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  1. #1
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    Sep 2014
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    Unhappy Nearly 4 mo old sleep problems - HELP

    Okay, so reading around I get the feeling that this isn't uncommon, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. And most of the tips I've read just don't see practical/don't work in our situation, so I'm wondering if anyone can help out with our particular experience

    Our (1 week shy of) 4 month old was never sleeping through the night in the first place, but it's definitely gotten worse in the past couple weeks.

    At the middle of the night actually, she's not horrible (generally wakes twice - once in the 12-2 range, and once in the 3-5 range to feed)... but the beginning and end of the night are another story.

    Beginning of the night: she's generally falling asleep by around 7:30-8 PM. It's a vast improvement since she used to insist her bedtime was 11:30. Last night she passed out in my arms by 7:40... but then it takes *hours* to get her into bed without waking and crying. On our collective 5th attempt my wife finally got her into her crib at around 9:45 last night... only to awaken, scooching and crying within 10 minutes (scooching = she pushes herself around on her back by pushing with her legs, generally in a circular motion... she'd done 270 degree rotation last night in the course of ~5 minutse before we went and got her... not rolling on her stomach, but around on her back like a breakdancer!). Finally she went to bed for the night at about 10:30.
    Just put her down sleepy but awake you say? Ha! Fail! Why? Because as soon as she feels the sleep sack and sees her darkened room, she knows what we're up to and starts crying/fussing. And it's inconsolable unless she's being held. Stroking, singing, shushing does nothing... pacifier works momentarily, but not work long... she just wants to be held until she falls asleep in your arms and generally only with a pacifier too (That doesn't mean I don't try this... I do, regularly, either before or just after he's dozed off. It works sometimes during the day, but not too often. And basically never at night.)

    End of the night: On the flip side, instead of sleeping until 8, 9, 10AM, for the last few nights (just this week), she starts her scooching, noise making, escalates to crying, before 6 AM. My alarm hasn't even gone off for work, and my wife who is still at home for a little while longer, is exhausted.

    It's like cheating... she gets a bunch of sleep early in the evening in our arms but won't settle down, so we can't sleep. And then gets up way before we've gotten enough.


    In between: no, not the middle of the night, during the day. I don't have much to compare it to (nothing really), but I feel like she's a very attention-demanding baby. She doesn't sit and play with a toy or toy bar for more than 10 minutes at a time. Otherwise you have to switch toys, move her bouncer seat around for a new view, every 5-10 minutes. Is that normal, or a bit excessive? A quick meal is generally interrupted 3 to 4 times. After 30-40 minutes, she's had it with the bouncer and is arching her back to get out of it and insisting on being held again.

    Lastly, she also only catnaps 20-40 minutes (roughly a sleep cycle). Once she passed the newborn 22-hour-a-day-sleeping thing, she never naped for long. She'll go down, but almost never for much time (unless... guess what?? that's right, unless she's in your arms, then she'll nap for 1.5-2 hours).


    The upshot: I'm okay, but often lose patience after trying and failing to get her down for more than an hour straight. My wife though, is exhausted. She takes the brunt of the nighttime feedings and the constant-on attention during the day, compounded with late to bed and early to rise. And she can barely nap herself if baby won't.


    That girl is lucky she's adorable...


    Any advice? Please help!!

  2. #2
    BDKmom is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    I think everything you have described is pretty common. At least it's similar to what I experienced with my DD. During the day, the swing was salvation for us. It was the only place my DD would sleep other than on me. Others here really like the rock n play, but not sure if your DD is getting close to being too big for it. More daytime sleep may help with better nighttime sleep. Sounds like she doesn't like sleeping flat, so swing or rock n play may help. With my DD, between 4 and 5 months is when this stuff started improving. Wish I had more suggestions. Maybe others here will. Hang in there. I know it's rough. Maybe give your wife some time alone this weekend while you care for the baby. Even if it's just the other side of the house, being "off duty" for a little while always made things easier to face for me.
    DS - Feb 2010
    DD - May 2012

  3. #3
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    Unfortunately, no go for us on the swing. It worked for about a week to put her out. Now it'll quiet her, for a little while, but not make her sleep. Although we haven't tried in a while.

    I actually don't think it's the flat thing. When she's in our arms it's not like she's at an angle. Although she *is* on her side. But I'm thinking it's more a) the warmth and/or b) when she stirs a little she's being held more tightly, so she doesn't flail, or roll.

    I'll try to take more of the bullet for my wife this weekend. I do most of it in the evenings when I get home. And I always do try to let her sleep on weekend mornings, and I try to get an afternoon nap if I need it . My dad is here this for a day too, so maybe that'll help.


    Quote Originally Posted by BDKmom View Post
    I think everything you have described is pretty common. At least it's similar to what I experienced with my DD. During the day, the swing was salvation for us. It was the only place my DD would sleep other than on me. Others here really like the rock n play, but not sure if your DD is getting close to being too big for it. More daytime sleep may help with better nighttime sleep. Sounds like she doesn't like sleeping flat, so swing or rock n play may help. With my DD, between 4 and 5 months is when this stuff started improving. Wish I had more suggestions. Maybe others here will. Hang in there. I know it's rough. Maybe give your wife some time alone this weekend while you care for the baby. Even if it's just the other side of the house, being "off duty" for a little while always made things easier to face for me.

  4. #4
    ArizonaGirl is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Do you think she could be refluxing, the arching back and constant movement makes me think that maybe she is a refluxer and in pain.

    Does she spit up? Even if she doesn't she could still be a "silent" refluxer. Is she gaining weight?

    Just food for thought...
    Lindsey

    Married to DH June 2005 gave birth to Shawn December 2008 and Lilian August 2012




  5. #5
    petesgirl is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Well..this wont be any consolation but my 7.5 month old is very similar! I have read that she needs an earlier bedtime but no matter what time i put her down she is awake again within an hour and screaming. And she is on reflux meds even...sorry no advice here.
    Mama to :
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    DD (Feb 2014-June 2015)
    DS2 (Apr 2017)

    "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside his skin and walk around in it."
    --Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird)

  6. #6
    erosenst is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Just a suggestion - but have your read Healthy Sleep Habits/Happy Child? It's a dry read... and with an almost 11 year DD still the best book I've read.

    Thing that initially caught my eye was the 7:30 - 8:30 bedtime. I bet she could need as early as 6p right now, and as the author counterintuitively says 'sleep begets sleep'. Right now she may very well be too tired to self-soothe at all.

    Good luck - know it's frustrating.

  7. #7
    Katigre is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    Very normal - a 5-15 minute attention span is typical for babies. My 2yo has a 30 minute attention span for something like play doh, fwiw, and that's really typical for his age range.

    Her sleep sounds normal - have you considered cosleeping? We're on baby #4 for visiting and get so much more rest that way. Babies feel most secure when held or in contact with their parents, so her response of fighting the crib is very normal and makes sense biologically imo. I personally don't really get the whole "baby sleeps separate" thing unless the baby actually sleeps well that way. Our older kids are awesome sleepers in spite of never sleeping in a crib (and our two month old sleeps well too, I nurse laying down at night so that my sleep isn't disturbed).
    Last edited by Katigre; 09-27-2014 at 12:06 PM.
    Mom of 4: Boy (10), Girl (7), Boy (4), Girl (2)

  8. #8
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    Everything is normal. This is the sleep deprivation all parents go through and you will emerge on the other side with time. It really isn't anything you can fix, you are doing all good things and some kids are longer sleepers earlier than others. Luck of the draw. Babies also go through phases and sometimes around this age don't want to be put down. We have three children and first was easy, woke to nurse but went right back to sleep. Second was great until about three or four months and screamed like we were setting her on hot coals when set down asleep. We tried it all, comfort things as we don't do cry it out, and nothing worked. So we held her and rocked with her asleep in our arms and watched the entire season of Big Love on DVD in our darkened room. About three weeks later, she stayed asleep again when set down. . . the storm had passed. As for early waking, get used to it as babies and kids don't sleep in. My standard advice for expectant parents is go out to dinner and sleep in as much as you can as it will be years before you sleep in again. Hang in there, time is your friend.

  9. #9
    Liziz is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Oh, hang in there! It will get better (then worse again, then better, then worse again, then better....). We struggled with a lot of what you're describing, too. I logged *hours* of time in DD's darkened room when she was an infant!!! A couple things that helped us....

    -putting her to bed earlier, before she showed any signs of being tired. For the first 8-9 months of her life, we feared 7pm....if she wasn't in bed asleep by 7p, there was guaranteed to be a major breakdown and lots of screaming, and a rough night ahead. When we got her down prior to 7p, the night went a lot better. Most of the time she didn't seem tired around 6:30, but we'd put her down anyways, and get much, much better sleep results.
    -putting her into her crib when she was drowsy but still awake, then "rocking" her in her crib. We'd usually put our hand on her belly/chest and gently jiggle her. (aiming for the type of motion The Happiest Baby on the Block describes, if you've read it). I'll be honest, it still took forever to get her asleep, but it was easier to sneak out of the room then, since we didn't have to transfer her from our arms to the crib. Also to note -- when we'd first lay her down (awake but drowsy), she would definitely fuss and cry. But, we would just start the jiggling and not pick her up, and usually she'd settle down. We'd also sometimes just rest a hand on her head and another on her chest, or sometimes I'd just wrap one arm on either side of her and "hug" her in the crib -- basically anything that could mimic holding her in our arms, but that did not require any type of transfer/movement other than to slowly pull arms away once she was asleep.
    -we'd already been using white noise, but we invested in a white noise machine at some point and turned it up much louder. I was impressed with how much better the sleep was when the white noise was louder.
    -unfortunately, the 6am wakeup sounds about normal and I don't have any good ideas for what to do about that one....we struggled through the same thing, but usually at 5am! (and still do...kids get up too early!!!!)

    As for during the day -- she sounds about like my DD there, too. Have you tried babywearing at all? I loved the Moby at that age, and moved to the Piccolo a month or so later. DD would stay content while I was wearing her for WAY longer than any other position. I could go shopping for a full morning, and she'd happily ride around on me for a long time. Around that age I'd actually do lots of her morning naps while wearing her, too -- I'd go for a long walk or time a long shopping trip around a nap. She would nap much better and longer while I was wearing her. Sounds crazy as it was always more noisy, etc -- but since your little one seems to like that close contact, I highly suggest it!
    Lizi
    DD1 2012
    DD2 2015

  10. #10
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    Thanks so much everyone for your responses. It's a big help first off to know that this is fairly normal. Because one of my distinct concerns is that she starts daycare in a week, and if she's being an extremely fussy needy baby, then I'm afraid that she'll have problems at daycare - not sleeping, getting exhausted & fussy, driving the staff crazy. But if this sounds like a range of normal, then they should be used to it and hopefully she'll adjust like normal too.

    I'm feeling a bit better too because her last few morning were a bit later. I think Sat she slept until 9 or so, Sun was 8:30 and this morning was 7:15, but it's all a lot better than 'before 6', especially since we've been getting to bed earlier too. Only problem last night was she didn't want to go down after her 3:30 feeding, it took about an hour overall, but the rest of the night was pretty good (asleep by 8:30 after protesting since 7:30, another protest around 9:15 then out until 12:30 (5 hours since last feed), feed at 3:30 and then again at 7:15).

    To answer the questions/suggestions... she does spit up a fair deal, so my understanding is that counts as 'reflux', but from what I've read the real problem isn't whether she has reflux (which is common for infants?), but whether it's problematic/it bothers her. She hasn't been spitting up bile, doesn't cry during feedings (very often), doesn't projectile, and is gaining weight well (she's on the lower half of the curve, but has been staying pretty consistent and gaining). I don't think the arching is reflux because she does it all the time, it's how she tries to move herself, and/or is just out of frustration when crying/upset. For instance, we were giving her a bath a couple days ago, she hadn't been fed is a couple hours, and she was pushing up with her legs and arching her back to try to scoot around the tub (not that there's anywhere to go in the infant tub).

    I don't know how we can get her to bed too much earlier. I don't get home from work until nearly 6. And often times we have to bathe her first.

    We could try some more baby wearing. We don't do it much. I don't think she'll sleep like that (but who knows!), but it may calm her more.

    My wife is very against co-sleeping, and she wouldn't be able to sleep a wink if she was worried about rolling over onto her. I'm not judging those that do it, I'm just saying I know my wife is the nervous type, and being worried all night long - which she would be - would be the worst move we could do.


    A couple more questions:
    1) The 'bedtime routine' has been working in that she recognizes it's bedtime. The problem is, that means crying! As soon as her wrap sack goes on and/or the lights go low, and/or the book comes out, she starts crying because she doesn't want to go to bed. At least that's certainly how it seems to me. Is a 3 month & 3 week old smart enough to make that association and object to it? (or is she just a genius? ). Is there anyway to make/encourage the routine to have a positive association, or is that just her personality? (don't suggest a bath... she likes baths, but she splashes and coo's and squirms... it's invigorating)
    2) The one thing I'm still worried about with daycare is that she won't sleep, if she can't self-settle and wakes up most of the time when put down. I don't expect the daycare provider, 2-3 adults for 8 infants, to be able to commit the 15-30 minutes it takes us to get her to sleep. Plus, the room won't be dark and there will be other babies making noise. I guess I'm hoping that while she won't nap as much, she will get tired enough to eventually pass out. But then there's the concern that she'll get overtired and be even worse. Is there anything I can do in the next week to encourage her to get more used to falling asleep in a crib? (I've been trying for a couple weeks at least, but feel like we're running out of time). We do have a white noise machine & a floor fan. I can try the Happiest Baby jiggling thing that Liziz suggests (I've read it, well, most of it). Any other tips?

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