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7mo DS, sleep gone badly downhill

(7 Posts)
BroccoliOnTheFloor Sat 25-Mar-17 08:30:41

First time poster (excited!)

DS is 7 months. We coslept until about a month ago, and that worked fine. He'd wake up every 3-4 h, wake me up without crying, I'd feed him in bed, and we would all go back to sleep very quickly and with no tears. About a month ago we moved him to his cot, which is still in our bedroom. At first it worked like a charm - he went down for longer stretches, I think we all slept a bit deeper and had more space. Then we went away for a weekend, had to cosleep there, and since we got back it's been deteriorating to the point where I decided to register on Mumsnet and cry for help here.

He now wakes every hour and a half and cries inconsolably. I can feed him to sleep and transfer him to the cot - 1 in 2 times he wakes up again after being put down. I tried patting, shushing and singing - nothing. The last two nights my husband tried the patting shushing singing, and eventually picking up and carrying around. DH is a remarkably calm individual; he spent 90 minutes speaking in a calm quiet voice to a screaming baby and said baby kept screaming. Whatever we do seems to just agitate DS more. He cranes his neck and looks for me, and if I pick him up he claws at my bra and wants boob.

He has a good appetite, and during the day eats two solid meals, one snack, and a 4-5 milk feeds. I do not believe that after having a pretty large serving of chicken, vegetables and lentils at 8pm and milk at 9pm he is again starving at 11pm and 12:30, 2, 3:30, 5 and 7. He has 3 naps during the day, in his cot or in the pram, where he goes down easily and sleeps between 30 and 60 minutes. At night he is in bed from 9pm to 8 or 8:30am.

He currently spends most of the day with me, and has been displaying some signs of separation anxiety (if he is tired, he cries when I leave the room, but can be calmed and distracted easily if another adult is there and gives him attention).

During the day DS is generally very happy, and surprisingly does not look overtired. DH and I, on the other hand, are nervous wrecks, walk into closed doors, put our phones in the fridge and blocks of cheese in our bags. Last night after DS went to bed DH and I both tried to do some work, and I promptly fell asleep sitting on the sofa with my head falling back, DH at the desk with his face in his laptop. It's comically bad; we can't go on like this.

I am considering two strategies. 1) is to give him what he wants (boob) as often as he wants it (every 90 minutes), then try transferring to the cot, and if it doesn't work let him sleep with us. 2) is to put the cot away from our bed and persevere at the "I will only feed you every 3h", hoping that it will be a few horrible nights and then it will magically get better and we will all get some sleep and DH and I can finally stop walking into furniture and spending a fortune on coffee.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

FATEdestiny Sat 25-Mar-17 10:19:36

You are your baby's source of comfort.

Nothing wrong in that, but it is the beginning and end of your "problem". It actually doesn't need to be a problem if you accept it.

Going backwards to when baby was tiny, for the benefit of background. Babies require comfort to go to sleep. They are shown to not have the emotional capacity to sleep like an adult (tired > close eyes > relax > sleep) until around school age. Until then they need the addition of feeling protected, safe, comforted.

The very basic way to provide that feeling for baby is cosleep and breastfeed. But over the hundreds of years humans have been parenting, dozens of replacements for cosleeping and breastfeeding have developed. They allow babies to feel comforted, but independantly.

Some methods to help baby feel comforted that are not cosleeping and breastfeeding include:

- dummy (the simplest independant comforter)
- swaddling a newborn
- comforter toy / blankie for older baby. These are usually bonded with around 12 months old
- movement - pushchair, bouncy chair, rocking in arms, sling.

So what's hapoened is you don't appear to have developed any independant soothing mechanisms. Baby just won't sleep without comfort (as your dh is finding with his hours spent calmly trying to sooth baby who wants comfort. He can't give the only source of comfort baby knows.

So, your best bet at introducing independant comfort will be a comforter toy / blankie / snuggler. But you're going to be realistic. It's likely to take until about 12 months to be bonded with, needs to be used consistantly as "a lovely snuggly thing" to establish that. And even then, there are no guarantees she'll take to it.

BroccoliOnTheFloor Sat 25-Mar-17 10:51:09

Thank you.

We have picked out a teddy bear from the toy chest and have been using it for sleep / naps / stroking on the face for the last 2 months. He sometimes smooshes his face in it when he sleeps, so I hope he is starting to bond. The teddy bear does not yet provide comfort when DS is upset though.

FATEdestiny Sat 25-Mar-17 11:03:14

It won't do at this age. It's a physical development thing, rather than an emotional thing.

To be able to properly comfort himself with teddy he needs skills like the pincer grip, being able pick or and put down things deliberately, be able to manipulate and turn things around in hands.

It's not usually a case of just smushing comforter in their face. In time sonethobg more sophisticated will develop. My DS used to do a scissor movement in Ted's ear between his fingers, that was his comforting mechanisms. Others use a leg or arm of the teddy to tickle their ear, or repeatedly rub teddys nose. There at many weird and wonderful things.

So generally these things start developing around 9m and become more established by about 12 months. It's good to introduce a comforter now though, you just need realistic expectations and a plan on what you are going to do for comfort until the comforter teddy is established.

LapinR0se Sat 25-Mar-17 11:07:17

He is 7 months old, definitely does not need 3 hourly feeds in the night.
The issue is that you are feeding to sleep. You've got to start putting him down awake and then he will go for much much longer stretches

BroccoliOnTheFloor Sat 25-Mar-17 12:28:40

Thank you Lapin. I agree that he doesn't need to eat every 3h at night confused But what would you actually do? I don't feed him to sleep for day naps - patting and shushing and a bunny which plays a lullaby, and he goes down very quickly and without tears. In the evening, I want to give him one last milk feed before bed, and he falls asleep eating very quickly. And at night, he is horribly upset.

So, he will fall asleep on his own if he is in the cot calm and awake, the problem is getting to "calm" at night!

Quodlibet Sat 25-Mar-17 23:53:01

We're in a similar position (8m, waking every 90mins, boob back to sleep is quickest solution) so f for advice. Some nights he will wake twice and seems to have much better quality, heavy sleep, but there is no apparent correlation to naps or food or anything else. I am clutching at the straw that it is teething related and that once he has pushed out this little crop things will settle down again?!?

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