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Please please please could someone help me - my baby WILL NOT go to sleep without crying and crying EVERY night :(

(52 Posts)
Debzarella Wed 19-Dec-12 22:57:49

Hi, I wonder if anyone could help me please as I am at the end of my tether sad

My baby is 5.5 months old and is a lovely happy little girl generally. She sleeps very well through the night and has done from birth but our problem is actually getting her to sleep in the first place.

We have tried:
>feeding her to sleep - works sometimes, sometimes it doesn't, she tends to wake the minute her head touches the mattress
>rocking her to sleep - used to work pretty well (would take about 45 mins to an hour) but is not working anymore, infact I think it makes her cry more now
>putting her down sleepy in the cot and using all sorts of mobiles, light projectors, Ewan the dream sheep etc, these all appear to wake her up more (and certainly don't sto the crying)
>putting her down sleepy and singing lullabies to her
>putting her down sleepy and then sitting by her and holding her hand / stroking her head (doesn't stop the crying at all)

We have tried leaving her to cry for a while once and it made both my husband and I really upset and our baby even more upset so I never want to do that again sad

Our routine is read books and sing some songs at 5.30, bath at 6, put her pjs and sleeping bag on, settle down to breast feed for 45 mins or so (she keeps nodding off as I feed so I stir her and get her to continue as she seems to sleep through the night better when I do this). She tends to fall asleep doing this so at about 7.30 we then put her gently down in her cot but 9.5 times out of 10 she wakes the minute her head hits the mattress and that's it then - she cries and cries for anything between an hour and 3 hours. Once she finally goes to sleep (usually from pure exhaustion) she sleeps beautifully.

Sorry it's so long but I really really don't know what else to do and its really starting to affect my sanity and I'm constantly taking it out on my Hubbie which is mean sad

Thanks in advance xxx

MrsHoarder Thu 20-Dec-12 08:45:45

Sleeping bag our swaddling straight agree her bath and them feed to sleep lying on your bed. If its not working just take her downstairs and cuddle for a while.

What this teaches her is bit that she can get out of bedtime but that if she's scared and crying you will help. I know you are doing everything you can already, but relax about routines and bad habits.

Ds changed at 5 months to go to sleep for the night relatively easily. It well pass and you will get your evenings back.

NuzzleandScratch Thu 20-Dec-12 08:50:30

I agree about the earlier bedtime. My dd2 is a similar age, nearly 5 months, & I find that if she's in bed before 7, she tends to drift off no problem, but if it gets much later, she starts to get agitated. I have an older dd, who is 2.9, and initially, I was reading them a story together, settling dd1, then feeding & settling dd2, but I soon realised that this wasn't working for the baby, as she was getting very agitated & overtired. Since I swapped their bedtimes round, she usually settles really well.

When dd1 was a baby, I always fed her to sleep, which was great until it stopped working, at around 10 months! We eventually ended up having to do controlled crying when she was just over a year old, which I didn't really want to do, but it worked a treat, & she's slept brilliantly ever since! With dd2, I really want to avoid this, so I've been trying to get her to self settle, & I'm amazed it usually works! Initially, this meant letting her have a little grizzle, but leaving her to see what would happen. I wouldn't leave her doing full blown crying, but I have found that sometimes, if I start shhhing & patting, it seems to make things worse. I suppose if you were trying to go to sleep & someone kept tapping you, it might be rather annoying!

Not sure if any of this is any help to you, but I hope things improve for you soon. Remember, they're still so tiny, & there will be many things to disrupt their sleep in the future, most notably teething, so I wouldn't get too hung up about this, as it can change all too quickly!

I agree what others have said about bringing her back downstairs if you really can't settle her, we do this on occasion, & I don't believe it forms a bad habit at this age.

I also agree that you may be overstimulating with all the lights & music, & I do think that just one of you should put her to bed, it all sounds a bit full on as it is.

brainonastick Thu 20-Dec-12 09:18:40

She sounds overtired to me. I would focus on the daytime naps and an earlier bedtime.

jamboncru Thu 20-Dec-12 09:19:08

Another vote for overtired I think op. Both mine have done this and we ended up having really short bedtime routines, eventually had no trouble getting them to sleep (keeping the 9mo asleep is a whole other thread....) As others have said though, this too shall pass. My son is still asleep upstairs having been snoring away since 7.30 last night - he is 3! It may take a while (and a lot of caffeine) but you will get there!!brew

MrsLyman Thu 20-Dec-12 11:49:45

I meant feeding to sleep, then keeping her upright before putting her down, obviously no good if she wakes up when tipping. Agree with the lights off music off tip though. You can use those as part of the pre-bed routine but turn both off before starting the feed.

Good luck smile

Fairylea Thu 20-Dec-12 11:57:38

Earlier bedtime (ds 6 months goes to bed at 5ish)... completely black room and no noise, no talking, nothing... feed by the bed and put down when sleepy and leave to settle for a few mins. If crying go back in pick up until settled and put down again. Keep doing this. Never talk, never say anything. Make night time totally different from day time.

Has worked for me and my two dc. Worth a try !

Longtalljosie Thu 20-Dec-12 16:44:49

Yes - no lullabies. Utter silence, or try shhing loudly. Google "the happiest baby on the block" for an example of what I mean. It works v well for DD - I don't do the rocking/ jiggling though

mummybare Thu 20-Dec-12 17:58:18

The only thing I can add is that, for us, consistency is key. And this is for naps, bedtime routine, even wake up time in the morning. When I say us, I mean DD. I have never been a routine person but, at 7.5 months, she's got me whipped into shape!

The most important thing, I found, was to find the optimum awake time. If I get this right, she goes down like a charm, but if she is even a little under- or overtired, she'll fight sleep like nobody's business. It sounds like your DD might be the same. It has been a bit of a trial and error thing - and it does change as they get older, of course - but it made a massive difference.

Good luck, OP. as you can see from the response to this thread, lots of us have been there, but it doesn't last forever.

Debzarella Thu 20-Dec-12 23:18:28

Thanks so much everyone, I feel like I'm not alone anymore! Everyone in real life tells me their babies never cry and go down like a dream so I start believing there is something wrong with what we are doing.
I have shown my hubby this thread and we are going to try putting her to bed earlier and turning her lullabies off. If she gets really hysterical we are going to give up fighting it and just bring her downstairs for quiet cuddles until she settles then try again.
I'm going to try and work on extending the length of her day naps and prob drop them to 2 longer ones if I can? Can anyone give me a bit of a structure to follow as I'm totally clueless......

Mummybare, what do you mean by optimum awake time? (sorry if I'm being dumb)

Thanks all x

megandraper Fri 21-Dec-12 00:06:31

My view (honed with DC3) is that the key sleep association you really want to develop is of sleep being a pleasant experience. It doesn't matter for a small baby if that's happening on your lap/in a sling/ with a lot of wake-ups for feeding or comfort etc.

It's pretty easy to change sleep circumstances (co-sleeping to cot etc) when you do it at the right time (sometimes a bit of trial and error!) as long as they like falling asleep and being asleep. I really advocate not letting your child cry at all for a while. It sounds as if it is becoming a battle, and there are no winners (not you, not your DC) there.

NuzzleandScratch Fri 21-Dec-12 00:32:15

With regard to naps & daytime sleep, you might find [ this] helpful.

Personally, I never managed to get dd1 to nap anywhere but the car or pushchair, unless she fell asleep after a feed, & dd2 seems much the same, so her naps can vary a lot, depending in what we're doing. She does seem to settle more easily if she's had a decent amount of daytime sleep though.

Oh, and those people who say their babies always settle without a fuss? They're lying! Everyone goes through rough patches, even if they mostly settle well.

Best of luck with it all!

NuzzleandScratch Fri 21-Dec-12 00:32:50

Sorry, will try that link again! here

mummybare Fri 21-Dec-12 07:32:19

By optimum awake time I mean the amount of time she can stay awake between sleeps. I think at 5.5 months it was about 2 hours.

I read that a 30 minute nap means overtiredness and a 45 minute one, particularly if they wake happy, is often undertiredness. While 45 minute naps are pretty common and can often be developmental, so this is not a hard and fast rule, I did find it a quite useful rule of thumb. I did do LOADS of resettling at the 45 minute mark when DD was about 4 or 5 months old, mind you. (Holding her arms to stop them flailing about and stroking her head while shushing worked for us.)

Sorry, brain-dumping a little here. DD has now finished feeding and is clambering all over me so I'll come back in a bit to check this post makes sense! grin

Joycey29 Fri 21-Dec-12 07:40:46

Debz - you are so not alone. Had colicky first and had screaming for hours. Only when I had second did I get the one that went to sleep.

Interestingly, one of the antenatal group with a sleeper first time rang up after her second (a non sleeper) to say 'I m so sorry I wasn't sympathetic enough!'
They had thought that the two of us with criers were doing something wrong - nothing wrong just different baby types.
On the positive side, we got dd1 into a great bedtime routine, all dark, no lullabies etc and she still goes to bed like a dream age 6!

We all completely understand and know how hard it is - stick with it wink

brainonastick Fri 21-Dec-12 08:44:00

I agree with mummybare - I used to go in and shush or feed back to sleep at the 45 minute mark for the middle of the day nap, to try to encourage this one to be a good long 2 hours or so. It worked, with a bit a lot of persistence.

So at 5/6 months I think our day went something like
- 2 hours after getting up (eg 7am get up, so 9 to 9.30ish), a 30/45 min nap (to about 10)
- about 2 hours after getting up from that nap, a long 2 - 2.5 hr nap (so about 12-2pm)
- some point mid afternoon, a short nap of 15-45 mins (probably around 4pm)
- bedtime again about 2 hours after getting up from that (so about 6.30-7)

Nb big feeds before the long nap to try to make sure they were totally full (in fact mine fed 2 hourly anyway in the day at this age, but much longer stretches at night thank goodness)

But - they are all different, this is just what I did. If something else works for you, then that's fine and normal. I just posted as you asked for an idea of nap structures. Good luck!

Debzarella Fri 21-Dec-12 09:33:31

Thank you brain and mummybare, that's really useful. Will have a bash at extending her day sleeps today.
Thank you joycey for the reassurance smile
In fact, thank you everyone for making me feel more normal!

Debzarella Fri 21-Dec-12 22:34:17

Tonight has been hideous sad

She has finally gone down out of sheer exhaustion, but she has been in tears, I have been in tears, even my dad came round to take over for half an hour!

I can honestly say that bringing her back downstairs does NOT work!


NuzzleandScratch Fri 21-Dec-12 22:47:25

Oh dear, so sorry to hear you've had a bad time. If nothing else, at least you know that bringing her downstairs isn't right for her. For some babies, it calms them enough to then settle to sleep, but obviously not for your little one. Remember, tomorrow is a new day, & as with everything in parenting, it won't last forever! Is it possible she could be teething? My dd1 got her first tooth at 6 months, but I believe they start pushing through a while before they emerge. We had a nightmare journey back from friends when she was about 5 months, & she just wouldn't stop crying, & in hindsight, I wonder if her teeth were starting to push their way up.

Debzarella Fri 21-Dec-12 22:52:04

Hi nuzzle, she has been teething for a little while now but she shows none of the symptoms of teething at night - usually if she is teething she drools like mad and chomps on her finger whilst kind of howling like a wolf!! I actually gave her Calpol at about 9 tonight to see if that helped at all as I was at a total loss as to what to do. sad

Oh well, as you say, tomorrow is another day.......... Xx

TeamBacon Fri 21-Dec-12 22:55:57

neurofen for teething. Much much more effective.

cobblestone Fri 21-Dec-12 23:47:19

Hi, I don't have the same problem as you but my friend did. Her little boy has never slept well and ends up in their bed most nights. She was so desperate she contacted a baby whisperer but she lived too far for a visit so she bought her sleep DVD instead. I was interested so we watched it together. It was really nice to watch and easy to follow. My friend tried the techniques and sleep routine and he went to bed the first night. He is sleeping so much better now. My friend breast feed's before the bath and not after, she does this with all his feeds and I cant believe he is the same baby, he is so much happier. I'm recommending it to my other friends! She is called Cheshire Baby Whisperer and the DVD is Sweet Baby Dreams

brainonastick Sat 22-Dec-12 08:58:46

Oh op, sounds very draining sad

Have these problems only started recently, or has she always cried for hours at bedtime?

Debzarella Sat 22-Dec-12 12:10:20

She has always cried at bedtime but it has got worse in the last week. It used to be much easier to settle her with rocking or feeding but that doesn't seem to be working now.

Thanks cobble, will look for that now x

brainonastick Sat 22-Dec-12 12:22:47

Ok, in which case here is my take on the situation - I think you need to try to teach her to self settle. It sounds like she's tired out, but can't go to sleep on her own, but is also so tired that the added sensory input from you/dp being around are winding her up even more, and a whole spiral starts from there until she is so wound up she passes out through sheer exhaustion.

It might be worse in the last week if she is ill or teething, but if Calpol and/or calprofen doesn't make any difference then it's less likely. You could try one night of giving her some medicine at 6 or 6.30, so it's ruled out any discomfort before you try bedtime.

Teaching them to self settle is like the holy grail of parenting a baby though! There are loads of ways to try to do it - no cry sleep solution/gradual withdrawal/controlled crying (which is leaving them for 2 mins, then 4, then 6 etc, NOT leaving them to cry indefinitely), or not trying and co-sleeping instead. Different things will work for different babies, and different parents, but once you pick a method you need to stick with it for a good week or two to see if it works.

Big hugs, it sounds very hard. You will eventually find the answer though, stick in there.

brainonastick Sat 22-Dec-12 12:28:40

she keeps nodding off as I feed so I stir her and get her to continue as she seems to sleep through the night better when I do this

This also stands out from your op. she may sleep through the night better, but she is crying for hours before she goes down. Have you tried putting her down at the first nodding off? Yes, she'll be up in the night, but you need to be prepared to make that trade off for a more peaceful and earlier bedtime.

One other thought is that she may be getting ready for solids.

Lots of things to try. Keep it to one thing at a time for a few days.

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