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Naps or night sleep...I want both!

(19 Posts)
NEmum Fri 10-Mar-17 22:37:29

Really really struggling with sleep routines for my 4month old.

Basically, if he has good naps during the day, 3x 40mins-2hrs, he doesn't go down well for the night. Then when he goes down well at night it's after a day of terrible naps! A good night time is go down to sleep between 7-8, wake between 10-11, again at 1, 4 then 7.

I totally feel like I've lost my confidence & have resorted to rocking him to sleep, which I never ever used to do...has anyone got any tips about how they overcame sleeping problems?

FATEdestiny Sat 11-Mar-17 14:18:37

The physiology of babys sleep changes at 4 months old. Its a permanent change.

Sleep moves away from the newborn stage, when it was passive like when in the womb. For the first 3-4 months baby's passive state is asleep, waking only when a need isn't met (hunger, comfort, reassurance etc) and then once the need is met, back to the passive state of asleep.

From about 3-4 months old, sleep becomes an active endeavour. You have to help baby to get to sleep, rather than it just passively happening. Also baby starts to sleep in cycles, like an adult does. So there are periods of light sleeping and deep sleeping. It becomes hard for baby to link one sleep cycle and the next.

Sleep tends to go to pot, until you and baby learn new ways to actively get baby to sleep and keep baby asleep. Some tried and tested ways to get babies to sleep, that have been established for years, include

- Sucking (dummy, nipple)
- Movement (rocking in arms, pushchair, bouncy chair etc)
- Feeling secure (being held, cosleeping, swaddle, sleepyhead)
- Full tummy

I wonder if you are assuming this change is to do with daytime/nighttime sleep, when in fact it is just this change in the way baby sleeps.

More sleep = Better sleep.

So the more daytime sleep baby gets (more frequent naps, less awake time between naps), the better quality the babys sleep will be - deeper sleeping, less likely to wake between sleep cycles, easier to get to sleep.

Where as Poor sleep = Worse sleep. An over tired baby is harder to get to sleep, sleeps more lightly so wakes more easily. The overall quality of sleep then declines.

A reasonable approximation for a 4 month old would be 45-75 minutes awake time followed by 30-60 minutes sleep, repeated on a never-ending cycle from getting up until you go to bed (and take baby with you). The awake time will be on the low end if the previous nap was short, with increasing awake time if the previous nap was longer.

A restless night's sleep at this age is most often because of
(a) Not enough total sleep over the previous 24-48 hours
(b) Not enough total calories over the previous 24-48 hours
Both are resolved by looking at the daytime routine - making feeds and/or naps more frequent than they currently are.

NEmum Sat 11-Mar-17 16:18:20

Thanks for the really detailed response, I really appreciate it. are you saying I should ignore the advice about not rocking baby to sleep etc? Everything I have read says to encourage baby to self soothe - I find that doesn't work for me at all. Instead when LO is drifting off he starts fighting sleep and screaming...so I then tend to him & either rock/feed him to sleep. But have been worried this is doing the wrong thing!!

We do cosleep, this certainly helped in the early days as I got more sleep when feeding through the night.

Thanks again.

FATEdestiny Sat 11-Mar-17 16:49:45

I think you might be misunderstanding the meaning of self-soothing. This doesn't mean no soothing. It means baby learning ways to sooth (comfort) independantly of you.

At 4 months old, babies cannot have enough control over their own muscles and movements to comfort themself in any way. This will come in the 8-12 month age range, along with the pincer grip and being able to pick things up, move them and put them down

At that age babies can do things to comfort independantly - put own dummy in, cuddle up to a comforter, tickle their eat, play with their own hair, suck their thumb.

Until that point, you need to help baby sooth, they physically don't have the ability to do it themself. But....

But but but. There are soothing methods that make teaching independant soothing easier, because they are easier to wean off your need to do it.

Rocking to sleep is hardeharder to wean off. You have to wean off the movement, the tight feeling of being held and also the closeness to you. Providing that movement comfort in a hands-off way (bouncy chair, pushchair) makes it easier to wean off because you just need to reduce the movement, not the other factors.

Likewise a dummy is a great way to encourage independant soothing. You'll need to help baby by putying it in for them now. But it reaches baby fall aslerp independantly of you. Give it time (realistically to 8m or so) and baby can learn to do this without your help.

Compare independant-settling dummy, to the parental settling feeding to sleep. Same source of comfort (sucking), but feeding to sleep adds in extra factors to wean off if your aim is independant settling.

Having said all of that... Some people like being their baby's source of comfort. So as lobg as your expectations are realistic (you'll be doing it long term, easily into the second year), it's not a problem.

PowerJane Sat 11-Mar-17 17:57:10

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Yolandafarthing Sat 11-Mar-17 17:58:18

You're in the thick of the four month sleep regression. I promise it passes!

NEmum Sat 11-Mar-17 19:24:16

I think my problem is that I have read a tonne of books which advocate putting your baby down when drowsy & they should fall asleep, with a little shush pat if they cry & absolutely no 'props', rocking etc.

I also have friends who swear their babies lie in their cots awake & fall asleep themselves...!

I think I need to just concentrate on making sure baby gets enough sleep first, I'll worry about the techniques later...!

Thanks for your help

FATEdestiny Sat 11-Mar-17 20:19:55

I bet you they have a dummy. Or feed to sleep in situ. Sucking is what does it. Occasionally a baby with the right tempriment who is formula fed can go to sleep easily.

You are over thinking it.

Yolandafarthing Sat 11-Mar-17 20:25:52

My baby used to fall asleep "on his own" in his cot, but he had a dummy, white noise, sleepyhead and was swaddled! All sleep props.

He's a year old now and still has a dummy and white noise but is on the whole a good sleeper.

NEmum Sat 11-Mar-17 21:01:50

I do use a dummy, although sometimes LO is not interested!

Bloody easy to overthink everything when you're a first time parent isn't it?! Ha, currently snuggling my baby back to sleep and going to enjoy the moment x

FATEdestiny Sat 11-Mar-17 21:10:55

Dummy is a good start for independant sleep.

How about adding in a cosleeper cot? You can take one side off most cotbeds and they will be stable 3 sided. Wedge it next to your bed and/or lash it to your bed and you have a big extention to the side of your bed.

You can then lie down on your bed, cuddling right up to baby, putting dummy in, holding it in if needed. Encircling baby in your arms, but whilst lying in the cot. Then extract yourself once baby is asleep.

Hey Presto! Baby has been put down awake and gone to sleep in the cot.

(Lots of daytime sleep also helps - bouncy chair and dummy combo is great for that)

NEmum Sat 11-Mar-17 22:30:22

We have a co sleeper cot & a sleepyhead...he's gone down in it tonight after an extended feed & cuddle downstairs. Sometimes he will go back in it through the night but mostly he stays in the bed with me - I could probably be firmer with this but am usually too exhausted!

NEmum Sat 11-Mar-17 22:31:41

Also bouncy chairs etc, always seem to leave him far too stimulated although he usually always sleeps in the pram/car so those are options for when I'm desperate/need to be out and about but accommodate some sleep time.

Igottastartthinkingbee Sat 11-Mar-17 22:37:09

OP do whatever you need to do to survive. Your baby will not do this forever, 4 months is still early days and unfortunately there's loads of changes to come in the next few months (teeth, crawling, weaning, increased awareness etc...) that will upset the balance anyway. Easier said than done (I overanalysed everything with my first) but try to roll with it. Good luck flowers

P1nkSparkles Sat 11-Mar-17 22:43:43

We've just survived the four month sleep regression.... everyone I have spoken to (we go to a lot of groups) says just do what you need to survive this one & then start worrying about routines/self-soothing etc afterwards.

Also - try the wonder weeks app - really helpful for knowing when you have difficult periods coming up and why.

FATEdestiny Mon 13-Mar-17 22:11:52

Just spotted this thread linked to on Facebook shock

Lifeonthefarm Mon 13-Mar-17 23:14:14

Not much to add to help but want to say been they're and now my DS is 12mo we have finally got naps and sleep sorted (as sorted as he ever will be I think) so hang on in there

At 4mo naps and sleep were so shit I was so frustrated, I moved him to his own room at 6mo and did CC/CIO and both really helped get him sorted out.

Whatever you find that works now might not work in a few weeks time as so much is changing for them. One thing I read that helped how I felt was stop searching for 'the answer' - there isn't one, your probably not doing anything wrong and what you do now probably won't matter in a few weeks or months time as they'll be something else happening then like they've learnt to stand in cot or whatever.
Just do what you need to get through the night and work it out when things get better.

Everything seems to have worked out for me and I know realise when I'm doing things wrong that need amending, rather than panicking constantly if I'm doing it right or not.

Grasshopper30 Tue 14-Mar-17 14:30:58

I think it really depends on the baby. My DS has always been a sleepy head, in fact it caused issues in the early days as he couldn't stay awake long enough to feed properly. Anyway, he has been put down to sleep awake, without props since he was 7 weeks and he's 16 months now. Never had a dummy, doesn't have a toy to snuggle up to either (he has them but isn't interested) I really don't think that I did anything different from other mums, just got lucky with old sleepy head! X

theonlygeorgie Wed 15-Mar-17 09:37:22

NEmum - going through exactly the same as you, thanks for posting your question

FATEdestiny - You are the baby oracle!!!! Thanks for your detailed & helpful responses to the OP flowers

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