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Last night I let my baby cry. It didn't help and now I feel awful. What else can I do?

(49 Posts)
MamaChris Sun 17-Aug-08 07:55:50

6.5mo ds has never been a great sleeper, wakes every 20min-1hr through the night and the ONLY way to get him back to sleep is bf. It means I haven't had even 2 solid hours sleep in months and I'm on the point of collapse. He's not always hungry, I think it's just he knows no other way to get to sleep.

So last night at 9.30 I felt I just could not feed him back to sleep again, and I sat holding him, rocking and singing and patting while he got more and more upset. I was in tears, but kept thinking it must work in a minute, and if I feed him now he'll think he just has to scream louder to be fed next time. By 10.30 I couldn't do it any more and fed him, he went to sleep right away and slept for a full hour before we went back to our usual night wakings.

I had always said I would never let my baby cry to sleep, but last night I just couldn't face another night of such broken sleep. I let him cry, trying everything I could except bf to calm him, and nothing worked. What else can I do? I CANNOT keep not sleeping the way we are now.

sandcastles Sun 17-Aug-08 08:00:53

Have you tried a dummy?

MamaChris Sun 17-Aug-08 08:05:08

yes. lots. he spits them out. fingers too. anything that's not a nipple, basically.

mrsruffallo Sun 17-Aug-08 08:07:05

MamaChris, my oldest was like this.It caused a lot of friction between my dh and myself and was a very hard time for all of us.
She co slept with us and that did help, but to be honest it just took time for her to improve, I dodn't find any magic solution.
Try to catch up on your sleep when your dh is at home and eat well.
It will pass, but I don't really believe in controlled crying and tbh there is no point substituting breastfeeding with rocking him to sleep as it is just another dependence.
Things will improve I promise
Good luck
BTW, He is gorgeous!

MamaChris Sun 17-Aug-08 08:20:12

Thanks MrsR. Good to know we're not alone, but can I ask when your dd started improving? We used to co sleep, now he's in a "side car" cot. As you say, the lack of sleep is causing lots of friction with dp.

Tbh, I wouldn't mind substituting bf dependence with another bc then at least dp and I could share the work!

I had no intention of doing cc, and there was nothing "controlled" about last night's screaming, it was just awful

mrsruffallo Sun 17-Aug-08 08:26:02

She started sleeping for 4 hours around 8/9 months which I could cope with- four hours felt great.
She didn't sleep through the night until I stopped breastfeeding at 18 months.

When I look back now I think the mistake I made was letting her fall asleep on the breast from the beginning- I now believe I should have fed, woken her up a little and put her down semi-awake
Quite hard in practice though

bumbling Sun 17-Aug-08 08:26:58

Poor you. Ds now 3 was like that. I just took him into bed with me when he woke up and effectivley ended up bf in my sleep. Made life a lot, lot easier, at least in sleep terms. He gradually got better though, week by week, month by month. All I can say is hang in there, you're doing brilliantly and how fab to have got to to six months and still be bf. Well done you. Sounds like it would be great if you could get someone to take him away for a walk or similar as often as possible but at least once a week so you can get a regular nap.

On a bad day try and remember that it WILL get better, maybe even the next day, and that sleep is for the weak!

catchingzeds Sun 17-Aug-08 08:29:11

My DS was exactly the same, I was so exhausted I thought I was going to have a breakdown. Out of desperation one night we tried controlled crying, I cracked and went in to feed him cue massive row with my DH. It truly was a horrendous time.

I don't have any cure either I'm afraid but things did improve once DS began to crawl at 7 months, we saw another improvement when DS began to enjoy solids at around 8 months. He didn't sleep through until I stopped breastfeeding at 13 months. I don't want to upset you but I think you just have to plod on getting as much support from your DH and family as poss.

I understand how awful it is, in fact I'm very unsure of another child and if we did decide to have another I don't think I could bf.
If it makes you feel any better our DS now sleeps wonderfully! We pop him in his cot and he goes out like a light, sleeping 7-7 with a 1-2 hr nap in the day. I was convinced he would be a terrible sleeper until aged 5 or something grin

{hugs to you} forget about last night, your LO certainly will x

missbloom Sun 17-Aug-08 08:32:44

You have my sympathies as my 3 mo old dd is the same. As soon as i put her down she wakes and then i have to feed her to sleep again. I was exhausted so decided not to fight it anymore and we are now co-sleeping. She feeds on and off as she wakes. Although im still not getting proper sleep at night at least im able to rest and doze! This has made us both a lot happier and i dont have to listen to her cry anymore! Going with the flow is the easiest option for me, theres no reason to get stressed and neither does baby!

Sariska Sun 17-Aug-08 08:40:55

Substituting bf to sleep with something else is (slowly) starting to help my incredible non-sleeping 5 month old DS. And, as you say, it also has the big plus that someone else can do it. At the start of the night I am putting him down awake, singing him the same song and then rocking (in an Amby hammock), shushing and patting him to sleep. It is tiring, boring and can be lengthy - takes anywhere from 15 mins to almost 2 hours - but does generally mean that I can do the same (and - for some reason - a lot quicker) when he wakes at n ight. There is often quite a lot of crying but tbh I think this often goes hand-in-hand with sleep resistant babies. It's horrible to hear but I don't leave him alone until he's calm and properly asleep, although I also don't pick him up as I find it winds him up even more.

For what it's worth, the method I'm using is that recommended to me by a sleep consultant because that's how desperate I had been left by DS's very frequent night wakings, all of which required me to BF him to sleep before pacing the floor for what felt like hours to try and ensure he was deeply asleep before returning him to bed. The consultant told me that feed-sleep associations are harder to break than rocking so I am really hoping she's right!

Good luck and lots of sympathy from a fellow sufferer!

MamaChris Sun 17-Aug-08 08:49:30

gave up co sleeping as I couldn't manage to feed in my sleep, and I think it is slightly better with ds in a sidecar.

missbloom - that's one of the worst things - dp is now convinced we shouldn't have another child bc of the sleep, although I desperately want to.

MrsR I think I made the same mistake, and if I had the time over would have worked really hard in the early days to establish alternative sleep associations. 4 hours sleep would be fabulous - sure I would be a different person on that! here's looking to 8 months, ds starting to eat more solids. thanks for the hope everyone.

Kif Sun 17-Aug-08 08:50:33

hmmm. you ladies - stop blaming yourself. This baby sounds like my ds1. Dd and ds2 - while winning no sleep prizes - were more open to dummies/rocking, and slept a 4hr stretch from the beginning, I treated them the same, so i think it's a lot to do with temperament.

ds1 - I 'broke' him by doing a long weekend baby whispering. Day 1 involved sitting on my own with him watching him to figure out his 'cues' and intrinsic rhythm. Day 2 onwards I started tp put him in a routine with pick up put down technniques, and 'insisted' on a dummy.

It was hard - but did work. Only thing is that his weight gain fell off - so perhaps he really did need 'little and often' to fll his tummy.

picklepie555 Sun 17-Aug-08 08:51:58

thoroughly recommended

MamaChris Sun 17-Aug-08 08:52:35

sariska how much crying is quite a lot and how bad does it get? last night ds was red faced, screaming to the point of hyperventilating for breath, really really upset. the word "crying" doesn't begin to describe just how miserable it was.

and does the shh patting ever calm him down? ds just got increasingly agitated.

MamaChris Sun 17-Aug-08 08:56:59

kif how can you "insist" on a dummy? ds's daytime routine is pretty good - 3 naps of 40 mins each, but I have to feed/buggy him to sleep for those.

Sariska Sun 17-Aug-08 09:08:09

Yes my ds sometimes gets like that. When he does - and I am getting better at spotting when things are going to escalate IYSWIM - I tend to sing to him as it calms him down faster. Once he's no longer hysterical we return to shush patting. Picking him up does stop the crying but it redoubles when I put him down. Maybe your ds would respond better to being picked up so might be worth trying if you're not already doing so. FWIW, if my ds's screaming is hysterical and persists for more than about an hour, I tend to wonder whether something else is compounding things. Sometimes it's just that he's too overtired but at the moment he's teething and the appearance of each tooth has coincided with particularly bad nights. A dose of calpol and some bonjela seems to help.

missbloom Sun 17-Aug-08 09:12:59

Babies are only babies for a short time and whatever the problem i tell myself it wont last forever. I refuse to get stressed over any situation and want to enjoy my baby! I dont want to look back and think theres a part of it i didnt enjoy. We each have our own opinion and Mamachris i think its unfair to TELL anyone whats right or wrong. And why do most people assume that the easiest option must be wrong?

MamaChris Sun 17-Aug-08 09:16:18

Thanks Sar. Generally, picking him up, singing, rocking, patting... nothing I've tried calms him down at all. Everything just makes it worse except bf. ds has been teething for months, but when the first 2 teeth came through, his cries were pain cries, and it wasn't that last night.

MamaChris Sun 17-Aug-08 09:21:28

missbloom, for me the easiest option would be anything that worked and that could never be wrong When I say it's better with ds in a sidecar, I mean for us and our situation (SPD means it's still painful for me to lie on my side, which was the only way we could co sleep - the sidecar means less pain = better for me). I'm just looking for any ideas that might help as everything I've tried so far just isn't working (for us).

crokky Sun 17-Aug-08 09:27:57

MamaChris - your DS sounds exactly like mine. He's now 2.5 and he is in bed with me every night. It is extremely hard to get him to sleep (often needing a drive round 10 or 11pm blushshock). He wakes up 1-2 times a night even now, wanting a cuddle. I stopped bf him at 12.5 months. I just wanted to say don't let it stop you having another baby. I have a DD (4 months). She sleeps better than my DS ever has. She falls asleep herself in her cot. (She is bf). Some babies are like this. Don't know what to say as I haven't really solved my own problem yet.

missbloom Sun 17-Aug-08 09:39:46

Just re-reading my messages and im aware of how theyre coming across! Its just that us ladies should ideally be enjoying this special time. When my dd was newborn i had conflicting advice being thrown at me from all sides. Its was hard to even know what i thought myself for a while. Hope ive not upset you i was just saying how ive found a way to cope. Sleep deprivation can do funny things to you cant it! No doubt my postings have not helped but all the best x

MamaChris Sun 17-Aug-08 09:52:46

missbloom- totally understand the miserable effects of sleep deprivation It's always helpful to know we're not alone and very glad you've found a way to cope. Most days I cope too (just). But last night I crossed the line into "I CAN'T CAN'T CAN'T do this anymore" territory. It was hard, and I feed awful I let my ds cry so much.

crokky - positive news - thanks (about your dd). Hope your ds learns to follow her example!

missbloom Sun 17-Aug-08 10:13:00

I do understand about crossing that line. Please dont feel awful, we have to try these things to find out if theyre going to work for us or not x

Maenad Sun 17-Aug-08 10:30:39

MamaChris - We had a very similar situation with DD (now 3.7 and a very good sleeper FWIW). I think you are beating yourself up too much. I don't think cuddling him, being with him etc but refusing the breast is the same thing as letting him cry. You're not leaving him afraid, alone and bewildered. He knows you're there and that he is safe, he's just not getting what he wants.

We had a sidecar cot and DD would wake frequently demanding bf to get back to sleep. She was always a very hungry baby and I didn't feel really confident that she didn't need night feeds till she was 8 months (probably overcautious of me, but I couldn't have denied the breast if I wasn't 100% sure it wasn't necessary).

At that point I decided to stop night feeds. When she woke up after having been asleep for 40 mins, I didn't feed her back to sleep as usual. She screamed hysterically for 2 hours while I cuddled, sang, rocked etc etc etc. It was horrendous. I know exactly what you mean about 'crying' not describing it - my DD was always like that about the idea of getting to sleep without bf, which is why I could never have contemplated cc or anything. But by 8 months I just found I'd reached a point where I was sure of what I needed to do and knew for certain that she did not NEED that feed.

After 2 hours of misery, I said to DH 'Do you think I should just feed her?' And DD stopped crying immediately. So we both burst out laughing and I carried on with renewed confidence that she was not unreasonably distressed, but more outraged at being deprived what she usually got. Eventually she went to sleep. And she never demanded a night feed again!

I guess everyone finds their own way of dealing with it and everyone's baby reacts differently - I just think that if you are sure he's not hungry, then as long as you (or your partner) are with him reassuring him, you don't need to feel guilty if you don't feed him.

I really hope this helps and doesn't just sound annoying. I know how overwhelming it feels. And I know it all feels like it will never end, but one day your DS will sleep well and this will all feel like the dim and distant past and it won't affect your & your DP's feelings about having more children. (am currently pg despite DD being the worst sleeper I ever met as a baby. I still find it incredible that I can kiss her goodnight and leave her to sleep all night long in her own bedroom).

lilyloo Sun 17-Aug-08 10:34:54

mamachris i know where your coming from.
dd2 6.5 mths and only this last week has her sleep improved from 2 hourly wakings.
She is still bf and was i felt comfort feeding not hunger feeding.
I have found getting her in a good routine in the day helps her evening sleep also she has always been a snacky bf baby so i am trying little snacks of food through the day.
As for other dc's and dp take heart my first ds was a nightmare and didn't sleep through until 3 but dd2 was a dream bf baby and slept through from 6 weeks.
I honestly believe some babys like sleep and some don't.
Even now ds 6 is an early waker and doesn't like sleeping but dd 3 loves her sleep and will often do 13 hours.
My routine with dd2 goes something like
6-7 up and bf
8 - breakfast porridge and toast
9.30 nap 45 mins
11 bf/snack
12.30 - lunch pasta / fruit
1 nap 1/2 hrs
3 bf/snack
someitmes she may have another quick 20 min nap before tea
5.30 - tea whatever we having
6.30 bath and bed
From this she now goes until 10/11 until bf then has another about 2 and 5 !
Good luck it is soooo hard!

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