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Really struggling- 6mo getting worse and worse

(17 Posts)
JuniorMint Wed 26-Nov-14 07:54:31

My DD is 6 and a half months old and I just feel like such a failure regarding her sleep. It is getting worse and worse. She has never been a particularly good sleeper, but has had slightly better times. Up until around 3-4 months I used to be able to put her down around 7pm in her Moses basket upstairs then have around 3 hours to have tea with DH, relax, then go to bed before she first woke up. Things have been getting worse for around 3 months now. At the moment, putting her down is becoming impossible and a good night is waking every two hours.

Last night went like this:

7.00pm we go into her room to bf and cuddle

7.30 finally down in cot after 30 mins of feeding followed by screaming, writhing, clawing

8.20pm hear her crying on monitor, go in for a quick resettle with dummy and white noise (Ewan the sheep)

9.20pm hear her start crying, takes 15 minutes to resettle, without picking up or feeding (shushing, patting, stroking face, holding arm/hand)

10.00pm wakes up and starts crying, takes 10 minutes of crying to resettle without picking up

10.20pm starts screaming takes 20 minutes to resettle without picking up

10.40 1 minute after me leaving the room, starts screaming again. DH has now arrived home from work and goes to try to resettle for 20 minutes with no luck

11.00pm "give in" and feed, feeds for 10 minutes and falls asleep feeding, hold in my arms until am sure completely asleep

11.35pm put down in cot, immediately wakes up, not crying but eyes wide open looking at me, cooing, fiddling with blankets etc. I make shushing noises and leave the room

11.45pm starts crying, I wait and listen for a few minutes, turns to screaming, I go in and try to resettle without picking up for 20 minutes

12.05am pick up and bring into my room, I sit up in bed holding her- her eyes wide open

12.20am she's fallen asleep in my arms, lie her down next to me all cuddled in, DH goes to sleep on fold out couch downstairs

3.10am wake for a feed and a cuddle

3.45am asleep again in my arms, lie down next to me

6.15am wake, feed, get up for the day

And that is increasingly becoming the norm. I am absolutely shattered in terms of sleep but also emotionally because I get so distressed to hear her scream. I feel like such a failure as a mother.

She has been EBF up until 27 weeks when we started BLW (and still breast feeds) which she is enjoying and is going well, though she probably isn't actually ingesting a lot (only been doing it a week and a half).

During the day she is clingy to me and can be quite demanding which is tiring- eg. prefers to be in sling than in pushchair, cries in the car seat, absolutely hates the bath and screams bloody murder. But generally a very happy little thing, beautiful smile, healthy, sitting unaided, has two teeth, doing great.

Day time naps are fine, she will either have two longer (up to an hour and a half) or three shorter (half an hour each) naps- I either feed or rock to sleep and then put down in cot no problem. If we're out and about she will nap in pushchair, car seat or held in my arms. Generally wakes up from last nap 3 hours before bedtime.

Over the last 3 months I have tried:
Sticking to our usual bedtime of 7pm, bringing bedtime forward to 6pm, pushing bedtime back to 8pm, having more/later naps, having less/earlier naps, moving bath time out of the bedtime routine as she screams and gets wound up, Moses basket, crib, cot, gro-bag, blankets, dummy, ewan the dream sheep, white noise app on phone, putting the top I've been wearing into the cot with her, moved to own room at six months (2 weeks ago), lullaby toy thing, plenty of activities and fresh air in the day time, the settle-and-leave or "shush-pat" method which I am trying to do at the moment, sling to get her to sleep and so I can have something to eat, cosleeping, giving calpol or nurofen for teething.

Things I have not yet tried but may be begrudgingly willing to try:
giving a bottle of formula before bed, spoon feeding porridge before bed. These have both been recommended to me. At the moment she does not really take a bottle, but will sometimes take a bit of expressed breast milk from a bottle from DH. I am not crazy about the idea of giving formula or spoon feeding porridge (as am doing BLW) but am running out of options. Although I have read it is a myth these things will help to sleep longer.

Not prepared to try:
Controlled crying or cry it out. I can not bring myself to try these, I think I would have a breakdown (I am sobbing most nights as it is) and tbh don't think it would work as age would whip herself up into a frenzy and scream for hours and hours on end.

I feel like a failure. I always felt I was doing what came naturally by breastfeeding on demand, following DD's cues for nap times, cuddling and feeding to sleep, not leaving to cry etc. Now I am questioning my parenting choices- should I have imposed a stricter routine? Should I have introduced formula feeds and rice cereal at 4 months? I met a friend with a FF baby for coffee yesterday and she proudly told me he had slept from 7.30pm to 9.30am. I smiled and nodded but I could have cried. I am embarrassed to tell people how bad things have gotten, I say "oh she gets up a lot ha ha".

For some reason I feel like I've failed if I "give in" and bring her into my bed to cosleep. She does sleep that way though (mostly- I have had a couple of nights where she even screams when I put her next to me and have had to sit up/walk around holding her), so should that be my method? Last night it was just such a battle with screaming etc from 7pm to midnight that once I got her asleep in bed next to me I felt relieved and cuddled up to her. However if cosleeping is my "method" do I go to bed with her at 7pm? I will not be able to have any tea, do any housework, have any alone time.

I am beginning to get worried about going back to work. I am not going back until Easter which seems a long way off but at the moment I can not see an end in sight. I am a teacher and will not be able to function, not to mention I will have marking etc to do in the evenings!!

I am really desperate, I am starting to feel so down. I start off every night trying to be so positive but it just derails. The only thing I am not prepared to try is leaving to cry, I am open to any other suggestions. Please help if you can! Sorry this is so long!

Quodlibet Wed 26-Nov-14 08:20:48

Wow it is hard. I feel your pain.
I've made different choices to you and done lots of feeding to sleep/cosleeping when necessary which isn't everyone's cup of tea. It's partly because i just don't have the patience for nightly battles! But it strikes me reading your account of the early part of the night that maybe your little one isn't ready to be left to self settle yet? Even at 11m, if my baby is awake and cooing and fiddling and I shush her and leave the room, 95% of the time she will end up crying. You have far far more patience than me trying 20 mins repeatedly of shhh pat - I would have resorted to boobing to sleep. She may well be hungry still in the early part of the night. When they are weaning it is very difficult for them to eat what they need to get them through the night. She may still need lots of milk after dinner. Why fight with her about it?

I think most babies are clingy and demanding! Mine hates the car seat too, and yep of course would prefer to be in the sling. It's a good thing that she wants to be close to you and gets reassurance from your presence - means you are doing a great job of providing a sturdy anchor for her. We expect too much of little babies in terms of independence too early I think.

You have to find your own way, but my only 2 bits of advice are that you might find this easier if you place less emphasis on what she/you SHOULD be doing and just go with what works. All babies are different and they all get there in the end (apparently).
Secondly, sleep phases can change so much in a short time. Stop worrying about Easter time - that's months away. Loads will change between now and then.

JuniorMint Wed 26-Nov-14 08:31:40

Thank you for your reply. I think I definitely place too much emphasis on what I "should" be doing. I actually don't mind cosleeping at all, I actually quite like it, I just feel like everything I read and hear people say gears towards getting them sleeping in their own room so it makes me feel guilty/like I'm doing something wrong. Also if I ultimately decide to commit to coskeeping, what do I do with her in the early part of the evening so I can have some tea, clean up after her tea etc?! Just put her in the sling?

I definitely don't battle about feeding milk before tea, after tea, any time of day! I feed her lots and don't really keep track of when, but it's at least every two hours during the day. I have tried weeks and weeks of feeding her every time she wakes at night- I have had nights where I've fed her every hour. At the moment I was trying to not feed and not pick up as I felt she was feeding out of habit rather than hunger. Can she really be hungry every hour or two hours all night? I am also absolutely on my knees with tiredness if I do that, I was trying to break the habit, but maybe I do just need to feed each time she wakes. If I feed her to sleep at 7.20pm and she wakes up screaming at 8.20pm is she really that hungry again that soon? I just don't know what to do. Thank you for your reply.

Artandco Wed 26-Nov-14 08:58:16

Have you considered a much later bedtime?

Personally I would suggest 9pm bedtime. She can have extra nap in day at 5/6pm in pram or wherever, and then you aren't stressed or rushed in the evening. She can start eating dinner with you in evening later as family, your dh can spend time with her, and you will have more time with her in eve once back at work.

Then if you need to co sleep in evening it's from a more reasonable time also

JuniorMint Wed 26-Nov-14 09:32:19

Artandco thank you for your reply. I hadn't thought of that, it sounds interesting, I will definitely give that a go.

jugglingmonkey Wed 26-Nov-14 09:47:39

The best advice I got regarding my nightmare sleeper, was to disassociate feeds with bed/sleep time.

So, no more cosy BF and cuddle in her room before bed.

We did last feed at 6.30pm, in the living room, with a book. Then up for a quick bath. HV said the bath/bed routine needs to be quick, babies body temp is lower as they get out of the bath which should make them sleepy.

Our routine went like this:

6.30pm
Milk in lounge with book/quiet game

6.45pm
Bath/Pyjamas etc

7pm
Bed

No story in his room pre-bed either.

This all really helped me. I believe DS knows now that his room is for sleeping, and not for feeding!

jugglingmonkey Wed 26-Nov-14 09:48:22

And not long after we made those changes he started sleeping 7pm-5/6am!

jugglingmonkey Wed 26-Nov-14 09:54:29

Last thing to note, remember that every baby is totally different. And if you choose a new routine, stick to it religiously for a good few weeks. Consistency is key!

JuniorMint Wed 26-Nov-14 10:07:00

Thanks for you reply jugglingmonkey. How old was DS when you did this? Silly question but can I ask, how did you get DS to go to sleep without feeding or cuddling to sleep?! I'd like to stop the association but wouldn't know how to go about it.
I have heard about the bath temperature thing, but DD absolutely hates the bath and screams in it, getting out of it, and takes a while to calm down after. It's only been about two weeks since moved bath time out of bedtime routine and although it may not have had an impact on her sleep, it has made for a calmer evening.

Artandco Wed 26-Nov-14 10:16:20

Yes I would also recommend no feeding to sleep. Apart from newborn we always fed them at least 30 mins before bedtime routine in living room and kept bed routine short.

At 6 months we did roughly 8.30pm feed, 8.45pm wash/ nappy/ pjs/ in bed and story. Lights out around 9pm. Shh/ hand rub if needed.

Napped approx x3 times a day ( 3-4hrs total)

jugglingmonkey Wed 26-Nov-14 10:18:59

He was about 6 months. I remember because all my friends babies were sleeping through by then!

I tackled the feed/sleep business just by doing the feed downstairs. Honestly, I don't remember much of an issue with him adjusting. I was terrified of how I'd ever get DS to sleep without the boob or a bottle, but it just slowly happened.

Be patient, it is exhausting, and in the meantime, coffee and cake are your friends.

How about bath around 6, then last feed downstairs with a bit of playtime/cuddles, and then up to bed?

I'd also add that there's nothing wrong with feeding to sleep, as long as you're happy with it. It'll eventually stop working and baby will figure out how to sleep without it!

JuniorMint Wed 26-Nov-14 16:03:17

Thank you for your replies

eepie Thu 27-Nov-14 12:44:16

Sorry to hear about how desperate you feel...it sounds really tough ! I can't offer much advice but I just wanted to give one piece of advice re: bathtime - it's really lovely and relaxing before bed and gives baby that warm tingly skin feeling which aids sleep - my DD hated it too and I persevered with just trying every night but the thing that made her really start liking it was when I filled a whole bath (to right temp for her, not me) and put my bikini on (to stop her wanting to feed) and got in the bath with her. I sat her on my lap and bobbed her, lay down and let her kick between my legs on her tummy, put her upright-ish in between my armpit and the side of the bath IYSWIM...she LOVED it and wasn't so cross to get out of the bath as she had my body heat helping her make the transition. This does sort of require DP to help and he has to wrap her in a towel and hold her or entertain her on the changing mat on the floor whilst I quickly dry and get dressed but I have done it a few times on my own, just getting dressed really quickly. After these baths with me, the next night I tried her on her own and she seemed to have much more positive association with the water.
Good luck and hope it changes for you soon so you get some more rest.

blushingmare Sat 29-Nov-14 22:49:27

Your DD sounds like my DS!! He's 6mo too, and sleep has been getting gradually worse and worse - very similar pattern to your's.

I think I'm coping with it ok by cosleeping - it's the only way I can do it. There's no way I could do what you're doing - no wonder you're at your wits end!

I do worry a bit about how we move on from the cosleeping, but experience with my DD, who was also a rubbish sleeper (although we never coslept), shows that these phases do pass eventually! You can't always have a plan for the next stage, but a solution just presents itself at some point.

I'm not saying it's ideal, but it's how I survive. Reading your post it seems you're not averse to cosleeping so I'd just go with that for now, get some sleep, survive this phase and wait for the time when you work out how to move on from it.

Good luck and you're not alone!

blushingmare Sat 29-Nov-14 22:53:10

Oh and as for the early evenings? Well I haven't really cracked that one. I do put him down at 6:30, but he's normally awake again at 8:30 and I can't resettle him. Often end up getting him up again until I go to bed. DH suggested tonight why don't we put him down to sleep in the pram in the evening as he naps well in that, so maybe I'll try that.

Gemma57 Mon 01-Dec-14 22:08:29

I'm so sorry to hear you are struggling too, I'm having the same issues. DS has never slept longer than 4 hours since he was born. At 4 months sleep got dramatically worse, waking every hour of night, I passed it off as four month sleep regression and waited for up to six weeks for it to pass. It didn't. DS is now 7 months and still sleeps in one or two hour chunks. My evenings and nights sound so similar to yours.

My DS has all characteristics of a high need baby and to get him to sleep I have to rock, wear him in sling, feed but can't for the life of me get him to stay asleep (I found Dr Sears fussy baby book very reassuring). He falls asleep in my arms between 6 to 7 and sleeps on my chest until he is in deep enough sleep for me to move him next to me in the bed. Then he will sleep on his side. I am co sleeping because getting him to sleep in cot is another battle altogether and I can get more sleep with him next to me in bed. If your DH doesn't object I would definitely co sleep just to make it easier. You will be creating positive sleep associations so don't worry about it, just do it if it means you get more rest. I enjoy it too and decided this is only a small part of my DS life so I'm going to enjoy the co sleeping and am just hoping that he will sleep for longer chunks.

What I've done for last two nights, because me and my DH were not getting evenings together, is to get DS to sleep on me, then move him onto bed and then set up skype on iPad call laptop downstairs and keep an eye on him, (obviously you could use baby video monitor if you have one). As soon as he wakes I run upstairs to soothe him. I put pillows either side of mattress so he can't fall off too. This has allowed us to eat tea together and have a bit of an evening.

Sorry I don't have solutions but you do have my sympathy as I'm in the same boat so just sending you a big hug.

Also I tried a sleep consultant who despite telling me she didn't advocate cry it out methods, did essentially that. After ten minutes ,my DS was so distressed he had vomited all over himself so I stopped it and she went home. She told me it was normal for them to be sick but she had never had one vomit that quickly in 8years! I can't do cc or cio and at the moment don't have energy to do anything but survive each 24 hours.

My baby has reflux, currently waiting for hospital appointment as I want to see if his awakenings are connected, something for you to explore too? And be aware of silent reflux too, which is less easy to detect.

If I find anything that helps I will be sure to share it! Good luck to you and lots of strength.

returnofthehumanegg Tue 02-Dec-14 15:40:19

Just like to add (and I'm definitely not the only one out there), my nearly 7 month old sleeps like yours and is FF. She still needs 2 feeds in the night too. I'm very skeptical of the magic properties of formula to induce long sleeps - didn't work for my first either! I think your friend is a bit of a rarity on the 14 hr night sleep front.

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