I am having a very difficult time matching my beliefs about sleep and parenting with my situation of constant sleep deprivation. My 4 and a half month old used to sleep for 2-4 hour stretches at night (co-sleeping) but for the past month he only sleeps in 1 hour chunks. The other issue is that he is a BIG comfort-nurser and wants to suck on me while he sleeps. It often takes multiple tries to get him off of me and unfortunately I am just not one of those moms who can comfortably sleep while nursing or cuddling. I am all touched out and hitting a wall where I almost feel violated by my little one because he won’t be comforted or put back to sleep any other way than sucking on me.
Then there are all the moms I know who do “sleep training” and their 4 month olds sleep from 6pm to 6am with one night feeding. It is so hard sometimes to keep my resolve not to do “cry-it-out.” I am just hoping he will grow out of it soon because I just don’t know how we can keep going like this. Many try to tell me that if he hasn’t grown out of it by now he won’t without sleep training and that co-sleeping past 4 months is actually detrimental to his health because he is not getting enough sleep either. I have read all the Dr. Sears books and the No Cry Sleep Solution. I have tried a pacifier but he won’t take it. Anyone have any ideas? What has worked for you? Waking 10 times a night and being sucked on all night and most naps is making me start to see CIO as an option….
It really helps me to put a pillow between my and my DD..So I nurse her then DH snuggles her and I put a pillow between me and DD and that way she seems to not realize I'm there and she sleeps much longer stretches. If she feels a boob she wants a boob lol
Oh, I hear your distress! I was lucky enough to be able to sleep through night nursing, but certainly if I hadn't it would have led to the need to make some clear decisions.
There are many options between nursing on cue all night, if that is not working for you, and simply leaving your baby to cry. Tell me where I'm wrong but I'm getting the impression you may be sleep deprived to the point that it's become difficult to see all of your options. I know it's difficult, outside of a forum like this to find people versed in remaining connected while meeting your own needs. Also there is the possibility that the increased desire to night nurse right now can be managed other ways- it could be teething related (or early, pre-teething related)- whether or not this is any comfort to you, as it can continue periodically as each tooth develops and begins pushing outward. In that case however, a teething remedy can help. Also some mothers find it helpful to increase daytime nursings to reduce nighttime demand- that often depends on whether or not baby always falls asleep when nursing. If he's working to increase your milk supply as he grows, more daytime nursing could help. Do be sure, if you cut down on night nursing, to be aware of his total intake and his ability to keep your supply increasing to meet his nutritional needs.
Is there an amount of nursing that you're willing to take on at night? Such as at bedtime, once in the middle of the night, and once the sun is up? Or whatever works for you? Every 2-4 hours? Not nursing is likely to take more attention from you, for a time, than simply nursing does- however, you can develop alternate ways of comforting him when you're feeling particularly averse to nursing. What ideas have to you taken and used from Dr. Sears and the No-Cry Sleep Solution? Are there ideas there you haven't tried that you're willing to give a go?
He's accustomed to most of his night time comfort coming from nursing. If you change that there will be a transition time, and he may not be happy about it, however that does not require leaving him to self-console. There are ways to offer him non-nursing comfort that he will likely adapt to if that is what you need. And honestly, you're not going to get any more rest with him crying it out alone than you would if you let him express his displeasure while you cuddle him, sing to him, rock him, rub his back, or stroke his cheeks. If you can't have something you want dearly, would you rather go through that alone, or with loving support?
Lastly, do you have an opportunity to get some sleep without your baby? That may help as well- at least with getting enough sleep to clear your mind a bit and feel more rested.
Wishing you much rest.
Lesley Reid Cross
self-connection supports connected parenting
The 4 month sleep regression can be really hard. Fortunately it is a phase that passes, and it's normal - so know you are not alone! My DS started to sleep for longer periods at about 5.5 months.
Here are some info pages that may help: