Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Please, dear god, help me help him sleep.

My son still doesn’t sleep well at night. He’s 4 months on Saturday and everything I’ve read on the subject says he should be sleeping at least six hours at a time by now. We celebrate when we get three.

I have tried everything. I have changed his reflux medicine. His mattress is on an incline. There is a humidifier. There is swaddling. There is white noise. There is darkness. There is frequent nursing.

I’m out of ideas.

He goes to bed around 7. We do our bedtime routine and I put him down in his bassinet, awake, and he puts himself to sleep. It’s just that he doesn’t stay asleep very long, and he can’t put himself back to sleep.

Maybe 5% of the time I can get him back to sleep with a re-swaddle and a pacifier, but 95% of the time I have to nurse him.

An important distinction: he does not “nurse to sleep”. He’s awake when I put him back down. It’s just that nursing is the only thing that relaxes him enough to get back to sleep.

I’m so torn on what to do next. His four month appointment is next week and I know the pediatrician will encourage me to do CIO or controlled crying.

I go back and forth on this. Do I think my son will suffer long-term damage from CIO? Most likely, no. Do I think I can be there, hearing him scream for his mommy, and just ignore him? Absolutely not.

Do I think that the parents who are super judgmental about CIO are probably getting more sleep than I am, not waking up 5x a night (as if with a newborn), while still needing to appear professional and coherent the next day? Yes.

Part of me thinks that he will figure it out on his own if I’m just patient enough. Part of me thinks that I am seriously going to have a mental breakdown soon and in order for us all to be happier during the day, we need to do something drastic.

Lately I have been doing a dream feeding between 9:30-10:30, and after that he may sleep till 12:30-1 ish. Then he is awake in another two hours. Once we hit 3am, all hell breaks loose. He always wakes up at 3, 4, and 5, and somewhere in there I always give up and bring him into bed with me. My alarm goes off at 6.

He’s still in his bassinet, because I can’t imagine having to actually walk into another room all of those times in the night. That’s another thing – do I need to get him used to the crib before we start serious sleep training? It seems heartless to plunk him down somewhere totally alien and then let him scream.

Everything inside me rejects the idea of CIO. But I also can’t keep functioning like this. And really, neither can he. He needs more rest than he’s getting.

I don’t know what my next step is.


Stacy said...

I don't know how u feel about this, but could u try co-sleeping? My boys r horrible sleepers too....

TurtleMama said...

Oh no Lulu! That sounds awful, especially since you are working. Does he sleep alot during the day? Sounds like he is doing most of his feeding during the night. Maybe try to keep him up later, so he is will sleep long during the wee hours of the night. Winn goes to bed at 11 pm usually sometimes a little later. Last night he woke up at 3 am and I pulled him out of the rock n play into bed with me. We nursed then went back to sleep (co-sleeping). Co-sleeping, while not completely ideal has allowed me to get alot more sleep. My husband is not in the bed with me these days due to co-sleeping. Good luck - I hope you get something worked out soon!

Anonymous said...

Cadet was an awful sleeper until about 9 months. He'd have good days and bad days. On bad days/nights, he would be awake several times a night, and we felt like we were going over the cliffs of insanity.

You may want to read/skim The Lull-a-Baby Sleep Plan by Cathryn Tobin. A friend of mine (who is a postpartum doula highly recommends it). It is very breast-feeding friendly and has some very good recommendations for how to get a baby to self-soothe when he's not hungry.

As for CIO, I went back and forth on the whole thing. I was worried that I was going to damage Cadet and it would be awful. But, he's gotten better sleep since we did a modified CIO at 9 months. 4 months seems a bit young for CIO, but you can certainly be transitioning to the crib before starting CIO.

Good luck and please e=mail me if you have any questions!!!

Brave IVF Girl said...

Three of my friends swear by (and one gave me a copy of) Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. I haven't had the opportunity to put it into practice, but it might be worth reading.

Alex said...

Healthy Sleep Habits, Health Child is good. I couldn't do real CIO, but I did a bit of modified CIO for a week or two, and now Alex is a great sleeper. I would let her cry/fuss for 5 minutes, go in, hold her and calm her down, then set her down. Let her cry for 10 minutes, then calm her. Then 15 minutes, then calm her. Then repeat 15 minutes - but I never had to do the 2nd 15 minutes. And after a couple days, I never had to do the 1st 15 minutes.

If you don't want to do that, can you find a way to calm him without nursing? You say 5% of the time you can get him back to sleep with a re-swaddle and a pacifier, but what about a re-swaddle, pacifier and 5-10 minutes of rocking and lightly singing? Basically find a way to get him to relax (not sleep!) and lay him back down.

I hope this gets better!!!

Alex said...

Another thing I thought of is a tip I read about to decrease nighttime nursing. If he's nursing for 10 minutes each time in the middle of the night, decrease it by a minute or two. And each night decrease it by a minute or so. By the time you're only nursing for a couple minutes, he may think it's not worth it to get up.

Anonymous said...

This sounds so hard, I can't imagine how tired and desperate you must be.

I have no strong feelings for or against CIO, but this recent report has been all over the news in Aus and I thought it might help.
It's the biggest study of its kind ...


Doesn't help as it recommends waiting until 6 months, but it still may make for interesting reading.

Do you have a sleep school or consultant nearby that you could call on for help?

Good luck! x

Mary Jane said...

Hi Lulu,

I have been meaning to comment on so many of your posts... but this one, i HADDDD to drag myself to a computer to comment on.

.... ok, my comment got ridiculously long, and i decided to email it to you instead.


Mary Jane said...


I can't find your email address on your blog! ugh, sorry. can you email it to me? mjibbs at gmail dot com.

(it's mare from marejustbeginning.blogspot.com)