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Feeding to sleep and can't link sleep cycles

(19 Posts)
Theducksarenotmyfriends Mon 15-May-17 20:13:09

My dd is 5months old and I've developed a terrible habit of feeding her to sleep (it seemed the best way for me to get sleep as she woke so frequently!). Trouble is I would quite like to have my evenings back but dd needs to latch on every hour or so after going to bed at the moment.Have I made a terrible mistake making breast feeding her sleep association? How do I change this or will she just grow out of it and miraculously sleep through the night one day??

I've really tried to use a dummy but she just finds it funny, plays with it then starts crying after a while! Only the genuine breast gets her back to sleep. I've been kind of ok with this, but the hourly latch on is starting to get ridiculous and I'm a bit worried she'll always only need me to sleep....

FATEdestiny Mon 15-May-17 21:27:15

I would keep going with the dummy, you clearly have a baby who likes to suck and it will allow you to get baby to be able to suck to sleep, but while in the cot.

Feeding to sleep, while not helpful if your aim is for your baby to sleep independantly, is not the cause of frequent waking.

Are you cosleeping? Baby falling asleep and then being moved can give rise to frequent wakes. If you are going to feed to slerp then doing so while co sleeping and feeding lying down is best, so baby falls asleep in the same place they stay asleep.

Other factors causing light sleeping so that baby wakes frequently are usually to do with daytime feeding and napping routines.

Lack of daytime sleep creates an over-tired cycle with restless sleep. So more frequent naps with limited awake time helps. Awake time at 5 months wants to be about 60-90 minutes.

Also lack of calories over 24 hours, causing low level persiatant hunger can cause restless sleep. So more feeds, more frequently, bigger feeds, and/or consider formula (If you are ok with that)

Theducksarenotmyfriends Mon 15-May-17 22:06:11

Thanks fate. She's a big baby and seems to feed a lot in the day but maybe I should offer it more. Don't think I'll have much success with formula as she won't take bottles!

We co sleep and I feed her lying down in her cot that's attached to our bed. It might well be over tiredness then as we don't have a consistent nap routine, they vary from 20mins to 2 hours (if in sling). I've been making sure she's not awake longer than 2 hours but maybe that's too long for her. She has a v early bedtime actually as she gets knackered and falls asleep straight away so over tiredness makes sense.

If I persevere with the dummy should I do so with both naps and bedtime (naps she sometimes feeds to sleep but usually sleeps bit longer if she's in the sling) or should I just concentrate on getting her to have good nap routine to begin with? Am just worried dummy might upset her and makr naps worse to start with. Thanks for your help!

missanony Mon 15-May-17 22:07:57

Go out and get your dp to do bed for a couple of weeks, should do the trick. Just needs to learn and it's best if your not there. Be consistent at naps too.

missanony Mon 15-May-17 22:09:00

Shhh pat would be good for you too

FATEdestiny Mon 15-May-17 22:09:52

A dummy is best used consistantly at every slerp time, if you want to use one. I've not know dummies make daytime naps worse.

Usagii Mon 15-May-17 23:09:39

I had this exact same problem with my 5mo. I persevered with a dummy for nap times and bedtime, which also helped get him onto a bottle (now exclusively pumping) so boobie sleep association has gone...

As for linking cycles the dummy really helps (annoying to replace when it falls out at this stage) but what helped even more was putting him in his cot awake but sleepy. Loud white noise. Turning him on his side, swaddled (he can't roll yet) and patting his bum/back/chest/whichever, then turning him back onto his back when asleep. There were protest cries but it doesn't last long. I had to put my foot down because I was just too exhausted to feel like I was putting dynamite down everytime... He slept like a log after that... I used to cosleep too but I found he slept longer in his cot because he was undisturbed and couldn't smell me...!

But honestly I feel your frustration. Just need to make a few slight changes and it can do the world of good. Doesn't take long for them to adapt... good luck, you need a break too flowers

Theducksarenotmyfriends Tue 16-May-17 07:43:36

Thanks everyone, it's very much appreciated! I've just fed her to sleep (I'm terrible...) But tried with dummy and cuddles for 45mins and she cried for last half hour then fell asleep in two minutes on the breast!

I do want to persevere with this but also want to make sure she gets enough day time naps so it's a bit tricky. I know as pp have said I need to be consistent. It's about me breaking the bad habit as much as her!

Theducksarenotmyfriends Tue 16-May-17 07:45:01

Also she seems to want the dummy, she'll reach and open her mouth for it, but spits it out every 2 mins, is that normal while she's learning to use it??

Usagii Tue 16-May-17 07:57:51

Ahh yeah it looks like they're spitting it out but it's just them learning how to suck it (and keep it in) haha.

Can I also suggest a website called "Little Ones" they have tonnes of info about age appropriate baby sleep and even sell feeding and sleep package guides. I've had major success with them it's brilliant and also flexible..!

FATEdestiny Tue 16-May-17 09:23:04

Babies have something called the tongue thrust reflex. It's a reflex they are born with but over time will learn to stop (being ready for weaning is dependant on the tongue thrust reflex stopping).

This is the reflex action whereby baby's tongue will push forward against any object placed in their mouth. It's to stop choking in a newborn. It's usually dropped by 6 months when baby has more control over his/her movements.

You can teach babies to overcome the tongue thrust reflux earlier though. It's necessary and will happen anyway, so don't worry. It just takes persistence. Baby won't 'just take' a dummy, it takes practice to get used to the feeling in the mouth without pushing it forward.

Babies who refuse a bottle/dummy is often because of the tongue thrust reflex. This isn't a refusal, it's just that baby needs a bit more practice to get used to not needing to use the tongue thrust reflex. Once dummy is accepted, the tongue thrust will stop.

Theducksarenotmyfriends Tue 16-May-17 10:44:01

Ah ok, that makes sense. Right I will persist with the dummy, I'll try and recreate the conditions for how I'm feeding her to sleep (on her side, cuddling and holding her flappy arm gently down!) but with the dummy to get her used to it as that might reduce the tears (I hope!). I'll get my dp to help later. She's finally having a good snooze now after screaming the place down at the doctors earlier!

Theducksarenotmyfriends Fri 19-May-17 16:47:40

So we've had some success with the dummy, she's been able to settle with it in her cot at nap and bedtimes (sometimes). Problem is her naps have gone to total shit. She naps for about 10-30 mins and is getting increasingly hard to settle. She averages about 3 hours of naps a day - that's not enough is it?

I've tried getting her to nap a few times in the sling as she sometimes would do 2 hours in that, but it's not working at all!

She's still waking hourly. I feel like I'm going crazy. I'm really trying to get her down for a nap at the first whiff of a sleepy sign, trying to go no longer than 90mins. She really fights every nap.

Maybe I should forget about settling with the dummy and just concentrate on her naps whatever way I can get her to settle? Hopefully this phase will pass soon....

FATEdestiny Fri 19-May-17 17:36:05

Linking sleep cycles is developmental. If she isn't ready, she isnt ready. It's like learning to walk. While you can do things that encourage baby to learn to walk, it is impossible to make a baby earlier than they are developmentally ready.

Same with this aspect of sleep. Short naps is a developmental phase. There are lots you can do to encourage linking sleep cycles for naps, but it's just not going to happen until baby is ready.

5 months is on the young side to be expecting this. A comparison would be being disappointed that baby isn't walking at 10 months. A few are, but most aren't at that age.

So instead of fighting against short naps, just accept them and make sure baby gets enough sleep by shortening awake time betwebetween naps, so naps are more frequent. For 30 minute naps, awake time of 60 minutes would be ideal. It might stretch to 90 minutes occassionally, but this would be the max.

Where is she having naps? Naps in somthing that moves is an easier way to encourage longer naps. The movement is soothing. Try naps in a bouncy chair and do some perpetual foot bouncing while baby sleeps.

Personally I'd keep the dummy. Short term pain for long term gain. Dummies are AMAZING things for independant sleep.

Theducksarenotmyfriends Fri 19-May-17 21:22:11

Ok thanks. I do know logically that she is so young and this is all developmental (and she's prob going through the 4 month sleep regression just a little later). Think I'm just struggling with the hourly wake ups at night and the fact we've just moved hundreds of miles away from my family and friends so just feeling a bit overwhelmed and isolated!

But you're right. I was doing just fine but then all of a sudden it's like I'm expecting too much of her and getting stressed! Ridiculous. I will persevere with the dummy. She naps in her cot or the sling (she hates the pram!). She did nap in the bouncy chair once by pure fluke so might be worth trying that again (if I can turf the cat out of it, she's kind of taken a fancy to it recently!).

Had a good sleep deprived sob to dp and feel much better and patient now. We will get through this!

MrsPandaBear Fri 19-May-17 21:42:30

We had success teaching my son to nap in the pushchair. We walked until he was asleep and then stopped, when he started stirring you can walk again. We found once he got in a routine less and less pushing was needed, and we stopped needing to resettle him part way through a nap. Will your dd nap in the pushchair?

We also found that at about 5 months when my son started rolling lots his sleep regressed completely for about a month because at the light sleep phase between sleep cycles he kept rolling and waking himself up. Is your dd going through a stage like that?

Theducksarenotmyfriends Sat 01-Jul-17 19:45:40

Sorry for bumping an old thread but I just wanted to update in case anyone else had a similar issue and found this thread.

So I persevered with putting the dummy in her be honest it didn't really work that well. Well, it didn't work in the expected way anyway. What I've found is she likes to hold the dummy in her hand, strum it against the bars of her cot (kind of like a prisoner with a tin cup!) and this seems to comfort her and she falls asleep. I discovered it because someone recommended putting the dummy in her hand each time rather than in her mouth so she could get used to the idea of putting in her own mouth herself.

Anyway, what did work was just backing off and allowing her the space/time to settle herself and to discover the dummy rattling trick herself. She cried a few times, just for a minute or so, and I would reassure verbally and with a hand on her tummy. If she got really upset I'd pick her up, feed her just to calm her down, and put her back down awake and try again. I also made sure every nap and bedtime had a consistent routine and was always in her cot at (roughly) the same times each day. I can now put her in her cot and, maybe with the odd grumble, she usually just goes straight to sleep.

She still wakes frequently at night (though not hourly, thank god!) and I admit I'm still feeding to sleep in the wee small hours but we're working on it and about to move her into her own room, which I think will make a big difference as I think my presence is waking her up.

Bella1985 Mon 03-Jul-17 14:58:12

Thanks for updating. We have a similar problem and I'm calmly waiting for him to be ready to sleep well! He's 6months and 1 week and is waking every 30min-hour every night. He's big and hungry but I don't think it's a calories thing because I have been feeding him whenever he asks for it and he's jumped from 75th to 91st percentile. It is comfort that he needs as he's struggling with all these new skills he's trying to learn. But it's always good to hear that others who were in a similar position are now having a little more sleep!

vgiraffe Thu 06-Jul-17 21:56:53

Thanks for the update. Honestly, I could have written your post myself! DD is coming up for 5mo but has been like this since 3mo sad have had a few good nights recently, possibly a growth spurt but also possibly because she's started to roll on her front to sleep. However because of the rolling, we've put the side back on her cot and now feeding to sleep and then putting in cot - usually she then wakes up and cries - and repeat... Probably need to try leaving her to settle herself but she seems to either lie there wide awake or gets upset very quickly. Any ideas??

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