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4 month sleep advice please

(92 Posts)
riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 15:30:08

I posted a few weeks ago for advice for my (then) 3.5 month old baby who refused to nap but slept through the night without any problems. Fate very kindly replied and offered some advice for getting her to nap but I am still struggling and the predictable 4 month regression has now hit with multiple night time wakings.

She previously would self soothe when waking up at night but now wants the breast when she wakes. No problems there as I am happy to feed her until this stage passes. My problem is her getting back to sleep, sometimes she falls asleep, other times (particularly early morning), she will feed, I will put her back in her cot and she will gurgle to herself for a while and then start crying because she wants to get up. We have a co-sleeping cot so I usually lie with her until she falls asleep.

I wouldn't mind starting the day earlier if she would nap but my biggest problem is still getting her to nap. I have tried the bouncy chair and dummy, the pram (successful on some occasions but wakes as soon as we get back home if not earlier), rocking, feeding, car (absolutely hates the carseat). The only way I have managed to get her to nap is putting her in the cot and allowing her to cry until she realises she needs to sleep BUT with me lying next to her and soothing so not the true crying it out if that makes sense. When I first started trying this method, I had tears on day 1 then her falling asleep with no tears for 10 great days. The regression then hit and she now cries every time I put her down for a nap without exceptions. She does eventually go to sleep for anything between 1 and 3 sleep cycles but the tears are really upsetting me. I don't mind if she has to sleep on me for naps or if I had to bounce a chair for 2 full hours but I just want her to sleep without distress, she needs so much more than she is getting for her development.

In terms of her naps, I have tried putting her down at fixed intervals such as max 90mins awake time, following a routine and also tried following her cues but am still getting tears. I'm now starting to question myself - am I missing her tiredness cues or doing something else wrong?

I was just wondering if anyone can offer any advice on the best approach to take. I honestly don't mind how my sleep is affected at this stage as long as she gets what she needs (I'm sure my opinion on this will change after months of sleepless nights (!) but I just want to focus on getting her sorted right now)

FATEdestiny Mon 13-Mar-17 17:29:57

Under no circumstances is crying good for young baby or helpful. The crying is teaching her zero. Nothing. Well, aside from that she's upset and you aren't stopping the upset. Leaving your 4 month old to cry, you there or not, is not teaching her how to go to sleep.

If you are happy feeding to sleep at night, why don't you feed to sleep for daytime naps too?

If you don't want to feed to sleep, what about the dummy? You may need to lie with her, holding dummy for her, cuddle up into the co sleeper. Firm hand on chest helps.

There is certainly no need for your baby to cry herself to sleep.

Dummy and my undivided attention was usually not enough for my children to feel contented enough to sleep. They needed more comfort than that.

So at night I added in a fully tummy. So it would be feed, dummy, my undivided attention.

For daytime naps until about 6 months old I added movement. So dummy, lots of cuddling, eye contact and patting from me and also bouncing the bouncy chair or pushchair.

If your baby is crying, she needs you.

Naughtysausage Mon 13-Mar-17 17:52:29

Gosh PP that was kind.
Sometimes babies cry. That's fine, it's how they communicate. The tears do get to you though don't they! I don't think a little bit of cot crying is the worst thing, but trying to admit that is hard when people like to comment as above.

I'm sorry you're having a hard time, there isn't really a magic answer, you know what your baby needs best.
It will pass - soon! And don't worry that baby isn't getting enough sleep for their development. Babies are human, some sleep more, some sleep less. They all get what they need. Worrying that they need more sleep is just another rod to beat yourself with.

riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 18:18:31

Fate do you honestly think I enjoy hearing her cry?! I have read all your responses to other readers and tried everything you suggest. It's great relentless bouncing in a chair with a dummy worked for your children but it doesn't work for mine. She cries even more and harder because she hates the dummy. I've tried multiple different brands in the hope that another one may work but no luck. I have tried feeding her to sleep during the day too - pretty much goes without saying that if Im happy to do it at night, I am happy to do it during th day but she doesn't sleep. She has her feed then wants to play. Shows sleepy signs, I give her the breast and she will have a couple of sucks and look around.
When she goes to sleep crying, I am cuddled upto her in the co-sleeper so she knows I am there

riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 18:26:39

Thanks naughty. Unfortunately, it just seems that no matter what I do, she will cry during the day before taking a nap. Its odd because I never get the same tears when going down for the night, just early morning and during the day. I can't figure out what I am doing wrong during the day that makes her cry so much.

The reason I am persisting with it and making her nap is Ive noticed I have a happy baby when she wakes from naps (even if she has to cry to get there). If I don't make her sleep, she understandably gets grumpier and grumpier over the day and then is super clingy, showing she clearly needs the sleep.

FATEdestiny Mon 13-Mar-17 18:31:25

When she goes to sleep crying, I am cuddled upto her in the co-sleeper so she knows I am there

Have you tried giving her something to suck (nipple, dummy) so she doesn't cry?

riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 18:37:38

I've tried both. She sucks the nipple for a bit then decides she's had enough and wants to get up and play and starts curling and chatting to herself. When I don't pick her up and engage in play she then starts whinging, then crying, then finally goes to sleep.
As I mentioned before, she hates the dummy and if I hold it in, she cries even more because she doesn't want it in her mouth.

FATEdestiny Mon 13-Mar-17 18:38:00

Ive noticed I have a happy baby when she wakes from naps

At what point after waking does she stop being happy?

You may have noticed my feelings about baby crying at sleep time...

I have the same opinions on when baby is awake. There is no reason a baby needs to cry. Babies should be happy, content creatures.. So the very first cry, upset, grumpiness - that's meaning sleep time.

PopsicleToes Mon 13-Mar-17 18:58:18

Not much advice but lots of sympathy. DS is five months now and every time we think we've found something that works to get him to sleep he changes things up on us again. At 4 months he went through a phase of crying and fighting being rocked to sleep, would cry in my arms for 10 mins before falling asleep. Now he is even more alert and aware and fights even harder. Have you tried changing up positions you hold her to rock? DS won't tolerate a horizontal position any more as has learned to crane his neck right around. to an onlooker probably would be comical. to me, after 10 minutes of trying to wrestle with a 9kg+ sausage of a baby, not so much. but i digress... what works recently is to bounce him in a more upright position facing my chest, somewhere quiet and dimly lit, although it can take a looooong time. it's as if i have to trick him into thinking no action is being taken that would send him to sleep in any way shape or form, and then he eventually relaxes.
The crying really sucks ass, doesn't it, when you know you're doing everything you can possibly think of to try to help them. Hope it gets better for you soon

riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 19:02:52

I've tried putting her to sleep as soon as she shows signs of tiredness/starts getting grizzly, before showing signs of tiredness and at fixed times (1hr, 1.5hrs and 2hrs after waking); all result in her crying when she is being put to sleep. As I mentioned, this crying only happens in the early morning and at nap time so I tried a dark room in the hope that would recreate night time when she doesn't cry, but no luck.

Fate I feel the same way as you about her crying at sleep time but right now, its her crying at sleep time and getting some of the sleep she needs or her not sleeping at all and being grumpy and crying when awake and overtired. I am going for the former in the desperate hope that it is better for her development to get the sleep.

If anyone can offer any suggestions, I would be forever grateful as I honestly feel like Ive tried everything

EleanorofCastile Mon 13-Mar-17 19:08:35

I am a bit further ahead than you OP and found my now 20 week old started napping much better a couple of weeks ago. It's still not totally consistent, but I'm just not stressing about sleep anymore and it's I'm enjoying her/motherhood so much more. At one stage she only seemed to nap in the pram and I was thoroughly exhausted! Is it possible your DD hates the car seat because she associates it with going to sleep? Car journeys and slings seem a sure fire way to send a baby to sleep and if they are inclined to fight sleep, this may be why they start to object (my DD is like this with the sling).

In terms of the early mornings - do you get up at this point? I've found my DD goes back to sleep easily at the start of the day, so I tend to put her next to me on the bed (still in her sleeping bag)) and give her some gentle distraction like opening the blinds slightly or a toy to play with and she'll chat away to herself and go back to sleep after 30 -60 mins (whilst I drink coffee and listen to the radio). If my DH takes her at weekends to give me a lie in, she tends to get a bit more stimulated by moving rooms etc and so takes longer to go back to sleep/have her first nap.

I just thought of something else which has helped DD to nap and that is vacuuming - thought it might be worth mentioning if you haven't tried. I have ended up with very clean floors! I think it's both the noise and the mundane activity that she likes to watch.
Once she is starting to get sleepy I can more away from the room she is in and do the rest of the flat!

riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 19:10:24

Thanks popsicle, it is reassuring to know others are going through the same thing as all my friends' babies nap one way or another without tears - their usual complaint is having to rock or hold them to sleep.

She is the same in my arms - fights with all her energy and hits me and pulls my hair and clothes whilst crying because she simply doesn't want to sleep. I used to be able to jiggle her to sleep but that stopped working at about 10 weeks.

I am just desperately hoping she maintains the ability to soothe herself at night through this regression

PopsicleToes Mon 13-Mar-17 19:18:57

I would also max out the buggy in the day if it's at least partly successful. especially if she's generally ok with it and doesn't complain when awake. I do that a lot, sometimes go out twice a day, and just keep moving! just wish we didn't live in a tiny flat and then bringing it into the house would be an option (we did do it once in desperation...)

i think i will also try PP's vacuuming suggestion, if nothing else the carpets could really use the attention...

riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 19:27:44

Thanks Eleanor. I alternate between stressing about it and relaxing and ignoring how much she has/hasn't slept but the days she doesn't sleep are getting more and more obvious because of how grumpy she gets as the day goes on. I also have been through a stage of walking for 2+ hours a day with her in the pram to get 20-30mins nap time out of her, I agree it is totally exhausting. If she napped for longer than half an hour in it, I would probably still do it.

Whether I get up in the morning varies each day. During the week, I tend to get up unless I am exhausted so I can shower etc before she wakes up. On the weekend, we are both at home so I will usually stay in bed with her. She used to go back to sleep after chatting to herself like you described but she has stopped doing that recently and just wants to get up. If she realises we want her to go to sleep, she starts screaming.

I will give vacuuming a go next time I put her down and see if that makes any difference

FATEdestiny Mon 13-Mar-17 19:29:14

She is the same in my arms - fights with all her energy and hits me and pulls my hair and clothes

Is she like that when you just hold her? Not for sleep, just for a cuddle or hug?

Angelik Mon 13-Mar-17 19:32:47

It's become a battle ground armed with highly strung emotion for you both.

My DS was the same. The only thing that worked was the buggy. Up and down the hallway, kitchen and garden (in my jimmers) for a good hour to get 20 mins - with me singing and WITHOUT eye contact. Soul destroying but once i accepted that was all he needed it was fine. And i think the same applies for you. Accept for the time being that your baby is fighting sleep. She has become more curious about her surroundings and can't get enough. I wonder if you actually physically trying to get her to sleep is the problem. Stop it. Pop in buggy and walk. Or park buggy in garden (where you can see and hear of course) and see if fresh air does the trick.

Angelik Mon 13-Mar-17 19:34:01

I see since you live in flat. I still advocate the walks.

ShuttyTown Mon 13-Mar-17 20:52:28

I have a 15 week old and I've found white noise works brilliantly for us. I lay her down in her cot/Moses and put the white noise on and she falls asleep on her own. Maybe try the white noise?

Carta60 Mon 13-Mar-17 21:02:51

I got my dd off to sleep calmly in a sling at this age. GenerAlly eliminated all tears and once asleep I could sit down and rest. Naps much easier now... I'd say improves about 6/7 months. My daughter fought it too but the sling was a life saver. Think they just don't get it when they are so little and want to be really close especially when breast fed x

riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 21:07:16

Fate she is only like that when trying to put her to sleep for a nap. When cuddling and playing she is affectionate and happy. If I hold her at night after her final feed, she will happily sleep in my arms too.

Angelik I think you have hit the nail on the head when you say it is a battle ground. I am in a house, it is a pp in a flat. I do take her for walks but she will only sleep when we walk outside and she seems to know as soon as we get into the house and her eyes ping open. I do walk with her as often as practical but I have recently injured myself and been told to avoid pushing pram so much for the next month to allow it to recover. I am still doing so against medical advice but am a little concerned it may get worse and I won't be able to push it at all if I am not careful.

ShuttyTown we use white noise already. It is fantastic at night - if she stirs, I switch it on and she goes straight back to sleep. She won't go to sleep with it during the day though. I do leave it on as she falls asleep as I find it drowns out any other little sounds in the house and allows her to stay asleep

riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 21:13:43

Thanks Carta. I used to reliably get her to sleep in the sling, now we have mixed results, sometimes sends her to sleep, other times she just wants to look at everything and loves the fact that she is high up! If I so much as attempt to sit down once she's asleep, she wakes up within a minute though. She literally outsmarts me at every turn!

Angelik Mon 13-Mar-17 21:41:12

The pinging eyes! I remember it well. the moment i stopped at the front door stupidly thinking i might get a cup of tea. Many is the time i sat on my front door step pushing buggy back and forth with my foot just for a few more minutes of sleep.

I often used to sit with ds on me or propped next to me facing telly. We'd watch together and eventually he'd drop off. I was stuck there but it was the only way. He needed (and still does even though he is 7 tmw) a lot of unwinding time. I'd prepare with sarnie, tea, water, remote controls and settle down. Marine and me still holds special memories smile

FATEdestiny Mon 13-Mar-17 21:46:20

in my arms - fights with all her energy and hits me and pulls my hair and clothes

and

When cuddling and playing she is affectionate and happy

What are the physical differences in what you do between a cuddle just for the sake of having a cuddle, and a cuddle for sleep?

When people say "can't you just cuddle her?". They mean just that. Just cuddle her. Sit on the sofa, snuggle, be sweet and smiley together.

It sounds like you are really stressing, with a must get her to sleep thing going. The idea of "just cuddle her" is exactly that. Just cuddle her. In a calm, positive, loving, non-pressure way.

riddles26 Mon 13-Mar-17 21:55:37

You know exactly what I am going through Angelik. I try to avoid letting her watch tv but will give it a try. I would love to just hold her as she sleeps in the afternoon, I will happily keep a few box sets ready to watch while she sleeps on me.

Fate she is affectionate and happy for a bit then she fidgets and wants to be put down so she can play. Or if she is in a clingy mood, she wants me to hold her and walk around the house or face her outwards while I walk so she can look at things around the house. She doesn't like to just sit and cuddle for more than a few minutes at a time, she is super active and alert

Angelik Mon 13-Mar-17 22:09:22

She's 4 months. She doesn't get tv. She just sees movement and hears sounds.

We used to have baby tv. A sky channel. Don't know if it exists still. Used to help me unwind too! I wouldn't engage ds. Simply be there with him. Eventually i'd feel his breathing ease and he would feel a little heavier. I would try to close my eyes too.

Telly still doesn't over stimulate him. It allows him to switch off his very busy brain!

You'll get there. None of it is forever. I hope your injury heals soon. You'll both feel better for getting out and about now the warmer weather is coming.

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