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18 month old won't sleep or nap!

(27 Posts)
TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 05:56:56

Hi all,

I think this is a kind of sleep regression so it might just be a case of me needing to suck it up and get on with it, but I'm so tired that I'm in tears frequently sad

So DS was pretty good with naps and bedtime routine. He was doing 1-2 naps a day with ease and then bedtime was around 7:30pm. Then a couple of weeks ago, he stopped going to sleep for bedtime and we would be dealing with tears and fighting sleep til 10pm. So we resorted to driving or buggy walks which had about a 70% success rate of getting him to sleep and staying asleep as we did the transfer to his cot.

So bedtime has suddenly gotten easier, however naps in the daytime are a massive battle and he won't sleep in his cot - just in the car whilst the engine is on. If the engine turns off, he's awake. Sometimes if we park up and leave the engine running he just wakes up then, too. So his daytime naps are only 1hr max (although we managed 2hrs the other day after 2hrs of fighting).

With his refusal to nap, he also has decided 5am is the best time to wake up. The room is blacked out, so it's not the sun that's waking him. Sometimes he tries to go back to sleep but he just wriggles about so much and bangs his head into the cot sides.

He is still bf and we co sleep (we tried not co sleeping but it sent my anxiety sky rocketing as I'd have to move him into his cot after he'd fall asleep and risk him waking which happened a few times!).

We have the same bedtime routine we've always had and he still feeds in the night which had gone down to 1-2 feeds but is back up to almost hourly.

I'm exhausted, tearful and at my wits end. Do I just have to weather this or am I missing something blatantly obvious?

Cupcakegirl13 Mon 29-May-17 06:15:18

As hard as it is you probably need to choose a bedtime routine and stick to it, and don't involve buggies or cars as he may becoming reliant on them to get to sleep. At his age one daytime nap should be fine in the middle of the day for a couple of hours. The trick is to be consistent even when it's hard and you're knackered which is easier said then done when you're desperate I know , but a few hard days establishing a Routine will be much better all round than chopping and changing. Hopefully he will get into it and start sleeping better , the early wakings and not napping sound like over tiredness to me. It's not Easy but good luck and stick to your guns

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 07:14:21

I do try and keep him awake on some of our journeys as I'd like him to sleep when he gets home, as his cot naps are better. But he just won't nap at home. The other day was successful because he was so exhausted from crying for 2 hours. I can't do that every time.

As for bedtime, his routine has always been great. We resorted to the car as it was either that or my sanity. Thankfully that seems to be over, however now he just won't sleep past 5am.

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 07:14:58

And the whole no napping thing obviously is a huge issue. He just won't nap unless he's in the car or buggy and on the move!

InsaneDame Mon 29-May-17 09:21:44

Take him for a walk in the buggie then park him up somewhere cool? Or does he wake when the buggie stops moving? With my eldest from about 16mths we used to drive around with him until he dropped off then would transfer him to his cot where he would sleep a couple of hours.

FATEdestiny Mon 29-May-17 09:56:12

Could you cosleep for a nap?

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 10:26:05

We cosleep for naps too. It's my only chance to catch up on the lost sleep.
Sometimes he wakes when the buggy stops moving. The other day, I got him to sleep in the buggy and then parked him somewhere quiet and he woke up after 10mins and wouldn't go back to sleep :-/ sadly the transferring doesn't work either - he just wakes up and is done sleeping!

FATEdestiny Mon 29-May-17 10:49:15

As for bedtime, his routine has always been great

What was/is your routine at bedtime?

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 15:26:04

So we would do dinner around 5ish, then tidy up time, then upstairs for a bath, sing song, teeth, stories, feed and before, he would fall asleep feeding and sometimes even whilst I was reading to him. So asleep around 6:30ish, sometimes later depending on what time he woke up from his nap.
Before it all went to shit, he would nap 11-1, but now I'm lucky if he does 30mins or (like this morning) he cried for 2 hours before he eventually passed out for 2 hours again sad

FATEdestiny Mon 29-May-17 16:58:06

I meant the bit that gets him to sleep. So he is (was) feeding to sleep?

Do you feed to sleep lying on your bed and then leave baby there? Or go to bed yourself and cuddle up?

This issue will be centred around baby no longer wanting to feed to sleep, but having no alternate way to get to sleep established. So it will be solved by teaching baby a new way to be comforted to get to sleep.

Transferring baby whilst asleep isn't a great way for encouraging good sleep habits.

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 17:39:22

Oh sorry. Well he used to feed to sleep but that stopped a long time ago. He used to get quite frustrated feeding and so I started giving him a dummy and he'd roll over and fall asleep.
So he doesn't feed to sleep anymore but he does feed back to sleep in the night. Although a couple of times that hasn't worked and we've had a 2-3hr party confused

Also I've had nights away where I've been working and he has gone to sleep for his Dad no trouble at all. Then it all changed and I think it was due to the fact I was back working more and it was this big change that sparked the initial crazy bedtime horrendous stressy madness!

I've been reading a gentle sleep book and everything that's said in there, we've been doing. The biggest difference is that DS isn't getting the required amount of sleep as recommended and it's not for lack of trying sad

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 17:40:20

Oh... and he's in our bed - well the cot is butted up to our bed with the side down so I stay next to him til he falls asleep and I nap with him (when he napped).

FATEdestiny Mon 29-May-17 17:58:09

So at bedtime - what actually happens to get baby to sleep?

Breastfeed to drowsy?
No breastfeed at sleep time at all?
Go to sleep on your bed?
Go to sleep in sidecar cot?
Do you stay with baby as he goes to sleep?
Do you just give dummy and leave?

You said above that "...and before, he would fall asleep feeding". How long ago did you stop feeding to sleep for bedtime/nap time? Is this when it all went shit?

As you mention, a large chunk of your problem may be current over tiredness since he isn't getting enough sleep. It's hard to seperate what are long term issues and what are only temporary while he's in an over tired cycle and will resolve themself when he's sleeping better.

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 18:13:43

So when I say a long time, I mean maybe close to 8 months he's not been feeding to sleep. So I breastfeed him til he's just constantly wanting to switch sides and then pop the dummy in and usually he rolls over and dozes off. But then he stopped doing that and just became mr fidget and anything but sleep was more interesting. Then bedtimes lasted about an hour and he wouldn't go to sleep until about 9:30pm.

Then we dropped his afternoon nap and things became easier but I noticed his sleep quality was better if he had two naps - but then we would surrender the easy bedtime for over an hour of constant fidgeting and some tears.

On his one nap days, he started to fight sleep and would scream and cry and that's when we resorted to car journeys. Which was around the same time i was working more regularly (daytime into evening work so not around for bedtime).

But regardless of what he did, we would stay with him (either myself when I was on my own or DH would take over when I was too exhausted to push through the madness) until he was asleep. Sometimes that required another feed before the final sleep surrender by him.
Sometimes when I'm on my own I have to walk away and take 5 mins to calm down as his screaming and fighting really takes its toll.

Once he is asleep, we leave as we have the evening (or what's left of it). Sometimes we go to bed shortly after depending on how exhausted we are. But he's asleep in the sidecar cot alone for a few hours before we join him. Once he's asleep, he's asleep (touch wood!).

FATEdestiny Mon 29-May-17 18:45:22

How would you feel about night weaning?

I think it might be time to completely seperate feeding and sleeping. I know you do this sometimes, but it's not done consistantly and not at all for night wakes.

Feeding just before bedtime (feeding until messing on the breast then giving dummy) still links bedtime and sleep time. I would move bedtime milk to downstairs, before bath and everything. Or indeed drop bedtime milk completely and just have no feed at bedtime.

Then do all of the settling in the cot, with the dummy. Bedtime, all wake ups and every naptime. At the moment baby seems to be reacting to lack of consistency with naps. No doubt this will be hard and there will be lots of crying and not enough sleep initially. But it is solvable.

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 20:31:44

I've attempted to night wean before but found that it was left to me (we were trying the Dr Jay Gordon method) and I really struggled to work out what the time was and what I should be doing...
Do you have any tips for night weaning? Is it a case of me not feeding at all or is that a bit cruel?

CobsAhoy Mon 29-May-17 20:36:17

I night weened at this age because of similar issues to you, it has made a massive difference to night wakings - we still cosleep but before I nightweened DD had started waking every hour or so and feeding back to sleep stopped working. Getting her to sleep at the start of the night now is variable (between 10mins to 60mins depending on how well I've timed bedtime!), but she now pretty much sleeps through (apart from if teething/ill etc). It also really helped with naps, I feed her downstairs till she's drowsy then take her upstairs and she now resettles herself rather than me needing to resettle her with a feed.

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 21:01:43

Wow, Cobs, that sounds amazing.
How did you night wean?

pikapoo Mon 29-May-17 21:35:30

Is it a case of me not feeding at all or is that a bit cruel?

OP, at 18 months it seems unlikely that your DS would be waking at night for genuine hunger or nutrition.

It is arguably more cruel to feed to sleep out of habit/convenience when that sleep association is playing serious havoc with his overall sleep health.

Imho there is nothing "cruel" about night weaning even if you completely stopped offering to BF at night from the get-go - provided you also help your DS to learn to settle and fall asleep when he does wake. And that's why FATE's advice about breaking the feed to sleep association is key.

You sound at the end of your tether, and the advice to night wean might sound like tough advice, but hopefully it will make all the difference to DS' sleep and your own. Good luck! flowers

CobsAhoy Mon 29-May-17 21:42:23

DD had just got into books, so one night I just said "no milk, books instead", she wasn't talking st the so I was dubious about her understanding but thought I'd say it anyway. That night I read, sang and rocked her to sleep, think it took about an hour. She was pissed off- sort of shouting/crying for about fifteen minutes, but no tears and I was rocking and singing to her at the time. That night she woke twice in the night, it took about 10 mins of rocking and singing to get her back down, again no tears but some frustrated shouting/crying type of noises. Repeated it for the nap the next day and voila! Second night she slept through! Now she might wake once or twice if she's teething, but rather than literally sleeping with my boob in her mouth, I just put a hand on her and shhhhh her and she goes straight back to sleep.

After the first night she never even tried rooting around for milk at bedtime/naptime. it was a lot easier than i thought. I'm not saying it's a miracle, she will still stir about 2hrs after going to bed and need resettling sometimes, but again it's a 5min thing rather than me then being stuck with her for ages trying to feed her back to sleep. And as soon as we take her into bed with us she then sleeps until about 6.am.

I've breastfed and coslept pretty much since day one and DD was a milk monster, so was really prepared for this to be a nightmare. I still breast feed in the day when I'm not at work and before bed (but downstairs!) every night.

CobsAhoy Mon 29-May-17 21:43:20

Wasn't talking at the time*

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 21:50:57

Pika - I mean the cruelness is that obviously I've been just giving him boob whenever he asks and then I just suddenly take it away with no warning.

But perhaps like Cobs has said - explaining it to him will help.
DH is working away loads this week - I'm not sure if I can bear doing this on my own with the potential lack of sleep hanging over me the next day... or is it just I need to just buck up and get on with it the sooner the better?
Cobs - your experience is giving me hope! Did you stop co sleeping?
DS barely feeds in the daytime now so I guess this would be the end of our BF journey... sniff!

CobsAhoy Mon 29-May-17 21:50:58

Just to clarify - she still needs me to get to sleep initially, sometimes she can just lie next to me and drop off, sometimes I have to rock her for a bit first. Also if she wasn't cosleeping I imagine she would be waking a lot in the night! I know for some people thats still too much sleep-dependence but for me it's a massive improvement, I don't mind doing it and i am able to do it (not got other kids etc).

CobsAhoy Mon 29-May-17 21:54:34

Sorry just x-post, no atill cosleeping which is actually pretty enjoyable now she isn't attached to me for the whole night!

I would wait and so it in a planned way so you are mentally ready for it, if that means having your partner around then wait for that moment. And also what helped me was the thought that I was doing it for DD, is become so adjusted to shit sleep I was ok with being a martyr! But it felt as if it was suddenly more of a hinderemce than a help for DD, she was waking for it but it wasn't getting her back to sleep, so we couldn't continue.

TipsyGiraffe Mon 29-May-17 22:01:22

Ah good, am pleased to read you're still co sleeping but not BFing as I worry that being next to him will just make him want boob as I'm there (like me and chocolate in the house haha). Our current living situation means not co sleeping isn't really an option.

I still don't know how to get him to nap in his cot in the daytime sad
Maybe just have to try all the old tricks again... rocking etc as feeding isn't an option anymore although it's kinda nice to feed him if we've had a lot of screaming - like a moment we can reconnect a bit. But a cuddle would be sufficient as sometimes I feel so exhausted that I can't bear the thought of feeding him 😩

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