Page 2 | 6 month old - can’t link sleep cycles

(47 Posts)
Poppop87 Mon 08-Jun-20 22:26:29

This is my first ever post. I’m going to try to put in as much detail as possible in the hope that someone out there can help me 🙏🏻 I’m sorry if it’s as dull as dishwater to read!

Baby has just turned 6mo, breastfed apart from one bottle of expressed milk at bedtime. Just started weaning but only really plays with the food at this point.
At about 6/8 weeks I started to express for a bottle at bedtime to try and start a bit of of a routine. At that point he would be fed to sleep and be transferred into his next to me crib. He might sleep for 3 hours or occasionally 4 and then after that would be up every 1 or 2 hours until morning. This I could cope with as he was still newborn and I was getting a bit of sleep earlier in the night.

Once he got to about 12/14 weeks the initial 3/4 hour stretch completely stopped. And it hasn’t ever come back. So at 6 months he is now waking after every sleep cycle. First wake up 45 mins after going to bed and then after that he will wake up anything from 30m to 2h. It’s very rare he will make it past 1.5h.

He has a dummy, he’s still in the next to me crib, his bedtime routine is good and consistent I think. He has his bottle and tends to fall asleep without much of a problem.

Things I have tried;
- working on day sleep (naps have always been difficult but they are fairly predictable now - he has 3 naps totalling around 2.5h)
- stopping feeding to sleep, I try and make sure he is awake when he goes in his cot, even if he is very sleepy
- white noise
- no noise
- blackout blind
- pillow mist (lol)
- making a slight noise before the end of his sleep cycle to send him into the next (can’t remember the name of the technique)
- earlier bedtime/later bedtime
- last nap finishing at 3.30/4 for 7pm bedtime, last nap finishing at 4.30/5 for 7pm bedtime
- dream feeds when I go to bed about 10pm
- formula in bedtime bottle
- comforter (still working on this)
- putting my top over his mattress so he can smell me
- sleepyhead (swore I wouldn’t get sucked into that craze!)
- consultation with a sleep consultant who suggested a lot of things I had already tried

I’m sure there are other things...

Around 4am when I get to my wits end i put him in bed with me, he settles down a bit but will still wake just as much as if he were in his crib. I don’t want to co-sleep full time because I know it will be too hard to get him out of my bed and believe it or not, he hasn’t put me off wanting more babies!

I’m sure people think I’m exaggerating when I tell them how frequently he wakes. His dad is supportive but he won’t settle for him at all. Health visitor suggested trying him in his own room but i don’t fancy having to get up every 30mins to see to him in another room. As soon as he starts to go for maybe 2/3 hours at a time I’ll move him out. I don’t mind him being in my room until his sleep improves.

When he wakes he usually wants; a cuddle, his dummy putting in and settling or a feed. I used to feed every time but now it’s more like every other time, and sometimes i do it just for the quickest way to get him back to sleep.

Does anyone have any tips they think might help us to link his sleep cycles together so we can at least get more than an hour and a half at a time. I really worry about his growth and development being affected. He seems to have a very active mind, constantly on the go, impatient, wants to sit/stand/bounce/play all day.

Anyone else had similar experiences? How long did it take for your little one to start linking the cycles together? I keep reading horror stories about kids who wake every 45 mins until they’re 5!!

Sorry for the long post, thanks for reading would love to hear if anyone has any suggestions!

OP’s posts: |
Anna783426 Tue 09-Jun-20 22:31:31

@poppop87 she's not a hugely clingy baby no, she likes to roll about on her own and is now just desperate to see everything around her and plot ways to get what she wants.

Goes to show all babies are so different, they come into the world with their own ideas about sleep and we're just trying to figure them out! For what it's worth I happily feed her to sleep before putting her in her cot. She's also able to settle herself in the day and overnight if she's not hungry or in need of a bit of comfort.

Anna783426 Tue 09-Jun-20 22:41:34

One last thing, just in case it is helpful! She does have a little comfort bunny which she holds onto, and I had with her when feeding to try and bring in a comfort option for when she's trying to get back to sleep. She will reach for the bunny and I think it provides a bit of reassurance.

I've definitely been where you are though as she used to hate being put down, just cried and cried and couldn't sleep but was utterly exhausted. No one particular thing changed but she just learnt how to suck her thumb and seemingly decided she was a bit happier about sleep... not helpful I know but give it time and do what it takes to stay sane.

Poppop87 Wed 10-Jun-20 21:36:34

@Anna783426
Thank you for posting. It’s reassuring to know that she managed to figure it out for herself. I suppose my real worry will start when I have to go back to work. Being on mat leave in lockdown means there’s plenty of time to work on naps during day but eventually we’ll have to get back to real life!

OP’s posts: |
Poppop87 Wed 10-Jun-20 22:31:07

@FATEdestiny
Thanks for getting back to me on this.

I gave it at least 3 weeks before I gave up because the consultant had said sometimes it takes 2/3 weeks to notice any change. To me it felt like nothing was changing and I was absolutely consumed by it.
When I try to settle him I lay next to him in the crib, hold his hand, stroke his head, put hand on his tummy, pat rub and shusshh. I’m definitely not consistent enough with any of these and go from one to the other because none of these methods seem to work (and I don’t know what to do). When he gets stressed he thrashes and flails his arms and legs about so I don’t really know how best to calm him. When he eventually falls asleep I move away from the cot and just sit for a few minutes to make sure he is settled. I put him down awake again tonight and it took 25 minutes again until he fell asleep, woke after 15 mins, resettled in the cot and he woke 30 minutes after that.

Also last night and tonight I tried giving his bottle at the start of the bedtime routine. He wasn’t having it at all. At the moment he has bath then in his bedroom for nappy free time, then massage, fresh nappy and pjs on and a story, then he comes in my room, into sleeping bag and has his bottle... where in the routine would you recommend I give the bottle? If he refuses it again what should I do?

I don’t have to feed him back to sleep each time he wakes. He had his bottle at 6.30 tonight and it’s 10pm now and he’s not been fed for any of the 4 wake ups we have had so far. I don’t think he has wanted to feed as he has gone back to sleep fairly easily. We had issues with his weight gain for the first 2 months so I struggle with the thought of not feeding if I think he is genuinely hungry. Not being able to have him weighed during lockdown doesn’t help that anxiety.

Happy to keep the dummy if it’s going to be useful, I don’t have anything against them, just wasn’t sure if it falling out was part of the problem for him. He’s often not bothered about, as soon as he starts to nod off he spits it out. The reason I don’t give it during the day (apart from naps) is because I wanted him to associate it with sleep but if you think I should give it at other times then I will do?

Will have a shuffle about in my room to make way for his cotbed. My plan was going to be to bring his cot into my room soon and put it a bit away from my bed... to try and get him used to some distance - would you advise against this at this stage? Maybe until things are a bit more settled?

Since lockdown all of his naps are in my bedroom in the dark, in his crib. If I want him to have a long nap I’ll stay with him and after 30m when he wakes I put him on the bed with me and settle him (sometimes with a feed but not always). I usually cuddle him until he falls asleep on me then pop him in the cot unless he’s ready due a feed in which case I would feed him and then pop him down after. First nap between 8.30/9 and will sleep for 40m/1h (if I resettle) then he has another starting between 11.30-12.30 dependant on his morning nap which I try and stretch to 1/1.5h (that’s the absolute maximum) and then he has 30 mins starting somewhere around 3.15-3.45. Bed time is 6.30-7.15 depending on his last nap. Usually start the routine about 20mins before bedtime so if I think he needs to be asleep for 7 I’ll take him up at 6.40.

Feeding is on demand, have never been in a routine he’s always fed little and often but this is settling since we have started weaning. He’s feeding less often but for longer amounts of time.

I really don’t mind waking in the night to resettle or feed him, if that’s what he needs. I don’t expect him to be sleeping for 12 hour stretches, it would just be nice if every now and again we had a 3/4 hour chunk of sleep. He’s never slept for more than 4 hours since he was born... I feel like he needs the rest just as much as I do!

Any other pointers you can give are appreciated. I’m sure I have lots of improvements I can make!

Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
FATEdestiny Thu 11-Jun-20 07:47:14

When I try to settle him I lay next to him in the crib, hold his hand, stroke his head, put hand on his tummy, pat rub and shusshh

Was baby crying through this? Or just not asleep?

Poppop87 Thu 11-Jun-20 08:34:27

He cries from the minute I put him down in the cot until he can’t fight it anymore and goes to sleep

Thanks

OP’s posts: |

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FATEdestiny Thu 11-Jun-20 08:42:48

What's happening with the dummy during this time?

(It's physically impossible to suck and make sound at the same time - try it yourself)

Poppop87 Thu 11-Jun-20 10:12:59

He either spits it out and won’t have it back in or he sort of has it hanging out his mouth while he cries, then it’ll drop out eventually. I try and keep putting it back in.

OP’s posts: |
2007Millie Thu 11-Jun-20 10:39:36

Have you considered getting rid of the dummy? We did at 6 months and it was a brilliant decision

FATEdestiny Thu 11-Jun-20 10:52:33

This is the central that your problem boils down to. Getting baby to sleep (in the cot) needs baby to be still and quiet. Once still and quiet it is just a case of patience can reassurance. Baby is not (cannot) go to sleep when crying. Well, not in a healthy way, it would just be conking out due to exhaustion not consciously going to sleep.

All those patting and shushing you're doing - that's the recommendations for babies who need to sleep independently but don't have a dummy, in which case there really is no option but comforting through the crying.

You need lessons on active sucking on the dummy:

● The idea is that dummy doesn't just sit in baby's mouth passively, that baby is actively sucking it. Otherwise there's no point in it - it needs to be sucked to give that soothing effect.
● gently tapping on the outside of the dummy triggers the sucking reflex, if baby has the dummy in the mouth bit isn't sucking
● if baby has dummy in mouth and starts crying, active sucking will stop the crying. So start off tapping outside to trigger the reflex. If that doesn't work remove the dummy fully and start again with ways to get baby to actively seek taking the dummy.

How you give baby the dummy matters (every time, not just in the middle of getting baby to sleep). It needs thought and consciously done, not just "shove dummy in and fingers crossed it works".

● When giving him the dummy, try to get him to reach for it rather than just passively putting it in her mouth. In fact don't ever just out it in his mouth, only give it when he actively reaches for it. If he's not actively reaching for it, keep trying until he does. To get him actively seeking the dummy teat, think of breastfeeding...
● Tickling his cheek with the teat should trigger a reflex to turn his head and reach for the teat with his mouth
● similarly, tickling top lip with a dummy teat should trigger a reflex to reach upwards for the teat. You use these tricks for a good breastfeeding latch.
● as dummy goes into his mouth, aim upwards towards the roof of her mouth. This again triggers sucking as it would if breastfeeding

Now, I don't know how you have previously been utilising a dummy because of these are new methods and habits to establish, 6 months is very late (and possibly too late) to establish them. This is because all the breastfeeding reflexes that are present in a young baby are reducing now. So if it's new, it may take more work than if baby was younger.

Back to getting baby to sleep. Focus all of your attention on the two most important things:
● Baby is quiet (sucking, not crying)
● Baby is still (not sure if this is an issue for you, more of a problem in older, more mobile babies)

The patting and shushing and all that are not necessary in your situation. Your focus needs to be on active dummy sucking. That stops the crying - this is your aim. Once baby isn't crying, he can relax. Once he is helped to physically relax, he can learn to go to sleep.

(NB - the active sucking carries on right through until baby is calm and settled. As actual sleep starts then all muscles relax. That includes mouth/jaw. As soon as asleep dummy is no longer needed, sucking slows and stops, jaw slackens, dummy comes out. It's meant to, this is normal.)

snowone Thu 11-Jun-20 11:05:44

Op does he have have his own room and if so have you tried putting him in there? It may be just as simple as you are disturbing him!

IJustWantFiveMinutesAlone Thu 11-Jun-20 11:11:17

My son was like this. His sisters weren't at all so it was a huge shock. I ended up co-sleeping after his first wake up and nursing through the night. It wasn't what I planned but I just needed some way to keep going!
He's older now and settles to sleep in his own room and sleeps through the night.
I remember how tough it was though so you have my sympathies xx

Layladylay234 Tue 17-Nov-20 05:42:52

Did you ever solve this OP? I have a nearly 6 month old who goes to bed between 6.30-7,sleeps beautifully until 3am then will not go back to sleep. Will lie in her cot,wriggling,blowing raspberries. This morning,it took over an hour of leaving her to it to try and self settle and me doing our sleep strategy to get her to go back to sleep for about 20 mins. Then she was up for the day at 5. I'm exhausted. I'm convinced it's because she can't link sleep cycles and is waking from her deep one and can't get back into the light one.

I have a 10 and 11 year old so can't/don't want to go to bed with her at 6.30/7 as I'll be missing out on time with them. But I'm desperately tired and it's massively starting to effect my mental health

GirlCalledJames Tue 17-Nov-20 05:47:33

My daughter was like this at 6 months. At 7 months she was sleeping two six hour blocks. An improvement might be just around the corner.

Layladylay234 Tue 17-Nov-20 06:26:46

GirlCalledJames

My daughter was like this at 6 months. At 7 months she was sleeping two six hour blocks. An improvement might be just around the corner.

God I hope so. I'm really struggling.

JimandPam Tue 17-Nov-20 06:38:04

Layladylay234

Did you ever solve this OP? I have a nearly 6 month old who goes to bed between 6.30-7,sleeps beautifully until 3am then will not go back to sleep. Will lie in her cot,wriggling,blowing raspberries. This morning,it took over an hour of leaving her to it to try and self settle and me doing our sleep strategy to get her to go back to sleep for about 20 mins. Then she was up for the day at 5. I'm exhausted. I'm convinced it's because she can't link sleep cycles and is waking from her deep one and can't get back into the light one.

I have a 10 and 11 year old so can't/don't want to go to bed with her at 6.30/7 as I'll be missing out on time with them. But I'm desperately tired and it's massively starting to effect my mental health


I think it's right around the corner as PP says.

I have an 11 month old and am in a number of mum groups online and around 6-7 months lots of happy cheers as baby would suddenly sleep for more than 40 mins in the day and there were less wake ups overnight.

I think you're doing absolutely the right thing by following your sleet strategies even thought it's painful.

I use the Huckleberry app so can look back and see what he was like around 6 months. He had a wake up at 3 which I fed him to sleep. This slowly went back and back until it was close to 5 so I removed the feed and got him up for the day. This then slowly got later and later until around 7.5 months he was sleeping 7-7 ish.

I do remember reading that they just aren't able to link cycles until 6-7 months so I think this time marks the beginning of improvements!

Sandrine1982 Tue 17-Nov-20 09:57:39

We had a similar situation. Things improved slightly around 7 months, then regressed 8-9 months, then improved ever so slightly around 10 months and got worse again at 11 months.

She started doing longer stretches really only from 12 months when she started walking properly and attending nursery. By longer stretches I mean 8-9 hours in one go (the first stretch, after which I go to her room and we co-sleep on a mattress).

She's now almost 15 months and going through some sort of weird leap or teething, so we are struggling with early waking, but the initial stretch is still around 8 hours.

Try not to get too depressed, it will happen for you too!

If someone had told me that my baby would occasionally sleep through the night - without my intervention - till 6am, I would NEVER have believed it. But it has happened several times now :-)

PS: However if I were you I would try to get her to sleep in a different room. We had a cot next to a our marital double bed. After the first few days with a newborn, DH decided to leave and sleep in a spare room. As for me, after around 10 months of sleeping in that bed with the baby in the cot next to me, I decided to just sleep in the spare room too. I think this definitely helped her get longer stretches because we were probably waking each other up, even if I was SUPER quiet..

Layladylay234 Tue 17-Nov-20 10:46:02

Thanks for the messages of support. We've decided we're going to try a few things over the next week to 10 days and if they don't work and she keeps waking at 3am,try for 30 mins to get her off to sleep and if it doesn't work,one of us will get up with her for an hour/90 mins until she's ready to go back to bed. I think accepting it might be much less painful than trying to get her to sleep for an hour and a half,then her waking up again 30 mins later.

I think she'd do much better in her own room but that's not an option until March as we're renovating. My son and stepdaughter have the second bedroom and we are contemplating putting her in with them and seeing how it goes. She doesn't cry/scream when she wakes,as I said,it's more the babbling and moving around and I think the kids might be less conscious of it than us. Obviously if she wakes them up over the trial period then she'll be back in with us until March confused

LazJaz Tue 17-Nov-20 23:14:48

@FATEdestiny the OP could be describing my son, except he doesn’t I’ve a dummy so we are doing the settling techniques in cot for a baby without dummy. However these make him very distressed. I have been working on the techniques suggested by my sleep consultant for 3 weeks now with no improvement.
Any advice on how to help a child who gets very distressed by the settling techniques?

helloitsme4432 Tue 17-Nov-20 23:25:29

@FATEdestiny "At this age (and only if baby has alternate ways to be comforted) the aim would be feed only as a last resort, aiming to not feed at all. Night feeds are now all about comfort, not calories."
Is this true? What if the baby isn't getting enough calories in the day? Entirely possible at 3 months isn't it?

JimandPam Wed 18-Nov-20 09:15:14

helloitsme4432

*@FATEdestiny* "At this age (and only if baby has alternate ways to be comforted) the aim would be feed only as a last resort, aiming to not feed at all. Night feeds are now all about comfort, not calories."
Is this true? What if the baby isn't getting enough calories in the day? Entirely possible at 3 months isn't it?


The OPs baby is 6 months not 3 but I still disagree that night feeds are just about comfort at 6 months (3months would absolutely still be doing 2-3 night feeds I imagine!)

My DS was on the 4th centile and still waking for night feeds at 6 months which was completely necessary!

He started to drop them around 7 months when he slept through (the waking for night feeds got later and later until he was pretty much sleeping through).

I know babies who have had one night feed up until 10 months and it's not unusual. It entirely depends on their intake during the day

helloitsme4432 Wed 18-Nov-20 15:32:10

Sorry I meant 6 I don't know how that's happened🙄 I'm the same here, my 6mo was born at 5lb and still needs one or two night feeds to get his full daily intake of calories
I'm thinking as OPs baby feeds little and often they might not get enough calories in the day

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