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Help - my baby doesn't know how to sleep

(31 Posts)
dorisbonkers Mon 25-May-09 17:47:40

Hello. I have a happy, active 7 month old and we've moved back from SE Asia. During that time I had no routine (and never read any books either) so just went with the flow and let my daughter lead the way. I am breastfeeding and she was a snacky eater, so we kind of got into a 'breastfeeding to sleep' type of thing.

But I'm concerned she doesn't sleep enough. She hardly naps in the day -- and if she does it's rarely for longer than 20 minutes. I try everything in my power to get her to have a morning nap and an afternoon nap and I've started a bath, massage, bed thing at night.

She will tend to sleep from 9-4.30 but then comes in our bed and generally feeds on and off and thrashes about.

She never self-settles, only nods off when I feed her. Now I've done 7 months I've fed her pretty much every two hours in the day and it's draining me. I also can get nothing done. I cried today as I'd got a tiny bit of wall to paint and I'd managed to get her to nap but she started crying after 10 minutes.

I'm in tears on and off about it because I know I need to help her learn to sleep but can't stomach the crying it out. I tried crying it out today and it felt wrong. But everyone tells me I need to let her cry. Maybe I do?

In the end I walked her down the road in a wrap and after 40 mins she was asleep, but that only lasted half an hour.

I hate this feeling. I was such a confident mother in the earlier months, I don't mind night feeds and was content to go with the flow. But SURELY she needs more sleep? This is really getting me down and making me think I should stop breastfeeding her (which I don't want to do) because at least others can feed her and it would break the reliance on my tits.

She rubs her eyes and gets cranky sometimes, but IS, on the whole, a very happy velcro-ish baby.

I'm sorry it's so long and waffly. I just feel so despondent, lacking in confidence, and feeling like everyone else's baby sleeps loads and takes nice long spaced out breastfeeds every 4 hours.

I just want to be a good mum to her.

HecatesTwopenceworth Mon 25-May-09 17:50:41

Poor you. Wish I could advise, but it's such a long time since mine were babies that tbh I've forgotten how to deal with all that stuff, blush but just wanted to post in support of you, cos one thing I remember clearly is how bloody knackering it is!

HecatesTwopenceworth Mon 25-May-09 17:51:38

in support of you? hmm do I mean that? Is that worded properly?

I mean, to support you - bit of TLC etc. smile

dorisbonkers Mon 25-May-09 17:55:35

Thank you. I'm in tears now. Have completely lost my mojo and confidence. I just don't know what to do.

HecatesTwopenceworth Mon 25-May-09 17:59:29

oh you poor thing. Is there anyone who can watch her for a few hours while you get some sleep? exhaustion makes things so much worse.

ommmward Mon 25-May-09 18:01:04

you know the mantra don't you?

This too shall pass. This too shall pass.

some babes just don't sleep terribly well. Or for as long as 'normal'.

And some babies just are snacky suckers who like, at this age, to be fairly permanently attached to the nipple

Lots of women have the sleep-disturbed, constantly-nursing type of babies. They are just less smug than the ones with text book infants.

things which might help:

do you have a sling you can nurse in? Then at least you can get on with something one handed while she's taking her sweet time about dropping off (this is where a ring sling comes into its own imo, though you might have the hang of it with a wrap already [impressed, if so])

some people would suggest seeing an osteopath in case there's some sort of discomfort stopping her sleeping easily

some people would suggest a dummy; others say that thte best thing for a baby to suck on is your nipple - your shout

Might she want swaddling? If you try it, I'd get her swaddled really tight and then put her up on your shoulder so she's all tucked in, maybe even in a ring sling (or wrap, I guess, though then it's harder to manouvre her down onto the breast if that's what's needed). I've known some children who hate hate hate being swaddled, and others who go out like a light in complete relief.

dorisbonkers Mon 25-May-09 18:10:00

Thanks. I find she'll only fall asleep if I'm out walking, not moseying around the house. Also, she doesn't like feeding in a wrap or sling and likes her head free.

I've tried a dummy and while she doesn't instantly spit it out, she doesn't nod off with it either.

Oh, and I used to swaddle but stopped around 4 months as I thought they didn't like it but I'll try again (she's 7 months now)

I never did any sleep training as she was an early baby and weighed only 5 lbs and was fairly slow to put on weight so I took every opportunity to feed her -- even I think when she wasn't hungry. She never feeds for long so I'm always worried she's had enough. Maybe she's never feeling nice and full? I just don't know any more.

I don't think it's pain stopping her sleeping but if it were, what sort of thing could it be?

smudgethepuppydog Mon 25-May-09 18:15:10

Oh God, I remember it well. DS was a non-sleeper, I remember doing everything I could to encourage him to sleep but nothing worked. It was such a shock after the perfect sleep all night, feed every four hours, text book DD. I often said that if he'd been first born he'd have been only born. It did pass eventually but only once he got more mobile. Not much help to you am I.

MegBusset Mon 25-May-09 18:33:46

Ah... I had one of these. All I can say is it will get better. And you are being a good mum to her as you are doing your best to meet her needs

mrsboogie Mon 25-May-09 18:33:58

You say you let her cry - what about controlled crying where you let her cry for longer and longer intervals until she drops off? I haven't had to do it with my little boy but I would have if it had been necessary.

Some people don't like it and think its a bit cruel but if it works in a couple of days then its bloody worth it.

I also used one of these when my little boy was a couple of months old and have recently started using it again when he is whingy in bed - it keeps him settled long enough that he drops off

DorisIsAPinkDragon Mon 25-May-09 18:36:51

Have you tried any controlled crying type stuff, I know it's not recommended before 6 mths at least and it depends on your 'style' of parenting as to whether it's appropriate.

I did read up on the problem a couple of years ago with a book called "healthy sleep habits happy child" fairly heavy going and I wouldn't recommend buying but you may be able to get a library copy.

I wonder if you get the night sleeps sorted, your LO might be more inclined to go down for longer during the day as a routine (I'm not a particularly routine based person, but I do like nap times smile)

Good luck and you are not alone

dorisbonkers Mon 25-May-09 18:49:41

Thanks. I half-heartedly tried controlled crying as I felt it had got totally out of hand (she's 7 months so felt comfortable-ish to try it) but I couldn't really go through with it and Mr B picked her up.

I lean more to the attachment style (and boy, do I feel like I'm reaping the reward) but if it's bad for her health to sleep so little, then maybe I need to rethink things. I hope I am flexible to have some parent-led things in the mix.

The midwives in Singapore kept telling me off for feeding her when she was falling asleep, saying it was an awfully bad habit, but she was such a teeny tiny jaundiced thing I was feeding her all the time, and she was naturally falling asleep some of that time.

I had bought the No Cry Sleep Solution but it's in bulk shipping and won't get to me for weeks.

I just don't know how to encourage her to nap. Today even breastfeeding didn't achieve it.

puddock Mon 25-May-09 18:51:38

Poor you, it's knackering isn't it. YOu sound like you are being a great mum and your daughter is thriving, but wearing you out. My 11 mo DS is still rather like that, but things have got easier as he's got more mobile and is really putting away food now.
If you don't want to go down the controlled crying route (I didn't/don't), two books that helped me a bit, if you can get them from your library to look at - The Baby Sleep Book (Sears) and No Cry Sleep Solution (Pantley).
The feeding is a hard question - maybe some of the experienced voices on that topic could help more. What about bottles of expressed milk that someone else could give her?

puddock Mon 25-May-09 18:53:27

ah, sorry, x-posted re NCSS.

snowymum Mon 25-May-09 18:55:16

That's quite weird. My boy - also 7 months - is exactly the same but I just don't see it as a problem. He always feeds to sleep. He's in our bed from midnight and starts breastfeeding from about 4.30 until we get up at 7-8. He doesn't sleep in the day except for naps, and he feeds regularly. And like yours he is a very happy baby. I'm only posting this in case it's other people making you feel something is wrong, what with all the crying out talk in your original post.
Personally, I think I'm doing a good job and my boy seems to know what he's doing too! So maybe you need to regain your confidence since you are clearly a fabulous mum by igonring what other people say you should be doing and continue to follow your girl's lead.
And bung her in her sling to do the painting. Just make sure it's the non toxic variety!

dorisbonkers Mon 25-May-09 19:03:00

Thanks snowymum, I never really DID see it as a problem until I got back to the UK. In Singapore I had a housekeeper and didn't have to do anything but sit and feed/take leisurely walks.

I've moved back to our tiny flat which needs serious sorting out and while Mr B has taken time off.

I think I've been feeling it's more of a problem because I'm thinking about possible return to part time work in 9 months time (getting ahead of myself a bit) and everyone keeps saying my daughter won't develop

Oh and I'm sadly one of those mothers who cannot express more than a few drops.

Since I've started BLW at 6-1/2 months I decided to give her a bottle of formula at night and she has gone to sleep just now.

I think you are right. My mother (strangely quite a hippy in some ways) keeps saying my daughter 'has me at it' an other mums in the building roll their eyes when I say she doesn't nap. My best friend told me I needed to wean her off the breast as I spent the evening round there. Someone told me she wouldn't develop properly if she didn't get 3 hours of naps in the day.

Like I said, all this, and struggling with things to do, has made me lose my confidence that once made me feel on top of the world.

I do worry though. She does rub her eyes alot and gets cranky (kicking when feeding, thrashing about) but then seems to be ok half an hour later.

KingRolo Mon 25-May-09 19:12:03

I think from what you have said here you ARE a very good mum. You say you baby is happy, active and you clearly give her lots of hugs and love. Sounds like your daughter is getting all she needs from you and that's what matters most.

The lack of decent naps is a real pain though isn't it? What I have found is starting to work for us - dd same age as yours - is establishing a loose routine. Basically, up at 7am, nap at 9am, nap at 1pm, bath at 6pm, bed at 7pm - exactly the same every day. The feeds are all over the place still and she often needs feeding to sleep but we are getting longer naps as she's not overtired. She had 90 minutes this afternoon!

The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley has some good suggestions too though you have to be patient as it's not a quick fix solution.

HTH smile

KingRolo Mon 25-May-09 19:16:45

Another x post re NCSS! shows it's good though eh?

missingtheaction Mon 25-May-09 19:16:46

Snowymum, I can see that this might work for you but clearly it is not working for Doris. She is knackered, unable to function and miserable. My first didn't sleep through till he was 3 because I didn't sort it out and I can sympathise hugely with this.

Showing my age here but I would a) read 'solve your child's sleep problem' and b) look at controlled crying. If you follow it to the letter it's horrible for about three nights then suddenly it's magical. Babies learn really really quickly and she will not remember and consign you to a horrible old folks home in 50 years time!

You may find dd is never a great sleeper - some just don't need the same amount of sleep as others - but you will be able to teach her to self-settle which will make a huge difference.

You also need to set realistic expectations - you no longer have help, you can't achieve that much with a clingy 7-month old baby.


babyphat Mon 25-May-09 21:42:25

sounds exactly like my one too, i don't know anything about sleep training either and don't really fancy it, but if your little one is developing alright and happy she is probably getting enough sleep, especially if you are using a sling a lot - she would probably sleep more if she needed it as the sling is quite a good sleep-inducing environment i think.

just wanted to say don't feel like you are doing her any harm with the way you are doing things - if you want to change then i hope you find a solution that works for you though. i found that at 8 months she clicked with BLW, bfeeds less and sleeps better too

nellie12 Mon 25-May-09 21:52:23

Well if she's starting to wean then she might start sleeping better at night. As for not developing properly due to lack of naps during the day...well two of mine did and do the 20 minute nap at a time thing and no problems developing. Ds3 is far too nosey to sleep! Can you keep her active with walkers? (wear her out maybe?) Have you tried black out blinds. the early sunrise doesn't help kids sleep patterns. Roll on autumn for more sleep.

SazzlesA Mon 25-May-09 21:55:09

Message withdrawn

ImSallyIHaventAClue Mon 25-May-09 22:23:30

Hi just wanted to send my sympathies.

I had one of these babies. It was pretty awful. He seems to have "developed" fine so far, though.

I also did BLW and one thing is that they can be a bit slower to really start eating lots. I found that "sleepy food" in the tummy made a really big difference - you know the sort of thing, creamy mash potato, butternut squash roasted in oil, and other foods high in fats, protein and complex carbs.

It took a couple of weeks for him to really get into eating but once he did BOY did he pack it away and he would sleep for hours afterwards.

It also made a difference whether the house was too quiet. We got a white noise CD and also instituted a strict sleep routine (first we do X, then Y, then Z) and this helped too. These were tips from NCSS.

I have also perfected the art of taking him out of the wrap while asleep and putting him down without waking him.... this got easier as he got older. When he was 7mo every single daytime nap was taken in the wrap. Try washing-up with baby in the wrap - this would unfailingly send DS to sleep.

Good luck xx

MrsMattie Mon 25-May-09 22:26:38

I know it's not helpful in a practical way, but honestly, this is pretty normal. And it will pass.

maygirl Mon 25-May-09 23:51:06

You sound like a lovely mum and DD sounds pretty normal. Its hard when other mums/own mums are critical, I found that far more draining and upsetting than the actual nightwaking. There's some advice on the ncss website on naps and sleep that you might find useful while you await the book. I agree with Imsally, background noise during naps- i used to settle ds in bouncer on vibrate to the Lighthouse family (dh said bored him to sleep!), or danced to a song with him, lowered into cot and left the music playing, when I decided needed to ease him off always falling asleep bfing. At that age he just wouldn't go to sleep on his own if placed in bed for a nap. He doesn't need all these props now to fall asleep btw!
Hope you feel better soon, meeting some likeminded mums always helps too, hope you come across someone in RL soon.

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