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settling a baby who actually sleeps well!

(19 Posts)
fatarse Mon 14-Sep-09 11:56:40

Hello all

it's my first post to this site so I hope someone might be able to help. I'm a first time (and pretty non-confident) mum and have a lovely daughter who is 5 months and 1 week old. She sleeps pretty well at night and recenty has been sleeping through (which is brilliant and I know I'm really lucky) but the problem we have is that it's taking at least an hour of very distressing crying for her to get to sleep, especially in the evening but often in the daytime too. We don't really have a schedule I try to look for signs of tiredness and generally try to get her to nap not more than a couple of hours after waking. She seems easier to settle in the morning and gets progressively worse throughout the day naps (I try to get her to have 3) with the bedtime being awful. She is breastfed exclusively and refuses a bottle. She has also started chewing her tongue during the time and it looks very sore. We have had a routine in the evening since about 12 weeks with bath feed and bed but it never seems to work and I literally have to pin her arms and legs down snd shush her for an hour leaning over the cot. Now she is chewing her tongue I am worried she's still hungry. As she won't take a bottle, I'm considering solids although I'd really like to wait until 6 months as I have asthma and am worried about allergies.

Any advise for a less turbulent bedtime? I just can't stand the multiple hours of crying each day much longer :-(



row78 Mon 14-Sep-09 14:24:44


Will she sleep in your arms if you don't put her into the cot?

plimple Mon 14-Sep-09 14:32:11

Since it's currently taking you an hour of crying have you tried leaving her in peace for 10 mins? Leave her be for no longer and no fewer than 10 mins and if she's not asleep see if she's hungry/wet/hot/cold etc. solve the problem and start over.
She may just want to be left alone to sleep in peace. She might actually be crying because she's so tired she just wants to be left alone.
I certainly wouldn't go to sleep with someone pinning my arms down and leaning over me. I do get tearful if I'm too tired and being stopped from sleeping.

fatarse Mon 14-Sep-09 19:44:29

Hi Row 78

She used to sleep in my arms with a lot of jigging around, but she squirms now and tries frantically to get something in her mouth (I think she's looking to be fed to sleep) but if I try to feed her again she just claws at herself and me and squirms and comes off and on the breast.

Plimple, the reason I have to hold her dowm is because she flails her arms and kicks her legs and bangs the cot. I've not tried leaving her for 10 minutes but I've left her a few minutes before (which seemed a long time) and she just gets into an absolute rage cry and is even more difficult to calm down afterwards (sometimes I have to take her out of the room altogether) because even if I pick her up she will be in a complete state.

thanks for any suggestions

DrCosyTiger Mon 14-Sep-09 20:15:24

Hi there,

It sounds as if your DD might be a bit over tired by the time you are putting her down - is this possible? I am a firm believer that if you get the naps right during the day, bedtime becomes a lot easier. My DD was exactly the same but things did improve when I started becoming brutal about daytime naps - always in the cot in a darkened room and trying to make sure they lasted over an hour. Or maybe try an earlier bedtime? I think its unlikely that hunger is the problem if she sleeps through the night. It may also be that she simply has to learn to settle herself. I had a similar problem with DD - heartrending screaming at bedtime that got worse when I went in to calm her, not better, so I absolutely sympathise with what you are going through, it's awful. Things did improve though - partly I think through addressing her daytime naps and also by (I must confess - and it was awful and I cried myself) leaving her to cry as she honestly settled quicker just being left on her own than she did if I was in the room holding or patting her. She's 6 months now and much much better. We still have the occasional screamer but most nights she now happily settles herself after our last bf without a murmer.

plimple Mon 14-Sep-09 23:13:30

Hi fatarse. If you disturb before 10 mins you don't give long enough to get to sleep. Most babies take just under 10 mins to get to sleep whether you leave them for that time, rock them same speed same place for that length of time or push in pram/car for that long. Just need to be doing same thing for 10 mins without lots of distractions.
10 mins of left alone crying is 50 mins less than current staying with her crying.
I honestly feel that my DD was crying "leave me alone" when she ever did cry for that long, she wasn't much of a crier anyway and the few times she did get in a state the quickest way to calm her was to leave the room. It is hard though, but my DD was known amongst my friends as the baby who doesn't cry! I really think that is because I allowed one of the reasons for her crying to be that she wanted to be left alone.

thisisyesterday Mon 14-Sep-09 23:16:07

will she not just feed to sleep?

twelveyeargap Mon 14-Sep-09 23:24:25

Arms flailing etc is a sign of over-tiredness.

DD2 (now 2.4) was like this from around 3 months and I agree with other plimple, she was begging to be left alone. I gave up trying to settle her, had two nights of her crying to sleep then after that she used to fairly jump out of my arms into the cot, so relieved was she to be left to go to sleep. Not had any trouble since.

Two naps, at around 9am and 1pm are often sufficient for babies of this age. Late afternoon nap (say at 4 or something) should be very short if taken.

What time is bedtime? Very young babies go to bed late, but it needs to be earlier as they get older. Around 7-8pm is what suits most babies.

I swear by Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Marc Weissbluth. Proper sound medically researched advice. Not a "handbook" iyswim.

thisisyesterday Mon 14-Sep-09 23:28:59

have you tried just lying on the bed with her and cuddling her/rocking her/patting her... whatever it takes to calm her down

nzbabies Tue 15-Sep-09 08:02:32

Hi my 5 month old dd is the same. I'm not sure what to do either. I was trying to put her down drowsy from bfing or jiggling and sometimes that worked - then I rubbed her tummy and sang to her until she fell asleep. It was so nice that I wish it would have worked all the time! But the last few days I have gone to just bfing her to sleep for naps and nighttime. Its more annoying because I never know how long its going to take and it sometimes takes ages for her to wind down. And I have a 2 year old to look after - which is actually my main problem.(leaving him for ages - not good!) I wish I could leave my dd to cry for 10 mins and that would be the end of it but I know I just couldn't do that - so...hmmm, not much help to you, but am wondering if anyone else can help us?!!
I know my dd is overtired but I find it hard for that not to be the case, as trying to get her to sleep for naps before she gets overtired seems so hard with my ds to look after and take to playgroups etc.

PfftTheMagicDragon Tue 15-Sep-09 08:25:59

plimple, 10 minutes in a very long time!

row78 Tue 15-Sep-09 08:43:57

sometimes if I've tried everything else I'll leave him in his cot for a few minutes to see if he will settle. Usually he won't and has a little cry but when I go back in and try and feed again he settles and falls asleep on the boob. This is when he will have been squirming about before but refusing to being fed to sleep.

nzbabies Tue 15-Sep-09 08:55:12

That's what I do too! I guess a little bit of crying releases all that squirming energy and then they are tired enough.

plimple Tue 15-Sep-09 09:03:45

50 mins shorter than an hour!
With my DD any less wouldn't work. And on no account did I ever not go to her if she needed me, but like me she sometimes just needed to be left alone. I did sometimes feel a bit bad for leaving her 10 mins and needed to distract myself, but I didn't let her get overtired a lot so it wasn't frequent and I knew from experience that if I did anything else BUT leave her she'd get absolutely beside herself.
If ever she was still crying after 10 mins then I'd start the whole feed, change routine over again and find that she was inexplicably still hungry.

PfftTheMagicDragon Tue 15-Sep-09 10:54:46

Well that's a bit irrelevant! It's also 110 minutes shorter than 2 hours but what's that got to do with anything?

plimple Tue 15-Sep-09 11:00:18

Her baby currently cries for an hour before settling. In my opinion 10 mins alone crying is better than an hour accompanied crying.
All that aside, the tongue chewing is a worry, is she still hungry? Maybe she does need to be fed to sleep? Can she chew suck on something else?

twelveyeargap Tue 15-Sep-09 11:19:23

Tongue Chewing is a similar habit to thumb sucking. Nothing to worry about unless they're hurting themselves. Baby will probably stop when it has teeth and it hurts.

IME, (3 children plus knowing that this advice has worked for friends) babies that can't settle at night need to go to bed earlier. Sometimes the problem gets slightly worse for a few days, then they settle in. Also, babies that are well rested in the day time, sleep better at night.

fatarse Tue 15-Sep-09 16:48:10

Thanks for all your suggestions I really appreciate you taking time to help us try to give her and us a less stressful path to dreamland. So last night we tried to settle earlier (6.30 instead of 7) because she definitely is overtired because she doesn't nap well in the afternoon. I left her for 10 minutes when she started fussing (not full blown crying) which I feel terrible about but it didn't work and she flipped out BIG TIME so DH an I took turns trying to settle her. She wouldn't feed or be held and just cried and cried and was flailing like the scene from the exorcist :-( so back to 'pin down' and shushing. She eventually went to sleep at 10pm after a very long troublesome bedtime. After a feed at 1.30am she slept through till 7.30 this morning fed and went back to sleep until 9am. Then about 10 mintues after getting up she was kicking her legs like she was tired?? I put her down relatively easily at 10.30am (fed to sleep) and she slept well for 2 hours (we had to wake her up). I usually leave a 2 hour wake time before putting her down for a nap but this time I tried 90 mins. Fed her but she was quite restless again kicking legs and flailing arms and she eventually went to sleep at 3.45 again with 'pin down' and shushing(so it took an hour and a half)but there wasn't so much crying just fighting and squirming but she is now sleeping soundly again. So if I can gert her to have another 2 hours that will mean she has had 4 hours sleep across 2 naps plus about 10 hours the previous night - is this enough? Then after she wakes hopefully at 5.45pm should I start bedtime 2 hours later?

She won't take a dummy but does seem to want to suck and swallow if that makes any sense -because she sometimes will BF but if there's nothing coming out, she'll keep popping off flipping herself on her back and arching which makes me worried that she's hungry still??

twelveyeargap Tue 15-Sep-09 22:35:48

Start by controlling wake up time. Her "natural" wake up time, according to what you've described in your last post, is 7 or 7.30 am. The fact she went back to sleep is due to the late night. It's confusing her body clock to go back to sleep at 7.30am.

Get her up and dressed, whatever, start the day at 7 or 7.30 ish. The ONLY time you break the "never wake a sleeping baby" rule is when you are controlling the wake up time to protect the next nap or bed time.

Give her lots of light and do her morning feed out of her room. Start winding her down about 90 mins after wake up, even in the bedroom if you wish, then back in bed 2 hours after wake up.

Morning sleep shouldn't be longer than 2 hours. Awake again for about another 2 hours, then same routine as morning, settle after 90 mins, back in bed after about two hours.

Play the afternoon nap by ear, but it shouldn't happen after 4pm and shouldn't be longer than 45 mins to one hour max. If no late pm sleep, then try having her ready for bed by 6 so there's time to settle her down (I don't mean she should be asleep by 6, but no being downstairs or in the bath after that because it's too stimulating). If she does have a late pm nap, then aim to be ready for bed by 7ish.

I know it all sounds a bit "by the clock" but it sounds to me like her body clock is a confused. The way to fix it, is to control the wake up times and nap times. It won't happen overnight, but it should settle in a few days, even if it gets worse first.

Do buy that book I recommended. I've given it to loads of people and always have good reports.

Your baby doesn't sound like one of those babies who just sleeps when they need to, (I'm told they exist; I've never met one) so you need to be her timekeeper. Once she knows what to expect, it should get easier.

Do remember things such as; low lighting in the bedroom. Closing curtains and turning lights off or down helps babies to understand that it's sleep time. Keep everything calm and quiet.

Lots of people would disagree with me, but when I tried this with DD2, she cried for over an hour the first night, but it was about 20 minutes the second night and only 5 the third night. I only tried it in desperation because she was so, so unhappy with me holding her at bedtime. She could NOT switch off. She still finds it hard at 2.5 yrs. Talks to herself for ages after I leave the room. However, with DS1 (third baby) I was able to shush him gently after his feed and graduated from putting him down asleep, to putting him down almost asleep, to putting him down awake. It helps that he sucks his finger for comfort. The final "bit" is different for everyone, but I promise you that that final part where they go in the cot, will always be easier if babies are well rested and know what to expect.

Good luck!

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