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What to tackle first?

(10 Posts)
Binglesplodge Tue 03-Feb-15 20:07:05

My DS is 16 weeks and has only ever gone to sleep either by (breast)feeding to sleep or bouncing on the yoga ball, shushing. The disadvantage of the feeding to sleep is that sometimes it just doesn't work and he's still wide awake after a feed, which is frustrating if it's 4am, you've been feeding/comfort sucking for an hour, and you want to go back to sleep! If I feed him to sleep wrapped in a blanket I can transfer him to his crib once he's asleep, swaddle him, and he'll sleep for 2/3 hours. For some reason this only works at night. During the day he'll wake within minutes if I put him down.

The disadvantage of the bouncing and shushing is that it often takes ages, with him crying until he drops off. Also, he can't be put down if he's fallen asleep like that: he needs to be kept moving (usually whoever got him to sleep gets themself into the rocking chair and keeps rocking while he sleeps) otherwise he wakes within minutes. For this reason it's really a daytime tool!

We currently don't have a bedtime routine for him: we've tried bath, massage, bed but not enough nights in a row to make the association stick. When we've tried it, I've attempted to feed him to sleep and he's normally been still awake after feeding and had to be brought down to the sitting room again, which I think spoils the sleep associations of the routine.

During the day I can't get anything done because he sleeps on me and is a very very light sleeper. At night I'm exhausted because his night feeds feature a fair amount of comfort sucking and he wakes and cries if I remove him from the breast before he's very soundly asleep. He won't take a dummy.

I know attachment parenting works beautifully for some people but I'm afraid I'd like my life, husband, and bodily autonomy back. We parent in shifts and once he's asleep on one of us we can't chat or move about the house for fear he'll wake. I'd like to be able to put him down for daytime naps so I can cook, clean, relax, enjoy the peace and quiet. I'd like him to start understanding when it's bedtime and, in my wildest dreams, not need fed back to sleep several times a night.

So where do I start? My DS cries a fair amount in the course of a normal day and although it's a bit wimpy on my part I couldn't really stand a sleep training method which involved much more crying than I already have to deal with. If I put him down awake at the moment it's too much for him because he's used to so much help. He cries in minutes even if I'm there patting and shushing him while he lies in the crib. Picking him up doesn't really stop the crying. Putting him down "drowsy but awake" has worked about once ever. Other than that the drowsy but simply vanishes and he's wide awake.

Do I tackle naps first? Do I deal with bedtime? Our day has no routine because of all this rubbish sleeping so it's hard to predict when bedtime will be: I don't know how to make it a consistent time each night when what comes before varies so much.

Sorry for the wall of text. I need to move gradually away from our currently pretty highly dependent sleep situation. HOW?!

Binglesplodge Tue 03-Feb-15 20:55:04

Even with an epic-length post I still forgot something! I'd planned all along to go back to work a couple of days a week when he was 6 months. That's getting awfully close and I can't leave him with a childminder while he doesn't nap in the daytime without being held... I'm getting worried I'll never be able to leave the house alone again - I'm already a bit resentful of my husband getting to go to work while I stay home every day struggling to cope....

FATEdestiny Tue 03-Feb-15 21:45:57

Use a dummy. Really, these things are the work of the Gods for a crying baby.

Your baby may not take to the dummy initially. It took lots and lots of daily perseverance over 7 weeks until my DD would accept the dummy. But my god it is worth it.

In terms of your question: Do I tackle naps first? Do I deal with bedtime? They may both come at the same time. Decide what your routine will be and work hard on it consistently.

How often do you feed during the daytime? To establish a routine (unless you are a Gina Ford fan, which I am not) means being lead by your baby and allowing them to set a routine. But then sticking to it. The first step in baby deciding on a routine that works is tracking when you feed each day.

Just be baby lead and figure out how long she goes between feeds, on average. My DD, for example, goes 2 to 2 1/2 hours between feeds during the day. She is 4 months. So my routine starts with that. From one feed I know when the next feed is likely to be. I try and get some play and a nap in between one feed and another.

Your day will feel more ordered and structured this way and be better able to predict her sleep patterns.

Binglesplodge Tue 03-Feb-15 23:01:05

Thanks. Just like your daughter, my DS feeds about every 2 - 3 hours during the day if he naps in between. If for any reason I can't get him to sleep he feeds a bit more often to calm him down. I'm grateful for the routine tips and am glad to see I'm probably not too far off the mark: I feed him, change, play, and usually try to get him back off to sleep after about an hour and a half to and hour and three quarters of awake time, which is about the right amount for him before he gets overtired.

The thing I'm really panicking about, though, is how to get him to sleep without the labour-intensive bouncing or the temperamental feeding to sleep, and how to get him to stay asleep once I've put him down. I feel like I've let him become too reliant on me for getting to sleep and staying asleep: even when he naps on me he needs my hand on his chest to stop him flailing his arms and waking himself up. I wish I'd known from the beginning to try to help him learn independent sleep instead of having to try to break habits now.

Riri85 Tue 03-Feb-15 23:14:29

Hi bingle-can't give a very detailed reply ATM as am about to try and get a bit of sleep before the night time festivities begin in my house (4 month sleep regression!)
As pp has suggested a routine would really help and your LO is probably going to be leading the way on this!
I would recommend reading the baby whisperer book for ideas about setting a routine and although I am not a Gina Ford fan either (contended little baby book) she does give some ideas for structuring the day that you can adapt to suit your lifestyle and not be confined to the house which is how it would be if you followed her guidance rigidly IMO!

Lucysaysno Tue 03-Feb-15 23:21:08

I have gone through this recently so while I'm no expert here are my thoughts....

Agreed with PP re dummy. It provides a way for the baby to soothe himself without having to be rocked/bounced for consolation and without having to cry.

My suggestion would be to persevere with a manageable bedtime routine - in 20 minutes you could do a bath, little massage and story. It can actually be a really enjoyable time if the day for bonding. Then put baby down in the cot with dummy and pat his tummy, rub his cheek to assure him that you are still there. If he cries, pick up and put him down again when he stops. Maybe get a mobile with lights and or music to signal the transition into sleepy time.

For naps, try and watch sleepy signs (yawning, eye rubbing) to see what kind of interval your baby can do between sleeps. Mine is comfortable at 2 hour intervals. I have ended up with a nap in the morning, lunchtime and afternoon.

I would try to tackle both together. You won't get there immediately and it won't be identical to anyone else's routine but it will pay off when you do.

Lucysaysno Tue 03-Feb-15 23:31:22

Also if you're used to feeding to sleep it can somehow be very daunting to put an awake baby into the cot (or bed if you are co sleeping). He might try to fight sleep (my DS does by grizzling when he is out down). But he will eventually get there - you need to trust him and have confidence in him. IMO going to sleep is a skill that babies need to learn and they need to be given the opportunity to learn it - backed up of course by the reassurance of your presence (I am in no way advocating any tough love for your little one).

Re the day time crying, I had a lot of this when the naps weren't going so well and in my sons case it was mainly over tiredness. So with my DS the crying decreased drastically (developmental spurts aside!) when I got his naps sorted. In practical terms I just stayed home for a few consecutive days to observe him and to get him into the cot quickly when I saw sleepy signs - what emerged was the 3 naps I mentioned before.

Again I really am no expert, just someone who very recently went through what you are going through.

dancingwitch Tue 03-Feb-15 23:39:27

Are they, literally, the only places he will go to sleep or will he go to sleep in his pram? What about in a bouncy chair with it on vibrate mode?
When I thought I was going to break with DD (now 5yrs) but also knew she was tired, I used to put her in the Moses basket & go for a shower. It only took a few minutes but by the time I came out she's often gone to sleep or was settling herself down. Obviously I only did this if i knew she was fed, had a clean nappy etc etc.

Binglesplodge Wed 04-Feb-15 02:52:06

Dancingwitch - if he's in his pram at the right time he will sometimes fall asleep but wakes when the movement stops. Similarly a trip in the car usually puts him to sleep but he wakes when we arrive. If we go to a group which is a couple of hours long I usually drive around for a good half hour longer than necessary on the way home to make sure he's had a decent length nap!

FATEdestiny Wed 04-Feb-15 10:34:54

Have you tried persevering with a dummy?

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