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Nap battles with my 4 month old

(12 Posts)
enigmaVariations Wed 27-May-15 12:05:49

My DS is about to turn 4 months and I've been a regular lurker on these boards since day one, usually some time in the small hours searching for answers but now I'm wondering if anyone can offer me some direct advice.

Our main problem is that if resisting sleep was an Olympic event he would be champion. I'm trying to work on getting him to self settle, he has a dummy which he does take after many weeks of rejection but it only actually helps him to nod off if he's already on the edge of sleep anyway, it's more useful at night but doesn't really help in the day. He will sleep if I rock him in my arms and shush him for ages (maybe an hour) but even then he fights like mad, flailing around and screaming before he sleeps and putting him down is difficult. Also, I want to move away from rocking him to sleep if I can. I'm trying to work on making sure he's not overtired when I try and get him to nap but it's near impossible to do. His night sleep is very hit and miss which means he's often tired right from the start of the day and although his first nap happens the easiest he normally wakes after 30 mins or so and I'm often unable to resettle him which then means he just gets progressively more tired until he eventually conks out and we start all over again. My days are often spent largely trying to get him to sleep and keep him that way and I'm finding it very draining, particularly after a poor nights sleep too.

He used to fall asleep in his bouncy chair, on the boob (now bottle fed), in the pram or in the car seat but increasingly none of this works. Sometimes it just seems that nothing will get him to sleep. I know that 4 months is a notoriously tough time for sleep but his sleep has always been pretty poor and I'm getting desperate. I'm about half way through my maternity leave and I worry that when I look back all the memories I have will be of fighting with him over sleep day and night as I'm often still too tired to do stuff during the day.

Any tips?

FATEdestiny Wed 27-May-15 13:06:00

My days are often spent largely trying to get him to sleep and keep him that way

I completely empathise with that. I know it is draining, but it is worth it. I think that lots of people underestimate how much sleep babies need, especially in the first 6 months.

Realistically awake/happy time should be seen as occasional through the day with sleep or trying to get to sleep the mainstay. Not the other way around. Within the bounds of changing flexibility as they grow of course.

You mention flailing around, have you previously used a swaddle? I recall bring the swaddle back for a few weeks around 4 months, until calm was restored. But I understand that unless a swaddle is established within the first 3 months of life, that it is a SIDS risk to introduce swaddling later.

Swaddling or tightly tucking in with a blanket is good for babies who like holding/cuddling to sleep since it replicates the secure feeling.

If not the swaddle then I would try cot naps with a sheet across ways (rather than length ways) across baby (in sleeping bag) and tucked all the way under the mattress.

Do you have a bedside cot with one side taken off and butted up to your bed?

Make sure baby is well fed with a full tummy and winded. Dummy in mouth, into sleeping bag and 'pinned down' with tucked in sheet or swaddle. Then I would lie on my bed next to the cot with my hand firmly on babys chest, doing gentle patting. Some people shush but I tend not to and just pat, it's a personal preference thing.

Keep patting and reinserting dummy, whilst lying next to baby (but baby in cot) until eventually he drops off (if it was me I may have a nap at the same time as baby too!)

That's what I would try anyway.

September60b Wed 27-May-15 13:13:04

Op I could have written your post. This sounds identical to my situation apart from that my dd won't take a dummy. I am hoping that things will improve when I start putting her in her own room for naps and nighttime sleep.

flipflopsonfifthavenue Wed 27-May-15 13:33:13

I'm afraid my DS2 is already world champion at fighting sleep ;) He's 6.5mo and only sleeps on me or in the sling. He'll often have only 2x 30 min naps a day .... No idea how he's surviving!!!

It sucks. But, they get older, require less sleep, and it gets easier.

No real advice but you're not alone. He'll be ok.

Happilymarried155 Wed 27-May-15 14:48:52

Have you tried a sleepy head? Our little ones loves it and sleeps soundly in it for day time naps for up to 3 hours. Our little boy is a similar age to yours but we did go through a phase when day time naps were a nightmare. I made sure i did the same routine for each nap. Cuddled him in his room and then lay him down awake in his sleepyhead with a dummy and a small bunny. He did fight it at first and for a couple of days I would go back in sometimes 10 times to pop his dummy back in and stroke his head. Was worth it though, he now doesn't even cry when I put him to bed and it doesn't matter where we are if I want him to sleep I just give him his dummy and bunny.
Could you indroduce a comforter? Also I always put him back to bed around an hour/hour and a half after wakes xxx

enigmaVariations Wed 27-May-15 17:02:36

Thanks for your responses everyone. It's good to know that I'm not alone at least, my circle of friends don't seem to be having the same level of sleep arguments with their babies that I am and it's easy to start to wonder what I'm doing wrong!

He does sleep in a Love to Dream swaddle with his hands by his face but I've not used it for daytime naps and now I think about it I'm not really sure why. I took your advice this afternoon FATEdestiny, he sleeps in a bednest so I did just as you suggested and lo and behold he was asleep within 7 minutes and the pair of us slept for 2.5 hours! Time will tell as to whether I can replicate it again but it's certainly the least painful transition to sleep we've had recently, there were no tears, no fighting or anything, he just lay quietly and nodded off. I'm still gobsmacked grin.

Happilymarried155, what you describe is basically what I've been trying to do with him. In his crib, dummy and comforter and me popping back and forth to replace dummy and help settle. He hasn't progressed with it like I hoped though and I've been doing it for a week now, in fact if anything I think he's become agitated more quickly and has started anticipating naps when I take him to bed. Obviously I don't want sleep to become a negative association to him (if that's even possible at this age?). You describe what I'd like to achieve in the long term though I'm not quite sure how to get there. The sleepyhead does look good but it's not the cheapest bit of kit. I was already half planning on getting the grand version for his eventual transition to a cot but I don't think I can justify getting the smaller one, he's a big lad and I think the chances are he'd grow out of it quite quickly.

Happilymarried155 Thu 28-May-15 07:23:25

I thought it probably was. Yes the sleepyhead is expensive, could you go straight into the grande?

I don't really know what else to suggest, hopefully he will grow out of it soon. Know how draining it if when you can't do anything all day except try and get a baby to sleep x

VertdeTerre Thu 28-May-15 07:36:06

Both of my DC have been rubbish at daytime sleep. With DC1 I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get him to sleep in the day, and really stressed about it. With DC2 I worried less, and I didn't have the time to stand there rocking/shushing/patting anyway.

The fact is that some babies are just catnappers and 30 mins nap is what they do. I agree with PP that a nap routine is useful to settle in the first place, but generally if they wake up and won't resettle I wouldn't start stressing about it. Easier said than done I know: with DC1 I was on my knees at about 6mo with 2x20min naps per day, when other babies I knew of the same age did a 2hr stretch in the afternoon. But they are all different, and it doesn't necessarily last forever: by 15mo DC1 had moved to one longer afternoon nap, without me doing much to encourage it.

inaboxwithafox Thu 28-May-15 07:37:49

Id carry on with lying next to him, anything to keep him calm and comforted, remove the fight, the anxiety, it's better for him and for you! Once he's used to lying down just nodding off he has more of a chance of going to sleep himself when the time is right. Still a couple of months before I'd even consider anything else.

Yes it's binding, yes it's all day every day but it does slowly change. Good luck OP.

enigmaVariations Thu 28-May-15 13:18:03

I wouldn't mind him catnapping if he woke up happy and rested, but he's not. He's visible tired and a grouchy so and so to boot!

Sadly yesterday's technique, which also worked like a dream at bedtime, doesn't work today hmm. He's napped twice today for 30 mins each time and both times it took me an hour to settle him. Now I'm sat with him again and have been for ages while he whines and moans. Roll on 6pm when my DH gets home!

enigmaVariations Thu 28-May-15 13:25:16

Just to add, it sounds like maybe I'm putting him down when maybe he's not tired but he's really visibly tired (overtired now!) rubbing eyes, yawning, whinging and clinging to me when I pick him up. It's just draining and so difficult to get anything done when as soon as I stop paying him 100% attention the whining starts to escalate.

Happilymarried155 Thu 28-May-15 16:17:50

I find that if he crossed the line from tired/overtired it takes me ages to get him to sleep and will then only sleep for 45 min. It's so hard to know when is best though, I work on the rule that if he has been up for an hour and a half he needs to go back to bed. Although sometimes he starts rubbing his eyes after an hour and il put him down earlier x

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