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3.5 month old won't nap or self settle at night - sleep associations

(6 Posts)
dizzyhytes Tue 11-Nov-14 14:40:59

I have several problems, all probably my own doing as I gave in to all the wrong sleep associations (dummy, breast, rocking etc). Now my baby can't self settle and I am at my wits' end.

1. Baby refuses to nap during the day. He cries intensely and won't go down for more than 30 minutes (after a lot of fighting) before he wakes again, and is instantly wide awake.

2. He wakes for a middle of the night feed and is wide awake, refuses/can't go back to sleep unless I rock him and breastfeed him.

3. Falls asleep at the breast so he doesn't ever get enough to eat, making him demand food every couple of hours, and also it's a sleep association for him and he often won't sleep unless I put him on the boob, then he wakes up when I put him down.

4. He is an extremely sucky baby and needs the dummy to sleep if not at the breast, and wakes up crying for it. Also keeps kicking and writhing in his bed unless he has the dummy.

I tried PUPD, but I don't get when I have to pick up and put him down, since he cries INTENSELY even before he reaches the mattress. I tried it for hours and nearly killed my back from the nonstop up and down. Also, the books says put him down immediately when he stops, or when he arches his back/fights. He does both, so it's literally up down up down up down in quick succession for 2 or 3 hours; I physically can't keep it up.

He screams so loudly and for so long that I am not sure I can stick with PUPD for days on end. Is there another way which is not CIO?

Also, what's the best way to start him into a routine of 3 naps a day? I would like him to do 30 mins in the morning and afternoon, and 1.5-2 hours between 11 and 2.30. He just starts screaming and struggling as soon as I bring him to his room at those times.

Lastly, all the tips for breaking wrong sleep associations say to put the baby down when he is drowsy not asleep. But most of the time he is wide awake, not drowsy so I can't put him down.

Appreciate some ideas. Thanks.

sophie12321 Tue 11-Nov-14 16:47:05


I don't breastfeed my baby of 3 months so it may be completely different! When we get up in the mornings, I feed her then have a little cuddle and play on my lap for about 10 mins. I then put her in her bouncer for her to play and make noises. After 30 mins or so she has started to tire herself out and starts to have a little moan. I give her the dummy and she drifts off for her nap. I do the same sort of thing through out the day..basically tire her out..! after concentrating on new things/toys she gets too tired!

I'm still with you on the night feed thing! Luckily she sleeps through the night sometimes but when she doesn't, she is wide awake after her bottle!!

PterodactylTeaParty Tue 11-Nov-14 16:58:40

Is there another way which is not CIO?

The one I went for was tossing the books out of the window ("and the guilt trip you rode in on, Baby Whisperer!") and feeding/rocking/slinging to sleep.

Seriously, I would take anything the baby sleep industry tells you about normal baby sleep with a pinch of salt - there's an awful lot of pseudoscientific bullshit that gets sold as indisputable fact, and sleep deprivation is tough enough without being told it's All Your Fault. (The idea of 'self-settling' as a teachable skill for young infants is not really supported by the research for one.) Your 3.5mo is sleeping like he is because that's how some 3.5mos sleep, not because your parenting has caused it. Some babies will go down drowsy but awake and put themselves to sleep, some never hit the 4-month sleep regression, some will respond really well to PU/PD - and some of us are not that lucky.

In terms of napping, is it that he won't nap unless you rock/feed/give dummy etc. or that he won't nap no matter what you do? Some babies just don't seem to need a lot of daytime sleep, but if the issue is that he will nap but doesn't want to do it alone in his cot without a dummy, I would just get him to nap whichever way works and worry about breaking habits later, when he's not overtired. Then work on fixing one issue at a time - if it's actually causing you trouble, and not just because a book said it should be, iyswim. I got Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Nap Solution and while I have largely been too lazy to follow it because DD's naps are ok now, what I have tried from it has worked really well for us where things like PU/PD and shush-pat were just laughable failures.

Also, at 3.5 months, you're hitting 4-month sleep regression territory. It can be really horrendous (was for us) but it's not something you've done wrong, it's just their brains changing fast.

(I have done precisely zero to put DD into a routine or teach her to self-settle/sleep independently, and did all the things you're not 'supposed' to do re: feeding/rocking to sleep. At 7mos, she has a regular nap routine which just happened by itself, and when she wakes at night (and I'm watching on the video monitor) will put herself back to sleep without me about 75% of the time. You haven't doomed your baby.)

Heatherbell1978 Tue 11-Nov-14 17:57:29

I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with some sleep associations if they work! I roughly follow an EASY schedule with my 11.5 wk old in that we do things in that order but he will only nap for 30-45 mins in the day so we don't get the 2 hour lunch time nap. If I'm at home, a good day will be 3 naps of around 40 mins but if I'm out with him he'll sleep a lot more in the pram. For his naps, as soon as he starts yawning and rubbing his eyes, I pop the dummy in and put him in his crib and he's and asleep in 5 mins. Without the dummy that wouldn't happen so I'm grateful for it! He hasn't fallen asleep on the boob since he was about 2 wks old so he's kind of got himself into the routine we're in. Just do what works for you.

Flissity83 Tue 11-Nov-14 18:00:00

I don't think you can pick the routine can you? I wouldn't worry about sleep habits at this age. Just ride through it and it will naturally happen in a few months.

dizzyhytes Thu 13-Nov-14 16:07:22

Thank you for all your encouragement, it's just so demoralising to read all the text book stuff when in reality, I can't seem to get my baby to cooperate. Another question though, if your baby is wide awake when you want him to sleep (say in the middle of the night), what do you do to get him to sleep without it having to take hours?

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