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To Sleep, Per Chance to Sleep

Asleeepingjpg_1So. Tired.  Please, bear with me through this post.  I can hardly finish a thought muchless a whole sentence.  For those of you keeping track, we have been dealing with eczema and teething, and of course this is followed with a lack of night time sleep.  The little guy is a whopping four and a half months now and even though he's a younger brother, I still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.

Just to clarify, I don't expect a breastfed four month old to be sleeping through the night.  I'm just confused as to why night wakings aren't, uh, spreading out a bit by now.  I'm not sure I'm looking for a solution so much as the knowledge that things will improve at some point.  The longest sleep period my little guy can muster these days is about three hours, and that's usually between 7:30 and 10:30 (ie when I'm still awake).  From 10:30 until 6:30 or 7 AM the longest sleep period is about 2 hours, but the most common length of sleep is about 1 to 1 and a half hours.  It's just killing us!  Today I'm in such a dour mood because of the lack of sleep that I find myself acting out nearly as badly as my three year old!  My husband is also feeling the strain of no sleep.

Now there are several reasons why a baby might be waking so frequently in the night, and I think we can safely say that our little guy meets all of these reasons!  Hungry?  Check! (won't just take a paci, must eat)  Teething?  Check!  Needing mama time?  Check!  Development?  Check! (about to roll over, just getting good at scratching his eczema)  Illness?  Semi-check.  He has a cough which worsens at night.  He may even be enjoying some diaper discomforts as he's really wetting a lot at night and wears cloth diapers.  I tried using a disposable instead but that didn't change his waking patterns.  It's almost as if as the night progresses, the sleep periods get shorter and shorter (and mom gets more and more bleary eyed and exhausted during feeding).

Some of you are probably thinking "Why doesn't she just cosleep and get it overwith -- no waking in the night!"  Well, for me it's exactly the opposite.  If my baby is in the bed I do NOT SLEEP.  It's even worse than waking every hour or so.  I am usually my moodiest after a night with baby in the bed.  Add to that the complication of baby waking and not even wanting to eat or take a paci, just be frustrated at something (teething?  gas?).  It's so hard to trouble shoot in the middle of the night when you just want to SLEEP!

So I wonder where the limit is.  When will I lose my mind?  How will I get out of this rut?  Have any of you survived something like this and lived to tell about it?  Do tell, please!


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I spent the first month back at work after having my daughter in the ladies room on the couch napping. My daughter was up every 1-3 hours from birth-1 yr, as I mentioned in a previous post about weaning from the boob. I have been told that it is crucial for a human being to have a 4 hour stretcho f uninterupted sleep in each 24 hour period in order to remain mentally healthy...so what do you call what new moms go through if not a sort of mental illness! There can be good days and bad days. What I can't understand is when someone tells you to pump during the day so that someone else (usually a husband or partner, but for us single moms, who?) can feed the baby during the night so you can get more sleep. So what happens when you get engorged in the middle of the night since you didn't feed the little bugger, and you either have to get up to pump anyway, or experience a drop in your milk supply (use it or lose it)? And I know your pain about cosleeping. Once I discovered that the little angel could sleep unswaddled at day care at 3 1/2 months, we started at home i the crib and it was the first time in ages I had a decent, albiet 2 hour stretch, sleep. We have not coslept since, until 2 days ago when my 20 month old finally decided that she would start to get her first molar (she only has 8 teeth) and refused to let mommy put her down! When youhave a night like that you worry that every night for the rest of your life will be the same, but it's not. Long story short (too late) it does get better, but then it gets worse, then better again.

Our little one did not seem comfortable in her own skin for the first 5 months of her life. She wanted to be held 24-7 and not only that, would only fall asleep if we were bouncing on a yoga ball or walking up and down stair. She never fell asleep while nursing and we had to "co-sleep," but we actually rarely slept. We tried everything, down to cutting dairy out of my diet, which seemed to help (and cleared up her eczema). If I had to do it over again, I would invest in a very ugly reclyner - I am not sure that it would work but at least we would be comfortable. There is hope though - because after 6 months old she became a great sleeper. Through all that crying and being uncomfortable, she learned how to self soothe. Hand in there.

if I was goi

It will get better. It has to get better. This to shall pass. These are the things a tell myself when I'm up 3 times in the night with my 3 year old & her growing pains.
My first child ate lying down from birth. My second would not sleep lying down until at least 4 months. I would get up & get settled on the couch with a footstool so I could doze after she got settled. I'd wake up a half hour later & go back to bed. The worst was my dad (with dementia) was staying at my house & was a restless sleeper so eventually I had to hide in the back room (not as comfy) so as not to have him get up & try to start a conversation. I was and am a dedicated co-sleeper but I did find that having her in a basket next to the bad actually gave both of us better sleep in the first couple of months.
Occasionally I'd pawn the baby off on my mother-in-law so as to get an extra hour of sleep but you're right, four hours of uninterrupted sleep is necessary! It can only get better! Hang in there!

sorry, I mean, my second child would not eat lying down! so I had to get up in the night to feed her....

Learning to nurse while laying in bed was the best best thing for me. Getting up in the middle of the night several times to nurse was horrible. Having the baby in bed with us allowed me to doze while she nursed. I too wake often in the middle of the night to check on her, but I honestly think SHE sleeps better when she's near us.

I am a dedicated cosleeper. However, at 6 months of age I'm ready for my little wiggle worm to be in her own space and not head-butting my husband or kicking me in the ribs several times a night (why oh why do babies like to go horizontal between their parents?!).

So we are setting up a side car. Basically take one side off of a crib and bungee strap it to your bedframe. The baby has a big safe place to sleep that is enclosed on three sides. The 4th, open side leads straight to the boob. You can feed your baby then put them back in their own space, without having to get out of your bed.

We too went to disposables at night (cloth during the day). I do believe it makes a difference but it might take time to get used to as well.

It is also possible that you are encountering the 12 week sleep regression stage, where babies sleep worse than they normally do (even if it was crappy to begin with). Unfortunately, no matter what you try they are just going to have to get through it. You can read more about it here if you are interested:

I will echo what the other wise mamas have said - it WILL get better! Hang in there!

I can be so frustrating, can't it? I have a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old. When people tell me that it will get better I just want to jump out of my skin because for me, that doesn't really help in the moment or day.

This time around I seem to have much less patience (which is why I joined a mother's circle and am working with a parenting coach) and am soooooo tired I have started drinking coffee again, which luckily doesn't bother my little one.

The thing that worked for me when my yougest was 4 months, was industrial ear plugs. On the weekends, I would feed him and then do a hand-off to my husband and sleep until it was time to feed again (both kids never took to the bottle). That and getting out of the house by myself. I go out every Tuesday night, even if it's by myself to wander the bookstore.

You will eventually lose your mind, as I did. So you have to ask for help which is hard. Also, make a plan with people who can help you and write it down. I find that if I have relief to look forward to it makes the tough moments more bareable. Most of all be kind to yourself.

Oh your story sounds so familiar. I have a 9 month old who sleeps similarly. I don't think I have had more than 3 hours of sleep in a row since she was born. She too has an older brother that was sleeping 7 hours straight by 7 weeks old, so this is all new to me as well. Is there any chance your son has reflux? We believe that is why our little girl has such frequent wakings. She was diagnosed with reflux disease at an early age and has been medicated for it ever since. Her stomache acids seem to be more settled at night when she sleeps, so her best feeds are at night and hence we wake up a lot. I have talked to other parents who's children suffer from reflux and they have noted similar difficulties in night sleeping.

Another idea I might suggest is sleeping your baby in his carseat. I think the carseat acts as a bit of a swaddler and can help kids that startle themselves awake. Well, thats the only advice I have to offer. I truly know how sleep deprived and crazy you must feel right now. Here's to hoping we both get 6 hours of uninterupted sleep sometime soon.

Well, if you do lose your mind you certainly won't be the only mama in Portland doing so. I'm due to have my second in a week and my 2 year old is sensing the impending doom. On a night when her Daddy is able to keep her happy I can maybe sleep 4 hours total, and that's with 6 times getting up to pee. On a night when she escapes Daddy and makes it down the hall into the room where I'm "sleeping", it may be roughly NO sleep. Did I mention she's also giving up her daytime nap???

So I'm not giving you any help whatsoever, I realize. Just seizing the opportunity to vent about my own situation. BUT! This is not the first time feeling like I'm coming close to losing my mind and definitely not the last. My family and I have gotten through many hard phases, and it's often when you feel you're about to lose it that it starts to get better.

I definitely second what Suki says about finding help. I'm getting a little better at that, myself....Maybe try getting some daytime/evening care for the older one so you can go on the younger one's "schedule" yourself for a little while?

It's a cliche, and it drives me crazy when other people say it, and yet ... this will pass. Before you know it, your darling will be one, two, three years old and sleeping all the way through. Then they'll be a teenager, and you'll have to douse them with cold water to wake up before noon.

Or at least, that's what gets me through these days in which my 3-month-old is happiest and most awake at 4 a.m., and my 4-year-old has decided to regress back to his waking-up-three-times-a-night stage in an desperate plea for attention, any attention.

I guess what I'm saying is, hang in there. And know that there are others out there, awake in the dead-of-night darkness, wishing you the best. It's a sisterhood of sorts.

Shetha, check your e-mail. I sent you a commiserating message.

All I know is that if you need it, when the wagon from the funny farm comes to pick me up, we can make a stop for you too.

Alternatively, when we finally track down some gypsies to come spirit the little angel away, we can arrange for them to swing by your place if you like.

I wonder what advantage there can possibly be, evolutionarily speaking, for an infant to go through its worst sleeping phase JUUUST when the post-partum hormones are at their worst? Four months was my worst time with my first, but I wasn't as insomniac at that time, and co-sleeping wasn't such a disaster. It just. doesn't. work. for me this time. I can't even sleep in the same room with her, much less the same bed.

The hormones suck. When I'm lucky enough to finally get into the shower, I'm practically weeping as I watch my hair fallout in handfulls and clog the drain. Plus EVERYONE in our house has been sick in some way for the entire month of February. Blech.

Um, okay. I'm wondering the same thing about my 16 month-old! :-)))

At 4 months she never slept longer than, say, 30 minutes.

I loved the book "the Happiest Baby on the Block". It got me through this time. Basically it helps you swaddle and give all the other comforts for baby to sleep well. It got both my girls sleeping for decent stretches at this age. The good news is the author(a pediatrician) doesn't expect you to be able to read anything when you're this tired. He even has a short DVD to teach you this technique when you are desparate. I swear by his techniques and give this book,dvd and audio CD (comforting white noise) to all my pregnant friends. I'd drive mine over to you right now, but I just shipped mine to my best friend! Here's a link to the website...


Good luck.

Shetha, you know our babies are the same age so I'm in the same boat. Some nights she wakes up every hour, some she just wakes up a few times. We've all had colds a million times over the winter and I'm pretty sure it's her stuffy nose that wakes her up the most. If she snores a bit, she wakes up, rubs her face incessantly and won't take the pacifier because her nose is stuffy. So I put saline drops in her nose to loosen/moisturize, which she hates but does help. But to get her to go back to sleep it's comfort-nursing time. Also, we use Gdiapers mostly during the day but at night switch to disposable because I do think they're better at feeling dry on the surface.

We are co-sleeping, which I did with our first daughter for her first few months too. We're doing it longer with Audrey because her bedroom is on a different floor than ours, and I can't imagine stumbling downstairs to her room a dozen times a night. I feel the same way as you about it (I get no sleep) but I do think I get more than if she were in a crib because I can nurse her lying down as often as she likes and doze while I do it.

Emma, our first daughter, went into her crib at 3 months, but would wake up a zillion times at night even after we stopped night nursing. She would get into a light sleep cycle and wake up when she realized no one was there. So I'd have to go in and rock her to sleep again -- a very long process. At 9 months we got a sleep training book and it made ALL the difference in the world. It taught her that she didn't need ME to fall asleep. It took one day and that was it. She was finally sleeping through the night. And the technique allowed us to reassure her that we were still there and loved her, so she didn't feel abandoned. As a result Emma is a GREAT sleeper, comfortable in any bed, anywhere. I want the same for Audrey so we plan to sleep train her when we don't need to nurse at night anymore.

Hang in there! And when you're up at 3.a.m. --again-- take comfort in knowing you're not alone. I and a few dozen other mamas around town are awake too.

My 19 month old son used to be a terrible sleeper. He didn't start sleeping through the night until he was almost a year old. I thought I was going to go crazy. However, I noticed a couple of things in your post. Eczema will drive a person crazy. When it itches it is agony. I would try to find out the cause and treat it. I used to scratch until I bled when I was a kid. The cough - a warm mist humidifier will really work wonders (it's not a myth). White noise - I finally tried an air purifier. It really, really helped. He was very sensitive to any noise while sleeping. Boy, I feel for you. It seems like just yesterday that I was in your shoes and I am still eternally grateful for every full night of sleep that I get!!!

I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I haven't had a chance to read through all the responses but I can offer this: for me, especially the second time around I took Rescue Remedy and GABA to make sure the sleep I did get was good sleep. It's also helped co-sleeping. I also couldn't sleep well with the baby in the bed but once I started taking those remedies--which really just allow you to relax, they don't make you feel sluggish--everything was so much better. I put Iris down in a Pack N Play in our room and she comes into our bed for the first feeding. If I'm still awake when she's done she goes back, otherwise we all fall asleep again. Yes, I'm tired, but I'm functioning. The other thing--and I know this is hard, is I go to bed earlier. Not every night, b/c I want that alone time, too. But sometimes it just has to be done for maintenance. I hope things get better!

I recommend a naturopathic doc for the eczema. There are 2 that I know who specialize in pediatrics, and one is our baby's doc, Dr. Susan Allen at Triangolo family clinic or Dr. Heidi Peterson (not sure where her office is). They will hopefully be able to help the baby AND you.

I had to give up co-sleeping or even sleeping in the same room as my baby. This was a hard decision but everyone started sleeping better. Also, we introduced a bottle of goat milk formula (homemade, Dr. Allen's recipe) right before bedtime. All other times I nursed.

At about 4 or 5 months, when she woke in the middle of the night and it was less than 4 or so hours since her last feeding, I would let her cry for a few minutes. I think it was five minutes (a very long five minutes when its 2 a.m.) I realize this is not popular, but it only took a few nights for her to stop waking up. Seriously, maybe 2 or 3 nights...then she was sleeping longer stretches, and I felt like a human again.

Please email me if you want more info or just to vent. Good luck!

Wow, as you can see you definitely are not alone. I've had a similar experience and I tried cutting stuff out of my diet. Wheat turned out to be a culprit but dairy can be as well. If you're desperate like I was try once a week to cut out one thing that may be hard for you little one to digest.

The sanity thing is never easy. I like to say I found rage after I had my child. Appreciate how strong you are to survive all of this with such little sleep. Absolutely ask for help. Take breaks, they are good for everyone. And as far off as a sense of humor feels to you, try and find one. I would recommend the book "Operating Instructions" by Anne Lamont. She has a Christian slant, and I'm not one, but she had me rolling with laughter about her stories with her infant.

Babies nurse at night because it increases production of a hormone that hinders mother's from getting pregnant (I read this in an anthropology text; wish I could remember the author). In pre-industrial society, the longer a baby could keep mom from reproducing, the better their chance of survival.

Of course, things are a little different now, and I must say, I look forward to the end of nursing my sixteen month old a little more than I thought I would.

You're not making it up, babies do have shorter sleep cycles as the night goes on. They usually do their longest stretch first, when we're awake still darn-it, and then get into shorter cycles, an hour long as it gets to morning. Check out "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" for the science of baby sleep and then some great ideas for helping babies develop "sleep associations" so they can put themselves back to sleep when they wake up.

yes, yes this will pass!!
I hear you loud and clear!!
My daughter is 6 months old....
The first four months were just as you described above with addition...... she cried ALL the time!!!
I can not tell you how often I called the advise nurse......
What finally worked for us was not allowing her to sleep more than two hours at a time during day time hours....
After about a week of this she figured out her day and nights....
Eventually sleeping 3-4 hours at night.... Then 6... Then 8..... And here we are at 6 months and sleeping through the night most of the week..... A few slip up's here and there but nothing like the beginning....
Hang in there!!!!!
Do you have friends or family that can come to your house and take care of baby while you take a nap??/
It will make ALL the difference in the world....


I know it is terribly hard and you feel like a mean mom...but I am a firm believer in the 'cry' method. At 4 months babies medically don’t need to be waking up all night for feedings. If you must, pick ONE time in the middle of the night for the feeding & the rest of the times...DONT DO IT! Who wouldn't want to wake up and have a cuddle from mom and a midnight snack? All I know is it worked for us. My baby has been sleeping through the night since about 3 months and it I am a much better mommy because of it. When he would wake up I would go into his room and tell him that it is ok, that I love him, and cuddle him back in his blanket. I would not pick him up. The first night he cried for over an hour straight... it was TERRIBLE & I cried too. The second night, 1/2 hour... the third & fourth 10 minutes. The fifth night - HE SLEPT ALL THE WAY THROUGH! 7 hours of pure delight. You are not the only one that needs a good nights sleep, so is your little one. My baby is much happier with a full nights sleep (he sleeps from 8pm-7am) and a good long nap. I know that this is not for everyone, but I would rather have two nights of hell rather than two years. Good luck!

Oh, I feel your pain. Probably will a little tonight. My little one has been waking every few hours more often than before. Don't know why.

I highly recommend Happiest Baby on the Block too. It's a great book, but if you are too tired to read it, it comes on DVD too.

Oh, and I was thinking, if you don't swaddle him, DO. I have tried not swaddling Maggie a couple times and she gets restless and wakeful far more often without it. It makes a HUGE difference. _Happiest Baby_ describes the swaddling. If you can't get him in a tight swaddle get a Kiddopotamous swaddler from Babies R Us. He may fuss initially with teh swaddle and resist, but if you give it a good 15 mins (prolly less), he'll go comatose.

I second both "Happiest Baby" and "No-Cry Sleep Solution". Best of luck!

Our babes are the same age. Mine actually slept through the night from 2.5 to 3.5 months and then started night waking again. Then we traveled to Portland from Honolulu and she was waking even more. Then in San Diego even more - sometimes every hour. The night we arrived home to Honolulu she slept 8.5 hours before her first waking. I think the drier the air the harded time she had staying asleep. If yours has a cough then perhaps a humidifier would help and infant Tylenol, dosed by the pediatrician, for the teething. Also since he is coughing and maybe just too uncomfortable to sleep on his back - I would suggest strapping him in the car seat. Our babe has had many of her best nights of sleep (up to 12 hours straight!) in the car seat. Now I am wondering why I haven't tried that again.

This won't be very popular advice here, but we sleep trained our baby girl at 4 months. Read the new (2006) edition of Richard Ferber's "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems." Yeah, it required a lot of crying at first, then less, and now, at 6 months, she goes down without a peep at 7pm, sleeps until 3am when I nurse her, and then is up for the day at 6am. It was hard for all of us, but getting fractured sleep is not just bad for you, it's bad for the kid; she probably feels as exhausted as you do. You really don't have to wait years for your baby to learn to sleep through the night, you just need to help them learn how to do it.

Happiest Baby's techniques only apply to the "Fourth Trimester", the first 3 months. And yeah, I know this flies in the face of Attachment Parenting. Your baby will still love you.

For us, nighttime got a lot calmer after six months. Is it because she started eating food, and her stomach had more to work on through the night? I guess the experts say that's not true, but it was for all the mamas in my group. Is it just because she got older? God knows I'm no expert.
I'm starting to believe that a lot of the things advisors tell us only seem to work because the baby was already changing on her own, and would have changed anyway without any intervention or sleep training or solid foods or what have you.
But who cares about all that - in the meantime, you still have this very real problem. People say that to get any real benefit from sleep, an adult needs at least four uninterrupted hours.
maybe for the cough, you might try elevating his head a little by putting the end of the crib up on some books. But what's really worked for us with bad congestion and cough was for one parent to sleep semi upright, propped up against the headboard, with baby propped up on the parents chest, so tne congestion could drain. Maybe that parent could be your husband? I got this advice from a really kind friend with three boys, and it worked like a charm for us.
For the hunger, I have no idea if this would work, (and maybe it's way too obvious) but maybe your husband could persuade him to take a bottle? If there's no way to pump it ahead of time, maybe some formula?

For the mama time, if you can figure out that he's always waking up at a certain hour upset but not hungry, maybe you could try this. Sit him up before he gets really wound up and awake. Rub his back in circles until he gets drowsy again. Let him fall deeply asleep again, leaning forward onto your chest or your arm, before you put him back on his back. Our daughter needed this treatment a couple of times a night for several weeks, but after awhile she stopped waking up at those times. You'd think, from reading some of the books, that now she would wake up more because we were rewarding her or training her to expect it. But that's not what happened. I think she just needed it then, and now she doesn't.
I pray that your good and well-deserved sleep comes sooner rather than later.

Read "Baby Wise" by Dr. Gary Ezzo and put his methods into practice! It really does work. Our 7 month old daughter is breastfed and has been sleeping 8 hours (without waking) since she was 3 months old....since about 6 months old she has been sleeping 12 hours (without waking). Good luck!!

I had the EXACT same problem. The pediatrician told us (at his 4 mo appoint.) to stop nursing him to sleep and put him in his crib while he was still awake. That way he won't be alarmed when he wakes up in his crib, and will sometimes just go back to sleep. It made all the difference, right away. I now nurse him twice a night, over a 12 hour period of sleep. He doesn't have to cry it out- just needs to be awake and you can comfort him all you want. I got one of those light and music things that hangs on the side of the crib, and he loves to watch it. Hope that helps!

Hi! I am a fellow mom who helped my baby learn to sleep after many sleepless months and then started helping countless other families. There is hope!

I started a sliding-scale sleep training consultation business after helping many families get the sleep they needed.

sweet dreams pdx offers in home consultations, followed with email and phone support. You are not alone!

sweet dreams pdx is here to support your family in reaching your sleep training goals.

Don't give up! Contact Mitzy at http://sweetdreamspdx.com/

I work with all types of families. I offer help with co-sleeping, night weaning, transitioning to crib, sleep training, re-training after sickness or traveling)

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