4 month old resists falling asleep - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-19-2012, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all,

Our four month old daughter has recently started to seriously resist any attempts at getting her to fall asleep.  Usually we will swaddle her, take her in the bathroom with the light out and door closed, turn on the fan for white noise and bounce/rock her till she falls asleep.  We call it the deprivation chamber.  Sometimes I will nurse her in there as well, or sometimes I will lie down with her in bed and nurse her to sleep.  These methods have been working for us and she would usually fall asleep in 5-20 minutes, with minimal fussing.  Lately, however, the second she realizes we are trying to get her to fall asleep she will freak out on us.  We're talking loud crying, screaming and flailing/thrashing her body around.  This is really just a reaction to any attempt to get her to sleep; the second we turn the lights on, leave the bathroom, etc she is fine - happy and cooing - until we try to get her to sleep again.  Sometimes we can set her down in her bouncy seat while in the dark bathroom and she will stop crying and coo, until we pick her up and start bouncing and she freaks out again.

 

We've tried early/late bedtime, swaddling or not, having a bedtime routine, leaving her on the bed until she gets drowsy (for the record, once she realizes she is close to sleep she freaks out then too).... nothing seems to help.  I try to be aware of her times of wakefulness so that she doesn't get overtired before we put her down, but that doesn't seem to help much either. She does this for naps as well, though doesn't seem to resist as forcefully - usually 5 mins of fussing or less - as she does for nighttime sleep. Last night we started getting her to sleep at 8 pm and she didn't fall asleep until 10:15pm.  Argh.

 

We cosleep with her, and once she falls asleep she doesn't have tons of problems waking up and needing to resettle, it's just the initial give in to slumber that she fights.  She used to be able to fall asleep in other ways than the deprivation chamber - we could sling her and walk her, or she would fall asleep easily at church, for example. But lately she is just way too interested in goings on around her to fall asleep in those ways.  She is also more distractable during daytime feedings lately, so part of me wonders if she just is too interested in the world right now to take time to sleep.

 

Has anyone experienced this?  Does anyone have any ideas? Please tell me this is just a phase.....

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Old 03-19-2012, 01:27 PM
 
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It IS a phase, and it's called the 4 month sleep regression:

http://moxie.blogs.com/askmoxie/2006/02/qa_what_are_sle.html

 

It's awful, but it DOES pass!  Hang in there!


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Old 03-19-2012, 04:01 PM
 
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I have experienced this! Not too long ago, when my guy was 3-4 mos old (he's now nearly 6 mos). It was taking 2+ hrs every night to get his to sleep and it was so tough, the toughest time we experienced with him. All the things we had done up til then just stopped working. Honestly what I ended up doing during this time was hanging out with him in the carrier til he got drowsy then I would nurse him while I watched TV and he'd fall asleep in my arms. Then I'd watch TV awhile longer til he was more deeply asleep. That way even if he woke up when I transferred him to the bed, he'd been sleepy enough to not protest and nurse back to sleep. There were some late nights for me for sure, I would have loved to just nurse him down in the bed but he'd freak as soon as we'd lay down. Now I am happy to report that he nurses down to sleep in bed every night at a reasonable time with no fuss at all, and this has been the case for the last month or so. The only downside is that I have no other tools for getting him to sleep, but it hasn't been too much of an issue for us.

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Old 03-19-2012, 09:26 PM
 
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Funny you posted this!  I was going to get on here and post something similar to see how long this "4 month sleep regression" lasts!  For the past week, our 4 month old fights naps like crazy and is only sleeping about 30 minutes/ nap.  Just last week, we swaddled, nursed and he was out like a light.  Now he arches his back as I'm nursing and cries when I swaddle.  I hope this passes quickly!


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Old 03-22-2012, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the encouragement all.  Gracecody it's so good to hear this happened to you and it passed.  I had heard of the four month sleep regression, but thought it only applied to night wakings, not initial drifting off.  Maybe this is how it manifests in my babe. Lately we've been putting her in the sling and walking her around at night and it puts her out with less fussing.  It takes longer - 30 mins at least - but I'm not stuck in the bathroom bouncing a screaming baby, so I'll take it. ;-)

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Old 03-23-2012, 11:09 AM
 
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Yes, the crying is the worst! I always said that I didn't mind him not falling out til late at night as long as he was happy. It was the worst when it first started happening - at 3 mos, right at Christmas time. We'd lay down to nurse like we had always done and he'd start wailing and refuse to nurse. And wouldn't stop crying. I'd have to turn on the vacuum cleaner to snap him out of it. As soon as I start bouncing him on the ball or doing knee bends, both things that put him right out previously, he'd get mad and start wailing again. So my husband would have to walk him and we'd periodically try nursing again til he accepted it and finally went to sleep. So stressful. Then we gradually got to the point where I could just nurse him in front of the TV, then we were once again able to nurse down in bed. You just have to keep trying different things and figure out what will work, frustrating, I know!!

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Old 03-23-2012, 08:34 PM
 
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Thank you so much for posting this.  We have been dealing this exact same thing on and off for a few months now and it's really at (what I hope is) it's worst now at 9.5 months. Our DD has progressed very quickly through crawling and standing up and seems to want to practice all the time (at least if you continue to co-sleep you won't have to deal with the fact that crib railings make great handholds for "standing & walking" practice). I hope this isn't discouraging to you...all babies are different. 

I really just want to let you know how good it is for me to find this conversation happening here. I'm so wrecked from this situation - I've started to just dread every sleep session in anticipation of the hysterics - I don't think I could have put the sentences together to ask the question and start the thread myself. So thanks, good luck and I'm gonna read folks' responses and hope there's a magic spell in there somewhere :).


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Old 03-23-2012, 08:42 PM
 
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Oh, but a couple things that worked for us at that stage (because we had the long drawn out bedtimes too, with DD not going down until 10 or 11):

The first was a really consistent routine...same thing every night (or a very close approximation).  The second was a way earlier start to that routine than we had been doing.  Seemed counterintuitive, but it led to a faster process when going down, longer stretches overnight and an earlier bedtime.

Our problem now is that we've from drawn-out fussiness and wakefulness to shorter, but very intense, exhausted hysteria.


New mom who left a life at sea for my DH, my "firstborn", 10-month old puppy Betsy - Lab/Border Collie mix - and my DD Amelia, born June 2 and growing like a weed .

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Old 06-11-2012, 04:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey all, sorry I haven't replied to any of the posts.  Just an update.  DD is now 6 months old and is way better in this area (though other problems have come about - argh).  In retrospect, I think she might have been not tired enough when I tried to get her down for naps.  I notice now she will fuss more if she still has some energy to burn before sleep. I think I stopped trying to get her down for 4 naps and just did 3 and it seemed to help.  Or something like that....  whatever it was, the problem is gone now. yay!
 

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