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Sleep training 5 1/2 month old - I am going mad!!!

(21 Posts)
Scottishmuminlondon Mon 13-Mar-17 07:35:28

Hello
I have a 5 1/2 month old boy and he has never slept through the night.
Lately he has only been able to sleep 1/2 hours at a time at night meaning a very disturbed time for me.
When we went on holiday recently he slept in a travel cot and seemed to love it, only waking once for a very short time. Since returning he has been back to the same pattern of waking 6/7 times a night. We have tried controlled crying but he just keeps crying and doesn't seem to be able to settle himself. I have to bf him or there is no other way of settling him.
He uses a dummy. We have tried a cd playing soothing music, a mobile with animals attached and a light show, none of which seem to work.
My husband has just found out that his dad has cancer so he is very tired and worn out. This sleep pattern is definitely not helping.
I would welcome any ideas on what I can do to change the routine.
A normal day might look like this
6.30am awake for the day - feed milk and breakfast
7-8am activity/ watch tv
8/9am morning nap for 45 minutes in cot
10am go out for a walk/ baby class
11am bottle
12/12.30pm afternoon nap normally in pram so that he gets a good hour or more. As soon as I come home he wakes up
2-3pm bottle and wear him in the sling to get stuff done around the house
3-3.30pm afternoon nap
5.30pm start bedtime routine as he is really cranky by now
6.30pm bf before putting down
Awake every hour or so until 5.30/6.30am

Any help would be so much appreciated.

PotteringAlong Mon 13-Mar-17 07:44:49

Honestly? He's 5.5 months old - he's far to little to sleep train and waking through the night is completely normal. You're not doing anything wrong and nor is he, it's just the way it is.

PotteringAlong Mon 13-Mar-17 07:46:21

www.isisonline.org.uk/how_babies_sleep/normal_sleep_development/

Scottishmuminlondon Mon 13-Mar-17 08:06:24

I know waking is normal but what about every hour? I haven't met anyone else who is experiencing this. I also know he can go a lot longer, as evidenced on our holiday.

Fattynoms02 Mon 13-Mar-17 08:25:05

We also have hourly waking with 5 month old DD. No idea why but she does seem to struggle with switching off and going to sleep so I think when she wakes she doesn't know how to go back to sleep. Sorry no useful advice, just know how you feel.

Karmin Mon 13-Mar-17 08:56:10

I have one of those babies, it's got to 6 months and there is some small improvements then he has started teething....

It is hell and I sympathize, I am a grumpy zombie and long for just a block of sleep, luckily my do is fantastic and does the school run so I can get a couple of hours of solid sleep and my body has adjusted to a point :/

Sleep training may not be the answer as he is very little still the big thing that helped is getting rid of the dummy to sleep, my ds can now sometimes go 2/3 hours at a time. Don't feed to sleep, unlatch when they are very sleepy but awake sit them up to rouse them a little then get them in their bed.

The hardest part is knowing when to remove the milk so he will settle but not too late that he is asleep, that will take some practice.

Also decide on what bedtime will be, with my ds everything that happens after 6:30 is nighttime so is done in the dark and no chatting.

Take what I'm saying with a pinch of salt though, ss is starting to improve but is not one of those babies that sleep through, his normal schedule is:

6:30pm bed
8pm brief waking
9:30 brief waking
10:30 wakes up needing milk, nappy changed so he is awake enough for it
1am awake try and settle him without milk
2:30 awake he normally takes a short feed
4am brief waking
5:30 brief waking
6:30 up for the day

During the day he will have 2/3 naps depending on what we are doing but never later than 4:30 or he doesn't settle well. The brief wakings providing he isn't upset I leave him to settle on his own but any sign of distress I go to him stroke his back and say it's ok it's sleep time. Sometimes he is ok with that other times it's pick up hug put down awake.

I found the pick up put down method work ok but it is tiring the first few nights.

Comealongpond89 Mon 13-Mar-17 09:16:35

I feel for you. Dd has never been a good sleeper. Although at 5 and a half months have you considered weaning? Maybe trying some foods will help. It could be that he is hungry and milk isn't enough to keep him full for the night. I started weaning at 5 months because dd wasn't that interested in milk. If you give him supper like baby porridge you might find it helps him sleep for longer. Good luck

Scottishmuminlondon Mon 13-Mar-17 09:34:03

Hello
Thanks for the support. He is taking some solids already. Last night my husband fed him and didn't realise quantities so gave him much more than I would normally do. It didn't help and I wonder if it just upset him more.
He already has two teeth so I do wonder if it's the top ones coming in. I don't know how long there is normally between the two bottom ones coming in and the top ones.
I think I'm going to try keeping him awake for a while tonight after he's had his milk then putting him down.
We bought a travel cot at the weekend in desperation but even that didn't seem to work!

FATEdestiny Mon 13-Mar-17 09:38:55

5.30pm start bedtime routine as he is really cranky by now

Im not surprised he is exhausted by 5.30pm, he's not getting nearly enough daytime sleep.

If he can't do longer naps (at least two over 90 minutes) then he needs less awake time to make more naps per day.

I would have an absolute maximum of 2 hours awake time between naps, with broken nights sleep I'd say 90 minutes awake time would be best. The only exception being the awake time before bedtime, when I'd stretch to 2-3h.

You seem to have a huge 9am-12pm awake time. And first thing in the morning upu have 2.5-3.5h awake time. These are too long awake. This is especially true for a baby having broken nights sleep - he needs more daytime sleep to break the over tiredness cycle.

FartnissEverbeans Mon 13-Mar-17 14:12:48

I was coming to say the same thing as FateDestiny. My DS's sleep has been informed by Fate's advice - he's the same age as your DS and is a good sleeper (touch wood).

Today is DS's 2nd full day at nursery (see my 'nursery and naps' thread). Last night he screamed for thirty mins before bed, which he's only ever done once before in his life (his first day of nursery!). He was just exhausted. He eventually went down at about 8pm, slept til we woke him at 6, then slept 2.5 hours between 7-4. That wasn't enough, especially given how tired he was yesterday, so I put him to sleep at 4pm when I collected him and he has been asleep for two hours! shock He's lying on me as I type.

I just try to remember:

Sleep begets sleep
Don't let him get cranky
Two hours awake time is a LOT.

The only times DS wakes up in the night are when he's overtired and grumpy before bed. Until he started nursery he had slept 8+ hours for months. I'm evangelical about napping these days! grin

Scottishmuminlondon Tue 14-Mar-17 08:04:07

Thanks for all your advice. I just let ds nap whenever he wanted to yesterday and he had about 4/5 naps. Most were short (30 minutes) but one was longer (about an hour and a half). When I put him to bed he cried so I lifted him and fed him. He fell asleep from 7-12pm. Hurrah! I thought I had cracked it. Alas, I put him down about 1am and he proceeded to cry the rest of the night even though I had him up cuddling him and soothing him. I didn't use the dummy until I could take it no more but even that didn't settle him. Any suggestions why his sleep was so good then so bad?

Crumbs1 Tue 14-Mar-17 08:13:47

He is a bit too young for sleep training- wait until 9 months if he hasn't sorted himself out by then. Maybe use the dummy earlier before he gets in a state as the frustration and tension between mother and baby can be cyclical. Is he thirsty - drink of water? Husband doing his share? If you're exhausted you may need to mirror his sleep - so when he sleeps you do too even if it's 7pm.

Twixes Tue 14-Mar-17 08:54:41

Sounds like you're having a rough time sad

What solids do you have him on? A bit of baby rice or baby porridge might help things. If he's just on veg he might be hungry, I'm certainly not full after a few carrots! smile

I don't agree with those that say sleep train when they're older, I did at 5.5 months and we never looked back. It took a day and a half, but it also coincided with me stopping bf and I think he started sleeping so well because he had a full tummy and wasn't hungry anymore. I know I'll get flamed for that advice but oh well!

Twixes Tue 14-Mar-17 08:55:44

PS if you wait til 9 months + it's harder if anything because they have a greater awareness of everything that's going on and also have more deeply rooted habits at that stage...

Scottishmuminlondon Tue 14-Mar-17 09:20:51

Thanks twixes. He just doesn't seem to like the rice or porridge at all. He does like bread but can't seem to swallow it very well.
When you say it took a day and a half what do you mean? Did you let him/her cry that whole time or just intermittently?

FATEdestiny Tue 14-Mar-17 10:39:54

I didn't use the dummy until I could take it no more but even that didn't settle him.

Would have been over tired by that point, so nothing will work.

The positive to take from you say is that you have shown more sleep = easier sleep = better sleep

If you gave the dummy when baby is drowsy, baby could then go from drowsy to deep sleep easily and quickly.

Wait until into over tired and exhausted, nothing will work (as you've found), including dummy.

Why are you delaying the comfort of the dummy sucking?

Scottishmuminlondon Tue 14-Mar-17 14:33:00

Hi fatedestiny
I am delaying the dummy because I've heard and read that if they rely on the dummy to fall asleep that it's really difficult for them to stay sleeping. I.e. When they lose the dummy, they wake up and can't get back to sleep.

FATEdestiny Tue 14-Mar-17 14:57:20

You are taking the wrong inferences from what you are reading then.

The dummy is only used for going to sleep. Waking frequently is a completely seperate issue that has nothing to do with a dummy.

You can have:

● a deep sleeper who suck dummy for 2
10 mins to get into a deep sleep. Wakes 12h later and gets up

● a lighter sleeper who sucks dummy for 20 mins to get to sleep, wakes 2 or 3 times in the night, doesn't need feeding just a dummy reinsert which takes 10 seconds.

● a lighter sleeper who fed to sleep for 20 mins, wakes 2 or 3 times in the night, 20 mins to feed back to sleep each time.

● a lighter sleeper who is rocked to sleep for 20 mins, held for 20 more minutes until deep sleep then placed in cot. Wakes 2 or 3 times in the night, 20+ minutes rocking plus 20+ minutes holding each wake up.

If you don't establish a dummy soon op, you will lose the chance to. Baby will soon realise that you will not allow the dummy to bring comfort, so it will not be accepted for comfort.

Either provide the comfort of a dummy. Or provide alternate comfort for your child. This chopoibg and changing will only hinder your child's progress.

If ypu don't want to use dummies - throw them away.

Scottishmuminlondon Tue 14-Mar-17 15:22:00

Thank you. I think I am getting confused because he doesn't need the dummy to get to sleep in the first place but I think he needs it in the night when he's unsettled. He doesn't need it during the day anymore to get to sleep for naps. I think what you're saying is that it's ok to put a dummy in mid way through the night if that's what settles him. I'll try that tonight and report back.

FATEdestiny Tue 14-Mar-17 15:55:33

No, that's not what i was saying.

What I was suggesting it is better to use the dummy as part of the regular sleep routine, consistantly every sleep time.

Or not at all.

Aside from anything else, it increases baby's SIDS risk to sometimes use dummy and sometimes not. Consistant use of the dummy lowers SIDS risk.

Twixes Tue 14-Mar-17 20:40:42

Hi there,

We followed the Ferber technique, I got the book and read it before we started. Even though it's not that long ago I can't remember the intervals but if you google them you'll find them. I wouldn't just leave a baby to cry at length, no.

I made sure he'd had plenty of milk, had some solids, was dry, and had no wind. We did it with naps first. Second night the max he cried was 6.5 min and that was it. I poured myself a big glass of wine to help with it! It wasn't easy but it paid off and I've a 17 month old that loves his cot and never even makes a sound before he sleeps now.

I know that ^^ all sounds so easy but also remember every baby is different and even though it worked for us, it might not work for you. You'll also learn the difference between a shout-cry they do before they sleep vs a proper cry where they need you.

I hope you get some rest soon x

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