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….
sent from my phone using tapatalk, please forgive typos
Loving mama to A (8/5/2010) R (1/3/2015) and DSD (16).
I just wanted to let you know that babies usually have a change in sleep at 4mo. It's completely normal. Not fun, but normal.
I will I had some tips for you but unfortunately I don't, I did want to tell you though that it does get better! I have a 6yo and 3yo. They are both in their own beds now, they sleep through the night (mostly!) and are both able to fall asleep by themselves and I slept with them, never CIO or sleep trained. I know that doesn't feel like much help right now, but keep it in mind that it won't be like this forever!
hello mama. I send big hugs of encouragement because you are doing a wonderful job. I have a 15mnth old and we still co sleep. I remember feeling like the way that you are feeling many many times during our first year and sometimes even today - although today it is much better. Not so much my lo and his sleep habits, but moreso my patience and understanding that these are phases and eventually they will pass.
I strongly encourage you to keep up with the co-sleeping. Do not listen to ppl who say that it will cause issues after any length of time - that is pure bs. Both my sister and I cosleep with our babies, my mom co slept with my brothers and sisters and we are all confident, friendly and loving adults. Our babes are fun loving, playful and affectionate. Whereas I have many friends who are "sleep training" their babes and lets just say that it's a good day if I can even get a smile out of their kids... and they themselves who were "sleep trained" have many sleep issues as adults. I know that some days its hard (believe me I have been there not too long ago) but the reward will be so worth it. Do you have someone that can take your babe form you during the day or evening so that you can get a few hours of undisturbed sleep? So that when you wake at night you will be at least somewhat rested?
when ds was 4 month old (and beyond) he did use me as a pacifier. I tried to give him an actual pacifier but he never took it (and I tried a lot!). What did work after a lot of patience and perseverance is the Pantley Pull Off from the no cry sleep solution book. Be patient because it won't happen overnight - but eventually your lo will be able to sleep without your nipple in his or her mouth. And then after you master this - it will be onward to another phase!
hope this helps.
Thanks for all the solidarity. Things have gotten somewhat better. I contacted a sleep specialist (NOT a sleep trainer) and she suggested using other methods like bouncing to get him to fall asleep so he won't associate sleep only with nursing. This worked well for 3 days (I was able to put him down for some naps for the first time) and then I threw my back out from all the bouncing! I am still recovering from separating my pubis symphysis during the birth, so I guess my core muscles weren't up to it. So, now I am back to nursing for all naps because I can't bounce or take him for a walk until I get better.
However, nights have improved because we have returned to swaddling and he either sleeps in the co-sleeper next to me (with the head raised a bit to help with any reflux) or in the swing next to me. Now we get 2-hour stretches instead of one-hour chunks. It makes a big difference and I am feeling more rested. Once I recover, we will get back to working on naps and I think the swaddle is going to be a big part of all this. The other thing is that I have just stopped side lying nursing with him because he just won't give up the nipple that way. PPO doesn't seem to work with him in this position. I just sit up in bed with him for the night-time feeds (and comfort nursing) and then put him back in the swing or co-sleeper. It is pretty quick and let's me get some comfortable sleep. I'm a little sad that sharing a bed didn't work out for us because I love the idea of it; I guess I am just not someone who can really sleep that way and either is my little one.
Anyway, thanks again for the support. This forum is great!
This was my LO for a brief period. I would nurse him into milk drunkness, then put him in a sling or ergo carrier. He would drift off in there, with me standing and swaying sort of. Then, I would lay him down on his back and slip out of the apparatus. He would still be lying on it, but it wasn't a big deal since both baby carriers lie flat under the babe. He would wake and root around for me eventually, but at least I could get him to sleep without being attached to my breast.
"The Mothers are the brave ones." - Call the Midwife
Also, I wanted to add another note here. I do think that it's important to stick to the principles you've decided you want to parent with. And I don't think CIO is a good solution. All that said, there is a need for balance in every person's life, especially parents. :) And I want to say that ultimately, if you decide you can't keep your sanity and mental health and cosleep, give yourself emotional permission to choose something else. It's important that you maximize your family's sleep, and that you also take care of yourself while taking care of your LO. If you can do that and cosleep, awesome. If not, it's okay to make a change.
There are many sleep setups between cosleeping and CIO. Remember that you don't have to choose just one or the other. :)
"The Mothers are the brave ones." - Call the Midwife
There is another option, called "crying in arms". It is something that ultimately only you would know if it would work for your baby and whether it is something that is in line with your own parenting beliefs. I know when you're at your wits' end, and you feel like you have no choice but to resort to CIO, it may help to try this instead. It has to be better than just putting him in a crib and walking away, or weaning completely. I think I did a version of this with my baby before I even knew it was "a thing". The difference with my baby was that I had an extreme oversupply and overactive letdown which caused reflux and gastro issues for him so he would want to nurse but at the same time would refuse the breast because he associated it with getting sprayed all over and choking and gulping. So I would just rock him in the rocking chair, holding him lovingly and singing or talking to him, but not nursing (of course only if I knew his belly was already full and just wanted to comfort nurse to fall asleep, which don't get me wrong is definitely important too, however when mom is going crazy with sleeplessness due to comfort nursing all night, something has to change). He definitely cried but usually would settle down and fall asleep within a few minutes. It will take time to gradually create a new "sleep association" for your baby so you have another "tool" in your toolbelt for helping him sleep without having to have your nipple in his mouth all night. I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding and cosleeping, but I know personally I would go insane if he needed my nipple in his mouth all night to sleep. Insane. And I know I would not be the parent I wanted to be in the daytime.
We no longer have those issues with oversupply, he is 20 months old now and still nurses and co sleeps. Luckily he doesn't want to have my nipple in his mouth constantly. When he was about 6 or 7 months old I went through a hard phase where we worked on the "Pantley Pull Off" method from the No Cry Sleep Solution and I think that helped in getting him to stay asleep after I unlatched him. So now, he will wake a couple times a night, nurse for 5 mins, and then pull off and roll over, go back to sleep. He also uses hugging me and playing with my hair to fall asleep, sometimes he will do that after nursing to complete his falling asleep process.
If he's teething or having a hard time sleeping, though, we still have very hard nights sometimes.
Good luck to you, I hope things continue to get better <3
****Edited to add: I don't know if I totally buy into the author's "babies need to cry" thesis (in the above link) as well as some of the other statements she makes. All babies are different, of course, and the mother knows her baby's personality best. I think perhaps some babies become more stressed by crying, while others may find crying relieves some stress. Ultimately, though, I wanted to add that it is important to stay true to what you really believe and want as a parent, and it sounds like you are doing an incredible job being a loving, nurturing, and attached mother. It is so hard sometimes! Hang in there.