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Help with 6 month old sleep issues, please, I'm desperate! Time to sleep train?!

(42 Posts)
Flingmoo Tue 16-Dec-14 16:24:40

Wouldn't be such a problem if it wasn't for the fact that I'm going back to work in a couple of months, and there's not been much sign of any improvement in the last three months... I know that DH, baby and I will all be suffering 100 times more if this continues when I go back to work sad

On good nights, he wakes up twice - once between 1am and 4am, and settles down quickly when we give him his dummy and a pat on the bum, and once at 5ish for a feed. On bad nights, like last night, it's frequent waking, and sometimes takes 2 hours of going back and forth to his cot to settle him down. For the last month or two he keeps waking up crying on his hands and knees rocking back and forth as if trying to crawl (which he can do now, during the day!)

Co-sleeping is not an option - he actually sleeps worse with us.

I am sure it's separation anxiety at the moment, he just wants cuddles, but it's just so bloody depressing that it's just one thing after another with seemingly nothing I can do to help: developmental leap, sleep regression, trying to crawl and sit up in the middle of the night, separation anxiety, next it'll be teething, standing up in the cot, and then more separation anxiety! It's never ending! Even when he's not got one of these 'reasons' he'll probably just keep night waking out of habit or wanting his dummy.

I can't deal with this for another year or more! There's no sign of it ending... Please say there's SOMETHING I can do! I am not averse to sleep training as long as it's nothing too harsh. CC or gentle retreat? Or would that be counterproductive with the separation anxiety?

I don't regret having my lovely, happy and active baby for a second, but part of me thinks 'can't believe I signed up for this' I thought by 6 months things would be better by now.

Writerwannabe83 Tue 16-Dec-14 16:51:38

I turned to CC when my 8.5 month old and the horrors surrounding his sleep were causing me to crack up. I just couldn't cope anymore. Plus I had my 'return to work' date looming and I knew things couldn't continue.

The problems I had:

Nap refusal or would only nap in my arms.
Would sleep unless I fed him to sleep (day and night).
Regular nighttime wakings.
Being awake for 2+ hours at silly hours of the morning (usually 2-4am)
Over tired baby.
Inability to self settle.

Things were so desperate, I had no idea what to do and everything felt hopeless.

I enlisted the help of a sleep specialist (who came recommended to me) and she was amazing. In the space of two days of taking her advice my DS is like a whole new baby. The change in him is unbelievable.

I was a bit averse to CC but the specialist spoke to me in depth about it and actually implementing had been nowhere near as bad as I thought.

Things gave done a complete U-Turn and her advice and direction has given me my life back.

I don't know if things will remain this well and I do expect good nights and bad nights but overall, everything is looking much more optimistic.

Flingmoo Tue 16-Dec-14 16:59:33

Which sleep specialist did you use...? So his naps have improved to?

I am also worried sick about how he will nap once I go back to work. He's a good napper but sometimes it's tough to coax him into sleeping. Especially now he just wants to crawl all around his cot and explore. It's hard enough for DH and I to do all the right magic things to make him fall asleep for naps, how on earth will anyone else be able to get him to fall asleep? He gets very cranky without the naps.

Flingmoo Tue 16-Dec-14 17:00:16

(*too, not to)

NeedaDiscoNap Tue 16-Dec-14 17:03:23

I have no advice OP but am watching with interest as I could have written your post. My DD is also 6 months and I am going back to work in 2 months and also wondering when her sleep will improve.

She was waking once for a feed, around 3-4, then straight back to sleep. We had a few halcyon days of sleeping til 6 without waking, but over the past few weeks she has been waking 4+ times a night.

I too thought it would be better by now!

Flingmoo Tue 16-Dec-14 17:09:12

writerwannabe83 I recognise your name from the sleep threads in the summer when mine was newborn. Deja vu or what?! Feels like all I've done for the last 6 months is trawl Mumsnet and Google for 'baby night waking' , 'get newborn to nap', 'sleep training 3 month old', 'baby sleep 5 months', '6 months old sleep separation anxiety', 'baby settling techniques' etc....!

NeedaDiscoNap Depressing isn't it! He lights up my life, but at a cost!

Writerwannabe83 Tue 16-Dec-14 17:43:27

My DS has never ever napped in his cot and would never sleep unless I fed him to sleep. When I fed him to sleep for his naps I would then have to hold in my arms because if I put him in the cot he'd wake instantly. Sometimes he'd only nap 25 minutes and he hardly ever, ever went over an hour. My arms used to really ache when he had his naps, it was just awful. I won't go into all the boring details but when it came to getting him to sleep in the day it just consumed everything. My life was dictated by DS's sleep and it was awful - I used to ring my DH in tears because I felt like I couldn't cope. Me and DS were so sleep deprived and DS's refusal to nap was exhausting.

Anyway - I'm 3 days into the 'strategy' as formulated by the Sleep Specialist and DS now naps in his cot without having to be fed to sleep and will sleep 1-2 hours. The last three nights he has slept between 8-12 hours straight and hasn't had any night feeds. Nor have I bought him into my bed. He is a totally different baby to the one I had last week.

I will PM you with the ladies name x

ChoccieBiccies Tue 16-Dec-14 18:04:06

Could you PM me the name too please writer? We have very similar to what you have described. DD is 6 months in a couple of weeks and DH and I have agreed that is the time to do something.

Writerwannabe83 Tue 16-Dec-14 18:12:19

No problem smile

NeedaDiscoNap Tue 16-Dec-14 18:14:00

Hi Writer, did you have problems getting your DS to go to sleep, it stay asleep, or both? My DD goes to sleep no problem and sleeps til around 12-1 but then wakes at least 4 times after that. I'm willing to try CC but not sure how to do it for night wakings.

Her naps have also become ridiculously short (25-35 mins) which I'm sure is impacting on her nighttime sleep. Also means that she has loads of naps and get more and more tired as the day goes on!

Bloody exhausting! flowers for all us suffering sleep-deprived parents smile

Writerwannabe83 Tue 16-Dec-14 18:19:51

Getting him to sleep for daytime naps was really hit and miss. I would see him looking tired and feed him and inside I would be thinking "Please go to sleep!!" - sometimes he did and sometimes he didn't. If he didn't fall asleep during the feed I knew he wasn't going to have a nap that day. Sometimes DS would only have 30 minutes nap in a twelve hour period. If he did fall asleep whilst feeding his nap typically only lasted 30-40 minutes.

Getting him to sleep at bedtime was easy (probably because of how tired he was from having had no naps) and within minutes of me feeding him he would fall asleep. I would carefully try and place him in his cot but 75% of the time it would wake him up and I would be back at square one. If he did stay asleep after initially putting him in his cot he would wake up 45-60 minutes later without fail. I would manage to get him back off to sleep but he'd typically still wake every three hours and it would be very difficult to get him to go back to sleep. At worst he'd be awake for well over two hours and I would be in tears because I just didn't know what to do. I found myself breast feeding through the night or bringing him into bed with me because it was the only way I could get him to go back to sleep.

pinksummer Tue 16-Dec-14 18:36:51

When my DS was 6 months old i was having a terrible time. A good night was every 2 hrs waking. A bad night was every 20-45 mins. I was still breastfeeding which clearly didn't help, I just didn't know how to night wean without scarring him for life (so I thought).
In the end I met with Andrea Grace. She is amazing and you take things at your own pace. Yes he cried but I never left the room and was constantly comforting him with soothing words/pats. Within 3 days I was seeing improvements and if my memory serves me a right 2 weeks and I felt 'cured'.
Of course teething and illness and it all goes to pot but he always rights himself again. He's 18mths now and most nights I don't hear a peep.
As Andrea will tell you, once the nights are sorted the naps come and it's so true. Before they were just 30min power naps.
I love the woman!

Misty9 Tue 16-Dec-14 19:23:10

writer could you send me the name too please? I'm currently sat with dd on my lap after feeding her to sleep, for the second time in an hour. When I put her down she'll likely wake up so am delaying it to get ssome mumsnet me time. Problem is, this evening waking got ten times worse after we tried not feeding her on wake up....

No answers I'm afraid op, but lots of sympathy!

Writerwannabe83 Tue 16-Dec-14 19:30:18

Sounds familiar Misty smile

I will PM you smile

mupperoon Tue 16-Dec-14 19:42:02

writer sorry to add to the chorus but could you pm me too? I foresee some issues a couple of months down the road for me and my 4 month old...I can take it now but would like a full night's sleep soonish!

NeedaDiscoNap Tue 16-Dec-14 19:44:27

Me too please writer smile

QuietTinselTardis Tue 16-Dec-14 19:50:18

Writer how did you do cc for night wakings? I'm going to have to attempt it over the holidays with dd even though I don't want to but I'm on my knees with exhaustion as she is up and down all night and I cannot cope anymore. Can't let her cry normally as ds has school and don't want him waking but I have to do something. We've attempted gradual retreat and that failed miserably. Last night she woke 5 times and I fed her to sleep 4 out of those 5 times. Amd that was a very good night!
She can self settle and does so for naps and bedtime but night wakings are just rubbish and she just screams if I do t go to her and either sit next to her (getting cold) or feed her. Dh also gets screamed at.
Sorry that was an essay!

YouCanButImNot Tue 16-Dec-14 20:04:53

writer pm me also please smile

Writerwannabe83 Tue 16-Dec-14 20:10:43

PMs are coming smile I might start charging her commission if anyone of you use her, lol.

Writerwannabe83 Tue 16-Dec-14 20:21:54

Sounds awful quiet - it's just draining isn't it.

I'm lucky in that DH is currently off work for a few weeks so we can tackle night time wakings without having to worry about him getting up for work.

For the night time wakings we just use the same approach we do for when DS doesn't want to sleep in the day.

After DS has been crying (and I mean crying, not grizzling) I go in, touch him but firmly say "it's bedtime" and then I walk out. I don't really engage or 'be nice' it's just a case of letting him know I'm still here. If he starts crying again we leave him for 4 minutes and then DH goes in and repeats what I did. If the crying continues we then leave it 8 minutes and repeat. Then we leave it ten minutes if he's still crying and repeat. You then repeat the process every 10 minutes.

The longest DS has cried for is 50 minutes and the shortest is 6 minutes.

The sleep specialist said that on the first few nights of implementing CC it isn't unusual for a baby to cry for 1.5 hours shock

OneHorseOpenSandwich Tue 16-Dec-14 20:32:14

Oh this is us! DC3 is 6 months. He wakes at least every 2hrs at night and often refuses the cot. Naps in the day are 20 mins max unless we are in the car. I am so exhausted. He also only feeds or rocks to sleep.

I also would be interested in the sleep consultants name writer if you wouldn't mind

QuietTinselTardis Tue 16-Dec-14 20:35:49

Oh god writer I don't think I could let her cry that long! I never wanted to do cc. I still don't but I can't see any other way of getting her to sleep. I'm on my knees with exhaustion and I'm so tired and grumpy all the time.

Writerwannabe83 Tue 16-Dec-14 21:07:15

The time actually goes very fast tinsel - it's quite surprising. And obviously during that time you are popping in and out so it isn't abandonment as such. However, I have tried to do CC a few times in the past and always failed because it just upset me too much. On reflection though I think I was more upset because I was guessing as to how to do it correctly whereas now a professional has told me exactly how to do it and I feel so much more positive about it.

She talked to me a lot about sleep cycles, slerp behaviours, neural pathways in methods of falling asleep etc and she made me see how detrimental it was to DS that he didn't know how to soothe himself to sleep and that he couldn't nap in the day. She explained to be how poor naps cause poor sleeping at night and after a good discussion she made me see that teaching DS to self settle and sleep through the night was important for him.

Since the implementation of CC my DS has come on so well, he's having 2-3 hours more sleep per 24 hours than he used to and is a happier baby because of it.

I still find it hard when I'm listening to him cry but I zone out and tell myself again and again why it's important that we see it through. I'm hoping that after a week of consistency everything will be so, so much better for us.

Flingmoo Tue 16-Dec-14 22:30:54

Thanks for the PM! I have decided to do some 'gentle' sleep training and see how it goes, if that fails we might need to call in a professional! writer, how long do you spend each time you go in to 'comfort' DS? Do you pat his bum (or whatever) until he settles a bit or do you just offer a small amount of comfort and let the crying continue? Sorry for the interrogation, I'm just interested in your strategy!

It sounds a lot like the strategy we've already been using but we've maybe been too hasty running into his room and that often makes him go even crazier sometimes.

bevelino Tue 16-Dec-14 22:36:52

I am a former health visitor and helped my bf with both her wakeful babies by staying for the weekend and dealing with the cc overnight to enable her to rest. I love her children but not am not emotionally attached in the same way and was able to carry it through without getting worn down and tired by the crying. I had the 6 and 18 month old going through the night in 3 days flat.

One reason for the wakefulness was the feeds, which I stopped because if older babies are fed during the night, after they have had a good supper they will wake up and expect another feed during the night as their blood sugar drops. When bf's babies woke on the first night I offered water and a smiley face plus I went into their room every 5-10 minutes during the night to soothe them. I used minimal eye contact and stayed calm throughout. I was there to do a job and help the babies sleep and it worked.

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