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Reaching breaking point with my 4mo sleep

(21 Posts)
Cathster Tue 02-Feb-16 20:25:51

I posted here just before Christmas and got some great advice about my DD's sleep, at the time she had been waking every hour in the night and having 20 minute naps. Started watching awake time and reading her sleepy cues, putting her down for an earlier bedtime and it helped massively.

I miss those hourly wake ups now, it's got so, so much worse! Last night she was waking every 40 minutes, took 3 night feeds as opposed to her usual 1 then wanted to be up for the day at 5am. Previous nights have included her wanting to chat and play at 1:30am and only staying asleep in our arms, waking every time she is put down in the cot.

Tonight we did her usual bedtime routine, it usually involves a little bit of rocking and then putting her down drowsy and inserting dummy several times. Didn't work tonight! As soon as she hit the cot mattress she screamed, wouldn't take the dummy, would calm as soon as I picked her up but again wide awake the moment she went back down.

We have been trying to settle her for two and a half hours now so she is well overtired and resigning ourselves to another sleepless night.

I don't even really know where to start trying to figure this out! I'm so sleep deprived I have no energy during the day to try and put her down for her naps in her cot awake, so am rocking her to sleep and holding her in my arms, then using white noise and rocking to get her to take longer naps. I'm not sure if this is causing some of the night time issues or not, and she's getting too dependant on the rocking to sleep?

I know that she is going through the growth spurt at the moment, as she's downing 7oz bottles two-three hourly, so don't mind feeding her in the night. She's teething as well but we have no idea whether her wake ups are due to that or not. It's the fact she no longer goes down to bed without a fight, we usually end up rocking her to sleep, and then she's waking at least hourly for the dummy.

Sorry for the essay - just at my wits end here and so scared this is going to carry on for months!

FATEdestiny Tue 02-Feb-16 21:11:24

At 4 months old my DDs milk intake went up by a massive 25% - so a quarter more feeds in the day than she was having. She had both more milk per feed and also by feeding more frequently in the daytime, he total number of feeds per day she had increased.

I think I was making 8 or 9 5oz bottles per 24 hours. I encouraged very frequent daytime feeds (2 hourly from 7am-11pm) so that she was calorie loaded during the time I was awake and needed less at night.

So increased milk intake is definitely needed at this age, and it will be a permanent increase.

Also, 4 months old is when baby now needs to actively learn how to go to sleep. Sleep is no longer passive as it was for the first 3 or 4 months, it now becomes something that has to be worked at.

Baby isn't capable of 'working' at going to sleep and staying asleep, so you need to develop sustainable methods for getting baby to sleep and helping baby to stay asleep through sleep cycles.

The simplest and easiest of the ways to encourage independent sleeping is a dummy, since babies naturally like to suck and gain comfort from sucking.

Movement also helps - so a bouncy chair is great for daytime naps. Rocking to sleep is a hard habit to break but is effective.

Babies also like your closeness and reassurance. A 3-sided cot butted up to your bed (just remove one side off your cot) can help to allow you to be close and accessible for comfort, while maintaining separate spaces. Others provide this reassuring presence by holding/cuddling baby whilst asleep, co-sleeping or a sling.

offside Tue 02-Feb-16 21:29:57

There's also a sleep regression at four months old which won't be helping!

SpottedLorax Wed 03-Feb-16 07:44:33

Oh this sounds familiar!

My 4 mo was happy to go down awake until a few weeks back - no more!

I've brought him back into our bed, which is maybe not ideal but we need our rest too and I'm picking my battles. I'd rather he just slept however he does it than insist he's in the cot. Once he's more settled in new sleep patterns we'll slowly move him back to the cot.
I've also been getting him to sleep more in the day. He's conked out on me as I type smile
Increased day sleep has made a big difference; he's less cranky and I'm more aware of early sleep cues. As an adult it feels like they've only just woken up but at this age they shouldn't be awake for too long. Ds has, since birth, been interested in the world around him, to the point he'd rather look around than nap.

Interestingly yesterday we went into town so we weren't doing our usual naps and ye fell asleep by himself at the times we usually do them...

Still having a lot of night wakings but it will pass ( hopefully!)

Cathster Wed 03-Feb-16 11:12:52

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Fate we have been trying to encourage independent sleeping with the dummy but if we get her down at the wrong time even by a few minutes too early or late she screams and won't settle unless we rock her. Pick up put down does not work as soon as she hits the mattress she screams regardless of how long we have done it. Any suggestions?!

She just won't take much of the bottle if I try to feed her every two - two and a half hours if she's not asking for it. Funnily she's not as interested in the bottle today.

I may look at bouncy chair for daytime naps but I am going to try her in her cot again next week as she was doing well in there up until a few weeks ago when she got a tummy bug and it all went out the window.

spottedlorax I agree with you about the sleeping wherever as long as she's sleeping! Which is why I have been cuddling her for her daytime naps as she stays asleep decent amount of time then. Your DS sounds like my DD in that she would much rather be looking around than sleeping! She is starting to get more regular nap times which hopefully will help.

Last night didn't end up too bad in the end after she finally settled just before 9. She woke for a feed at 10:30pm, then woke again at 1:30. I gave her a bottle as she kept spitting out the dummy but I think she woke more out of habit than wanting a feed, as she fidgeted through the feed and didn't take much. She then slept til 7:00am - dummy was needed a fair few times and she did need rocking at 5am but one rocking back to sleep is better than the every hour we were doing a few nights ago!

FATEdestiny Wed 03-Feb-16 13:29:47

Pick up put down does not work as soon as she hits the mattress she screams regardless of how long we have done it. Any suggestions?!

I think you may have yourself a rocking to sleep problem, and that's what is creating some of the sleep issues.

It is not really the physical action of the rocking that is the problem, because this is easy to wean off in the same way you wean off from a bouncy chair - by gradually reducing the amount of bouncing/rocking needed to get baby to sleep.

The added issue that is harder to break when rocking to sleep is that baby is being held so is not learning to go to sleep independently (ie alone) in the cot. You cant even gradually teach this because being held is an all or nothing: Baby is either being held, or isn't and it's not a sliding scale that can be gradually reduced (like the rocking or bouncing action).

Pick Up Put Down method isn't working because baby is used to sleeping in your arms, not in the cot. Also when baby slightly stirs (like between sleep cycles), instead of a hardly-conscious environment check and back to sleep, baby wakes up fully wondering why she is no longer in your arms.

At night time I would work really hard to get baby to sleep in the cot, rather than in your arms. I have a 3-sided bedside cot (just a normal cot with one side removed) and this means I can do all settling with me lying in my own bed, right next to baby, head-to-head.

In the daytime just focus on the sleep, as much as possible as often as possible. Bouncy chair will help so that baby is not going to sleep in your arms. It also significantly helps through the next sleep development - at around 5 to 7 months old when baby will learn to link one sleep cycle and another. Bouncy chair ideal for teaching this skill of extending naps.

Cathster Wed 03-Feb-16 18:06:32

Thanks fate. We are trying to get her to sleep in the cot but just not sure how to do this? Like I said she screams if we put her down awake, and we are not willing to let her cry it out or do controlled crying at this age (plus with her temperament I think she'd just get herself more and more wound up!). So just no idea how to even start teaching her?!

She used to go down at nap times awake okay with the dummy inserted several times, but for some reason we are struggling to read her tired cues more at nighttime, I guess because she's just generally cranky anyway at this time. I will try watching her yawns tonight and put her down on the third yawn and see if that helps.

SpottedLorax Wed 03-Feb-16 19:22:57

Catheter, For day naps I'm either:

Using the pram
Sitting on the sofa with a book and feeding him
Or if I see he's sleepy I'll get him upstairs, in our bed, lie down, feed, and if that's not cutting it, pat his bum in a heartbeat rhythm. He falls asleep if he's tired. If not, I try again half an hour later. Once he's asleep on the bed I either have a nap too or put the monitor on and sneak off.

It's not perfect. Sometimes he won't sleep, or he'll wake as soon as I move, but I figure right now he just needs to sleep. Any way we can.

No idea if any of this is the right thing to do, this is my first baby! I'll get him in the cot eventually but right now sleep, any way we can, is priority. Once he's more into a routine I'll start on the cot. He screams if I try to put him in it or in his basket, so I'm just dodging the issue right now... One step at a time!

SpottedLorax Wed 03-Feb-16 19:23:27

Catheter?? Flipping autocorrect! I meant cathster (sorry.)

Cathster Wed 03-Feb-16 20:11:11

Haha no problem spottedlorax, it's only one letter off (didn't realise that before!)

I'm struggling so much with knowing what the right thing to do is. When she was very tiny I had no issues rocking to sleep, feeding to sleep, cuddling all day. Now I feel like I have to teach her all these new ways and it not only stresses us out but makes her so upset. Is it not something that she will eventually learn herself, or are we going to be rocking her to sleep until she's goodness knows how old?!

We are once again dealing with a meltdown from her trying to put her to bed. She has been fed, changed and bathed and yet she refuses to sleep and is screaming the house down. Even rocking her is not working, I'm literally at my wits end. She used to go down so well and the past few nights have just been an absolute nightmare.

To make matters worse our boiler has broke so it's freezing cold here!

FATEdestiny Wed 03-Feb-16 20:49:52

I would have been unable to established a 'bedtime' in the early evening when mine were 4 months old. Disturbed evening are par-for-the-course so I have always just continued the napping downstairs in the bouncy chair until the easier, undisturbed evening developed naturally. Only then did I start a proper bedtime when baby went to sleep upstairs - happened about 5 to 7 months.

What is making you think baby is ready for having a 'bedtime' already, especially if the whole process if fraught? Couldn't baby just continue napping as she did through the daytime?

What to do to get baby settling in the cot? Not sure I can help here because my journey was very different to yours. I was swaddling still at 4 months old and we were doing the same routine I've been doing from birth. Baby would go into the cot when I went to bed (10-11pm ish, depending when I was tired) swaddled and with dummy. I'd get into bed myself, snuggle into the bedside cot, firm hand over baby's swaddle and gentle holding dummy in if baby was unsettled. No crying or anything. Then extract myself back into my own space when baby was asleep.

When she started sleeping the whole way through the evening and I started having to wake her when I went to bed, then I moved the time I settled her into the cot to be whatever time baby's last feed was. This was generally some time between 7pm and 8pm, she was about 5 or 6 months old. Then to settle her she was in a sleeping bag (no longer swaddled). I would lie on my bed right next to her, re-inserting dummy as needed, firm hand on her chest, just watching her and waiting for her to drop off to sleep. Again no crying. Then once asleep I would leave the room and go downstairs. Usually took between 10-30 minutes.

Given your baby's liking for being held, if she wont 'just lie down' with a dummy in the cot, then I suspect it will involve tolerating some crying and lots of your reassuring presence to help her learn.

Cathster Sat 06-Feb-16 15:30:17

She did OK with a bedtime for a few weeks which is why we thought she was ready for it. She'd still wake at the 45 minute mark but would settle with a cuddle and the dummy and then go to sleep for several hours. Now it's just every 45 mins-1 hour so if we don't put her down at some point we will never get any sleep, not even the 3hrs we get at night at mo!

We are putting her down and going to bed straight away ourselves as that's the longest period she will stay asleep, usually 1-2 hours (sometimes 3 if we are lucky!)

I think right now we are just resigned to waiting it out. We are not willing to tolerate crying at this age - she does not respond to pats and shushes and just gets more wound up so it just doesn't work for us yet. Longer nap times in the day don't work, I did get her down in her cot awake last night but then she still woke after 30 mins and again after 45 mins and it was taking us longer to settle her by trying her down awake so we just gave up in the end for an easier night.

OH does not want her cot in our room, as he doesn't think she will settle any better as she still needs to be actually held/rocked to sleep. I don't know whether we try it if we are still having these issues in a week or so.

Appreciate the advice fate!

FATEdestiny Sat 06-Feb-16 16:05:11

OH does not want her cot in our room

So is the baby in a separate room and you are going back and forth to another room settling? Blimey, that takes some grit. No wonder you are exhausted. My youngest was a good sleeper but it still took until about 9 months until I reliably didn't need to do any night time settling. My sanity would be shot to pieces if I had to go into another room every time. I wouldn't make life that difficult for myself.

I'd be telling my OH to stuff off with regards to any opinion he had, unless he was the one doing the settling all night, every night, every week, month after month. Then see what his opinions are.

Will she settle when co-sleeping? What about a co-sleeper cot?

Cathster Sun 07-Feb-16 09:11:37

Yes we moved her into her own room when she was very small as she was an incredibly noisy newborn. She's not as noisy anymore which is why I don't mind moving her back but OH is against it as he thinks we will get even less sleep.

I have said we don't know unless we try. Couldn't really get much worse! We spend most of the night going back and forth and by about 4am give up and just sit in her room cuddling her, which I am really worried about causing a bad habit if we haven't already.

I do want to try putting her cot against the side of the bed and removing the side. I'm just a bit worried that if/once we move her back she will end up in with us for years which I really don't want!

FATEdestiny Sun 07-Feb-16 09:34:05

For the next few months (and for the previous 4 months) baby needs you to get to sleep.

I think your expectations are unrealistic.

Cathster Sun 07-Feb-16 10:40:20

What expectations are those?

I don't think we have any at this point apart from trying to get her and us some more sleep whatever way we can bar letting her cry!

I certainly don't expect her to be able to go to sleep by herself without help. That's why I'm here is to get advice on how I can help her, which I appreciate you are giving me and am taking it on board.

FATEdestiny Sun 07-Feb-16 11:05:21

Sorry, I didn't mean any offense.

I'm just a bit worried that if/once we move her back she will end up in with us for years

Its NHS recommendation that the baby's cot is in your room until 6 months. Whilst it's fine to decide to manage the risks different ways, it is fair to say that most babies are in a cot in their parents room until at least 6 months old. Do you think these majority of babies are still therefore in parents room for years?

Many parents leave baby's cot in their bedroom until baby is sleeping through. That might be longer than 6 months old, it might be 8 months or 10 months or 12 months old. Then baby's cot moves into their own room. Again, these are not in the minority of parents with a baby still in their bedroom for years.

The minority groups who have baby/child in their bed for years are those who co-sleep. They have baby in their bed, different to those who have baby in a cot in their room. Parents fall into co-sleeping different ways.
- Some people co-sleep knowingly, deliberately and by choice.
- Others don't plan to co-sleep but do it simply as a way to maximise the sleep everyone gets
- Others end up co-sleeping in desperation. After months of trying everything they can think of to encourage independent sleeping, baby can end up with very poor sleep hygiene with ingrained over-tiredness. Co-sleeping becomes the best chance of sleep they can hope for. Avoiding "The Rod For Your Own Back" can end up being the very thing that causes The Rod.

What are baby's daytime naps like? What happens in the daytime?

SpottedLorax Sun 07-Feb-16 11:10:33

I'd move her back into your room. It's easier to respond quickly if they're next to you. If you need to hear them across the hallway, get out of bed and go to them not only is it tiring for you, it gives them time to get really wound up. If I can catch ds in the 'half awake' grumbly stage I can often fed him and he's back to sleep fast but if he's left just a minute or two to get himself in a lather it takes longer. You're also doing a lot of carrying back and forth.i don't know what your dd is like but my ds (while cuddly in the day) gets wound up by over handling at night.

If he wakes at night I assess whether it's a grumble/ back to sleep noise or an 'I'm going to scream the place Down, you've got sixty seconds' noise. If the latter, I get hi it of the crib, feed, then once he's done and relaxed, right back in the crib.

Dh is Swedish and the culturally done thing there is co sleeping or room sharing until they sleep through. Often longer - lots of our friends share for years ( not sure I fancyvthat!) Ds will go into his own room when he either sleeps through or it becomes apparent we are disturbing him.

To be more blunt, when your Dh does all the night wakings he gets to say where the cot is ;)

Cathster Sun 07-Feb-16 11:36:42

Sorry fate - sleep deprivation making me tetchy and obviously a bit dim as of course usually baby is in the room until 6 months for a lot of parents and I don't think they're in there for years! It was my colleague that said to me she's only just got her two year old out of her room that made me go eep!

Daytime naps are getting better but still being cuddled/rocked to sleep at moment. She has a short 20-45 minute nap about an hour and a half after getting up and late morning, then another slightly longer one at lunchtime. In the afternoon she can sleep up to two hours before bedtime at 6:30/7:00.

Thanks spottedlorax - OH is swaying a little on it so I will continue talking to him, I reckon another bad night and he'll be convinced! He does do some of the night settling but I'm the one that does the night feeds.

I'm just not sure how to make sure her cot is safe next to my bed as her mattress is on an incline and probably different height anyway?

FATEdestiny Sun 07-Feb-16 20:18:27

I've had three different cots and two beds over the course of my parenting. The mattress heights have always matched, but I suppose it does depend on your bed and cot.

Cathster Sun 07-Feb-16 20:26:37

So she is in with us tonight - took longer to settle but think she's more tired than usual today. OH ended up going into her room to sit in the rocking chair with her to settle her then brought her back into our room - not sure if that's defeating the purpose! She's already woken once but I was able to dummy plug and give her nose a quick stroke and she went back to sleep.

We've kept the side on as there is a gap between the bed and her cot. The mattress is at the same height but where it inclines there's too much of a gap to risk it.

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