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6.5mo sleep issues & 2 months of travel coming up- where on earth would you start?!

(7 Posts)
Latinatta Sat 10-Jun-17 23:02:47

6.5mo DD is EBF and eating 1 (small but growing) solid meal a day. This is pithiest summary of our situation I can think of:

- She slept 12 hours straight from 0-4 months; miracle! I fed her to sleep and off she went.
- I did not give her a dummy and she has refused subsequent attempts to give her one but I haven't tried systematically
- The miracle nights stopped at 4months, coinciding with us travelling for the following 2 months and sleeping in different places every 3-4 days, and she now wakes 3-4 times per night on average, sometimes more.
- She now sleeps about 11 hours at night, is fed to sleep for bedtime and subsequent wakings, and has roughly 3 x 30 minute naps per day which are in the sling/pushchair/on the boob.
- Her naps are clearly too short and I haven't taught her to self-settle for any sleep. I'm happy to do the night wakings but would really like to teach her to nap on her own during the day in order to try and get to a position where these naps can be extended. Also to be able to get something done in the day! I'll be going back to work when she is 12mo and would like her to be in a good napping routine which my MIL can take over as she will be looking after her.

My big problem is that we are at home for the next 3 weeks and then will have another period of 2months of travel (we live overseas and are going back to the UK to see family, will again be sleeping in lots of different places). However, DH will be around and can be deployed to help.

We have a travel cot with a mattress at floor level, use a Sleepyhead (although she is very tall and will outgrow it before too long) and I am happy to co-sleep, although this won't always be safe to do depending on the beds we end up in over the summer!

Today I read some of the Baby Whisperer book which a friend lent me and it make me feel like a rubbish, irresponsible, cruel mother for not managing at least one 1.5-2 hour nap a day! EASY sounds like a good idea but realistically it won't work for us in the coming months- our routine will be erratic until she is 10mo at least, although I can obviously plan as much stability as possible within that, e.g. trying to do a daily nap at the same time in a darkened room, use the same music, story, sleeping bag etc.

Our routine currently looks like this:

Breastfeeding on demand/no fixed schedule
0500-0600: Wake up. DH might pop her in the sling at 0700 for 30-45 minutes (so clearly there's room to work on her staying in bed later as she is tired)
0900: First nap, c. 30 minutes (might be as late as 1000), generally in the stroller
Second nap between 1130 and 1230, 30 minutes- sometimes 1 hour
Lunch on wake-up
1500: Third 30 minute nap
1700: Start calm time- sing songs, bath time every other day, put on the same lullaby every night, read the same two pre-bed books, get into sleeping bag, feed to sleep, put in Sleepyhead
Generally asleep by 1830-1900. Dream feed at 2200-2300 when I come to bed, will go through to 0200, then wake every 1-2 hours.

Given our 'bad' sleep association habits, the lack of dummy, the 3 weeks we have now in a stable environment but also the coming unpredictable few months, the use of the Sleepyhead/travel cot but not a co-sleeping cot whilst we are on the move, where on earth would you focus your efforts?! I was thinking about using the afternoon nap to have a proper naptime routine and really focus on getting her to self-settle in the Sleepyhead. Probably trying to bring it more to 1400/1430 as it sometimes slips to 1530/1600 which is probably too late given bed time. So, instead of current feeding to sleep/putting her in the sling, stroller, I would follow a strict routine of dark room, lullaby, book, sleeping bag, feed, attempt to put down and soothe (shhh and hand on forehead sometimes send her off to sleep is she is wavering). Should that be my focus for the next 3 weeks, and should I try PU/PD for that nap, try introducing a dummy (?!). I'd much rather not do CC/CIO, but ultimately I want her to get the rest she needs. Or should I focus on something else? Ideally when we are travelling if there is one moment in the day to give her an independent nap I would like to be able to do this.

The challenge with the travel cot is that I won't actually be able to touch her to reassure her without some very creative gymnastics if I try putting her down drowsy but not asleep. The Sleepyhead can be put inside the travel cot once she is asleep, of course, but her legs are already hanging off the end! But I can use it on a firm mattress for day naps plus a monitor.

Advice gratefully received!

Landy10 Sun 11-Jun-17 10:41:52

Hi Latin,
I've recently employed a sleep trainer to help sort my 7 month olds terrible sleeping. We had short lunchtime naps and she told me a technique I'd previously read about but thought "no way does that work".
He had been taking naps in the pram and sleeping 30-35 minutes. She said get him in the cot and he should sleep around 40-45 minutes in one sleep cycle then I go in after about 38 minutes and put my had on him firmly (he sleeps on front so I put hand on back) and ensure his dummy is still in his mouth. This allowed him to transfer into sleep cycle 2, she said do until he has slept 4 consecutive days into the second sleep cycle and then on day 5 don't go in and hopefully he will stay asleep into sleep cycle 2. I so did not believe her. I still did the holding on day 5 but on day 6 my daughter (his twin) woke and I had to deal with her so he got left and amazingly he stayed asleep! It's been about 5 days since and he still has slept for 1.5 hours at lunch. I need to try it again for getting to over 2 hours but I'm letting this 1.5 hour settle before trying to extend into sleep cycle 3.
Maybe it would work for you maybe not!
Oh also get a black out blind for your travels!

LapinR0se Sun 11-Jun-17 10:48:28

You need to stop feeding to sleep. That is your biggest issue. If you have the funds I would hire a sleep consultant as it is a very hard habit to break

Latinatta Sun 11-Jun-17 12:14:33

LapinR0se- do you have anyone you would particularly recommend? We might consider this but would be wary of going with someone I found using only Google!

Landy thanks for the tip- how did you transition from pram to nap cots? The sleep cycle transition thing is clearly key and good to hear it worked for you. DD doesn't take a dummy but I might have a go at Wake to Sleep once she is sleeping on her in the daytime and reaches the 20/25 minute point... I guess as she sleeps on her back I would try a hand on her chest to rouse and then resettle?

LapinR0se Sun 11-Jun-17 12:21:08

Yes I will send you a PM

FATEdestiny Sun 11-Jun-17 14:19:31

If you are travelling, would you not prefer the flexibility of pushchair naps?

For naps are great, but you do become a slave to the routine with cot naps. It means you can only ever do a half-day activity because of the need to be home for naptime.

If you were not travelling, I'd certainly suggest cot naps. But given the upcoming 2 months, I think pushchair naps are much more flexible.

Pushchair naps can also help break the feed to sleep association, allowing for movement instead. The movement can also help you extend the nap into a second sleep cycle.

Latinatta Sun 11-Jun-17 23:04:32

Thanks Fate. I think cot naps should be feasible (at least one good one a day) as we are moving around but can structure the day around DD to some extent. Also for the first 3 weeks we will only have a non-reclining stroller until we borrow a reclining pushchair.

Fate what are your top tips for transitioning to cot naps for people like me who have never done them?! Without a dummy I accept some crying will probably be necessary...

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