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4 month old bedtime routine no longer works

(11 Posts)
titihood Fri 22-Jul-11 00:23:35

So, my son is 4 months old and since he was about 8 weeks old we've had the same routine for bedtime - bath, breast, then swaddle before giving him our little finger to suck on while he falls asleep. This was working fine, and he started sleeping from about 7:30 until 4am, whereupon I'd feed him and put him back down and he'd generally fall asleep by himself.
However, about a week ago the finger no longer worked. We'd put him down, give him the finger, and he would just scream and scream. The first time, I thought he was still hungry, so fed him for about 10 minutes and he immediately fell asleep in my arms. The next night I knew he couldn't be hungry as he'd fallen asleep at the breast twice and had fed for over 30 minutes. I picked him up, rocked him, he calmed down and then my partner gave him the finger and he fell asleep. The next night, none of that worked and I had to feed him to sleep. It has been that way now for a week.
He started teething about a month ago and we give him infant paracetamol at bathtime if his teeth seem particularly bad. Tonight I have fed him to sleep and gone to put him in his cot and he has woken up the minute I moved...twice. We've tried leaving him to cry but he never calms down, he just screams his head off continuously (longest we tried was 30 minutes in a stretch).
I know that this could just be a phase, but I am starting to lose my mind feeding him to sleep when deep sleep can take 20-45 minutes and if I move a muscle he awakes.

Any tips? Anyone had similar experience - how did you keep sane?

Thanks!

jaggythistle Fri 22-Jul-11 10:47:42

I'm afraid I just kept feeding my DS to sleep. It kept me much saner to just go with what he needed thatn try and make him change. Are you trying to stop feeding to sleep for a particular reason?

My DS is now 22 months and can settle fine on his own without any training, I just changed his wee routine away from feeding/cuddling to sleep, to a story last thing when he was older.

I think 4 months is way too tiny to leave to cry on their own. I couldn't do it at any age though cos I am a big softie!

4 months is a common time for a 'sleep regression' where all the wee patterns go out the window as the baby becomes more aware and starts thinking about rolling over etc. Try googling '4 month sleep regression' - kellymom.com is one good site to check too.

He could be a bit hungry, i think there is sometimes a bit of a growth spurt around this time too, so he might feed a bit more for a while.

Hope it all settles down soon for you. smile

titihood Wed 27-Jul-11 17:53:02

Thanks jaggythistle
I had heard about the 4 month sleep regression so have been wondering if that was it. He still sleeps pretty well at night though (once he is asleep) so I was not sure.
What threw me was that I never needed to feed him to sleep before, so although I know it is not the end of the world to have to start to do so, I am worried that this means I will have to do it for a long time. Seeing as it can take him anywhere from 20-80 minutes to be asleep enough to be able to move him without him waking up, it is quite a lengthy (and arm-muscle-building) experience.
Lately we've been trying a different dummy called a Soothie (one you stick your finger in) that seems to be working, so fingers crossed I can revert back to feeding him to drowsy then putting him down with the dummy in his mouth. I really hate the cry it out method too; my bf says that 'all the studies show' blahblah but I don't really care about what a study says; I cannot handle my son screaming his head off and I don't think it is fair, especially as he's so young. Didn't work anyway!
Glad to hear your DS is doing well regarding sleep. I am looking forward to when we no longer need to swaddle our little boy (if we don't he scrabbles and flails around). I will probably miss it when we no longer have to though!

jaggythistle Thu 28-Jul-11 09:19:50

Yup, my arm muscles are pretty good too grin I still use a pillow to rest him on if he is needing a cuddle.

Mine is going through a weird phase where he bounces happily around in his cot and chats to his toys for about an HOUR before conking out. No idea how he keeps going. Just when you think you've got them sussed out...

I am thinking it's the bright evenings, he seems to think it's the morning and occasionally shouts "Muuuummy! Zip." as he thinks I'll get him out of his sleeping bag hmm

Good luck smile

HicUps Sat 30-Jul-11 18:07:19

Hello.
My DD (my first), seems to be doing the same thing. She is 13 weeks old and up until last week used to feed around 7:30pm and I'd put her in her cot and she would sleep through till 3 or 4 in the morning. Now she just cries at bedtime the second I put her down, even when she appears asleep. Ive been feeding her to sleep or rocking to sleep and it often takes 2 hours to get her fully asleep. Quite stressful...oh and she is framtically chewing her hands too. Just thought I'd tell you, so you know you aren't alone.

She also won't take a bottle or a dummy... And i have to go back to work at 6 months....but that's a different worry!

Any more advice from anyone would be really helpful.

titihood Mon 01-Aug-11 02:36:35

Hello HicUps

Some nights with us seem to be better than others....tonight is one of the bad ones. Put him down fine after his bedtime routine (over 2.5 hours ago), and he has woken up at least 5 times since then.
We were giving him a new type of dummy/pacifier we'd found that actually worked, as before our fingers were slaves to his mouth (he'd suck on them to fall asleep), but as soon as it falls out of his mouth his wakes up so are back on the fingers again.

Another issue we're running into is the swaddle... He is moving around A LOT more in his crib now, and I am worried that the swaddle is dangerous/impeding him being able to self-soothe to some extent. However, if we don't swaddle him he flails around, scrabbling at himself and whenever he is in light sleep he does the same. Tried two naps over the weekend with no swaddle (he slept for 40 mins), and with one arm free (40 minute nap); so I know it is possible, just think I am scared to have less sleep at night than I currently do.

You could try swaddling your DD - it might help her stop chewing at herself at least. Otherwise I am afraid I don't have much advice, I hope someone else does. I keep telling myself that many many people go through this and they are not having to feed/soothe their children to sleep forever. Some nights I just wonder how much longer I can handle the lack of sleep and readjustments to my DS's schedule. Like jaggythistle says, you think you have them sussed out then they go and change routines.

Good luck!

HicUps Mon 01-Aug-11 17:23:19

Hello,
Thanks for the message. We ended up rocking her to sleep again last night, but she did sleep a good long while. I've been reading the Baby Whisperer book today which suggests a technique called Pick Up Put down PU/PD... Which basically means when you put them in the cot you pick them up to sooth them and the moment they are calm you put them down again... The second they cry you pick them up again and carry this on until they give in and realise you aren't going anywhere. Apparently it can take a few hours! But gonna try it..(a bit of me thinks its ok to rock to sleep...but everyone seems to tell me I'm setting myself up for problems later)

Used to swaddled when little, but ended up throwing it off....I might have given that up too soon. Keep thinking it's too hot for swaddling... Is it?

Fingers crossed for a better night for you tonight.

HicUps Sat 06-Aug-11 08:17:08

Hello, just wondered how you are getting on? I think I've had a break through. My DD has gone to sleep last few nights without any crying, and I've not fed or rocked her to sleep. Miracle! Things that I have changed:
- making sure she has daytime naps when she is looking tired ( yawning, eye rubbing), I think I was missing her tired cues
- using Pick Up/Put Down method, really does work.
- introducing a story book after last feed, so I don't feed her to sleep.
- letting her settle herself for a while and not picking her up when she starts the moaning phase... She goes raaaaa.....raaaaaa.....raaaaa
- soothing her with my voice, rather than picking up. She quietens down knowing I'm there and just drops off.... So beautiful
- she has also been suffering from the dreaded green mucous poo...so maybe she has had a virus or upset tummy, but seems to be better now.

Works for me so far, so I hope you have also found out something that works for you.

HalbAndTwiceTheFun Sat 06-Aug-11 08:47:05

Hi
PUPD is working really well with my ds2 at the moment (13 weeks).
We never had the flailing problem because he is a tummy sleeper due to reflux, but have found that he likes the security of a slighly heavier blanket or a hand on his back while he goes to sleep.
Also talking in a gentle voice helps.
I don't pick him up when he moans, but do as soon as he starts crying.
About feeding to sleep: I fed ds1 to sleep until he was 16 months old. he suddenly just grew out of it. never did him any harm and he was always a good sleeper.

titihood Mon 08-Aug-11 20:54:18

Hey HicUps, SO glad to hear that you found some things that work for you!
Interestingly, DS turned 21 weeks last Thursday and that day heralded a massive change in sleep habits again - for the good!
He went to bed at 7pm, woke up once at 7:40 (we soothed him back to sleep), then didn't wake up until 4am!! I fed him, changed him, swaddled him and put him back in the crib, whereupon he fell asleep by himself until 6:30. YAY!!

Last night I was somewhat discouraged as he woke up at 10pm; my bf tried to get him back to sleep for about an hour to no avail. So I fed him, changed him, swaddled him and put him in the crib. Cue screaming 10 minutes later. Tried to reswaddle - more screams and the little monkey got his arms out while I tried to swaddle him a third time. Mightily frustrated at this point, I put him in the crib with no swaddle and the pacifier - slept until 6am!!! Not sure if this was a fluke or not, but I am happy that (touch wood) the awful nights seem to be behind us for now!

I am back to feeding him to drowsy before putting him down, but will certainly try PU/PD in the future if same issues resurface.

HalbAndTwiceTheFun - is nice to know that PUPD is working for you too, and that the feeding to sleep did not mean he could not get to sleep by himself when he got older. Sometimes I think I should just chuck all the baby advice books out the window as they can make you worry that your baby will grow up unable to get to sleep by themselves, eat by themselves, and make friends by themselves!! LOL

titihood Sun 14-Aug-11 23:19:51

There is hope!
This Wednesday on the first morning nap I only swaddled one arm, as usual. I put my son down in his crib, expecting the crying to get louder, and reached for the dummy that we were using to soothe him to sleep. But...silence. He had only gone and shoved his thumb in his mouth! I decided to see what would happen if I just left him there, no shushing. Again, I expected crying, only to hear the blissful sound of silence!
He has now been sucking his thumb to get to sleep every nap and night time until then, and so far (touch wood), he has been sleeping AMAZINGLY well at night - from about 7pm until 5 or 6 am, with no wake ups for feeds. I am sure this will all change again at some point, but for the minute I am really chuffed, and wanted to share the good news and let you know it does get better.

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