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Support please for getting DS (5mo) sleep habits to improve

(92 Posts)
essenceofSES Sun 04-Oct-09 17:23:07

Sorry, this is likely to be long as I'm going to try and give all info up front. (Hate those threads where iy gradually trickles out!)

Background
DS was born in May by CS. He instantly latched well to feed but wanted to feed almost constantly. I realised this was quite normal for a newborn but the second night in hospital, neither of us got much sleep and the next morning MW set us up to co-sleep for a few hours so I could get some rest. She said it wasn't policy to do so but she could see it was needed. It worked really well.
First night home we really struggled so the second night tried co-sleeping again and again it worked really well so we continued.
DS continued to need constant feeding and didn't gain weight so I felt really pressurised to feed well so he could put on weight. I was determined to continue excl BF so stuck with the co-sleeping to ensure the weight went on.
When he was a month old he was finally diagnosed with a tongue tie. By this time he'd dropped drom 75th centile at birth to 2nd centile. Fortunately he was happy and healthy in every other way and from when he had his tongue tie sorted he started putting on weight and now - at 21 weeks - is back up to 25th centile and still excl BF.
At 10wks, we moved his cot next to my side of the bed and took the side off so my mattress was immediately next to his with the aim of gradually getting him to sleep there.
We're now in the situation where he will - on a good night - sleep in his cot for the first 2 or 3 hrs before rolling from his mattress to mine. If I feed him and try and put him back in his cot asleep, he wakes up and cries and DH says "Just bring him into bed".
The other issue is that due to the co-sleeping, he is used to feeding to sleep and has only ever fallen asleep whilst feeding or in the car and a couple of times out walking in the buggy.
Finally, the other thing that's brought this to a head is that he's just got his 2 bottom teeth and as he falls asleep on me, he's catching me with his teeth. Not quite a bite but enough for me to feel the pain.

What I want to achieve
- him sleeping in his cot overnight
- him settling himself to sleep
and ultimately
- him being able to have a daytime nap in his cot
- him sleeping through

My plan
The next couple of days I have stuff going on so Wednesday, DH will put the side of the cot back on and from Wed evening,
- I will do a bedtime routine with a feed, bath, change into vest and gro-bag and final feed.
- As DS starts to fall asleep, I will delatch him and put him down on his back in his cot.
- If he doesn't settle, I'll repeat the final feed and last step. I'll only repeat this once though.
- If he still doesn't settle, I'll try pick up, put down method

My questions
- Does my plan make sense?
- What time do you think I should do his bedtime routine? Currently he falls asleep on me at about 9pm and them has another feed around 10pm which he falls asleep on and gets transferred onto his mattress.
- I think consistency is key but if it gets to 3am and neither of us has had any sleep, do I persist with pick up, put down?
- Any other tips?
- Anyone likely to be around in the early hours of Thurs morning to help me stay strong? (DH and I have agreed he will sleep in the spare room whilst I get this sorted).

Really not looking forward to doing this but I know in the long run, once it's cracked, it will be much better.

bluefootedpenguin Sun 04-Oct-09 20:22:33

Hello. I sympathise with your situation as lack of sleep is no fun at all. My DD went through a phase like this when she was about 5 months old, prior to that she had settled herself to sleep quite happily in her moses basket. I think the routine is really important, Gina ford and others seem to agree that this is important and usually suggest that babies settle best for 7pm-7am routine. As you say above, if you put him down while he is still awake he will have to settle himself. He probably isn't going to like this much and it will probably take a few attempts at least. Personally, I found that we all had a much improved nights sleep once we were in separate rooms and not disturbing each other with every little movement. DD slept through the first night she was in her own room compared to waking every 2 hours! Make sure he feeds well in the day and try to put him down between 7 and 8. You may be surprised how quickly he gets used to it and in turn this will probably help his sleeping in the day. I know its not easy, good luck.x

essenceofSES Sun 04-Oct-09 21:42:10

Thank you so much for your response to my lengthy OP.
I'm dreading starting this as I know he won't like it but I just have to remind myself it'll be worth it in the end.
Thanks for suggesting 7pm - 7am. I'll try and start his bedtime routine between 6.30 and 7pm.

Fingers crossed!!

ches Mon 05-Oct-09 04:46:16

I would personally go for a gentler transition to self-settling. I would try getting your baby to sleep on your shoulder if it doesn't go well with putting him into the cot awake. It's a big change IYSWIM.

I don't think you should take this on yourself. I don't understand the notion that one parent works outside the home and therefore needs complete and perfect rest while the parent working in the home has to be chronically sleep-deprived. I suggest you and DH do shifts. Probably you take first shift (9pm-midnight), DH take second shift (midnight-3am) and you take third shift (3-6am).

5 months is too young to be denied milk overnight, especially if accustomed to taking in a significant amount of daily calories overnight. You need to gradually shift the calorie intake from night-and-day to day or else offer a dream feed/bottle on waking. You are coming up on the HUGE 6 month growth spurt and can expect unsettled nights during that period. If this will demoralise you, then consider waiting until after the growth spurt or else setting individual goals which won't be affected. E.g. self-settling first, sleeping in his cot all night second, sleeping through at a reasonable age (9 months+ if not done by the baby on his own).

essenceofSES Mon 05-Oct-09 10:07:40

ches - thanks, that helps.
I think you're right about trying to get him to sleep on my shoulder initially and will do that rather than put him down awake.
Interesting too about the suggestion of DH and I doing shifts. Really don't see DH going for this and it hadn't even entered my head but yes, I'll be doing a 24hr shift with v little sleep for potentially 3 or 4 days in a row. Maybe I need to stock up on the chocolate...

runningmonkey Mon 05-Oct-09 11:05:53

Hey Ses, totally in a similar place to you but have replied on our May thread

cantmummyhaveabreak Mon 05-Oct-09 13:03:38

Hope all goes well ses- once it's sorted i'm sure you'll wish you'd bitten the bullet a little earlier.

I'm kinda in the same place with DD2, though i'm thinking she's sorting herself on her own sleep-wise.

The bedtime has never been a problem really though. She's currently going 7pm-6.30am with a dreamfeed around 9-10pm and wakes for one or 2 feeds- only the last 3 nights, but proves she doesn't need feeding 1-2hrly like she'd been feeding for months!!

I've done Controlled crying to help with the 7pm bedtime- which i know many 1st time parents get scared of. It was the only thing that worked for DS and by the time he was 10mths i finally gave in and tried it- worked a treat- and i've been happy with the decision ever since. Started CC for bedtime with DD2 at about 4mths old.

It'll be heaven when you have your evenings back!!

Febes Mon 05-Oct-09 17:44:21

Me too. I'm working on the self settling first. Starting tomorrow as I have people for dinner tonight hmm. You would think I knew what I was doing as this is my second DC blush

essenceofSES Mon 05-Oct-09 22:35:40

Febes - hope you had a nice dinner and good luck for tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone for your posts.

Still dreading Wednesday. Today was not good as DS got over tired and just wouldn't settle. I may give HV a ring tomorrow and talk things through.

Also, I want to know what happens when at 3am neither of us has had any sleep and he won't settle. I'm sure the answer is not to give up and feed to sleep but I'm sure it will feel like the only answer...

ches Tue 06-Oct-09 03:01:47

I don't think you should put up with having to do this all on your own. If you're going for a baby who self-settles, then you want both parents to be able to do bed time. Otherwise you will never get a night off. It can also be awful for the dad to feel incompetent because their child won't settle for them. In fact, most people, when going cold turkey on feeding to sleep have the DAD do the settling in the middle of the night because they don't get angry at dad for not letting them nurse. wink

ches Tue 06-Oct-09 03:03:52

Oh, and w.r.t. 3am, if he's currently having more than one feed a night, you really need to let him have 2-3 feeds initially and make a slower transition. How would you feel if you suddenly had 1/3-1/2 your meals taken away from you? Would you be at your best when hungry and asked to learn something new?

essenceofSES Tue 06-Oct-09 04:43:44

Thanks ches

I guess I didn't mean that I wouldn't feed him, more that feeding him to sleep probably wouldn't help in the long run with self settling.

I will talk to DH. He'll probably be ok to help up until he goes to bed about 10.30ish but also Thurs night he's away with work anyway.

From what I've read, DS is too young for CC so will try and persist with a combination of pick up put down and settling on the shoulder.

Thanks again - all advice & comments gratefully received!

Febes Tue 06-Oct-09 10:00:33

SES I am now really concerned that this is going to take me ages to undo the damage of comfort feeding him. Last night was awful and he woke loads and wouldn't settle unless I fed him. I think I'm going to have to have a week or so of asking DH to get up to him. I also need a mobile of some sort for him and as he is in the travel cot I will try to make it as cosy and comfy as possible. Its going to be a hard week (or more). How was last night for you?

essenceofSES Tue 06-Oct-09 11:04:23

Febes - I'm not starting properly til tomorrow night but DS got really over tired yesterday and just wouldn't settle. He got v v grumpy & grizzly. He managed half an hour on me at about 5.30pm and then half an hour in the cot 11-11.30pm. I then brought him into bed. However DH and I agreed he'd sleep in the spare room so instead of latching DS on whenever he stirred, I tried "sh"ing and he did settle well except for latching on at 2.30 and 4.30. By 5.45am, he'd wriggled about to sleep diagonally across the bed and take up most of it (typical man!) but I'd been able to move away and not have him automatically latch on. He woke up at 6.30 so got up and changed his nappy and sat up and fed him then we both dozed and cuddled for an hour.

I know quite a few people have said the first few nights are really tough and then you reap benefits. "Good" (IYKWIM!) to have someone else going through this too.

How easily do you think your DH will agree to getting up in the night? Mine seems to think his job is the one he goes to each day whereas I've chosen not to go back to work yet, so my job is to look after DS.

Hope you manage to have some relaxing time today and surely tonight can only be better. I'm hoping a bedtime routine will help him to anticipate sleep.

As an aside, I actually don't regret the way I've dealt with his sleep so far. I'd do the same again, particularly because of his early weight issues.

minnietheminx007 Tue 06-Oct-09 12:10:19

hi both, i am too in the first night of trying some of the ncss methods and last night was awful!!! dd who is 4 months went to sleep at 6.30 then woke at 7.30 until 11.30, i persevered with trying to get her back to sleep all that time, this is what i dont understand, all the books talk about how detrimental being overtired can be to getting them to go to sleep but to persevere with rocking them to sleep/putting them down sleepy but awake, well my dd could go on like that for hours. i too have the problem with dd needing the breast to get back to sleep, i tried the pull off technique and she woke up at five in the morning until seven after waking up three times inbetween its so hard to know what to do, whether to keep her sleepy and feed her back to sleep or try and let her settle herself but then she completely woke up and thought it was time to play, i couldnt even get her back on the breast to tempt her into sleep.
i just dont ever see a point where i will be able to put her down awake, as soon as she gets within 6 inches of the mattress she starts crying!
why dont they come with manuals!!!

essenceofSES Tue 06-Oct-09 17:14:51

Hi minnie!

Seems like we have a little support network going

Today DS fell asleep in the car af 1.45pm for 35 mins and again at 3.10pm for 20 mins. Better than yesterday but he is still tired. I've been sat with the curtains closed in the bedroom for 40 mins trying a combination of feeding, cuddling and "sh"ing. No sleep so far despite regular rubbing of eyes. He keeps getting distracted by looking round and reaching out to touch the pillow behind my back, my clothes etc!

Tonight I'm out at a meeting til about 10pm. I usually take him with me and he goes to sleep in his car seat at about 9pm, wakes up as I come home and then goes to sleep feeding at about 11pm so I guess tonight could be much as last night. Hopefully next week I'll be able to leave him with DH because he'll be asleep for 7pm. <hopeful emoticon!>

Tomorrow I'm going to start the routine. Feed at 5pm, feed at 6pm, bath at 6.30pm followed by massage, clean nappy, vest & gro-bag and put down to sleep.

All sounds so easy but I know it won't be!

Good luck Febes and Minnie tonight!

Febes Tue 06-Oct-09 20:46:45

Oh I like our support group!!

So this morning after feeding every 2 hours DS and I woke at 8am and he wasn't even hungry [mad] so I decided today is the day that I need to sort him out (well start).

I fed him at 9am and then put him down for a nap at 10. It took 1 and a half shock for him to fall alseep as I refused to feed him to sleep so left him to cry a bit and went in shushing and patting every few mins.

At 12.30 I woke him as it had been 3 and a half hours since feed. He had a brilliant double boob feed and then at 2 was ready to go back to sleep and went to sleep in about 2 min gringringrin

He woke 3.30ish so had another great double boob feed (all going well and febes feeling smug)
At 5.30 I started bath, story and bed routine. DD (nearly 2 went down perfectly so I took DS to our room and fed him in the dark and quiet. After a double boob feed I put him down sleepy and .... it took 1 and a half hours to fall asleepsad. I didn't feed him again but shushed, patted and picked him up to pat his back a few times.

I am planning to feed him when I go to bed.

DH is working such long hours so I feel bad asking him to help at night. I might get him to sleep in DDs room so he isn't disturbed.

I really hope tomorrow is better.sad

Good luck Ses and Minnie (Febes scatters self-soothing sleepy dust over all babies)

essenceofSES Tue 06-Oct-09 22:51:08

Febes - that actually sounds fantastic and quite inspirational to me. Well done you!

DS actually did quite well this evening. I fed him at 6.45pm before going out and he fell asleep on me at 7pm so transferred him to his car seat. We then went out to my meeting and as he was still asleep I left him in the next room. He stayed asleep in his car seat until 9.25pm!! I then just picked him up and cuddled him for 20 mins before putting him back in his car seat and coming home. ( I sang Twinkle, Twinkle all the way home!)
DH then changed him and put him in his Gro-bag and now I'm feeding him in bed. Hopefully he'll go to sleep and settle on his mattress before undoubtedly rolling onto my mattress in an hour or so. Little does he know this is the last evening he'll be able to!

It's difficult for DHs isn't it? They need to be involved and be able to settle DC but I do think it's right to give them leaway as they have to be up for work.

Right, here's hoping for a good night for us all!

Febes Wed 07-Oct-09 09:37:19

Wow I'm impressed that O slept so nicely when you were out. I find that needing to go out can sometimes mess up the 'PLAN' but it sounds like he coped brilliantly.

I dream fed R at 10.15- both boobs and put him down sleepy and he went straight to sleep he woke at 1am (DH was just coming to bed as got in from work at 12.30 shock) I decided to turn on the musical teddy thing I have put in his cot. It took an hour but he fell back asleep without a feed or cuddle just after 2. He never cried during that time but wriggled, moaned, sighed complained he wasn't getting boob. I lay in bed most of the time shushing and ticking (tongue against palate noise) and occasionally got up to pat him on the chest. DH luckily snore through most of it as he had to be up again at 7 for work.

R woke again at 4.50am so cue me putting on music, patting, shushing for another hour. This time he was getting louder and although never broke into a full cry he was much more unhappy. At 5.45 I caved in and feed him one side but put him down awake so he had to fall asleep himself.

He woke for the day at 8am.

I am so pleased and are aiming for no feeds between 11pm-7am tomorrow if possible. I can't believe I have waited this long to get him to self settle. I'm pretty tired today but really I wasn't awake for much longer than normal as I'm normally feeding for 30mins every 2-3 hours.

I really hope he goes to sleep in less time today. Looking forward to seeing how your night went.

essenceofSES Wed 07-Oct-09 15:33:27

Febes - that's fantastic progress! You're really inspiring me to think it can happen. So much so that I'm not feeling as worried about tonight as I was

Last night DS slept in his cot from 11pm to midnight and then rolled towards me and I allowed him to latch on. Next I knew it was 3.45am so I againallowed him to latch on. This time as he drifted off I de-latched him and moved away slightly. Briefly woke up at 4.30 and then dozed from 5.30 til 7am when he filled his nappy and woke up all chatty!

Currently trying to get him to have a nap. He kept getting distracted trying to suck both his big toes at the same time so I've just put him in his Gro-bag and giving him a feed before trying to put him down again.

Minnie - how are you getting on?

minnietheminx007 Wed 07-Oct-09 15:47:35

hi there guys, glad ive got you guys going through the same thing (purely selfish i know!!) well last night was better, she unfortunately fell asleep while we were out for a meal about half seven and woke up at half eight but only til 10.30 and i had to feed her to sleep, on the plus side she only woke up twice, i fed her both times and started doing the pately pull off (sounds rude i know!) the first time i did it it took 15 times before she would not root around again for the nipple, then the second time she woke up only 5 times. hopefully as she starts to get less all about the boob she wont wake up as much but its a long road i know.
i dont think tonight is going to go well, she has hardly napped at all today as we have been out and about, i think im going to have to clear my diary for a few weeks while i really concentrate on getting dd in a good routine.
So all in all last night was better than the night before which is all i can hope for really, i think its going to be a long process!
well done febes, it sounds like you are really giving it a good go, i find half the problem is being so tired from not sleeping that everything seems like such hard work to change things for the better.
lets hope by some miricle all our babies sleep through tonight!

minnietheminx007 Wed 07-Oct-09 16:02:23

oh i meant to say, ive woken up dd at eight this morning to try and gt her taking her naps earlier/going to bed earlier....lets see if it works!!! she's just gone off for a nap now after only 5 mins wheeling round in her pram, much better than yesterday
let me know how you guys get on!! x

Febes Wed 07-Oct-09 16:09:53

You can do it girls. I think the hardest thing is listening to them wanting you while you lie there, boobs tingling in the middle of the night. It can be very lonely.

I would definately recommend clearing the diary. We have done nothing here today and DS has had 3 naps of an hour each and has gone down straight away each time. At least I will know he isn't overtired when he goes to bed tonight.

I hope tomorrow goes ok as I have to go out and about.

essenceofSES Wed 07-Oct-09 16:44:19

I agree - it's great that we're all at a similar stage!

Well after I fed him, I put him on his mattress and he got v frustrated and cross that he couldn't play with his feet and wasn't getting any boob so I lay next to him stroking his tummy and singing and just under half an hour later he fell asleep whilst I had continued with the stroking and singing!
Half an hour later and he's still asleep!

minnietheminx007 Wed 07-Oct-09 16:54:38

thats amazing, so has he gone from being fed to sleep to falling asleep while you were singing to him??

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