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So how does one switch from attachment parenting to a Gina Ford style routine... (long, sorry!)?

(12 Posts)
evertonmint Thu 06-Nov-14 09:49:43

My lovely DS is 20 weeks. His fussy 4 month phase started at around 15 weeks and is getting worse and worse and worse. I have 2 older children, one at school, one at nursery part time so every day we have a different routine.

Although I'm not a textbook attachment parent it has always been closer to my approach than a strict routine. However the older 2 fell into a good napping and sleeping pattern around 3 months so I was able to continue breastfeeding, babywearing etc. but with a decent structure to our days. It worked really well.

This baby however is a different kettle of fish... I have been co-sleeping with him since week 2 which I have never done before. We tried getting back to him being in the cot by my bed and it worked from 10-13 weeks but he is now back in bed with me in the spare room (DH is in our bed and deals with the older DCs' night time needs) He breastfeeds little and often at night. If I'm lucky I get a 3 hour stretch between 11 and 2. Although I can get rest because we're co-sleeping I wake very tired and am thrown straight into the morning chaos. I lose my temper with the older 2 a lot. He has started to have 2 hour long wakeful periods at night and now we're 4 months in with 2 older children I have no reserves left to deal with them. I desperately need a 5 to 6 hour stretch of sleep, even just once. I am exclusively breastfeeding and he will suck on a bottle or dummy but not really 'engage' with them so is completely reliant on me for food and comfort.

He loves to be carried. I call him my little chimpanzee because he clings to me as I carry him around (just bought a ring sling to assist in this, as he hates the ergo round the house and is too big for the stretchy which he lived in for the first 8 weeks).

His daytime naps are awful. He has huge amounts of stamina - last week he survived on 10 hours total in 24 for about 4 days with a smile on his face kicking his legs and barely crying (but not wanting to be put down). He will catnap for 10 mins and then be ready to go for 4 hours. If I get an hour total napping from him in a day we are doing well. He might fall asleep in the car but it's not guaranteed, and wakes as soon as we stop. Because of the other children I can't factor endless driving or walking with the buggy in.

He is so bonded to me. When I am in the room he cannot take his eyes off me. It melts my heart, but means I get no respite. DH is great but is out 12 hours a day - so he does the older kids breakfast and bedtime, makes my dinner, does the food shop and will do things like take over from me at 5.30 this morning so I get an extra hour's sleep. But he just isn't physically around enough.

A lot of this co-sleeping, baby-wearing has come about because he had a difficult start needing to be in a Pavlik harness for hip dysplasia for 12 weeks. It was uncomfortable and he needed comfort from me. We didn't want to change anything while he was in it. He is now out of it, hips fixed, normal baby. And I do need him to sleep better and be marginally less reliant on me. I need a routine so that I know when I can plan things in and know I have a decent nap time to spend with my older children. I don't really want to impose a Gina Ford routine on him but it would be great if I could nudge him towards something along those lines. We all need a tiny bit of predictability from him now just to get a bit of balance back in our family, so I need to work out how to move him gently towards that.

This probably sounds like I'm miserable. I'm not, I love meeting his needs like this and we're a happy enough if exhausted family. But the time has come to start changing things I think to make us all happier and more rested. I don't want to impose anything, but I need to nudge him in a direction that suits us all better.

This is long, so long, I know, but if you've made it through my essay, have you got any suggestions? smile

ghostvitruvius Thu 06-Nov-14 09:56:37

I would start with naps. Start getting him to sleep for his first nap about 90 minutes after he has woken up and get him to sleep/keep him asleep any way you can.

At 20 weeks he probably needs 3 naps a day. Maybe time them so he has short ones on each school run and a longer one after lunch?

I would feed 2 hourly in the day and 4 hourly at night. At night you might need to swap round so your DH sleeps with him and you sleep separately and only go in to him for feeds, say 7/11/3/7.

Littlef00t Thu 06-Nov-14 10:10:11

You say he has a long period of wakefulness during the night. What do You do about this? I presume you're not doing anything to encourage this, as routine is routine whether you meant it to be or not.

evertonmint Thu 06-Nov-14 10:29:50

Thanks for ploughing through all that! I considered shortening it but couldn't work out what was unnecessary in my sleep-deprived state!

Littlef00t - I might switch the lights on to check his nappy but then they're switched off and I lie with him as normal. I offer a feed and he might take it but is then still awake. He just gurgles, coos, kicks, grunts, is perfectly happy but awake. I often just roll over and ignore him (unlike him I'm too exhausted to play!). Occasionally I might fall asleep and have no idea when he drifted off but he's usually so noisy I can't! I don't engage with him basically, beyond the minimum checking, but he's really not looking for attention. He is essentially just a very happy baby as long as he is by me and seems to function well on not much sleep (although I'm sure he does need it)!

I'm liking the DH sleeping with him idea. We probably need to break the 'only mummy equals comfort' idea with him but I like that transition - sleeping with mum to sleeping with either parent before we worry about the cot.

If I get him to have a good morning nap the day does go much better but he usually wakes at 6.30am and the 8-8.30 window is chaos with getting the kids ready for school/nursery. I'll have a think about how I can make that less chaotic - it may be I can plonk him in the buggy for that period. We normally drive to school and nursery as they are in opposite directions - possible on foot as I used to do it but I usually run out of time in the morning as we need to leave at around 8.10 to do both and I'm not quite there with the morning routine yet (and would have complaints from the older 2 about all that walking until they get used to it again so need to work up my energy to deal with that too!) I will work on that idea and try and get there.

evertonmint Thu 06-Nov-14 10:31:54

The wakefulness isn't every night - maybe every other or every third night if we're lucky - so it's not a routine thing (hence me checking the nappy and offering a feed in case it's that). It's a new thing, started about 3 weeks ago I think.

ghostvitruvius Thu 06-Nov-14 10:38:22

If he's up at 6.30am then a long walk at 8am would be an ideal nap time. Maybe a buggy board for your middle child?

DS2's routine at that sort of age was
breastfeed in bed in the morning 6-7am
up at 7am
nap on school run 8.30-9.15ish
nap 11.30-1ish
nap on school run 3.15-4ish
bed at 7pm

Breastfeeds were around naps so around 7, 9.15, 11.30, 1.30, 4, 6.30. He had a bottle at 10.30 and a breastfeed between 2-3am.

evertonmint Thu 06-Nov-14 10:52:21

ghost - yes I think I'm going to have to work on the morning routine to get us out earlier, aren't I? smile

Your routine sounds very similar to the older 2 and I would love to get there. They didn't even need feeding to sleep for naps whereas this one does! He can sometimes get himself relaxed and almost asleep but then his body does that pre-sleep shudder (the reflex where your body thinks you're dying just as you drift off and tries to wake you - I get it too!) and that freaks him out.

After last night's wakefulness which meant he started today at 4.30am and refused to give in even when I handed him over to DH at 5.30 he has now been asleep for 90 mins and counting (managed to transfer car seat to house as he was clearly so exhausted!)

Thank you. I am going to work on that morning routine/nap first and once DH is over a crazy week at work next week will start to think about night time transitioning.

It's a good job he is utterly adorable and loved by us all, isn't it? smile

evertonmint Fri 07-Nov-14 12:57:05

Just bumping in case anyone else has any thoughts. Another rubbish night but made it to school walking and he slept for 2 hours (though suspect this was replacing the sleep he should have between 4.30 and 6.30, not a true nap!)

Hectorcat Fri 07-Nov-14 14:30:40

Hi, random thought, but even though he is 20 weeks have you considered swaddling or wrapping up snug/tight in the pushchair. The reflex thing caused massive issues with my DD and as soon as we wrapped her tight we suddenly got great naps and then the nights followed.

evertonmint Fri 07-Nov-14 18:26:47

Sadly we aren't allowed to swaddle due to his hip condition (swaddling can cause it where the child is susceptible so best not to risk it even though he's in theory fixed). But it's not a bad idea as I think he is struggling a bit with the new found freedom since he came out of the harness. I could maybe tuck his hands into his sleeping bag though to keep him a bit cosier. I'll give that a go.

Sameshitdifferentusername Fri 07-Nov-14 19:36:35

Sounds tough sad Could you swaddle his top half, so his hips and legs are still free? It stops that startle thing they do with their arms as they're drifting off....

evertonmint Sat 08-Nov-14 12:41:29

Yes I can swaddle arms so long as legs are free so will give that a go. He spent ages flapping arms and legs before eventually drifting off last night so this might help him settle.

Working on ghostviteuvius's suggestions to focus on naps at the moment. I suspect from reading that he is chronically overtired (8 hours total in 24 yesterday) and nothing will work until he is better slept so have decided to focus on accumulating sleep however we can at the moment - routine and getting himself to sleep can wait. Took advantage of DH taking the older 2 swimming and took him for a long walk this morning in the buggy 2 hours after waking and he is still asleep 3 hours later - this makes me smile but also sad that he's clearly exhausted and we hadn't really twigged because he wasn't grouchy with it.

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