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Lack of sleep hel!

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by minxyfish, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. Hi ladies, just wondering if anyone has any advice...My girl is 19 and a half weeks old and exclusively breastfed. After the initial first few newborn weeks, when she was awake and feeding all night, she settled down and began to sleep much better. Don't get me wrong, she has never slept through, but she would regularly go 3 or 4 hours between feeds at night, and very occasionally went 5 or 6 hours (hey, three times she has even done a 7 hour stretch - whoop!).
    Of course, I'd love it if she slept from 7pm until 7am, like some babies do, but I was coping with this sleep pattern of hers: she'd go to bed at 7.30pm, wake for a feed at around 11, then 3am-ish, then up for the day at about 7am.
    However, when she hit 11 weeks everything changed! I initially thought it was a growth spurt, but fastforward 8 weeks and it's still the same. Since then, she only seems to last 2 or 3 hours between feeds through the night, and often only one and a half (e.g. last night was 7pm, 9.30, 11.30, 1.15, 3.15, 5.00, 7am). She also began to think she no longer needed any daytime naps. Prior to this she had got herself into a routine of three naps a day - roughly half an hour in the morning, two hours at lunchtime and two hours in the afternoon. Since 11 weeks, I am VERY lucky if she naps for a total of two hours a day, split over what seems like a hundred micro-snoozes. Actually, she seems to have kept the morning half an hour nap (so that's when I get washed/dressed and leg it round the house doing jobs), but other than this, she really struggles to get to sleep and if/when she finally does, she seems to struggle to actually stay asleep, often waking up with a piercing scream after 15 mins or so.
    Now, some of my friends' babies are fine on such a few naps, but mine isn't! She's always rubbing her pink eyes, but she fights it every day until she is often in a mega grump and is really hard work. We have tried everything - pram, sling, car, rocking, shushing etc, but she just will not go/stay asleep! We've had a strict bedtime routine of bath/massage/feed/bed since she was about 7 weeks old, and have brought this forward by an hour as she was just getting too tired due to lack of daytime naps. She is now in the bath at 6.30 and in bed by 7pm.
    Because she is awake for most of the day, I find it very hard to rest myself, so after being up all through the night, I am knackered too.
    This has turned out to be a very waffly post, so apologies, but I was just wondering if anyone has had a simiilar experience? Is there anything else I can do to help her to sleep better both day and night? She is still refusing to take a bottle, despite trying what seems like the whole of Mothercare's various stock, so I can't even give her formula at bedtime in the hope that it'll keep her fuller for longer, but that's a whole other thread.
    I suppose I just have to ride out the storm and hope that she'll maybe sleep better (at night) once I start weaning her in a few weeks, whilst also hoping that she's not inherited my **** sleeping habits (bit of an insomniac myself).
    My hubby did one of the night get-ups to just to give her a dummy the other night, and had the nerve to complain about being tired in the morning! (he's a very deep sleeper so doesn't usually stir)...I said multiply that tiredness by 5 get-ups a night, then multiply that by 19 weeks...think he got the message!
    HELP! I am knackered and starting to dread bedtimes :-( x
  2. Couldnt read and run, my little man hated sleeping in the daytime until the last 2 weeks. he is 26 weeks old today. We have a fisher price sea horse thing - a friend let us have hers 2 weeks ago. It is in the shape of a sea horse but you press its tummy and a gentle light comes on. it plays soothing music for 5 minutes then turns itself off. I put him down in his cot with it around the times i want him to nap, or when he is looking sleepy and it really seems to be doing the trick. i think boots sell them about 12 pound, worth a try.
    Lack of punctuation as typing in the dark and touch typing isnt brilliant still, dont ask about the dark fact. hope it helps
  3. You have my sympathies - sleep deprivation is horrendous. Two things: what are her daytime feeding habits? On demand? 'Set' mealtimes? There was a post only a couple of days ago on here entitled 'Moving from breast to bottle - will it help?' - it was so similar to this and there was loads of good advice in the replies which could be relevant to you...check it out.
  4. You poor thing, you must be shattered. I think the first thing you need to do is address the day time naps. Sounds like she is over tired and so is getting a bit hyper. My LO naps every 2 hours [although he is 6 months now and starting to stay awake a bit longer]. Try putting her down exactly 2 hours after she has woken up. I found giving my LO an nice soft blanket helped get him off. You can shove it down your top for a bit too so it smells lovely for them.
    Hopefully your nights will improve once the day time sleep improves. Does she fall asleep at bedtime while you are nursing her? If so she may not be getting enough hind milk to fill her up. You may have already tried this but mu LO won't take a bottle from me or if I am anywhere near so my OH gives it to him, keep persevering with it, she will get the hang of it.
    We had a slumberbear which was quite good at soothing him if he woke up in the night. I also have heard good things about the seahorse wolveslass mentioned.
    I also recomended babysleepanswers.com to another poster, I found it really useful x
  5. Thanks for the replies, ladies. Shed has a glow worm, which sounds similar to the seahorse, but I've found that anything that plays soothing lullabies tends to wind her up when she's tired!
    Re. her feeding habits, we are totally feeding on demand. She will go about 2 hours between feeds in the day, sometimes less, sometimes more. I have sometimes tried feeding her more often, even when she hasn't demanded it, just to see if stuffing more calories into her in the day will keep her going longer at night. It doesn't!
    If she's showing no signs of waking for a feed by the time i go to bed at 10/10.30, then I'll do a dreamfeed in the hope thatI'll then get a couple of hours sleep before she wakes again, but even this doesn't always work.
    So, it sounds like I need to sort out the daytime napping then. She is quite regular with the morning nap. After I do the first feed of the day, we spend about 30 mins washing,dressing, playing on the changing mat. She then goes into her cot with the mobile on and she'll happily play in there, chatting to the mobile characters for 30-40 mins. By this time, I recognise that she's making tired grumbles, rather than enjoying herself, so I turn the mobile off and push it out of the way and she'll normally nod off quite soon for half an hour. So, she's usually asleep about 1.5 or 2 hours after initially waking up. It's the rest of the day that's the problem!
    I do try to put her down when she starts rubbing her eyes etc, but she often just will not go to sleep, and then gets herself into a right old screaming/overtired state which is very difficult to get her out of. How do I get her to fall asleep??!
    Oh, and she just will not take a bottle, it doesn't matter who tries to give it to her or whether I am in the house or not. I know she CAN drink from one as she has done so on very rare occasion, she just WON'T. We persevere for half an hour or more some nights, with ebm and formula, but she cries, purses her lips and moves her head from side to side to avoid the bottle going in her mouth. It can take this long just to get 10ml in her, and that is from her biting the teat, rather than sucking it. We have tried pretty much every type of bottle/teat/flow... very frustrating. I used to give in and whip the boob out in the end as it was so stressful for us all, but more recently she has been going to bed hungry when she refuses the bottle, as I figure she has to learn to take it and that mummy's boobies are not coming to the rescue! Bad mummy, I feel awful when I've done this.
    Think I'll have a nosy at babysleepanswers in a mo as I've not come across that one yet. Hopefully we can sort this out before it gets any more out of hand!
    Thanks again x
  6. atwoodfan

    atwoodfan New commenter

    Don't know if I can help at all, but we definitely went through spells where sleep was a real battle during the day so I sympathise!
    I think you mention that your LO feeds about two-hourly during the day? By the time mine was a similar age, it was much more like 3 hours, maybe even a bit more. So is it possible that she is "snacking" and never taking really big feeds? That might then lead to hunger in the night? Or maybe she needs something different activity-wise? When my LO was bored she would act tired, but wouldn't sleep for very long...
    Or maybe yours is ready for a bit less sleep i.e. having their first nap a bit later - longer awake spells in the day are meant to lead to better daytime naps and night sleeps: I know it doesn't always work out like this though!
    Good luck and I hope you find something that works...

  7. learningyoghurt

    learningyoghurt New commenter

    I'm not sure if this is the right thing to suggest, but it worked for me. When Yoghurt Lite went through a similar phase of waking up at really short intervals I tended to co-sleep after a certain point in the night (usually 3am when I was nearly crying with tiredness) and feed him in my sleep. Every time he squeaked I just hoiked up my nightshirt and thrust a nipple in his general direction without really waking up.
    I don't think that it'd be a great habit to get into, but it might be worth it just for a night to regain your sanity? You can get four/five hours of sleep - not of a brilliant quality but it's better than nothing.
  8. 'I used to give in and whip the boob out in the end as it was so
    stressful for us all, but more recently she has been going to bed hungry
    when she refuses the bottle, as I figure she has to learn to take it
    and that mummy's boobies are not coming to the rescue! Bad mummy, I
    feel awful when I've done this'
    Does she go back to sleep 'hungry'? If so she isn't hungry and is using breastfeeding as a comfort.
    If she was really hungry then she might take the bottle. It's a bit of a myth that formula fed babies will suck from a bottle at any time until its all gone. My daugher was formula fed and did the head to one side, chewing on it thing if she didn't want feeding.
    If she really is hungry this much I would try some baby rice.
  9. I totally sympathise - I am in a similar position LO 16 weeks. am totally breast feeding
    however my LO has never slept through and he will nap in the afternoon for around 2 hours.
    I can only tell you what I do with him.
    I wake him at 9 (if left he will sleep through until midday but trying to get his body clock round to a more reasonable time)
    wash, dress, play, feed (he tends to fall asleep on me)
    Put him in his pram - sleeps for about 10-15 mins
    wakes up (sometimes rather ratty because he is still tired!)
    play, feed
    lunch time nap around 1 same 10-15 mins max
    wakes up, play etc
    tends to zonc out at about 3 until 5 - however he then cat naps 10 minute intervals until midnight at least - and then will only sleep if in my or OH's arms. will your LO sleep on you? I think it would be worth it for you to get some sleep - If i can't get LO down, over too many nights I bring him in bed with us and at some point will wake up with a dead arm and move him to his crib -
    I bet you have done all of these but What is your LO sleeping in? cold? hot?
    hope you sort it

  10. Hi again, as someone else suggested 2 hourly feeds do seem very often. When my LO was also this age he fed at 4 hourly intervals (7, 11, 3ish and 6:30 (bedtime) and a dreamfeed at 11ish). I would agree with the other poster who said that maybe your LO is 'snacking' and not taking a really good full feed at any point. How long does a typical feed last? Does she have both breasts? If your LO isn't getting a full tummy perhaps this is why she isn't sleeping well? Also, I agree that daytime naps are crucial to nighttime sleep (as you know!!). I can only tell you what my LO did at that age in terms of naps (BTW - he was breastfed til 9 months and is a great sleeper); naps were about 9-9:45am, 12-2ish and 4-4:45ish. Maybe try cutting that morning nap back to an hour or even less? Someone else suggested going by the '2 hour' rule (we did this too!) ie sleeps to be spaced about 2 hours apart.
    Where does your LO sleep? The only thing I can suggest is a small comfort blanket (has been a godsend for us). LO holds it, rubs it, sucks it, puts it over his head and falls asleep like that! Even though it's really hard, I do think it's important when breastfeeding to try to keep it as a source of nutrition and not comfort (which is what it is after all! It sounds a bit cruel but otherwise it can be a very hard 'habit' to break). Can you differentiate when LO is feeding or comfort sucking? Could some of her feeds not be feeds at all? Sorry if that sounds a bit condescending. It took me ages to be able to tell the difference. Once I could I wouldn't allow it (man I sound harsh! I'm not, I was just so scared of getting into bad habits that'd be hard for LO to break) I'd always gently break the latch and take him off.... Hope this helps and I hope you find a way of getting you all some more sleep soon x
  11. Hi minxyfish,
    I am experiencing very similar problems to you at night. Luckily my LO still naps pretty well during the day, but he never used to. It's taken me a while to spot the tired signs. Now I usually put him down for a nap about an hour and a half to two hours after a feed. Inbetween we do lots of play or go to baby classes.
    As someone has already mentioned, I recieved some great advice in response to my post. I had a better night last night due to two things (I think!). I put him to bed a bit later. Like you, I brought the bedtime routine earlier and he was going to bed for about 7. Last night he went down at about 8, which was the time he used to go to bed before the sleep problems began. I also put him into his own room in his cot. He seems much more settled in there and he actually settled himself back to sleep twice, without me interferring too quickly! Someone else also said that they can smell the milk from you!
    I also spoke to a HV today, who runs a sleep clinic. She did say that they wouldn't look at these type of problems until a baby is atleast 6 months. However, she did give me a few suggestions. I'm not sure whether they will help as I have yet to try them! I also feed my LO before bed. The HV said to try not to do this and feed him either before his bath or before a story or massage (whatever is part of your normal routine). She also said to work with his natural sleep patterns, which ties in with what I said about bedtimes. So basically, try to put him down to sleep when he is tired and ready to sleep. Not to tie in with Corronation Street,which I admit I was trying to do!! She also said they recommend baby not to nap after 4pm.
    I'm going to give her suggestions a try tonight. It's unbelievably exhausting getting up so frequently isn't it? I've lost count of the times I have broken down in tears, but you have no choice but to carry on.
    I hope things improve for you too. I know I feel better after reading the experiences and advice of others on here x
  12. Thanks again, everyone, there are loads of helpful suggestions in your replies. I'll try to address the ones I can remember.
    First, relating to her waking up 5/6 times each night. Yesterday, someone suggested she was waking up so often purely for comfort feeds, which I had thought of too. (Some friends of mine had said to take it as a complement that she wants to see me in the night, but honestly I'd rather have the sleep. We get plenty of cuddles in the day). Anyway, last night I tried not feeding her at each of her wake-ups. She did still wake 6 times, but for three of those a dummy plus a quick stroke of her head sent her straight back to sleep. So I guess that proves that she's not waking due to hunger?! Now though...how to stop her waking when she's not hungry?
    With regards to the daytime lack of naps, I suppose I have to try harder to get her into some kind of routine. I've always let her lead, but she's clearly not getting enough sleep of her own free will. She always has a 30-40 min nap in her cot about 1.5-2 hours after waking, and I'm glad that she's kept this one on even when the rest of the day's are a struggle. For the rest of the day, it's anyone's guess as to when/how long she will sleep for. Like I said earlier, it used to be two 2 hour naps, but now it could be anything between 1 and 4 naps of between 15 mins and 2 hours (on a rare day). There really is no pattern at all.
    I like the idea of structuring her sleeping 2 hours after waking (she's already doing this with her morning nap), so I think I'll try to implement this throughout the rest of the day, starting tomorrow. I think I'll also try to make sure that <u>all</u> her naps are in her cot (she's been in her own room since 8 weeks and settled well from the start in there). At the mo, she always has the morning nap in there, but once we come downstairs for the day, it depends where she is - she nods off in her swinging chair sometimes, other times on my lap or else in the sling or pram if we're out. Hopefully this might also mean she'll stay asleep for longer.
    She is definitely tired, and not just bored. We do so many activities all day e.g. play mat, jumperoo, dancing to music channels, play ring, sitting in bumbo and watching me cook, cot play, rhymes, books, bouncing on my lap, walking the dog, and several baby classes e.g. massage, yoga, jo jingles, bf support group, lunches with other mummies...
    Re. frequent feeds in the day, I've always fed on demand, as do my bf'ing friends, and the infant feeding coordinator says this is best, even if it means 12 or more feeds a day. Generally, if she's grumbling she goes on the boob (which is in line with a recent article about African babies and bf'ing), even if she was only on an hour before. But I suppose some of these feeds are for comfort. She's always been a very quick feeder, and feeds have been 5-10 mins since she was about 8 weeks.
    Today, however, I have consciously spaced her feeds out more, distracting her if she's grumbled, and she's seemed happy enough, though hasn't fed for any longer. I think I'll try to carry this on, and see if it helps at night.
    Sorry once again for the long reply, I can't seem to ever write a short post!
    Hope we all get some sleep soon x
  13. Plus - she sleeps in vest (short or long, depending how cold it is), sleepsuit and sleeping bag. I have a fleece blanket to hand for her as by about 3am her room has sometimes dipped below 16 degrees, so I tuck this around her when I do that feed.
    I'm not sure about making her bedtimes later again, as I just don't know how she'd stay awake. She's rubbing her eyes now and it'll be a battle to keep her smiling until her bath at 6.30! There's no way I could keep her awake until 7.30, when she used to have her bath. I suppose if she starts sleeping better in the day, then she'll be able to stay awake later at night, but it's not an option at the mo.
    Oh, and I agree - ideally she would never have a nap after 4pm, but on the days when she's only had about an hour in dribs and drabs by 4pm, she often needs to have a nap between 5 and 6, but I dread this as it is gettign perilously close to her real bed time.
    It's so hard, isn't it? Especially as what works for one baby isn't guaranteed to work for yours. Ho hum, I'll keep trying. I'm just grateful I have another 6 months off work, as I ould be well and truly knackered if she was up this many times a night as well as having to go to work.
    Thanks again x
  14. lucchese

    lucchese New commenter

    I totally totally sympathise. My BF LO (now 13 months) had major nap problems until about 9 months when we had a breakthrough as well as waking up every 2 to 3 hours in the night. He is still not sleeping through now but gradually things are becoming more acceptable.
    What I would recommend is establishing a nap routine (similar to bedtime routine) that winds LO down from playing. My LO definitely finds it hard to switch off if he is just plonked down in the cot and expected to sleep (which is what OH would do if he could have his say!). You have to keep things consistent, always put LO down in cot in darkened room (my LO would never sleep anywhere else from about 4 months apart from occasionally in the car but we hardly ever use it so it wasn't an option). My routine consists of reading a few books, putting LO in sleeping bag, putting a bit of music on, playing with a teddy and then down in cot. I would then leave the room for LO to self settle as my being in there did not help him drop off at all. At one point I was also leaving relaxing music on in his room but it had no effect whatsover. I got loads of ideas from the No Cry Sleep Solution, very very helpful (not the No Cry Nap Solution - not as good). You basically have to work through and try different strategies and see what works for you.
    The breakthrough came when I put LO to sleep in his sleeping bag and left the heating on (I think he felt more snuggly), it sounds obvious now but for a long time I was putting him down just in his clothes as I had started this in the summer and as autumn came never thought to dress him up more. I now wrap a blanket round him as well and give him a teddy to cuddle.
    I think the 2 hour rule is a good one for your LO's age too. My LO never has sleepy signs (sometimes a yawn is no guarantee he'll go to sleep, it might be too late) so I tried to put him down at 9, 12 and 3 at that age. Three naps worked well till 9 months till we dropped to 2 (9 and 1) that have gradually changed to about 10.30 and 2.30 at 13 months. If I didn't put him down early enough after waking it was a recipe for disaster...
    Something else that also helped was not feeding just before a nap as LO would drift off and then only do about 20 mins in his cot, or sometimes wake up completely as I put him down. You need to break the habit of feeding to sleep as it will help the nighttimes too. I definitely agree with other posters that you should be feeding four hourly during the day, and make sure your LO is feeding efficiently otherwise terminate the feed. I realised that my LO never napped till about 3 months because he was napping on me while feeding for hours at a time.... I started intervening in length of feeds at around 3 months on the advice of a feeding specialist.
    In the nighttimes try not to feed if the interval is too short (I would set a three-hour limit) especially in the first part of the night as this sets a precedence. Try and get your OH to support you by having him go in, it makes such a difference.
    Good luck, sleep deprivation is the worst thing ever. xxx

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