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4mo DD impossible to get to sleep; any tips? Ideas? Would you sleep train?

(24 Posts)
drivingmisscrazy Sat 30-May-09 20:10:20

DD is 19 weeks and since she was born sleep has been an issue - every nap and bedtime involves significant amounts of crying, mainly because she is desperate to go to sleep but gets more and more overwrought when this doesn't work. I know that all sorts of stuff happens at this age, but this has been consistently the case since she was born. We have tried

* moving her bedtime earlier (and later)
* she is put down in her cot in a darkened room (or as dark as we can manage)
* we've put her down awake
* feeding to sleep (sometimes works, but never fast enough to prevent her getting wound up)
* shush/pat
* she has a bedtime routine of bath, gentle play, feed and bed
* we try to put her down for naps after about 1.5h
* dummy - won't take this consistently, but works when she will
* she attempts to self-soothe with thumb/hand sucking but this just seems to frustrate her more

The only thing we haven't tried is leaving her to it, but I feel that she is much too young for this.

In the day she usually stays asleep for a max of 45 mins, more often about 30

At night she goes to sleep usually about 7.30, often wakes for a quick feed 45 mins later and then might have one, or sometimes 2 feeds in the night. These are no problem and she goes back to sleep without difficulty.

It seems that she should be getting 12-15hours a day - which I think she does. But she goes very fast from yawning to eye rubbing by which time I think it is too late and she is overtired. But it takes at best at least 20 minutes for her to fall asleep.

DP and I feeling increasingly fraught about the yelling and crying, and that we spend most of our lives attempting (and failing) to put her to sleep. Would you try some kind of sleep training, and if so, what would you do? Or do you think that she will sort it out herself in the end, and that nothing is really going to change her?

bubblagirl Sat 30-May-09 20:13:14

bumping for you

drivingmisscrazy Sat 30-May-09 20:14:09

btw she is breastfed and we have no expectation that she will sleep through - we would just like to find a way to make bedtimes and naptimes easier for her and less stressful for all of us

Crazycatlady Sat 30-May-09 20:51:59

We have a similar 20 wk old DD... went through all the same stuff on your list. Only thing that worked was Pick Up Put Down (see baby whisperer forums or do a search on here for tips on the technique).

Really worked for her when we had literally NEVER put her down awake for naps or bedtime and were doing all naps walking the streets in the buggy and were at our wits end. A few days of using PUPD and now she's learnt how to settle herself and (importantly) re-settle herself.

Also now when she wakes after 45 mins during her long lunchtime nap, she usually cries but for less than 2 mins during which she settles herself back off for another hour-ish.

Hasn't completely eliminated the crying, but when she does cry it's usually for good reason, i.e. if I've misread her tired signals or if she's a bit hungry etc.

Do you have a routine for naps as well as bedtime? Just a really short one like nappy, grobag, blinds down, quick song and a cuddle?

ChocOrange05 Sat 30-May-09 22:15:29

I agree with crazycat about nap routines - something simple but do it before every nap. Ours is nappy, story, in cot while I tidy his room/potter about, lightshow on and I leave.

PUPD didn't work for us as it just overstimulated my DS but shh-pat did - I just sat by his cot and put my hand on his chest while shh-ing. We wouldn't pick him up if we KNEW he was fed, clean and right temp. Also, to keep him asleep for his daytime naps we use static radio - it increased his naps from 45-60mins to 2 hours+


stripeywoollenhat Sat 30-May-09 22:29:59

thanks...have done the white noise thing which worked OK (not quite sure why we stopped using that hmm) - I think we had a thing going where she was put down to sleep with white noise and we'd leave her for about 10 minutes. She'd cry but then go to sleep more often than not - but suspect we read all sorts of stuff about not leaving her to cry and lost our nerve. And now look...

Her cues are very hard to read - i.e. she doesn't really have any and goes from smiling and laughing to hysterically overtired in the bat of an eye. There's no 'sleepy but awake' with this child. So this leaads me to think that we need to give her more of a routine and to extend her naps with white noise. We'll see (we've just had a very bad evening)

drivingmisscrazy Sat 30-May-09 22:32:04

sorry, wrong name blush - there's tiredness and stress fo you

JFly Sat 30-May-09 22:45:00

Can I just point you here and here before you try sleep training at this stage? There are a few theories about sleep regressions and one of them happens at about 4-5 months. According to the theory, you may have better success with sleep training (if you want to do it at all) or other big shifts in routine after this period has passed.

IMO 20 minutes doesn't seem like that long for a 4-month old to fall asleep. But if she cries for the whole 20 minutes, she might be having trouble settling herself. She settles OK in the night, but perhaps that's b/c she's already half asleep and full of nice milk after a feed. I don't think leaving her to cry would help, especially if the crying seems to escalate rather than diminish (another theory on Moxie about "Increasers" and "Releasers").

My only practical advice is to keep trying with the dummy and carry on putting her down for a nap before you see any signs of tiredness. This is where a mini-routine might help - an hour after she has breakfast, give her a feed (my LO had to be FULL to sleep) and put her to bed (my LO needed a sleep this soon after waking). If that works, gradually stretch it out to 2 hours after waking. A 2/3/4 routine may work thereafter (2 hours after she wakes in the am, put her down for a nap; 3 hours after she wakes from that nap, put her down again; 4 hours after waking, down for the night). It's much more flexible than specific times of day and I found my LO fell into it quite naturally. And it's not really sleep training! Hurrah!

Last thing, maybe cut out the gentle play before bed. Bath-time may be enough stimulation for her before bed.

It's a rough time, I know! This too shall pass.

drivingmisscrazy Sat 30-May-09 22:55:01

thanks again - I should have said a minimum of 20 mins - often much longer. But I think you are right about the gentle play and the nap routine. Onwards and upwards...not really that keen to do sleep training as such if it can be avoided

drivingmisscrazy Sat 30-May-09 23:02:15

JFly I enjoyed those links grin - know about the Wonder Weeks and my instinct is that it's too early for sleep training given all the other stuff going on her poor little head

MoominMymbleandMy Sat 30-May-09 23:09:24

What worked with ours was to get a proper sling, NOT a Baby Bjorn/Tomy type thing, pop the baby in, and potter round the house until the baby is soundly asleep.

It works for daytime naps too.

You can take the baby out when they've nodded off, but with a tiny one we often found it was just as easy to leave them. It isn't as if they take up much space.

Crazycatlady Sun 31-May-09 12:24:56

Definitely recommend the nap routine - didn't take DD long to realise what was going on. We still have the very odd rubbish nap (had one this morning) but for the most part naps are sorted.

I hear what you're saying about cues being hard to read. Same with DD. Interestingly, after we started the nap routine and consistently putting her down for naps 2 hours after waking if she hadn't shown any tired signs before then, it got easier and easier to read her cues. Maybe she started showing them more clearly, maybe we got better at reading them, who knows... but the routine helped for sure.

Also - [whispers veeeery quietly and puts on flame proof suit]... I hate to say it as it goes against all my instincts and what my logical side knows about babies, food and sleep, BUT, for various reasons we have started DD on a teaspoon of baby rice mixed with pear and breastmilk after her 11am breastfeed. Now her lunchtime nap is much improved. No crying before going to sleep and she stays down for at least an hour and a half. [whisper over].

drivingmisscrazy Sun 31-May-09 18:07:18

moomin (great name, btw - my favourites!) I'm afraid to say that there is NO way on earth that if DD was asleep in a sling we'd be able to get her out of it without her waking fully, although I really like the idea of getting her to sleep this way.

Today we just decided to stop fighting and see what happened - went out to lunch so she nodded off in car on the way there and on the way back, but otherwise has been awake since 9.30am! And not notably cranky although she is clearly tired. About to put her to bed - wish me luck.

We will start with some kind of routine at the end of the week - we've various visitors and disruptions before then and really want to commit to it. We did put her down after about an hour this morning, but she chuntered and seemed like she would go, but (I think) had a big wee at the wrong moment and that was the end of that. Sigh.

crazycat no flaming here - there has been an issue at times with a slowish letdown, especially in the evenings which really hasn't helped the process, so I am not particularly surprised. It is for this reason taht we can't wait to start her on solids (only 7 weeks to go...)

thanks for all the responses

drivingmisscrazy Sun 31-May-09 19:42:44

DD nowhere near asleep. Sigh. We've had screaming on and off for the last hour and a half now sad

feralgirl Sun 31-May-09 19:43:50

Drivingmisscrazy; first of all, I feel your pain!

DS hit this at about the same age (he's now 6 months); he was a rubbish sleeper before 4 months and just got worse and worse until I was up literally all night (and day) with him.

He would only nap 45 mins max, just like your DD, so my solution (from about two months old) was to co-sleep his long lunch time nap every day. Inconvenient but it meant that his body clock kind of reset a bit I think.

<<whispers dead quiet so noone else can hear>> I actually got this suggestion from the dreaded Gina Ford. She says it'll take two weeks; it actually took nearer two months but hey. It also meant I caught up on some sleep, although the house looked appalling! blush

We went from napping with him on me, to him napping next to me in my bed, to him settling with me next to him and then me leaving him in my bed, to me feeding him to sleep and then shush-patting him to deep sleep in his cot and then leaving him to now where I can feed him downstairs and then just put him straight in his cot to settle himself (after nappy, grobag, song, white noise routine). The whole process has probably taken 3-4 months!

I think the fact that he has learnt to settle himself for naps has helped at night too as he has just started doing 4-5 hour stretches this week, despite teething.

The other things that have really helped are:

Baa baa blackout blinds

Co-sleeping all night after DH having been relegated to spare room.

The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley

And, most of all, the 4-5 month olds sleep club thread for support and shared experience! smile

Also, although it's no help yet, I think that solid food is making a difference too.

Good luck, I know how hideous it is.

MoominMymbleandMy Sun 31-May-09 23:35:47

Drivingmisscrazy, thanks, though it's not as imaginative as your name!

If you're open to the idea of co-sleeping it is the best recipe for success I know. And you don't have to banish your DP/DH.

If you are, I can't recommend Deborah Jackson's "Three in a Bed" highly enough. It was my co-sleeping bible.

It will get better. I would have sold my soul for a decent night's sleep with my first baby when she was tiny.

HullabaLuLu Mon 01-Jun-09 09:06:55

Hey drivingmisscrazy, my dd is exactly the same. 4 months old (18 weeks) and fights sleep - naptime, bedtime. It is very stressful having your baby cry and cry before falling asleep.

I have tried a dummy (some success when she'd take it), singing (also helped if it was always the same song), rocking (worked for a while, now it makes her worse), leaving her awake (doesn't help because she cries because she's overtired and needs to sleep).

She is much better lately. She has fallen asleep in the carseat without crying twice this week (unheard of before then). She also only cries for a few minutes now rather than the hour or more it used to be.

I often nurse her to sleep now (she still cries though). I like feralgirl's suggestion if you have the patience (I might try that one myself). And do come and join us on the 4-5 month old sleep club. They're the only people who understand I've had a good night if I get a 3 hour stretch of sleep!

"Three in a bed" is a really good book. I don't co-sleep anymore (hurts my hip and back) but I do feed DD lying down in bed, doze a bit and then when she's done and I wake I put her back in her Amby hammock. Oh, if I do co-sleep though DD will often just fall asleep without the fuss so I sometimes use it to get her to sleep at night too. Maybe I kind of co-sleep...

HullabaLuLu Mon 01-Jun-09 09:14:27

Oh I forgot to say, something else that worked for me was the Baby Whisperer - swaddle, dummy, lie dd on her side and then shush/pat and then put her on her back when she's asleep. I did this for every nap for two days. I just took dd up to her cot an hour and 15 mins or so after waking (this was a few weeks ago now). She fell asleep much faster than she had nursing and with hardly a whimper.

I stopped because she only napped for 45 mins so I was having to do it every couple of hours. She also sleeps in an Amby Hammock so I had to do it in her big cot on the 2nd floor of our house. It wasn't very flexible - I can't do it in her Amby for instance.

It might be worth a try though? I was amazed at how it worked. Now I'd just rather nurse her on the sofa until she sleep so I can MN & drink tea while she naps!

drivingmisscrazy Mon 01-Jun-09 13:27:50

well we've gone back to the swaddle and white noise - just using a light cotton sheet for the swaddle as it's so warm. Took ages to get her to sleep last night (utterly utterly overtired), but woke at 3.30 for a feed, then 6 (which is her wake up time), back at 6.40-8.10, then 9-11ish! but need to get her off to sleep now in order not to lose all the benefits....

glad (but also IYKWIM) that we are not alone...

did co-sleep til she was about 11 weeks but she just woke everyone up with her shuftying over to the boob for a little snack...

Jojay Mon 01-Jun-09 13:34:40

I was just going to say, she's not too old to swaddle still - works like magic with my DS

drivingmisscrazy Mon 01-Jun-09 13:40:25

well of course having said all that, now we are back to the Battle of the Naps...

she's been up for about 2 hours (tried earlier but no go), has been eye rubbing (so somehow missed her window, whenever the hell that is), but not going to sleep. Shush/pat seems to have stopped working as she just yells and kicks when you turn her onto her side.

But will keep trying...

januarysnowdrop Mon 01-Jun-09 15:31:33

I used to let dd2 (now 17 weeks) suck on my knuckle to get to sleep, which really worked - might be worth a try if she won't take a dummy? Now that she's older and more in control of her hands I hold her thumb in her mouth for her if she's having trouble dropping off. We use a fan for white noise, which I think helps her to sleep for longer. And at least one of her daytime naps is in a sling, which she loves.

I know it's difficult, because you're in a situation where you don't know what to do for the best, but I'm sure it would make sense to choose a strategy and stick to it for a couple of weeks, even if you have a few awful days - just to get her used to the idea that 'this is the way I go to sleep now'. My dd2 hated it when I stopped letting her have my knuckle to suck on, but it only took a couple of days and she was fine about it.

sjcmum Mon 01-Jun-09 16:39:13

I sympathise with you all - and it is good to know I'm not the only one with a 5 month old rubbish sleeper. Interesting articles on those links and I'll try some of the suggestions.

The thing I'm finding really hard is having an older daughter too (2.10) - it is never easy to give DD2 the attention she needs to read her queues, or invest the time in getting her into more of a routine for naps. She seems to escalate pretty quickly at the best of times from being fine to screaming uncontrollably anyway - so I've struggled to spot any kind of window. She starts screaming, DD1 gets upset too. and it all escalates from there. A lot of the books seem to assume that you only ever have to cope with one child!!!

drivingmisscrazy Mon 01-Jun-09 19:00:18

sjcmum - that's true they do tend to assume one child. Happy Sleep Healthy Child does acknowledge that there might be other children around, although I find that book interesting it doesn't actually tell you what to DO!!! And I just want someone to come into my house, watch we do and tell me what we can do better. I do think a lot of it is about temperament too which you just have to work with at this age.

We've had an OK day today, but are settling into the evening meltdown. Managed to shush/pat her to sleep only for her to wake herself up 2 minutes later by rolling onto her face leading to another half hour of screaming and crying. She might have a hangover of tiredness/overstimulation from the past few days, but she's had plenty of sleep today. It doesn't seem to make much difference atm

wit's end and hair pulling out come to mind. Hope all of you are having better times

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