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Instigating earlier bedtime for 3 month old - help!

(17 Posts)
1980Gal Sun 12-Feb-17 10:32:34

My daughter is 3 months. Since about 9 weeks she's consistently done 11pm to 6/7am straight through in her cot. I know we are lucky to have this happen so early. It was taking about 1-2 hrs of breastfeeding and holding to get her into a deep enough sleep to put her down, however.

For the last 4 nights we have been trying to bring her bedtime forward in order to get our evenings back, starting with bath and change at 7ish. Using Elizabeth Pantley's no cry method as inspiration, our plan is to get her into an earlier bedtime pattern and then work on being able to put her down sleepy rather than holding her. She has so far not dropped off till 9.15pm. I realise this isn't bad going but wondered whether we have any hope of getting her down earlier. Is she still going to need 2 hrs of feeding and dozing before she finally goes off properly? We can't start that at 5pm in the hope of getting her to sleep at 7-7.30, it's just not practical. Would it be better to work on getting her to self settle first before attempting earlier routine? She is not great with daytime naps either, needing to be held or walked in her pram. She then only does 30-40 mins before being wide awake. Any advice or experience with trying to do earlier bedtime? Many thanks.

FATEdestiny Sun 12-Feb-17 12:08:44

The evening cluster feeding lasts until 4 or 5 months old. Once dropped, it means baby stops needing to be breastfed for hours every evening.

It's a natural, developmental thing. Mostly to go with calories and comfort - baby is calorie loading before night time and getting lots of comfort and reassurance too.

I would wait until the evening cluster feeding finishes. Then it will just be quick feed and to sleep. It would all be very temporary and false before then, because everything will change again within a few weeks.

Also worth noting the usual manner in which bedtime a get earlier.

Throughout the daytime (your daytime, so say 7am-10pm or whatever) baby probably only wants 40-80 minutes awake time between one nap and the next. So lots and lots of naps.

That continues through the evening. So in any awake time around 7-8pm, maybe you'll bath baby, change into night clothes and whatnot. But the daytime "routine" (meant loosely) of an hour ish awake and then a sleep continues. Add in on-and-off feeding while in the cluster feeding phase. So all this happens down stairs like the rest of daytime.

In time, naps naturally lengthen and you'll start to notice that the "nap" that was happening post-bath lengthens and starts to merge with night sleep. Once you have to start waking baby up to take to bed with you, rather than baby waking from nap and wanting a feed - that's the marker to start putting baby "to bed" after bath time, so early evening.

This stage of naps merging in the evening napped naturally. I'd say probably around 5-8 months old.

1980Gal Sun 12-Feb-17 14:28:00

Thanks, that's really interesting. I read so much contradictory information, the most recent thing that if baby can't settle themselves without needing to be held by about 4 months then it gets far harder as their anxiety about separation then kicks in. I'm worried I suppose about 'making a rod for your own back'. Makes a lot of sense what you say, however various NCT friends say that their same age babies go down for a longish stretch from about 8pm. Some of them wake their little ones for dreamfeeds at 11ish. So makes me think she should perhaps be doing it.... Also seems to be expectation from various sleep 'experts'.

If we abandon the attempt at an earlier bedtime for now do you think it's worth instead working on getting her to settle to sleep in cot rather than in my arms? Pantley seems to recommend this for young babies. I wouldn't do controlled crying but in the past when I've tried to put her down for naps she sort of grizzles and moans as if fighting sleep, which can go on for 20 minutes before I can't take any more and then rock her to sleep. On occasion she has actually dropped off like this but it does seem a painful process! Any thoughts on this from anyone?

FATEdestiny Sun 12-Feb-17 15:38:35

various NCT friends say that their same age babies go down for a longish stretch from about 8pm.

That's certainly true. How quickly babies develop is entirely unique and covers a huge scale. My eldest child was walking at 7 months old. My best friends child was 18 months. I would therefore not have expected my friends daughter to be climbing stairs at 12 months old, she developed at a different rate.

Exactly the same is true of babies. One of my four children (DC3) was sleeping 7pm to 7am without waking from 7 weeks old. DC1 was 2y6m before she managed this, DC2 6 months and DC4 10 months.

Just because other babies of the same age can do something is no relevance to your child. They will be at very different developmental phases, and may be for a long time to come. The spectrum of "normal" is vast.

If we abandon the attempt at an earlier bedtime...

I wasn't suggesting you abandon bedtime? I suggest that you establish a bedtime at 7-8pm ish (whenever baby is awake at a time that works for you) when you do bath and PJs and whatnot. But that baby sleeps (naps) downstairs after this bedtime, until you go to bed.

You are aware of SIDS recommendations that baby sleeps in the same room you are, until 6 months old? This includes daytime naps and during the evening.

It's kind of set in stone and well established as NHS policy to reduce infant deaths. you think it's worth instead working on getting her to settle to sleep in cot rather than in my arms

Definately. Well I would. Not the cot for daytime naps though.

The most effective place for daytime napping is bouncy chair in my experience. Sat on sofa, foot bouncing baby to sleep.

seeingdots Mon 13-Feb-17 09:54:38

My experience with my DD has been very much in line with what FATE describes. At about 3 months she was still evening cluster feeding when we first tried to instigate an early bedtime - it didn't work. By about 4 months her behaviour had changed and she wasn't cluster feeding for hours and would consent to having an evening nap in the sling. After a couple of weeks of doing that we started to put her down in her cot after a big early evening feed and she took to it with not too much bother. We dreamfeed at 10ish but only because she wakes anyway. If she wasn't and was still gaining fine I'd just let her sleep.

Best of luck! It'll come!

HandbagFan Tue 14-Feb-17 08:33:01

I'd echo FATE's advice - I read a lot of her posts and her advice has helped me immensely. At 3m we used to get baby ready for bed at about 8pm, and have him sleep on his sleepyhead in our living room while we watched telly. At about 10.30, when we wanted to go to bed, we'd wake him / he'd stir, give him a final bottle and then take him upstairs to sleep on his snuzpod next to my bed.

He slept through properly at 5m (10-7) but for a long time he was only waking once during the night. Most importantly, it was pretty stress free for us all!

empirerecordsrocked Tue 14-Feb-17 08:51:49

At 3 months SIDS guidelines recommend sleeping with you in the same room. Dts slept in their carry coats in the living room and went in their cot after a feed around 10pm. I don't think you really get to have your evenings back with a three month old!

seeingdots Tue 14-Feb-17 09:16:03

I'm all for safe sleeping according to SIDS guidelines but I also would say that with the right kit having them sleep apart from you in the evening for a few hours can be perfectly safe. By 4 months mine would just not sleep downstairs with us in the evening unless she was in the sling being shoogled about, otherwise she was just fussing. Now she's happy going to bed upstairs with her Snuza breathing monitor on and we watch her on the video monitor from downstairs. Not only that but having some time to be able to eat dinner with two hands and relax a bit before the night shift starts has made a massive difference to my state of mind.

Artandco Tue 14-Feb-17 09:19:42

Seeing - that isn't true. A baby sleeping in same room has their breathing regulated by hearing you and your voice and movement. In a seperate room, this doesn't happen and baby can fall into too deep sleep and forget to breathe. An alarm only tells you when it's potentially too late, it's not a preventive.

FATEdestiny Tue 14-Feb-17 10:15:49

Not only that but having some time to be able to eat dinner with two hands and relax a bit...

With all due respect, welcome to parenting. Learning to parent whilst living a normal life (relaxing, eating etc) is part and parcel of being a parent. Relaxing and eating are not mutually seperate to active parenting.

What are you expecting to happen when you have two children? 3 children? What if you had a baby, plus a 5 year old (bedtime 7.30?) plus a 10 year old (bedtime 9pm?). Plus a load of evening clubs and groups to ferry children to and then the usual tidying up, washing machine on and whatnot? At some point you have to learn to do your "adulting" in as part of being a parent.

Your baby only napping in the sling sounds to be the main cause of the napping down stairs problem seeingdots, not SIDS recommendations.

I agree with Artandco above about the science behind the reason for being in the same room as a sleeping baby. The sensor alarm tells you baby has stopped breathing. Being present in the room and providing background noise prevents baby stopping breathing. I know which I'd prefer.

seeingdots Tue 14-Feb-17 13:22:40

Condescending much? hmm

I am aware of the science. DD sleeps with rhythmic womb noises in the background and if she were to stop breathing momentarily her Snuza would buzz to rouse her before an alarm went off. She is happier and more settled getting to bed when she needs it and it's time I know is important for my mental health as her sleep through the rest of the night was diabolical. At 5.5 months now we've started her in her own room without me through the night and so far the difference is amazing. I refuse to feel guilty because I'm confident she's safe and it's clear she's much more settled not waking up wanting fed after every sleep cycle and being denied it by me trying to settle her in ways other than giving her the boob.

FATEdestiny Tue 14-Feb-17 13:42:33

You don't need to be defensive seeingdots.

You don't follow this aspect of SIDS recommendations, and that's ok for you to do. Everyone judges risk management in different ways. Many people choose to ignore one aspect of another of the SIDS recommendations. Many people follow the recommendations to the letter.

Both are fine as long as you can justify your decision to appease your inner voice if something happened. I say this as someone who takes her own informed and calculated risks which do not follow SIDS guidelines.


It is inaccurate and wholly inexcusable to describe going against SIDS recommendations as "perfectly safe", as you did. It is not perfectly safe, far from it.

However it is an informed and managed risk that you chose to make. Maybe the OP will take this risk too, many people do. But to take the risk when ignorant of the facts (because you've heard it's "perfectly safe") is as irresponsible as perpetuating the idea that SIDS recommendations can be safelsafely ignored.

So of course, offer the OP an explanation of what you do. But do so responsibly when you are advocating some thing that can have very serious consequences. The sudden death of your baby is very serious. So yes, I get condesending when projecting posters are so irresponsibly flippant.

seeingdots Tue 14-Feb-17 15:43:59

FATE you should've said it was my use of the phrase 'perfectly safe' that you took issue with. Instead you led with (what I perceived to be) a condescending lecture about what it means to be a parent. That does tend to rile one so I apologise if I was defensive.

You are of course right that to say 'perfectly safe' is flippant. No child is ever perfectly safe and I don't pretend to be an authority on the subject. I simply meant to convey to the OP that she doesn't need to feel like to be a responsible parent she has to dispense with the idea of putting her baby to sleep in their cot during the evenings. As with co-sleeping, it's about doing what you need to do to cope whilst mitigating the risks until you feel confident you're providing a safe sleeping environment. So rather I should say that it can be, in my opinion, extremely low risk given certain measures are taken and leave the OP to make her own choices free of judgement.

FATEdestiny Tue 14-Feb-17 16:32:32

Instead you led with...

I was quoting and replying to the OP in most of the post you mention, seeingdots.

The bit about your post and going against SIDS recommendations was an afterthought, at the end of my post. I didn't "lead with" a reply to you because this is the OP's thread, not yours. I was replying to the OP. And also, significantly, because your point about going against SIDS has already been replied to comprehensively by Artandco. So I felt little need to go any further. Until you started arguing the point, that is...

FATEdestiny Tue 14-Feb-17 16:38:16

Actually, was you I was quoting with your wanting evenings free and whatnot, not the OP.

Sorry if you felt that was condescending. It wasn't meant to be. Just factual, in that once upu have multiple and older children, the idea of not eating the evening meal with your children is a thing of the pre-children past.

seeingdots Tue 14-Feb-17 18:50:02

I'll take you at your word FATE.

I've no doubt that if I'm lucky enough to have more every last vestige of life before kids will go out the window. I'm ok with that, I didn't have kids for things to stay the same. And I'm rather looking forward to family dinners. At the moment though my priority is keeping DD happy and trying to get her some sleep since the little minx has a history of getting precious little of it through the night and see no shame in enjoying a bit of a break at the same time. It was OP who said she'd like her evenings back. After the long early weeks of cluster feeds that's a perfectly normal desire to have, that shit is truly knackering.

Sorry OP for the thread hijack - not my intention!

1980Gal Fri 17-Feb-17 17:28:42

Oh dear, parenting is rather an emotive subject isn't it?!

Thanks for the thoughts. The SIDS points being particularly pertinent.

FATE I realise of course that all babies are different and do different things at different times, it's just you seemed quite dismissive of the idea of aiming for an early bedtime that I wanted to highlight that it does appear to work for some other 3 month olds.

HOWEVER, thought I would update you all on what has been happening. We have now done 9 nights of bedtime routine starting 6.45ish. She has fed and dozed and sometimes done between 30 mins to an hour in her cot. But nearly every evening she has not started her longest stretch before about 10pm. Some nights it has been 11 and on one awful night it was 1.15am. Most mornings she now wakes at 5.45am.

My husband and I have asked ourselves whether we made a big mistake altering the 9pm bedtime, which reliably got her to sleep by 11 and meant she did 7/8 hrs.

Anyway, we are sticking with what we've been doing but she'll nap in her moses basket and we will keep our expectations lowered and see any periods of sleep before ten as a series of consecutive naps punctuated by feeds. Hopefully when she is 4 to 5 months she will start genuinely going down earlier in the evening.

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