(I apologize for the essay. I am at my emotional wits end here)
My baby girl Iris will be 6 months next Thurs. Lately, like the last two weeks, she has started to fight at the slightest sign of tiredness. From 6 weeks old to about 3.5 months she slept thru the night* 10:30pm-9am. Then she started waking during the night to feed, 3-5 times per night. But it was never a fight to go to sleep. She was also more if a cat-napper during the day, maybe 3 x 35 min naps. I never enforced a schedule because I seemed to be OK at reading her cues.
About 3 weeks ago at an unrelated checkup the paed said she should ideally be in bed/asleep by 8:30pm and sleeping right thru till 6am at least. So I started to work at changing her routine (or lack thereof).
(I tried one night to not nurse during the night but it was such a bad night for us I decided to tackle that issue at a later stage. I am bipolar but not medicated so that I can breastfeed and so I need as much quality sleep as possible. I am also a SAHM so waking for feeds during the night doesn't affect me as much as her screaming does.)
We had 4 days of bliss in which she had 2 x 1.5+ hr naps at regular times during the day and she is now asleep by 9:30pm most nights. Those 4 days were relatively painless. But then she started to fight me and herself the moment I put her in her crib. She whips her head back and forth and kicks at anything in range and makes shrieking noises to keep herself awake. She arches her back with her body rigid. And if I don't pick her up within 2-3 min then she starts SCREAMING.
I have tried to stick it out for up to an hour nearly every sleep time. I have tried comforting her without picking her up by leaning my whole body into the crib and cuddling her. I have tried picking her up and holding her until she calms down (with minimal patting/rocking) and then putting her down again. I have tried both techniques while staying beside her, and by moving out of sight each time she's in the crib. The only thing that seems to calm her and send her to sleep is if I nurse her while in the rocking chair. But then she will wake again as soon as I put her in her crib.
Now she seems tired all the time, yawning and rubbing her eye about an hour after getting up in the mornings (around 8am).
Does anyone have more suggestions? Or just let me know I'm not alone in this...
That sounds really awful! But, you are definitely not alone. DS was a terrible sleeper - I had to rock him to sleep, then he would wake every 1.5-2 hours all night long. I lasted until 6 months when I had to sleep train. I had no choice - I couldn't function and was just plain miserable. I tried a few "no cry methods" but we ended up taking the cry it out approach where when he cried we went in every 5 minutes, repeating the phrase "mommy loves you but it's time to sleep now". The first night was nearly 2 hours. I felt terrible, and he woke up in the morning hoarse from crying. The second night he woke up several times but the crying episodes were shorter. The third night was better and the 4th night he woke up once for 2 mins. He really just didn't know how to put himself to sleep, and this helped him (and me!).
This might not work for you, it's not easy, but maybe you can find something there that helps
I'm sorry you're having troubles but IMHO the one who needs to change is you, not your 6-month-old. A baby at that age should NOT be sleeping through the night because babies NEED food regularly through the night. It's simple biology. If a baby does truly sleep that long, it's because they are too exhausted, not because anything is going well. Any pediatrician who tells you otherwise should be fired immediately because they are setting up you and your baby for all kinds of physical, mental, emotional, and long-term sleep problems. Also, a decent pediatrician should be focused on the total amount of sleep a baby gets in each 24-hour period, not on the baby's bedtime. Most of the time, parents just think their babies are sleeping through the night before they are at least a year old; what really happens is that baby wakes up hungry but has learned that his parents won't come to him anyway, so he stops making noise. And isn't that sad? We're supposed to be nurturing our babies, not ignoring them and withholding food. At that age, my first wasn't going to bed for the night until 11pm because that's what worked for our family, and our ped was perfectly happy with it because baby was sleeping plenty during the day!
I would suggest that you learn more about infant sleep cycles. You can not move a baby when they are still in the "light" part of the sleep cycle. They just wake right up and then you have to start over, and the more often you do that, the harder it becomes because baby begins to anticipate the waking rather than the sleep. When you nurse her to sleep, which is perfectly fine & normal, give her another 5-10 minutes to make sure she gets into her deeper sleep before attempting to move her. Wait until she goes limp. And an infant's sleep cycle lasts about 50-60 minutes, so if she starts to wake before then, don't turn on lights, don't talk, just quietly pat her back to sleep to finish her cycle. If you can get her to start napping longer periods during the day, the nights will probably start getting better as a result. There's a saying: Good sleep begets more good sleep. It's true!
Also, talk with your doctor about getting back on medication. There are many that are compatible with breastfeeding but he might not know or believe that. Check out Dr. Thomas Hale's Infant Risk website and go to your doctor with a list to discuss. Dr. Hale is a much better authority than most peds, and definitely a better than any ped who doesn't consult Dr. Hale before making recommendations about the safety of meds with breastfeeding.
I WOH full-time (beginning at eight weeks with each baby) so I understand your need for good sleep. The best solution for our family was co-sleeping. Baby was able to nurse frequently but I still got plenty of quality sleep. Consider converting your crib into a sidecar so that baby has her own space but is close enough to you for fast & easy night nursing. Babies love sleeping close to someone (again, it's simply biology!) and you would be able to hold her hand, pat her back, or sing a lullaby, in comfort. Wishing you good luck, and good sleep for everyone!
David Letterman is retiring. Such great memories of watching him over the past thirty-two years!
Thank you for your passionate response but you misunderstood me. I am not trying to force my LO to sleep thru the night without feeding, even tho the pediatrician suggests it. As I said in the third paragraph of my dilemma, I am happy to nurse her each time she wakes because that is less stressful for me (and most likely her too) than having her cry for 10/15 min each time trying to go back to sleep. I get good quality sleep regardless of how many times she wakes during the night as long as she doesn't cry for an extended period.
With regards to your advice about taking medication, are you bipolar? If not then I don't think you are in a position to advise someone else who is. I have done my research into medication options but decided that the risks or unknown effects on babies was too great to risk it. My DH and I discussed whether I should go off my medication for months while I was pregnant as well as the first 3 weeks of DD's life. It was a huge and difficult decision for us but I am thrilled to say that I have not had a major episode since going off them. And I will continue to work at non-drug coping skills.
Re sleeping arrangements, her crib is in our too. And I'm fine e with where it is.
My dilemma here is that LO fights going to sleep. That's what I was looking for advice or encouragement regarding.
My husband is bipolar so I'm very familiar with the medications used to treat that condition. I'm also a breastfeeding peer counselor, so I'm well trained in lots of breastfeeding issues whether I've personally experienced them or not.
Yes, I saw where you said you are happy to nurse her, but you are also very clear that you'd rather she slept through the night, and you seem very frustrated with your baby's very normal reactions to being "sleep trained" at such a young age, to being left alone in a crib, and to having her food supply withheld when she's probably hungry, and you seem dismayed at having to actually parent her to sleep multiple times a day. But that's what babies need. They need someone to hold them & rock them & nurse them & pat their backs. They need to feel secure in their location and with their company before they will sleep. It's innate primal biology. We live in the 21st century, but our babies are still un-evolved primates.
David Letterman is retiring. Such great memories of watching him over the past thirty-two years!
I am in no way frustrated at her need to nurse, even if it is just for comfort. In fact I cherish those moments and often feel quite sad if she rejects me. I also have no problem with having to "parent her to sleep multiple times a day". I am concerned that she is not getting the sleep she needs to grow.
I am worried that she is not getting enough rest to let her brain develop correctly because she seems to not want to miss out on things. I have no problem with whatever her bedtime is providing she is getting the amount of sleep that she needs. And yes, I have (prior to posting this thread) started reading up on infant sleep cycles. The fact that she usually naps for only 30-40 min tells me that she is not completing full sleep cycles and if she is not able to do that then her brain won't be able to develop correctly. I am also worried that her being disturbed by the need to feed during the night is preventing her from going through the much needed sleep cycles.
All of the crying/screaming I have mentioned takes place at the beginning of whatever sleep time it is (be it day time or night)..she rarely screams during the night unless, as you said I deny her milk. I did that once but personally, regardless of what the paed says, feel it is detrimental to her well-being to try force her to not feed during the night at this stage.
You mentioned their need to feel secure before they can fall asleep. That is something that has crossed my mind before but I can't figure out what/where is that place for her. Barring in my arms. If I had no other responsibilities I would with pleasure spend all my waking hours with her in my arms/in my lap.
I posted this thread in the hopes that someone could give me other tips on how to make the process of going to sleep less stressful for her (and subsequently for me too). Or at least make me feel like I'm not the only one in this boat.
When my kids were babies, I found I had to get them to sleep well in the day to get them to sleep well at night. If I had days where their naps were really short (sometimes errands could do this because they'd fall asleep in the car for a short time then not take their proper nap), their night time sleeping was horrible and I couldn't get them to lay down.
I ended up having one nap a day where I either went for a walk (stroller or baby carrier) or sat and held them for the minimum length of time I wanted them to nap (1-2 hours).
I never had luck with co sleeping past 3 months. My kids would sleep if I was sitting holding them but if I was laying down it seemed to make them wired. I could also never lay them down and pat them and have them calm down. If I (or my husband) were in the room, they would freak out until we picked them up. We tried various no cry methods. They were horrible. CIO for us involved much less crying.
Good luck. I know the sleep thing is frustrating and it feels like the more tired you are, the less they sleep!
DD1 July 2008 (41w3d)
November 2010 (13 weeks)
DD2 August 2011 (33w5d)