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Ways to get my 4 month old to sleep better at night?

(89 Posts)
Schulte Tue 11-Aug-09 09:23:52

DD2 (nearly 4 months) had weeks of sleeping really well, going to bed at 7.30pm, settling herself to sleep, waking up for one feed at 4am. Then she had her first set of jabs at 12 weeks and all hell broke loose. She got diarrhoea and started waking up several times a night to poo and feed. Her first waking of the night happened earlier and earlier until I decided I might as well introduce a dream feed. But now her poos are finally back to normal and I need her sleep pattern to improve again, as I am permanently exhausted.

Currently she goes to bed at 7.30, self settles, has a dream feed at 10pm, then wakes around 2am. Sometimes I can get her back to sleep without a feed at that time (by rubbing her tummy or giving her the occasional dummy), then she'll wake up for a feed around 3.30. After that, she'll sleep a little, then wake up again at 5.45 and I have to take her into bed with me to get another half hour before DD1 gets up for the day! So all in all, I am up three times a night. What I want her to do is 5-6 hours after her dream feed. Surely that's not asking too much at this age?!

So what do I do?

Simply not feed her before 4am in the hope that she'll eventually get the message and not bother waking up?

Try to fill her up with a bottle of formula at 10pm?

Feed her at 2am but make that feed shorter and shorter until she drops it herself?

Drop the dream feed - actually I have tried that and she wakes up for it now because she's used to it!

Give up trying to change her sleep pattern and pray that she'll sort herself out some time soon?

Sorry for epic post but I feel you need all the information... Any ideas greatly appreciated!

Schulte Tue 11-Aug-09 09:25:19

Or is the dream feed too soon after her bedtime?

Schulte Tue 11-Aug-09 09:31:01

Forgot to say. She's fully bf with feeds every 2.5-3 hours during the day, a very big baby (92nd centile) and has 3-4 daytime naps of 30-60 minutes at roughly the same time every day.

dinkystinky Tue 11-Aug-09 09:48:24

She's still really little at 4 months and probably needs the night feeds. Am on DS2 who is now 6 months old and remember just before 4 months he stopped being a brilliant little sleeper and started waking every couple of hours through the nights - knackering at the best of times but really hard when you also have a toddler to deal with! He's now much better - only wakes once or twice at night. Never did the dream feed with him or DS1 though so cant advise on that. I found lying down feeding in the dark meant DS2's night feeds only took 10 minutes and he'd go straight back to sleep afterwards - could you maybe try that?

Other things you could try are white noise at nights (may lull her back to sleep when she comes into a light sleep rather than waking fully and deciding she's hungry) and making sure her room stays really dark in the early mornings (blackout blinds have helped stop DS1 and DS2 wanting to start their days at 5am!). I suspect she may be getting ready to drop one of her daytime naps to go down to 3 long naps. Have you tried cutting back the last nap of the day to maybe 20-30 minutes, so shell settle down for a long sleep when she goes down at night? At 4-5 months with DS2 I found if he had a late afternoon nap after 4pm he'd wake lots at night whereas if he was awake for around 3 to 4 hours before going to bed he was ready for a nice long sleep of 6 hours or so before the wakings started. Could you maybe try skipping the dream feed for a couple of nights to see if she does a longer sleep at the start of the night without it - you may be breaking her long sleep with it - and try going to bed earlier yourself to get a decent slot of sleep in before she wakes up for her feeds?

Whatever happens, remember its just a phase and will pass - just do what you need to do in order to ride it out. smile

Schulte Tue 11-Aug-09 12:07:15

Thanks Dinky. Anyone else got any advice?

Schulte Tue 11-Aug-09 15:13:19

Bumpity bump

Schulte Tue 11-Aug-09 20:06:31

I realise there is no easy answer to how to get a baby to sleep but I'd really appreciate everyone's opinion smile Pretty please?

ches Wed 12-Aug-09 01:23:16

4 month growth spurt, wouldn't bother doing anything other than coping right now.

titferbrains Wed 12-Aug-09 10:02:29

yup, sorry this is when the sleep hell starts and there is no way of knowing when it will end. It's crap and no-0ne tells you that it's coming. expect months of more pain and sleep deprivation.

logrrl Wed 12-Aug-09 12:08:44

no ideas but some sympathy! DS is also 4 months. waking 3-5 times during the night and will not settle without some boob contact.... It was twice before damned immunisations (oh and we also had the night time poos again, so I get your frustration!...) I'm just going to try and ride it out. DH gets up at 6am for a 12hr, 6day a week job, and wakes to bring him to me in the night, so I have it easier than him (one thing-yay!)...grin

Schulte Wed 12-Aug-09 13:42:39

I am not convinced by this growth spurt theory. DD1 started to sleep through (10pm-6am) at exactly this age and never woke up in the night again (until now, she's a 2.5 yr old but that's a different story). I know each child is different and as DD1 was so good I was probably due a difficult one to make up for it but it's still frustrating and I don't just want to put up with it!

Thinkstoomuch Wed 12-Aug-09 13:58:21

Sympathy to you - those early months can be hell. At 4 months I seem to remember both my DSs had a funny phase, became a bit more aware and alert and more able to resist sleep. I was definitely still doing frequent night feeding at that stage although it was slowly reducing, and eventually they slept through at about 10 months (DS1) and 7 months (DS2). Co-sleeping saved me from exhaustion in both instances.

Are you making a clear enough distinction between night and day? With so many daytime naps maybe she's just carrying on with the same timing at night. With DS2 from right at the start I had a very clear nighttime routine ending in a long feed in a very dark room. I'd try making sure the last nap of the day isn't too late and long, and then having a clear bath/bed routine with an extra long feed. Then maybe try Pantley's pull-off technique to encourage her to shorten the 2am feed if she's just comfort sucking as opposed to feeding?

Schulte Wed 12-Aug-09 15:08:34

Pantley's pull-off technique? I'll look that up. Sounds like it could cause sore nipples grin

gingersarah Fri 14-Aug-09 09:50:55

Hi Schulte

We are going through the same thing with our 16 week old - I blamed a cold but now I think that it may have a lot to do with what thinkstoomuch says about them being more alert. Very sadly I put v in her own room last night and I think it did help for her not to be aware of us in the room - she is just so sociable and can recognise our presence in the room instantly (as opposed to when she was littler when you would have to hang over her with your face towards hers for her to know you were a person, iykwim)

I also did not feed her when I had to resettle her for her two new wakings she has introduced. It went against everything my tired body wanted to do - feed her and get us all back to sleep - but I held out and each time she did eventually drop off unfed. Let's see what happens tonight.

How are you all this morning?

dycey Fri 14-Aug-09 16:45:55

Had exactly the same thing at 12 weeks - post jabs and post cold ds1 started waking up throughout the night - a lot - went on and on... lots of feeding. I honestly do think it is about hunger and being breastfed. Now he is on fruit and veg he is down to 2 feeds a night - well spaced. It feels awful at first but you get used to it. I gave myself a really hard time trying to think myself out of the problem but in the end just decided to cope - and it made life much easier.

Hope that's not too much resignation for you!

Schulte Wed 19-Aug-09 09:33:39

Hi all, thanks for your posts. Quick update is that I decided not to do anything for the time being and just roll with it. She still feeds twice a night (plus dream feed) but I get some decent sleep in between and not fretting helps me feel better about it all. I am planning to do some sleep training once she's on solids though, if she hasn't learnt to sleep through by then!

frekkles Wed 19-Aug-09 10:11:05

hi schulte and all, I'm right there with you ( plus the delight that is insomia into the mix). My 15 week old cute head, that is currently lying next to me practiscing sucking his thumb and that looking like butter would melt, slept from 9 till midnight last night, fed from midnight till half 2, then filled nappies and fussed till half four, fed till six and then fell asleep. Only to be woken up by my blokey slamming the front door on his way out to work this morning. aaaaagh.

With him I think it's teething, but who knows really eh? Maybe tis this four month thing? I've been trying to be sanguine and just not worry and get on with it. He's a baby, he needs me. If i get stressed I get insomnia. If I dont feed him and try and settle him by other means then he screams and takes longer to feed and settle and there fore I get more stressed and get insomnia.

I'm going to get this book called the wonder weeks, I read about it here. It's helped me reading this article. and this one maybe it'll hlp you too. kinda lower your expectations and be a mother talk.

shall keep on keeping on. hope you all do too x

Boobz Wed 19-Aug-09 23:51:59

It's totally rubbish isn't it? My DD is 22 weeks this Sunday and was sleeping from 7pm to 5am for the first 3 months and then all of it went out of the window and now wakes anything from 2 to 5 times a night (who knew you could survive on so little sleep).

Have always nursed her to sleep so far.

Against everything I thought I would do, I am trying my first night of controlled crying. She went down at 7pm no probs and woke up at 11:10. It's now 11:52. I know I have to be strong to make sure it's not all for nothing, but the crying is getting to me now.


Boobz Wed 19-Aug-09 23:53:16

Actually, she's not crying.... and I didn't even notice.... how bad is that? Hopefully she's asleep for the next few hours...

frekkles Thu 20-Aug-09 02:17:38

i don't know what to do now, i'm so wound up and so tired. The little boy has now started waking at midnight and refusing to go back to sleep. The last two nights I've fed him till 3ish, and then he's fussed and needed his nappy changed till 4 and he's fed again till 6 ish and then slept for an hour. Tonight my dp took him after I fed him for 30 mins at midnight and he's screamed for the last hour and a half, finally back to sleep now. But now I can't sleep. I've been crying and I'm so tired and I just don't know what to do. Do you fight them and try and make them go back to bed. or do you give into to their needs and hope it'll pass?

I can't do this. i hate it

ches Thu 20-Aug-09 04:28:32

You can do it but it isn't fun. Yes, you just do whatever it is necessary to get through. You can't fight them and make them go back to bed, they're just too little and don't understand anything. If you're having a hard time coping, you can try teething gel/calpol/calprofen for teething pain, a bottle of formula/EBM so you can get a break and if you're really at the end of your tether, sending him off to his grandparents for a night. Sleep when he sleeps.

frekkles Thu 20-Aug-09 07:07:27

if i could sleep when he sleeps i would, this insomnia is the final straw really

Boobz Thu 20-Aug-09 07:53:50

I feel for you Frekkles. I know everyone says it will pass, and they're right, but it doesn't really stop you feeling like a zombie right now, does it?

Penny finally dropped off an hour and a half after she started crying last night. She then cried again at 3am but whimpered back off to sleep after 5 mins. I fed her at 5am when she woke as seemed genuinely hungry and my boobs were massive! She then slept till 7:30.

So an improvement! Let's see how it goes tonight.

Schulte Fri 21-Aug-09 13:52:00

Frekkles, have you seen a doctor re. your insomnia? I had it after DD1 and it turned out it was an overactive thyroid. This can be triggered by pregnancy and birth. Might be worth having it checked out. I don't want to freak you out but my insomnia lasted for about 6 months so definitely rule out things like thyroid problems etc. that could be easily treated!

Schulte Fri 21-Aug-09 13:52:31

Boobz - how was last night?

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