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Sleep: I feel like I'm ruining them!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Help! I am so frustrated! Sleep is a major problem in our house and I don't know if it's just a phase my boys are going through, or if I missed the boat two months ago and am stuck in bedtime hell.

Some background: My boys are 5.5 months (born at 40 weeks). One baby was really colicky for 3 months. Once that eased off, I was able to nurse them to sleep within 20 minutes, or we could walk them to sleep. Sometimes, especially for naps, I was able to just lay them down in the crib and they'd drift off to sleep with my hand on their chests. I thought we had bedtime down well with an hour-long routine, but they were intermittent nappers and I wasn't able to get anything done during the day, so I started to focus on that and getting them to sleep for more than 2 hour stretches at night. For a very brief while, they were napping 1.5 hours in the morning and 2-2.5 hours in the afternoon. Then it all went to hell!

I've given up trying to keep them asleep for more than an hour at a time during the day and just put them down 3 or 4 times a day when they start getting cranky. At night, I'm up 7-12 times with one or both babies. But what is wearing on me most is bedtime. I try to follow the NCSS suggestions about not nursing them completely to sleep, but it makes them angry if I pull them off when they're drowsy, but not asleep. However, we can't seem to walk them or pat them to sleep anymore either! I know that it would be so much easier if there weren't two of them feeding off each other, but I can't really help that.

Both babies have started refusing my husband's attempts to comfort them and all they want is to nurse, even if it doesn't put them to sleep. They'll nurse themselves sick! I don't know what to do anymore. I feel so defeated! It seems like no matter what I do, I can't create positive sleep associations for them.

Tonight it took 3 hours to get them to bed. At one point they were both screaming and I was worried I'd hurt one of them because I was so frustrated. I had to leave the room. They yelled for 5 or 10 minutes before I went back in and tried to nurse them to sleep. One of them drifted off, but a minute or two after I laid the other one down, he woke up screaming again. Then they won't calm down until they're reassured I'm there. They don't want my husband.

I feel so trapped! I hate bedtime! My birthday and our anniversary are this week and I remember thinking back when they were born that this would probably be a good time for my husband and I to leave them with my mother for the first time so we could go out to dinner, but I can't see that happening anytime soon. These boys have the sweetest daytime disposition, so why are they terrors at bedtime? What am I missing? I feel like I'm failing them, and myself. Help, please!
post #2 of 6
gotta put two dirty toddlers in the tub, but just wanted to say quickly...

it sounds like teething to me. and i think everything you described is also totally normal for 5mos. mine were like that. at 16mos, they only nurse to sleep at night and then maybe once in the middle of the night... i can tell someone's working on a serious tooth if all he wants to do is nurse, but doesn't fall asleep well.....

hang in there. 5mos is a tough age. i say don't worry yourself with the sleep training as you have 2 babies... so whatever works at the moment. things will ease up. it's just a rough time IMO!
post #3 of 6
Mine are the same age. DS went thru this same thing just last week. Previously, they were great about drifting off by themselves, then all of a suddern all he wanted was to nurse. Since we were visitng friends, I gave in and just co-slept with him and nursed all night long. Just as Dividedsky said, a tooth popped thru in the next couple of days. I do hope that's all it is for you. SOrry it's both at once for you.

I will say that sometimes I do have to change my routine based upon their preferences. I haven't been successful in nursing them down for a while. Now they won't even accept me rocking them down. SUrprisingly, they make me put them down awake, and even screaming sometimes, so they fall asleep together. Just do whatever you can to stay sane.

btw, you're naps are making me drool with envy. We're still in the hold them in the rocking chair for 1/2 hour to get any daytime sleep. Ugh.
post #4 of 6
hmm, aaaaall my children have been like this until quite old (3ish?) my twins are 19 months and still wait for me to go to bed to be settled for the night. that's probably not reassuring for you, but as they're my 5th and 6th I've mostly accepted that the first few years are short in terms of eternity. it doesn't last forever, and embracing the security you can offer them rather than fighting it can bring a lot of peace
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone. I think we may have hit on something as far as sleep goes. I finally figured out that even if they wake up at 5:30am, I shouldn't put them down for a nap until 8:45 because their second morning poop always wakes them up by 9am if I do. I put them down at that time this morning and they've been sleeping for almost 2 hours now!

The other thing I did was give up on our fabulous, advice-inspired bedtime routine. Pajamas, story time and nursing with low lights, quiet voices, cuddling, etc. wasn't working for them. (Go figure!) So instead we're getting them into pajamas at 5:30 or 6pm, nursing while reading a story, and then bringing them out into the living room or the patio and sitting with them until about 7pm. Often, they'll drift off for a 20 minute nap, but they're not ready to go to bed yet.

Suddenly, they're no longer fussy in the evening and they're ready to nurse and go to bed at 7:30pm. I'd been trying so hard to have a good, early, consistent bedtime routine so they'd develop pleasant associations with sleep and get plenty of sleep, but I shouldn't have listened to the "experts." Even though they get lots of interaction and cuddle time during the day, I think these little guys felt left out when we would do our bedtime routine in the bedroom. (We live in a household with 5 adults, 2 kids, a cat and a dog, so there's a fair amount of activity.) I've also tried to stop looking at the clock when they get me up at night. I guess night waking is like anything else, they'll stop asking me to help them go back to sleep when they can do it themselves.
post #6 of 6
The routine that worked the best for us was the N.A.P.S. routine. Basically working on a 90minute wake/sleep schedule. There is a book out there about it, but the gist is every 90min we come 'down' and are receptive to sleep. If we try to put them to bed NOT at that time (some being more sensitive than others of course) we will battle until they DO hit the 90min cycle. The more they sleep, the better they sleep. Sleep begets sleep.

On THAT note NONE of my babes have EVER slept thru the night til after 1yr of age - more like 18mths and upward. Now my older three are 4, 6 and 7 and they are AMAZING sleepers - going to sleep and staying asleep. I didn't ruin them with my cuddling/loving/soothing etc. I am doing the same with the twins - albeit harder as there are two of them but I know its not forever! HUGS HUGS HUGS
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