4 month old naps….complet
ely lost, please help!
I am at my absolute wits end with my 4 month old’s naps and could really appreciate some help.
We have struggled with day time naps since he was 6 weeks old. He is EBF and feeds every 2.5-3 hours in the day, and usually wakes twice in the night for food. On an amazing day, he gets 90 minutes of day time sleep, on a bad day (more often) it is around 30 minutes. I am absolutely exhausted of having literally no time to myself and I don’t know what to do.
Things I have tried:
The buggy – he hates it and cries most of the time he is in it
The sling - he loves being out and about in it, but he doesn’t sleep in it, just enjoys the closeness and looking around
The car – this usually does work but I wont use it as a sleep aid so it only works when we happen to be going somewhere
Sleeping on me – doesn’t really work, he might doze off after a feed but wakes within minutes, apart from the 5pm feed where he usually conks out utterly exhausted (not ideal).
The main thing I have tried is being very consistent with a nap routine – I have been doing this for about 8 weeks, and it is failing miserably.
I wait for the signs of tiredness – rubbing eyes, yawning etc and start a wind down routine (walk around the house together, go upstairs, say byebye to the sun and close blinds, put sleeping bag on, read story, cuddle and put down drowsy).
Sometimes he cries immediately, sometimes he cries after a few minutes of being put down. I am not willing to do cry it out so I go in to him and soothe him by touching his tummy/shushing or picking him up and rocking. Occasionally the rocking works and he will sleep for 30 mins max, but usually it doesn’t. I sometimes go in and out of the room 10 times trying to help him before I get exasperated and give up. I then try again next time I see the sleepy signs and usually fail again.
I have tried doing the wind down earlier (i.e. before he usually starts yawning etc) and later, giving him more awake time but the outcome is always the same.
He is a highly alert baby, into everything, very interactive etc – he just seems to love being awake. But he does become agitated as the day goes on and will cry when he isn’t able to fall asleep.
What can I do to help him? Any ideas?!
I have no useful advice, but had a similar problem. DS was a rubbish napper and nighttime sleep was pants too until something clicked at 8 months. I tried the No Cry Sleep Solution. No idea if it did any good! It made me feel better to be trying things
Oh actually, maybe some advice: Can you hand your baby over to your partner to get a break in the evenings? We took turns being 'on duty', DP would do 9pm til maybe 1am, so I knew I would get a chunk of me time (which I always used for sleeping, I love my sleep).
It's really really hard, but it does pass and before you know it you're onto the next phase! It's annoying you don't know when that'll be though - it'd be easier if you could say 'just one more month and DC will self settle' for example.
All my dcs were very alert babies and crap nappers. None of them would sleep in the pram or the sling when we were out. Yours sounds similar. They did however sleep in the sling indoors with me walking/dancing/bouncing on exercise ball for short bursts 30-45mins (short naps very normal for young babies).
Have you tried sling indoors but moving around? Is it a wrap sling or carrier? I ask because the wrap style ones help babies feel more secure and snuggly so works better for sleep IME.
I can only tell you what i did with my own and what worked.
Pre 4 months I wore dcs in sling and tried to get as many naps in to avoid OT. Around 3/4 month mark the power of the sling began to wear off so I had to get them to sleep in cot (they could manage this for night sleep so I knew they were capable).
Your day time mini routine sounds fine although I wonder if you are doing when you see the signs of tiredness which is usually too late IME. I had to clock watch and do routine before this point.
I chose one soothing method to get my dcs to sleep and stuck with it until sleep. For ds1 I used shush pat in cot. Ds2 did not respond to this so bounced on exercise ball until asleep waited 15 mins and placed in cot (this wait shortened over the next month or so). Dd is 4 months now and I used shush pat on her a few weeks ago as bouncing and rocking just overstimulated her and prolonged crying. (Dd was a nightmare to soothe from around 6 weeks. In fact she responded much better when I left her alone in cot rather keep on trying to soothe her)
I focused on all awake times (not nap duration) to guage when next nap should be. At 4 months babies can really only handle 1 to 1.5 hrs of awake time. They need to be asleep by the 1 to 1.5hr mark. This means I would start routine sometimes as early as 45 mins from first wake up of the day (babies usually have v short first awake time) and 1 hr for other naps. Any longer and settling would not be successful. Naps were short so awake times were short too. It just meant that dcs had 4/5 naps in a day until they lengthened naturally on their own.
I practiced, practiced and practiced. Babies love routine and they eventually get it but you absolutely have to do the same thing over and over again. I used to keep a log of times to settle so I could see any patterns and track what was/wasn't working (I'm a bit geeky like that!).
It does get better. I promise. It really is difficult when they are stuck in the OT cycle though.
If dc seems tired by 5pm and appears to sleep ok during night could you temporarily bring bedtime forward so they get more night sleep for now (which is more restorative than day sleep)? For dd I brought bedtime forward to 6/6.30 pm. Hasn't affected morning wake up time.
Phew... that was a bit long!
I have a 3 month old - I'm with you on this one! I'm just learning to hoover around him and put him in his chair when I'm cleaning/cooking etc! Xx
I do get a break in the evening - he sleeps from 7.30pm then my husband does a dream feed of expressed milk around 11pm so I sleep through til baby wakes up around 3am.
But the days are so exhausting!
My sling is a soft wrap one but he is getting a bit big for it now so planning on getting a more structured one. He doesn't like being in it in the house though! He just kicks and wriggles and tries to escape - he only likes it being outside.
I will take your advice and focus on the awake times instead of waiting for the tired signs. Doing it 45 mins after waking seems very early especially as my baby takes so long to feed! But I will try anything!
Any other ideas welcome! x
Mintbiscuit I don't know if you will see this but I want to say a huge thank you!
I took your advice and completely stopped focusing on his sleepy signs to work out when to put him down and have done 3 days doing it by the clock - he has had 3-4 naps every day for the last 3 days! Granted they are 40-45 minute naps, but compared to what we had before (almost nothing) I am thrilled. Also he is going down with minimal fuss - just put him down and walk out!
For anyone else struggling just to let you know I am doing a wind down routine after 75 mins awake time and he is in his cot within 90 mins of waking up. This obviously won't work on days when we are out and about but when we are home this is what I will be doing!
Have you tried a dummy? I understand some people are very anti-dummies but if he is struggling to self-settle it might just help and at this stage it shouldn't interfere with your breastfeeding.
By the way, just for comfort, it does get better. My LB would only sleep on me until he was about 5/6 months old and then suddenly decided he wanted to nap on his own in his cot. Not exactly the same problem but comparable and a good example of why you need to remember that everything is a phase. This too shall pass.
Glad it's got better after clock watching.
I was going to say it sounds like he's overtired and you're doing too much to stimulate.
With the little one I clock watch and after about 90 minutes i wrap him in his grow bag and place in the cot.
OP, glad you've had a better time with that shorter awake time.
Mintbiscuit, when do you increase the awake times? I have a 4 month old and on the days I can get her to sleep sooner rather than later it helps, easier said than done with a toddler too.
I muddled through with my toddler but she eventually settled on three naps, but I'm a bit more limited with just being able to bundle baby in pram or car as I have a toddler who sleeps at home for her naps.
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