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Another sleep regression crisis

(150 Posts)
gladders83 Tue 03-Jan-17 04:03:43

Hi everyone, first-time dad to a 4-month old girl here. I wish my wife and I had been warned that sleep regression exists - we had no idea, and were completely unprepared!

My little girl started her regression in the first days of December '16 and there's no end in sight. Rather than the typical sleeping in two-hour spats, she's moved into a worse stage.

Currently, she simply refuses to nap during the daytime unless held. If held, she can sleep on you for upwards of an hour at a time. But the moment you put her down, guaranteed, she wakes up, no matter how deeply sleeping and no matter how frequently we persist in it.

She does manage to go to sleep for bedtime at about 8.30-9 every night following a bath, feed and stories (although not without an almighty fight beforehand), and that sleep usually lasts until about 1am. Then she wakes and my wife feeds, but by about 2.30am she wakes me up to take over.

So take over I do. I hold her on my left shoulder, as it's the only part of me that she can relax on, apparently - right shoulder and other positions just cause frenetic squirming, to the point at which I now have RSI in my left elbow from holding it in the same position for hours on end.

I hold her, and she dozes on my shoulder - ever so lightly - so that whenever I feel she may have finally gone back into deep sleep, TWITCH, no, she's still awake, but just lightly dozing.

That light dozing goes on for hours. She seems to never return to a deep sleep, so I end up staying awake for that whole time.

Tonight, my wife tried to give her a top up at 3.30am, and our baby proceeded to doze and stop nursing. We decided to change her nappy to wake her up, and she wets herself the second I remove the nappy, requiring a complete clothes change, which woke her up. Back on the boob, she refuses to feed.

So my wife needs to pump and I take baby into the living room to give her some space and I brace myself for another few hours of being awake. Baby is now fully awake and refusing to go down, and my wife is going to try co-sleeping, which basically means baby sleeps but my wife doesn't.

I get the assurances that this will pass, but it's absolutely exasperating. It's getting to the point where I entertain the idea of simply letting her wake up by leaving her alone so I can at least get some company, but I know that won't help at all. My wife is taking the worst brunt as she has to nurse, but while I can manage on little sleep my wife is super-dependent on decent sleep.


user1467798821 Tue 03-Jan-17 04:17:56

If you are holding her to get her to sleep, and then put her down, she is probably wondering how she got from that soothing cuddle in to the cot. Because you rock/cuddle her to sleep she isn't learning to self soothe back to sleep. I would try getting her to fall,asleep in her cot/ basket or crib, so that she gets used it.
I don't really know very much about co sleeping, I never did it, but am sure people with experience will post soon

SmashDemGuineaPigs Tue 03-Jan-17 04:35:12

flowers for you and your wife, sleep regressions are shit. My DS is in the middle of one too.
At 4 months your baby's sleep cycles change to become more 'adult', but babies find it difficult to go from light to deep sleep (previously they would fall straight into a deep sleep). They get about 45 minutes in, and instead of going into a deep sleep they just wake up.
My son is currently waking every 40 minutes or so. There's nothing that can be done to help them stay asleep but I find knowing why they wake helps me get less angry during the night.
All I can suggest is coffee/berocca/paracetamol the next morning to wake you two up and get rid of the tired headaches. It's shit but it will pass.

gladders83 Tue 03-Jan-17 04:39:41

Thanks, I know I should be doing this but currently we are in a one-bedroom flat, so baby and parents share a room. If I tried the technique you propose it would simply keep everyone awake.

We're hoping to buy a house soon and give baby her own room, and I'll try what you suggest. Until then...

Cinnamon84 Tue 03-Jan-17 04:55:15

Can your wife feed baby to sleep in the night? My ds is 4.5 months, shit at daytime naps but slowly getting better. At night he sleeps from about 7.30ish in his cot wakes for feeds at 10ish, 1/2ish, 4ish then awake at 6ish. When he wakes I feed him and he normally falls asleep on the boob and we co sleep. We try to avoid changing nappy too much at night.
We're prob doing it all wrong and forming habits but it's the only way that works currently.

FATEdestiny Tue 03-Jan-17 08:46:41

You could remove one side off the full sized cotbed and wedge it up to your bed. This sidecar cot makes settling baby in the cot easier.

I'd suggest a dummy for in-cot settling. Along with lying down cuddles.

Holding her all night is not only really negative sleep habits, it's also extremely dangerous as a SIDS risk.

Can your wife feed her lying down?

gladders83 Tue 03-Jan-17 09:51:39

Cinnamon84 - What you describe is how we handled her sleep before this regression started. My wife used to be able to nurse her at night, but lately my daughter seems to either a) fall asleep on the boob, b) consciously fight it and pull away, or c) passively take it as you'd expect.

FATEdestiny - Unfortunately she hates dummies, terrific thumb-sucker though!

We resorted to co-sleeping from 5.30am last night and my wife said our baby didn't really settle but continued to squirm and twitch.Not sure if a sidecar will help at all.

My wife can feed her lying down, assuming the baby actually is hungry and takes it. Still no guarantee the baby will settle and fall asleep.

FATEdestiny Tue 03-Jan-17 10:34:53

You and your wife need to find a way to comfort and settle baby gladders83. This "phase" (this isn't really a phase, it's a perminant change in the biological nature of sleep) will last as long as it takes you to find a way to help baby with a comforting and settling mechanism.

Things that babies find comforting fall into a few general categories:

- sucking (feeding to sleep or support with a dummy or thumb)
- rhythmic movement (rocking, pushchair, car, bouncy chair)
- feeling secure (cuddled, cosleep, patting or shushing to reassure of your presence)
- a full tummy

Ideally go for one of each - something to suck plus movement plus reassuring presence plus very frequent, big feeds. Make sleep as easy as possible.

gladders83 Wed 04-Jan-17 01:21:49

Here i am again. We tried put-down/pick-up yesterday but I think it traumatised her into being terrified of going to sleep. She now won#t settle at all.

We noticed her getting tired at about 6, so we bathed her and read her stories. Getting her to sleep initially was pretty simple, she took a dummy (which she hardly EVER does) and sucked herself to sleep while mum read a story. But that's as good as it ever got.

About 20 minutes later, she woke, mum gave her a feed. Down for another 20.

After that, she woke, and I went to rock her a bit. Immediately she wriggles, squirms, grunts, resists with all her might, in every position I can think of, on both myself and my wife.

My wife goes to bed and tries to co-sleep. Baby takes to it fine, but my wife simply cannot sleep doing it. She's a light sleeper anyway, but now she can't even close her eyes.

She lets me sleep in to 1am, and when I pick up baby who was calm until this moment, again with the wriggling and squirming.

I've bloody given up. I've turned on the living room lights and woken her just so she's not screaming and waking the wife. She's beside me now, calm, but seemingly never going to sleep again.

I guess we'll have to arrange a shift system.

SeasickCrocodile Wed 04-Jan-17 01:35:50

Put a single mattress on the floor or toddler sized if space is an issue. Have your wife feed baby to sleep lying down on the floor mattress with lights off and white noise on. Wait until baby is in a deep sleep and have your wife roll away and get in your bed. Each time baby stirs she feeds on the floor bed. This eliminates the dreaded transfer to cot and your wife doesn't have to cosleep. When the baby transitions sleep cycles she's more likely to self settle as the mattress smells like your wife and the baby hasn't been moved. The white noise will help mask sounds from you two. Worked a treat with my first.

ricecrispies16 Wed 04-Jan-17 01:39:24

Have you tried rocking her to sleep in her Moses basket? That's how my 4.5 month old falls asleep at night. I always try to ensure she is awake when she goes in the basket (fully fed, clean dry happy) and then I'll rock her, she holds my finger and occasionally takes the dummy.

In the day when she's tired and refusing the bottle I pop her in her pushchair and rock her back and forth and she's asleep sighing minutes, she actually sleeps soundly in her pushchair and is sleeping well at night, waking once a night ATM due to sleep regression (she previously slept through).

The worst thing you can do it get her used to falling asleep on you first or rocking her to sleep, you'll just make a rod for your own back

ricecrispies16 Wed 04-Jan-17 01:41:13

Within** not sighing

gladders83 Wed 04-Jan-17 01:41:18

I'll mention that to the wife, SeasickCrocodile

chipsandchilli Wed 04-Jan-17 01:42:33

I co-slept with all mine, in the bed but bottle-fed so a bit different, DC3 was a very twitchy, light sleeper, the first two used to go flat out, neither entertained being put in cot's. DF could sleep on a washing line so when she would squirm about he would stay asleep unless she cried, i would wake up and check if she stirred and then she would sense me move and she would wake up, once awake that was it, she slept much better with DF who basically ignored her. She would twitch, squirm, then raise her legs and slam them on the bed as she got older even though she was asleep.

She's 8 and is a nightmare to sleep with, she kick's and punches you very hard whilst muttering rubbish, ends up diagonal in the bed, sits bolt upright looks around then goes to sleep. Other 2 sleep fine and always did.

gladders83 Wed 04-Jan-17 01:43:26

We don't really have the space for a rocking Moses basket, ricecrispies16. She has her own cot though. My experience is nothing soothes her except rocking normally, although now even that's not working.

SeasickCrocodile Wed 04-Jan-17 02:40:37

The beauty of the mattress on the floor is it can slide under the bed during the day or propped up against the wall. One easy sleep association to make is to stroke her face while she's drifting off on the boob. Then try just using the face stroking while settling without boob.

gladders83 Wed 04-Jan-17 07:29:05

SeasickCrocodile although we don't have the space anywhere in our flat for the and my wife to lay on the ground side-by-side, and it being winter the floor is freezing.

Becciilouisex3 Wed 04-Jan-17 10:30:43

Hi flowers
I have a 3 month old and am currently reading all about the regression phase in preparation!

From what I've read, this regression will last until baby learns to self-soothe. Basically, your daughter needs to be able to lay down and send herself to sleep in her cot with nothing to help. Obviously a lot of parents do something to bring on sleep: rocking, holding, white noise etc but you need to slowly wean baby off these until a point comes where they are no longer used as a sleeping aid. Reason being that if your daughter wakes in the night, she'll be able to go back to sleep despite, not having white noise for example.

I've also read though that during the first stages, just do what you can to get some sleep. Swaddle, let her suck her thumb (or persist with trying the dummy but be aware you'll have to wean her off), white noise (we wouldn't be without our Dream Sheep which plays womb sounds), cuddles. Give her everything she needs to get to sleep at first (sounds like you are) and then one by one, wean her off those things. Some people like to use dream feeds and find they work but they don't for everyone and can sometimes create an association between feeding and sleeping.

It won't happen overnight but hopefully sometime soon you'll get some decent sleep again.

Bex107 Wed 04-Jan-17 10:40:58

I second Becci's advice - do whatever it takes to get her to sleep, and don't worry at this stage about 'making a rod for your own back' or any variation of - she must be so overtired by this point she'll be struggling to settle herself anyway, and you and your wife must be nearly at breaking point.

Also a vote for Ewan the Dream Sheep, he's been fab for us. Have you considered trying something like the Sleepyhead to help her feel more secure and settled in her cot? It's expensive, but it's been an absolute godsend for us. Failing that, I'd go for rocking her to sleep in her buggy, as long as it folds flat it's fine for her to sleep there through the night, plus easier for you to rock her back to sleep without having to pick her up. Once she's got the hang of settling you can think about moving her back to her cot, but for now do whatever it takes to get you all some sleep! flowers brew

FATEdestiny Wed 04-Jan-17 11:26:04

Any sleep
Any how
As often as possible

Sounds like baby needs a lot more daytime sleep. Try to get her back to sleep after 30-45 minutes of being awake all through the daytime (ie 7am-11pm)

More sleep = deeper sleep = fewer wake ups = better quality sleep = easier to get to sleep... = more sleep. So it perpetuates.

Poor sleep = light sleeping = more easily woken = poor quality sleep = harder to get to sleep... = worse sleep and so the over tired cycle perpetuates.

The start point is more sleep.

Don't worry about how. Make sleep easy and very, very, very frequent over all of the 24h a day.

ElspethFlashman Wed 04-Jan-17 11:37:24

Sidecar cot, definitely. Take the side off, prop up on books to get the right level, and bungee the legs to your bed frame.

Basically your wife feeds her lying down IN the sidecar cot, lying horizontal so her legs are under your covers. She may even be able to have the covers waist height.

So baby falls asleep on the boob and your wife sliiiiiiides back to her own spot.

So baby thinks it's co sleeping but it's really not.

Feeches Wed 04-Jan-17 11:54:53

You have my sympathies, I was there with my DD this time last year and it was grim. It does pass though, you just need to work with her in teaching her to self settle.

FATEdestiny's advice is excellent. We used a bouncer chair for daytime naps which were every 90 mins to 2 hours. It would often take as long to get her to fall sleep as the nap itself but we got there in the end. Just takes massive perseverance. Once her daytime naps improved, night time gradually fell onto place.

ElspethFlashman Wed 04-Jan-17 12:03:39

And I know what you mean about the twitching.

I'm a crazy light sleeper. Would wake at a mouse farting. Could never ever co sleep as it was co AWAKE for me. I ended up using earplugs. I could hear enough so I woke when they woke, but they muffled the noise of the body movements.

This was with the sidecar cot hack. brewbrewbrew

SeasickCrocodile Wed 04-Jan-17 14:15:45

Hmm this might be completely off but are you sure she's warm enough if the floor is freezing? Some of them really won't sleep well if they aren't warm enough and she will keep waking to get warmth. Just one more thing to try/consider.

gladders83 Sat 07-Jan-17 04:16:28

She. Does. Not. Sleep. In. Daytime. Unless. Held.

It's 4.10am. I've held her on the same shoulder since 3am. Three times I've tried to put her down, so gently, but as soon as she's horizontal she flinches and I know it's a non-starter. She's absolutely still on my shoulder, but clearly not actually asleep!

We're trying self-soothing but white noise does nothing, she rejects dummies, mum-smelling things are ignored, she kicks open every swaddle, we put down hot water bottles and put the heating on in the night. Nothing. WORKS.

What do I do?????????

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