4.5 month old fighting sleep - please help me!! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 07-28-2006, 11:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Ladies,

My gal is giving me such a hard time. I try every day to just take things one day at a time. At the moment, my husband is out of town, so I'm on my own...
For the past few weeks, I've thought that my baby simply "needed" to get cranky before falling asleep. She just isn't one of those babies that will drift off peacefully to sleep. I now think she fights it so hard and I don't know why.
I wear her as much as possible (at least 6 hours a day probably), I co-sleep, I nurse her to sleep... When I'm not wearing her, I'm generally carrying her. I think I'm doing everything "right" so this is so frustrating to me.
Last night she threw a complete hissy fit and wasn't happy unless I was outside. She loves being outside but I literally had to walk her around the block for over an hour to get her to calm down and finally want to nurse to sleep. (And this is after she already showed signs of being tired - yawning and droopy eyes, rubbing her face, etc.)
She likes constant movement and when she is awake, I'm totally on the go. There is no such thing (which is fine) as putting her down for a few minutes - no, she wants constant movement. I spend some time each day helping her sit, stand, tummy time, little play on her sides and back, etc. but that is as much non-movement as she'll tolerate when awake.
During the day, I often put her to nap (once asleep or seconds before falling asleep) in a swing because she seems to get better sleep there. At night, she sleeps with me in our bed. Sometimes she wants to cuddle but lately, she seems to want to be a bit separated from me in the bed.
Now, when she is sleeping, I do leave 'noise' on. This could be the tv or radio. Last night, I thought maybe it was too stimulating (though my gut tells me she is a babe that needs a lot of stimulus - read above!) and so I cut all the lights and tv/radio and she was still hysterical.
Bottom line, I think she is fighting sleep. I want her to enjoy sleep and see it as a peaceful thing.
Does anyone have any recommendations or suggestions based on all of the above? I'm so sad because I feel like I do everything right and my baby just isn't happy. There's no diaper rash, fever, anything. I thought she might be teething but even still, why such a hatred of falling asleep??
My whole life, I've never been a napper and I always wish I was since it is so beneficial, etc. I'm not trying to force DD to nap - but when she is tired and yawning and her eyes are drooping - this is when the 'fun' begins.

OK, I feel like I've babbled enough but I'm super frustrated. I love my baby and will do anything for her of course - I just feel like I've run out of all of the 'usual' tricks to have a happy baby.

Please help ladies! Thanks in advance....
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#2 of 15 Old 07-28-2006, 12:29 PM
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I could have written your post, I don't have any answers, but will be lurking to find out if anyone else does! My ds is 10 mo and he has been like this since day one! He will be almost asleep, all relaxed and he will realize that he is going to sleep and he'll actually pull his own hair to keep from going to sleep! He won't take a paci anymore..it's like he figured out it made him go to sleep...BAM....don't want that anymore!!! I always say he fights like a Banshee when it comes to going to sleep! I try the whole bath routine and relaxing before bdtime....nothing helps. I hope someone has a miracle cure for this!
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#3 of 15 Old 07-28-2006, 01:35 PM
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Man Ashley... Sydney has similar sleep & movement habits & it is worst when I'm tired too. My husband watches her EVERY day so I can have an hour of MUCH needed alone time. You sound SO calm to be going at this alone! I am in awe

Disclaimer: all babies are different, I have NO idea what you've tried or who your daughter is, but this works for US:

if we can anticipate a nap for her before she gets too tired (which leads to her extremely cranky nothing is ok "colic" bouts) she doesn't fight drifting off, or if she does, it's not for as long or with as much protest. Once I notice red eyes & yawning it's nearly too late & that's usually when she fights a little.

I'm NOT a "baby scheduler," I too sling, cosleep & nurse constantly... it just so happens that my daughter has MUCH better days if I go by the clock or how many hours she's been awake then if I watch for her "I'm sleepy" signs. She's 3 months & if I can get her napping around 9, 12/1, & 4/4:30 & sleeping "down for the night" by 8pm (after which she'll usually only wake up for eating or a diaper change. We also co-sleep at night or when I need a nap too!

I know the numbers will change, but the point is that she is much happier when I "put her to sleep" versus wait for her to tell me she's tired.

So, that works for us. Hope you find something too!! You deserve a nice massage when your husband gets home!!!


Wife to my of 10 years, SAHM to my 2 beautiful homebirthed girls Sydney (4/29/2006) Kennedy (3/21/2010) & 1 super Newfoundland
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#4 of 15 Old 07-28-2006, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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THANKS!! You know what... I hate to tell you this, but that is EXACTLY what I used to do. When I started to see her go down, I'd start nursing her down or whatever... and it used to work relatively well --- probably about as well as it works for you. But something has changed in the past few weeks.

Even last night -- before I started walking around the block for an hour... when I saw her getting tired, I went in the bedroom and laid her down and she started howling. And I tried to offer her the boob which only infuriated her more. I picked her up and walked outside and silence. I came back in a few minutes later and tried again, no luck... she didn't want the boob, nothing.

Sometimes I wonder if she hates air conditioning (and I'm in south FL where it is boiling hot now) - but this doesn't make sense because she is fine if she isn't sleepy. I thought she was hot or cold but she doesn't seem to be....

I'm at a loss here. I really hope someone has some other ideas. I tend to be ok in general with the 'she's a baby - all are different' approach but I have this nagging feeling that she is 'learning' to hate sleep and view it as bad and this is about to become an on-going issue.

Good luck - I certainly hope Sydney (cutie by the way) doesn't follow the same path!!!

Oh - and I'm hanging on.... I've learned a lot of patience and love - it's all I can do! But, no, it's not very easy at times!
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#5 of 15 Old 07-28-2006, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow - this board moved fast today! Bump for the evening crowd if they have an ideas! TIA!
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#6 of 15 Old 07-28-2006, 08:41 PM
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What works for my babe right now is standing/rocking (i.e. holding her while rocking from side to side) while talking. I either have a conversation with someone else (in person or phone) or I just talk to baby. The key is to keep up a steady monotone. I basically tell her what we did today and what we'll do tomorrow -- then if I run out of things to say I just talk randomly about whatever pops into my head. The steady sound of my voice does the trick.

Of course, it might not work next week -- that's how babies are! But it works for now. Good luck. This stuff is frustrating, but luckily it does tend to pass.


Joan 39, single mama by choice to 10yo boy and 7yo girl

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#7 of 15 Old 07-28-2006, 10:36 PM
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Ashley, I know exactly where you are coming from!!!! My baby (2 days younger than yours) also has never been one to simply drift off to sleep. We say, Evelyn doesn't *go* to sleep, she has to *be put* to sleep. At different stages in her life, this has involved nursing, bouncing on the ball, walking, dancing, in the wrap, out of the wrap, swing, stroller, carseat, catching her first sleepy signal, waiting until she is beyond tired, etc etc. I also have wondered if she almost needs to cry (in arms, of course) before sleeping. And, I have also been very very sad and frustrated, feeling that I am not meeting my baby's needs for sleep.

That said, I am not sure I am in a qualified position to give advice, but since I am having a better day today, I will share what I think.

First, please try not to be too hard on yourself about this. I do the same thing so I can totally sympathize, but I think we really have to try not to for our mental health as mamas which directly impacts our children! You are doing everything you can do. You are going above and beyond the call of duty to provide a safe, happy, and appropriate environment for sleep. She's just not taking you up on it! You are doing what you can to meet her needs and you are a great mama!

Also, give yourself a break on the "causing bad sleep associations" thing. Instead of thinking of it negatively, maybe look at the fact that she is very alert and interested in the world, and has a hard time stopping that interest for long enough to go to sleep. Realize that it may very well be a stage or phase. I am not sure that sleep is totally based on habits (if it is bad now, it will be bad forever). I think it might change as well as other things change developmentally, and be tied into other developmental steps. You might find this article from a mom who blogs interesting to learn more about 4-month-old developmentally-related sleep issues!


(FWIW, my mom said that I as a baby was very similar in sleep habits to my daughter. Mostly not napping. She also felt sad, frustrated, etc. And, now I as an adult sleep very well and do not have negative associations with sleep at all!)

Finally, a couple observations on the needing to get cranky thing. I have noticed more crankiness if she is overtired or has what I think is a sleep deficit (really bad night the previous night, etc.). I have also found that sometimes I need to provide her with a stable, unchanging environment (in my arms or in the wrap) to get through that crankiness... Before I would just change positions, etc, the second she fussed. Now I wait a few minutes to see if she will settle and often she does... this works best for us in the wrap because I tuck her head in under the rail. She sometimes goes through a fuss when I do this, but hopefully then the cries turn into talking and cooing and get quieter and quieter and lead to sleep... but then sometimes she has that glint in her eye, and I think she will not go to sleep no matter what I do!

I could go on and on because I have thought a lot about this, too! But, I will stop for now except to say that on Sunday I am taking a class at the yoga studio called "Helping your baby fall asleep happy." If I learn anything new, I will share it!!!
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#8 of 15 Old 07-29-2006, 01:17 AM
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This sounds like completely normal infant behavior to me. It seems to me that a baby is either a sleeper or it isn't. I really don't think there's anything you can do about it, but just settle in for the ride and know that it won't always be like that.

I read every book I could get my hands on & scoured these boards when my first was going through this. But when I look back on it, the 4 worst months from 4mo-8mo, she was starting to move, to teeth, to eat solids, she had a massive growth spurt, and she was becoming aware of *everything*. Her brain activity was through the roof! THere's just alot going on at this age. My advice is to relax and accept it as best you can and know that it really is temporary.

At around 9mo, this settled down. By a year, she was taking regular naps and only waking a couple times at night. At 2 1/4 she takes a regular 2-3 hour nap daily and wakes once at night to crawl into our bed.

It's really temporary! I swear! s
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#9 of 15 Old 07-29-2006, 10:21 AM
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Just wanted to say that I've been where you are! For the first five months of dd's life, we had the "bouncy dance" that we had to use to get her to sleep. I always dreaded when it was time for naps or bedtime, b/c it was a long, drawn-out elaborate dance with her often crying, and fighting sleep the whole time. Exhausting!
Fast-forward to the present, and dd is an amazing little 3 year old, with a beautiful, outgoing personality. But she still doesn't like to go to sleep! It's totally just her personality.
Ds is 3 months old now, and he's a great sleeper! So, just be assured that the sleep issues are surely just your child's personality. And babies are always changing, too. What worked one month with dd wouldn't work the next. She finally started nursing to sleep at about 5 months old, which was a relief!
You'll get through this!
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#10 of 15 Old 07-29-2006, 10:12 PM
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Yep - as others have said, this too shall pass!

My ds used to be a pretty bad napper, so I can share what worked with him. Maybe you'll pick out a piece of the info and find it works for your babe. What helped when he was younger was to follow the 2-hour rule - meaning you assume that baby needs a nap 2 hours after they wake up. It helped me to catch him before he got too cranky and tired. Also - I put him to sleep the same way every time when we're at home. I used to nurse him down, but found that when he nursed down he'd inevitably wake up 15 minutes after I put him in his bed looking for the nipple. So we switched to nursing first then rocking him to sleep (this has the added bonus of allowing dh to put the babe to bed as well!). I turn on a fan for white noise and always sing the same 2 songs as we're rocking. Hope that helps!

A happy woman
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#11 of 15 Old 07-29-2006, 10:37 PM
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Skipping replies - sorry if I'm reposting info. One of my babies seems to require movement to sleep a lot of the time (wakes when the car slows down, etc.). His chiro says that that's actually not normal and it's some vestibular something or other issue (sorry - I have no idea what she said). Anyway, she say adjustments would help (I can't afford it regularly so I can't tell you if it does). Just thought I'd throw that idea out there for you, just in case. Oh, and my babies seem to (usually) calm down from an exhausted-but-won't-sleep screaming fit once I swaddle them super tightly (they're 4 months too). GL!

Mama to four remarkable kiddos, all born at home.
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#12 of 15 Old 07-29-2006, 10:47 PM
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I 100% agree with the pp about swaddling. Except in the heat, it really does the trick when dd is overly tired and wont calm down to sleep.
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#13 of 15 Old 07-30-2006, 12:18 AM
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Elaina has always been a terrible napper BUT it was even worse right before she started rolling over/ sitting up around 4.5 months. I''ve heardthat often their sleep patterns change right before a mailestone and I noticed in your post that you mentioned its been over the past few weeks that its gotten worse so maybe she's getting ready to do something new?

Just a thought
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#14 of 15 Old 07-30-2006, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by AshleyR
Sometimes I wonder if she hates air conditioning (and I'm in south FL where it is boiling hot now) - but this doesn't make sense because she is fine if she isn't sleepy. I thought she was hot or cold but she doesn't seem to be....
Maybe you need more humidity [I]inside[I]
The a/c dries out the home and it feels different...just a thought; ours runs almost constantly ....HOT here too ....my pool water was 98 last week.

Ds was the same way, but seems to be getting better, He slept in his swing a LOT.....he seemed to prefer it when it went side to side over front to back.
When he is awake he wants to be moving he loves the bouncie seat... sometimes he seems to NOT want to be held....opposite of my dd. I have noticed if he doesn't sleep well it is harder to get him to sleep later kwim.
Good Luck
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#15 of 15 Old 07-30-2006, 08:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone for your help, advice, and support!

I'm absolutely pulling my hair out today. I'm having the hardest time not getting super irritated. My dogs are taking the heat of it.

Anyhow, I appreciate all of your comments. My neighbor is a chiro, so I'll ask her about it. I loved the blog, that makes sense. I'm rockin' and talkin' but I swear I'm just so over cranky baby at the moment. I've put her in the swing to take a 2 minute time out for myself at the moment.

Back to get her and try more hugs. This baby moved so LITTLE in utero. I hardly ever felt her. I thought I had a calm babe coming to me.... ok, that's enough woe is me for today. But, since hubs isn't home, I'm venting here.

Thanks mamas.
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