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Please please HELP! 4.5 MO sleep - co-sleep or gentle sleep training??

(10 Posts)
CityDweller Tue 03-Sep-13 09:39:46

I'm hoping that someone can help, because 4.5 DD's nights are slowly destroying us.

She was a great sleeper between about 8 & 13 weeks - 8pm-5am. Then a trip away rolled into the heat wave rolled into 4 month sleep regression. The past couple of weeks it's got really bad, e.g. last night she woke every 2 hrs after midnight. DH is amazing, and gets up with her in the morning between wake-up and morning nap (about 7ish - 8.15ish), but the lack of a decent stretch of sleep at night is taking a big toll. She's ebf and 99.9% of the time the only thing that'll get her to go back to sleep is breastfeeding her. I'm a bit delirious and feel nauseous/ jittery most of the time.

So, we need to do something to help DD learn to sleep better at night. When her sleep first went to pot, I was bringing her right next to me in bed and co-sleeping, but I think that made her wake more frequently in the small hours, as she could readily snack on the boob right there. I do think, in general, her increased night-waking is also related to food as she's reverse-cycling a bit - she's distractable during the day and seems to tank up at her bedtime feed and then the one she now does between 11 & midnight. But then, after that midnight-ish feed, she'll often wake between every hour and 2 hrs until morning. I've tried all I can to make her eat more during the day, but she's not that interested, so I think I need to first start feeding her less at night to make her more hungry during the day, iyswim.

A bit of context - she sleeps in a co-sleeper crib next to me. Bedtime routine is story, bath, feed (propped up on my bed), then she goes down between 7.30 and 8pm. She usually falls asleep on the boob and I put her down asleep, although she has occasionally self-settled when she's woken up being put down or hasn't fallen asleep on the boob.

So - what do we do? Ride it out by just committing to co-sleeping until she's through the regression? My concern with this is that I'm setting up a night-snacking habit. Or is it time for gentle sleep training and teaching her to self-settle? I was thinking pick-up-put-down, which I've been sort of trying for daytime naps in her cot. Will moving her to cot in her own room help? Or will I just get less sleep because I actually have to get out of bed to feed/ settle her at night? And how on earth can I tell when she's genuinely hungry during the night and when she's just crying for boob out of habit? Should I just be steely and put her in own room and then make DH go in and settle between hours of, e.g., midnight and 5am, if she wakes?

Sorry for epic post. I'm at the end of my bleary-eyed rope and need to do something to change our situation soon before I completely lose it!

UriGeller Tue 03-Sep-13 09:47:58

Ride it out. Co-sleep as long as you can, for the many benefits that co-sleeping brings.
Babies reach their own point at which they decide that sleep is more important than food.

I'm still BFing my 4th dc twice a night, she's 7mo, I've never done this before as the boys have always slept through from 4-5mo. I guess all babies are different. One thing I will say is that there will come a point where you can just cuddle her back to sleep, instead of feeding. At 4.5mo she obviously still needs her feeds to grow.

CityDweller Tue 03-Sep-13 17:24:29

I guess my concern with co-sleeping (which I actually rather enjoy) is that it encourages DD to snack in the small hours and that means she doesn't eat as much during the day, which is perpetuating the night wakings. A vicious cycle type of thing.

Thewhitelady Tue 03-Sep-13 17:31:30

I had the same problem with my now 5 months old- basically I was you two weeks ago! Only, mine never ever slept since birth more than 3-4 hours stretches..
We decided to move her to her own room. She was getting too big for the cosleeper anyway. First two night were horrible, then she started to go longer stretches, which went even longer by sending in DH instead of the milk. Now she sleeps from 7.30 to 5.. Not sure it will last, too good to be true! We do miss the snuggling in bed though.

CityDweller Tue 03-Sep-13 18:58:37

Oh that's so heartening thewhitelady! I am leaning towards moving her to her own room as her first night waking often coincides with us going to bed, so I think we disturb her. I hope things continue to improve for you.

peanutbutterhoney Tue 03-Sep-13 19:11:44

OP, I could have written your post word for word! 4.5 mo here was great in the first couple of months, sleeping 8-5, couldn't believe my luck. Then heat wave turned into 4 mo regression and holidays. Same as yours exactly, and she is up every 1-2 hours from 11ish. Also finding it hard to get her down for naps in the day.

We had her in the Moses basket in our room and moved her a few weeks ago thinking she might sleep better in her own cot. It made no difference. Now I end up bringing her into my bed out of sheer exhaustion but have the exact same worry you do about snacking all night. She is too nosy to focus on feeding during the day, and I have two other dc so can't really spend the time sitting in a quiet room with her.

I feed her to sleep in the evenings and rock her to sleep at nap times. I have been wondering if getting her to settle by herself is the key, but have no idea where to start!

Anyway I'm afraid I have no advice but will be watching this thread and hoping someone else does! In the meantime just hand holding to say you are not alone. I have never been so delirious and brain dead with tiredness.

CityDweller Tue 03-Sep-13 19:43:32

Thanks for the solidarity peanut. Although disheartening to hear moving into own room didn't help you as I think I'd pinned a lot of hope on that.
I'm also wondering if teaching DD to self-settle would help. Although on the odd occasion she had fallen asleep on her own, it's made no difference to how she's slept that night.

docsarah Wed 04-Sep-13 09:51:41

We had exactly the same here with DD who is 5.5 months. We did some stuff from the No Cry Sleep Solution to help her fall asleep without a boob/bottle, so we can feed to very sleepy and then put her down. We also moved her to her own room from cosleeping. Things have improved - we can get a chunk of 5 hrs in a row most nights but still after 3am things are very hit and miss.

worldgonecrazy Wed 04-Sep-13 09:55:36

I would cosleep. She is about 2 months away from being able to feed without waking you up, and she will still need feeds in the night for a good while yet.

Cosleeping saved our sanity and meant that being back at work full time wasn't too hellish (other than missing her like mad).

They are babies for such a short time, and there is nothing like waking up in the morning to see you child sleeping the sleep of the innocent.

docsarah Wed 04-Sep-13 14:10:15

Cosleeping is lovely and I still bring DD in with me when she wakes up after 5am i.e. every morning BUT I think it did set up DD to expect unlimited access to food. However, during the sleep regression she wasn't hungry a lot of the time but was using the boob for comfort and to help her back to sleep. Which is also fine as she is a tiny baby and comfort feeding is absolutely as important as nutritive feeding in my mind. That said, after weeks of waking every 30-90 mins I was at end of my tether. We started to work on putting her down before she was 100% asleep to give her a fighting chance of getting herself to sleep if she woke and then we just sucked it up. DH would do some settling in order to give me a block of sleep, as well as a bottle. We moved her into her own room after the worst of it.

Improvement has been very gradual but we do get a 4-5 hour block of sleep most nights now.

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