Hi, My DS is now 5 1/2 months old and 1) refuses to nap. It is a fight every time; and 2) is a night nurser. I have tried the "No-cry Sleep Solution" which has helped get him down for the night earlier but he is still nursing every hour and a half or so. The other concern is his lack of napping. I know that he gets tired between 2.5 - 3 hours of being awake, but I keep trying routine and it won't work. It took me nearly two hours to get him down today and he only slept for 30 minutes. It isn't good for either of us.
He'll sleep in the car, but will not go back down after I get him out of the car seat. He'll fall asleep while I'm with him, nursing or not, but wakes up the minute I try to put him in the crib. He will not go to sleep on his own, even with sleep associations like the Snoedel and cue words. I could live with the night nursing (though I'd like to try to wean him to one or two times a night) if I could get him to sleep during the day!
I'm really at my wit's end. I'm concerned he's not getting the rest he needs, and it is a challenge to recharge my batteries. I'm so glad he's interested in the world, but this is very difficult. Any suggestions?
Have you tried a vibrating lounge chair or a swing? These devices save my sanity! I will change and feed my 4 month old baby, give him some cuddles, then put him in either the swing or the chair if I have things to do. Many times he drifts off on his own. He will never fall asleep on his own just laying in his crib.
Sometimes we have to worry less about what books and theories say we're "supposed" to do, and just do what works for us. Routines will come on their own with time and patience.
Have you tried swaddling? My 2 month old won't nap at all unless she is swaddled - her arms are apparently a burden to her - she can't seem to keep them away from her face and constantly wakes herself up. I swaddle, nurse to sleep and then put her in the swing - it's the only way to get her to nap long enough to be happy.
DCP to 1 busy munchkin! and a CRST too!
Your baby is very normal. First, eating every 90 minutes during the night is very natural, and very common for those who have access to fill their needs. Babies would not do this so commonly if it meant they weren't getting the sleep they need. This can last for another year or a little more. It'll be OK a little later on if you want to try to reduce the night feeds but it's a little early for that at 5.5 months. Don't be swayed by all the comments about sleeping through the night as if it's some golden badge to wear proudly. There is no connection between "sleeping through the night" and better infant health or development. Of course, it's been shown that sleeping too deeply throughout the night is associated with a greater risk of SIDS. Those who feed frequently during the night have far lower risks.
I understand that it's the napping that is your larger challenge. "Naturally," he'd be napping snuggled up and happy in the arms of a grandparent or aunt. Most of us just don't have these natural village accessories available daily. The other natural means for him to nap would be wrapped up on your back, or in a sling. Again, that doesn't always work well for all of the things we need to try to do today. Do learn how to wrap him onto your back, or try a backpack. Moms find it much easier to do housework or computer work with their child on their back than in front, and baby-wearing might be your best answer.
When natural means are unavailable or impractical, we often need to resort to less natural, more creative options. Yup, many find that car rides will do the trick. The motion and confinement mimic being attached to a walking body, but once the vestibular input stops, a child, like other mammals, might instinctually worry that the village is roaming away without him. The electric swing and vibrating chair, as mentioned, work well for some. A travel bassinet, following you around the home, might work very well. Most babies are much happier sleeping amidst the sounds of their family's activities, and studies support the value of this more-natural means of napping. My guy would fall asleep in his backpack on my back but I couldn't always keep it on until his nap was over. If I took him out, he'd wake up. I'd lay the backpack on the bed with him still in it. The confinement made his sleeping mind feel that he was still being held, and I'd leave the door open so he could still hear my activity. Mostly, keeping your napping baby in the midst of activities should make him comfortable enough to know that he's not being abandoned, and thus more comfortable to nap.
Linda F. Palmer, DC
"The Baby Bond"
Thanks for the input. I'll try back-wearing. I use the beco carrier for outings and to get things done around the house, but as you mention, front-carrying isn't always easy for such things (and he hates it when I try to sit while he's in it!). He's such a happy kid, except when he gets tired! We took a 6-hour road trip recently, and he slept just when I thought he would, based on my observations. Once we weren't in the car, however, naps were elusive. Now that we're back home, it's just a fight. I appreciate the information, and will do what I can to keep him near. A travel bassinet won't work though - he's 22 pounds and has outgrown it! :) Wish us luck!
Mine was the exact same way! She is now 18 months. All I could do was carry her in the sling. It was exhausting. She never let me sit! When she got a little older she would sleep in the car and I would sit there with a book cause there was no way I was movin her. She made me carry her in the wrap while she was awake too. Screamed if I sat down or put her down to get dressed, never let me put her in a swing or seat. And people LOVED to tell me about "the happiest baby on the block". They obviously had never met mine. I do not miss those times. Good luck to you!
An update: At 14 months (tomorrow), he is still a terrible sleeper, waking every hour and a half or so to nurse. Only once, around 3 a.m., is it actually to eat. I have gotten him to nap once every day for about an hour and a half. I'm tired.