DS is 8 months. For the first four months he was a great sleeper - 6-8 hour stretches. I would count on 6 hours. I felt fabulous. Bedtime itself was a nightmare (a three hour process usually ending at midnight) but once he was asleep I knew he would sleep for 6 hours.
Starting close to 4 months (and I was surprised, I'd read about the 4 mo sleep regression) his sleep started deteriorating. We went to 3-4 hour stretches. I didn't like it but could deal. We'd managed to move his bedtime earlier so I was happy with that.
Since November it's been getting worse...and worse...and worse. He goes to bed between 7-8 and wakes up every 30 minutes until we are in bed (we co-sleep, he has a floor bed in our room that he sleeps on until his first waking after we come to bed, then he's in bed with us.) Once we're in bed he wakes up every hour most nights. Every now and then he'll sleep 2 or 3. He wants to sleep with my boob in his mouth which would be fine except I wake up in excruciating pain in my neck and shoulders. I am a bad sleeper so I do not sleep well with him nursing. When he was little he would sleep next to DH and we all slept well that way. Now he has no interest in sleeping with DH.
We've tried every suggestion in the No Cry Sleep Solution and Nap Solution. We've tried having him on his floor bed all night. We've tried moving his floor bed into his room. We've tried to space out nursing so he only gets it every 4 hours or so. We've tried having dad go to be the comforter rather than me. Nothing helps.
Oh, and he naps terribly too - 45 min most naps - but he always has napped like this, even when he was sleeping well at night.
I am losing my mind. I feel like I'm on a short fuse. I am not an angry or irritable person but I am angry and irritable all the time. It is increasingly hard to be patient with my baby. Co-sleeping is not the panacea I've heard it described as. It is only better than the alternative because I refuse to let my baby cry. I desperately desperately need something to change but I feel powerless to do anything that will effect change.
Anyone have any ideas? Support is good too. I feel like no one understands.
It sounds to me like your LO is trying to comfort nurse all night. If it got that bad for my LO I would have tried a pacifier. He comfort nursed A LOT, but it never got that bad. If you're doing all you can to provide as much comfort as you can without ruining your life, then I see no reason to feel guilty about finding an outside source to cover the gap.
I know some mamas have very strong feelings of opposition and I know they can be a nightmare habit to break, but I would be comfortable using one for sleeping only and only as long as it was needed.
Do you play any music while he's sleeping? Some slow comforting music might help.
I hope you can find something that works! It sounds like a tough situation!
I have found that when the sleep is worse in the hours before you go to bed yourself, that putting them in a sling until you go to bed (not always easy, especially when you are tired) or just going to bed yourself, for a few nights, seems to reset things...
but then I am looking at this forum because I have two crap sleepers, so.....
I think we have the same child! I could have exactly written this post and I totally commiserate. My baby is nearly 10 months and things are kinda, albeit slowly, getting better. Months 0-4 were heavenly, and since then they've been rough. I also had the same breakdown at around the 8 month mark.
Initially my baby would only have 20 minute naps. These finally have extended to 45 minutes. I'm not sure if it was an age thing, or if it was because I worked for a week on not getting her awake at the 20 minute mark. I would sit there with her, or hold her in my lap, armed with a soother and my boobs to quickly soothe her back into a deeper sleep when she started to stir. Now, we have a 45 minute - 1 hour long nap at 9:00 am and a 1.5-2 hour nap around 1:30 pm. I often still have to soothe her back to sleep 1/2 way through the nap. Bedtime is at 7:00 pm for the baby (we tried making it earlier/later, but it didn't seem to improve anything).
At the height of my crisis which was between Christmas and into the first weeks of January, we instituted a sleep plan. We wanted to help the baby make positive sleep associations because she was waking up every hour between when she went to bed and when we did, and then was nursing all.night.long. Not nursing for food, but for comfort. We also wanted her to sleep in her own bed in our room for the first part of the night before we went to bed.
It worked so well for the first few nights. They were hard. I wrote about it over on the queer parenting forum, so I'll just paste that for you here -
We've reset her sleep associations and changed it up on her. After Christmas we consistently made sure she was taking her 2 daily naps in the pack n' play. One day, I had fed her 30 minutes before her nap and put her down without nursing. I would lay her on her side, sing a lullaby to her, and let her play with my fingers. She was out with me singing the song twice! (I really wish I had been more thoughtful in choosing a lullaby 9 months ago cause I sick of the mockingbird song). Then at night I was also able to put her to sleep without nursing (she'd nurse and when she popped off awake I'd transfer her over) and repeat the routine above, adding in a dark room only lit with a nightlight and a fan for white noise. Then at night we committed to not picking her up or nursing her back to sleep for 3 or 4 hours. We'd just sing, let her play with our hands, give her the binky and rub her back until she fell asleep. She would fuss and cry a little mostly because I wouldn't pick her up (when we had tried something similar at 6 months and 8, it was only twice, she screamed bloody murder for an hour and then I gave up). Since I was consciously timing her feeds, I could correctly guess whether she was hungry or just needed some help getting back to sleep.
The first night went well, but we had lots of waking up and two periods where it took 1-1.5 hours to get her back to sleep. The second night, she only woke up 5 or so times, and was only difficult to soothe back to sleep once, and last night she woke up a grand total of 3 times! Two times to eat and once where it took me less than one lullaby to get her back to sleep. The best part was that the hourly waking in the first part of the night seems to be over now. I'm hoping to get her to do a dream feed at 10:30 or 11:00 pm before we turn in for the night and move her from her pack n' play to our bed and then another feed around 3:00 - 4:00 am and then up for the day at 7:00 am. There's that elusive sleeping through the night (a glorious 5 hours) that maybe we'll one day try to achieve, but we're nowhere near that yet!
- so where did it all fall apart? The baby had an allergic reaction to eggplant which ruined one night of sleep and the next night she dove out of her pack n' play (she's okay) and was scared to death to go back in it.
What I realize is that we're trying to make too many changes, too quickly. I so desperately want to find something that works and want it to work instantaneously. Well, my kid is like me, she's very stubborn and knows what she wants, and it's just not going to be that easy. She's also in a pretty big separation anxiety phase. She clearly wants to sleep with her mommies and is the kind of kid who can't be sleep trained.
After I somehow got some sleep and began to think rationally again, we're trying to get her to sleep on her own Montessori style mattress on our floor for naps and the first part of the evening. I no longer nurse her to sleep. We nurse, then I put her on her bed (or on our bed beside me) while she cuddles with a toy, her blanket and sometimes her soother. I'll sing to her and rub her back. And she goes to sleep. Sometimes with some minor fussing. Sometimes with none at all.
Once I get some energy again, I'll stay with her in our room and prevent her from fully waking every hour and hopefully she'll soon teach herself how to go back to sleep and maybe I'll get one of those 2-3 hour periods of sleep that other parents talk about. And maybe one day I'll get one of those 5-hour stretches.
I hope in all of this that there's something that may help. If not, you and I can start our own ranting thread!
DW and I are moms to two teens (DD 17 and DS 15) adopted through CAS in 2007 and a toddler (DD 2) born at home in March 2011.
Thank you all so much for your comments. It is nice to know I am not alone.
@GoddessKristie - he's never taken a pacifier, and I never pushed it. I agree he's comfort nursing all night but I don't know how to stop it. When we tried to space nighttime feedings 4 hours (getting him back to sleep by other means in between) it just didn't.work. He melted down every time. I nurse him as much as I can during the day but he is SO busy these days that he hardly stops moving. I think that's part of it...nighttime is his quiet "connect to mommy" time.
@blue elephant - I've tried having him sleep in the wrap, but he STILL wakes up after 30-45 min! It's ingrained. And then my short fuse erupts because I have had no "me time." It's better to lay him down and *at least* get those 30 minutes. Sigh.
@gumshoegirl007 - thank you thank you for your long reply. It was indeed helpful and I think (when I get over this going-on-three-weeks-horrific-cold-that-I-can't-get-over-because-of-sleep-deprivation) I will try some of your ideas. We have a Montessori-style floor bed (he LOVES it) and he's fallen asleep a couple of times with just snuggling and singing...no nursing or bouncing or rocking or walking. But only a couple of times. But maybe if we really work at it we can do that more, and try again to space out those middle of the night feedings.
We got one 2.5 hour stretch last night so that's something. :-P
. When we tried to space nighttime feedings 4 hours (getting him back to sleep by other means in between) it just didn't.work. He melted down every time. I nurse him as much as I can during the day but he is SO busy these days that he hardly stops moving. I think that's part of it...nighttime is his quiet "connect to mommy" time.
Babies cry for what they want and making changes is probably going to make them cry. The real trick is finding that balance between their needs and yours. It is totally valid to decide their needs are more important to you than a certain amount of sleep deprivation. They will grow out of it eventually no matter what you do. When it gets to the point that you can't take it and be a functioning human being, however you have to accept that a corrective strategy is going to result in some tears. (probably for both of you, lol). What I am against is babies crying ALONE, not necessarily just crying because they aren't getting what they want.
I can't allow my kids the perpetual nursing thing. I don't sleep well and they don't sleep well. I find they are crankier and clingier during the day after nights like that. 8 months is probably too young to night wean, but sometimes offering a bottle of water before nursing at those wake ups seems to help. I just posted in another thread what we had to do with my daughter was to offer her water, nurse briefly, break the latch and then snuggle or pat her as she wanted (but she was furious and didn't want much to do with snuggling) until she finally exhausted herself and went to sleep. The first 2 nights were bad (but the previous month had been so horrible at least hubby and I were staying in bed), the 3rd night was not good but a huge improvement, and by the end of the week she was giving one huge shriek when I would break her latch and then she fell directly asleep. She had been so miserable from lack of sleep those nights of tears were worth it for all of us. It may not be the same for you but that is one of many strategies. Consistency is the key to whatever strategy you choose.
Another strategy that works for many of my friends is breaking the cycle of (nurse, sleep, play) or ( nurse, sleep, nurse/eat, play) and replacing it with (nurse/eat, play, sleep) so the kids get used to falling asleep without nursing and after a happy time. Then even if they do wake to nurse at night they have a better habit of falling back to sleep. I have not been successful with that but the few friends of mine who have have wonderfully sleeping kids and easy bed times
I hope you can work it out. I have found 7-13 months to be the worst stretch. No matter what you decide to do, you'll eventually come out the other side.
XM,: mama to ds (5/08), dd (9/10) and ds (6/12) ! :C.H.S & M.