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15 months and no sleep. Really struggling

(25 Posts)
JonesMalone Wed 28-Dec-16 15:36:34

Hi everyone,
I posted a while ago about my boy who just would not stay asleep.
Well. Here I am again.
Some background info.
Up until around his first birthday he was sleeping fine. Up once or twice during the night. Sometimes he'd nurse back to sleep but increasingly he'd just have a cuddle and go back on his own. I was happy with this. His first wake up was just before I went to bed and the second was just before I got up for work and he'd go back until I got him up.
At about a year he started waking frequently at night, wanting to nurse back but taking ages to get off the boob.
As soon as I'd try to put him in his cot he'd wake and cry. I took him in with me out of desperation but it didn't help his sleep. He'd throw himself around and winge but still didn't want to be in his cot.
We're at the point now where I can usually get him in his cot but he'll wake anywhere between 2 minutes to 1 hour later. The most he's gone is 2 hours and that's mostly before I go to bed.
This week his naps seem to be effected now too. I can't get him in his cot and when I do he just wakes up shortly after.
Last night I get less than four hours of very broken sleep and I'm at my wits end. With the crap naps I literally am getting a couple of hours to myself everyday and they are mostly while I'm asleep.
He doesn't seem to have any teething symptoms so I don't think it's that.
I keep reading about an 18 month sleep regression and don't know how I'll cope if his sleep gets worse.
I'm not willing to let him cry. just don't know what to do.
He's a pretty happy boy otherwise but does get cranky when he hasn't slept well.
I feel like I've tried everything but it's getting worse. Please help. I would appreciate any advice

FATEdestiny Wed 28-Dec-16 19:14:50

If you want him to sleep in his cot, he needs to go to sleep in his cot. So he needs to go from fully awake to asleep whilst in the cot.

Your problems are all caused because you are trying to transfer him whilst asleep into his cot. He needs to start off there and go to sleep there, not be transferred.

It's not going to be easy. He may well cry a lot. But I'd if you stay with him. Lots of leaning into the cot. Lots of care, compassion, reassurance, love. Just keep lying him down. Firm hand on his chest to hold him still, eye contact, shushing, patting, stroking, tickling. Keep going relentlessly until asleep. Once in a deep sleep in his cot, then leave the room.

JonesMalone Wed 28-Dec-16 19:45:09

Hi Fate,
Thanks for your reply. Wow that sounds tough. I completely understand about the going to sleep in his cot idea. Though I think it'll be tough. Any idea how long it'll take to do that?
What about the more frequent wakinga though? Going from sleeping about 5 hour stretches to struggling to get 5 minutes? That can't be down to his cot surely.

FATEdestiny Wed 28-Dec-16 20:58:58

The frequent wakings are to do with the same thing.

Everyone (adults, children, babies alike) sleep in cycles. In between one sleep cycle and the next will be a period of lighter sleeping. In adults that might involve a brief glance at the clock and changing position in bed. In children and babies it may involve a half asleep shuffle around, a cuddle of a snuggle toy, a grab of the dummy and quick suck, or just a eyes open for a few seconds, look around and flop back down into the next sleep cycle.

This light sleeping period between sleep cycles is biologically left over from caveman days when humans had to ensure they were safe and protected even whilst sleeping. It passes most of the time largely unnoticed.

In your dc, the brief stirring between sleep cycles is often not brief and involves fully waking up, not just a semi-concious stirribg as expected. The reason for this is the child goes to sleep in your arms and wakes up not in on yoir arms and without you even there. Imagine you went to sleep on your bed and turned over to glance at your clock at 3am to find you were lying in the backseat of a car. You'd be fully awake, sitting up and fretting within seconds wondering what on earth has happened.

Once you are out of the night feed stage (which you are) and if you discount things like teething and illness, the reason for frequent night wakes is to do with the method baby goes to sleep. You need to work towards him going to sleep in the position he will stay asleep and also that his comfort mechanism is something he can do in a semi-conscious state on his own - I'd suggest dummy and snuggle toy.

How long it will take depends on how slowly and gradually you withdraw the level of reassurance he needs to get to sleep. This is no quick fix though.

Google "What worked for us mumsnet" for a very informative thread on a similar method.

LapinR0se Wed 28-Dec-16 21:01:48

Everything fate says is right. The single biggest thing you can do is put him in bed awake and get him to sleep from there. Not on you, not rocking, not breastfeeding.
Once you crack that, everything will become easier.
Wishing you luck.

Ilovecaindingle Wed 28-Dec-16 21:05:39

Do you have a partner who can go in and do the settling? My ds was waking 5/6 times for my boob every night! I sent dh in with a bottle of water and he had a mouthful then slept the rest of the night! Next night didn't wake for 12 hours.
My older son I did a sleep programme with through my gp. He had been in /hospital for ten months and had never slept alone /in the dark /or in a cot! Had him sleeping all night by the forth night-and no cio as I am too soft! . Falling asleep in their own bed is the key.

JonesMalone Wed 28-Dec-16 21:18:36

Thanks for all the info!
I just don't understand why it's a problem now when it wasn't at 10 or 11 months or whatever. Surely he was having the stirring periods you mention when he was only waking up once or twice a night.
I'm certainly not disagreeing with you. In fact I agree that he needs to go to bed on his own. I just don't want him to be distressed about it.
He seems to have a weird 6th sense so whenever I hand him to DH he wakes from a deep sleep to crawl back to me. He gets upset when it isn't me

Treysanatomy Wed 28-Dec-16 21:30:32

I have no advice for you but just wanted to offer some sympathy - I'm going through the same with my DD and posted about it last night.

When her dad puts her to sleep she falls asleep in her cot every time but still wakes after a few hours and won't go back down.

It's really, really tough. I hope things improve for you soon flowers

FATEdestiny Wed 28-Dec-16 21:36:44

Good sleep promotes better sleep and poor sleep spirals into worse sleep.

I suspect her light sleeping periods are lighter now because she's not sleeping as much as she needs to in the daytime.

You don't mention daytime sleeping but I would guess she isn't having enough. At 15 months I'd want two 90-120 minute naps at around 9.30am and 2pm,l. That's with 11h unbroken sleep at night. Broken night sleep would mean the possibility of 3-nap days still or longer daytime naps.

You are on the cusp on changing to 1-nap days (happened at 20m with my youngest), which would mean a mammoth 3 or 4 hour nap over lunchtime and 11h at night.

There's this perverse inverse relationship between quantity of sleep and quality of sleep.

A child not getting enough sleep will find it harder to get to sleep, will be a light sleeper so will wake more easily and more frequently

Poor sleep = Worse sleep

A child getting lots of sleep is easier to get to sleep, sleeps more deeply (so hardly stirs through sleep cycles) there fore wakes less frequently.

Good sleep = Better sleep

HariboFrenzy Wed 28-Dec-16 21:43:22

I can't really give any advice, but just wanted to tell you that my 19 mo either breastfeeds to sleep or falls asleep on our bed and we transfer him to his cot in his own room once he's asleep. He 'sleeps through'. He shuffles at various points and occasionally cries out but he goes back to sleep.

While I'm not at all disputing that it certainly helps if a baby goes to sleep in their cot, in my own personal experience it's not the be all and end all.

Not meaning to sound smug at all by the way, as my ds has only been sleeping through for a couple of months, so we've had it tough til now!

Is there any chance something could be bothering him when he's lying down? Reflux? Ears?

flowers Hope things improve for you soon.

JonesMalone Wed 28-Dec-16 21:58:37

He usually gets between 2 and 4 hours in the day. Then he might have off days like today where he had half an hour (not looking forward to tonight).
Sometimes he'll have one nap and sometimes two depending on his first nap really.
Does this sound sufficient?
Haribofrenzy, I thought something might be bothering him while laying down too but I can't work it out. I've given him pain meds incase it's teeth or ears, he's never had a problem with reflux before.

SilverLinings2014 Wed 28-Dec-16 22:00:09

Agree with Fate, jones that not falling asleep in his cot is the main issue. I had a similar difficulty with DD After a bout of illness when cuddling her to sleep was the only thing that worked. Once she was well again we had to 'remind' her how to fall asleep in her own bed.

Your DS's awareness with be growing so quickly so possible that he notices now when he didn't 3-4 months ago. Also possible a bit of habit now if it's been going on a while.

As for how long it'll take, it depends on a few factors really. The child and his general personality partly, but I think mainly on you and how you tackle it. Consistency is so so so important and will make a huge difference so once you start something, stick with it. This is honestly more important than the type of intervention you do. Giving up after a day or two sends a really confusing message to your DS and will make any subsequent intervention much harder, so make sure you're fully committed before starting and that nothing is likely affect things (a holiday/ house move next week etc etc). This is probably the hardest part when your so knackered you'll do anything to get back to bed at 2am.

As for 'what' to do, we used a gradual retreat type approach. Here's what I did with DD:
Spent the time leading up to the change in routine telling her that things would be different at bedtime. We started at nap time so all morning, literally from the second she woke up I told her that at nap time we would read x book, put her in her bed, sing y song and then I'd leave her to do z (z being something she understood and could imagine, washing up, tidy toys etc). Explained that she would stay in cot and I wouldn't take her back out of her cot once she was in there etc. Talked positively about it 'you'll have a lovely rest whilst momma does z). By the time it got to nap time she was telling me what would happen. She still didn't like it of course! When she got upset I acknowledged and repeated what I'd said earlier e.g. 'I hear you're upset that we changed the nap time routine. It's hard when things change but this is how bedtime will be every time from now on'. I then followed through on leaving (it's torture for a baby to try to keep you to stay with them when they know you're going to leave eventually so if you say you'll leave do it) 'I'm going to do z now. I'll come back and check ok you when I'm done'. Leave, give a few minutes for them to calm down, if not go back in and calm in cot, give a nose wipe/ drink/ cuddle if they need it but don't take out cot. Then repeat the explanation that it's the new routine and will be like this every time going forward and leave again. And repeat. All very calm and confident so you're DS can have confidence in you and the routine. It's hard when they complain/cry but it helped me to think of that in terms of my reaction to her distress being my problem. She was fine with displaying her emotions and it was my need for her not to experience any upset that was an issue I had to deal with. Upon waking lots of praise that she'd gone to sleep on her own bed. And continue with talking about what to expect at bedtime.

It took 2 days (2 naps/ 2 night times) with DD before she went to bed without any protest and each got easier/ quicker. Within 3 days she'd gone back to STTN and still does now unless poorly/ teething.

boobsaclock Thu 29-Dec-16 10:56:54

My dd would not go into her cot awake, if I tried she screamed immediately until she was sick. No amount of consoling her over the cot bars would help. At 16 months we took the sides off and let her have it as a bed, I wished I'd done it sooner it was a real game changer, she LOVES her bed now. I still feed to sleep but I can lie in her bed with her (bit awkward but doable) and then move away once she's asleep.

JonesMalone Thu 29-Dec-16 12:24:06

My little man gets upset too if I just put him in which is why I am reluctant to do it.
We have considered turning his cot in to a bed but worried he might be too young.
I guess your little one was ok with it?

FATEdestiny Thu 29-Dec-16 12:30:44

What about taking one side off the cot, raising the mattress height to match your bed and wedging the cot up to your bed?

A side-car cot like this allows for cuddling into the cot to settle and is an interim between cot settling and cosleeping.

boobsaclock Thu 29-Dec-16 12:37:14

Yes our corned is quite low, she's also in a sleepyhead grand so she doesn't roll out but a bed guard would be fine (which you could put up after he's asleep). First week we put cushions on the floor in case she fell out but she never has so far. The week we did it she slept 3 nights all the way through, she'd never slept through before. Sadly she's now getting all the teeth but it's all so much easier with the sides off

boobsaclock Thu 29-Dec-16 12:39:29

Also nothing stopping you putting the sides back on in a week if it all goes terribly wrong.

JonesMalone Thu 29-Dec-16 17:40:07

Fate, I'd like to try that but literally no room to do it.
Boobsaclock, I think we might have to think about that. He napped well today and I left him on the day bed.

triggy80 Fri 30-Dec-16 11:24:45

I could have wrote your post OP! 15 month old driving me to distraction with broken sleep. He used to be pretty good and hasn't had a night feed since about 11 months. The holy grail seems to be putting them into cot awake and letting them go to sleep on their own. Bit of a kicker as my DS does this and always has! But when he wakes up he screams and refuses to stay in the cot. He will work himself into a real state until he is picked up. I put him in my bed and he goes to sleep straight away. However he is a light sleeper and a real wriggler, still wakes up moaning or crying several times. This, together with my own insomnia, is causing a pretty miserable existence right now!

JonesMalone Fri 30-Dec-16 12:38:05

Wow Triggy, as glad as I am to find someone who is going through the same as I am I really really feel for you. I wouldn't wish this on my enemy.
When did your lo start?
I lulled myself in to a false sense of security last night because I got in to bed at 11 and he hadn't woken at all since putting him down. But at 12 he was up again and wouldn't go back down at all. Twice I got him in his cot but he woke up within minutes.
Tonight I am going to force myself to stay in his room with him when he wakes to see if this makes a difference. Thought about doing up a hot water bottle too so that maybe he thinks he's beside a warm body.

triggy80 Fri 30-Dec-16 17:25:55

He started a couple of months ago but has got worse in the last six weeks or so. He does have some big teeth at the back coming through which isn't helping. I've done that "wahoo he is going to sleep through" celebratory dance when going to bed only to hear him cry 30 minutes later! I console myself with the fact that I don't know too many 27 year olds still sleeping with their mum shock

Nottalotta Fri 30-Dec-16 21:30:38

Ds sleep has improved HUGELY since I started putting him in the cot awake. This is the baby that wouldn't be put down to sleep. All naps were sling/pram/car, always fed to sleep, Co slept from 7 weeks (waking every 40 minutes....)

Around a year old feeding to sleep stopped working and he was waking ever couple of hours or more in the night. I was 3 months pregnant, exhausted. Started giving a cup of cows milk at bedtime. Took about 4 nights for him to choose the milk over boob. Then, once he was happy with the milk, put him in cot with it. (firm bedtime routine, bath, pj, two stories, milk, lightshow) the only change was putting him.in the cot awake. First night took about 40 minutes of me leaning over, patting stroking shusshing singing etc. Next few nights were something like 75. 60, 50, then I stopped leaning in and sat on the floor hand through bars. Times reduced to between 20-30 minutes. I have done it very gradually and had hard any tears. Some complaining but no crying.

I am still doing it in that I sir outside the room while he falls asleep. I could just leave him I think. He spent some time bouncing around, running around his cot but now I lay him down, he drinks some milk and watches the lightshow til asleep.

Night waking are almost gone (only really when poorly), but he does wake up early 4.50-5. But, sleeps from 6.30-7. I don't bf overnight now either as he was comfort feeding for 2-3 hours area time.
I've done this gradual withdrawal method over a much longer time than suggested but it's worked really well.

JonesMalone Fri 30-Dec-16 21:47:39

Haha thanks Triggy. I don't know any either which is reassuring. But at this rate he'll be an only child 😝
Thanks for the advice nottalotta. I like the idea of doing it gradually. I think it's what I'm going to have to do I just can't bring myself to it just yet

Endlesslllove Fri 30-Dec-16 22:12:35

Sorry to hear you're having such a tough time! He's still young and you're doing a great job of meeting his needs. Hopefully it's just a phase and will pass soon. Could he be going through developmental changes such as walking or talking? That can affect sleep. Perhaps this week you've had visitors or changes to routine with the holidays? The wonder weeks book & app flags up points at which children go through developmental changes which can throw them off kilter. Good luck!

JonesMalone Sat 31-Dec-16 10:26:55

Thank you for the kind words endlesslllove.
He's been walking since before he was 1. He's babbling a lot but not a lot of words yet.
I've noticed a bit of development as in he will understand if I ask him to do something or when he thinks we've been inside too long he'll bring me his jacket.
Doesn't seem an even trade off for 3 months of no sleep though lol

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