Sleep drama - please help me! — The Bump
Babies: 6 - 9 Months

Sleep drama - please help me!

edited April 2015 in Babies: 6 - 9 Months
Currently, my 8 month old will not go to bed for a nap  or to sleep for the night without at least 45 minutes to up to 3 hours of screaming and wakes repeatedly. Also, the amount of distress she is in before she falls asleep dictates how many times she wakes up in the night. More crying, more waking up later.  She currently averages 8 wakes a night and I nurse her for 3 of those. Her feeding have been pretty consistently at 10:30, 2:30, 5:30 and I haven't tried to drop them down. I am waiting for her going to sleep to get easier before I try to get her to sleep through the night.

Starting at 5 months we moved her from co-sleeping into her crib.  She had become a real handful to sleep with after about 4 months, waking frequently and making a lot of noise and she was not getting enough sleep. She isn't distressed by her crib but by me leaving. It is relatively easy to get her back to sleep in the middle of the night but the crying at naps and bedtime is substantial

We used pick up/put down to get her used to her crib and bedtime. This helped the first week but her crying became progressively worse not better over weeks. She just kept crying until she passed out whether I was picking her up or not. After about 3 weeks and a steady 3-4 hours of crying/pick up/put down at bedtime every night without change,  we switched to "trading down sleep associations". 

Trading Down is similar to pick up/put down & also to sleep lady shuffle but alternates between different methods of soothing slowly eliminating the ones she most prefers, for example being picked up and substituting it with back pats for example until you are hardly soothing them at all and they are going to sleep on their own. THe end is you in a chair in her room and slowly moving away. This worked in a lot of ways especially the first week. She is more open to different methods of soothing and doesn't need to be picked up. However, this progressively became hours of crying at night if I try to leave. After about 5 weeks of this with, again about 3-4 hours of "trading down"/crying at bedtime for about 3 of those weeks with no change, we have escalated. 

Now after she is in bed and soothed with begin CIO with interval soothing every 5 then 10 then 15. etc. waiting each night a bit longer to go in. This is not working. She will not stop crying and cries, yes again for 2-3 hours until she eventually is open to being soothed a bit then I pat her back and she goes to sleep. There is no lessening of the amount of time she cries. After two weeks, we moved to extinction. She does not stop crying for about 45 minutes. She is so distressed than she wakes up distressed frequently through the night and has no ability to sooth herself back to sleep. She is also clingier and fussier now, anxious and wants to be held in or in the baby carrier. I had thought extinction might be better since it is less crying overall. I am worried about the sheer amount of crying she is going through even though most of it involved me being right there. 

Before we moved her to her crib she would do the same thing unless we slept with her. I put off any sort of sleep distress until she was older and I thought she could handle it.
  • she has an appropriate nap schedule and fusses for 45 minutes before her nap
  • she has a bedtime routine 
  • set bedtime with about 30 minutes of flexibility
  • she still has not gotten any teeth in and has no red gums
  • there are no underlying medical causes
  • I know that most sleep regimins take some time  and a lot of consistency but after a few weeks with zero progress, it just isn't working.
  • I put her down sleepy but not asleep
  • she is actually tired and starts yawning as soon as her bedtime routine is done and it it time to go into the crib but just won't go to sleep.
  • We have taken some breaks here and there to get her "slept up" mostly when we are switching so she isn't overtired. 
  • she cannot begin co-sleeping again. It was even more exhausting for me since she would wake up every 40 minutes to nurse.

I just need her to go to bed without a huge drama. I am less concerned about the frequent waking and think it might resolve once bedtime is resolved. 
I am am my end. There is nothing else I can think to do and It has been months. I have no patience left and am really tired. If there is any advice you have or if you have had a similar problem, let me know. I really appreciate it. THANK YOU!!!!

Re: Sleep drama - please help me!

  • Wow. I'm so sorry things are this tough for you and baby.

    Have you asked the Pedi about this? I know Pedi's are mainly used for medical advice but it sounds like you really have tried everything and you KNOW your baby pretty well.

    Are you sure you are putting her down at the right times for naps and bed? Is she overly tired perhaps?

    I don't mess with the "drowsy but awake" approach and try to have DD asleep when I put her down. I at least have her SUPER drowsy. And if DD is fed, has a clean diaper but is just exhausted and fighting sleep then I let her cry. If she hasn't calmed down after 10 minutes, then I reassess but usually that crying is all it takes for her to go to sleep. Sounds like that  doesn't work for your LO...?

    CeCe8579
  • Thanks McGee! Our Pedi said it didn't seem like anything was wrong but recommended not feeding solid close to sleep times and using blackout shades. 

    I don't think she is overly tired. I still give her a nap about every 2 hours, 2 and half if she is playing or keeping active with bedtime about 2 hours after her last nap, usually 6:30. Her sleep signals are pretty clear with quiet and stillness followed by eye rubbing, sort of pink eyebrows, yawning then giddy laughing if she is still awake. I try to have her in her bedroom and ready by the time she gets quiet and about to be in bed by the time she is rubbing her eyes. 

    Maybe going back to the very sleepy put down is a good idea. I think I went to aweks but drowsy in hope it would help and also because she will wake up sometimes immediately when I put her down. I do think I need to go back to a more comforting approach and maybe sleepy put down is worth a shot. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I appreciate your time and thoughtfulness!
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  • Is there a possibility for silent reflux?
  • I don't think so but I will look into any  other symptoms to see. Thank you Themrs83!!!
  • What does she wear to sleep? Is she too hot or cold? I know mine have a hard time sleeping without the fan on. Do you have any white noise or a nightlight? We have a nightlight that shines stars up at the ceiling and the kiddos watch it as they fall asleep. I think they also have toys that hang in the crib that can light up or play music?

    This might be totally off the wall, but maybe the distance between you and her really is it? Could you let her take naps in a pack and play close by you during the day? So she knows if she wakes up you are still there? Do you have a perfume or lotion you could put a little bit of on her sheet or sleepsack so it smells like you? I agree that rocking to sleep isn't so bad all of the time. If that's what you need to do to get some rest for all, I vote give it a shot? Totally random ideas right there. Good luck! Let us know what works!
  • I have no advice but I understand what you are going through.  DS is almost 10 months old and is a terrible sleeper.  He screams the same at night and absolutely will not sleep in his bed. I was so exhausted one night that I just put him down and stepped out to see if he would quit and go to sleep on his own.  He never did.  He cries when I hold him or try to nurse him and he cries if I put him down.  It seems hopeless.  My husband manages to snore through all of this.  I'm incredibly jealous.  I hope your baby starts sleeping better soon. I feel really bad for you cause I know how it feels :(

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  • Do you know of anything she finds soothing? I know its frowned upon but my daughter is obsessed with blankies and was the only thing that seemed to comfort her when she was a baby and when I let her sleep with them (first with naps) it made a huge difference. They were the ones similar to what you get at the hospital...lightweight etc. Also white noise and I tried the glow worm with my son (who is 8 months) and it at least distracts him some from the initial being left alone in the crib.

    With all that said my daughter sleeps through the night but my son is a bit of drama to get to bed but sleeps basically through the night, but not sure why he is so dramatic when initially going to bed (cries and I have to make several attempts to get him to sleep)...but sometime I wonder if its because he's now mobile and I think he thinks he should keep trying to crawl around the crib. He does find comfort with blankets for naps too, but not quite like my daughter did.

    Anyways..hope some of my rambling can be somewhat helpful! And good luck to getting some relief!
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  • If she is tired by the end of bedtime then moving it up by 30 minutes can help a lot. Agree with bigboobs on 'drowsy but awake' point. First you and your LO need to able to sleep well in order to workout a better plan. Being a BFing mom my kids would always asleep in my arms. We use a baby deedee sleep sack which I used to lay open in the crib before bt. It has quick shoulder snap. I would simply lay my sleeping child in the sack, zip, snap, asleep.. without waking her up. She started sleeping in longer stretches and woke twice to feed and change. There was something abt the sack which comforted LO a lot, may be the perfect timing or having an additional soft and warm layer helped. Baby needs to feel cozy and secure to be able to sleep on her own. I kept the sack in my bed for a while for it to have my body scent. I feel it helped LO when she was really small. It's a part of our routine, a simple product but made a difference to my bedtime.
  • I don't have any advice, but wanted to just say you're not alone. my son was sleeping thru the night in his crib by 2 months. when he was 4, that ended. my natural instinct was to co-sleep w/ him. I thought the important thing wasn't where he slept, but that he slept, b/c I didn't want him to become fatigued. now, at 7 months, he is crawling everywhere. so even when I CAN get him to sleep (in our bed b/c he screams as much as your baby does when I put him in his crib) I can't leave him unattended- whether it's a nap or going down for the night- b/c he will crawl off the bed. it's already happened once.

    I'm so frustrated at this point that I'm not the mother I want to be & am starting to get angry at him. I hate to admit this, but I'm not handling him as gently as I should be.

    other mothers say, "cuddle him now b/c it won't last forever," but for my sanity & his safety- this doesn't work.

    I just don't know what to do anymore.

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  • 45 minutes of extinction crying is entirely too much. It's just ratcheting Up her anxiety levels. Obviously it's creating an anxious baby that is loathe to separate from you.

    Have you tried white noise or music? My kids love the rain CD on loop. It calms them & they drop off.

    Also, will she take a lovey with your smell on it? That could be comforting.

    Also, I would just try putting her to sleep with rocking in a separate room. She figured out that crib means separation & that starts the domino effect of anxiety & alarm bells.

    When she is out I would slowly transition. It's not worth the drama & anxiety for either of you & she's not "learning" anything other than her needs aren't being met-- thus the incessant crying.

    Also-- have you considered a big queen sized mattress on the floor? My kids rejected being sectioned off from me. I got them each a twin bed. I could fall asleep next to them or close to them as they needed. Then "escape" once they were out. If they woke in the night they could easily find me.

    We still bed share (my personal preference for all & we get more sleep) but I can start them in their rooms & sometimes they stay there without incident.

    I'm generally against CIO (even in desperation) & I just give my kids what they need. They won't need it forever & it lessens the stress on them.

    I find the less stress on them then the more likely I am to get sleep.

    I reject the notion that babies are stubborn or manipulative. They just have needs that need to be met.


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    I agree that looking into silent reflux is a good idea. Babies older than 5/6 months typically don't cry like that for no reason. Maybe it could even be something as simple as needing to burp?
    My son's pediatrician had me read a book called Sleeping Through the Night: How infants, toddlers and their parents can get a good night's sleep by Jodi Mindell. It might be worth the read. That's what I used to get DS on a bedtime routine and now he sleeps 11-12 hours a night after months of fighting sleep and constant waking at night. Hopes this helps (:
  • paloma760 said:

    I don't have any advice, but wanted to just say you're not alone. my son was sleeping thru the night in his crib by 2 months. when he was 4, that ended. my natural instinct was to co-sleep w/ him. I thought the important thing wasn't where he slept, but that he slept, b/c I didn't want him to become fatigued. now, at 7 months, he is crawling everywhere. so even when I CAN get him to sleep (in our bed b/c he screams as much as your baby does when I put him in his crib) I can't leave him unattended- whether it's a nap or going down for the night- b/c he will crawl off the bed. it's already happened once.

    I'm so frustrated at this point that I'm not the mother I want to be & am starting to get angry at him. I hate to admit this, but I'm not handling him as gently as I should be.

    other mothers say, "cuddle him now b/c it won't last forever," but for my sanity & his safety- this doesn't work.

    I just don't know what to do anymore.




    I'm sorry to hear this. I remember being that frustrated with my first kid because I didn't realize this behavior and fighting sleep was totally normal!

    Have you done any sort of sleep training with your LO or read any sleep training books? That doesn't have to mean CIO either, there are lots of options but IMO, I think you need to get your baby back in the crib because he eventually should sleep better in there and it's safer for him if he's crawling.

    You've got to pick a sleep training method and stick to it. Night after night, until it starts working. Consistency is the key. Try to be patient during this training time because it will be exhausting but with consistency, your baby WILL figure out that he needs to sleep in his crib and eventually he'll start liking his bed.

     

  • thanks, @Bigboobsmcgee. my friend swears by baby wise. I've tried different intervals of CIO- last night he went 45min before he fell asleep sitting up. so that was a complete fail. you're right- I've gotta be consistent w/ whatever I choose. it's just so hard when every time I try something it feels like a total failure. I know I'll only see progress if I keep at a certain technique, but fuck this is hard :(

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