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Clueless about what's 'normal'

(10 Posts)
AppleOrchid Wed 01-Jun-11 12:40:03

Hi there,

I'm a first-time mum and am constantly questioning I'm doing the right thing. My three-and-a-half month old baby girl has three naps (around 35 mins each) a day.

I put her in her cot and allow her to self settle, but she cries for anywhere between 5-15 minutes before she falls asleep. She's usually up from her final nap of the day by 3.30pm and I put her to bed at 7pm. At bedtime (7pm) she becomes quite inconsolably upset (not like at nap times) and really works herself up.

I've tried leaving her, picking her up, going in to sooth her with tummy rubs, hair stroking etc, but she seems to need to cry it out in order to sleep at night.

Evenings are incredibly stressful and leave me feeling like I'm a bad/heartless mother. Having no experience and nothing to compare it to, I don't know what's normal. She seems a happy little thing in the day, lots of smiles and interaction, but I worry that leaving her to cry might be doing her some psychological harm.

I'd really welcome any tips and advice on what's normal....

On a slightly different note, I am considering hanging a mobile above her cot - is this a good idea, or will it distract baby from sleep?

Thanks in advance,
Apple Orchid x

LoopyLoopsBettyBoops Wed 01-Jun-11 12:43:04

Nothing and everything is normal I'm afraid. You will simply have to find your way with your own individual baby. What worked for mine won't with yours.

Having said that, I'm not sure I had such a strict bedtime at that age. Maybe you just need to relax a little and go with it?

Sorry for the monumentally unhelpful post!

Dreemagurl Wed 01-Jun-11 12:58:45

I'm certainly no expert and my 7 month DD is a monumentally bad sleeper (insert sleep deprived emoticon) but it sounds to me like your LO is not getting enough daytime sleep and so is overtired by bedtime hence the screaming. How long are you waiting between naps? What's her night time sleep like? My DD even now can't be up longer than 2 hours, often less. I'd also suggest an earlier bedtime, possibly 6 - 6.30. Do you have a bedtime routine? E.g. Bath, book, bottle etc.

Regards the cot mobile, every baby is different but my DD settled a lot quicker in the evenings once we'd removed hers as it was just overstimulating her and keeping her awake.

HTH

AppleOrchid Wed 01-Jun-11 14:07:17

Thanks for your reply. Two hours between naps is normal for my little one too, except for in the afternoon when she goes from 3.30pm until bedtime - she won't sleep in her cot after this one, but usually dozes on the breast for half an hour or so at around 5pm-ish. I think you're right, and she is over-tired, I've tried putting her down for more frequently, but two hours seems about right for her, I only wish her naps were a little longer.

I've just started a bedtime routine - a little feed in the bedroom, cuddles with bedtime bear and a book, but the minute we go into the bedroom she begins to shout!

ChopMonster Wed 01-Jun-11 16:06:36

My DS is 14 weeks and can only stay awake for about an hour between naps, except after his last nap when he's awake about 1.5-2 hours. He'll nap in his cot during the day but sometimes he won't for his last nap (which is usually a 30-45 min catnap) and one if us cuddles him to sleep (although he is slowly taking more last naps in the cot). This tides him over til bed time so he's not overtired. If he doesn't sleep well in the day then bed time becomes a battle. So maybe your DD is overtired?

As for extending naps, is she happy when she wakes? 35 mins would leave DS in a grump but some babies are quite happy on short naps. You could try putting her down before she's been awake 2 hours - so if she takes 15 mins to settle, put her down 1hr 45 after he last nap so that by the time she's settled she's not overtired. She might then sleep a bit longer.

As for the mobile, it's trial and error. DS will just lay staring at his instead of sleeping so we took it off!

RitaMorgan Wed 01-Jun-11 16:17:17

My ds couldn't self-settle until he was a bit older - I'm not sure I'd leave a 3 month old to cry for 15 minutes. I didn't really do naps in the cot until 5/6 months either, I found he slept better and longer in the sling or pram, or in bed with me.

He also woke after 45 minutes, but I would try to feed or rock him back to sleep (or if out in the pram/sling would walk again) to extend the naps. At around 7 months he suddenly started sleeping for 2+ hours at a time.

At 3 months I still fed to sleep at bedtime - gave ds a bath, into pyjamas/sleeping bag and then I would lie down in bed with him in a darkened room and breastfeed him til he was asleep.

AppleOrchid Thu 02-Jun-11 16:49:34

Thanks very much for your replies, it's great to hear how things are for other mums.

ChopMonster - in answer to your question, she seems happy after the first nap of the day and increasingly cranky after subsequent naps. From everything you've all said, I do think she needs a little more daytime sleep - I just need to find a way to help her get it!

Saying that, she is a good sleeper at night. I give her a 'dream feed' at around 10pm and another at about 3.30am, then she generally sleeps til somewhere between 6am-7am. I feel tired a lot of the time, but am sure I'm lucky compared to some poor souls who have it much harder!

We've put the mobile up and I've decided I don't want to leave her to cry as much, so we'll see how it all goes...

schroedingersdodo Thu 02-Jun-11 18:11:00

Well, you don't have to leave her to cry at all if you don't feel comfortable. I've never let DS cry for any reason, as I think being responsive makes for a calmer child. He is a very calm 13mo, but not a good sleeper.
Not very helpful, I know, but what I want to say is to follow your instincts and do what feels right for your family. Ignore the books and the sleep training obsession! (unless, of course, you really feel, in your heart, it's the right thing for you)

RitaMorgan Thu 02-Jun-11 19:39:45

I agree, no need to leave a baby to cry if you don't want to. Lots of little babies just aren't capable of lying down and going to sleep, they need help to drop off - whether that is feeding, rocking, cuddling or whatever. My ds goes into his cot awake and self-settles now at almost 10 months, with the help of a little pick-up/put-down, but I don't think leaving a young baby to cry teaches them anything.

Fantail Fri 03-Jun-11 14:36:24

I have a DD who is 14 weeks on Tuesday. Like you I am learning to muddle my way through as a first time Mum. I am hopeless at strict routines myself, so our day has a loose structure.

DD is also breastfeed (on demand) and has anywhere 3 - 5 naps a day between 7 and 7. One of these is normally longish (1 1/2 - 2 hours) and the others between 30 minutes and an hour. One nap is normally in her pram when we are out and about. She also used to nap in her rocker chair, but is too big for it now.

She is up between 45 mins and 1 1/2 hours in between naps and feeds every 2 - 3 1/2 hours.

We have no substantial night time routine. She loves her bath and cries often when getting out so we don't use it to wind her down. We just pop her in her sleeping bag between 7.30pm and 8.30pm then I feed her in our darkened bedroom and then either rock her or sometimes feed her to almost sleep.

She often goes out for a walk with DH in the early evening, which seems to help settle her and they both enjoy Daddy and daughter time. During the night I feed her 1 or 2 times. She dropped the 11pmish feed a couple of weeks ago, which suits me as I can go to bed at 9pm and get 4 - 5 hours sleep. Haven't tried a dream feed and propably wont unless night feedings get more frequent again.

I have always picked her up if she cries in her cot as one of the first things I read was that babies only cry for a reason and need to know if they need something someone will come to them. She has sometimes got overtired and cried herself to sleep in my arms, but that is different.

Hope this helps, sorry for the novel!

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