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Please help me sort out this bedtime routine nightmare

(29 Posts)
ControlGeek Fri 03-Feb-17 17:07:54

Dd id 6 weeks old and will only sleep while being held. If I put her down, even if she is fast asleep, she will be awake and crying within minutes. Propping the basket up doesn't help, and she'll happily sleep fully horizontal on me or DH so I don't think it's silent reflux. She's fine in her pram - as long as it's moving.

The only way I've been able to get any sleep myself is to co-sleep nursing her, but it still takes about 4 hours of lying-down nursing before she drops off (usually around 2am when she's worn herself out with her fussing), and she wakes frequently to feed/fuss and takes an hour or more to get back to sleep each time.

Last night I was so desperate for sleep that I nursed her in cradle hold rather than lying flat, and I just slept on my back, propped up on pillows while she did it. Amazingly, she slept from 11.30pm until 4.30am, and I got nearly the same amount! After changing her and nursing her again she was spark out so I tried a variation of the 'Ross and Rachel bed roll' so she was safely lying on the bed rather than on me. That lasted all of five minutes, and after a couple of hours of trying to settle I gave up and slept with her in cradle hold again. We both then managed another couple of hours' sleep. This was the most I've had since she was born.

I know it's not safe to sleep while she's sleeping on me, but have no clue how to help her to sleep off me. Any advice please?

Stuffedshirt Fri 03-Feb-17 17:17:31

One of the best thing I ever learned was leaving the baby to settle themselves. I admit with the first I didn't know and I spent hours faffing about like you and it went on and on and on. I felt dislike of my baby and almost suicidal due to lack of sleep.

What you have to do from now on, is stop faffing about. Spend plenty of time during the day cuddling, feeding, playing and loving your baby. When she's tired put her down in her crib and go and make a cup of tea/coffee. If she's not settled cuddle her again but don't let her fall asleep on you. If she's looking sleepy, again put her down and find something to do for five minutes. Keep repeating this and eventually she will sleep.

She has to learn to settle herself, otherwise you'll be stuck with what you're doing. We made so many mistakes with our first but he survived, thank goodness. When the second and third came along the baby just had to get on with it. My new HV gave me the above advice with the second and thank goodness she did.

I only had 21 months between my first two and if I'd had to faff about with the new baby as well as look after the toddler I would have gone mad.

My second and third babies learned to settle themselves and I can honestly say they were much happier than my first. I think all the faffing made my first far more unsettled than anything.

Provided your baby is fed, loved, cuddled clean, warm etc., then encouraging them to learn to settle on their own is a gift to yourself and them.

SherlocksDeerstalker Fri 03-Feb-17 17:19:58

Oh bless you - its so hard in the early days. I've heard other people advise using an item of your clothing in the moses basket, so the baby can smell you near them. Do you swaddle? This can also help, although my first hated it. She did however settle when we rolled a towel into a sausage and placed it inside the moses basket , restricting the amount of space she had a bit. They're used to the womb, and like to feel a little confined, i think. We also used a Ewan the Dream Sheep, set to the heartbeat mode which really used to settle my second. Or white noise on an iPhone.

You'll find that as the weeks go on she will be more efficient at feeding and settling. It was a blessing for me when my first found her thumb, and would drift off with her fingers in her mouth (started about 4 months, and stopped about 9 months).

You're doing a great job - i hope you and your little one find a way to get some sleep soon.

Ilovecaindingle Fri 03-Feb-17 17:23:31

You are making her go asleep before you put her down - - so when she stirs and you aren't there she is wide awake and distraught. . Cue more cuddling to back to sleep and so it goes on!! She needs to wake up where she went to sleep basically!! Semi asleep /drifting off and put her down. . Maybe a shh shh until she drifts a bit more but no talking /lifting out!!

pileoflaundry Fri 03-Feb-17 17:36:43

Have you tried nursing lying down, half on your side and half on your back (with a pillow under you), and your baby right up against you but on the bed? I found that this allowed both of us to get some sleep.

MyBreadIsEggy Fri 03-Feb-17 17:42:40

6 weeks is still so tiny!! Have you read up on the 4th trimester?
She doesn't know she's a separate person to you yet....the outside world is a scary place to a newborn baby who is used to being snuggled inside you! You are her comfort, her safety, her food source etc, its perfectly normal that she does not want to be put down.
I second what pileoflaundry said - have you tried to breastfeed in the side-lying position? I used to sleep with a boob out, and in time baby just kind of helps themself! I wish I had learned to do it with my DD! I did it with DS and barely woke to feed him!

thisgirlrides Fri 03-Feb-17 17:43:28

I personally wouldn't leave her to cry at this young age but would put her down in the cot and try using the ' shhh pat' (repetitive soothing shh shh shhh sounds whilst gently patting her back or chest) . I used it on my own children from 3 months and have successfully instilled a good daytime naps routine for numerous childminding children and the longest it took for a child to learn to self-settle was 10 days and that was an older baby only with me 4 days a week.

Once she can settle with this it's a case of very gradual withdrawal over a few days/weeks so shhhing and a still hand; shhhhhing no hand; being silent but in the room; standing out side the room & only using calming voice specific words if you hear movement (I use "lie down to sleep") .

Stuffedshirt Fri 03-Feb-17 17:49:17

My HV told me that it's natural for a baby to cry a bit before they settle. With our first no one ever told us this and we tried to stop him crying at all costs. It was a big mistake because babies do cry sometimes and if you mess about with them every single time they whimper, you never get anywhere.

I think you learn this with second and subsequent babies. Quite frankly you just don't have the time or inclination to faff about with a baby when you have a toddler to see to, or another child to get ready for school. The baby may well cry a bit, but honestly, they do not come to any harm.

My second two were much happier babies than my first and I'm absolutely certain I made my first unhappy by messing about with him so much.

ControlGeek Fri 03-Feb-17 18:02:51

Sorry, I meant to say side-lying in my op, not lying down. That way she is still waking up where she went to sleep, with the boob on hand, but even so it takes an hour+ to get her back off when she wakes. She's awake when we settle down, ast night was the only time I tried to put her down when she was already asleep.

Reading up on the fourth trimester was what has stopped me doing as stuffedshirt has suggested before now - the last time I tried her in the moses basket her crying got worse as time went over the course of an hour, despite gentle comforting, and I couldn't take it any more.

Dd seems to be related to Houdini, she can get out of any swaddle if left to her own devices - both blanket swaddle and cuddlebug! She does prefer to be more confined and sleeps better when she's held snugly.

I think I'll try swaddling her again tonight, see if I can do a better job than previously, and see if I can get her to settle herself with just brief cuddles when she cries. Thanks for the white noise tip, too - going to find a long youtube clip and see if I can stop my laptop automatically going to sleep so it plays all night.

GeorgeTheHamster Fri 03-Feb-17 18:06:11

I agree with stuffed shirt.

Also swaddling tightly helps at this age. Use a muslin or something thin so they don't overheat.

Stuffedshirt Fri 03-Feb-17 18:07:42

I hope things get better for you and your baby flowers

ElspethFlashman Fri 03-Feb-17 18:12:43

There are a couple of swaddles that are zipped like a cocoon which are much better.

Can't get out of them and don't come unravelled when picking up for feeding.

Jojomamanbebe have a grey one which holds the arms up at the ears which is great. They like that.

BastardBernie Fri 03-Feb-17 18:14:31

Stuffedshirt is spot on, try not to faff, I know it's hard!

ControlGeek Fri 03-Feb-17 18:14:41

Well if nothing else, I've learned a bit more about how to control my laptop - automatic sleep has now been deactivated (I wonder if there's a similar setting on dd... grin)

My HV hasn't given me any real advice, except to say swaddling isn't recommended. She did, however, suggest I might want to join mumsnet as it was a good place to ask for advice - I've been here for years so at least know that that piece of advice was a good 'un!

ControlGeek Fri 03-Feb-17 18:17:15

Thanks elspeth my cuddlebug is velcro with a leg pouch and two wraparounds for the arms - too easy for dd to escape. I'm off to the jjmb website right now.

TheChineseChicken Fri 03-Feb-17 18:21:38

Try one of the newborn gro bags - they zip round the baby like a swaddle and there is no way they can get out. We loved ours. One of the best things we bought for the baby

TheChineseChicken Fri 03-Feb-17 18:22:14

Why did your HV say swaddling isn't recommended??

LillyLollyLandy Fri 03-Feb-17 18:42:54

Try a sleepyhead. My 3 week old sleeps really well in hers.

ACubed Fri 03-Feb-17 18:51:56

Not sure if this is good advice but when my bay was very young and would wake up when out in Moses basket I stuck my little finger upside down (nail closet to tongue) and he'd fall straight back asleep. Had to stay there for awhile the took it out really slowly and he'd stay down. Midwife taught me this and it felt like a magic trick, though I know it won't work for all babies. He's ten months now and sleep great, never had a dummy or sucked his thumb.

ACubed Fri 03-Feb-17 18:52:26

Excuse all the typos! Phone has gone mad.

ControlGeek Fri 03-Feb-17 19:52:00

thechinesechicken something to do with limb development, I think.

I've found a 10hr white noise video, and ordered the hands-by-the-ears swaddle from jjmb but will try the cuddlebug again in the meantime. DH has said he'll take dd out in the car for a minimum of 2 hrs tomorrow to guarantee me a baby-free nap window so I know I'll get some sleep regardless of how tonight goes.

I've just looked up the sleepyhead - ouch! Def no way I can afford that just now. Will try the rolled up towel trick instead.

Dd won't take anything in her mouth that doesn't give milk - dummies and fingers both get spat out! She does occasionally suck her hand, maybe she'll learn to use that to self soothe.

Thanks for all the advice and suggestions flowers

TheChineseChicken Fri 03-Feb-17 20:08:06

Ah right, yes it can be bad for hips if not done carefully. The gro bag is loose from the hips down to avoid this risk (and it's possible to swaddle with blankets this way as well)

MedicMama Fri 03-Feb-17 21:19:16

Sorry but I really object to all this suggestion of faffing around and that you have to leave a baby to cry if it's not your first.

I've had 4 children in the space of 7 years and I have never had to "leave the baby to get on with it"

I disagree with pretty much everything stuffedshirt has said - 6 weeks is tiny, so tiny and the advice re. 4th trimester is far, far better.

Stuffedshirt Fri 03-Feb-17 21:59:52

You're taking my words and distorting their meaning. It's inevitable that when you have more children, your attention to them is divided. You cannot be in two, three or four places at once. All three of mine were fully breastfed for getting on for a year, so in that time they had plenty of attention. I resent the implied criticism of your post. There's a massive difference between leaving a baby to cry and giving them chance to settle.

When you have just one child things can become very intense. With my first even a whimper was a signal to pick him up but with a subsequent baby if I was dealing with potty time then the whimper could wait.

EsmesBees Fri 03-Feb-17 22:07:35

I wouldn't leave a 6 wk old to cry either. I would also recommend a sleepyhead. It's a great invention. You can have it in the bed next to you so they are still close, just not on you. Also, have you tried a dummy?

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