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Do I need to sleep train my DD? Will it make us both happier?

(15 Posts)
weeper Thu 24-Jan-13 16:07:45

DD is five months old. Her nighttime sleep is ok(ish). She typically goes to bed at about 6.30pm, wakes once or twice and gets up for the day between 6 and 7am.

Her daytime sleep isn't great though, and it seems to be getting worse. It's making her (and me) very grumpy and miserable.

I have avoided trying to make her adhere to a routine so far because I didn't want to be one of those people who doesn't do things because it interferes with their baby's nap times. I wanted to just go with the flow and be led by the baby. <hollow laugh> but that seems to have got us into a situation where she's very difficult to settle and rarely seems to get enough sleep.

I usually put her down for a nap a couple of hours after she wakes up in the morning. She usually fights against this, but when she's finally settled, she will typically sleep for about 45 mins.

I then try to put her down 2/3 hours later, hoping for a longer sleep. She will maybe do an hour, but often less. The other day she did manage 1hr 15, then I had to wake her because I'd told a friend I would babysit for her ds while she went to a Dr appt. I now feel irrationally angry about this.

Today, she got up at 5.20, had a feed, then went back to sleep at about 6am for just under two hours. Then she snoozed for 20 mins in the buggy at about 11am. I put her down for what I hoped would be a longish nap at 1.30, but she only did 40 mins. I couldn't resettle her. I tried to put her down again at about 3.30, but she did 2 x 10 mins and now she's up again!

The problem is she's often grumpy during the day and I think it's because of the lack of sleep. Also, I would really like a mental and physical break from her for a couple of hours during the day, where I could get things done and have some lunch and just have a bit of time to myself. DD is formula fed, something I really didn't want to do, but BF was a complete disaster for us. I feel like I spend the small snatches of time that she's asleep during the day cleaning, sterilising and preparing sodding bottles and it's driving me mad.

However, because I am becoming increasingly frustrated that she won't do a longish nap during the day, I am worried that trying to make her adhere to a routine will just make both of us even more miserable.

Has anyone else been initially resistant to the idea of a routine and found it a saviour? Is there any chance she will just sort herself out if we keep muddling along? Do I just need to take a frigging chill pill?

Apologies for the long post!

teacher123 Thu 24-Jan-13 17:01:57

Routine is the only way that I manage to get through the day! I was convinced before I had DS that I would be relaxed and groovy, and instead I am pretty uptight about making sure that DS gets enough sleep during the day, but that is because he has grumpy meltdowns otherwise and I can't be doing with that! I would recommend looking in Gina for timings for the age of your baby and then try going from there. DS has two naps a day, though is currently struggling to settle for his morning nap as he's 9mo which is a key time for crap sleep. Our routine has been the same since we started weaning and we just tweak it depending on what time he woke up in the morning and whether he woke up in the night and for how long. He can sleep through but it's not consistent yet. A typical day looks like this:
7am wake up
9.30am nap of 30 mins-ish
1pm nap of hour and quarter ish
6pm bedtime

He doesn't have as much sleep during the day as lots of other babies but his early bedtime works for him.

If he really fights his morning nap, I put him down at around 12.15 straight after his lunch and he has a longer sleep then.

HearMyRoar Thu 24-Jan-13 18:15:22

Just a thought but about 5 months is often 1st tooth time so it could be that making him grumpy. Also 5 months is a tricky time with lots of developmental stuff starting. I know dd was rather difficult at that age.

I'm not a routine person and found my brief attempt to instigate one was a disaster for everyone. I just hated it and dd hated it, as it simply didn't suit my lifestyle or temperament. In the end we gave us and were happier for it. Dd developed her own routine once she started eating 3 meals a day and now she is pretty set in one. Personally I still find it a pain and miss the flexibility of not having one but there you are.

So, you could give it a go but don't beat yourself up if it doesn't suit and keep in mind that in another couple of months your DC may just find one themselves and save you the bother.

teacher123 Thu 24-Jan-13 19:27:36

I agree with hear that once they start eating three meals a day then routine becomes much easier, and they kind of fall into a pattern. DS now basically does milk, play, eat, play, sleep X 3 throughout the day!

I would love to be more relaxed with how I deal with DS and his sleeping but I suffer with general anxiety, and DS was a god awful sleeper at the beginning. He is still massively inconsistent at 9mo, and I have had to use routine to get any sleep at all. Do whatever works for you and your sanity! X

weeper Thu 24-Jan-13 21:19:05

Thanks so much for the replies. It really does help to hear how others have dealt with this! Strangely, despite having so little daytime sleep today, DD was actually pretty cheery. I can cope with the short naps as long as it's not accompanied with constant grizzling/whinging while awake.

We were actually given a copy of Gina Ford by one of DH's colleagues. I naively thought - given my groovy, laid-back plans - that I wouldn't need it, so I gave it to a friend.

So until I can get my grubby paws back on that book, I'm going to try to go with the flow for the next couple of days and see how that goes. I've decided that if DD is in a terrible mood I will just keep trying to put her down (or wheel her to sleep in the buggy) but if she's on ok form, like today, I'll just let her stay up.

And then if that doesn't work, I'm going to Gina Ford her to within an inch of her life. grin

princesssmartypantss Thu 24-Jan-13 21:54:36

i was convinced i would not be tied to the house for routines and naps but ds who is now 18m slept so badly day and night something had to be done, i read no cry sleep solution. but basically got ds to have first nap about 2hr15m after waking up and then next nap around 3hours after he woke up from first, this helped a lot but i would add worth reading up on length of am nap as when you introduce solids it tends to encourage a longer nap which ideally should be after lunch not in the morning, so i used to go and clatter about after about 45mins!

weeper Thu 24-Jan-13 22:17:20

Well, after feeling quite positive about all this an hour ago about, DD woke up at 9.50pm (about three hours after going down). I tried to settle her and when that didn't work I gave her a feed and put her back down, but this is NOT GOOD.

She used to go from about 7pm to 2.30am, then through to 6am. Then, I think when she got to about three or four months old, she introduced another wakening at midnight.

I thought we were weaning her off the midnight feeds, and getting back to the 7/2.30/6 thing that she used to do. I COULD COPE FINE WITH THAT.

What I cannot deal with is a regression where she is now waking up between 7pm and midnight (which is the only 'sacred' time we have!)

It seems that she is now incapable of going more than 3ish hours of sleep at night and much less during the day.


PrincessWatermelon Thu 24-Jan-13 22:29:27

What is happening is she is a baby!! They are pickles, and as soon as you think you've got something sussed, they change it.wink

Wrt to daytime naps, yours don't sound all that bad. My DD is 6 months and we are still on 30 min naps only. We used to have 4 of these, but since I did sleep training last week, she is sleeping better at night and only taking 3 naps. All 30 mins. Im still hoping these will extend. But if not, then hey.

The night sleep is the killer for me. She gradually got worse and worse until she hit 6 months and we did sleep training and suddenly I have a new little girl! Hopefully yours won't need this. But my DD went from 1 or 2 wakings to waking thro the evening and every couple of hours at night.

teacher123 Fri 25-Jan-13 06:38:50

Babies do this, they are unpredictable creatures. DS has gone through all sorts of phases, it is really annoying! I am beginning to be able to be a little more rational about it though, as all things, good and bad, change. I have NO IDEA why DS sometimes sleeps through and sometimes doesn't! It is hugely irritating, but i am really trying not to get stressed about it, but just keep plodding on with things smile

In my (very limited) experience, the only thing I would say is to be consistent with bedtime and nighttime.

Hope you got a decent night x

waterrat Fri 25-Jan-13 07:17:06

weeper - like you I thought routine was for losers. But I and my DS (9 months) are so much happier with a little routine - which I also found was easier once food started as others say. I look back at how I dragged him around and never worried about when he would sleep - and you know what, I also find it relaxing to know what happens when.

You dont need Gina Ford! I was told by a lovely sleep training lady /health visitor that they just need a nap in the morning at around 830/9 for about an hour - then one at about 1230/1pm - try and see what works - for at least 1.5hours. After 6 months, I was a bit tougher and if he woke up early I would go in, reassure but leave him and he would go back to sleep.

I organise my day around these naps - and now both he and I are able to get some rest and I can get stuff done.

the HV told me to start with one week where I stayed in for all his naps - and it would get him settled in a pattern then if I need to be out once lunchtime, he can sleep in the buggy - he never does sleep as well in it now I have got him used to the cot, but at least I know when he is due to sleep.

but..I hate to say this - he is still a crap sleeper at night! but at least we get rest in the day. So - naps do not equate to great night time sleep.

and he sometimes sleeps through/ sometimes wakes several times! sorry babies are unpredictable...

waterrat Fri 25-Jan-13 13:52:32

oh sorry meant to add - the routine I have described above is only 2 naps - but at 5 months she will be needing to have one late afternoon as well I think....

you honestly don't need to read a book - they are all just bollocks seriously. Your baby needs 2 or 3 naps depending on age - morning/ afternoon - and once they are eating food it will become much easier as they have lunch then a nap

and the more you stick to the regularity of it - the more they will do it really easily. Ds is a shit sleeper - but because the nap routine is totally set in stone, he goes into the cot, rolls over and goes to sleep ....well - most of the time! not always of course....but I really really love the time I get to myself...

I realised, it is much better to have 2 hours to myself than to be running around anyway.....

HearMyRoar Fri 25-Jan-13 16:21:17

It also sounds like she has just hit the 4/5 month sleep regression. this is pretty normal at that age and my dd's sleep was hellish. I seem too remember doing a lot of walking and standing outside in the rain rocking a buggy around 5 months. Really it's nothing you have done wrong. Babies go through phases and this to shall pass grin

teacher123 Fri 25-Jan-13 17:21:44

I've only ever used the books to get ideas for the timings and overall shape of the day, have never used them for anything else. I stopped trying after they said that DS should sleep through from three weeks!!!

Naptimes rock, I like having my lunch uninterrupted and I find I am much more tired on the days that he sleeps in the car when we're out and about as I don't have that break.

MsSampson Sat 26-Jan-13 20:50:10

Another one here who used to think I would never do routines, but actually have become a bit of a slave to them. DD is just over 6mo, and went through about 6 weeks of crap napping (half an hour at a time), but we are now back on track, with two naps of about 1.5 hours each. I think each baby is different though, and you can get too hung up on the right length according to books, and "no napping after 3" and all that, whereas some do well with shorter naps, some can nap later etc. What I would say is that it's worth persisting with a routine even through a regression, so that they still know what's what (and you can somehow feel like you are still a little bit in control). Also, I kind of manage the routine around going out and about - so if I'm meeting people for lunch I'll go for a long walk before or after with DD in the buggy (with a snooze shade which has been a godsend as she wouldn't nap in buggy otherwise), or in the sling, although she's bloody enormous now and so an hour's nap feels like seriously hard work. Or we time car journeys around naps. I remember thinking parents who did that were neurotic, but good sleep makes such a big difference to everything.
I sort of worked out a routine through trial and error, and watching for sleep signs and so on. She is also a bad night sleeper since 4 months, so tbh I think of little else most of the time.
So, I don't think you need to take a chill pill - that time to yourself is really crucial I find. I actually get annoyed when she snoozes when we're out and about, as I find myself thinking of all the things I could be doing if she was napping at home! Hopefully if you stick with what you're doing she'll get through the horrible 4/5 month bit and turn into good napper.

teacher123 Sat 26-Jan-13 21:08:19

Persevering with a nap routine has changed my life, and that is no exaggeration! What I've found is that you can be flexible with a routine once you've established it. Today we had a complicated day which meant we'd be out over DS's lunchtime nap. So I got him up early, knackered him out in his jumperoo and then put him down for a longer than normal morning nap. He then lasted until 2.30pm and had a 30 minute cat nap on the way home from our outing. He was a bit wired and overtired by then, but survived! I know now with DS that I can push it sometimes without getting meltdowns. He pretty much only cries when he's tired, so I try and avoid him getting to that point.

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