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6 month old - have I ruined her sleeping ability?

(44 Posts)
Trillian42 Mon 06-Dec-10 14:00:38

DD is almost 6 months old & I'm at my wits end. I'm the only one who can get her to sleep... and she's EBF so between feeding, getting her to nap & getting her to sleep at night, I have no life. At all. My husband takes her for an hour in the morning so I can sleep, & he usually takes her as soon as he gets in from work which is only 1 hour before her bedtime so from that point onwards it's me trying to settle her for sleep, again. I'm dreading upcoming weddings because I can't imagine how my parents or parents in law will be able to manage.

She has never fallen asleep on her own. She either feeds to sleep, falls asleep in the buggy, in the car or with me lying down next to her, rubbing her tummy/saying ba-ba over & over & over again hmm. My husband can get her to fall asleep for naps if he rocks her in his arms for 15 mins when she's tired, but not at night time.

We read the Baby Whisperer when she was a few weeks old but still couldn't get her to self-settle so gave up on it as a useless book. Our latest book is the No Cry Sleep Solution, but following the advice hasn't had any miracle effect either.

Transferring her from our bed to her cot sometimes works, but mostly she's sleeping with me while my husband sleeps in the other room. I really hate this, and although he doesn't complain, he's not thrilled about it either.

She wakes at a minimum every couple of hours in the night and always wants a feed, though sometimes it's so short I know it's just for comfort. She used to sleep through the night from about 3-4 weeks to 13 weeks, so transferring her to the cot wasn't the 5 time a night ordeal it is now. So we've given up & it's separate beds for me & my husband for most of the night. (She's in a brace so takes up a lot of room in the bed).

Because I'm in the bed with her, I think she has lost any ability to self settle when she stirs & just looks for boob. I feel like a failure when I automatically feed her although she's fed an hour previously just because I'm like a zombie & can't face an hour of trying to settle her without feeding before giving in and feeding her anyway. I'm dreading giving up BF as sleep is going to be impossible. I'm dreading having to drop the floor of the cot as then transferring her will be impossible. I'm sick to my stomach with the thought that I've probably created her sleep problems with my bad parenting.

We decided to be a little tough the other night and during the failed transfer to the cot, tried a bit of the pick up, put down technique. When she woke I picked her up & managed to stop her crying, she fell asleep in my arms. I put her down & picked her up again when she started crying - instead of being soothed by me picking her up, started crying harder & harder, picking up an octave each time (all while still in my arms). We gave it 15 mins until we both caved and I put her on the bed, fed her & she fell back asleep. To clarify - she had just fed before the failed transfer, so definitely wasn't hungry or in any discomfort. She didn't open her eyes at all, which makes me think she really wanted to be asleep, but genuinely can't sleep herself.

When she starts crying, it rapidly escalates if not stopped soon enough. My husband thinks maybe controlled crying is worth a shot as it worked for our friends, but apart from not wanting to do it because I find it cruel, I really don't think it would work with DD. Crying makes her worse, not better.

I know this whole post sounds moany & selfish, but I'm feeling completely sorry for myself. I've a headache & a sore back from lack of sleep & cold last night. She wouldn't stay asleep unless my boob was in her mouth last night so I spent most of the night without any duvet lying on my side to try and keep her asleep. I'm exhausted and already spent 2 hours trying to get her to nap this morning.

Please, please, please if anyone has any suggestions, words of wisdom or anything at all that will make me feel better, please post. sad

beancounting Mon 06-Dec-10 16:19:28

No suggestions or words of wisdom but I totally sympathise as I could have written this post.

DD is a little younger than yours (5 mo) but similarly refuses to go to sleep on her own. I feed to sleep at bedtime and in the night (every 2 hours - and like yours short feeds so I suspect she isn't really that hungry - however, not feeding her makes her cross and wide awake for a couple of hours so I tend to give in); daytime naps are pushchair/sling/rocked in arms. It just takes one tiny thing to upset her sleeping and it all gets even worse because when she is overtired she is a nightmare. I am therefore scared to try changing things in case it makes it worse.

Although she has never slept through the night she used to only wake once or twice up until about 11 weeks when it all went pear shaped. We've been co-sleeping for about 4 weeks as it's been the only way I can get any sleep (because when I've fed her I just roll away rather than having to resettle her in her crib), but DH has now put his foot down as he's been in the spare room during the week and in with me and DD at weekends, and he's had enough. And so have I tbh, my back is killing me from feeding lying down, carrying her in the sling etc.

So for the last 2 nights I've been putting her back in her crib after feeding, which means holding her until she is properly asleep (30 minutes or so), gently putting her down, stroking her head when she stirs and sneaking into bed. To be repeated when she wakes screaming 10 minutes later. So far it's worked out as 2 hours up, 1 hour down, until 4am which we've agreed is cave-in time when I can bring her into bed so we can get a bit of sleep.

So I'm more exhausted than ever and utterly miserable, and have no idea what to do to fix things. DD is also exhausted and very grumpy, with bags under her eyes and she sounds hoarse from crying. DH thinks if we let her cry a bit in her crib (not alone but with one of us patting her or whatever) she might settle, but I'm not keen on that (and think she's too young), and she tends to work herself into a frenzy even when she's being cuddled (sometimes making herself sick) so I'm not convinced it would work anyway.

So a very long post but the gist is that you're not alone - hope someone's along soon with some ideas!

CommanderDrool Mon 06-Dec-10 16:29:23


Your baby will sleep through the night - but just not yet.

WIth your first baby you think everything you do is set in stone, rods and backs are mentioned etc etc - it ain't necessarily so.

Your baby will sleep through sooner or later but six months is still very tiny to be going through without a feed.

these books give false expectations and often make you feel like a failure. I found it helped to change my mindset and just accept the tiredness. Tiredness is normal.

FWIW Check baby isn't cold - could teething be a possibility? Hunger - are you weaning? COuld you up solids? Try rice pudding or summat for tea?

You could try sleep training although im my experience (with 3 DCs) 6 month is too young for them to 'learn' anything.

Be good to yourself and your husband.

CommanderDrool Mon 06-Dec-10 16:39:18

Sorry been thinking some more...

Have you tried your DH settling the baby? Patting and humming and soothing while in cot? I found DP was more successful than I because DC couldn't smell milk on him.

Also once in the night - you feed baby, make sure it's a good feed then see if your DH can settle

sorry am cooking so have to be quick

CommanderDrool Mon 06-Dec-10 16:40:49

An I fed all mine to sleep and the two eldest (6 and 4) slept very well from about 12 months, in their own cot. Really, son't worry about feeding to sleep

must go

muslimah28 Mon 06-Dec-10 16:45:28

i too could have written this post. ds is just the same. im trying some things from NCSS, making progress on being able to remove boob from mouth so i can sleep on my back not on my side, but slow slow progress on self settling. would love to hear if anyone has cracked this one...

amijee Mon 06-Dec-10 16:53:46

I can feel your pain as I think most mums can who have ever been sleep deprived. And it's really hard to think straight when you are so tired.

I think the first thing you need to decide is what you would like your dd to be doing. Sleeping through the night? Sleeping with aid of other people? Not co sleeping?

Once you have decided on your aims, you need to think about how to achieve them. The best advice I can offer is to look up a website called They were brilliant for my last dd. It is an on line sleep forum you pay about £10 for but you get an excellent book summarising the main sleep training methods. You can also pay more for an individual sleep consultation which I did prior to going back to work and gaining support for doing cc ( which worked in a few days but is not for everyone)

This stage won't last forever but how you deal with it now can determine how long it will last. Nothing is achieved without initial hard work and pain but it is usually time well worth investing so you are not sleep deprived for a lot longer.

Good luck x smile

Trillian42 Mon 06-Dec-10 17:29:09

First of all, thank you all for the replies. I'm extra emotional because of cabin fever - the roads outside the house are covered in snow so I'm trapped as don't want to risk the buggy on icy, compacted snow.

beancounting it's good to know I'm not the only one. Feel like such a failure compared to mums I know in RL. Hopefully we'll get some great advice.

CommanderDrool & amijee - I think my short-term goal would be to be able to get DD to fall asleep in the cot, preferably with either my husband or myself. I know sleeping through the night is a big ask (though she used to do it confused) so I'd be happy if I could settle her during the night without her ending up in the bed & my husband in the spare room.

CommanderDrool She's gotten a little clingy with me in the last week or so and roars when DH holds her sometimes. She stops crying the second he gives her to me & turns around and beams at him! So we haven't tried him settling her at night, but it's worth a shot. We tried baby rice for the first time yesterday so are on the way to weaning but it'll be a while before she swallows anything if yesterday was anything to go by!

muslimah28 we had a regression on the boob in mouth thing last night... but usually it does help not being locked in the same position all night (hence the back ache today hmm).

CommanderDrool Mon 06-Dec-10 17:49:06

Ok so she has separation anxiety (which is normal development) and so wants yo9u all the time. Let him have a shot at settling her. Make sure she is getting good feeds before he tries to settle

PassionKissUnderTheMistletoe Mon 06-Dec-10 18:32:22

Trillian and beancounting, I feel your pain!

I have been in tears thinking I must be a terrible parent to have created this non-sleeping baby! I have not met anyone in real life who is in the same boat as me! (maybe they are all too depressed and knackered to go to baby group grin)

I don't want to scare either of you but DD will be 8 months at the end of December and I have been trying various sleep techniques for about 2 months to no avail!!!

Trillian, DD is also really clingy and cries with anyone other than me. She tolerates DH from a safe distance blush - again I feel like I have created this situation!

I never got the hang of lying down to feed but all that means is I bring DD into my bed and then have to sit up every 2 hours to feed her (only reason I do this is that it's marginally better than going all the way to her room).

I just feel like a complete failure!

She has had a good afternoon nap in her pushchair today so I'm wondering if she will stay awake during her last feed for once and let me try putting her down awake!

Oh and I can't bear to try CC, tried Pick Up Put Down but like your DD, she hated it and I couldn't stand her crying sad

Liloosmum Mon 06-Dec-10 19:18:28

My DD was just the same, but I started the Pantley Pull Off Method (I know it sounds painful!) and things are a bit better. She was waking every 1.5-2 hours for feeding and it's now more like every 2.5-3 hours or a bit longer if I'm lucky (I know it might not sound a lot, but it does make a big difference to me!) It used to take about 30 minutes before I would unlatch her and put her to bed, but now it's more like 10-15 minutes (again every little helps!)

All you do is pick them up and feed them as normal when they wake up, but when their breathing and swallowing has slowed you unlatch them and put them down. The idea is that they are then slightly awake and you break the association of feeding to go to sleep. This link explains it better. quently-feed-pantley-pull

The first night she cried every time I put her down, so I just picked her up and tried again. After a couple of nights she got the message and started going to sleep on her own and then waking a bit less frequently.

I've just started doing the same for daytime naps and this morning was the first time I put her down awake and she didn't cry at all.

I hope it helps you too

beachavendrea Mon 06-Dec-10 21:02:03

I had the same problem my ds would only feed to sleep.

For night time settling we used the pantley pull off from the no cry sleep solution. It took a while i think about 3 weeks but there were no tears, but I did get a sore back from picking up and putting down. We slowly worked up to putting him down awake after a feed. Then one day I bit the bullet and moved the feed to before the bath put him down awake and he was fine, he nodded off to sleep. Once we had done this his night time wakings greatly decreased. When i did this my dh sat beside my in ds room as I needed the moral support, sometimes it took me 45 minutes just to put him down a tiny bit awake.

for daytime naps we tried the pantley thing but it just didn't work, then we tried putting him down awake and he screamed. In the end we used a dummy, he wouldn't take one until he was 5 months. And now i pop the dummy in his mouth and he settles himself. I know dummies are still a 'negative sleep association' but it saved my sanity.

muslimah28 Mon 06-Dec-10 22:23:14

the pantley pull off is what ive been using at nights once ds is in our bed, we've had some success with it but he isn't waking any less yet.

sorry to hijack the thread just wondering:

amijee does that web company do non CC training methods too? (i'm not making any judgements on your decision to do CC, its just not for me) and do they have to come to your house and do a super nanny style observation for the consultation?

Scaredycat3000 Mon 06-Dec-10 22:58:29

I could have written nearly every word. It's hard. My DS is 20months. He still doesn't sleep though, but, as soon as I stopped trying to get him to sleep, just accepted it, and relaxed, he has started to want to get himself to sleep and has led the way. I wish I had relaxed earlier, he now points to the cot after a feed, I put him down and he falls asleep. It's unbelievable after all this time, I wish I had relaxed about it a year ago and stopped trying to force it. I have only just realised I was making it worse. I can finally see the end in sight, I hope grin
The only advise I can think of is buy a super king size bed grin don't try anything you're not happy with, and every baby is different.
You are far from alone and it's only now I realise that as well.

beancounting Tue 07-Dec-10 09:14:03

I hardly dare say it as it was no doubt a blip, but last night was much better for us. DD still woke at 9ish, 11ish, 2ish (when she was awake for nearly an hour and a half) and 5ish before getting up at 7 (a few months ago I would have been shock at the idea of that being a decent night!), but instead of holding her for ages I just put her down in the crib as soon as she fell asleep (still fed to sleep as well).

She did stir each time but settled when I hummed and stroked her head, and a couple of times even settled without me doing anything. I did have to pick her up again a few times but it was much better than holding her for hours (esp. as it was cold!) and so overall we got more sleep - and without co-sleeping at all for the 1st time in weeks. smile I also put a cardigan on her over her gro-bag as it was pretty chilly, and used a hotwater bottle to warm the sheets each time I picked her up - not sure if either helped but it didn't do any harm.

I've been trying the Pantley pull off but can't seem to get the timing right (either she's still feeding or she's already asleep) - good to see that's worked for others though so will persevere.

It is good to know I'm not uniquely rubbish at this as the babies I know in RL are all much better sleepers and I'm sure their mothers all think I'm doing something very wrong (I know MIL does!) - fingers crossed for us all!

Trillian42 Tue 07-Dec-10 09:47:53

I'm not alone! More and more people coming out of the woodwork. We mostly have the 'pull off' down ok, it's just the waking on transfer that's the killer. Well done beancounting! A night without co-sleeping would be bliss. I was thinking of putting a cardigan on DD too as she sleeps like a starfish and her arms must get cold, so that's definitely worth a shot. The hot water bottle is worth a try too.

We had a disastrous transfer last night around 11 which resulted in DD waking up fully. She lay in her cot rattling the bars with her hands and chattering "mam mam" & "ba ba" (no sign of "da da" yet!). It was very cute but meant I had a long time trying to settle her back to sleep when it eventually turned to tears.

I've decided the problem before was that I tried to do too much at once & small steps are key. My immediate plan of action is to try to get her to sleep at set times for a few days so that she has a routine. Bedtime at 7 (worked last night!), up by 7 if not already awake, naps at 9 & 1.30ish. Then if we can manage that for a few days, we'll introduce the next step of trying to put her in the cot at those times to see if she goes for a nap.

glovesoflove Tue 07-Dec-10 10:11:47

Have you tried a dummy? I didn't want to use one but ended up introducing very early as my DD was a "boob sleeper" too.
If it would help to settle her it would at least mean you could be comfortable when she is asleep.

Trillian42 Tue 07-Dec-10 10:18:52

Scaredycat3000 - we did think of the giant bed! Unfortunately though we're renting so would have to store the other bed somewhere & also it would mean the room would be mostly bed!

muslimah28 I was wondering the same about the forum... it does mention other methods but seems mostly CC

beachavendrea 3 weeks sounds scary, though realistic. That's the kind of time period I'm now working towards.

Liloosmum How old was your DD when you managed it? Good to know it worked.

PassionKissUnderTheMistletoe 2 months shock! How did you get on last night?

CommanderDrool DH tried settling her a few times when she woke while still on the bed early on in the evening & managed to just put soother in. When she needed to be picked up though, I had to go up as her crying got worse. We'll persevere though.

All Thanks so much for the comments - I was so low yesterday but feel a bit more optimistic today. I'm a bad sleeper myself and have always had problems falling asleep so really hate the thought that I might be turning DD into me

Zoonose Tue 07-Dec-10 10:34:34

Another one here! DD is 8 months EBF and only falls asleep on boob at night. We are co-sleeping largely because it is such a faff picking her up, getting her back to sleep, into cot etc. She's my second so I've done this before. DS (now 2.8) was the same and would scream if anyone other than me went to him at night - but, since DD came along when he was just 2, he is settled by DH at night and quite happy with it. I think in the first year of a baby's life so much happens developmentally and with teething etc that if they are not ntaurally good sleepers they do need you. That need will fade away and is easier in my experience to wean them off as they got older. DS just stopped falling asleep feeding and I rocked/sang to him instead, then moved to just sitting holding him, then when he went into a bed sitting on a cushion next to his bed. He goes to bed on his own now, 'Night night Daddy, I love you lots' as DH turns out the light. Some children need more at night than others. I'm a light sleeper, prone to parasomnias (think that's the word) and so are my dcs. It's hard but they outgrow it - I could never abandon a baby at night especially not when they are going through separaton anxiety. Mummy is very very important to their feeling of security! I know how hard it is - I am up and downstairs all evening with DD - but I promise she will grow out of it and in my opinion you can encourage them in the right direction but in the first year you can't force it. Good luck!

Zoonose Tue 07-Dec-10 10:35:11

PS Try reading the Sears Baby Sleep Book for encouragement!

beancounting Tue 07-Dec-10 11:33:17

Sorry you didn't have a better night Trillian, think your point about taking it step by step is key. I keep meaning to make a list of all the things I want to change so that I'm clearer about what needs to change first and how we might achieve that.

I'm so tired I can't think straight and can't commit to any particular plan of action, so I think writing it down will help clarify things for me and make me feel like I have a plan!

And sorting out daytime sleep sounds like a good idea too - the NCSS does say that a rough routine day and night helps and I know DD is much worse when she is overtired.

Zoonose glad to hear that they do grow out of it - I'm sure you deserved a decent sleeper second time round though!

beachavendrea Tue 07-Dec-10 13:35:18

I agree with tackling one sleep issue at a time, it worked for us and is less over whelming to deal with. Plus I figured it was a lot of change for a little baby and we both needed time to adjust to new sleep patterns. Also once he got the hang of settling himself at night it was easier to change his other sleep habits.

With the pantley pull off sometimes he would fall asleep on my boob and there wasn't much I could do about it. I think there is a line in her book where she said if you fail one night don't worry try again next time. Which is quite sensible I think.

We also used a sleep consultant who helped us a lot. I would highly recommend it if you are at the end of your tether. We used mill pond who do it all over the phone/email. She was great at analysing his sleep and just suggesting really simple things to solve some of our problems.

Liloosmum Tue 07-Dec-10 13:59:03

DD was just over 5 months when I decided I'd had enough and started to try to get her to sleep by herself. I started with night time. After a couple of nights it was obvious that she wasn't waking for feeding all the time and some of it was just for comfort. She would wake 45-60 mins after going to bed and this was definitely for comfort so after a couple of nights I just picked her up and gave her a cuddle. She would still cry so I'd keep hold of her until she stopped and then I put her down. If she cried again I'd pick her up again. After a couple of nights she stopped waking, or if she does, I don't have to go into her she will go back to sleep by herself. It's almost like a little protest cry!

We definitely have better nights when she goes to bed awake. I think she has a better feed then as well.

I've only just started day times. I don't mind feeding her to sleep during the day, but do think it affects night time too so have decided to stop.

I like the idea of the Pantley pull off more than cc because I was never sure if she was hungry or not. At least if she is hungry she can still have a feed. And it seems less harsh as well, although that might mean it will take longer to work!

amijee Tue 07-Dec-10 14:32:59

muslimah the forum and the book focus on a variety of methods - cc, PUPD, PUPDCD, gradual withdrawal etc.

The book is called the "baby sleep system" written by wendy dean. She has basically summarised all the main sleep training methods in one small book and it's up to you which you choose. Once you have read the book and decided on which method you want to use, the forum acts as a support for you. A 1:1 consultation is all via the internet over the course of a week and helps you stick to your preferred method.

What I liked about the forum is that no one is telling you what to do - its up to you to choose which option is most palatable for you. I chose cc because 1. I had done it before and knew it worked 2. Was going back to work full time within a week of my dd2 waking every hour thru the night for a feed 3. Wanted quick results 4. Don't feel there is anything wrong with a baby crying as long as they do not need food, winding or comfort from pain/illness.

My dd3 is nearly 6 mths and feeds twice a night without cc. I think it's cos I have trained her to go to bed awake and let her cry for short periods to get her back to sleep. When I go back to work next month and I need her to phase out her night feeds, I'm sure cc will be a lot shorter for her.

Good luck x

CommanderDrool Tue 07-Dec-10 15:23:44

Do you have a strong bed time routine - bath, book, feed bed at the same time every night?

Don't worry about crying - babies cry, that's what they 'do' and it doesn't mean she is acutely distressed . She is just communicating. Try not to 'rescue' her from your DH. He is there, he is familiar and she knows she is not abandoned.

I am a laissez-faire mother though, I make my youngest sleep in her cot evening and night but if she wakes at 3am I will put her in bed with us because I have no chance of catching up on sleep the next day.

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