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10 weeks old - sleep habits worsening (not improving like all the books say) with time!

(23 Posts)
elk4baby Tue 23-Jun-09 14:06:55


I'm hoping someone out there can help me, as I'm getting quite stressed and desperate .

My DS has been pretty good at night from about 6 weeks, doing 3-5 hour stretches. I'm assuming he wakes up during these, but somehow puts himself back to sleep. His naps are often very short (and have been from the start), never more than 45 min. to an hour - most are actually 15-30 minutes. At night, settling him used to be a bit difficult, but he went down in about half an hour of nursing, burping and me rocking him to sleep; rarely, he'd need a dummy to calm down after he woke up 10 minutes later. During the day it took a dummy and some rocking.

The problem now is that it seems it's getting progressively (and I mean geometric progression) more difficult to settle him at night and during the day. I put him down awake (tired, as he's yawning and everything) and leave him in the room, five minutes later he starts crying. And this crying is not the winding down type of crying, it's escalating into a very loud howl. During the day, it takes rocking and literally slowly breathing into his ear. He now refuses to take the dummy (seems he knows that I'm trying to get him to sleep).

At night, it takes 2 to 3 hours to finally see him asleep. I put him down awake in the dark and leave the room, 2-5 min. later he starts screaming (not crying, screaming!!), so I go in try to rock him and shush him. This no longer seems to do much, so I give him the breast (he's exclusively BF). He settles happily and falls asleep with mummy in his mouth. I manage to wind him without fully waking him and put him down half-asleep. He screams again as soon as his head touches the pillow (even though I lower him down VERY slowly and carefully). If I do manage to get him to fall asleep once he's in the cot, he cries again 5-10 minutes later. So I go in again and try to rock, give him the dummy (which he now refuses), nurse and put him down half-asleep or fully asleep, then 5-10 minutes later.... and the dance continues for 2-3 hours.
He cries from being overtired and even though I manage to get him to sleep, he doesn't stay alseep and each time cries harder and harder . I tried leaving him to 'cry it out', but he doesn't wind down like this, only gets angrier and more difficult to settle when I go in. I cannot bear to leave him to cry himself to sleep/crash .

Sorry for the long post, but I'm really desperate to make things better for my LO. Has anyone been in a similar situation? Any advice?

Is it possible that he's bored in his cot? Because during the day, when I put him down, he seems bored that there's nothing interesting to look at (I take the mobile off, as it's very colourful and I don't want ot over-stimulate him). Is there anything that I can leave for him to look at that would not get him wound up yet would keep him amuzed until he's ready to drift off? (or am I loosing my mind thinking that he needs 'entertainment' to fall asleep ?hmm)

mdavza Tue 23-Jun-09 22:27:42

Hi there, my heart really goes out to you and your lo! Sleeping is such a big deal at this stage! First, I have found the Baby Whispering books by Tracey Hogg to be v helpful. You don't have to follow her method religiously, but she makes a lot of sense and it aims to help you deal with problem situations. Please also follow your instinct and don't leave your lo to cry. They have no other way of communicating, be there for him.

So my suggestins are:
1. put your baby on a routine, not a schedule, with his feeds, naps etc more or less at the same time every day
2. Make sure your lo is not suffering from colic or reflux or silent reflux or whatever, maybe speak to Hv/gp
3. What happens if you allow your lo tofeed lying down on the bed next to you? If it works, let him do that in order to get some good naps during the day, he sounds v tired so try to help him to rest. My lo's evening sleep improved with more and better daytime
4. Look after yourself, have someone take him for a few hours each week, just to give you a breathing space- you are his only mummy!

I hope this helps- I'm no expert, believe me! Good luck!

gagarin Tue 23-Jun-09 22:41:07

He's much too young to leave to cry BUT to me it sounds as though you are in danger of overstimulating through your day time settling routines. Lots of movement and active contact when perhaps just being with you would be better.

How about going out for a walk at nap times so he gets to settle on his own with no contact from you? That may help with daytime sleeps and this may then heave a knock on effect on the nights - better/more day time sleep seems to lead to better/more night time sleep

And if it is taking 2-3 hours to settle him in the evening I'd probably wonder if you are starting the bedtime routine too early?

He's very tiny yet and a "bed time" would be unusual (IMO) as they are often very random at this age.

Any chance of abandoning early bed times and aiming for between 10 and 11pm?

You might be successful then and if so you can then work on inching the bed time a little earlier every week until you reach between 8-9pm which is a "normal-ish" bedtime for a tiny baby.

AuntyJantyMinikyMoniky Tue 23-Jun-09 22:44:36

I second everything mdavza said, was going to write it out then I realised she had said exactly what I was going to say!

Love the Baby Whisperer book sleep techniques and the routine too, well worth a read.

Goodluck elk4baby, hope it gets better soon.

elk4baby Tue 23-Jun-09 23:59:45

Thanks everyone! I actually really liked the baby whisperer book a friend has given to me.
Our bedtime is actually between 10 and 11pm shock blush... both me and DH are night howls. Plus, DH doesn't get home until 9pm . I try to make sure that any time they spend together is not too 'active'.
Though DH getting home from work late is not he sole reason for such a late bedtime. I put DS down at 7/8, but he's up in an hour at most and wide awake. So we go through another cycle of feed-activity-sleep (the last step on that one ends up being more of an activity as we 'dance' towards nighttime sleep).
Early on (around 5/6 weeks) our bedtime was midnight/1am! blush, so 10/11 is an improvement...

I'd really appreciate any advice...or a smack on the head, as I probably deserve it.

[Sometimes it really feels like I'm failing at being a mum ]

gagarin Wed 24-Jun-09 07:44:52

You are both new in your roles (baby and mum grin) so whatever you manage to do and how ever you mnanage to understand each other you are growing into a wondeful parent every day.

There is no pass or fail in parenting. People whose babies sleep are not better parents. People whose babies whose babies are difficult to settle are not failures!

Next option is to try some baby massage techniques? It can be very relaxing for the baby and you.

and plenty of walks during the day to help him drift off on his own.

good luck!

hoochymama Wed 24-Jun-09 09:13:44

It all sounds very similar to my situation, dd is 16 wks now, but around 10 wks it all kicked off. Looking back she was teething, and growth spurting but I didn't realise it could start so early.

Definitely check out any medical problem that could be causing it and then look at routine and soothing techniques.

Certainly no smack on the head from me, you need a big hug! and to get lots and lots of rest. DH and I take it in turns to get up with dd at 8am and the other one has a lie in. Do whatever works for you, and take care of yourself. It's so exhausting to have a baby that doesn't sleep, it's normal to feel like you're not doing a good job, but you are!!

mdavza Wed 24-Jun-09 09:15:44

Hi there, again, BIG hugs! I know how bad it feels sometimes, especially when other mummies are saying things like 'OOOh, it's so wonderful to be a mum!' you're doing great.

Just one thought: At nighttime it is reccommended to leave out the A time - that is for daytime only, so at night it's only feed and sleep, no A time. And I know this might sound counterintuitive, but sometimes rocking/dancing etc actually stimulate them more instead of less, so maybe at night you could just hold him while sitting? Just ideas, you'll find a way, trust your instinct!

elk4baby Wed 24-Jun-09 12:53:30

I really appreciate your support, thank you.

mdavza, by 'dance' I meant the getting him to sleep every 10 minutes for 2.5-3 hours before he finally drifts off for the night. And when we do this (or in the middle of the night), he doesn't get any A time. The most would be a nappy change at 4am when he gets up to eat - and that's only because the nappy doesn't last through the whole night. I've actually gotten it to a fine art, as most of the time I manage to get him changed without fully waking him up [sock] .

He's in a bedside cot. Though instead of removing the one side of it altogether, we've lowered it to the max, so there's only a couple of inches 'barrier' between our mattresses - that's because the little wriggle bug sometimes manages to turn in circles in his sleep. After a couple of nights of finding his feet or head (shock!!) over on our bed with his body still on his own, we decided that a little 'protection' would be wise.
When I get up to feed him, I just slightly push his cot away and sit on the side of the bed while feeding him. Most nights, he's only half-awake for the whole thing. As I tend to wake up when he stirs and only starts to sniffle a bit (sometimes even before this, so I have to wait 10/15 min., which can be frustrating - as in 'why on earth am I not sleeping if the baby is?!').

hoochymama, can they really start teething this early?! hmmshock I haven't checked his gums, but come to think of it he's been drooling quite a bit the past week or so, but that's the only symptom.

elk4baby Wed 24-Jun-09 12:59:11

Last night, DH and I took turns going to the bedroom to soothe the baby. And DH hypothesised that DS has gas, which is preventing him from falling asleep. He might be right, actually as DS was very, um, 'musical' blush all evening and night. Could it be something I'm eating? I try to avoid the cabbages and beans... And I haven't changed my diet lately, so while this could have been the problem last night, I doubt that's what has been causing the problem lately. Could it really be gas? And if so, is there anything I can do to help my LO?

KingRolo Wed 24-Jun-09 13:12:05

My dd's first tooth came through at 16 weeks and we had the symptoms of teething from 10 weeks (drooling, red patch on gum, irritability) so that could be causing him to be restless. I think you can give Calpol / Calprofen from 2 months / over 4kg.

Gas can keep them awake too. For me, it is tomatoes and broccoli that seem to cause the problem so I cut them out completely and dd is a bit happier (and less smelly!). Pumping the legs up and down can help get things moving, as can a bit of tummy massage.

You have my sympathy, it's bloody hard work isn't it?!

KingRolo Wed 24-Jun-09 13:13:10

Ah, Calprofen is 3 months +

Elsy Wed 24-Jun-09 14:53:40

This sounds so like the problems I've been having with my LO. She's 14 weeks now and things have definitely improved over the last couple of weeks. At 10 weeks she wouldn't sleep longer than 30 minutes or so but woke up tired and grumpy and always cried for about 2 hours in the evenings. Finally she's started to do some long naps (nothing I've done, it's just happened). The evenings are still a bit hit and miss, but the crying is less now. I tried everything - cluster feeding, rocking, walking around singing and the only thing that works is leaving her to it. In the evenings I've noticed that if I go in and pick her up it makes the crying last much longer. I have definitely come to the conclusion that she is overtired and the crying is her way of going to sleep. I still find it very distressing to listen to and spend my evenings on tenterhooks waiting for that first cry to start. I think your hunch about wind is probably right too as my LO has been very windy since birth (she is BF), although I think that is beginning to slowly improve also.

Please don't feel that it is anything you are doing wrong. This is my second baby - I have done everything the same as the first and they are just totally different sleepers. DD1 never woke in the evenings and I was happy to leave her with a sitter in the evening from about 8 weeks because I knew she wouldn't wake until after midnight. I definitely won't be leaving DD2 any time soon!

hoochymama Wed 24-Jun-09 20:00:28

have you tried gripe water for the gas? It works really well with my dd.

when I think she was teething, she was irritable, popping on and off the boob, drooling much much more than usual, gnawing everything in sight, you could feel a little bump on her gum

hope it improves soon for you (I'm listening to dh trying to settle a very fractious dd right now, sigh!)

Powdoc Wed 24-Jun-09 22:36:39

Hi Elk,

I was reading through this thread with sympathy when I realised that I know you from the local one. I'm afraid I cannot help too much with the nighttime sleeping as DD has always been quite good at that bit (sorry. Am well aware it could change overnight, literlally!). However, I wanted to say that if you ever fancy a chat or someone to do laps of the park with to try and encourage your little one to nap (DD is NOT a good napper), I would be happy to do so.

Also have a couple of thoughts. Firstly, have you tried walking with DS in a sling? I have found that a long walk with DD in a sling can encourage her to take a longer nap, which seems to impact on the rest of the day. Secondly, I read somewhere that newborns take 20 minutes to fall into a solid sleep. It might be worth trying holding onto him for long enough for him to be solidly asleep for a few nights before 'graduating' to trying to put him down half asleep. We did it in phases like this with DD. Now, she sounds much easier and I'm a first time mum, so feel free to ignore me, but I just thought I would chip in in case it helps. I don't suppose either of those suggestions could actively hurt!

elk4baby Wed 24-Jun-09 22:54:16

(I really need to vent, sorry)

DH went out for a beer tonight (part of me hates the fact that he's not here/him right now). I've had a migraine since about 6 this evening and, of course, since I'm BF I can't take any drugs, so have to endure.

Another thing I had to endure this evening is an hour and a half of my boy screaming. Not crying, SCREAMING at the top of his lungs. And hour and a half solid. He'd stop for a few seconds (I'm not joking here ) if I nursed him, but then he'd spit me out and go on screaming again. Rocking didn't work, nursing didn't work (see above), bouncing on a gym ball didn't work, leaving him alone for a few minutes didn't work, singing didn't work, music didn't work, all the positions I could imagine didn't work (well, I didn't try to hold him upside down)... and for the last 15 min. before he finally crashed from exhaustion I lay next to him on our bed with my hand on his chest. He was crying so hard and grasping for breath. His heart was racing, beating so fast I was near calling an ambulance.

Now even though he crashed and is asleep, it's nowhere near restful. He whipmers and catches his breath every few minutes. I know that he'd swallowed a lot of air while crying, but when I tried as much as putting my hand under his shoulders to lift him up into vertical, he screamed again. So I've covered him with a blanket and left the room...

What makes matters worse is that even when DH comes home and I tell him about it, I know all he'll say is that crying is natural for babies and is even good for them. In the sense that every baby has to go through bouts of crying, it's part of their development. But no matter how much I try, I just can't see how an hour and half of screaming at the top of one's lungs can be good.

Apologies for venting. I just needed to tell someone...

Powdoc Thu 25-Jun-09 09:43:07

Oh Elk, poor you sad.

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. Would either of them help at all if you have another migrane, or would you need something stronger?

I think you need to sit down with your DH and explain how this is making you feel. Whether it is normal or not (and I don't know if it is. It sounds a little extreme to me for 10 weeks, but normal is such a wide range!), you need support to get through it and being told it is normal just won't do that. You need understanding, cuddles, and praise for everything you are doing. Could you maybe show him this thread if it's hard to explain? Is he generally supportive on other things? If so, perhaps he genuinely doesn't realise how this is getting to you and in a very male way is trying to 'solve' the problem for you rather than just commiserating.

I'm not sure what to suggest about the actual crying I'm afraid. I am sure that someone more knowledgeable will be along soon. Could it be colic? If so, it should at least calm down in the next few weeks - although I do realise that they will be long weeks. Some babies do develop colic late. Have you tried all the normal wind medicnes - Infacol, Gripe water, fennel tea (for you)?

nomoresleep Thu 25-Jun-09 11:18:16

Hello Elk - my DD (now 4) was a dreadful sleeper and DS (12 weeks) seems to be a bad sleeper too, so I know how you feel. I have suffered many nights of the screaming fits you are describing!

My views, for what they are worth, are:

1. Do you think that your LO is overtired in the evening and this is causing the screaming? When a baby gets themselves into this kind of state, there's not much you can do about it apart from be there to cuddle them until they conk out. Your focus needs to be on preventing this kind of overtired state from happening in the first place.

2. I would be doing anything and everything to pump sleep into him in the daytime. I think if you could get him to have some long and deep daytime sleeps then you might find that he'll settle more easily at night. Might be worth a try?

3. This is easier said than done when you have a short napper. My DD was like this and DS too. It's very hard to get a short napper to sleep beyond their 45 minute cycle I think. Some might wake refreshed after 45 minutes but my two have both been grumpy after short sleeps and have had the sort of screaming fits you describe after a day of too-short naps.

4. With DD I went on for months trying to get her into some kind of routine which, looking back, was a disaster. The routines (and especially any kind of schedule) don't cater for short naps. I also tried every strategy out there for lengthening naps (Tracey Hogg has some suggestions, as does the NCSS). None of them worked. The only things that worked to lengthen naps were time (DD eventually started taking long naps when she was about 1 I think) and walking in a sling.

5. With DS I have abandoned any thoughts of routines or of setting up bad habits and I'm just doing what works to get him to sleep enough in the day. If this means holding him for naps or carrying him in a sling the whole day, then so be it. I guess I'm not prepared to do battle with him over daytime sleep the way I did with DD. This seems to be working and we've had far fewer of those evening screaming fits as a result, and the ones we have had have lasted much less time. However, I should say that I'm a bit of an attachment-parenting type and so the idea of carrying DS in a sling all day is very appealing, whereas you might take a different view of course!!

Have you read Marc Weissbluth's book on sleep? It's the only one I've come across which is actually based on empirical evidence and is quite good I think.

Anyway, whatever you decide to do, you have my sympathy!

elk4baby Thu 25-Jun-09 11:39:47

Surprisingly, DH didn't say it's normal this time, maybe he just saw the expression on my face (complete withdrawal at that point I think). The hug he gave me was all I needed then.

I think he was in fact overtired yesterday. But the problem with yesterday is that he actually had a long nap at lunch time (2 hours!!! shock) and then another 2 naps of 45 min. (one while out in the pram and one at home). I wanted him to have a third (even though it was bound to be short), but it ended up turning into a complete disaster...This was around 9pm, so I'd hoped he'd actually go down for the night, but he didn't think so (see my previous post). Hence, now the thought of moving his bedtime to an earlier time fills me with dread .

Last night, he was definitely tired, yawning and rubbing his eyes (normally this happens before a nap), when I tried to put him down in his cot. The second his body touched the mattress, he started crying. I dont' know if he suddenly started hating his cot or something. He doesn't seem to this morning and is normally quite happy there. I thought maybe it's one of those 'resisting sleep' cries, so I put a mobile over his head (usually I remove it, so not to stimulate him when he needs to sleep). This entertained him for a couple of minutes and he actually calmed down, but then started crying again and that's when it escalated to the never-ending hour and a half.

Please, oh PLEASE, someone tell me what was I doing wrong?! How do you get your LO to sleep? Do you 'entertain' them at all in the cot?
I used to put him down about 15 min. before he'd normally start falling asleep (he can stay up for an hour and a half/three quarters at most after waking up last), but now he seems to know what's coming and refuses to go down. What worked a couple of times was rocking him until he was relaxed and then putting him down (well maybe a couple of times of this). But this seems to have disappeared now... not sure what to do now

leen65 Thu 25-Jun-09 11:47:56

I'm with others here about getting more sleep in the day. As it sounds like extreme overtiredness, where they get too tired to go to sleep and then wake frequently due to the tiredness, it's a horrible vicious circle. I've just been away for my first weekend with my DD (13 weeks) and being outside in the fresh air most of the day, in and out of prams and carriers got her sleeping so much better in the day, I was shocked. Normally she only does short sleep cycles in the day. You don't have to take my advice but my DD spent the first 2- 6 weeks screaming every evening from 5- 10/11. I'm sure it was the age, but I started bringing her nightime routine forward each day to try and get her to bed around 7.30. Any later than that we have a screamer on our hands. 10/11pm is pretty late for such a small baby, and if they've been up for longer than 1.5 - 2 hours at a time they seem to get even harder to settle. You could try to start the bedtime routine around 6.30 giving you an hour for washing/feeding and quiet play/story if you want to. this does take time (mine took 2 weeks) but it pays off big time. hope this helps and give yourself some relaxation time, your doing great! If you've got 40 mins then grab a bath whatever the time of day I say! good luck

nomoresleep Thu 25-Jun-09 13:02:19

Hi Elk - I'm not sure if this answers your question but there are basically 2 approaches -

you either cuddle/rock/feed into a deep sleep (this occurs 10-20 mins after they actually go to sleep) and then put them down OR

you put them down drowsy but awake and let them settle themselves.

I think a lot of us aim for the second but end up doing the first!!

Not sure what you mean by entertaining the baby in the cot? I wouldn't do any entertaining just before sleep.

Sounds to me like you are trying for the second approach but it isn't working for you ? Personally I would probably give up and rock/feed him into a deep sleep if that's what it takes for now - at least until this phase of overtiredness is over - but others might disagree and say persevere.

Are you getting a break in the day to keep your spirits up? It's really tough if you don't have a good sleeper.

elk4baby Thu 25-Jun-09 13:20:53

Oh and re: trying medication. I sometimes give him dill water. It's actually one of the three components of gripe water (dill seed oil, water and sodium bicarbonate I think). Just steeping dill seeds like you would tea gets the oil out. Seems to help quite well actually without disturbing his digestive system (sodium bicarbonate neutralizes acid, but this isn't a good idea as you wouldn't get the dose exactly right and might actually stimulate acid production - i.e. acid neutralized, the stomach starts compensating for the deficit by producing more acid). But I really don't think gas was the problem last night hmm.

theoptimist Sat 27-Jun-09 23:18:57

Hi there. I find my 8 week old is just as you describe when she's not had decent naps in the day and when she's been taken out and about (as I have two other kids with many after-school activities) instead of being put into her bed.

On days when she's had good long naps in the day, she seems very settled, and even better when she's managed to get all her wind up, she's easier to get to bed and will sleep soundly. I tend to get about two days a week like you descibe now, but it was most nights.

At around 5 or 6 weeks old, my baby (as with my other two) would SCREAM when I placed her on her back. She plays happily on her back, so I know there's not a problem. But, in terms of sleeping, she acts like she's been seriously injured. I flip her over and she's happy. Put her on her side and she struggles to get onto her tummy - and sometimes manages it. If she's tired, she wont sleep in her car seat or on a bouncy chair or in her pram. This week I decided to flip her over onto her tummy in the pram, and again, she stopped crying and fell asleep.
With my other two, I had the same problem. With my first he slept no more than 1/2 hour at a time for weeks, until I was told by SIL (who also had this problem with her baby) it could be the position he was lying in. It was! But, as HV state 'back to sleep, front to play' I really do try to conform.

I kept diaries for my other two, and I know this was what life was like for the first four or five months, but it does get better, so I accept it! I love the tiny baby stage - it does go so quickly as everyone reminds me, but I also look forward to the time when my daughter is more predictable, and settles easier. I don't even mind if she wakes in the night - as long as she doesn't take 4 hours to settle in the evening/night - as I sometimes can't put my other two to bed with her being so noisy. And I can't take her for a drive - she hates car seats, and what do I do with the other two?! Sometimes my 5 yr old has fallen asleep in the lounge while waiting for me to get baby to sleep. Also because baby's overtiredness / crying, etc. can go on from 5pm - I miss out on quality time I get with my other two. It can be quite miserable really - but I know it's not forever and now, it's not every day.

One thing I try is using music - I have ipod with docking station in our room (babies room too!) and that helps wipe out the rest of the noise in the house. If my baby's really frazzled I will hold her very close to me, tightly, she struggles for a few seconds, but I don't give in (just like swaddling really) and then rock side to side (toning my waistline!) to the rythm of my fave tracks. This keeps me sane! and often works. But, putting her down has to be done when she's absolutely sound asleep. Other nights, when she's had her proper naps, I can put her to bed awake and just settle her, so I know I'm not getting her into a habit of being rocked to sleep - not that I mind doing that.

I know some suggest creating a routine. With some babies you can, but, not with them all. They really are all different. I've known parents who've had one baby in a perfect routine and then the next one came along and nothing that worked for the first worked for the second - no routine at all could be established.

I'm not sure if anything here helps at all, because babies are all so different. But, I always found it was quite comforting knowing I wasn't the only one in a certain situation. I hope you find a solution.

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