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Reflux baby terrible sleeper and napper

(8 Posts)
CoffeeAndOranges Mon 14-Mar-16 08:45:49

Hi, can't believe I've not been on this topic before. Sorry this is likely to be a long post but I feel our sleep issues may not be straightforward.

DS is nearly 4 months old and hasn't slept for more than 4 hours at a stretch since he was born. We didn't really do much by way of a routine until about 4 weeks ago, just let him kip on us (ie me) in the evening until 9ish when we put him to bed in the snuzpod and then got ready for bed ourselves. Usually he would finally settle around 10/10.30pm and then wake every 2 or 3 hours to feed (bf). On a good night he would feed and then go back down within 15 minutes. No idea how long his naps were but sometimes would sleep 1.5-2 hours in the sling. So this was as good as it's ever got and I could cope with it.

I struggled with bf at the start and he has reflux so was really slow to gain weight, so I became a bit obsessed with feeding and can feel i am now getting obsessed with sleep- it dominates my life!

We've been trying to do proper bedtime routines (bath, massage/story, feed) and to put him to bed sometime between 6.30 and 8 (we try and time bedtime 2 hours after the end of his last nap but doesn't always work like that!). Initially it's ok - he usually wakes at least once but will go back down if DH goes in. Sometimes he wants a top up feed. I then get about an hour or two to myself when I do a bit of clearing up and get a shower (saves time in the morning!) and then lights out at 10/10.30 for us. DS then usually wakes around midnight, and it can then be every hour/2 hours after that. In the last couple of weeks his 3am wake up has turned into an hour or even a 2 hour wake up, usually triggered by changing his nappy (I try and do it quietly in the dark, and only if I've heard him poo which is always!). Once he's fed I hold him upright against me sat up in bed to help it settle (recommend with reflux) which can result in us both falling asleep. If I try and ease him back into his cot, he will start writhing and thrashing his arms and you can often hear the regurgitation going on or the air gurgling in his tummy. So I get him up again, or DH will get up and bob him up and down and get him back to sleep, put him down and the thrashing starts again. He will very very occasionally self settle by chomping on his hands but often he will just wriggle till he gets upset. Eventually I feed him again and he'll often drop back off on me, at which point it's often nearly 5am. DH's alarm goes off at 6.15 and DS will often wake early too although with the long night wakings recently we've both snoozed til 7/7.30.

Then I spend the day trying to get him to nap. Or rather keep him asleep. He will often fall asleep ok after a feed but then wake up again after 1/2 hour and not sleep any longer. If I have him in the pram/sling he might sleep longer but will often take nearly an hour to go back to sleep again. I wonder if he just doesn't want to nap much but will get overtired if he doesn't. I work on the premise that he will be tired around 2 hours after he wakes up. Sometimes he will nap 15 mins and then be awake another 2 hours.

It doesn't help that I read the No Cry Sleep Solution book to see that he should be getting 15 hours sleep (night plus naps), but he only gets around 11 all in, so I worry he's chronically overtired and doing harm, although he's generally a happy little thing. He's developing well although still struggling to gain weight thanks to the reflux (he's on ranitidine at the mo).

Anyway I don't know whether I want advice or support or just 'I feel your pain'. I just feel like I must be doing something wrong. Everyone else's babies seem to sleep for hours at a time. But I feel I have found my people on this board!

Purpleboa Mon 14-Mar-16 09:16:56

Welcome! passes out the double strength espresso and cake

You have indeed found your people! This forum has been a godsend for me, especially in the wee desperate hours.

Firstly, although it's so common to feel you are doing something wrong, you are NOT. Honestly. You chose to do what was best for your baby by breastfeeding - unfortunately, as I have discovered, it's a hard path to take which doesn't always result in much sleep! But you are not doing anything wrong - I think if anything, us sleep deprived mommas work harder at the job than anyone else!

I'll share my experience and hope it helps. DD is almost 9 months. She's spirited, sociable, curious and adorable. She's hit her milestones early and is a delight to me and my DH. However. She is NOT a delight when it comes to sleep!!

Forget sleeping through, I'd take even a four hour stretch right now. Her sleep has varied, but it's always been rubbish. At her best, around 3 months, I was waking about 2 or 3 times a night with her. These days, well, best not ask really!

What's working for us right now is co sleeping. I said I'd never do it, but DD refuses to do more than a few hours in her cot. So instead of being up and down all night and really getting no sleep from the stress of it all, we co sleep part of the night and while it's still not great, we do both sleep more.

I really want to change this but haven't got the energy to! I also want to stop breastfeeding but DD has other ideas - oh, she's a bottle refuser too so no chance of me getting a night off!

I stressed about the amount of sleep my baby should be getting. Was worried it would affect her development. But like I said, there's nothing wrong with her, she somehow has bags of energy! So please, try not to let other people's guidelines stress you out. One major lesson I've learnt is that all babies really are unique in their needs and wants. They're not an Apple product, so the rule books don't fit all.

It's crazy hard, I know. And I'm not sure how much reassurance my post will give! I just wanted you to know that you're not alone with this, and that you are an amazing mum doing the best you can for your baby. flowers for you and it will pass!

Purpleboa Mon 14-Mar-16 09:20:25

Oh and I hear you on other people's babies. Thanks to a cruel twist of fate, all the babies in my first time mums group sleep well! And I have a friend whose baby has always done 12 hour stretches (not to mention two hour naps). I feel so alone at times and like a total failure!

(But my friend's baby does have a flat head from so much sleeping, whereas DD'S gorgeous little head is beautifully shaped, so, y'know...grin)

Rolypolybabies Mon 14-Mar-16 09:52:02

Op I think you baby seems relatively normal... the changes in length of nap is totally normal, the main thing is regular bouts of sleep rather than worrying about the length of them. Try not to stress too much about hours of sleep etc, some babies never fit a routine. It will pass (maybe in months, maybe years!) but thinking of your child as high needs etc just makes you feel negative towards the whole sleep thing. Aim to rest as much as possible and never compare your child to anyone else, people love to gloat or make you feel like you are moaning. xx

Sleepybunny Mon 14-Mar-16 10:12:55

As a parent to one non sleeping refluxer and a good sleeper, I'd say the best advice is to stop clock watching. Don't count the hours of sleep you've had or the times of waking.
Also don't stress about a complicated bedtime ritual.
Don't listen to friends tales. Don't compare, you're doing nothing wrong!

charliedontsurf Mon 14-Mar-16 10:26:00

My DD is 10 months and is still a bad sleeper. She had really bad reflux until about 6 months old and I found it really helped keeping her upright during the day naps (wearing her in ergo 360) and then letting her sleep on her side at night. She still sleeps on me during the day now but I just look at it as a way to sit down and watch heir hunters!

Co-sleeping is very helpful and now we have the cot against our bed so I can usually just slide her back in when she's dropped off in the middle of the night. I put her on her side and she usually turns into her front - never sleeps on her back.

Try not to worry about how many hours theyre sleeping or getting a routine, just go with whatever makes life easier for you. It's not forever (I keep telling myself!)

CoffeeAndOranges Mon 14-Mar-16 10:31:20

Thanks- it's good to know I'm not on my own, although dismayed at the thought this may last years!!!

I have to clarify that 4 hours sleep is a total rarity, it's happened just a handful of times, and I've only had 4 hours twice!

I wondered if we'd hit the 4 month sleep regression but we've not yet had a sleep progression! But we survive so I guess this too shall pass...and then we'll forget and have another baby!

CoffeeAndOranges Mon 14-Mar-16 10:46:13

Thanks Charlie, we have a bedside crib too, so I don't usually need to get out of bed during the night. We also wedge his mattress so he's more upright, and he sleeps on his side, although now he will often swivel round onto his back and chew his hands. HV suggested early weaning to help with the reflux but I don't know...

Being upright for naps is fair enough and we do often use the sling- I'm working on getting him to sleep on his own so I can actually get on with stuff and have a break! My poor body still feels knackered after my c section...

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