how did you teach baby to fall asleep without nursing and sleep for longer stretches - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 04-14-2011, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all...relatively new here but need some help. DD is 7 1/2 months old and NEEDS to nurse to fall asleep (except when in the car) and can't seem to get herself back to sleep without nursing. For naps she wakes after 40 minutes (I assume one sleep cycle) and is either done napping or sometimes will nurse then sleep another 40 minutes. At night she also wakes frequently (last night it was about every hour) to latch on and nurse back to sleep. At night it doesn't bother me as much because I usually barely wake up and go right back to sleep (although every 40-60 minutes is excessive) but for naps and before I go to bed I am usually laying with her while she naps/sleeps or, if I can get up, I'm going back in the room every half hour or so to nurse her back to sleep so she doesn't wake up so I pretty much get nothing accomplished while she's napping.

I've read NCSS but the pull off just doesn't work for me. DD is vey sensitive/intense/high needs and immediately starts crying as soon as I unlatch her if she is not completely asleep and if I keep trying she'll just get more and more worked up and will become more difficult to get back to sleep. I've also tried getting her attached to a lovey with no luck.

I don't know how to break this habit that I've formed. I don't mind night nusing but I feel like she would sleep better if she didn't need to nurse every time she stirred and if she could sleep longer stretches. Plus I'm worried about what will happen if I ever need to be away from her or unable to nurse for a short time. I just had a bad breast infection that recurred and the Dr. almost hospitalized me for a few days of antibiotics but, luckily, she let me try another round at home first. I'm a SAHM and DD is VERY attached to me. I went out for two hours one night a few weeks ago and DH said she cried almost the entire time I was gone and when I got home she was wimpering in DH's arms...it was SO sad. So getting DH to put her down probably won't work either (she LOVES DH as long as I'm around too, especially at night).

What worked for other moms out there? Anyone had any luck introducing a pacifier to an older baby? DD usually just spits them out when I've tried in the past. Sorry this is so long and thanks in advance for any ideas or advice.
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#2 of 22 Old 04-15-2011, 07:13 AM
 
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I don't have any concrete advice for you except to say that my DS is very much like your DD.  I generally have to nurse him back to sleep once during naps, and he usually wakes up once or twice before I am ready for bed.  From what I've heard some babies get a little better about this at 11 or 12 months or age, so I'm sort of crossing my fingers for that!  If things aren't better by the 12 month mark I might try Dr. Jay Gordon's nightweaning plan, although it seems like people have more luck with this when the LO is a little older (maybe 18 or 20 months).

 

I did want to set your mind at ease about your DD going to sleep if you couldn't be there - DS goes to daycare 5 days a week and they get by.  He sleeps in this little rocking chair thing.  They "nurse" him down with a bottle, and then if he awakens during nap (which he almost always does) his teacher rocks him back to sleep.  She told me she actually sits on the floor between DS and another baby who is also in a rocker thingy during naps so she can rock them back down when they wake up.

 

And regarding pacifiers - DS took one from about 3 months - 4.5 months when I first went back to work but has rejected it ever since.  I don't know about your DD but it's not the sucking for him - it's the nice warm yummy milk.


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#3 of 22 Old 04-15-2011, 08:49 AM
 
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I'm in the same boat. Felt like you were describing our exact situation. Dds is 8 months and last week she did 2hr afternoon naps 3 days in a row with minimal prompting from me. Of course it didn't last bit maybe you'll get a window? At least were not alone-looking forward to others advice.

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#4 of 22 Old 04-15-2011, 12:43 PM
 
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I wish I knew the answer myself!

 

I'm in the same boat with my 7 month old son, though he used to be good at self-soothing by sucking his thumb. Until 2-3 weeks ago, he has always been fine with taking naps alone and sleeping alone in our bed for the early part of the night. He wasn't a great sleeper, but he had stopped taking catnaps and extended his naps to 1hour+. He's had phases of only waking twice at night.

 

Now he's a different baby. He won't nap alone for more than 20-30 minutes. He wakes every 1-2 hours at night. When he's falling asleep, he won't let me unlatch. He pulls on my shirt and gets distressed.

 

I know it's separation anxiety and that it will pass eventually, but I'm afraid that I'm creating a bad habit, though I told myself I would never parent based on vague future fears. But he refuses to suck his thumb now! He does it in the daytime just for pleasure... but during sleeping, he just refuses.


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#5 of 22 Old 04-15-2011, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies...at least I'm not alone. Sounds like this is common at this age. I didn't think about separation anxiety but Dd has been clingier than usual during the day lately too so maybe that has something to do with it. Crossing my fingers that it gets better around the 11-12 month mark. Thanks for the reassurance about being able to nurse down with a bottle. She did fall asleep taking a pumped bottle from Dh the other day although she didn't sleep very long. I totally hear you on not parenting based on vague future fears. I didn't used to worry so much about creating a bad habit cause I figured she'd eventually grow out of it but I might need to wean earlier than I planned (hopefully not but if so hoping to hold off til around 12 months at least) so I'm starting to worry about how dependant she is on nursing and if I should start trying to gradually break the habit or wait and hope it gets better in time as she gets a little older.
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#6 of 22 Old 04-15-2011, 10:33 PM
 
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its totally normal for this age... in fact it's totally normal for a 12 month old. babies are supposed to wake up several times during the night and babies are supposed to nurse back down. 

 

it can be frustrating for mom but it's best for baby. my now 4 year old nursed until he was 3 1/2 and nursed several times during the night until about 2 1/2 when he was ready it was easy and he just stopped needing it. now he rarely wakes unless he is sick/bad dream etc. 

 

Don't wean early because of this. those first 2 years of nursing are very important. it is frustrating and annoying but in the grand scheme of things it's such a short amount of time to not devote yourself to it for your LO's best interest.


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#7 of 22 Old 04-16-2011, 02:05 AM
 
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Hi CJsMama. My lovely boy is 5 1/2 months and we have the same issues. Obviously babes shift the goalposts every day... but for now we have cracked the first part of your question (getting to sleep without nursing) - and we are getting there with the second (sleeping for longer stretches), during the daytime. I'll warn you though, he cried a lot at first. I always cuddled and comforted him when he cried but it was still very hard, and sometimes I would 'give in' and nurse him if he got too distressed. The way we changed the habit was... just to stop the nursing and try to create some alternative sleep associations: getting into his sleeping bag, reading a story, cuddling and singing until he's calm but still awake, then putting him down with a kiss. If he cried, pick him up for more cuddling til he's calm again. Repeat, for as long as you feel you can. It took about a week, and by that time he'd figured it out and was able to get himself to sleep under his own steam and without nursing, and usually without many tears. Nows he will usually have at least one longer sleep each day (1.5-2 hours) but still sometimes catnaps.

 

At night I still nurse every time he wakes up which is every couple of hours. Haven't decided how I'm going to tackle that eventually, but for now I'll keep nursing because it's what he needs - and I couldn't handle the crying in the night!

 

It's a tough question and I guess you'd need to think hard about whether you could handle your baby's crying. It might not be the way you want to parent, although in my experience it was a fairly short term thing. I know it's controversial and I respect that other mothers will feel that this isn't the right approach.

 

Also, my son always cried a LOT less when his dad settled him, because he didn't expect milk from daddy, so if you can enlist your partner for as many settles as possible whilst you're trying to make the change, that might be nicer all round.

 

Good luck!

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#8 of 22 Old 04-16-2011, 11:22 AM
 
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My dd is twelve months now, and she has very naturally and slowly transitioned towards more independent sleep. Whereas she also used to nurse to sleep for naps, wake at 40 minutes and nurse to sleep again, now during naps she usually just rolls over at that time and settles into a comfortable position. During that transition (which happened over months), sometimes she would open her eyes briefly and check I was there, other days she needed to nurse. Just wanted to let you know that she did learn to sleep without nursing every time without any active effort on our part. Dh would sometimes give her a nap, if she was still awake after nursing and had a full belly, but we never withheld nursing for her to learn to do that. She now also naps with my mother-in-law three days a week.

I'm not saying we have perfect sleep, she still needs help falling asleep and we cosleep and nurse a lot at night... but I had the same worries and I think these transitions will happen naturally in their own time or you can find ways to gently push them along if the slow progress doesn't work for you.

As I write this she is sleep nursing... so we still do that too, but she has lots of naps/bedtimes that she falls asleep on a shoulder instead.
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#9 of 22 Old 04-16-2011, 03:50 PM
 
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My son is 16 months old, and still falls asleep nursing. He could fall asleep without it (being bounced or rocked) but it's just soo much easier to lay beside him and nurse. I really try and just enjoy it, because this stage will not last forever. As for children just falling asleep on their own, it's a milestone, just like walking or crawling or sitting up. Every child is different. My son still needs the comfort of my closeness to fall asleep, so I don't quite think he's there yet. Other babies that I see that can fall asleep on their own that are around 7 months or so, were forced to fall asleep on their own. (Cry it out) However I have seen some miracle babies that are just good sleepers and have no issues. I guess what I'm trying to say is, be happy that your baby wants to be comforted by you and not by a pacifier. Sometimes what's convenient for you, isn't always best for baby. And I say this with understanding of what you're going through. I've had to remind myself of this many times :) Hope it comes easy for you!

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#10 of 22 Old 04-19-2011, 05:24 PM
 
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I have been there and had similar worries, but they will stop when they are ready. For us, 5-11 months was horrible sleepwise. Now DD gives us at least one 5-7 hour stretch per night, usually beginning at 10 or 11 and going until 4 or 5. That's good enough for me. That's interrupted by colds and bad teething nights. But I feel way better than when she was waking up every 1-2 hours all night long demanding to nurse. It sucks. I know. I tried the NCSS and it didn't work for us - unlatching her did not give us longer stretches. Not falling asleep nursing did not give us longer stretches. The routine and regularity part worked well for us. She just started doing sleeping longer around 11-12 months on her own. I did start trying to just pat or cuddle her back to sleep and that helped too. But she is now 16 months and some nights she falls asleep nursing and some nights she falls asleep on DH's shoulder after nursing (he walks her around for a few minutes), but it has no bearing on how long of a stretch she sleeps. You are just going through a very bad age sleepwise. Hang in there! It does get better. At 14 months, we did a modified Jay Gordon method (we don't nurse from 11-4) and I do cuddle her back to sleep (and now when she wakes up she snuggles in with me and goes back to sleep - I hardly wakeup).

 

hang in there. They grow up so fast and you'll know when she is ready to be nightweaned. I think you should assess around 12 months, but I think at 14 months that was the soonest we could have done it.

 

 


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#11 of 22 Old 04-19-2011, 07:53 PM
 
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My babe is only 2 months so take my advice with a grain of salt Sheepish.gif But he has this little chair that vibrates (similar to the action they get in the car) and he sleeps very easily in there. It's also handy bc I can bring it in whatever room I'm in and not worry w a monitor. At night he sleeps next to me and I guess he latches on if he wakes up. 


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#12 of 22 Old 04-19-2011, 08:06 PM
 
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PPO did not work for me, like she explains it in the book. I haven't had much luck with getting her off the breast because I have a baby that loves it, too, but there have been a couple of things that I have had some luck with.

 

First, I do a bit of a variation of PPO. I pull her off when she is asleep but not completely zonked out. Then, I switch positions that she is lying in. I figure that if she is still lying in the way she does when she nurses, then will, of course, want to nurse. But, I find that when i switch her completely, it helps her not want to nurse at much. I have also tried different ways of holding her that she likes, there are a couple 'sweet spots' that she will tolerate a lot better. I also find that when I do this, the first time I move her to lay on my shoulder, for example, she will wiggle and whine and get frustrated. I nurse her again, but only till she settles again. Then I put her back on my shoulder and she usually is fine at that point. But sometimes she just wants to nurse and won' t tolerate going to sleep any other way, I only have luck with this method every once in a while.

 

The other thing that helped was nursing her till she is slightly less asleep every time. Big emphasis on the slightly -- I have to move slow with my little one. But, I am always trying to 'push' her to see if she can handle being slightly more awake and not nurse. But, it's takes a while and you have to be patient. And then there are some nights, like when she is in a funk or teething, that I have to throw it all out the window and just nurse her to sleep all the way. It's kind of a dance.

 

Just so you might have a glimmer of hope -- my DD napped really poorly when she was that age. She just now (she is 9 mo.) is starting to nap better -- a lot better. Now, night sleep is a different story, but I'll take what I can get! I used to get 2 forty minute naps (if that) and I've been getting 1-2 hour naps two times a day with about half the effort that I was putting forward before. It gets better, it really does, sometimes just with time.

 

 


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#13 of 22 Old 04-20-2011, 08:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the feedback! Sounds like lots of LOs go through this and transition to better sleep closer to 11-12 months so hopefully it will improve in time. Even just longer naps would be great. Just to clarify I wasn't thinking about weaning because of this issue. I thought I might have no choice but to wean sometime in upcoming months due to a surgery, which is why I was so concerned about it; however, there's a chance that I won't need to do it as soon (or hopefully at all) so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
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#14 of 22 Old 04-21-2011, 04:26 AM
 
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My son was EXACTLY like this, except he did take a pacifier, not that it made much difference! He is now almost three and is a wonderful sleeper. We tried everything short of CIO to get him to sleep better for naps and at night. Nothing worked but time. THe naps started getting better around 12 mos. DH had some success before that in wearing him down in the ergo and then we developed a very slow and careful method of getting him out of the ergo and onto his floor bed so that we didn't have to wear him the entire nap. I think he started tolerating that transition around 9-10 mos.

 

Around 13 mos we were getting desperate with the night wakings - we night-weaned him and it brought his wakings down from 15-20/night down to 5-10/night. So it was no miracle, and I wish we could have waited longer. He stopped needing to nurse to sleep sometime after he turned one, I can't remember. He started sleeping through on his own (we were still co-sleeping too!) at around 19 mos. Now he sleeps in his own room and only wakes if he has a bad dream ro is cold or something. He takes a 2 hr nap at DC, but doesn't nap at home, not such a big deal these days for us...

 

Hope that helps, I know the timeframe may not give you too much hope right now, but know that it WILL get better. We are getting ready for baby number 2 any day now and I'm hoping we've paid our dues in the sleep deprivation dept. and this little one will be more laid-back!


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#15 of 22 Old 04-21-2011, 07:52 AM
 
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My first was like this except like a pp said he would take a pacifier as well. But still sometimes if he wasn't totally asleep he'd spit it out and crying for the boob. He also was a horrible napper and rarely slept longer than 30-45 minutes before having to nurse him back down. Honestly I don't think it's necessarily anything you've created. My second ds is a much better sleeper and I alway opted to nurse him to sleep. He just generally would pop off on his own and then snuggle to sleep or let me rock him. Ds 1 would NEVER do that. All babies are different. Don't give up though. Even with ds 2 we had a rough nap phase between 5-7 months.

 

With my first ds I did finally night wean him at 18 months. It took some time and help from dh but he did start sleeping through the night....mostly anyway.

 

But for now I would say just hang in there and keep working on it. I found the pacifier helped but then my ds always took a pacifier.

 

HUGS mama, just remember it doesn't last forever. It really doesn't.

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#16 of 22 Old 04-26-2011, 11:51 PM
 
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It sounds pretty normal for such a young baby, but one thing you could try is elimination communication. My DD had a terribly hard time drifting off to sleep if she had to pee, and she always had to pee after nursing. So, I used to nurse her *almost* all the way to sleep and then sit her on one of those little Baby Bjorn potties. After she peed, she was able to lie down with me and drift off to sleep. Thought it might be worth a try! There's a great book called Diaper Free Baby that helped me get started.

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#17 of 22 Old 04-27-2011, 10:56 AM
 
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This is a very normal behavior for a nursing baby with a SAHM. All of my children nursed to sleep until around 18-24 months when they self weaned. they will wake less and less as they get older. I agree with checking diapers to see if they are wet. One of my boys would not sleep in a wet diaper. once changed he feel right to sleep. As for crying when you leave this is to be expected. The children I was a full time SAHM with were the worst for crying the whole time I was gone. For my husbands sanity I started going on short walks alone for a 30-40min just long enough for baby to get upset, be comforted by dad, and realize that mom does return.

I am not sure what you nursing goal is but if you start decreasing the amount of feeding at night or during the day you are decreasing you milk supply and baby will wean earlier. I have found that with my 3 kids they will nurse like crazy until about 12 months then slowly self wean. Just hang in there and enjoy the cuddle time. It will be gone the next time you blink.

 

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#18 of 22 Old 05-18-2011, 12:34 AM
 
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I came to MDC tonight for this exact problem.  My DD is 7 1/2 months and has started waking up a bunch of times between bedtime and 12 am.  She used to just wake up once around 10 and could be patted back down by DH.  But now she wakes up screaming 10-20 minutes after I try to sneak away, and takes FOREVER to settle back down.  I was getting very frustrated, but its so reassuring to know that I'm not the only one in this situation right now.  Thanks for all the support, even if it wasn't directed at me. : )

 

And here we go again...good night!


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#19 of 22 Old 05-18-2011, 02:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJsMama View Post


I don't know how to break this habit that I've formed. I don't mind night nusing but I feel like she would sleep better if she didn't need to nurse every time she stirred and if she could sleep longer stretches. Plus I'm worried about what will happen if I ever need to be away from her or unable to nurse for a short time. I just had a bad breast infection that recurred and the Dr. almost hospitalized me for a few days of antibiotics but, luckily, she let me try another round at home first. I'm a SAHM and DD is VERY attached to me. I went out for two hours one night a few weeks ago and DH said she cried almost the entire time I was gone and when I got home she was wimpering in DH's arms...it was SO sad. So getting DH to put her down probably won't work either (she LOVES DH as long as I'm around too, especially at night).

What worked for other moms out there? Anyone had any luck introducing a pacifier to an older baby? DD usually just spits them out when I've tried in the past. Sorry this is so long and thanks in advance for any ideas or advice.


To answer your question, I didn't. Personally, I believe that babies are meant to wake up frequently and I don't know any other way to put them to sleep but to nurse / rock. Or sleep training.

Probably what I'm saying doesn't help you, but I just want to say it's not your fault, it's not a habit that you created, or an "issue" or a "problem".

 

I'm currently working on helping my toddler fall asleep without nursing :)


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#20 of 22 Old 10-05-2011, 01:00 PM
 
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I found this thread through a search - my DD is going through the same thing now at 7 months. Some nights are just terrible. My DH or I will lay her down for the night in our bed, and she is now waking almost every hour (DH rocks her back to sleep) until 11 when she is hungry and needs to nurse. Then, she wakes many times throughout the night, and will only nurse back to sleep. Some nights I'm able to lay there against a pillow and let her nurse at will while I sleep, and other nights I get so uncomfortable or have trouble sleeping and I get so frustrated. Some nights - especially when teething - she nurses almost all night. Others, she may let go on her own but if I try to move at all to get more comfortable, she wakes up and wants to nurse again... and if I'm uncomfortable, I just want to cry out of sheer exhaustion!

She's never been great at naps either, usually only 30-45 minutes, more often than not nursing the whole time. Occasionally she will nap for longer (like right now, just passed 1 hour!) and doesn't need to nurse the whole time, but she's still in my arms. I have often wondered what I did wrong, or what I should do to fix this "problem", and it's a relief to find my intuition confirmed - that this is not a problem but perfectly normal and to be expected at this age. And I'm relieved that there are others out there who are going through/have gone through the same thing. I have to keep reminding myself she will only be this young once!

Anyway, not to run on, just want to say thank you to all the PPs for helping the OP and others reading too! I love this forum, there is such a wealth of information.

And to the OP: I'm curious how things are now for you, 6 months later? Others here provided hope that sleep improves, did it get better for you?
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#21 of 22 Old 10-11-2011, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi!  Well, 6-months later the sleep did get better but it is still far from perfect.  She still needs to be nursed to sleep, unless we are in the car, and still wakes frequently to nurse, BUT after I nurse her to sleep I can usually (not always) sneak away once she's asleep for anywhere from 45-90 mins, which is a huge improvement from waking every 30-45 mins and never being able to put her down.  I'm actually typing this reply on a computer while she sleeps instead of one-handed on my phone like I did the original post.  Naps are a little better too...I think it improved when she went down to one nap a day.  They are still inconsistent, despite my trying to stick to a schedule as much as possible, but they are better.  Some days she naps 2-3 hrs (waking 1-2 times to be nursed back to sleep) and some days she only naps 45-50 minutes.  So it's not perfect but it is better and, hopefully, it will just keep getting better and better.  There are still days when she's extra clingly (especially when teething - she's  a late teether and just now starting to really teeth).  I would write more but I think I hear her starting to wake now so I'm going to leave it at that for now.  Good luck and I hope the sleep situation gets better for you too!  
 

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And to the OP: I'm curious how things are now for you, 6 months later? Others here provided hope that sleep improves, did it get better for you?


 

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#22 of 22 Old 10-22-2011, 06:14 PM
 
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My son is now 15 months old and did the same thing. I think it's pretty typical. That age is filled with some drastic changes and it all affects their sleep. They're getting new teeth and depending on the baby, learning to scoot, crawl, or walk and they may be trying solids for the first time too. So much is going on, it affects their sleep. When my guy was 7 months old and started crawling, he would crawl in his sleep. Did the same thing at 4 months when he sat up. Throw in some teething for the fun of it and you've got a baby that's either sleep crawling, or nursing, or both about every hour. It does pass, it really does. If you feel your little one is getting enough nutrition, then I would encourage you to have dad help with night time parenting. Maybe have him comfort baby every other time she wakes up. She's cry at first, but she'll get used to it. At my wit's end, I had my husband start comforting our son about a week ago and I wish I had done it sooner. What a huge difference.

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