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8 week old baby stuck in a cycle of not settling at night - any advice appreciated!

(11 Posts)
scampidoodle Mon 25-Mar-13 11:59:46

My 8 week old DD started having difficulty settling at night at around 7 days - taking 60 - 90 minutes to calm down and go to sleep. I soon realised she seemed to be in discomfort/pain from her stomach and although we tried all the usual suggestions for dealing with colic, treating trapped wind, etc, nothing helped and she got worse to the point that, at 4 weeks, she was taking 3-4 hours to settle at night and was very unsettled and in discomfort for much of the day too.
She was prescribed hypoallergenic formula for a suspected milk allergy (DS has a milk allergy so the HV and GP were happy to consider this early on) and ranitidine for reflux. She is much better generally in the day now, although she has bad days when she still won't settle and won't feed as much as I would expect her to, but the nights are still terrible. She doesn't appear to be in pain or discomfort the way that she used to be, it's as if she's just stuck in some cycle of automatically not settling at bedtime.
We have tried everything anyone's suggested and searched the internet for suggestions, but nothing works. We've tried - moses basket, pram, cot; putting something in that smells of one of us; swaddling; sleeping bag, soothing by stroking her, holding her hand, putting a hand on her stomach, singing, music, complete quiet, complete darkness, night lights, not turning the light off, bedtime routine; pushing back and forth in the pram (works sometimes) rocking/holding her to sleep then putting her down - she wakes up within a couple of minutes and we have to go through everything again; leaving her in her cot; picking her up every few minutes (she gets worse if we regularly pick her up); feeding earlier, feeding just before we put her down, infant Gaviscon in last bottle (worked once and she was asleep in half an hour - never worked since).
Nothing we do makes any difference either to make her sleep or to stop the crying - it really is as if she only ever falls asleep when she's completely worn herself out from (usually from crying). DH thinks we should just let her cry herself to sleep because that's what she's doing anyway and we just can't help her, but I at least try to comfort/soothe her.
I am sure she's just got into a cycle of not settling from when she was very tiny and doesn't really know what else to do. When she finally sleeps she will have two or three long sleeps of 3-5 hours, to around lunchtime, only waking for feeds. She will settle in her cot after the first feed (which will be a nightor early morning feed) with no problems most of the time. Most days she will have one or two shorter sleeps in the afternoon, settling fine in her pram, but if we keep her up after 7ish she has to be held or she will just cry. We moved her bedtime to 7ish to try to stop her getting overtired from being awake for a lot of the afternoon and evening, but we then just have an evening of trying to settle her. The alternative is what we were doing before - not getting to sleep before 1 or 2am.
Any suggestions are welcome - I think we just have to break this cycle for a few nights and then get a normal routine going but I don't know how to...
Sorry this is so long.

KatAndKit Mon 25-Mar-13 12:13:19

Of course you can't let her cry herself to sleep - she is only 8 weeks old! It is very hard when you are going through it though. My DS was very colicky from 3 weeks to 14 weeks but it did get better. You are going through the absolute worst of it now but you are reaching the top of the hill.

My advice is to forget routine and "bedtime". An 8 week old is only beginning to learn about day and night. Try to settle her to sleep before she gets overtired is a good idea. Most newborns need to be asleep 90 minutes after they woke up. Avoid overstimulating her when she is starting to get tired. Try taking her for a little drive before she gets upset. In the evening, perhaps pop her in a sling, bounce about the house a bit and hopefully she will drop off to sleep and then you can sit down and watch tv while she enjoys being snuggled up to you. if you don't have much case, Victoria Sling Lady stretchy wraps are only £25 new, and there are usually loads of second hand slings for sale on facebook. Mostly what they want is to be close to you and be reasurred by hearing your heartbeat and feeling your warmth. You won't be creating a rod for your own back and you can then try starting a bedtime routine later on, say 4 months or so when the colic is over.
Co sleeping is another option you may want to consider. You can always try moving her to her moses basket once she is fast asleep.

If you have a bad day and nothing is working then remember at least by holding her and trying to soothe her you are helping, even if it doesn't seem like it. It's better to cry in the arms of a loving parent than to cry alone in a cot. At least she is learning to trust that you are there for her.

minipie Mon 25-Mar-13 14:14:41

If I've read correctly, her 'night' is starting very late, but continuing till nearly lunchtime and will be about 8-10 hours of sleep?

if so then maybe she's just not tired in the evenings as she hasn't had much 'day' by then iyswim. maybe try starting her day earlier.

at 8 weeks old a night of 8-10 hours plus 5-6 hours daytime naps is normal iirc. sounds like you have that, but her night is 1am to 12 noon instead of say 8pm to 7am. so you have the right pattern, but need to shift it all earlier.

does that fit or have I misunderstood?

scampidoodle Mon 25-Mar-13 15:39:35

Hi, Thanks for your responses.

Minipie - yes, her night starts at anything from 11pm to 2am, so if she was falling asleep at a more reasonable time of 7-8pm then we'd be fine! The problem is that, whenever we start, we can rarely get her to settle in less than 3-4 hours, regardless of whether she's been awake for several hours or just a couple when we come to put her down. We have the odd occasion when she settles within an hour or so and she then does wake for the day at a more reasonable time and just have regular naps and plenty of regular awake time in between (goes through the EASY routine 3 or 4 times during the day - never realised until recently it had a name!)- we always then think she's going to have a "normal" bedtime and we're finally going to get into a reasonable routine, but then we have the 4 hour settling again.
I've tried (only twice, I admit) getting her up at a normal wake up time, but both times she's just fed then slept again and the second time she had a terrible day.

I think I might have to try a drive/pushing her in the pram to get her to sleep, say an hour before she finally dropped off last night (and hope she doesn't wake when we stop/get her out of her car seat), and keep making it a bit earlier each day, get her up at 7-8am, and see if we can somehow force her into a better routine which might help to break this current cycle we're stuck in!

Katandkit - I've never really thought of co-sleeping but if my plan above doesn't work then I may try it. My concern is that we'll just have a screaming baby in bed with us! I have back problems so am trying to avoid using a sling, but my husband is happy to hold her through the evening and keep her calm until we start the dreaded getting to sleep session...
We have a toddler as well so I need to get some sort of loose routine in place because we have to be out of the house by 8.45/9.15 most days, plus I do some work from home but am currently struggling to find any regular child-free time to do it, on top of everything else.

We were at the doctor's earlier for something else so I asked about this and he did say that babies can just get into these habits. He suggested "tough love" (!), baby rice at bedtime (!!) and mentioned a sedative that might help. When I looked it up it turns out not to be recommended for the under 2's and has been linked to cot deaths, so I'm a bit surprised he would still prescribe it. I said I'd wait a bit longer before going down any of those routes...

Thanks for your help.

teacher123 Mon 25-Mar-13 17:48:04

Your drs advice is shocking!! Baby rice and a sedative at 8 weeks!! Maybe persevere with the early bedtime at 7pm as it sounds that he's getting grizzly from then. We found with DS (now 11mo) that he needed a much earlier bedtime than we thought, for months he was asleep by 5.45. If we missed that window, he wouldn't settle for hours.

minipie Mon 25-Mar-13 17:53:52

sedative for an 8 week old shock think you need a new GP

I think your plan of trying to get her down a bit earlier by whatever means necessary, and then wake her for the day 12 hours later, sounds good.

maybe you could try waking her 'for the day' half an hour earlier each day? that way hopefully she wouldn't just feed and go back to sleep, or have a nightmare day, as it would be a gradual change. then you might find she settles half an hour earlier each day at bedtime too ... at least in theory!!

scampidoodle Mon 25-Mar-13 19:19:53

Right - all ready for getting DD to sleep in the pram later on (and we'll deal with the consequences of her only getting to sleep if there's motion, at a later stage...) so she'll hopefully get to sleep an hour or so earlier than last night, waking her up at a reasonable time but after a decent sleep, and if that works we'll move everything a bit earlier tomorrow night. She's spent so much time asleep today that she needs to be awake for a bit now!

The GP was a locum - thought it was worth asking as he was retired and might have had some suggestions of things they used to do years ago. I suppose I got what I wanted, I just didn't expect it to be drugs and baby rice at 8 weeks!


AndMiffyWentToSleep Mon 25-Mar-13 19:27:52

Swaddling didn't work for us but a zip-up swaddle pod was amazing - something to consider trying?
I have to say I think bedtime routines can be helpful even if it doesn't have an effect straight away.

scampidoodle Tue 26-Mar-13 21:11:35

Probably posting to myself here (not sure if anyone will read) but last night DD settled in the pram just after 10pm without much more than a bit of a grumble - we were both asleep within about 30 minutes I think, in the spare room. She wouldn't settle in the cot after a feed at 5.30am so we had to go back to the pram but we've had a much more normal day, getting her up for the day at 9.30, and she went off to sleep in the pram at around 8.30pm today without too much protesting, so it looks like we're getting there!
Miffy - I did try swaddling once but didn't do it very well and she kicked her way out of it. I've just ordered a sort of swaddle pod (bit of a cross between swaddling and a sleeping bag) as I think that might help in the cot as she obviously likes the cosyness of the pram.

Thanks everyone for your help.

minipie Wed 27-Mar-13 20:48:19

well done!

AndMiffyWentToSleep Thu 28-Mar-13 05:49:08

That's great!
Mine was the same, wriggling out of swaddle. Some swaddle pods have a hole in to allow you to strap them in the buggy whilst wearing it. I hope it helps!

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