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No routine, late to bed.......Help please!

(20 Posts)
Bluegirl Sun 17-Apr-05 15:57:27

To get straight to the point, my DS is 12 weeks old, is exclusively breastfed (won't even take expressed milk from bottle but that's another story), really has no routine to speak of and doesn't settle until late at night (usually between midnight and 2am). When he does settle, he's great and will sleep for 7-8 hours, then have a quick feed without really opening his eyes and go down for another 2-4 hours, eventually getting up at about 11am!! I am so grateful that he is such a good sleeper when he does go down for the night, but the lack of routine, late bedtime and late start to the day is really starting to get to me. I am going back to work in about 10 weeks time to a very demanding job and will be moving house the week before I go back to work so I guess I really need to do something about this soon. I just don't think I'll be able to function at work if I'm not going to bed until 1am in the morning. Also don't think the nursery will thank me for delivering a grouchy baby to them. During the day, DS will usually have 2 x 1hour naps between noon and 5pm, then the evenings are unpredictable. He will usually sleep for about 30mins-1hour sometime between 5pm and 10pm (NB: this is all very approximate!) and bedtime is often a different time every night - he usually gives in between midnight and 2am. Bathing has no effect on his bedtime, it is still late and erratic. He feeds every 2-4 hours during the day, depending on how hungry he is - he is still fed on demand rather than by the clock.

In a way I feel as if this 'no routine situation' is all my fault, that I should have been strict from the start and only fed him at regular intervals rather than on demand and tried to establish a routine before this. But I've just found the whole thing so difficult, I don't think I would have the strength to be really strict with him, I've been hoping he'll settle into a reasonable routine of his own accord without me forcing one on him . It seems all my friends have their babies on nice little routines, feeding every four hours and going to bed at 7-8pm, makes me feel like such a failure . Late bedtime for DS also means no time for me and DH which isn't good for the relationship.

Don't know if anyone out there has had this problem, but all suggestions and advice on how to move his bedtime forward or establish a routine would be most welcome.

hunkermunker Sun 17-Apr-05 16:14:07

Yes, had this problem - and it does get better. Do you have a bath/last feed/wind down/bed routine? Think of the day beginning with bedtime - it kind of resets babies ready for the next day.

And keep repeating to yourself - this will pass. It will, I promise I think that if you try to impose too strict a routine if you're not a routine-y person yourself, you just make everyone unhappy (it did me!).

He will start going to bed earlier - just try small changes rather than a massive leap forwards with bedtime and by the time you go back to work, you'll wonder why you were worried.

hunkermunker Sun 17-Apr-05 16:14:52

And also - 12 weeks is really young still. If you do bring it all forward, he may well wake in the middle of the night - just to warn you!

collision Sun 17-Apr-05 16:17:59

It does get better.

DS2 (22 weeks) has a bath at 6pm ish and then half a breast feed and some solids. He finishes his breast feed and then gets ready for bed and is in bed between 7-7.30pm with a story with Ds1.

His routine is varied during the day but as long as we do the evening routine he is OK and I feel better that we get the evenings together.

bakedpotato Sun 17-Apr-05 16:33:33

Bluegirl, don't feel bad about this: it doesn't sound unfixable to me at all. He sounds like he has a routine of sorts, ie he goes to sleep roughly at the same time and wakes up a predictable number of hours later... the problem is, his pattern does not suit your hours. This is totally fixable, and you can still accommodate the pattern he has fallen into, if you want to.
If you want him to go to bed earlier, he has to wake up earlier. Instead of sleeping midnight-11am, as he does now, he sounds like he could go 8pm-7am without too much hassle, if you tweak the time he starts the day. I would start getting him up at the hour you want to get up at, and putting him down for a nap no later than 2 hrs after that (which sounds like it will suit him, as he's doing something like this already). Honest, the rest will follow.
(I've got a 12-wk-old too, and his nap pattern during the day is pretty similar to your son's, and he sleeps 7.30pm-10pm, when we wake him for a dreamfeed, and then goes through till 6.30-7.30am. He sleeps about 3-4 hrs in the day.)

Bluegirl Sun 17-Apr-05 16:46:20

Thanks to you all for the suggestions and reassurance. Its so nice to hear from other mums.

Bakedpotato - if I get him up at say 10.30am instead of him waking at 11ish - with a view to gradually moving back to 7.30am, won't he be really grouchy? And when I do get him up, do I try and keep him awake for an hour or more before he sleeps again? That could be difficult. Also when he does have his first morning nap after getting up earlier, do I restrict how long it is - as he may well nap for longer than an hour if I get him up earlier? Sorry for all the questions!

Really appreciate all your postings.....

bakedpotato Sun 17-Apr-05 17:09:59

Bluegirl, yes, I was going to suggest that you moved 'morning wakeup' backwards slowly, over a week or so. I wouldn't have thought getting him up half an hour (or even an hour) earlier every day would have a huge effect on his mood, but it's possible, and you might have to get him down for his naps more promptly. (so much harder to settle them for naps if they've been up for more than 2 hrs, as they get overtired.) i wouldn't let the nap go on longer than usual, though, or the problem won't correct itself.
oh, good luck, you can do it.

Bluegirl Sun 17-Apr-05 17:13:30

Hunkermunker - thanks for the reassurance. Did your little one change of his own accord or did you have to ease things along a little? We do have a wind-down period in the evening - bath, low lights, little talking etc but my problem is I never know when his 'last' feed is going to be. Sometimes its at 10pm, sometimes 11 or 12 or 1am - so its difficult to encourage a bed-time routine without having a predictable 'last' feed. I will persist with the bath, low lights etc - looks like our bedtime routine will just have to be about 4 hours long! What am I doing wrong????? And you are right about bringing it all forward too quickly - he has gone down of his own accord on 2 nights in the past 2 weeks at about 10 or 11pm, but then has invariably woken a few times during the night - his 7-8 hour stretch went right out the window! This would be so much easier if they just came with an on/off switch and user manual. God, sometimes I just feel hopeless at the whole motherhood thing.

Thanks to all for the messages.

hunkermunker Sun 17-Apr-05 17:14:49

BG, will reply more when I'm not at work

But don't fret - just don't try to force things, and gradually steer it round to what you want. I found that just when I was despairing (silently!), DS worked out what I wanted him to be doing

minicommandant Fri 22-Apr-05 10:20:33

Bluegirl,

I really empathise with that feeling of "it all being your fault" and feeling like you've failed when everyone else seems to have it sussed. YOu're really not alone. And just think of the success you've had with breastfeeding when so many people struggle wiht that. So hard to know what to do with so much different advice and when you're used to succeeding at things and being able to control them by what you do, having a baby is such a shock! Our ds didn't go to bed in the evenings until he was about 16 weeks when I broke and did controlled crying. First night he cried for 42 mins, second night 27 mins, third night 12 mins, fourth night 2 mins. And after that he had a regular 7pm bedtime and this did not affect the rest of his sleeping. In fact, getting more sleep seemed to help him get more sleep. Doing the crying was awful (not helped by dh making me feel like a complete witch, but then he wasn't the one dealing with the fallout...)

By the way, other people kept telling me I was not picking up on his sleep cues (rubbing eyes etc), but looking back, he was too young to be giving me too many active cues, so I just had to trust to a routine instead. The thing I found most surprising when I started following a (rough) GF routine was that he really was ready for a nap just 2 hours after getting up in the morning and once he was getting that nap at about 9am, that seemed to set the rest of the day up too.

Finally, is there any way you can delay going back to work for a bit longer? I too have a demanding job and was not at all ready to go back to it and do it well by 5 months. 7 months was more realistic for me. Just a thought.

Bluegirl Fri 22-Apr-05 13:17:14

Thanks for posting minicommandant. Appreciate the advice. Well done to you for successfully doing the CC thing - and with no support!!! Wow, so impressed at your stamina.

I just don't know where to even start trying to go a GF or other routine. Got DS up at 9.30 (1.5 hrs earlier than usual) yesterday hoping it would start to move bedtime earlier as well - we had worst night for a long time - 2am he went to bed. Today, I am exhausted, pissed off at him, pissed off at myself, want to crawl under duvet and stay there. Sorry for moan - just having a v.bad day today. Really don't know what to do. Do I wait another few weeks and hope he'll move bedtime back himself? Do I keep getting him up early in the hope this will eventually work? Or do I just bite the bullet and do CC or PU/PD when I think (???) he's really tired? He goes down relatively easily for his naps during the day in a semi-conscious state and if he wakes up, he puts himself over to sleep. But if I put him down at night in anything other than a very sound sleep he wakes himself up and starts bawling. Think maybe he is taking the piss and I should just do PU/PD. Out him down 'asleep' last night at 1.45am, he woke himself up, bawled for 10 minutes, I picked him up, sat with him on my shoulder and he was alseep within 5 mins - so maybe I do need to be more firm and do something like PU/PD? He often falls asleep at night at the breast (after cluster feeding for several hours constantly - no, not a growth spurt - just normal behaviour), so I have taught him poor sleep associations as well. Bloody fed up with the whole thing. On my own with him for 4 days now as DH is away. Oh joy!

Can't delay return to work - moving house, mortgage to be paid etc. Plus, at least I can succeed at work as I'm crap at this motherhood thing, so maybe its no bad thing. Ignore this, just a bad day,am sure it'll pass.

Going to have another good cry, maybe that'll help......

Seona1973 Fri 22-Apr-05 14:07:44

I think that I would choose a time for bed - somewhere between 7.30-8.30 and then treat any feeds after that time as night feeds (dark, quiet, low key, etc to signal that it is night time) Have your bedtime routine (bath, feed, etc)at a set time and then that will also help signal that its bedtime.

I would probably use pick up/put down to get your lo to sleep independently in his cot (I do not agree with/like the thought of controlled crying as it can destroy the trust between you and your lo and can make them scared of their cot).

As your lo is taking a long time to settle, that suggests to me that he is overtired and overtiredness also contributes to night wakings.

I would also continue to wake your lo a bit earlier in the morning but dont try to do too much too soon. Give each change in wake up time a few days to a week for him to get used to it before you make it any earlier.

It will take a bit of time and patience but you can do it.

Catilla Fri 22-Apr-05 14:08:58

Bluegirl
Please don't worry about work yet, it's ages away in baby terms! In a few weeks you will look back and be amazed how he's changed!

Can you take the opportunity of dh being away to really concentrate on ds?
A few thoughts that really helped me cope:
- sleep when he sleeps... even in the day, never mind the chores, just go straight to be when he does. If he doesn't let you leave him while awake then use a sling to get things done.
- look for whingeing, eye rubbing, yawns, etc after 2 hours (or less) and attempt to put to bed every time you see that. Be prepared to do that as often as he needs during the day.
- little routine for daytime sleeps eg. I turn light on (so I can turn it down later to indicate sleep time), cuddle him, walk around, pat back, mumbling/singing, then close curtains, look at pics on bedroom wall together. Then lay in cot on grobag and fasten it around him. Read cloth book with nice rhymes for a story in soothing lulling voice, letting him reach for the pages... general distraction from the fact he's been put down. Then leave book & a cuddly in cot with him, turn on musical mobile & retreat.
- If he says no to sleep (by hard crying for more than couple of mins) then I would give up, come out of bedroom and treat him as awake again (play etc, feed if needed) and keep looking for the tired signs to try again.
- When my ds fell asleep on me (eg. bf at bedtime) I would gently put him up on my shoulder and pat (like winding) and walk slowly to his bed... the idea being to make him just awake enough to be aware of being put down so he doesn't get surprised and wake up fully.
- if he cries when put down, listen to the cry. If it's not a really strong one just listen, wait, see how it changes. Lots of whingy cries tend to fade rather than escalate. We did do a version of cc with lots of listening but I think support of dh is very important to get through it.

I didn't fix feed times - and even now (10 months) they're not that fixed.

Also I am tougher now and if he cries I first go to the loo (!) and if he's still crying when I come back I might go in.

I hope you get some ideas from me or others. Most important though is to relax and remind yourself he will keep on changing. Oh - and if he's stressing you out get him in the buggy and get out the door! Does me the world of good. I used to stress and stay in trying to calm and settle him - but getting out refreshed us both. He usually stops crying as soon as I open the door!

FionaJT Fri 22-Apr-05 18:39:06

Hi Bluegirl, just wanted to let you know that I'm in the same boat, sort of - my dd (first baby) is 15 weeks, bf on demand and largely routineless, and I'm also beginning to feel that maybe I've taken the wrong tack. Conversely, bedtime is the one thing I have got sussed, but I'm really with you on not knowing where to start with a routine. And I've got a few days on my own with nothing going on which I'm trying to take as an opportunity to crack certain things. I've found that taking one thing at a time(in my case spacing out feeds so she doesn't snack all the time!!) trying to make it work for us both and then fitting other things in around it is gradually pulling a routine together. I had to have a good cry when I woke up this morning too, but actually today's gone rather well, despite what I expected - hang in there!!

poppy101 Fri 22-Apr-05 19:20:16

I know a lot of people aren't keen on GF routines, but I use it and haven't really had a problem. I let mine sleep from 6.30am till 6.30pm, as I prefer my lo in bed early, have more or less follow the routine since baby was a couple of weeks old.

bakedpotato Fri 22-Apr-05 19:55:28

Oh Bluegirl, I am sorry you've had a horrible time of it and that you are on your own for a few days. Me, I would stick to the earlier times, just go with it for a few days if you can, and see if DS settles down; I'm sure he will adjust, maybe this was an awful buffer day. I agree that it sounds as if he might be fairly overtired, which is why he takes ages to settle.
I always mention this book, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, by Dr Richard Ferber -- not that DS has a problem yet (though Ferber says 12 wks is when babies start becoming aware of day/night, so it is an important developmental stage) -- he is so good at explaining how babies sleep, how much sleep they need, and how to get them used to going to sleep by themselves. He is also good on structuring sleep so they do it at the right times .
It's not a scary book at all, quite friendly in fact. HTH.

Bluegirl Sun 24-Apr-05 10:25:15

Thanks so much to you all for the messages and encouragement. I will keep trying with all your tips. Friday he was up at 11.15am (after his 2am bedtime I was too tired to get him up earlier!!!) and in bed on Friday night at 11.20pm. Saturday morning I got him up at 9.30am and he went down at 1am Sunday morning. Got him up at 9.30am this morning even though am shattered. Bath, dim lights etc etc all seem to have no effect on him whatsoever, but I will keep trying earlier starts, bedtime routine etc etc..... When I get really P** off will prob do PU/PD, but reckon I'm not in the right frame of mind for that yet. Must also have a look at Ferber - am gradually building up a lovely library of sleep books.

Thanks again to all who took the time to post. The support really does help.

arrraagggh Sun 01-May-05 21:58:47

Hiya bluegirl, just wanted to say you are not alone I too have been through the exactly the same situation. For the first mth ds had colic so we would not go to bed until 3am sumtimes 6am and then eventually that passed and I was able to get him down at 1.30am and he would sleep through until 7/8am and go back to bed and eventually wake at 11am. I also breastfed.

Ds is now 7mths old and goes to bed at 8.30pm wakes at 3am for a feed and starts the day at 7am. This is only recently done. Before that it was 10pm, 11pm and 12pm.Im trying to remember how I got through it.

But basically try and make sure ds has his naps the same time every day. Make afternoon time really active we took ds swimming. Stick with the bedtime routine and very gradually move it back. Because ds would not settle until 1.30 dead on every night we didnt bath ds until 11.30pm (I know!) then feed and bed. I wanted ds to know that after his bath, feed it was time to sleep. I did it everynight for a few days and then I moved it back slowly by an 30mins-hr.
Its took me to now to get ds down at a suitable time and up at a reasonble hour although he still wakes at least once.

I had loads of criticism off my mil for not putting ds down at 7pm but it just wasnt possible. At first he would just not go down any earlar then 1.30am and then when he was able to associate bath with bedtime and i could get him down earliar he would be wide awake at 3am if i put him down at 8am.

arrraagggh Sun 01-May-05 21:58:48

Hiya bluegirl, just wanted to say you are not alone I too have been through the exactly the same situation. For the first mth ds had colic so we would not go to bed until 3am sumtimes 6am and then eventually that passed and I was able to get him down at 1.30am and he would sleep through until 7/8am and go back to bed and eventually wake at 11am. I also breastfed.

Ds is now 7mths old and goes to bed at 8.30pm wakes at 3am for a feed and starts the day at 7am. This is only recently done. Before that it was 10pm, 11pm and 12pm.Im trying to remember how I got through it.

But basically try and make sure ds has his naps the same time every day. Make afternoon time really active we took ds swimming. Stick with the bedtime routine and very gradually move it back. Because ds would not settle until 1.30 dead on every night we didnt bath ds until 11.30pm (I know!) then feed and bed. I wanted ds to know that after his bath, feed it was time to sleep. I did it everynight for a few days and then I moved it back slowly by an 30mins-hr.
Its took me to now to get ds down at a suitable time and up at a reasonble hour although he still wakes at least once.

I had loads of criticism off my mil for not putting ds down at 7pm but it just wasnt possible. At first he would just not go down any earlar then 1.30am and then when he was able to associate bath with bedtime and i could get him down earliar he would be wide awake at 3am if i put him down at 8am.

Bluegirl Thu 05-May-05 16:45:26

Thanks arrraagggh, that is really very helpful. Oh it is so nice to know others have been in this situation. Sometimes I really do feel like I've done something terribly wrong to have a baby that still doesn't do the 'normal' 7-7 routine that others do!!! Especially when DH (or not-so-DH) says things like "you've got him into a bad routine"! V.supportive. I do not feel I have got him into a bad rotuine, he simply has NEVER settled well at night since he was born and I cannot get him to go down for the night any earlier than I am doing. Who has got him to sleep every night and for every nap since he was born - oh that would be me NOT DH who, on the sleeping front, seems to think I'm "not doing a very good job of it".

Anyway, thanks for the advice. I think I will try the very late bath (tired even thinking about it) and try to get that association going. He has been going down at around 11.30-12.30 every night for past week so that, at least, is a little less erratic that usual - probably jinxed it by saying that!! Sleeping has now been compounded by the onset of teething and DS, now 14 weeks, is not a good sufferer. Getting him down for naps is extremely difficult and he is fussy about feeding now to boot (this is a baby who would never ever refuse a boob before!). Ho Hum! Still, he smiles loads and giggles for me, so I must be doing something right. He is soooooo cute don't know how I will ever be firm with him!

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