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How to move a sleep routine forward?

(20 Posts)
PerpetualStudent Fri 01-Jan-16 11:29:05

I have got myself into a sleep situation with my 7 month old DS which is slowly driving me mad. Literally - along with some other factors (unexpected death of DF 3 months ago, just so as not to drip feed) I can feel myself sliding into depression. That's an issue by itself and I'm going to start addressing it in the NY, but I desperately want to change the current sleep pattern.

There's 2 key problems really.

First is how late he is going to sleep, the consequential late waking. It is playing havoc with my own sleep patterns. He goes down sometime between 9-11pm, it's usually a battle to get him off (fought with breastfeeding, rocking, singing and a bit of pick up put down)
So he doesn't wake to start the day until anywhere between 8-11am Because of co-sleeping (see problem 2) by this point I'm exhausted and just want to stay in bed - most mornings my DP is able to take him for a bit, which gives me a break, but I wake up somewhere between 10-12 feeling like a grotty failure before my day's even begun.

Second problem is co-sleeping. We fell into this, although I didn't plan to, and for the first 4 months or so it worked great - I could feed him whenever he woke up, barely having to move or wake myself. Since he started to get more wriggly it's been less effective for all of us, and me and DP have managed to get him to consistently go down in his cot for the first part of the night. However, like clockwork, DS will wake and want a feed between 2-3am, and from then on he's back in bed with us. DS and I wake each other up all through the rest of the night, usually with a bonus proper waking up at fussing around 6am, and he gets settled on the boob and doesn't want to move away.

With the co-sleeping, I can see the answer is to do those 2/3am and 6am feeds and then put him back in the cot, but when I've tried that more than half the time he will wake (after feeding to sleep) and after a couple of attempts I can't face it and just flop us both back into the bed - at that point broken, wriggly sleep seems better than no sleep. And the 6am one is such an awkward bloody time - a little earlier and it would be properly worth going back to sleep, a little later and I could face getting up for the day.

So my real question is how do I move the whole sleep routine forward? My dream would be to have him going down around 8pm, which would hopefully make those night feeds around midnight and 4am and waking for the day between 6-8am.
For adults, I understand the best way to change your sleep routine is at the morning end - force yourself to get up early, then you'll naturally want an early bedtime. Is that what I do here? Seize the 6am wake and get us up then? (I honestly haven't been able to face that yet - the idea of it not working and an even more overtired baby come the evening scares me!)

Or else it's tweaking naps, which currently look something like this:

9am: up for breakfast (porridge, fruit and water from sippy cup), followed by bottle and playtime with DP (& family-in-law over xmas)

11am: Breastfed, rocked or in sling to sleep for morning nap - anywhere between 30 mins to 2 hours.

Upon waking, another breastfeed and time for playing and/or going out as the day dictates. Most days he'll have a bit of lunch now too - some steamed veg, solider of toast or something nibbly.

Anywhere between 2-6pm is afternoon nap time - the later this happens, the later bedtime is. Every afternoon I start to get edgy and try for an early afternoon nap. One day before xmas he napped 3:30-4:30 and then was in bed by 8:30. I baked mince pies and danced round the kitchen with joy! I've never managed to recreate this - he just doesn't seem to get tired until it's too late.

So say 6:30pm: Dinner (more or less doing BLW, so plain, steamed version of what we're having, followed by fruit and yoghurt if still hungry) then bottle. I'm positively itching to put him to bed at this point, but he's usually bright-eyed and bushy tailed, so he'll stay in his highchair with something to play with, or more food to pick at as we eat, until he starts to rub his eyes or show any other sleepy signs.

9:30pm+: bath (2-3 times a week) and upstairs for quiet time, breastfeeding and bed.

So, wise MNers, is anything jumping out at you about how I can change this?
On Tuesday we're back to DP working and come Feb I'm returning to my 'work' as a PhD student, kicking off with an academic trip to Boston. Honestly, the idea of me presenting research, running workshops and talking in any kind of intelligent way is laughable. I'm currently starting most days with my head under the pillow, sobbing to my DP that I can't do anything and that DS is trying to break me. I know he isn't, but I have to make things better, please help!

PerpetualStudent Fri 01-Jan-16 11:30:25

And if you've read that essay and have the energy for any sort of reply - I'll be extremely impressed/grateful!

Iguessyourestuckwithme Fri 01-Jan-16 11:41:36

So he is in a 12 hour day. Not sure you won't be any less tired if he goes to bed earlier or gets up earlier but here goes.

I would in this situation wake him at 8 am one morning give him breakfast and get out the house. Try to push his morning nap to 9.30/10 am and give him just 30 minutes. Wake him up and get on with your day. Feed lunch at 12 and then get him down for a nap about 12.30. This should be a long nap of 2 hours (hopefully 1230-230) Give him a quick nap (15 minutes) about 4 and then nothing until 7.30. Give him a big bowl of dinner about 5 and a big bottle at 7pm.

I would do this 3 days running and "force" the naps so in the pushchair etc if he won't settle in the cot.

Babies are basically tired every 1hr 40 after waking up so you can preempt when he should be tired.

DangerMouth Fri 01-Jan-16 11:53:35

What l did with both mine is have 'big sleep' cues. So for us it was bath downstairs, feed in bedroom and then put down drowsy (sometimes asleep). I think the key is they need to learn to self settle so after his middle of the night feed he can go back in his cot and go off to sleep.

Dd1 was bf so night feeds were longer but l stopped NF at 6 months and made sure to give her plenty of bf during the day. Even if she didn't want it.

The night routine needs to be consistent so if it's a warm bath (we use j&j lavender also) then it needs to be every night. Even when you can't be bothered sorry!

We travel a lot including long haul and the routine always helped dd1 to know it was bed time where ever we were. I'm really hoping it's the same for dd2 when we start again!

FATE should be along soon and she is a wealth of knowledge. But l just wanted to tell you what works for us. Because as you've probably been told, every baby is different and you'll have to tweak to suit your family. smile

Good luck, it's bloody hard work!

Artandco Fri 01-Jan-16 11:56:41

I would only let him have a short morning nap, so his afternoon nap is 2-4pm.

PerpetualStudent Fri 01-Jan-16 12:12:39

Ah, thank you! Will try out suggestions RE daytime nap timings.

We've been quite baby-led with routines so far, my thinking was to get a feel for what he did naturally & work with that, but it feels like the time has come to get a little more regimented!

Iguess - it's not really about getting more sleep for me, but getting it at better times - at the moment I rarely drop off before midnight, and these late morning lie-ins (which I can't have when DP is at work anyway) make me feel totally grotty. I think it's a combo of physically the sleep being light, & the psychological factor of not being ready to face the day until gone 11am. It also wipes out the possibility of a lot of baby activities, so too easily spirals into us staying indoors all day...

kbro79 Fri 01-Jan-16 12:51:55

Have no advice but just wanted to say am in the same boat. Your baby follows a v similar pattern to mine. Both late bedtime / wake ups and the co sleeping. Am in the same boat in that I know I need to force us to start the day sooner but after a late night the catch up on sleep lie in is too hard to fight. I also get enough (all be it broken) sleep but would like it at better times for both our body clocks.

One thing am thinking of doing is booking us into morning classes / groups to force me to have to get us up and out. As you say they are mostly at times that don't work for current pattern so we also spend a lot of the day indoors. Or I do go out is just for a pram walk and not seeing others. Which is not great.

Ibu1986 Fri 01-Jan-16 12:54:08

Lots of good advice here. We have been working with a sleep consultant and our days look like this:

Wake by 7:30am if not awake. Big milk feed, then breakfast around 1.5 hours later.
9/9:15 nap- wake after 45 mins. Try really hard not to let him sleep before this time.
10 am- wake, feed and get out the house to see daylight and get lots of fresh air
12/12:15- lunch
12:30/1pm- nap for 2-2.5 hours
3:30pm- feed
5pm- dinner then playing but no screen time
6:15- feed downstairs, bath, book then bed by 7pm

What has really made a difference to us is having a very strict bedtime routine with lots of sleepy cues. We do a similar thing at nap time. So before every nap and after dinner we say lots of "It's almost sleepy time", we close the blinds together, switch on white noise and read the same bloody book each time.

nephrofox Fri 01-Jan-16 12:57:29

Yes to getting up in a morning. If you get him up at 8pm, he'll be ready for a nap at 10am. If still asleep at 12 I would wake him for lunch. Then you're already more likely to have a normal lunchtime and a normal afternoon nap of say 2-4pm

FATEdestiny Fri 01-Jan-16 19:50:11

Good for you for noticing you are slipping into depression and being proactive to help yourself by stabilising your sleeping patterns. flowers

I would just set the alarm and get you and baby up. It's what you would have to do if you were at work or had other children to get to school. It'll also be good for your own HM to have that control over your mornings. Set he alarm for, say 7.30am, wake baby up with you and both get up.

You would need to give getting up consistently early some time to settle-in before you can say how it effects your routine, it won't necessarily change anything straight away. So set the alarm every day for 2 weeks but continue the 'go with the flow' routine you have.

Re-assess after 2 weeks to see how things have changed and what tweeks are needed. I would be aiming for 2 or 3 naps at 7 months old.

Starting between 9am/10am - for 90-120 minutes
Starting between 12pm/1pm - for 90-120 minutes
The sometimes a 4pm no more than an hour nap (I would wake baby by 5pm if still asleep). But only on days when other naps were shorter or earlier.

That should allow for a bedtime between 7pm-8pm and a wake up between 7am-8am

waitingforsomething Sat 02-Jan-16 06:22:58

I got into this situation with my first baby and also hated it. I was missing baby groups and not meeting people.
On advice of a HV I started to get her up at 7am regardless of any feeds before that. I would offer her another milk feed (not often drank) and get her dressed to signal the day then breakfast. Nap at 9-10.30, nap at 1.30-3 (ish) bed at 6.30pm. She started waking between 6 and 6.30 once this was established but this was preferable to me and I adjusted.
She still sleeps 6.30-6.30 age 3 and we are all happy (apart from baby DS who I'm still working on!)

PerpetualStudent Sat 02-Jan-16 08:18:05

Thanks everyone. Kbro and waiting Im glad it's not just me who is in this situation!
Really useful advice, have bitten the bullet (well, after whacking snooze a couple of times on my 7:30 alarm!) and am now making up a bottle in preparation to wake DS. He's currently fast asleep after a textbook night - down at 11pm, into our bed at 2am and fussing for a feed at 6am. Now Im up, knowing he could easily sleep for another 2 hours, it's so tempting to go for a jog, or catch up on work, and leave him to it. But I know I'll be kicking myself come this evening. So here goes nothing, time to wake the sleeping baby...

nottheop Sat 02-Jan-16 08:32:06

I would change a few things;

Night wean. He's waking for milk but at 7 months old he imho doesn't need it.

At night wakings and to go to sleep I'd dedicate a week at getting him to sleep from wide awake in his cot whether this is by gradual retreat, cc or whatever really. Self soothing isn't a cure all but does sound relevant for you. Once you have put down to sleep he should stay in his cot - minimal words such as it's just time to sleep now. Pupd is usually too much stimulation at this age.

I'd do the 2-3-4 routine at this age. Wake him up at whichever time you want to start your day and then put down after 2 hours awake to sleep for 90 minutes then wake up and put down after 3 hours for 90 minutes then 4 hours til bed.

Sleep routine - bath if necessary then pjs and milk downstairs, upstairs for teeth if he has any, into room close the curtains, Gro bag, one story, cuddle and bed.

Nap routine, change nappy, upstairs to the room, close curtains, Gro bag, book and put down.

villainousbroodmare Sat 02-Jan-16 08:32:17

Watching with keen interest here. smile

BusyCee Sat 02-Jan-16 08:43:31

Such good advice here I have nothing else to add, except... I found it useful to set myself a guide time for how long it will take to 'work', and what 'work means. Otherwise I get disheartened too quickly, can't make good judgements because of tiredness and then disrupt my plans by giving up/in/just sleeping

I found with the babes when they were younger that I could usually crack an amended routine in 4-6 days. If I knew the first few of those days might be quite hard going, but that then I'd see an improvement and ultimately get closer to where I wanted to be, then I'd find it easier to deal with the tiredness and grottiness.

I'm just embarking on new sleep routines for the older DSs and DC3 (3months) so I'm with you in spirit. Good on you for a) spotting what's a problem for you and b) changing it. brew

kbro79 Sat 02-Jan-16 13:39:46

Perpetual do you want to know what's funny about us being in this boat? We went to see friends when I was 2 months pregnant and there baby also followed this late to bed late to rise pattern. Dh and I came away from it all 'well if it works for them fine but our baby will have a bedtime routine from early on. And we'll have our evenings back for the 2 of us to enjoy.' How little I knew!!

Best of luck with it. Weve agreed tomorrow is our last lie in then come Monday we'll get up with the alarm (no doubt after several snoozes too to start with....)

PerpetualStudent Mon 04-Jan-16 08:42:31

God bless you ladies! DS went down at 8pm on Sat night and 7:45pm last night. Had to go up a couple of times to re settle, but compared to wrangling an overtired baby alongside my own dinner and waking groggy and disheartened the next day? Bliss.
Now about to wake him for day 3, so let's see how it goes...

I really needed a little hand-holding with this, would not have bit the bullet otherwise - your advice has been so useful. It's helped me (gently) insist to DP about having a more structured bedtime routine too, and the last couple of nights we've been on the same page with nightly bath, making things quiet and dark leading up to a story and putting him down.
Other than that I'm roughly following the shorter morning, longer afternoon nap schedule, with the 2-3-4 routine (so up for 2 hours, then 1st nap, then up for 3 hours etc)

BusyCeeHope your sleep routine changes are going well too?

kbro79 Ah, the wisdom of pre-baby times! I was definitely guilty when pregnant of reading the sleep threads and thinking similar. Have you managed to win the snooze button fight this morning?

kbro79 Mon 04-Jan-16 10:01:05

We did. He actually woke about 7ish. So instead of feeding him lying down in the dark I dragged myself up and got us into living room. Curtains open, tv on. It was hard!! But will keep at it. V encouraged to hear your success in the evenings. Fingers crossed ours go similarly well!

PerpetualStudent Mon 04-Jan-16 10:58:26

Well done! I've been bringing DS downstairs, opening blinds & saying things like "Look, it's morning. We get up when it's morning" - I think to convince myself as much as him!

BusyCee Mon 04-Jan-16 18:08:54

Er. Not so much. Night #1 we won with dd and lost with ds's. Night #2 we won with DSs and lost with dd...what will night #3 bring other than wine?

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