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Seriously need advice re 5/6 month old breastfed baby - sleep/feeds. At wits end :(

(123 Posts)
seri0usly Thu 14-Jul-16 16:33:54

Hi all.

Really hoping somebody can offer me some advice as I'm at breaking point with exhaustion/sleep deprivation and basically dont know whether I'm coming or going each day. My 5.5 month old is exclusively breastfed and every day is still very different with no structure or routine. I'm sure this works for some people but it doesn't work for me nor him. I am exhausted, he looks very tired too. Today he slept this morning 9am-10.30 but I haven't been able to get him to sleep since. Feeds are all over the place. He is unsettled at night. He can't fall asleep on his own. He won't go in his cot. The longest he ever sleeps now is 2 hours day or night.

I genuinely feel there is something wrong with my milk? Maybe the quality isn't good enough as I'm so tired and probably not getting the nutrition I should be. I feel so depleted. At least if I gave formula I'd be able to read his signs better, know that he can't really be hungry as he's had X amount of milk so far today.

I'm going out of my mind. I'm too tired now to know what to do. Can anyone help? What is the structure of your 5-6 month old's day if they are BF?

I have another child who is pretty much ignored now or snapped at. She watches far too much TV and has very little attention from me. My husband and I are constantly arguing. I really feel like walking out. It isn't PND, its just sheer exhaustion.

How can I get a routine in place so I know what's next? I have tried so many times and it never ever happens. He wakes from naps early, he wakes for the day at different times, he relies on feed to sleep so EASY doesn't work, he is hysterical if I try and break this, he falls asleep at different times each night even though the bedtime routine is always done at the same time. Its sending me demented!

We do try every night to do bath, PJs, milk at almost exactly the same time and with sleep cues like Ewan and comforter etc. Some nights he drops off easily, others takes hours. He always wakes within 45mins or so anyway.

How on earth do I make things better for the good of the whole family. I can't take it any longer sad

FYI I had none of these issues with my first, none at all.

ElspethFlashman Thu 14-Jul-16 16:37:45

Are you starting to give him food at this point? Ellas Kitchen pouches/baby rice etc?

Will he take a bottle or beaker?

MoonlightMedicine Thu 14-Jul-16 16:40:28

I have been where you are twice OP. I don't have any advice for you, I'm afraid. I came to the conclusion I had high needs babies. I would say that it is unlikely to be anything wrong with your milk or anything else you are doing.

Hang in there, it will get better.

seri0usly Thu 14-Jul-16 16:48:55

I haven't started food yet. Waiting until 6 months so only a couple weeks. He took a bottle for the first time at 4 months but I never feel like I have the time or energy to pump so we've not gone down that route.

He seems contented, very smiley baby. People comment on how lovely he is and people don't believe I have so much trouble. I really don't know what his problem with sleep is confused

I really can't take another day of it.

MessyBun247 Thu 14-Jul-16 16:53:18

Would you consider switching to formula? As he's only a few weeks away from eating anyway?

seri0usly Thu 14-Jul-16 17:03:08

Yes I would/am considering trying it to see if it helps.

Just so sad that it's turned out like this. I wanted to enjoy my maternity leave.

Can anyone tell me how your DC's day pans out? Especially if bf?

Mummychoochoo3 Thu 14-Jul-16 17:04:06

I know exactly how you feel OP. My DS was exactly the same at this age. It brings back awful memories. I tried different approaches such a formula and even giving water from a sippy cup but it didn't make any difference. I ended up putting him in his own room at night just so I could get proper sleep and refused to bring him into my bed at any time before 6am and it worked, i still can't believe it. I just left the baby monitor on loud and gradually it improved quicker than expected. His nap times gradually improved too. I spoke to my health visitor and she just said all babies are different. Not what I really wanted to hear at the time!

ElspethFlashman Thu 14-Jul-16 17:05:38

Tbh there is zero difference between 5.5 months and 6 months. As someone wise once said to me, there isn't a switch that turns on in the body at exactly 24 weeks! As long as it's completely smooth it's certainly fine at 5.5.

I weaned around then cos mine just weren't satisfied anymore and it seemed ridiculous to quibble.

Think about it? He very well may be hungry now that he's growing.

NettersAndLukbers Thu 14-Jul-16 17:12:08

Completely with you OP.

My DD2 is 21 weeks and dont really have a routine either.

She used to sleep up to 4 hours at night but recently been a lot less (sleep regression?)

My DD1 is 3 and has to get a less attention too.

If you think FF will help them go for it. Personally I think that BF means you'll be feeding more often as its digested quicker.

Great advice so far from PPs just wanted to show you're not alone.

seri0usly Thu 14-Jul-16 17:26:32

Mummychoochoo - how did you handle the night wakings? How did you respond?

muddypuddled Thu 14-Jul-16 17:33:26

Will he sleep in a pram or sling? I struggle with routine and my daughter. I also have a 3 year old so when baby would wake I would feed her then get 3 year old up and breakfast and dressed. That would give us the 90 ish minute gap from waking up. We would then go for a walk either with pram or sling and take 3 year old to the park/shops. Baby would usually fall asleep with the movement. I also felt like I'd done something and given attention to the 3 year old. Home for lunch and feed baby as soon as she wakes then usually a lazy afternoon with tv for me to get some rest!! I would also feed baby to sleep in the afternoon and although people tell you not to I would just cuddle her whilst she sleeps. Means she sleeps for longer. Then tea for us and bath, pjs, feed for bedtime. If he's at home husband would do bedtime for 3 year old. She would and still (at 9 months) wakes around 3/4 times a night. Sometimes for feeds but sometimes I can calm her with rocking. If you're going to give formula it's not the end of the world but I would give it for the bedtime feed as it might keep him full for longer and give you a longer stretch to start with. Your milk also won't be quite as satisfying as the day goes on. Make sure you're eating plenty of good fats to keep your supply good. You'll get there, it's only for a short time.

seri0usly Thu 14-Jul-16 19:26:41

Muddypuddled - thanks. I'm eating eggs and avocado daily for fat and trying to keep my protein intake up but not sure I'm eating enough. Yes he'll sleep in the pram but he nearly always wakes after the 45 min cycle if not before if he's disturbed by noise then he doesn't want to go back to sleep again.

I'm wondering if the fact he can't self sooth/settle himself to sleep is the number one issue I need to resolve. But I don't know how to teach him this when all he does is become hysterical.

user1466690252 Thu 14-Jul-16 19:35:30

Stop stressing yourself out and give him a bottle of formula. Youve done so well gettting this far but the whole thing seems so stressful and crazy to carry on. Give him a bottle and see how that goes

seri0usly Thu 14-Jul-16 19:52:33

I'm happy to do that but really not sure hunger is the issue, it was just one idea. It's worth trying I guess smile

Abrahamkin Thu 14-Jul-16 21:03:22

My DS was the same. My main benefit maybe was that I didn't realise that he should be sleeping longer than 45 mins! So in the morning nap I walked him to sleep in the pram, and when he slept I stopped and rested. When he woke up I didn't try to put him back to sleep but that was it. If he slept 1.5 hrs or so that was just bliss and I took it as luck. The midday nap I coslept with him so I also got a nap. That was often longer. The afternoon nap was again walking him in a pram (or sling). Evening I fed him to sleep then placed him in his cot.

Redhead79 Thu 14-Jul-16 21:27:29

We were in a similar position but I was also back at work so juggling boob and expressed milk... This may be controversial but we did a bit of a Gina and started feeding to a schedule rather than on demand (breast and expressed milk) at around 5 months and it did really help.
We still have issues with short naps and early waking and some nights of multiple wakings but she is much more settled since we did this and on the whole we are all getting more sleep.

turquoise88 Thu 14-Jul-16 21:32:30

He's insanely overtired.

He's not sleeping well during the night because he's not sleeping well in the day. Has he always been like this? Weight gain ok? No tongue tie issues?

My dd wasn't a great sleeper (also bf) until I weaned her. I know there is a lot out there that claims there to be no link and sometimes I'm sure their isn't, but surely it's worth a try for your sanity? Please don't wait 2 weeks because you think you should. You need to make changes straight away as you yourself said that you can't go on like it.

My dd didn't fall asleep/self settle til around 6.5-7 months really. At this age, my dd couldn't go more than about 2 hours without a nap. Can you try focusing on getting him to nap every 2 hours? Don't use put him down and leave him to settle himself like the books say - it won't work. Rock him to sleep if necessary. Just get him to sleep. Ask for help from others if you can. Don't worry about sleep associations. I rocked my dd to sleep from birth to 7 months and now, at 11 months, I put her in her cot awake and she puts herself to sleep. She also sleeps through. You need to get out of the override so cycle and then hopefully you can begin to move forward. He may also settle better with a fuller tummy.

I really feel for you, OP. I've been there! flowers

turquoise88 Thu 14-Jul-16 21:34:52

Argh that should say, "you need to get yourself out of the overtired cycle."

Dachshund Thu 14-Jul-16 21:40:23

I really feel for you OP - my 7.5 month DD is exactly the same. In fact I'm writing this at 9.30 pm with her strapped in the sling sleeping on me as she barely napped today and was so overtired at bedtime she had a screaming fit.

My routine is ... there is no routine. She wakes up between 5-8 it's literally that large a variation. If it's before 6.30/6.45 I generally try to feed her back to sleep but more often than not we're just up for the day.

Stuff that worked for me:
Ignoring all the gubbins about babies being sleepy after being awake 2 hours etc. I don't force naps ever I wait and watch for signs. She can reliably go 4 or 5 hours between naps so I try to focus on quality sleep.

Ergo 360. She won't sleep on her back. She won't sleep in a pram. She hates the car seat. She won't sleep in a cot. That leaves big bed with me beside her or sling. Sling saved my life.

Co-sleeping. She was fine when she was in a bedside cot. She also did about a month in a big cot but otherwise my DH and I are doing a constantly shifting rota of our bedroom or the sofa bed in her room.

It will get better! She mostly sleeps through the night now albeit right next to me. Solids helped a little I think. She's very very lively and active. Rolling at 4 months, crawling at 6, now cruising. I think she was often very frustrated as a small baby.

I realise it's harder for you as I'm a FTM and I'm also not working for the foreseeable so I'm not working when tired. Still knackered though.

It will get better - I tell myself that regularly. She won't be glued to my boob at 4 years old. Time moves so quickly in childhood and it WILL end. I also take comfort in the fact that she's clearly happy and well adjusted so I'm a good mum. You're a good mum. And your milk has enough for her but why not try some solids - it might really help.


Maybebabybee Thu 14-Jul-16 21:54:12

Agree you're stuck in an overtired cycle. My DS is 4.5 months so a bit younger than your little boy but our average day looks something like this:

5.30am - up for a quick feed and change,,back to sleep until 6.30/7

6.30/7 - up for the day, feed, put on day clothes, play a bit

8am Nap 1, usually an hour

9am eat, play bla bla

10.30am nap 2, usually an hour

11.30 eat play etc etc etc

1pm - nap 3, 90 mins - 2 hours

2.30 PM eat play bla bla

4pm short catnap, 20-30 mins, often in pram for this one

5.30pm commence bedtime routine

6/6.30pm bed

Then he's up for feeds roughly every 3 hours. Sometimes I get a 4/5 hour initial stretch but not often.

When he got to 8 weeks he stopped being able to nap anywhere (ie in bouncer etc) and became chronically overtired - only a couple of 30 min naps in the day, late to bed, hourly wakings. He will only nap in a dark room, in his cot, with white noise. I've tried everything else. He will fall asleep in the pram but not stay asleep for a decent length of time so I can only really count on that for a catnap really.

This means my life totally revolves around his naps now. Used to frustrate me but I've kind of accepted it now and the alternative is worse. I've had to accept I do not have a very portable baby and he needs proper sleep conditions to get the sleep he needs.

Obviously you have another little one so I appreciate this may not be practical for you.

and DS is currently teething so it has all gone to shit

By all means give formula a try (why not??) but it won't be your milk - especially as you say he's quite settled generally and I assume has good output etc. It will be overtiredness.

brewcakechocolate to you, it's so bloody hard.

KatyN Thu 14-Jul-16 21:59:40

I would recommend introducing a bottle (of formula?) and begging/paying anyone to do a night shift for you. Then get some sleep. Once you have a good 12 hours under your belt (and another one lined up in a week's time if it's your husband and he works during the week) you can tackle anything!
My 6 month old is ff and always has been so maybe my day won't be much use to you but if you want one for comparison:
6:30 wake and bottle of 8oz
8 nap
9ish wake
10:30 bottle
12 ish nap
1:30 wake
2:30 bottle
5:30 bedtime starts, bath etc
6:30 bottle and bed.

She also had a dummy which is an absolute saviour, if she wakes during the night she just wants her dummy.

to get mine into her nap routine I used to walk and walk and walk somewhere quiet and sometimes rocking the pram a bit. Once she got used to sleeping we moved to sleeping at home. I gradually put her down in her cot slightly more awake each time. i would sit next to the cot susshing and rubbing her tummy. Sometimes she would need picking up for a cuddle and then I would pop her back in. When she could fall asleep with me sat next to her I started leaving her awake and if she woke I would leave her 5 minutes to try and settle back to sleep. This bit is horrid, and light not work with a toddler in the house. But it does make a massive difference.
I also read a book called 12 weeks to 12 hours which is really small so only takes a couple of hours to read and once we implemented it she slept through within a fortnight (12 hours.). The problem with lots of routine books is they take so long. I would recommend this one for it's brevity
Hopefully that is some help?? I do hope it gets better. Good luck kx

KatyN Thu 14-Jul-16 22:01:24

I have a 4 year old as well. He watches a LOT of telly some days. But I was defo at my worst when pregnant. I'm sure they will thank us for their siblings when they grow up and forget the slightly rubbish time when the sibling first arrived!

MadeForThis Thu 14-Jul-16 22:04:11

Hi, my DD was ebf until weaned at 6 months. Still bf to sleep now at almost 10 months. I think the 45 min sleep pattern is totally normal. My DD started waking every 45 mins from around 4 months. It's torture at nighttime. We survived by cosleeping. It made a massive difference to my clingy baby. Still a few night wakenings every night but doesn't disturb me too much, a quick feed and asleep again. I found weaning had no effect on her sleep at all but didn't try formula, no objections, DD just won't take a bottle.
Nap routine at 6 months was 3 a day. As with you we had no set wake up time, could be 6.30 to 9.30. Generally after 2 hours she needed a sleep. Always fed to sleep and generally held in arms or lying beside me. Would wake instantly if I left the room. Would only ever sleep 45 mins in car or pram so tried to be at home for at least one nap.

No solution in afraid, I do what's necessary to let DD sleep, feed, rock, hold.

Now down to 2 naps usually 1-2 hours so it can get better, but still feeding etc to ensure the naps happen.

GirlWithTheLionHeart Thu 14-Jul-16 22:11:45

I just switched to forumla at 5/6 months for this exact reason. No routine.
He must be seriously overtired! If they don't sleep enough during the day they get overtired and don't sleeo at night.

Here's my routine for daytime now we've switched.

Wake at 6ish
Nap at 8am - 10am
Nap at 2pm - 3pm
Nap at 4.30-5pm
Bed at 8pm

So bottle every 3 hours and 3 naps a day. This is usual for 5 or 6 month old.

Dd need white noise and rocking a bit to sleep then transfer off me but she sleeps in my bed each nap and at bedtime.

GirlWithTheLionHeart Thu 14-Jul-16 22:15:31

Oh and she wakes either once or twice a night. Sometimes I can get her back sleep without feed or she will just roll over on her own
Sometimes she needs a feed and back to sleep

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