At my wits end with DS’s sleep! Emotional and feel like a failure.

(37 Posts)
Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 07:16:51

DS is 9 months old and has never been a great sleeper. Days and nights are difficult in different ways and I just feel like a failure with it all. He feeds to sleep but has self settled in the day time by himself.

I have tried so hard to implement a sleep routine in the day, I even signed up to the little ones sleep programme and it just doesn’t work! He will have a good day and have a 30 minute nap in the morning and then maybe an hour and a half around lunch time. The next day I’ll do the exact same thing, following the same awake windows and he’ll have a 20 minute morning nap and then wake up frequently during the long nap and then won’t resettle.

Yesterday for example, he had 3 20 minute naps which is nowhere near enough sleep. He took over an hour to settle at bedtime which is unusual and has been awake since 5:40 this morning when he usually sleeps until 7ish. He’s so overtired already and I just don’t know what to do.

No day is the same. When I first began following the little ones sleep programme I found it very restrictive and liked it sucked all of the enjoyment out of the day - constantly thinking he needs a feed at this time, must be in his bed by this time etc but I followed it anyway and it made no difference. Only affecting my mental wellbeing! So then I tried a more flexible approach just using the awake windows as a guide which works well on some days and then doesn’t on another day. I used the huckleberry app to predict nap times.

He’s still up 2/3 times a night and has a feed each time, he won’t settle for DP so it all falls to me. I’m ready to stop feeding him to sleep which I can do in the day but at night time how do I get him to have his bedtime milk (bottle refuser) without falling to sleep?!

My other issue is that I’m so tired so when he wakes during the night it’s easier to just feed him back to sleep rather than persevere with settling him another way so in a way I’m making the situation worse for myself but I’m so tired it’s all I can do.

I am exhausted and feel like his whole life I have been so focused on his sleep / routine which is not what I wanted at all. I’m worried he’s not getting enough sleep and this is going to affect him in some way.

Sorry for the long, rambled post.

OP’s posts: |
Dexy2020 Wed 16-Sep-20 07:34:23

@Forevercurious How is little one doing with weaning and does he have much milk in the day? Is he having proper feeds in the night or just waking out of habit do you think? Xx

Sertchgi123 Wed 16-Sep-20 07:40:08

What you describe is normal behaviour from a baby of that age but the behaviour can be modified. Some people can cope with continued broken nights others can’t. As you’re at the end of your tether, you need to do something.

Controlled crying is very hard in the short term but can work very quickly.

FinTutuola Wed 16-Sep-20 07:45:36

I could have written your post months ago - we used to joke that our daughter was one of the ‘sleepless elite’ because she just never slept. I was exhausted all the time and, like you, just fed back to sleep because it was the quickest and easiest way.

Then all of a sudden (although it wasn’t until she was 2.5), she just started sleeping through the night. We didn’t do anything differently, she would just tell us when she wanted to go to bed, settle herself and then not wake until around 6am.

My mum said I was exactly the same and didn’t sleep until I was three. It doesn’t seem to have affected me or her, she is bright, happy and even when she wasn’t sleeping was full of energy! I found life got much easier when I just accepted her lack of sleep!

Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 07:45:46

@Dexy2020 weaning is going really well, he’s on 3 meals a day and sometimes has a little snack in the afternoon but not every day. He is not interested in feeding from me during the day and generally feeds when he first wakes up, before morning nap, before lunch nap and again if he needs resettling during that nap to make it a longer sleep and then bedtime. I feel like I need to get him to have more milk in the day so he’s not having as much in the night but he is just not interested and would rather be off playing / nosing around!

He does seem to feed properly in the night and I’m happy to continue feeding him if he needs it but I also know that when he’s up more frequently I just feed him to get him back to sleep quicker!

OP’s posts: |
Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 07:47:16

@Sertchgi123 thank you for replying. I’m just not sure I’m strong enough to do controlled crying. My DP tried to settle him yesterday evening and I felt so guilty that DS is crying and I can make it stop straight away but I’m choosing not too!

OP’s posts: |
Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 07:50:51

@FinTutuola thank you for your reply and I’m glad things got easier for you (:

I’ve always been a rubbish sleeper and it certainly seems DS is going to the the same way poor boy. He is happy and content and hitting his developmental milestones so may be I need to try and stop focusing on the sleep issues but I find it all consuming if that makes sense.

Once I’ve read how much sleep he should be getting each day, his supposed nap times etc it’s hard to let go of that.

OP’s posts: |


Dexy2020 Wed 16-Sep-20 07:55:11

I think it's difficult if you think he still needs the night feeds, with my little one he was waking 2 to 3 times a night and I was feeding him back to sleep (bottle fed) but he was only having very small volumes of milk and wasn't really that interested at all, controlled crying never worked for us unfortunately as the more we went in the more worked up he would get so on 19th August 2020 we decided to leave him and see what he did it went a bit like this
19th- 4 wakings, 44 mins total crying/wingeing throughout the night
20th- 3 wakings, 15 mins crying/wingeing
21st- Slept through
22nd- 2 wakes, 5 mins crying/wingeing
23rd- 3 wakes, 15 mins crying/wingeing
24th- Slept through
25th- 1 wake, 1 min crying/wingeing
26th- 1 wake, 10 mins crying/wingeing
Ever since he has slept through 18:30/19:00pm-04:30/05:00am (he seems to only need 10 hours sleep a night)
I make sure he has 5 feeds a day and 2/3 meals to see him through xx

Dexy2020 Wed 16-Sep-20 07:59:02

P.s he's now 7.5months old xx

AnneLovesGilbert Wed 16-Sep-20 08:00:38

Have a look at Possums. There are free resources but paying to join up for more is very reasonable.

RandomMess Wed 16-Sep-20 08:08:26

When he starts falling asleep/getting drowsy feeding wake him up as in stop feeding him and sit him up properly etc before letting him feed again.

I did pick up put down with a bit of complaints but no crying.

Once you know he's been fed and not hungry and hopefully relaxed you could cuddle him to sleep. Could you wear your DH top so you smell of him as well. Then DH could take over the cuddle time.

With the day time naps it is probably because he still relies on feeding to be associated with going to sleep so there isn't a trigger in the day to help him relax and nod off at X time hence it being a bit hit and miss.

Good luck, all babies are different and for some it's easier to go with the flow whereas others can get used to changes more easily.

shreddednips Wed 16-Sep-20 08:42:46

I think I was feeding DS at least a couple of times a night at that stage, it's so hard though when you're really tired. I think the game changer for us was teaching him to fall asleep without milk.

I used the pat and shush technique from baby whisperer (didn't like everything in the book but this works). The idea is that you lie baby on their side, one hand on their chest/tummy and the other one giving a firm, rhythmic pat on the back. Not too fast, just a steady pat. At the same time you make quite a loud shushing noise a bit like waves. It takes a little while, I found that DS would grumble at first, then go quiet and concentrate on the patting for a bit, then nod off. When you're convinced he's asleep you gently roll him onto his back.

Sorry if you've already tried it, if not might be worth a go!

Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 09:01:25

Thank you everyone for your responses, there’s lots to take on board!

Just tried and failed at self settling for his nap this morning. We had got to a point before where he could be put down in his cot awake during the day and he’d grizzle a bit and then go off but this morning he was just hysterical. Even when cuddling and rocking him he was just so upset so I gave in and fed him. I know I’m making it worse but it seems like such a cycle to be stuck in, I hate seeing him cry and end up crying with him.

I think our whole day needs a shake up with milk feed times and nap times - would anyone mind sharing their routine for a baby at this age? Thanks smile

OP’s posts: |
Fivebyfive2 Wed 16-Sep-20 09:19:16

@Forevercurious, hello again, I think we might actually have the same baby as I can see from our threads and the Dec baby thread they are very similar with sleep!

I'm still feeding to sleep and ds isn't in his own room yet. Sometimes I feel like a failure too, but honestly try to cut yourself a break if you can. You say weaning is going well and that he's happy and hitting his milestones; my boy is the same and I've decided to see this as a massive win to make myself feel better!

I too tried the little ones programme and found it too restrictive. It's almost a relief to hear I'm not the only one as everyone seems to rave about it.

Something I'm trying now is the 2,3,4 routine. Although sometimes it's give or take 30 mins either way, depending on how tired he is.

Self settling is verrry hit and miss. No real advice I'm afraid, I might steal some tips from other replies on here though! I mostly just wanted to offer solidarity. Hopefully our babies will get there soon... Until then, please remember you are awesome! Xxx

Lalala13 Wed 16-Sep-20 09:25:45

I’m just reading this thinking the same but with my 5 month old, last night she was overtired I tried from 7pm to 10.30 to get her to sleep, cried because my milk wouldn’t settle her, she was crying, I feed to sleep and then feel guilty when I can’t get her to sleep.

Fivebyfive2 Wed 16-Sep-20 09:27:48

So our routine, such as it is...

Wake around 6am, has a feed
Breakfast around 6.30/7
Nap at around 8ish, usually for about 1.5 hours. Fed to sleep but trying to break this!
Feed around 11
Lunch about 12
Nap at around 1. Fed to sleep but trying to break! Aim for at least 1.5 hours, hopefully 2 hours here, even if I have to re settle him.
Then a feed about 4 and tea at 5pm
Bed around 7pm. Not much of a 'ritual' because baths, massage etc just made him excited! We get him in pj's, brush teeth, put his songs on the stereo (he likes the light) to chill him out. Up to bed, dark room, ollie owl is on. Has a feed/cuddle. Trying self settling but you never know...
Wakes 2 to 4 times a night. Usually 2 though recently.

If his naps in the day are shorter, we have a walk about 4 and he usually nods of in the buggy, just to keep him going until bedtime.

Not exact times and some days it's all out the window entirely, but it's what I aim for most days now.

avidteadrinker Wed 16-Sep-20 09:36:04

A book that really helped us was ‘the good sleeper’, like any book you take bits from it which help you (we didn’t do the cry it out bit), it talks about reducing night feeds in a gentle way so their metabolism adjusts accordingly.
We tackled each problem one at a time, otherwise it will overwhelm both you and the baby.
Also, whatever method you choose to achieve your goals, you have to persist with it otherwise nothing will change

shreddednips Wed 16-Sep-20 10:02:11

I'm pretty sure we used a 2,3,4 routine at this age, although I was always flexible with it when we went out or it sucks the fun out of everything. When you're at home, try using a mini version of the bedtime routine for naps so that it's clear to baby that it's bedtime- for us it was sleeping bag on, milk, a cuddle sitting in the dark in his room and then pat and shush to sleep. If you use pat and shush, I found that then you can start to slowly reduce the support that you give to fall asleep (so a hand on the tummy, then sitting next to the bed and shushing, then popping in and out for example).

It takes a long time but worth it in the long run I think, my friends that did controlled crying had quicker results but I just didn't feel it was right for me and DS at this age, especially as the patting and shushing worked. It took a few goes but was like magic!

When he got a little bit older I did do a sort of controlled crying as he stopped self setting, I left the bedroom door open and popped in and out every couple of minutes. I felt more comfortable with that because I wasn't leaving him for long and he got used to it quite quickly. My mum told me to keep it sympathetic but quite firm 'oh dear, don't worry you'll be asleep in a minute. I'm just popping out to check the dinner/put a wash on/scream into a cushion, I'm coming back'. A little 2 minute job so that you're not sitting there stressing out, then back in. Some people might find it mean but he was much happier when he slept better. Another good piece of advice she gave me was if him or you get really hysterical, give him a cuddle and don't ignore your instinct to comfort him. It's challenging but it shouldn't be horrible.

My other tip is to tackle settling without milk at bedtime and nap time first before you start worrying about the night wakes. It's too much at once otherwise and you might find the night waking improves when he can nod off on his own.

Sorry for the long post, hopefully it's helpful! If it makes you feel better, my chap was similar at the same age and was (mainly) sleeping through the night by one. There are lots of bumps in the road with sleep, don't feel guilty or like it's your fault in some way. It's just babies doing what babies do, but it's really tough on parents.

RubaiyatOfAnyone Wed 16-Sep-20 10:05:27

Dd2 is 9 months and i did controlled crying (go back in to comfort after 1 min, 2 mins, 3 mins etc, no feeding) because the lack of sleep was killing me.

That worked in 3 days, but as i’m sure you know there is a sleep regression around 8/9 months that results from them learning knew physical skills (which is VERY exciting in a baby brain) and also increased separation anxiety because they now know you can leave. Both these calm down in a few weeks, but it leads to quite an unsettled patch whilst they do - dd suddenly had difficulty going to bed at bedtime, which was never an issue before.

Ultimately, all babies are different, but i can say that my biggest advantage is having been through it all with dd1 and knowing it will ultimately all work itself out, so i am much more sanguine about it all this time round. This too shall pass etc smile

Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 12:53:18

@Fivebyfive2 hello smile it’s quite nice seeing familiar people on here - definitely makes me feel like I’m not alone! thank you so much for your supportive words but I’m sorry you’re still struggling too!

Is the 2,3,4 method literally awake for 2 hours, nap, awake for 3 hours, nap awake for 4 hours and then bed? if so I think may give that a go!

Your DS seems to nap well 2x 1hr 30 mins nap - id love for that!!

Thankyou for sharing your routine. I definitely need to try and distance milk feeds from nap time!

OP’s posts: |
Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 12:57:57

Lots of great ideas and responses thank you very much :D I’m feeling a lot better about it all now, after his morning nap I ‘restarted’ the day. Some days are just hard aren’t they?

I attempted the shush / pat method just now and it didn’t work. DS wouldn’t even lay down, kept sitting up and crawling around whilst crying and getting more and more upset.

I’m going to leave the attempts for self settling for today as he just seems too upset today. Hoping to try fresh tomorrow smile I will definitely look into the book that’s been recommended and the 2,3,4 method!

OP’s posts: |
Fivebyfive2 Wed 16-Sep-20 14:24:33

@forevercurious, yep that's the gist with 2,3,4! Like I say, sometimes he's up a bit longer in the morning or shorter at night... Sometimes I squeeze a quick cat nap in about 4ish if his 2 naps are short. He's only just started doing the longer naps recently and it does not always pan out, but it's better than it was.

Definitely know what you mean about picking your battles with self soothing too. I always aim to do it, but still feed to sleep loads 😕 It's so hard when you know you 'shouldn't' but also know it will work!

Forevercurious Wed 16-Sep-20 14:46:57

@Fivebyfive2 well right now DS is asleep on me so that’s a total failure. He done an hour in his cot and then woke up, I resettled him by feeding but every time I tried to put him down he woke up so he’s having a cuddle! I’m hoping that by having a decent nap now he will have a better nights sleep so I can attempt it again tomorrow!

I think my biggest problem is that I can’t fully commit to any type of sleep training. One minute I’m desperate for him to self settle and the next I’m thinking “oh he’s only little once, enjoy this cuddles I’ll miss them one day etc”

OP’s posts: |
Hellothere19999 Wed 16-Sep-20 15:03:05

Hi! My kid is about 8 1/2 months. Her sleep isn’t amazing but it is ok. I have bought some sleep training programmes at times but ended up getting refunds coz they just tell you what you already know. I now pretty much follow my baby’s cues so this is our typical day:

6.30/7 she begins to stir in her cot so I grab her quickly and feed her in bed so we can get another 30 minutes of snoozing in. Usually works if I keep my eyes closed 😂

9am brekky, porridge or omelette etc.

Little play and then depending on when she fully woke up I go for nap time around 3 hours after waking.

Naps for usually 2 ish hours but sometimes less. If it’s less I just get her up, get some lunch, go out for a walk and get some fresh air and then back home for an early afternoon nap to try and stretch it out.

When she awakes I give her her tea, playtime. And then begin quietening down for bed.

Depending when she woke up I go for about 3 maybe 3 and half hours before bedtime.
We get ready for bed and do a quick little walk as it calms her down and then feed to sleep and pop her in the cot.

She does not sleep all night, often needs resettling and a couple of feeds. I have found that this less pressure approach really helps me mentally. I just loosely know that after about 3 hours she will need to sleep. I don’t care about feeding or not feeding her to sleep. She’s a baby. She’s my baby. And I’ll do what I want as long as she is happy and healthy and getting enough sleep ( which she is ).

I am no expert but it does sound like your LO is overtired. I have found that waking up... eating then playing then getting ready for sleep with quiet time has helped us but everyday is different and there are times where everything is too exciting and she will not nap at all 🤦🏻‍♀️ I think there are so many phases and things going on in their little brains and bodies that sometimes all you can do is just let them be🤷🏻‍♀️ They will sleep when they need to and it really can’t be helped sometimes. I think people put too much pressure on Mums. I also think some sleep programmes play on this and con you into paying for information you can find out for yourself for free.

Fivebyfive2 Wed 16-Sep-20 18:59:16

@Hellothere19999, I agree so hard with your post! Especially about the sleeping programmes, I wish I hadn't bothered!

@forevercurious, just to keep with the solidarity... Today Joe woke at 5.30 instead of 6.His lunch nap was only about 1.25 hours. So usually in these circumstances he'd need a 'tip up' cat nap about 4ish...didn't happen, so he went to bed at 6. 45 tonight. Now all bets are off as to if he sleeps well (with just the usual feeds in the night) or if he decides to have a 2am party. Wish me luck!

I think the sleep train debate is a vicious circle if you're like me... When they're sleeping fairly OK you think 'aaah we're managing and they'll get there' and when it's bad enough to seriously consider it, you feel too tired to see it through?!

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