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spending her childhood helping her sleep

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  • spending her childhood helping her sleep

    my daughter is now nearly 13 months - she wakes up every 1-2 hours all night long. it takes me an hour of rocking and nursing to help her fall asleep at night (after a bath and book bedtime routine). she naps for about 40 minutes twice a day...but sometimes just once, and again, it takes me 30+ minutes before i'm able to put her down. i feel like i've done everything i can to help her: i co-slept (now my husband sleeps with her at night because 11 months of all-night nursing drove me to the brink), i've stopped letting her fall asleep with the nipple in her mouth, i pick her up when she cries - then lay her back down gently, i've tried patting, shhushh-ing, white noise, music....the works!

    and now its taking a toll on my ability to be present and joyful with her - i dread bedtimes, i'm cranky when i finally get her down, and i feel like i'm spending all my time helping her sleep - or recovering from sleepless nights. i love cuddling with her and sleeping with her, but i'm even having difficulty right now appreciating our cozy time together.

    she just seems to hate falling asleep! her eyelids flutter for an hour as she fights to stay awake. when she wakes up at night - sometimes she just stays up..for two hours! its incredibly cute - she babbles and wants to play, but we try to ignore her so she doesnt associate nighttime with play.

    i'm starting to wonder if there is something physically wrong with her - that she doesnt fall asleep when tired and wakes up so easily and often.

    i was never tempted to CIO - but i have to do something different.

    any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Wow, I feel like I'm reading about my own life! My daughter is 15 months and exactly the same. Right down to the 40 minute naps (I could set a clock to them). Unfortuantely I don't have any great advice for you. I'd love to hear if anyone else has some.

    Just curious... what do you do when she wakes up every 1-2 hours at night? Now that you're no longer co-sleeping are you having to run in and out to nurse or is your husband getting her back to sleep? My daughter won't be soothed by anything other than the breast so I'm still an all night milk bar.

    It is incredibly challenging to deal with sleep issues. It took me a long time but I've been able to surrender to our crazy sleep scenario and most nights am able to find joy in the cuddling and snuggling. But, it is hard. It impacts your life, relationship with husband, friends, family, etc. I've also found it's hard not drive yourself crazy thinking ... is she getting enough sleep?...when is this going to stop?... what if I want to have a second child?... what if I already had a child, how would I cope?... and on and on.

    It is so tough. I really feel for you. I hope you get some good ideas. Know that you’re not alone.


    • #3
      it is good to know we're not alone. today, when the nap battle began (isnt it awful to even think of it as a battle?) i just decided to put her in her stroller and try to get her down that way. fortunately, it worked, and i am writing now as she naps in the stroller now parked in her room.... not a habit i ever wanted to start, but it feels better than trying in vain to get her into bed when i KNOW she is so tired!

      i totally agree, i worry she's not sleeping enough... in answer to your question, i dont feed her at night anymore - my husband gives her a bottle at around 11:00 when she wakes up, but that's it. the way i got her weaned off the boob at night is that i just wasnt in the room. at first, she would cry in my husband's arms while they lay in bed together and he would offer her a bottle whenever she wanted it. it was only bad for a few days. then she seemed pretty happy to sleep with him and have the occasional sip of milk from her bottle. over a period of weeks, we've been trying to wean her off the feedings after 11:00. we roughly followed the Dr Jay Gordon plan. you can read about it here:

      i never wanted my baby to cry - EVER - but that has not been possible. and in hindsight, i think it was unrealistic. i've never left her to cry alone, and i never let her cry for more than a few minutes before doing whatever i can to soothe her (can you tell i still feel guilty about it - hence all the justifying and explaining...)


      • #4
        The title of your post really caught my eye, because I felt exactly the same way just a short while ago. My DS (now 18 mths) has always been a challenge in the sleeping department, and it really did take over my life for a while. I read constantly about infant sleeping, asked everyone I could for advice, and basically became almost obsessed with trying to get him to sleep the way I was told he "should". I found myself getting so frustrated that it was really affecting my relationship with him and DH in a negative way. So I decided to let it go for a while. I nurse him to sleep when he needs it (almost always!), feed him in the middle of the night if he wants it (he still does, several times a night at 18 mths), and let him nap for as long as he wants to, even if that means 20 mins in the car sometimes. Letting him lead the way in his sleep patterns, and deciding to ignore what the "experts" say, has really made a difference. My frustration level is minimal, and I feel that this has allowed me to be a more relaxed mum who can enjoy him more. I'm not sure if this is related to my new approach, but he has recently begun putting himself to sleep after nursing for a while, and frequently naps for 1-2 hours on his own.
        I know how hard it is to be sleep deprived, and I know how tempting it is to try everything, and get caught up in the obsession of sleep. However, I also know how freeing it is to just let this go, and accept that one day soon, your baby will sleep on her own. I truly feel that too many new moms (myself definitely included!!!) waste too much energy thinking about their baby sleeping, mostly because it seems that the first question out of everyone's mouth is "is he/she a good baby? How does he/she sleep?". My best advice is to give yourself permission to try to stop thinking about sleep for a while, and come back and tackle the issue when you're more relaxed about it. Best of luck.


        • #5
          I can relate to this post in many ways and was hoping to have some more folkds respond with adive. My little girl is only 4 and a half months but she is totally sleep deprived and cranky and fussy all the time because she will NOT take naps and I just feel like Im losing my mind. Im trying to put Pantleys No Cry Nap Solution into place, but honesty Im on week two and its not really helping yet. I mean, ont he days that she lets me rock her back to sleep each tim she wakes up and I just keep doing that for a two hours block she is at leaast somewhat less insanely cranky when she's awake in between nap periods, but she's still not getting the sleep I know she needs. And I just feel like I've tried everything and its not working.

          Id love to follow the adivice above to just let her lead the way, but the problem is that I know shes not getting enough sleep. if seh could stay awake for more than 20 minutes after waking up from her 20 minute natps and not be crying and arching her back and fussy and unsoothable, then Id say hey, whatever, let her sleep 20 minutes, no problem. but instead she is just exhausted all the time and so I spend the entire day rocking her back to sleep every half hour if I do nothing to try to make her sleep longer.

          Anyway, just venting, too, and if anyone else has any ideas or suggestions it would be helpful, but honestly I just feel rather alone in this and dont think anyone seemsto have advice that helps.

          Best of luck, moms!


          • #6
            API blogger article

            Hi again, I just read this article on the API blog. It seemed fitting for this thread:


            No, there are no new ideas, tips, or solutions in this article. But, never the less it came as a great relief to me. 1) Because even though I don't really believe I am causing my dd's sleep problems by rocking, nursing, bouncing…sometimes that thought creeps into my head after hearing it hundreds of times by books, friends, in-laws, etc. 2) The idea that baby #2 may very well be a better sleeper (fingers crossed!)

            I've done a lot of searching, reading, talking and I haven't found anything to help my dd sleep better. I'm realizing that maybe there aren't any secret answers out there. I have been resistant to this idea but I really believe that she'll just have to grow into sleep at her own pace. It helps me surrender to our current situation and also get some joy out of these snuggly nights.


            • #7
              I can relate to all of you! I'm still having similar issues with my now 26 month old, but as time passes it definitely gets better. We are still cosleeping/nursing all night. I could wake up 10 hours after we went to bed and feel completely drained. Not a great way to start the day! I keep hoping that as she gets a little bit older, she will just settle into her own routine. The problem is I'm comparing her only to kids who have gone through cry-it-out from a young age. Of course they are going to magically sleep for 12 hours straight without a peep. That seems so sad to me though, so even though it's difficult right now, I really feel it will be worth it down the road.


              • #8
                My 21-month-old has been a "difficult" sleeper his whole life. He's had me pretty much trained from when he was just a month or so old to lie down with him to sleep for every nap and just serve as a mattress with a nipple on it. He's always had more trouble at night, so we actually consider ourselves pretty lucky if he's willing to nurse to sleep and co-sleep all night.

                My point is, though, that the only way we've managed to maintain our sanity is not to compare to what other kids are doing. All kids are different and react differently to the same training programs. Those kids are not my son, and they all have different needs/strengths/weaknesses, and I wouldn't trade my son's adorableness, responsiveness, and genius (biased, anyone?) for another child's easy sleeping habits. I consider it as just the price to pay for this miracle boy! After all, we can't have everything... and I do tell myself that it's not like he'll be a 16-year-old crowded into my bed and latched onto my nipple... these few early years will pass by in a flash, and I hope I'm taking enough time to treasure his cuddliness and the fact that he WANTS to be so close to his parents right now.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kasey View Post
                  I can relate to all of you! I'm still having similar issues with my now 26 month old, but as time passes it definitely gets better.
                  Hey, my daughter is 25 months and we're still nursing/co sleeping, so nice to know I'm not alone. I'm actually quite happy with the situation right now. I get *enough* sleep. I usually get woken 3-4 times a night to nurse. Maybe just twice on a really good night. On a bad night, my daughter still may wake up at 3 or 4am and have trouble getting back to sleep for an hour or even 2! (I have tried to figure out what the cause may be of this irregular behaviour, but can't, unless sometimes it may have to do with a new tooth erupting!)

                  My advice for those with younger babies who "hate" sleeping and seem to fight it: get a swing!! The Fisher Price swings are great. We had the one with an ocean theme given to us and it was my life saver. We had the rechargable batteries that I put in the charger every morning after she woke up in preparation for her afternoon nap. Did I mention she slept in this swing for the first 5 months of her life!?! My doctor was fine with it. It was the only way I could put her down and have her go to sleep after nursing her each time at night. I felt so guilty about it for awhile, but there was NO way I could give it up. It was seriously a life-saver. Did I already say that?

                  The only other way I could get her to nap was breastfeeding in my arms (and then I could not lay her down and I was stuck for hours) or if she fell asleep on the way home from somewhere in her infant car seat or stroller. Then I could carefully bring her into the house (and pray the dog didn't bark) and put her in her room and shut the door very carefully. I almost died when we had to move to a regular car seat which is not portable. I gave up on having any time to myself during her afternoon "nap" because I could not put her down when I breastfed her to sleep. Instead, I invested in ipod movies to watch to entertain myself and I made do. Then I discovered that I could breastfeed her in bed beside me (I had tried earlier, but she didn't like it - she liked to be in a chair and be held. And when baby didn't like something, there was no negotiation!). That was great because sometimes I could detach my nipple from her and actually move away and get up after an hour of being beside her and get some time to myself. Very disappointing if it failed, though - after investing the hour nursing her, I would get so upset if I accidentally upset her when detaching and she would wake up angry and then not go back to sleep. As time went on, it got better, it really did. Now she consistently nurses to nap only about 20min and I consistently can get up and she will nap without me for an hour and a half to 2 hours. (We daren't let her go more past 3:00 or she will be up til 11pm!)


                  • #10
                    Wow, how I wish I had gotten on this forum months ago when my son was at his worst with sleep! Even now, when things are a bit better, I find incredible consolation knowing there are other really good moms out there struggling with the same sleep issues. Here's my 2 cents of advice:
                    -I don't believe there is any special trick or skill to getting a bad sleeper to sleep better. I think some babies are just really good sleepers and their mothers usually have no idea how lucky they are. It may just be a matter of time for a bad sleeper to mature and for the family to figure out how to cope. Sorry, I know this isn't particularly practical, so read on!
                    -We developed a flexible bedtime routine that REALLY helped. My son has a hard time turning off at the end of the day but bedtime ritual cues have helped him to at least begin to slow down. Getting him to sleep at night used to take 2, 3, or more hours! Now, at 11months, he will take about 30 minutes to go to sleep (the first time!). I also have a very short 'ritual' for naptime in the day. Remember to be flexible!
                    -Some nights he will still not fall asleep. I try for about 30 min then I take him back out to the living room to burn off whatever energy he has left. For awhile I debated about this because I was worried that I'd be giving him mixed signals about nighttime. But it has helped me be less frustrated from sitting there rocking/nurusing forever. And this way I do not FORCE him to go to sleep when he's not ready. Same idea for daytime naps.
                    -Check for anemia! Iron deficiency can interfere with sleep. In fact, my son WAS anemic at his 9mo appt so he's been on supplements the last few mos. His sleep HAS improved. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
                    -Nap whenever baby naps! This is typical advice for moms of newborns. After almost 1yr, I STILL take the morning nap with my son because I still NEED the sleep. Things don't get done as I'd like, but sanity is so much more important!
                    -Don't listen to sleep "experts"! The "No Cry Sleep Solution" was moderately helpful for us, but avoid any expert who does not explicitly support AP!! Ignore anyone's advice who says their baby sleeps through the night.
                    -Breathe and take breaks when you get frustrated. Try not to worry too much about sleep issues until you get some rest.
                    -Only tackle ONE sleep issue at a time. I started by working on the naps before I even thought about how to get my son to bed at night before midnight. It was much less overwhelming.

                    OK, I think that's plenty for now. Best of luck, hang in there and remember...THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY!