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5 1/2 month old sleep issues
Abby
lunabelle wrote in parenting101

My 5 1/2 month old girl is now waking up every two hours and will not go back to sleep without being nursing. I've read about the 4 month sleep regression and I realize teething could be the culprit. Also, she is a fairly distractible baby so maybe she is making up for calories not taken in during the day?

So many possibilities :/

What do you recommend? I'm opposed to CIO.

Any tips or books that I must read? A friend lent me the baby whisperer. Not sure how I feel about putting babe on a strict schedule. What worked for you and your little one?
Currently, if she doesn't fall sleep while nursing we are rocking her to sleep right after.

Thanks so much.

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Mine liked being tightly wrapped (swaddled, or at least with blankets tightly tucked around), then having their backs rubbed and quiet slow music (radio, musical toy or singing), followed by lots of quiet.

I recommend you try to change your expectations for infant sleep. That is completely developmentally normal for a Breastfed baby that age. Many don't sleep through the night reliably until well after a year. My daughter woke up every 1-2 hours consistently until 16 months, and I know that's early for many Breastfed babies.

Yup, this. Neither of my boys were sleeping in any longer stretches than that at 5 months. Yougest was close to a year before he improved significantly.

With my son I didn't get stretches of sleep longer than three hours (at nights) until he was two, haha.

This. The first time my daughter slept for 10 hours straight (close to 2) I woke up panicked, I was convinced something terrible had happened to her, I was so use to getting up 5 thousand times a night.

Yup, this. I had a fantabulous sleeper from 10 weeks till just after 4 months. Best advice I can give is to A. Give up on sleeping all night, that ship has sailed. B. If you can do it safely, co sleep co sleep CO SLEEP. I had never planned to co sleep, but hot damn we sure get a whole lotta sleep now.

Until 16 months? That gives me hope for my 16mo daughter. :)

I thought she was never going to sleep. We stopped co-sleeping to restore my sanity, and she nightweaned in 2 or 3 nights, and started sleeping through at the same time. It was magical.

Still, even since then, her sleep hasn't been perfect. She'll have phases where she wakes up at 3:30 or 4am and doesn't want to go back to sleep. Unless we're on vacation/in a new place, I can at least expect solid sleep from 8pm-4am, sometimes an hour or two more. She was never one of those sleeper kids who slept 12 hours ;)

This has been my experience as well, at 20 months I'm lucky if my son will sleep 3 hours without needing to nurse. In the first few months it was every 1-2 hours all night long.

Completely agree with this. I've always kept my daughter in bed with me which makes it much easier. I'm able to respond to her cues and nursing needs without having to get out of bed every time and lose so much of my own sleep. Would that be an option for your family?

Frankly, I'd just nurse her on demand whenever she wants to, and wait for this phase to pass. Babies are babies, especially at that young age. It doesn't matter if she get's her calories in a few big feedings or many smaller ones, as long as she's nursing long enough a couple of times to get the hindmilk. With my son, I remember phases where I just alternated between him napping, and him nursing. I don't think it's anything to worry about, and I don't think it's a sleep issue. It's just different to how it was before, but likely perfectly normal for her.

Edited at 2012-11-23 05:46 pm (UTC)

Oh! I commented on your post in AP, but I just thought, Re: No Cry Sleep Solution, the Pantly Pull Off method is good for dealing with babies nursing to sleep if you are interested in ending it.

I agree with all of the comments on expectations :) I also highly recommend co-sleeping if you don't already. It will allow you to get some sleep.........

It may be temporary and go away on it's own if it's something like a growth spurt.

FWIW, my daughter did a lot of her nursing at night (she didn't take bottles, and I worked full time so she had limited feeds during the day, so that's when she had access). She was very business-like about her night-time nursing, so I'm positive for her it hunger-related. I'm not sure how often she woke up, but since we were cosleeping, I'd just nurse her back to sleep and it didn't ever bother me too much.

We're having success with Karp's new book on sleep, whereby he recommends that you get the kid to sleep however you can, but then when you put them down, you wake them slightly so they fall back asleep wherever you want them sleeping. For us, that is in her crib side-car next to our bed. At this point, after her last feed before really bed, she often will roll herself off of the boob, and I will then pick her up and put her into the crib. She actually now smiles as she snuggles into the crib and goes to sleep. Such an improvement over the hours long bedtime routine shenanigans we had going on before. Now we're trying to break the up every two hours to nurse deal by me dream feeding her around midnight, and then sleeping in the guest room. Spouse handles the midnight to 5 amish shift, comforting her if she wakes and putting her back down. 5amish, I am summoned from the guest room and I nurse her, usually side-nurse so I can sleep a bit some more, and she does her perpetual early morning cluster feed (I thought that was supposed to go away at like 3 months or something!) until about 7, when she goes into a deep sleep again until 9 am (her bedtime is 8 or 9 pm).
But my kid is about to be a year. She can totally consolidate her nursing into the three night feeds (plus the zillion on-demand feeds during the day, obvi, and a full complement of solids though we're BLWers and don't push the stuff, she's an eater and gobbles it all up), and the five hours btwn midnight and 5 am were about comfort nursing back to sleep. We know she can get to sleep w/o nursing (at night), so we're trying to break the habit. At 5.5 months?

Bedtime at 5.5 months was a living hell. I was living apart from my spouse while spouse moved to our new house early and I had to stay behind with my parents and the babe. So I was handling this all on my own. I would nurse her until she was asleep. Put her in crib. She would wake. I would try to comfort her, but the only thing to calm her down was nursing. So more nursing. She'd fall asleep again. Back in the crib. Back up - immediately, or after a few minutes, or maybe 45 minutes and then stupid dog would bark, whatever. More nursing. Lather, rinse repeat until I finally gave up and went to bed and coslept. Even co sleeping, she'd wake me every 1.5-2 hours to get me to switch boob that was available to her, or change positions so she could nurse, or something. When by 7 months I would respond to these requests by just comforting her, her new gig was to wake up screaming. By then we were living with spouse in new city, but spouse still had to take and pass the bar exam, so my life was avoiding waking up the spouse. It was awful, and spouse wasn't available physically, emotionally, or sleep wise to change up the patterns to make her sleep better. Plus I got the feeling, like you have, that her night nursing was making up for calories she wasn't getting during the day due to being more distractable. Focused and scheduled nursing during the day DID improve the situation, but by then, she was in the pattern of waking with almost every sleep cycle and getting nursed back down (which we're obviously still trying to break).

Probably overshare, but I wanted to give context to the other statements about adjusting expectations about infant sleep. Nursing on-demand 24 hrs a day can mean nursing every two hours over night, especially around the 6 month mark. The issue is about getting into habits that you then have to break - the needed night feeds leading to later patterns of needing to nurse to sleep at all.

Good luck!

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