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Looking for support from parents of "bad sleepers"

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  • Looking for support from parents of "bad sleepers"

    Forgive the label but it is the best way I can think of at the moment to get my point across.

    DS is 13 mo old and has never been "a good sleeper". From birth, he's had sleep difficulties. DH and I are tired as are most parents after the first year but maybe a little more so since DS has never slept "well". We've been through many phases with his sleep and have been trying to ride with it and evolve our parenting to meet his needs, etc. At the moment, I can say what is going WELL is that once he's asleep for the night, he only wakes briefly to nurse and goes right back to sleep. He may do this several times, but most of the time I'm only half awake.

    What is not going well, the part I need support on, is that it is very hard most nights to get him TO sleep.

    We've tried to have a consistent nighttime routine, but maybe we're not very good at it. Here's the part where we get confused. If his routine is bath, lotion, sing a song, nurse to sleep - and we do that every night at 8:30 - what do you do on the nights when he looks at you after all that and is just still awake? What do you do from 8:30 - 1 AM? (or whenever) We've tried moving the "routine" around as per his sleep cues - meaning some nights the routine happens at 8 and sometimes at 11 PM - and that doesn't seem to work, either. Most nights we just end up with an overtired baby who will. not. sleep. Sometimes as late as say, 2 AM. One night last week he was awake from 12 - 4 AM. It's affected DH's work performance, but I haven't been able to handle it on my own - meaning, some nights I say - I need a break from this, you're gonna have to take him some tonight (cause I'm tired - or, angry). At the same time, I worry DH will lose his job because his lack of sleep is affecting his work performance, timeliness, etc.

    I mentioned sometimes I'm angry. That's another part I'd like support on, or thoughts. Last night, I handed DS to DH at midnight and said, I am not pacing (stomping) him down tonight, I'm just too tired (and I'd done it the night before). DH knows though that I am not a fan of CIO. I fall asleep and about 30 minutes later DH brings me a hysterical DS. I'm mad. Resentful. I take DS and grudgingly nurse him while pacing/stomping him down to sleep.

    I don't want to be mean to my husband in that situation, but in the moment, I feel those emotions of anger and resentment. I'm TIRED. I want DH to be able to get DS to sleep.

    We talked about it later and DH said he thought he was doing the right thing by bringing me DS because I don't want him to CIO.. which is true..

    Another quick question: If you have a DC with sleep issues, and they try to "nap" late in the day, do you "let" them sleep? I feel like it's unkind to try to keep him awake, but I know as I'm letting him nap that I'm in for it that night and the late nap isn't helping!

    Anyway thanks if you've made it this far and thanks for any thoughts or support you may have. Be gentle with me please, I'm a sensitive one
    Last edited by GrantsMama; 01-07-2009, 10:01 PM.

  • #2

    oooooh! I hear ya! My little one is just about 15 months and has NEVER slept for longer than four hours in a row! And that is only ever at the beginning of the evening so I never get to catch in on that bit as he gets tired for sleep at about 6:30 and that is simply too early for me to be able to go to bed. He never naps for more than an hour (and he is now down to one nap). Needless to say I am also exhausted and strung very tight.

    I totally understand what you are saying about being angry at times. You did the best thing by recognizing that you had had enough. You are helping no one by trying to push yourself too hard.

    Now, one thing that I had to learn (recently mind you) was that it is not CIO when your LO is being cuddled by your DH. While your LO may prefer to have you to nurse and rock him to sleep, you are not doing him a disservice by getting him used to DH's way of doing things.... especially at the age that he is at. After a few nights of me throwing my hands up and saying that enough is enough and if I dont get some sleep I am SERIOUSLY going to go insane we decided to let DH put him to sleep. It was hard for DH because he felt a little useless I think, but after just a couple of nights DS will now let either of us put him to sleep. He will INSIST on being nursed to sleep by me, but will happily let DH rub his back (and he usually sleep for a bit longer too).

    I get the whole thing with DH having to go to work the next day. We have worked out something that works well for us. Either of us will put him to bed (whoever is feeling up to it really) and then I do the night time. Because DS wakes up early in the morning DH will get up with him while catch an extra hour or two. That way DH gets to sleep during the night and I can still get something. Even that little amount helps, and getting up an extra hour or two is easier for DH than being woken up all night. Get creative. Can you do shifts? Which part of the night is most important to DH? Could he go to sleep earlier and get up earlier? Or take the first part of the night and get a sleep in?

    We have come to the conclusion after trying MANY things that DS is just not a sleeper (sigh), and that unless we were willing to do CIO then we just have to live with that. I know that one day it will get better. In the mean time though we had to find things that worked, as more than a year of not sleeping longer than a couple of hours in a row was taking its toll.

    Can you get DH to look after your LO on the days that he has off? Take him to the park or whatever while you have some down time? I normally just grab a nap, but sometimes just a lovely long shower is enough to get you feeling normal again. I guess what I am suggesting is to grab time when you can. If you are like me and your LO isnt staying with anyone else yet then you need to find time other ways. Just getting that time can seem to make up for some of the lost hours.

    Dr. Sears says "if you regret it, change it". You are not doing your LO and favors by being exhausted to the point where you cannot be the mother that you want to be. Try reading his 'baby sleep book'. 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' is also a great book (they should both be at your library.

    GL. I dont really have any major words of wisdom as we are in the same position. The best I can say is dont be so hard on yourself. No one wins when Mum is fed up and overtired..... and believe me I know there is a difference between being tired and exhausted...... you my dear are the latter.

    Ask for help when you need it, it doesnt make you a bad mother.
    Last edited by mumtoone; 01-07-2009, 10:30 PM. Reason: adding things


    • #3
      Hello again! I forgot something.

      Are you down to one nap? That might be contributing to your LO not going to bed at night. If you think that he could cope with it try and get him to take one longer nap during the day. My LO takes a morning nap (because he wakes up so early). Most of my friends LO have afternoon naps though. Dont let him go down for a nap after 3pm (that ALWAYS made it harder for us).

      Another thing I was wondering is if it might work for you to try an earlier bedtime? More like 7pm. So you would start your routine from 6-6:30. One thing that I wondered from your post is if he may be overtired by the time you want him to go to sleep? Just a thought.

      I always found that if sleep just didnt come then we would get back up and do something quite, then do a shortened version of your routine an hour later. Much easier to stay cool if you arent sitting in the bedroom going "WHY WONT YOU SLEEP!!!!"


      • #4
        Thanks for the support! We're in the middle of it again as I type.. DS still awake.. and probably overtired. 2 failed attempts at nursing him down so far..

        Originally posted by mumtoone View Post
        Now, one thing that I had to learn (recently mind you) was that it is not CIO when your LO is being cuddled by your DH
        that's what I think too, but I'm not sure DH agrees with me. If DS will not calm down.. while DH is holding him.. ? I guess eventually he'd get used to it? The crying is tough to hear in the meantime. I guess I could always hide in the bathroom or something.

        As far as taking nighttime in shifts, the only thing I've figured is that I could go to bed when DH gets home (or a couple hours later) to take a nap that would prepare me for the 2-3 hours I'll spend trying to get DS to go to sleep. The problem is that then DS will be asleep, and I'll be awake, because of the nap. As it is, it's me putting DS to bed and me doing the nighttime shift too - DH isn't of much help then as he doesn't have any milk which is all DS wants when he wakes up. I guess I could nightwean (?) but that hasn't really been on my radar. I would like to go to bed myself between 10 and 11. The problem is that DS is sometimes up til 2 AM. By midnight, I'm a little bit insane I'm so tired. And that's where the resentment comes in. I know Dr Sears says if you resent it, change it, I'm just not sure what to change or how to change it. How do you make a baby sleep? You don't, right? Other than CIO? I mean, what is there to do?

        I've had a hard time with *not* letting DS sleep if he wants to take a "nap" in the late afternoon/evening. What do you do, just try to entertain DC... to keep them awake?

        When kids go to one nap a day.. do they sometimes radically change their schedule? Could it be that he wants to go to bed for the night at 7 pm? The thing is, one night I tried putting him down that early (when that late evening nap hit) and he just woke up and wanted to play after it.. he didn't stay asleep/nurse back down (though I tried)


        • #5
          hi again. Sorry it is all so hard for you at the moment. I am afraid there really are no sure answers as every baby is so different. I wish I had the answer...... I would be getting more sleep myself if I did!

          When your LO wants to take a late nap (after 3 - 3:30) that says to me that if you moved the morning nap to a bit later and turned it into one nap that you should be able to stretch him out to an earlier night. Well, that would be how I would look at it with my LO anyway. It took us about a month before we were really in the swing of only one nap, and yes he was grumpy in the afternoon for the first few days. Its just like us really, I get up at the same time every morning with no alarm clock because my body is used to getting up at that time... until the 'habit' is broken and you help create a new one his body probably will get tired at the usual times. Of course you are the only one that will know if he is ready for cutting out a nap. The big signs for us that DS was ready was that he started to get harder and harder to put down for his afternoon nap, and then would only go out for a short while... then was impossible to get into bed at the normal time as he was still all tanked up. Have a play around if you think it might work, dont think that it will happen in just a day or two though. These things take a little time.

          I would recommend 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' to you as something that may give you a few tricks up your sleeve. Its not a do this and your baby will sleep type book, its really just an arsenal of different tricks and ideas to try with your LO to see if they work. We had great success with the 'Pull Off Method' so that now I dont have to actually feed DS to sleep, the milk still has to be there in some form but now he can fall asleep without a boob in his mouth.

          As far as DH goes with putting your LO to sleep. My DH finds that if he does something different to what I normally do that it works better for him. Its like DS goes "NO! THATS NOT RIGHT!!!!" and just misses me more. If he creates his own 'Daddy bag of tricks then he may have more success.

          Well, I am off for a much needed rest before I start my nightly rounds!



          • #6
            Hey whats the "pull off method" you mentioned here mumtoone?


            • #7
              Originally posted by lotushjerte View Post
              Hey whats the "pull off method" you mentioned here mumtoone?
              Sorry, in a bit of a hurry last night and thought later that I should have made myself clearer.

              Right, so you BF as normal, then when your LO sucking slows down and they are just about asleep you break the latch and pull away. I will start to cuddle and rock. Your LO will start to fuss so you pop them back on again..... repeat until they fall asleep on their own. In the book she says it takes about 5 to 10 tries...... DS took 20! BUT he did fall asleep on his own. You do this EVERY TIME you feed them to sleep (either in the middle of the night or actually to sleep) and within a few days you only need to repeat one or two times before they are asleep. DS is now to the point where when he is about to fall asleep he rolls away from me and goes all on his own!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :

              It takes a little bit of dedication from you as when you are exhausted in the middle of the night it is very tempting to just go back to sleep yourself. But the end result is worth it! DS still feeds during the night, but now he can just take a couple of sucks (as if to make sure that he still can) and is straight off to sleep again. A massive improvement to the half hour butterfly sucking sessions he was doing before.

              Hope that makes sense. There is a little more to it in the book and she gives a few extra tips and stuff if it isnt working, but that is it essentially.


              • #8
                similar to momtoone

                My 17 1/2mo DS has been a light sleeper as well from day 1. I think that he has slept for more than 4 hours twice since he was born. DH and I decided that we were committed to taking turns, napping and adapting our lives to make sure that we are able to handle our darling. We co-sleep because it has worked better from the day he was born. We all sleep better, and we have tried many different scenarios.
                Don't get me wrong - I do have nights where I have no patience for it, but luckily DH will take over. Sometimes we are back and forth several times before we end up just going to bed ourselves.
                Unfortunately we had a wonderful schedule before the holidays(1 nap, asleep by 7:30 at the latest, asleep until 930). The holidays were followed by a month long cold and battle with pink, all 3 of us, and everything went out the window. He finally started to feel better this week, and 3 I teeth broke through simultaneously.
                We are at the point today where he will not sleep in the bed by himself for more than 1/2 hour.
                I am looking forward to being through this trying time.
                He was up until 10pm tonight. This was very trying for me, and is the reason that I joined the forum tonight.
                I found this post helpful. It's nice to be able to read of others who have made similar parenting choices and are going through something similar.
                I get constant advice on how to have him CIO. We have decided not to do this.
                I HAVE to got to bed now, DH gave in and went to bed with DS at 10pm.
                I hope everyone else gets some good sleep tonight!