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5 month old - not a fan of going to sleep

(8 Posts)
BalancingStick Thu 11-May-17 15:25:32

DD is 5 mo. She has always been a bad sleeper. She would only sleep on me for the first 3 months and even when awake would not let me put her down ever. My stretchy wrap was a godsend – she lived in it for 3 months straight. We have moved on from this in that she will now sleep in the crib or the pram but my god it is a struggle to actually get her to sleep. I put her down awake and within seconds she is screaming, nothing consoles her (other than picking her back up) and she just gets more and more furious. She can scream for hours. When she is tired enough and this can sometimes be 20 mins after putting her down or it can be hours then I have to stroke the bridge of her nose which will send her off. Plus I have to have white noise as loud as my phone will go. I have to do this every single nap time and night time and it is wearing me down. I dread reaching nap time if we are out with the pram as I know that getting her to sleep will involve approx. 30 mins of her screaming her head off (and the judgemental stares of everyone around me) before she will actually go to sleep. Also she prefers the pram to be still when she is trying to get to sleep – movement hinders her ability to go to sleep. I can move the pram once she is asleep but it has to be smooth pavement only. Someone dropping a pin two streets away can wake her up. We were using a dummy but it wasn’t helping her sleep (it did soothe her fractionally but didn’t help her get to sleep) and meant that me and DH were having to pop it back in 20-40 times every night so we ditched it. Our sleep has improved since we ditched the dummy but it is still far from ideal.

This is an outline of our day:

7.30/8am – wake up and feed
10am – nap for 1-2 hours (this is the easiest nap to get her to take – normally takes 20 mins approx. to get her off)
12 – feed
2pm – nap for about an hour (can take up to an hour to get her to sleep)
3/4pm feed
5pm – very very tired, eye rubbing etc. but won’t sleep (this is mainly because I have a DS as well and this time of the evening I will be preparing his dinner, bath time and bed etc. so don’t have the time to dedicate to getting her to sleep. More about DS in a bit). Ideally I’d like her to have a cat nap at this time – just 30/45mins to get her through to bed time.
6pm – feed
7/7.30pm – bottle of formula (my milk supply is v low in the evening )
7.30pm – bed time (can take up to 2 hours to get her to sleep) – she will also wake 2/3 times between now and the next feed and will need to be coaxed back to sleep
11pm-midnight – wakes for a feed (will go back to sleep reasonably easily)
3-5am – wakes for a feed (absolute nightmare in getting back to sleep – she comes into bed with me and screams for an hour or so before conking out)

DS is 22 mo. He has always been a fantastic sleeper, slept through the night 7.30pm-7.30am from 4 months old. He still does 12-13 hours at night and 2-3 hours nap in the afternoon. You tell him it is bedtime, he does a cheery wave goodbye and takes himself upstairs! From about 4 months all I’ve had to do is pop him in his cot, say good night and I can just walk away. Within minutes he’ll be fast asleep and he sleeps so deeply – nothing wakes him. So I’m not sure if my expectations are too high?! I don't expect her to replicate this but surely what we are doing at the moment isn't usual? I’m just despondent with how much time I spend every day trying to get DD to sleep and listen to her scream – it is exhausting and miserable for both of us. Help!

teaandbiscuitsforme Thu 11-May-17 16:21:04

More daytime naps? My DS is probably a couple of weeks younger but today he's slept:

8:30-9:30 Car
11:30-12:00 Sling
1:30-3:30 Bed
4:45- Still asleep on my knee

He wakes up a few times per night but having had DD (now 2), my expectations are very low on the sleeping through the night front! grin

BalancingStick Thu 11-May-17 20:04:03

I'm not sure I could fit any more naps in! By the time she has eaten, nappy change and screamed about one nap it already seems to be time for the nest one. I'll give it a try though... tbf I'll try anything!

FATEdestiny Thu 11-May-17 21:27:39

I think the problem is that you are not doing anything to help her feel comforted and relaxed to get to sleep.

You use white noise. But white noise in itself isn't a comfort for getting baby to sleep. It's purpose is to drown out background noise to help a light sleeper to not be woken easily.

And stroking her nose evidently isn't actually helping, since she still screams for a long time before going to sleep. So it's more or less ineffective.

You seem to have completely discounted the two basic sources of independant sleep comfort - movement and dummy. I'm dubious as to why, since what you are doing is definitely no better and is teaching nothing.

The current way of things is that baby screams until exhausted, drops into a restful sleep when she simply cannot stay awake any longer and then wakes easily because the sleep is not restful. Thus perpetuating the cycle of baby being sleep deprived and exhausted.

So if you have discounted the tools of independant sleep, your only realistic alternates are to embrace attachment parenting - cosleeping, feeding to sleep and naps in your arms.

You need to find ways to actively help baby learn to be calm and relax. Just lying baby down and hoping that she will 'just learn' is unlikely to happen. She's going to need you to be proactive about it.

With a toddler, a bouncy chair on tge living room for naps will be your friend. And a dummy, I would suggest. Follow a simple cycle of

- wake
(make a mental note of the time)

- feed
(offer a bigger bottle than baby will drink)

- Floor time
(Watch the clock, stop after 1h from waking)

- top up feed
(Offer what is left in the bottle)

- Settling to sleep
(Into bouncy chair with dummy, chair in front of you as you sit on sofa, feet on bouncer frame, gentle rhythmic bouncing. Relentlessly until asleep)

- sleep

Wake and repeat over and over and over again.

teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 12-May-17 06:26:42

I know it's really hard to fit naps in with a toddler as well (DD is only just 2 so not much older than yours) but I've found the only way I can do it is to fit it into her routine. So yesterday:

Playgroup from 9:15 so we were in the car and DS slept in his seat and moved into the playgroup asleep.
Nap in sling at home whilst I hung the washing out and made lunch
Nap in bed whilst DD had her nap
Nap on my knee whilst DD played and watched CBeebies.

We haven't got any groups today for DD so I'll probably go for a nap on my knee whilst she plays, then a trip to the park and shop so he'll nap in the car on the way back, then the nap in bed whilst DD sleeps and then either a nap on my knee or in the sling/pram depending on what we're doing later this afternoon.

HomityBabbityPie Fri 12-May-17 06:30:17

I'd say you're putting her down too late. You want to get them before they show tired signs. At that age I don't think my DS could manage more than 1.5 hrs awake time at the absolute max.

BalancingStick Fri 12-May-17 11:52:11

Thanks all. You've made me realise that 1) I'm expecting too much and 2) I need to be more proactive.

Bobbity - I think you may be right and that I'm wAiting too long. I need to try and get her to sleep sooner.

Incidentally sh took a nice nap this morning in the sling with minimal fuss so maybe I'll go back to using the sling more often.

Thanks all smile

Nan0second Fri 12-May-17 11:57:13

Is there any chance she has cows milk protein allergy or reflux?
Agree with the advice above.
We were still on 3 sling naps a day at 5 months and nothing else worked. Gradually that swapped to being able to use the pushchair instead though (even in the house!) initially with movement then still as long as she wasn't over tired.
Cuddles / stroking etc never helped my refluxy / allergicy baby. It was too much stimulation (as was the bouncy chair unfortunately). Holding her tight upright in the dark was the only way. Dummy did help as it reduced the reflux (plus medication)

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