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Feeling in desperate need of some advice

(19 Posts)
ChristmasEveMummy Tue 10-Feb-15 18:39:07

Hi all, my baby is now nearly 7 weeks old and I'm finding the night times so so tough, to the point where I get frustrated and shout at him and then feel like the worst mum ever sad

In a nutshell, we have very little in terms of a routine, I am BF on demand so there's no set times he'll feed at as it depends on what kind of day he's having. He is all over the place with sleep - for instance last night he slept for 30 mins in his basket between 1am-6am and the rest of the time was spent feeding/changing/being sick/trying to settle him/screaming/start again.
This was with him having been wide awake between 6pm-9pm with a bath and last feed at 9pm which I thought would settle him but he was awake on and off through to his next feed at 1am.
Some nights he can sleep quite happily for 2-3 hours but then there's the ones like last night where he just doesn't want to settle.
Consequently today he's slept a lot and I'm worried he's gearing up for another bad night and I'm really feeling like I just can't handle another one!

I feel completely lost, I feel like his whole sleep routine (if it can be called that) is a complete mess and there doesn't seem to be light at the end of the tunnel.

Does anyone have any ideas about how I can get him to recognise that night is for sleeping and day time is for waking? I've tried dummies, white noise, hot water bottle in basket, muslin in basket, elevated basket as he often gets hiccups or can be sick, swaddled him, not swaddled him etc.

Would be so grateful to hear from anyone with any advice smile
Sorry for such a long and jumbled post.

rr16 Tue 10-Feb-15 19:36:37

Hi ChristmasEveMummy! First of all don't feel bad for your actions, you're only human and all this lack of sleep is absolutely awful so try not to stress. My advice is to co-sleep. He's only 7 weeks old so you've got plenty of time to get him into his cot and on a proper feeding routine. BF as much as he wants and when he settles you can rest too, just make sure you wind him so he's not sick then settle him down next to you in the crook of your arm. I think he might just settle better if he's next to you with booby on tap - my ds2 did. Might be worth a try?

TychosNose Tue 10-Feb-15 20:22:40

Poor you. It's really hard but 7 weeks is very young for a routine.

You can encourage day/night recognition by getting out in the "sun" and fresh air in the daytime and never turning bright lights on at night (just use very dim night lights for changes ).

sleep when he does in the day so you get as much rest as possible. I hope things improve soon x

ChristmasEveMummy Tue 10-Feb-15 22:25:39

Thanks for your replies - I've not yet tried co sleeping as I'm worried that once I do fall asleep it's such a deep sleep because I'm so tired that il roll on him. But definitely something il keep in mind, anything to get an extra hour of sleep.
I know he's still very young for a routine, I wasn't worried about establishing one at first but as time as gone on it seems to be getting harder and harder to get him to settle and I worry that I've started lots of bad habits. I always have to feed him to sleep and then cuddle him for ages but again I know he's probably far too young to do anything other than that.

It's just the dread I feel each night that's getting to me at the minute.

I do take him out for a walk when I can during the day and try to sleep when he does but often he'll only sleep on a walk or out in the car which are times when I can't sleep sad

I don't want to wish away this time when he's little but at the same time I'd do anything for a bit more sleep.

Teabiscuits Tue 10-Feb-15 23:03:12

It can be so, so hard at that age, I remember similar nights with all of mine, I have 4, youngest is 5 months.

In the end we co-slept for a bit once I got to DC3 who was by far the hardest. I was very anxious about it, so DH slept on the sofa and I had no pillows or duvet on the bed. I Wore a fleecey onesie, put baby in a sleeping bag and had a large blanket over us both. I know no pillows sounds mad but I was too worried to use them, I got used to it fairly quickly. Also had to keep room warm with that little bedding. It saved my sanity though as he slept so much better.

Hang in there, it does get better.

Missingcaffeine Wed 11-Feb-15 02:34:03

7 weeks is still really young - don't worry, it will get better very soon!
I would say the first thing to tackle is helping your baby distinguish between day and night. Decide on a bedtime (lets say 7pm as that seems to work for most babies) and start a bedtime routine - such as nappy off time, massage, bath, feed, story. Whatever you choose, try to stick to it and stick to the time. Then at bedtime, make sure the lights are dimmed, and try not to talk to your baby or play with them until morning (12 hours later) and try to keep them in the bedroom with the lights dimmed for this whole period. Only change nappies if you really have to. During the day - do the opposite - keep lights on and don't be afraid to have music on etc.
You may find your baby doesn't want to go to sleep at 7pm, but the reduced stimulation and dimmed lights should calm your baby and hopefully once they get used to this, they will start going to sleep earlier and closer to bedtime. That's certainly what we found after weeks of a screaming baby not going to sleep until sometimes 1am, when we started this around 8 weeks our baby was awake until 11pm, but by 9 weeks was asleep by 8pm. It put a stop to the horrendous evenings of screaming. In retrospect, I actually think our baby was overtired. Since 9 weeks, our baby has pretty much always gone to sleep around 7pm ish which is lovely (baby is now 5 months). We do have other sleep problems, but this is one problem that we don't have. We have stuck to our routine and bath baby every night at the same time.
Then the next thing to work on is the naps. I found the better my baby napped, the better my baby slept at night. The days he didn't nap, the nights were much much worse, especially bedtime. Try to get into some kind of pattern with the naps so that your baby is not awake too long since the last nap - 2 hours max. Watch for your baby's cues of being tired - like eye rubbing, yawning, hiccups, crying and try to note when these are - ideally you will help your baby to nap before they reach this point once you know what time this point is!
It is also good to try to get into a routine of change nappy, feed (you want to feed with baby comfy in clean nappy), play, chill/cuddle (unwind before sleep), sleep and to keep this order all day long.
At 7 weeks, your baby is still very young and may not have a fully developed digestive system and is likely to have a lot of wind which might be the cause of some of the crying. Make sure you do lots of burping and gentle tummy massage, circling legs can help release this. We did the tummy massage and leg cycling at every nappy change and I think it helped keep the gas moving through.

ChristmasEveMummy Wed 11-Feb-15 08:42:36

Teabiscuits - thanks for your advice, did you find that once you were ready to stop co-sleeping it was easy enough to make the transition? And did you put baby into a cot from there on? I totally get the not having anything on the bed except the two of you and a blanket, I'd do the same as there's always that worry that something will fall onto baby isn't there?

Missingcaffeine - thanks so much, I don't really have a bedtime routine yet so that is something I will start to work on. Does your baby more or less sleep through for you now? Do you think that having a routine would help with the night time wakefulness too or is that something I am going to have to wait for him to sort out himself? Last night he was awake from 2am-5.30am so not as bad as the night before but I really struggle with the sitting up for hours. Plus he seemed to want to keep feeding but then he vomited an entire feed everywhere which is rather disheartening!
As far as the daytime naps, I didn't realise that less sleep makes it worse at night so il definitely make an effort to make sure he does go down for naps. As you say it's about recognising the tired cues and I'm definitely still on a learning curve with that.

Missingcaffeine Wed 11-Feb-15 09:24:20

This website is really good and worth a read - I think it summarises some of the most popular sleep 'expert's' theories in a nice way and gives some good advice. I've spent the last 2 months reading everything I can find on sleep and this is one of the best ones I've found.
www.troublesometots.com/newborn-baby-sleep-survival-guide/

Sadly my baby doesn't sleep through and is far from it, BUT his reflux is much better - he no longer vomits whole feeds, and since he started reflux medication (Ranitidine and Gaviscon) he does not scream in the same way at night and is sleeping better. My trouble is, we have formed 'bad habits' such as feeding to sleep during the time he was suffering with reflux - but I don't regret what I did - I did what was required to survive and to keep my baby as comfortable as possible and not let him suffer unnecessarily.

Crying also makes reflux worse - so do what you have to do to comfort your baby. It's so tough, but it will get better - I promise! I'm so far from where I'd like to be regarding sleep, but when I look back, I'm in a much better place now than I was at 7 weeks. My baby is much happier.

ChristmasEveMummy Wed 11-Feb-15 19:26:05

Ooh that really is a fab website, I've just read the bit on newborn bedtime and it reassured me a lot.
Who knew that sleep could cause so much anxiety? It really is hard work isn't it but it must feel great when you eventually achieve the elusive 'sleeping through the night' . I'm fed up of people telling me 'my baby slept through at 8 weeks, 6 weeks, 5 weeks etc etc' - it must be wonderful but not what you want to hear when your baby thinks night is day!

Hope things improve for your baby soon, he's still young too and if he's much happier/not suffering so much from reflux then that's a step in the right direction. Like you say it doesn't last forever does it, maybe in a year we'll be getting plenty of sleep and looking back missing our little babies smile thanks so much for all your advice, it's so reassuring to talk to others in the same boat.

Thebewilderbeest Wed 11-Feb-15 20:26:50

Replying with new username, I was teabiscuits yesterday!

He went into the crib with no problems once we switched him to formula, as he lost the need to be attatched to me all the time. That was kind of the turning point when he started to be a lot more settled. That was at about 12 weeks so it could have just coincided with his age as well. Of course I am not suggesting that you should switch to formula in an effort to make things easier, just recounting my own experience. Hope tonight is ok for you x

IndecisionCentral Wed 11-Feb-15 21:57:06

Ds was a non sleeper. I have 2 dc now and what I have learned is that some babies sleep, and some don't. It's not your fault and there is actually v little you can do to "fix" it. I got to 6 weeks with DS before I caved and coslept. I learned to feed on my side and would barely have to wake to get DS to latch on. Life got much easier from then.

Lie on your side with your lower arm outstretched. Put baby next to you but under the level of that arm. It'll stop you rolling on him. I had a blanket over my legs only and wore cardigans for bf access. Don't forget to reduce his layers by one as he'll have your body heat.

By 3m DS could latch himself on.

With DD I made a half hearted attempt at the Moses basket but quickly coslept and had a massively better experience because of it.

DS went into a cot at 6m, DD at 7m.

ChristmasEveMummy Thu 12-Feb-15 17:42:43

Thebewilderbeest - I have heard a few people say that it should get a bit easier by 12 weeks so am holding out hope for that. My HV suggested a top up of either expressed milk or formula at night but by a top up does she mean a full feed or a smaller amount? I have no idea how much a feed would consist of for him as he just feeds as and when he wants!

Indecisioncentral - I have a friend like you whose baby could latch on himself eventually and it does sound like an ideal situation as you must get more rest by not having to be in and out of bed constantly!
I took him into bed with me yesterday morning after another bad night, I think I did roughly as you described and we both fell asleep for an hour or so, I was just too tired to attempt the basket again and he was much more settled with me.

My main worry with co sleeping is that I would then struggle to get him into a cot, it's hard because people in RL like to point out all the ways I'm making a rod for my own back hmm

IndecisionCentral Thu 12-Feb-15 21:04:07

If you have the energy/time for reading, then have a look at the no cry sleep solution. It's written by a bf, cosleeping mum of four. It has a good chapter on how to go from bf and cosleeping to getting them into their own cot/bed.

I've been a mum for 4.5 years only, but I have found that the phrase rod for your own back is only trotted out by those who disapprove of what you do. Don't forget that cots haven't been around that long. Far longer have babies slept with their mums. I never intended to cosleep, but actually I did find it a really lovely experience, once I got over the feeling I shouldn't be doing it (which was entirely due to social pressure).

IndecisionCentral Thu 12-Feb-15 21:09:03

This is a link from the Kellymom site (best bf site IMHO) which describes bf lying down if it helps.

JustTryEverything Thu 12-Feb-15 21:15:41

Very wise words above and 7 weeks is still so young and tiny you have no need to worry about bad habits. Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with feeding to sleep - mine grew out of it eventually and I loved that it almost acted as an 'off' button at times! He didn't reliably 'sleep through' until 9 months but he very naturally switched to night routine pretty young using all the tricks that people mention and then would wake once or twice for a feed then back to sleep. To me, that was absolutely fine so I was very happy. I think setting goals and targets about sleeping through can be hard psychologically so set your own bar very low and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

And definitely look into safe co-sleeping. I used to do that for bad nights and it really saved us.

MillieH30 Thu 12-Feb-15 21:16:09

DD would not settle and a friend recommended Ewan the Dream sheep. Basically a soft toy sheep that has a red glow and plays 4 sounds -a harp tune, white noise, mimics sound of womb and the sea. They are pretty expensive at £30 so we initially resisted, but when I finally bought him, he changed our lives. DD was calmed by it and would settle, she still sleeps with him now she's 2. The best baby thing I bought.

AliceInHinterland Thu 12-Feb-15 21:18:48

I would counter the 'rod-for-your-own-back' brigade with a really enthusiastic 'it works really well for us' or 'I really love waking up next to my baby'. The slightest sign of weakness and they are in there making you feel bad about your parenting choices. Don't allow it, complain to those you trust to be supportive. Babies thrive off human contact & they are not tiny for long. Savour every snuggle with that little milky squidgy baby.

mynameissecret Thu 12-Feb-15 21:26:07

Co-sleep day & night.
Check out the wonder weeks website/app/book.
The routine will come.

ChristmasEveMummy Fri 13-Feb-15 07:35:30

Thank you all so much for your responses, it's so reassuring to hear that a) this is normal and b) it's ok at this stage to do what it takes to get some sleep.
I can completely identify with the feeling that I shouldn't be co sleeping and I think that's largely the reason I haven't done until now. If there's one thing I've found people love it's telling you what to do with a baby and sometimes it's really helpful but other times it can be demoralising. Somebody said to me last week that their baby slept through from 5 weeks and was quite smug about it, for example.

I'll definitely look into everything that's been mentioned here, and get a Ewan the sheep - anything that will help!

We have actually had two much better nights where he has done almost 4 hours in a row - I know it could all change again in an instant but at least I'm not so sleep deprived and actually feel human again grin

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