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In desperate need of sleep advice for 5 month old

(9 Posts)
ShootTheMoon Sat 06-Feb-16 09:15:52

DC2 (5 months) is going the same way as his sleep-averse older sibling.

I am only managing to get him to nap for about 20 minutes two or three times during the day, and then often only in the car. He needs to sleep by 7pm and generally sleeps until 11pm but needs a feed. As a result, I'm not getting to sleep until 11.30 or midnight, and then he will wake 4 or 5 times to feed. He has been waking up earlier and earlier each day this week and has been up since 5am today. It's 9am and he's still going - I have been trying to get him to sleep for over an hour and we also have a 4yo to look after.

DC1 was a high needs non-sleeping child until the age of 2, constantly battling naps. We would spend an hour or more trying to get a 20 minute nap. We are still dealing with one or two night wake ups from DC1.

DC2 is put in a sleeping bag in a dark room and fed/held to sleep. Will not settle if put down and hates being patted or shushed. Is breastfed and now refusing to feed from a bottle, so it is all on me. DH is away a lot so we can't try a new routine with only him.

I was pretty relaxed through the four month sleep regression, but he should be out of that now and is definitely getting worse. My mental and physical health can't survive as much sleep deprivation as I had with DC1, it just can't.

I am on the alert for sleep cues and seeing eye rubbing and yawning - I then get on with trying to get him to nap, but he will feed peacefully and then wake up as I am holding him, or moments after putting him down. I try not to rush the put down part but obviously have another child who needs me (or needs picking up/dropping off at preschool).

Can someone talk me through what naps should look like at 5 months? Duration and frequency etc? If DC wakes after 20 mins, do I give up and try later or try again immediately?

I am exhausted already and it's only 9am. I can't cope with waking up feeling completely exhausted. And I don't know why a baby who was regularly doing 5 or 6 hour stretches overnight at 3 months is now suddenly going 90 minutes at most! Please please help...

FATEdestiny Sat 06-Feb-16 11:45:48

Would you try a dummy?

NoCapes Sat 06-Feb-16 12:08:45

Definitely re-settle after a 20 minute nap and stop taking him out in the car to nap, that is barmy!
What is your 4 year old waking in the night for? I would address this before attempting any major changes with the baby

ShootTheMoon Sat 06-Feb-16 14:35:29

Fate, I should have said, many attempts have been made with the dummy, which we have had since birth - he won't keep it in his mouth. For a while he would settle after sucking my finger, but that is counterproductive and he refuses that now too.

NoCapes it isn't that we take him in the car to sleep; we live rurally so need the car for preschool, any classes, and medical appointments, of which there have been quite a few as he had a couple of health issues after birth. And my 4yo has had sight and hearing tests lately too.

The 4yo is having night terrors I think. It's tied in with anxiety about DH being away at random times - he's in the armed forces - so he has an unpredictable schedule and is overseas a lot. But tbh we have never had consistent spells of sleeping through.

NoCapes Sat 06-Feb-16 14:38:58

Ah I see, I read it like you put him in the car especially to nap

Tbh I don't think your 4 year old is having night terrors because there would be absolutely no question that that's what they are (DS1 has them, they are utterly terrifying)

Would you consider co-sleeping?

ShootTheMoon Sat 06-Feb-16 15:06:55

I'm probably not being very clear; brain fog!

Co-sleeping with the baby or the big one? Baby is in a co-sleeper cot in a Sleepyhead, right next to me. I wake to feed him before he is fully awake iyswim, so it's not like I have to get up or spend ages settling him (like in the day). But the frequency is really exhausting me, after 5 weeks of it. There is definitely an element of me panicking about it because he started out as a decent sleeper (he had prolonged jaundice), and it feels like he is going the way of DC1.

DC1 was two before she slept though at all really. Certainly before she slept through more than one night per week. We tried all the sleep routines, had good sleep hygiene and a lot of exercise in the day. We have a Gro Clock which she is pretty good with but I know she often cries if she wakes and the sun isn't up. And she has some bad dreams and wakes screaming from those.

FATEdestiny Sat 06-Feb-16 15:20:58

I am on the alert for sleep cues and seeing eye rubbing and yawning

These actually mean baby is over-tired and needed to be asleep at least half an hour previously. The key is to anticipate when baby will be tired and get baby to sleep just before that time.

Short naps are not a problem, but they should be frequent. I would limit awake time between naps to 60-80 minutes. Bringing some structure into your day will help a lot with sleeps. I am not suggesting a Gina Ford regimented routine, but a predictable pattern of events that are repeated through the daytime.

I like the EASY structure of repeated cycles throughout the day:

E - Eat - start with a full feed when waking
A - Awake activity - because baby is fully fed, the first sign of any grumbling and baby not being happy means baby is tired. This might only be an hour after waking up, even less if the last nap was short.
S - Sleep - I favour dummy and bouncy chair at this age. You could allow a comfort top-up breastfeed and the into co-sleeper with dummy, you lying next to him, firm hand on chest. Expect naps of 30-45 minutes but try to resettle to extend naps where possible
Y - You time while baby sleeps

Then when baby wakes, start again with E-Eat and repeat the whole process over and over again throughout the daytime. This ensures regular and predictable sleep and feeds.

ShootTheMoon Sat 06-Feb-16 16:39:50

Thanks Fate. I have been working with EASY as much as is possible with another child to consider.

Overtiredness: quite possibly. I spent a lot of time putting him down 90 minutes after waking but it sounds like that is too long. He can easily go 3-4 hours without a sleep (usually I have tried 3-4 times in that time to get him down, but then may have to go out to get DC1 or help her with something).

So the plan for this week will be starting naps after 60 mins or so. We have a bouncy chair but sadly he won't sleep in it any more no matter what I try, and I can't seem to get him to keep a dummy in unless I'm holding it (and he will try to spit it out).

He has had 3 x 40 min naps today for DH. DC2 woke at 5 and was cheery but wouldn't resettle. I thought I finally had him down at 9am but he immediately woke. Nap 1 was for DH, nap 2 in the car for DH, nap 3 again for DH (I have been out).

So maybe the issue is that I have been feeding him to sleep. I have been doing this to try to get as much milk in him as possible in an attempt to reduce the need for night feeding. It's obviously not working!

FATEdestiny Sat 06-Feb-16 17:24:14

I have been working with EASY as much as is possible with another child to consider.

The thing I like with EASY is that it is easy to manipulate to fit around the family (I have four children from 11y to 16m). So you can speed up the awake time and put baby down for the nap earlier to fit in with school runs. Or wake baby up from an nap early so that awake time fits with a school run. Or so that the next sleep time will work with the nursery run. Or whatever.

I've always liked that EASY is very easy to fit around a big and busy family.

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