB smile

That said, if you genuinely feel desperate then this really is a problem, don't let people sweep your feelings under the rug. What exactly is causing your desperation? If it is just feeling that you are not keeping up with other people, then as people say, you can dismiss it. But if you are feeling that your relationship is suffering or that you are getting miserable, then there may be other ways to address it. Can you have a family member or paid help over a night a week? Or would it help to give each other set shifts, so you don't always have the worry about the other person's cold dinner in the back of your head?

As people say, this stage is very temporary, good luck hanging in there!

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