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4am wakings - help! Am I doing anything wrong with naps?

(19 Posts)
Doboopedoo Mon 25-Jan-16 13:51:03

My DD is almos 6 months old and has recently begun waking at 4-430am full of smiles and giggles like its morning! I resettle her in cot but this takes up to an hour if sssshing and tummy stroking, she'll normally only do 45 minutes after that so chances of me getting back to sleep are limited. I can cope with 530-6am wakings, the day begins in our house then anyway, but 4am is just too early!

For info, she's formula fed, isn't hungry when she wakes at 4am (I've tried feeding but still takes same time to resettle). I don't want to get into habit of rocking or feeding at night. She used to sleep through but 4 month sleep regression took that from us! She self settles without dummy but often gets it in middle of night if unsettled/crying.

We also had an issue with similar big wakings between 2 and 3am - I've found if she has a decent lunchtime nap this didn't hapoen, so wondering if there's anything I'm doing wrong with other naps? Our daily schedule is roughly as follows:

6am wake, 8oz bottle
730ish - nap, usually catnap of 30-45 minutes
915ish - another short nap, usually pram/car on way somewhere
10am -bottle
1130/12ish - her long nap of 1.5 -2 hours, often in pram or car seat if we have been out, on me if home. (She on,y does short naps in cot and I don't want to mess up this nap if it causes night waking)
2pm - bottle
330-4ish - nap of around 45 mins-1 hour. Either on me or pram/car
6pm - last bottle
630 - in cot for bed, takes around 20 minutes to self settle

Anything look wrong in this? I'm also currently working on her self settling and napping in cot but it normally only produces a short nap at the moment. Any advice appreciated!

FATEdestiny Mon 25-Jan-16 14:32:36

She can do long naps, so this would suggest she has developmentally moved on from the short 30-45 minute catnaps of the early months. This developmental leap to be able to sleep through one sleep cycle and into the next comes between 5m and 7m ish - so the timing is about right for your 6 month old.

The problem is that she actually needs to learn how to move from one sleep cycle into the next for daytime naps. The process of extending naps changes the whole structure to her daytime routine and sleep habits.

The key to getting your DD to extend naps will be by (a) helping her to learn to go to sleep in the cot for naps and (b) helping her learn to go back to sleep during the brief wake between sleep cycles. Both these need some active parental involvement.

If you can extend naps then time awake between naps also increases. You'll probably find a first nap (of 1.5-2h) about 2h after waking in the morning - rather than having two shorter naps in the morning.

Having a bigger gap between waking in the morning and am nap discourages early morning wake-ups. But this isn't something I would force by keeping baby awake. I would do things the other way around and work on extending naps.

I'd also temporarily introduce an 11pm dreamfeed to help with your early morning wake up. But I know I've mentioned that to you before and you are determined that your baby will not have any night feeds regardless. Which is your decision.

She self settles without dummy but often gets it in middle of night if unsettled/crying.

This is making both options less effective. She won't fully embrace self-settling if sometimes she has a dummy. She wont value a dummy as a sleep association if it is often not there.

You really need to be decisive. If you don't want to use a dummy then get rid of them from the house completely and focus entirely on other methods.

I wouldn't, dummies are the perfect no cry sleep solution in my view. But if it is your wish then get rid so that you can really start focusing and working on teaching your baby how to go to sleep in the way you want her to long term.

Doboopedoo Mon 25-Jan-16 15:56:44

Hi FATE, thanks again for your in depth reply - I do value your advice and know you post for a lot of people.
I'm not against feeding at night-far from it, I'd rather she woke up hungry, got fed then went back down! But we used to do something similar to the dream feed and turns out she didn't look for it if we didn't wake her - so, we don't. I've tried feeding st 4am but I'm just adding that to the hour to resettle her, and she rarely takes much (too busy smiling and giggling at me!)
With the dummy-I do understand what you're saying with it, however she hasn't mastered using it independently and the hourly wake ups were too much, especially as moved to own room. It works much better now - she settles calmly into sleep without it, if she does grizzle a shhh and hand in tummy sorts it quickly. Again I'm not against the dummy, it just hasn't worked that way for our baby.

Although she can do long naps they're always with the assistance of being on me or being in motion- I agree I need to work at extending in cot, she's currently asleep in the cot so will be trying the firm hand to resettle.

Thank you again - even if I'm not following everything it is appreciated! wink

FATEdestiny Mon 25-Jan-16 16:47:18

Nothing I say is compulsory!

Regarding the DF, I have played around with it constantly as a means to control night wake ups.

For example if waking for an 11pm DF and again at 4am - I would try dropping the DF and expecting a night feed at around 1-2am instead. If wake-up stayed at 4am then I would have dropped the DF but moved that feed to 4am for a time. Once established at 4am I would then bring back the DF, with the then-hope of it shifting that 4am wake-up to a more reasonable 7am or thereabouts. Then once getting 11pm-7am and establishing that long chunk of uninterrupted sleep, then I would start playing around with dropping the DF again and seeing what happened.

The fact that she has been rarely taking much milk at night might change with weaning. Loads will change once you have to accommodate 'meal times' as well as all the milk feeds. I remember early weaning being like going back to the newborn days of spending all of baby's awake time feeding her. It's hard to fit in all of baby's milk needs for the first few months of weaning that it is not unusual for night feeds to make a reappearance until solid diet is more established.

Doboopedoo Mon 25-Jan-16 16:58:39

Hehe, I know it isn't compulsory, but must be frustrating to give people advice and for them to disregard it, so just wanted you to know it is appreciated!
That's a very good point you have made about weaning-we only started last week with a bit of porridge and playing around with BLW, but I was worrying how to fit it all in with 90 minute awake times and outings and naps, as well as fund to play! I'm glad you've said it's similar to newborn constant eating. I'll remember that if she is waking at night looking for milk.
I'm a bit wary of dream feed idea as DD has silent reflux and is quite windy-if she doesn't burp properly after s feed she has really restless sleeps, so I wouldn't want to make her uncomfortable with a feed x

worriedmum100 Mon 25-Jan-16 20:55:38

Sorry to hijack but I'm having a similar issues with my 4 month old. He goes down brilliantly at bedtime (our routine is very similar to yours) and is fast away from 7 until usually about 1 am. Then he wakes up hourly. I'm pretty sure he's not hungry. He's not crying really . He's just grizzling and sometimes just wide awake giggling and smiling. We tried a dream feed but he's too out for the count at 10pm to take it and if we do it any later we eat into the sleep we can actually get and it didn't seem to make much difference anyway. He's been weaned off the breast over the last few weeks and that has helped a bit. Breastfeeding just wasn't working for either of us. He was dropping centiles, miserable and (in hindsight) hungry all the time. He is much happier generally on 4 x 8oz bottle feeds and his sleep definitely improved for a while but now we are back to being up and down most of the night doing sshh and pat. He will settle with a dummy but often spits it out moments later and off we go again.

He also seems to go back to sleep properly after his morning feed. We had got to a point for a couple of days where we managed to settle him between 4 and 6 but this morning he was wide awake at 4.30 so ended up feeding him at 5. FATE you sound very knowledgeable - any tips?! He is my second child and I keep reminding myself that this too will pass but hard when you're in the thick of it.

Chinks123 Mon 25-Jan-16 21:02:59

Hi I would perhaps drop one of the catnaps? Just my advice but around that age I started keeping DD awake in the mornings (if possible) letting her have her dinnertime nap, 12-2/3 and then she always went to sleep at 6/6.30 and wouldn't wake till 7.30 am. If we were out in the pram, or she just naturally fell asleep in the mornings I would let her have a little catnap but if she didn't I wouldn't put her down for one. Hope you get it sorted and get back to sleep soon 😊

Chinks123 Mon 25-Jan-16 21:06:36

I did let her have little catnaps though if she needed them I didn't keep her awake but I would discourage the early morning naps then they're less keen to wake up early I've found.

OhahIlostmybra Mon 25-Jan-16 21:50:27

Oh dear this is all sounding familiar. My 6 month old does this and I'm at a bit of a loss. She can start the day anytime from 4 onwards - she wakes up full of smiles and raring to go. It's not hunger. Fuck knows what it is hmm

Doboopedoo Tue 26-Jan-16 07:36:00

That's how I feel ohahilostmybra - fuck knows what it is! I'm starting to wonder if I'm being unreasonable putting her down about 630pm but that's when she is tired and she goes to sleep easily. Even stretching it a bit to 645/7 makes her a lot grumpier to go down.

I'll try with the early morning nap-she gets very grumpy without regular sleep though!

worriedmum100 Tue 26-Jan-16 08:14:44

We've had an awful night. Up and down up and down.... He woke up at 4.45 and DP calmed him until 5.45 when he had his bottle. Looking at the advice from pp I think I'll have a go at getting longer naps in the day. So rather than put him straight back down this morning I've experimented with encouraging him to stay awake for a couple of hours. He was quite grumpy by the time I put him down at 7.45 but went straight to sleep. I've had to put him in the pushchair rather than cot because I've got to do the school run. Will try a lunchtime sleep in the cot. I'm a total zombie today sad.

Doboopedoo Tue 26-Jan-16 08:21:33

We had the same worriedmum - I just had a moan about it on the extending naps thread. There's good advice on there (and a success story from the determined OP) which I'm trying to follow....just got DD down for cot nap after s half hour mini battle...

worriedmum100 Tue 26-Jan-16 08:26:31

Thanks I'll take a look at the other thread. Feel bad as my DS is only 4 months so it's probably the usual sleep regression but we can't go on and on like this. Hope you have a good day!

OhahIlostmybra Tue 26-Jan-16 09:24:04

I have the added complication of the school run too!

Pyjamaramadrama Tue 26-Jan-16 09:39:08

Your routine sounds quite similar to my 7 month old.

I'm wondering could you put her to bed later 7-7.30pm?

Ds routine is like this atm

6-6.30 wake up

7am 8oz bottle

9am 45 minute nap

10.30 breakfast

11.30 big sleep until 2-2.30

2.30 8oz bottle

4.30 30 minute nap

5.30 evening meal

7.30 bedtime and bottle

FATEdestiny Tue 26-Jan-16 14:07:06

worriedmum100 - Your situation is different from the OP (and most others on the thread) because your DS is 4 months.

At 6 months old most of the issues here are about extending daytime naps. In your case most of your issues are to do with leaving the fourth trimester - sleep issues dealt with in a different way.

Somewhere around 12-16 weeks baby leaves the newborn phase and two key things happen - significant increased calorific need & sleep becomes active (you/baby have to work to get baby to sleep) rather than passive.

Most issues this age are solved with more milk or more/better quality sleep

More Milk

I paid attention to my DDs milk intake at this time in a way I never did with my elder three, because I knew this change was coming. DD's milk intake went up by 25% - that is a massive amount. She had both bigger bottles and more frequent bottles than in the newborn phase.

8oz feeds (you mention) are massive. Also they must be very infrequent if only 4 a day. Many babies will take in more calories overall by having smaller, more frequent feeds. This is especially helpful to be able to calorie load in the daytime - knowing she gets all her calories in the daytime so none are needed at night.

At 4 months we were making 8 5oz bottles (they weren't being fully drained). She was fed every two hours (ish) so say 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm, 11pm.

More Sleep

As a newborn sleep is easy. Like when in the womb, as long as all needs are met then baby will sleep - its a passive state. Once bay leaves the newborn state, sleep cycles start to develop and the act of getting to sleep becomes active - requires work. Likewise the act of staying asleep through the brief wake up on one sleep cycle into the next sleep cycle becomes active too.

Now is when you need to set in place mechanisms to help the baby sleep. Many parents get into a mess here because they expect that their baby should be able to go to sleep independently (they can't).

Realistic long term expectations will help you formulate a plan of action.
- Children don't have the emotional development to sleep like an adult (tired, lie down, close eyes, relax, sleep) until school age. Until then babies need some form of mechanism to provide comfort and security to go to sleep.
- There are some methods of baby soothing himself to sleep that you can teach baby, but baby is unlikely to have the physical ability to do these self-soothing things entirely alone until more like 9-12 months old. Until then you will be required in one for or another.

At 4 months your sleep focus needs to be on two key things:

(1) Getting baby used to a good quality sleep pattern

Not getting over tired, learning to know sleep signs, sleep as soon as tired, sleep as long as possible, sleep as often as needed.

Good sleep promotes better sleep, so that once baby is getting lots of good sleep, he will be easier to get to sleep and easier to stay asleep. I favour EASY (Eat, Awake, Sleep, You time) to ensure regular feeds and sleeps throughout the day. This avoids over tiredness and the predictability increases baby's sleep quality as naps become anticipated.

At 4 months I'd go for about 60-90 mins awake time between naps and expect naps of 30-45 minutes.

(2) Establishing sustainable sleep triggers

- Reassuring presence
Babies usually like your presence as a form of comfort. Give this your time and presence freely for as long as baby needs it at this age. Your reassuring presence might be snuggling next to a co-sleeper cot, a hand on chest, stroking, patting, shushing. Staying, reassuring, being there, until asleep. The value in a co-sleeper cot (and no rush to get cot out of your room) is huge here.

- Put down to sleep
It is easiest to give your reassuring presence by cradling baby to sleep but this isn't a helpful sustainable sleep trigger. Being 'put down to sleep' can require some hard work, but can be done in ways to still give reassurance and without distress (see above and below points)

- Movement
Bouncy chair is great for teaching independent daytime sleep. It means baby is 'put down to sleep' so doesn't develop the hard to break associations alongside rocking to sleep. Baby can be foot bounced (you sat on sofa) to sleep and can easily be taught to extend naps into a second sleep cycle by gently bouncing when stirring. Easy to control and manage the manual bouncing to 'wean off' by about 6 months.

- Sucking
Babies like to suck, it is natural self-soothing mechanism from breastfeeding. If you don't want to breastfeed to sleep long term, then the dummy gives an independent alternate. The value in a dummy is massive because once baby can do the dummy themselves, it is entirely autonomous in the middle of the night. There will be some dummy re-insertions before then (as the OP will tell you).

Don't worry that all of these methods to get to sleep need you. Of course they do because baby can do very little for himself and it will be like that past 6 months old. Now you are in the phase of establishing longer-term good sleep habits. Expecting self-settling is what creates most problems.

Establishing good habits in terms of frequent daytime feeding and sleeping, and good getting to sleep habits will help reduce the likelihood of baby waking in the night and if he does, will give you tools (that you have thought through) to get him back to sleep.

<apologises for massive post>

worriedmum100 Tue 26-Jan-16 14:30:44

Thanks for the detailed advice fate

Re the feeding. A I totally agree that he has needed a massive increase in milk. This is why I stopped breastfeeding as it just wasn't working. But apart from a bit of cluster feeding as a newborn he's always fed every 3-4 hours and has never really demanded more frequent feeding even when breastfed so I guess I just carried on in that vein when we switched to formula. He drains an 8oz bottle every 4 hours and has no night feeds. He was weighed today and has moved back up the centiles that he had previously dropped so hopefully the calories he's getting are about right. I was doing 5 x 7 oz feeds (the fifth one around 3.30) but found it hard to fit in because of the school run and of after school activities for my elder child. Sometimes it was getting pushed to 4 or later which meant that he then didn't want all of his bedtime feed.

Today has been weird. I put him down at 11. He woke at 12 but went back with a little bit of help and it still asleep! I'll have to wake him soon though as he hasn't eaten since 10.30 and we need to fit in a bottle before the school run. He's stirred several times but I've left him and he's gone back to sleep so I know he can self settle -just seemingly not at night !

FATEdestiny Tue 26-Jan-16 14:49:24

If he's draining a bottle then he needs more. I was always taught to offer more formula than was needed. That bottles should never be drained.

So if a bottle was drained then either offer sooner next time or offer an extra oz. You can't realistically offer 9oz bottles, so I would go with more frequent.

Speak to your HV if you don't want to believe me. But I believe that advise is a formula fed baby shouldn't be draining bottles, it is a sign of more being needed.

found it hard to fit in because of the school run and of after school activities for my elder child

My children are 11, 10, 6 and 1 - you don't need to tell me about the difficulties fitting it all in. It is doable though smile

worriedmum100 Tue 26-Jan-16 16:01:24

Thanks again.

If the key is more oz overall then I'm more than happy to try and feed him more than the 32 oz per 24 hours he gets at the moment I just need to work out how to do this with more bottles rather than upping the current feeds to 9oz each. I need to work out how to do it in such a way that works for us without upsetting his brother's routine or either of their bedtime routine/timings too much. It's difficult when there's not much consistency to the waking up time so you're starting from a different time point every day. I need to sit down and try and work it out(when my brain is not quite so frazzled!)

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