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At my wit's end with 5.5 month old and sleep

(13 Posts)
ACatCalledFang Fri 19-Feb-16 13:28:47

Title says it all, really. Apologies for length! He was an OK sleeper until 13 weeks - would feed to sleep around 2200, transfer to crib, and wake around 0300, co-sleep, then wake at 0500 for a feed. Perfectly manageable. His sleep has got worse since then and is still getting worse, and I just don't know what to do. He's now 24 weeks.

Usual pattern: we introduced a bedtime routine at 15 weeks to see if that would help. Depending on how much sleep he's had during the day and timing of last nap, we start bathtime between 1830 and 1930. Bath, massage, sleepsuit, lullaby/story, feed. He usually feeds to sleep and is transferred to co-sleeper crib. If he doesn't feed to sleep, I try to settle him in the crib. Sometimes works, other times he gets too upset and I have to feed again (I'll ride through grumbling but am not happy to tolerate full-on crying).

He is now waking ridiculously frequently. A good stretch now is an hour in his crib. I spend most of the evening trying to resettle him, resorting to feeding if patting/singing, then rocking, fail. This goes on until around midnight, when I usually give up and co-sleep. Sometimes he'll go 3-5 hours between feeds when co-sleeping, though we get some nights where he wakes hourly.

It's starting to really get to me. He's EBF, and refuses to take a bottle from DP, or be comforted by him when upset, although they have a great relationship during the day. We've tried different types of dummy (most days, since week 1) but he just gets upset or spits them out.

The problem, as far as I can see, is a difficulty self-settling, and getting to sleep without breastfeeding (though he can do it as he sleeps well in pushchair and sling, and I have managed to get him down a few times with singing and stroking, which is my preferred resettling method).

What can others suggest to help a baby self-settle and sleep for longer chunks in a separate space? I don't know whether to work on trying to get him to sleep longer chunks (i.e. embrace co-sleeping for a few weeks, then work on transitioning him into a cot bed once he can do, say, 3-hour chunks), persevere with settling using methods other than boob (limited success so far in that I can sometimes get him to settle but he still wakes, iyswim) or what. DM thinks he might sleep better in his own room but I have visions of spending my nights running up and down the hall...

DP is not happy with co-sleeping as a long-term solution which is in no way influenced by him sleeping on the sofa bed and neither of us sleep well with DS in the bed. We disagree on what to do next: DP favours controlled crying or CIO; I disagree with the latter and consider the former a last resort - I also think he's too young for it and that he simply needs me at night more than DP wants to acknowledge.

Thoughts?

sephineee Fri 19-Feb-16 13:34:56

I have no objections or even opinions on co sleeping but I never understand how anyone gets any blinking sleep doing it! I have only nodded off a couple of times ever with a child in my bed (3 dcs in!).

Things that have worked with mine are dummy, a personalised night time song and if older (ds 18 months I'm looking at you..) gentle training methods like PUPD, gradual retreat etc.

DD2 was an actual NIGHTMARE. Silent reflux and insomnia from omeprazole. At 9 months I gave up breast feeding, only offered her a bottle at night time wakings and 3 days later she slept through the night for the first time ever and has done ever since.

scandichick Fri 19-Feb-16 13:42:11

No solutions here, but mine is the same at exactly the same age. Haven't started trying to put her down early on, at the moment she sleeps on us until I do the last feed at 10-10.30 then she feeds again two fucking hours later

ACatCalledFang Fri 19-Feb-16 14:04:05

scandichick, that's exactly what DS would do, but he'd get so distracted in the living room that he couldn't feed to sleep and would get really whiny and frustrated. This is why we started a bedtime routine. It was easier before!

sephinee, this is our problem! DP can't sleep with DS in the bed, even though I'm between them. I can sleep when it's just me and DS in the bed but get so stiff. It feels as though I have the choice of poor quality sleep, or no sleep at all (can barely nod off before he's awake again).

Interesting about the bottle. I'd wondered about getting DP to try offering one. Not that DS will accept one from him at the moment!

scandichick Fri 19-Feb-16 14:11:41

We keep our voices down and TV off unless she's settled, and DH sleeps in the spare room - you wouldn't believe she's our second! DD1 was worse though, we're scarred since then.

LuckySantangelo1 Fri 19-Feb-16 14:11:54

I know you said you've tried different types of dummy but have you tried a 6 month + one? My little boy kept spitting his out until I bought him the next size up.

Skiptonlass Fri 19-Feb-16 16:03:47

It's exhausting isn't it? I'm lucky in that dh is Swedish and so the concept of bed sharing is normal to him. He just scoots over and says 'shove him in here.'

I think co sleep for a bit to get the sleep you both need. My plan (haha..) is to just sleep any way he can. Bed, cot, wherever. Then I'll try to gradually move him to the cot.

ACatCalledFang Fri 19-Feb-16 20:59:33

Haven't tried a bigger dummy, that's an interesting thought. Just bought cherry ones yesterday, though haven't tried them yet.

We had a much better day with naps today, and I've decided to try a few things from the No-Cry Sleep Solution for a couple of weeks around settling breastfed co-sleeping babies to see if they make a difference. So far, have managed to feed DS to sleep in his crib (physically awkward, I admit) and un-latch him on the third attempt. Fingers crossed.

Skiptonlass, your DH sounds very sensible! My DP is great in terms of doing all the donkey work so all I have to do is focus on MiniFang, but he has virtually no experience of babies so is not always realistic about these things....plus he's concerned about how tired I am.

However, he agrees that the way forward is to get MiniFang sleeping for longer stretches, then worry about where. So I think we're going to embrace co-sleeping for the time being. And possibly fork out for a Sleepyhead. And weep at the cost. Has anyone used the larger size? Would you recommend it?

I'm praying things improve over the next few months as I'm back to work in May and am genuinely not sure how I'll function.

villainousbroodmare Fri 19-Feb-16 22:00:33

I've just got the Sleepyhead Grande, DS having outgrown the Deluxe. I think it's good and DS is used to it , so I'm hoping it will ease the transition to his own room (he's 7 mo). Why don't you do what I did and McGyver one by putting a rolled up bath towel or pool noodle or similar into the biggest pillow case you can and seeing whether your baby likes it? It definitely improves the co-sleeping experience a lot they can't kick you grin

I have three props which assist me in my Drop'n'Run technique of getting DS to fall asleep alone: a white noise giraffe, a dummy (outgrowing it now) and a snuggly rabbit toy. I'd suggest trying to put him in bed awake at his best nap time, the one where you're most confident that he's in good humour, genuinely tired and not hungry - for us that would be the first morning one. If he squawks, go back, lie beside him, sssh, pat, but don't pick him up or bf. You'd be amazed how it swiftly starts to work after maybe a few squawly episodes. I now find that my presence actually seems to hinder DS dropping off.

I've got the impression that the ability to fall asleep alone is actually the key to sleeping longer stretches, as otherwise the infant will pop awake every sleep cycle and be stuck.

ACatCalledFang Fri 19-Feb-16 23:22:55

I agree it's important to get them going to sleep alone. See, I know DS can do it as, one night at Granny's when I'd just had enough, I plonked him in his cot bed (perfectly happy but wide awake), pulled the duvet over my head and decided to ignore him until I heard actual, upset crying. Next thing I knew, it was two hours later. This has not been repeated since. But it happened! as did sleeping 7 hours straight once but we'll gloss over that

I might try your suggestion, villainousbroodmare (great nickname, btw wink), for tomorrow's morning or lunchtime nap. I managed to get him to sleep in the crib, without feeding, last Saturday, with just singing and stroking. Have failed to repeat this in the daytime, but worth another go.

I'm starting to think continuous white noise might be a good idea too; we use it but on a timer and I've needed to resettle a few times after it's gone off.

Still, although I've had to resettle him every 40 minutes, I've managed to get him to go 3.5 hours between feeds tonight and 2.5 hours without getting him out of his crib. Progress, perhaps?

villainousbroodmare Sat 20-Feb-16 07:51:08

No 'perhaps' about it; that's progress. smile
I'd say work on placing him in bed awake, starting at the times you think will be best. When you place the baby into bed, the rule for us is that he doesn't come back out. If he were to cry fervently, that sort of "I-can't-even-remember-why-I'm-crying-but-I'm-so-SAD!" I'll pick him up but only over the bed and I replace him as soon as he is calmed. I wouldn't do CIO, just don't like that level of waaaah; I'd be right there with a hand on his tummy and a sssh. Lie beside for lots of sleeps if necessary.
My motivating factor was the vision of doing elaborate three-ring-circus settling routines with a whacking great year-old baby (or worse!)

Skiptonlass Sat 20-Feb-16 20:18:37

I've got a homemade sleepyhead. They call them babynests here. They are really easy to make - you just need some fabric, quilt wadding stuff and a length of thick drawstring. I reckon 15-20 quid for the fabrics and 4-5 hours work.

They are fantastic - we have used ours a lot. Ds is now four months and is just squeezable into it. I often pop him in it if I need to nip to the loo and he lies there on the floor looking puzzled as to why he's unable to thrash around because he's so tightly packed in smile

Fannycraddock79 Sat 20-Feb-16 20:30:41

Just wanted to give you a bit of hope and encouragement. My dc2 (6.5 months) has been bf but always with a bottle around 5.30/6pm. She always co-slept pretty much attached to me as it was the only way I could get any sleep (I didn't like doing it as I was worried I would squash her). I was exhausted and exasperated some nights as she would sleep on me in the living room from around 7/8pm and then I'd take her to bed with me around 10/11 to the Moses basket in our room, however I would get about 20mins before she woke and I had to bring her into bed and feed her to sleep. I was so sick of never getting any breathing space and not really having time to myself or a life! At around 5 months (same as with dc1) I realised we were waking her when we went to bed and put her in her own room. She slept better although the Moses basket was creaky. At around 5 months we introduced a bedtime routine of bath at around 6pm, bottle of formula (bf all day until this point), into dark room for the bottle, feed to sleep and transfer to cot. Now I have my evenings back and she generally sleeps 5.30/6-1/2am and then bf back to sleep, back to cot and sleep until around 6. This to me is heaven. This really good sleep pattern started at 6 months when I introduced solids and while there are occasions when she will wake and not settle until she's in bed with us, these are less than once a week. So in short, I wanted to let you know that you are probably nearly through the worst bit and hopefully solids will be your friend. I hope so because I know how fed up you must be. I do blw but before bed she gets ready brek mixed with vanilla alpro yoghurt so that I know her tummy is full (after she's done messing about chucking her dinner on the floor). Good luck!

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