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6 month old sleep trouble

(16 Posts)
Caliph1 Mon 04-Dec-17 23:55:14

Hi all,

I'm a dad and signed up to mumsnet because I really need some advice! I don't know what else to do!

My daughter is 6 months old, healthy and developing normally (as far as I am aware) and exclusively breastfed. She has never been a great sleeper but has recently been waking approximately every hour during the night. When she wakes, she screams hysterically. It's a really loud, ear-piercing shriek, which can last up to around 30 minutes, where she seems extremely distressed, eyes streaming, and at times gasping for breath. After comforting (usually rocking by me!) she falls back to sleep, goes back down in her crib, and the process repeats, roughly every hour, until 2am when I take her upstairs to my wife who does the same until morning (although she often feeds instead of rocks). This has been going on for around 2 weeks now and me and my wife are both deprived of sleep. During the daytime, baby is happy and seemingly healthy. We are aware that we have created poor sleep associations (rocking, feeding to sleep) but we are first time parents and a bit lost!

It's got to the point - as I mentioned - that me and my wife have to take shifts. I do 8pm (bedtime) until 2am and my wife does 2am until morning. (I don't start work until 9am but need a good 6 hours as my job involves lots of driving!) My daughter cannot self-soothe and my wife struggles to get her to nap in the day - she has maybe two or three 30min stints.

What I want to ask is: does that sort of cry sound normal? Or is it cause for concern? And also - we aren't fans of controlled crying, so what else could we do!?

Hope someone can help - or at least offer some reassurance! Thanks!

LapinR0se Tue 05-Dec-17 05:52:38

She is waking up at the end of every sleep cycle hysterical because she fell asleep being rocked in your arms and suddenly she is stationary on her back.
You have two ways of dealing with this:
Either co sleep with her so she has constant presence
Get her to calm in your arms but fall asleep stationary on her back
Which way you choose depends on your parenting style

FATEdestiny Tue 05-Dec-17 10:52:35

What's baby's sleep like in the daytime Caliph1? Roughly when and how often does she sleep?

Those cries are most likely "I am exhausted and doing want to be awake" cries.

FATEdestiny Tue 05-Dec-17 10:52:59


crazycatlady5 Tue 05-Dec-17 19:25:06

Why are you not feeding upon first wake up? There is a HUGE growth spurt at 6 months and she will be waking for extra milk. This happened with us and passed after a couple of weeks until the next regression/spurt

riddles26 Thu 07-Dec-17 10:41:08

crazycatlady What makes you so certain that she will be waking for extra milk. From 5.5 months until 7.5 months, my daughter consistently slept 7pm-4/5am, had a feed and then didn't feed again until 7.30am. She was also ebf and skipped from 25th-75th centile during this time so multiple night feeds are not essential for all. Each child is different and it sounds much more like OPs child isn't linking sleep cycles yet and is wanting to be rocked back to sleep between each one

crazycatlady5 Thu 07-Dec-17 14:46:21

Purely because if she’s waking crying hysterically and only lasts an hour each time I’d definitely assume she’s hungry. Worth ruling out at least anyway right? There’s a huge spurt at 6 months so they tend to feed a lot more smile

rabbitsdontlayeggs Thu 07-Dec-17 15:04:23

Ok, I would stop with the 'we've created bad habits' thought process. You've done nothing 'wrong' Your baby is just six months old. They cannot manipulate you at that age or deliberately play up - they are still very instinct led and they don't have the mental capacity to do so. She's crying because she needs something from you - food, cleaning, comfort. Comfort is a real need, not a want at that age.

Six months is a big growth spurt age so I would be feeding as much as she needs. If she wakes and cries - boob. Done, you all get back to sleep. It will pass!

Also do you have The Wonder Weeks app? If not have a look, it shows when babies are going through mental development leaps. I seem to remember there's a big one around 4 months then again at 6. When they are in these leaps, you can expect sleep like this, cranky behaviour, fussy feeding, all sorts.

If it suits your family, safe co- sleeping could help.

My DD would only be rocked to sleep until she was 9/10 months and was a frequent night waker until about 12 months. She grew out of it. As long as they are fed, clean, the right temperature then sometimes there's no obvious reason for it. People often forget as I said before that comfort is a need - sometimes they just need to know that you are there, exhausting as it is.

rabbitsdontlayeggs Thu 07-Dec-17 15:06:15

Also - forgot to say - at six months has she got teeth brewing? We always had awful sleep when we had one coming for a good week or two before it appeared even if DD was happy in the day.

crazycatlady5 Thu 07-Dec-17 15:12:05

ture then sometimes there's no obvious reason for it. People often forget as I said before that comfort is a need

Couldn’t agree more. Comfort literally helps their little brains grow! Although we wish it was not at 4am grin but it’s still a need and will pass.

wintertravel1980 Thu 07-Dec-17 21:20:28

Purely because if she’s waking crying hysterically and only lasts an hour each time I’d definitely assume she’s hungry.

I am with FATE and others and would also assume the baby is very, very tired and desperately wants to go back to sleep but can't do it on her own.

When a healthy 6 month old baby is hungry, they are very likely to start stirring and moaning in their sleep before they wake up completely. High pitched cries usually mean the baby woke up unexpectedly and unless he/she is in pain/was woken up by noise, the most likely reason is over tiredness and inability to connect sleep cycles.

I personally would not feed to sleep and would go for something like a pick up/put down method (it is supposed to work best between 4 and 6-7 months ) but it is just my choice. Co-sleeping/attachment parenting is another option but it may take a long time for the baby to learn to sleep on her own (although you may get lucky - it is a bit of a lottery).

crazycatlady5 Thu 07-Dec-17 23:42:01

Co-sleeping/attachment parenting is another option but it may take a long time for the baby to learn to sleep on her own (although you may get lucky - it is a bit of a lottery).

Took one of my friends 10 months, took another friend a year and a final friend 18 months. There’s a lot of scaremongering about 2/3/4 year olds still being in your bed - some are, some are not. Totally depends on the temperament of the child.

Caliph1 Fri 08-Dec-17 00:32:43

Thank you so much, everyone, for your comments. They're all very much appreciated!

I do think she is exhausted and wants to sleep as she struggles to nap during the day (on a good day, she will do two, one-hour naps). Interestingly, we opted for a pick-up/put-down method as suggested by wintertravel1980. Already I seem to notice a difference! I did the following - pick up, comfort, rock, then when asleep, count slowly down from 60 then place back down. I had to repeat this a few times (a lot!), but the past couple of nights she has slept from 8pm until 4/5am! Then she had a feed (similar to what Riddles26 said about her daughter) then slept again until 8/8:30am.

I do also believe she may be struggling with teething and that hasn't helped... thanks rabbits! - and thanks for the reassurance about 'bad sleep habits'; I always feel guilty for that.

I'm not getting my hopes up (maybe the past couple of nights have been a fluke!) but will persevere and see how we get on. At least we managed to get some much needed sleep!

I do also share the view that comfort is a real need at this age. I work with young people and recently attended some training through CAMHS. The practitioner said that there was no evidence to support controlled crying at this age, as comfort is as much a need now as hunger etc. (not saying it's wrong, just relaying what I was taught!)

Co-sleeping is also definitely an option for us, but my wife really struggles with fatigue so sleep is so important for her well-being (and therefore baby's!)

Thanks all. This has been really helpful and reassuring - really glad I posted here. Bloody hard work this parenting lark!

Caliph1 Fri 08-Dec-17 00:36:29

And thanks crazycatlady for the info regarding growth spurts. Need to be aware of them. Think I'm starting the learn the difference between her 'hungry' cry and 'i'm exhausted' cry a bit more now!

riddles26 Fri 08-Dec-17 07:15:37

If she's napping max 2 hours a day in total, it definitely points to overtiredness. Most babies still nap 3 times a day at 6 months (although mine did drop her 3rd nap early). But in comparison, mine was napping around 45 mins in the morning then a further 2.5hours in the afternoon with an occasional 20 min catnap when she just turned 6 months. She would go down just before 7pm, wake for a quick feed somewhere between 3 and 5am and then sleep through until 6.30-7am. It took a lot of hard work and tears (more mine than hers) to get to this stage but it was life changing once we achieved it.

I wholeheartedly agree about the bad habits too. None of us know exactly what parenting is like before our first baby and I certainly assumed that babies just slept when tired. When they are tiny, we all just do what we have to to get through it. It is much easier to just get through that and deal with habits and associations when we know their personality a bit better and they understand more - many also slip into their own routine in this time not jealous of those parents at all!

Comfort is most definitely needed but it doesn't have to be the breast providing comfort. It's great that she doesn't want boob every time she wakes because you share the wake ups and I personally would continue this habit and give comfort in other ways. Once she is not overtired and links sleep cycles at night, she will need this less in the night.

If you both are happy with co-sleeping then it will be the path of least resistance and like crazycatlady mentioned, many do grow out of it before 3 years.

riddles26 Fri 08-Dec-17 07:37:05

Just reread your post about pick up/put down. With PUPD you want to be putting baby down awake so they fall asleep in their cot rather than in your arms.

You can instead continue with what you've been doing and try reducing input gradually - so rock less and less until baby falls asleep in your arms with you completely still then putting down when more and more awake. Will take a while but you will get there in the end.

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