Our 6 month old has never slept well. The sleep deprivation is destroying me. Is there anything we haven't thought of? Anything else we can try?
posted by Cygnet to Health & Fitness (83 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
He's 6 months old. A big, healthy boy. Happy, easygoing, easy to take places - he has a serious appetite for novelty. Charming and sweet. EXTREMELY energetic and active. A really easy baby, during the day. Never had colic, never cried much at all. His family loves him very much. While his father and I are at work (I have a very flexible schedule and spend as much time with him as possible, working at home when I can), his grandparents (both sets, alternating) care for him.
On a great night, he wakes twice to nurse and goes back to sleep right away. On an average night he wakes maybe 5 times, and sometimes quite difficult to settle, waking after 5 minutes several times in a row before he's back to sleep for good. On a terrible night, which is maybe 30% of them, he's up for hours in the middle of the night and is almost impossible to settle the rest of the time, waking 10-15 times. He won't nurse (pushes breast away), he doesn't want to cuddle (tries to climb out of arms), but he won't lie down or be put down - the ONLY thing that works is walking him very briskly. Sometimes even after he's been deeply asleep while walking for 20 minutes he wakes up the instant we try to put him down. He wakes for the day between 5-6 AM.
Once a few weeks ago he slept 6 hours (actually he woke after 3 and put himself back to sleep). A few days ago he slept from 11:30-5:00. These are the two longest stretches of sleep he's ever had.
There is no pattern that we can discern to his good and terrible nights even after analyzing everything we can think of. They come and go and it's absolutely maddening. Teething does seem to make things worse, but his sleep has been terrible in various shifting ways since the day he was born.
Co-sleeping DOES NOT HELP. He flops around between us and gets mad that he doesn't have room to roll and sprawl - after tossing and turning for a few minutes he'll wake up and cry. He doesn't want to be cuddled. Having him in our room was convenient for us, but we kept waking him up, so now he's in his own room.
He generally naps 3 times a day. Until a month ago, his naps were always 40 minutes long exactly. Now they vary from 35 minutes to 2 hours. There is no pattern whatsoever that we can determine, either to the length of his naps or how his naps affect nighttime sleep. His first nap is 2 hours after he wakes up (so, usually starting at 7:30 AM), the second is about 2.5 hours after the first, and the third is about 2.5 hours after the second. If he's not awake for 3 hours before bedtime he has a very hard time falling asleep. We sway to some music, then sing his special song, and then put him down in his crib for naps unless we are out and about, in which case he may nap in his jogging stroller or more likely the Ergo. He virtually always goes down awake. Maybe 50% of the time it takes more than one attempt to get him to got to sleep but it's usually not too hard.
Sometimes he wakes up peacefully and plays around in his crib before calling out. Sometimes he wakes up and fusses immediately but is happy to see us when we walk in. Sometimes he begins screaming in his sleep - eyes tightly closed - and needs to be bounced and walked (and possibly even taken outdoors) before he will wake up, but when he does he calms right down. There is no pattern to the type of wakeup we get.
So what have we tried?
1. He's had an iron-clad bedtime routine since he was 2 months old. Books, singing (special bedtime song) and cuddling, bath, nursing, put down awake in his crib. He used to be put down awake in his co-sleeper in our room; his sleep was NOT better at that point. He goes to bed at 7:30. We NEVER alter his routine. Virtually every night he goes down awake and puts himself to sleep. Despite this, his sleep is unbelievably bad.
2. After extensive experimentation, to the best of our knowledge, he is not too hot or too cold. His clothes do not hurt him. We have tried multiple brands of both cloth and paper diapers.
3. His room is dark (blackout curtain) but not pitch black.
4. There is soft white noise (sound of waves) playing in his room.
5. He has a lovey. It helps (he cuddles it when he falls asleep, and clearly likes it) but obviously not enough.
6. He takes a pacifier only very inconsistently. It almost never helps. He pulls it out and plays with it, banging it on the crib bars or throwing it on the floor. Usually we do not even give him one. He doesn't suck his thumb.
7. Once, we left him alone for 10 minutes to see what would happen. He fussed for 3 minutes and then cried for 7 minutes before we went to get him.
8. I have tried removing ALL common allergens from my diet for several weeks (basically eating nothing but rice, fruit and veggies). It made no difference.
9. We've tried BioGaia baby probiotics. No clear result.
10. We've already looked into hiring a sleep consultant - we can begin on June 23.
11. We've talked to the pediatrician; our son is perfectly healthy as far as we can tell. His development is great; he sits independently, creeps, babbles, etc. He's VERY tall for his age (father is tall).
12. He eats solid food now, cereals and fruits and veggies. Seems to really enjoy it and we know he's taking in a fair bit from his diapers. Hasn't helped him sleep.
There are probably more things we've tried that I've forgotten right now. I am so sleep deprived that I feel like I'm drowning. It breaks my heart that I'm so tired I can hardly enjoy my sweet baby, and after the tantalizing periods of several days when he does sleep well, it's even harder to return to this ugly dazed zombie state that I hate. I have already given up everything I can give up: all of my free time, my exercise time, non-essential chores, social opportunities, even work opportunities that would be good for me. I go to bed at 8:15. My husband does a LOT of nighttime parenting, and he's also very tired, although as the non-nursing parent it's not quite as bad for him. We don't want to leave our son to cry, but we can't go on this way. Is there anything else we can do? Has anybody else had a baby with sleep THIS poor and this inconsistent? (We're not talking about a few wakings to nurse here - that sounds like heaven.) What did you do?
Help me. Please. This is hell.