Breastfeeding and co-sleeping but how do I transition? Help needed for seriously sleep mum!

(10 Posts)
Boysboys1 Tue 24-Nov-20 10:34:22

First time poster here - I've been promising my DH I'll post for help for a while! So...I have two DSs - eldest is 4 and youngest is 13 months. Until recently, DS1 woke up between 3-6 times a night but we've cut his milk and replaced with water and it seems to have got a lot better! Now DS2, 13 months, is sleeping like a newborn. I co-sleep with him in another room and I'm happy doing so but he easily wakes up 6 plus times night. He's weaned and eats well but just LOVES the boob. I bath them both together and then DS1 goes to bed and I breastfeed DS2 until he's basically asleep and then have to put him in his buggy and rock it slightly. This is the only way I get any evening at all but I'm so tired, I usually just lift him up to bed by 8.15pm. If I breastfeed him to sleep upstairs, he either takes ages (hello an hour of just laying trying to get him to sleep before I can eat/shower) and then he often wakes shortly after and I'll have to feed him back to sleep. He then just wakes almost every couple of hours throughout the night. I keep on blaming things like teething/wind (I think because he feeds so much laying down by the early hours he gets a lot of trapped wind) but it's been going on pretty much since he was born (I think he slept better then!) and nurofen/teething powder doesn't really help. Has anyone been in this situation? I'm happy to co-sleep, I just desperately need more sleep and I'd really like to be able to have a bath or meal with my DH of an evening. I'm reluctant to sleep train and he'll wake his brother who goes to nursery but I don't know if there's any other way out? He won't take a bottle or a dummy like DS1 so I'm at a loss! I go to bed at 8.30 and have a twitchy eye almost every day and I'm getting seriously grouchy with everyone I love. Any help very much appreciated smile

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skkyelark Tue 24-Nov-20 20:40:06

Hello Boysboys,

My wee one has had periods like this, but that’s an awful lot to deal with if it’s been more or less continuous for 13 months. What’s his overall sleep schedule like? When does he nap, and how do you get him down for naps? If there’s anything about the nap routine that is working well, can you build it into the night routine? Also, my daughter took ages to get down at night when she was ready to drop to one nap and we were trying to do two. Switched to one, and bedtime was much easier within days. Could that be part of it, or just getting too much sleep during the day?

I was desperate to get some evening back (also with a breastfed, co-sleeping older baby/young toddler), but working on that seemed to help overnight as well. We set up the cot sidecar-style to our bed so I could easily cuddle and feed her in there, and I also put her down for some naps there (some in the buggy). I fed or cuddled her back to sleep when she needed it, and, yes, in the beginning I was up and down quite a bit, but wake-ups got fewer and fewer, and seemed to build up longer blocks of sleep through the night (generally still co-sleeping) as well. At 16 months, she doesn’t usually sleep through, but mostly wakes around my bedtime or around 5 or 6 in the morning. I suspect she’d stop at least one of those if we could put her in her own room, but we can’t at the moment.

Also, do you ever get a chance to catch up on sleep? Does your husband take the boys on a Saturday morning so you can have a lie-in, for example? Or be first up with them on at least some weekday mornings so you can snatch an extra 30 minutes? It’s far from a full solution, but it would help take the edge off a little bit.

Boysboys1 Wed 25-Nov-20 10:00:50

Hello Skkyelark,

Thanks so much for replying! Unfortunately daytimes are a bit all over the place but I'd say by rule of thumb, we go out pretty early - 9.30ish on the days the boys aren't at nursery and I'm not working and by the time we get back - around 11.30, he's more than ready for a nap if he hasn't conked out in the buggy on the way home! I'll definitely try putting him to sleep in his cot at these times. Nursery also said to my husband 'He sleeps a lot doesn't he?', so he's clearly tired too. I'll try and work out the cot so that he can sleep next to me in it too. He's never slept in it so I'm not sure what it does in terms of the sides. I think they might be static but I'll have a look.
Your daughter's times definitely seem manageable, I hope they are for you now. It's tough. My husband does take my eldest for a little while as he wakes up earlier and takes them out on a weekend morning too (when I usually grab a bath!) but he's pretty knackered aswell as all of the bedrooms are next to each other. I'll definitely try the naps, thank you. And after you've fed your daughter at night, are you able to just put her down in her cot without having to do anything? Last time I tried I had to start lifting the cot up to rock it! x

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MyCatShopsAtAldi Thu 26-Nov-20 10:54:03

We were in a not dissimilar position with DC2 in the summer: he had never slept more than the odd hour anywhere but in my arms. He’s now 10 months and we still breastfeed and co-sleep but he goes to bed in his cot at the start of the evening and I don’t need to go in to him until anything between 0100 and 0400.

What changed things for us was:
- breaking the association between feeding and sleeping. He is now fed downstairs and DH takes him up to bed, cuddles him and settles him in his cot.
- getting DH involved, he behaves completely differently for him than for me. He will only feed to sleep with me and it could take an hour to get him down. For DH, when tired, he will be cuddled to sleep within minutes.hmm We started doing this downstairs and letting him doze on DP, then started taking him upstairs once he was used to settling without me.
- if he wakes before midnight, DH goes in. I’ll go in if he won’t settle for DH but I let him try first.

Basically, I found that I couldn’t get him to settle without being fed, and he would then overfeed and be sick or get really windy, so it was worth seeing if DH got a different reaction - and he did.

We still cosleep and breastfeed for the second half of the night but we’re essentially down to one wake-up on a good night, which I wouldn’t have thought possible three months ago! He is less boob-obsessed than his older brother was, though, which helps.

skkyelark Thu 26-Nov-20 11:03:07

Yes, those 1-2 wake-ups are very manageable, and if you’d offered me this schedule when she was waking every 1-2 hours and I had a big deadline at work looming, I’d have bitten your hand off.

Our cot is just a regular one with one long side not installed, but the cot attached to our bed instead. You can get instructions for doing this online, although you do have to be careful it’s well attached and there aren’t any gaps where the wee one could get stuck. It’s actually a cotbed, so I usually lie down with her in the cot to feed her and then just get up once she’s asleep. If my husband is putting her down, though, he can put her in her cot and lie on our bed and get her down with just a bit of pat-shh. (We’ve only tried this in the last few weeks.) She does whinge a bit about this method, but it’s whinging, not full-on crying, and only a few minutes.

I tried naps in the cot at the same time because if it didn’t go well, I found it easier to deal with that at nap time rather than at night, and actually, it went better than I expected. She was used to being in the cot awake, though, so if your boy isn’t, perhaps read stories or something in the cot for a few days before asking him to sleep there.

If he’s going down for a nap at 11.30, is that his one nap of the day? How long does it tend to be? If it’s not very long, could he perhaps be overtime by bedtime? Supposedly that can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep, sort of tired but wired.

Would your husband wear earplugs at night so at least he’s getting a better night’s sleep (if he doesn’t need to be able to hear your eldest)? I can’t stand sleeping in them personally, but my husband is fine with it.

Keha Mon 30-Nov-20 21:31:54

Hi, I'm in a similarish position although baby is a bit younger (9 months). Sorry to hijack, but @MyCatShopsAtAldi - do you find it okay to still BF and cosleep some of the night? I keep thinking we will have to break the whole association but it sounds like you have managed to get some better sleep with partially doing it.

Boysboys1 Sat 15-May-21 11:14:26

Hi! Haven't posted for a while here. Unfortunately back on as haven't swapped up anything yet - I thought it was getting a little better - but here we now are at 19 months! We have managed to transition eldest off of dummy and he's at the stage where he's almost ready to take his nappy away (at night - he's toilet happy in the day) but littlest one is still waking 5-7 times a night - sometimes more! I tried naps in a cot and he screamed for an hour and was clinging to me so tightly and sobbing that I just couldn't do it! We are now planning what you suggested @skkyelark with DH getting him to sleep (as soon as we've visited in-laws next weekend!) but now I'm debating whether to even bother with a cot or just do a floor mattress? There's a safety gate at the top of the stairs so he's pretty secure. Did anyone on this thread manage to go from BF and co-sleeping to toddler sharing a room with older sibling. I'm just wondering what age this happens. Feels very far away right now - which I'm OK about as they're not little forever - but it also feels like it might be impossible and I can't sleep in with DH because he snores like a mythical beast! grin gin

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Boysboys1 Sat 15-May-21 11:18:53

Sorry @MyCatShopsAtAldi - it was your suggestion for DH to do it, and Skkyelark's for the side cot - definitely going to take all the wise wisdom I can get - thanks so much. So separate sleeping space and DH settling. I'll also see if our cot attaches before I opt for the mattress maybe smile

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miltonj Sat 15-May-21 18:26:59

I would just feed him to sleep at about 6:30, should be down for 7 depending on how long he feeds for. Then every time he wakes between then and when you go to bed for the night, you send your husband to rock/cuddle/shush. This is good for you as you get to chill on an evening and also will break the feed sleep cycle. Eventually he will sleep and you and your husband can both enjoy the evening!

skkyelark Tue 18-May-21 21:40:49

Hi Boysboys,

Sorry, didn't see this for a while! No way would I have been up for an hour of screaming and clingy, distressed baby either.

I will second trying having DH put him down at night – when we finally braved trying that, it went far better than either of us expected.

If you're going to try moving him in with his brother, I think I'd be tempted to try either a floor bed/mattress or a cotbed, if his cot converts, since you've got the safety aspect covered. Then you or DH can easily cuddle him, or even feed him, if necessary, in his bed. At least that's my tentative plan when covid finally lets us finish the work we were doing on the bedrooms when the pandemic struck so we can move the wee one into her own room...

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