Yet another new parent "my baby won't sleep like a baby" question.
August 31, 2009 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Yet another my-baby-can't-sleep question. We've tried every recommendation we've seen online or got from the pediatrician and nothing has worked. Need more ideas or reassurance that it's normal and will pass someday.

Our 2 month old is very hard to get to sleep and sleeps very poorly.

At night she sleeps well as long as she's in our arms. Otherwise she wakes up every 15 minutes and goes from grunting to furious in 5 minutes or so. She wakes up this often in our arms but will go back to sleep with some gentle bouncing and shushing. In the daytime, especially the afternoon, she is nearly inconsolable.

Her schedule for the last few weeks is like this (although it varies by an hour or so each day):
She eats at 7pm then is sleeping by around 8pm. She'll sleep until around 1am when she'll eat and go back to sleep (in our arms only of course) until another feeding at 7 or 8am. Then she will eat, stay up a while, and wake up wanting to be fed in 3 hours then it starts to go really down hill. After her 10 or 11am feeding she is very hard to get back to sleep (pacing the floors with her and she sleeps very lightly). This goes on until the afternoon when our routine of rocking/walking her to sleep goes on and on (she isn't sleeping but yawning a lot). She won't sleep and starts a routine of grunting which elevates to struggling which turns into crying and then screaming. We can get her to stop crying by, in my opinion, entertaining her enough so she can't possibly sleep. We basically have to be walking with her bouncing to stop crying or feed her again (which she'll spit up because she is already full). By 7 or 8 she gives up and sleeps pretty soundly (in our arms).

We have come to terms with the baby-only-sleeps-in-our-arms thing, we have lost all hope on that front, but the "baby-will-cry-unless-we-
expend-600-calories-an-hour" is where it gets sort of old after a few days.

The doctor thought it might be acid reflux and we've tried prilosec and prevacid even though before birth we would have probably been very opposed to this sort of thing. We have inclined the crib. We have tried tummy sleeping, co-sleeping, you-name-it-sleeping. Have tried many different formulas (and brands), the normal kind, lactose free, protein broken down ones, soy, and both nutramigen and alimentum. We've been on alimentum for a couple weeks now. We swaddle all the time (miracle blanket is the only things she can't break out of easily) and have tried no swaddle. We have tried a range of house temperatures. We have tried gas drops and gripe water (2 different brand names). We have tried a plethora of white noise (white/pink/brown noise, vacuum, rain, etc etc etc). The swing worked for about 2 or 3 days. The sling worked for 1 day. Have tried about 5 different pacifiers -- they work sometimes but sometimes make her furious. Some people say "go to a chiropractor" but this is a c-section baby so her spine shouldn't be out of whack from being pushed out the vagina.

Nothing really has any effect on her day time sleep or on her need to be held all night long. We don't have any family near by and no friends and we're about to lose it.

We have been to the ped about every week since her birth. The doctors sort of rush us out with smiles and "well, we can try a different AR medicine" and "she's fine" type things. Other than the crying she is in great health, she is gaining weight at a steady rate and shows signs that her mind is in good shape too.

Two questions.

1) Is there anything else we can try?

2) Is this normal? Is this colic even though she CAN be consoled with considerable effort?
posted by wolfkult to Health & Fitness (50 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD? Not the book, because who has the time to read right now? It really helped us when our boys were about that age. It's not just the one thing (swing, pacifier, etc) but all of them together.

Good luck. This is a really hard part. But it will pass.
posted by pyjammy at 1:05 PM on August 31, 2009

And also, I don't really remember the 2 month stage (I've blocked it out, mostly) but does she need to be sleeping that much during the day? I think she might just not need all that sleep during the day anymore. It sounds like she's getting plenty at night and at other parts of the day, maybe she just wants to be awake?
posted by pyjammy at 1:08 PM on August 31, 2009

This sounds utterly, completely normal to me, and her nighttime sleep sounds actually very good, even if she is being held.

Easier said than done, but: relax, this will pass, this is two-month-old normal.
posted by palliser at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2009 [4 favorites]

We had a colicky baby, and it sounds like you're describing colic to me. In the end it just sort of went away on its own. Rocking, walking, co-sleeping, gripewater, we tried the foll monty.

Grit teeth, breathe, and share as much as you can between the two of you. Our kids didn't start sleeping for longer windows until the 3-month mark, so it was always "it's only 90 days and counting".

Also, with another child, we saw some great success in reducing gas by switching to Dr. Brown's bottles.

Sorry you're dealing with this - colic sucks, but it's not permanent. I know that doesn't help much at 3AM.
posted by jquinby at 1:11 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, echoing pyjammy, it sounds like you spend all day trying to get her to sleep. Why? She should be awake for big chunks during the day now; take her for a walk in a carrier, let her lie on a blanket and look at the trees; give her a soft block and see if she can grab it in her hands.

Evening fussiness is absolutely normal, along with constantly wanting to nurse from 4-7 p.m., to the point of spitting up. Both my babies acted like yours during those hours.
posted by palliser at 1:15 PM on August 31, 2009

When my daughter was this age, every day seemed like an eternity. That's compounded by lack of sleep and dealing with the fact that your life has changed in every way possible in a short amount of time. And then there's the hormonal stuff that is still working on getting back to normal levels. There's no magic bullet and it is hard. Hang in there. It will get better, I promise.

One thing that comforted me in the early days was hearing that the first three months of an infant's life are basically like a fourth trimester. Her body is still adjusting to being outside the womb, so what you're going through now could change dramatically within a week to a month.

Another thing that comforted me: knowing that she wouldn't be a baby forever and that she will eventually be able to sleep through the night. Even if it's 10 years from now, it *will* happen. That thought got me through some rough nights.

But you know what? I find myself missing those days sometimes, now that C is almost seven. Maybe it's crazy, but I fondly remember her first smile and the way she felt in my arms along with the sleep-deprivation panic. Try to cherish the awesome moments when they happen. Good luck.
posted by lucyleaf at 1:16 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, her night time sleep actually sounds good, if she's just waking up the once. During the day you might try a change of scenery. Even just walking outdoors for a brief spell with her might help. As for how to cope, be sure that the two of you are spelling each other so that you both get breaks. In the beginning, my husband and I tended to try to deal with her together which meant that we were both on-call all the time. Just letting one of you at time cope with her allows the other to get a good restoartive break, which makes the coping much easier. It will get better!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:28 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

This sounds all within normal to me. The fact that she sleeps from about 7 or 8pm until 7 or 8am with only one night waking is actually quite good. Many parents would kill for that, even if she'll only fall asleep in your arms. Has anyone mentioned that 12 weeks is usually described as peak "fussiness" period, especially in afternoons and early evenings. Many moms I know called it the witching hour, with good reason.

Here are my suggestions:
- Depending on how you're feeding her, try alternating shifts nightly so that one person can get a full night's sleep. I went through two weeks of 3-5 nightly wakings, essentially not having time to get myself back to sleep, and I was a sobbing, bitter mess at the end of it. Mr. Cocoa suggested taking shifts and things have been much better since (and baby has changed his sleep patterns, too).

- Try some other kinds of carriers. My first loved the sling, my second wouldn't have it. I went with the Ultimate Baby Wrap for him and that worked, but it took some testing, and then he eased into our hand-me-down Ergo. Basically you're looking for the sweet spot of something you can continue to use your hands in and she is consoled in. Soon she'll be able settle into a back pack carrier (the Ergo can be used both ways), which should help a lot.

- Sleeping Through the Night, by Jodi Mindell, who's an associate director of the pediatric sleep disorders unit at Philadelphia Children's Hospital. Chances are, your baby's behaviors will be addressed in the book, and in a way that (IMO) takes into account realistic developmental abilities of the baby, not simply offering behavioral techniques. It was a huge help for us if only to give us something besides the baby to focus on as the issue. I know with lack of sleep you can quickly get to the point where the baby or the wife or the husband or the mother-in-law or whatever is the problem.

- Every once in a while, try something you've written off. Babies change a lot, and quickly, in the early days. The swing might not work all the time, but it might work one afternoon for three hours.

- And my huge caveat. At this age/stage, my experience and that of most of my friends is that things change about every two weeks, and by the time you start throwing solutions at the baby something changes but you have no idea what worked or why. It'll pass.
posted by cocoagirl at 1:29 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

This sounds like my life exactly 15 years ago! My son did not sleep, had severe reflux, and colic. Every thing you listed, we tried too (except the meds - would not prescribe for infants back then). The only things you did not mention that we occasionally had success with were:
1. Putting him in our bathroom with our noisy fan on (in his car seat to keep him elevated for the reflux issue). No other "white noise" things worked.
2. Driving him around in the middle of the night.

Around 6 months, the colic just stopped. At 15 months, the reflux just stopped. Around 18 months, he finally started sleeping. It was miserable but sometimes being patient is the only thing you can do. I was a zombie for such a long time. Mr. Max never wanted to have another child! We did, and she was completely different. Some kids are just more challenging, and as long as the doctor cannot find anything medically wrong, you just have to ride it out. I know, easier said than done, but it will pass (and you will find yourself dealing with a totally different challenge/phase)!
posted by maxg94 at 1:32 PM on August 31, 2009

I am sorry to post over and over, but I just noticed this sentence in your post: "We don't have any family near by and no friends and we're about to lose it."

My sister was colicky, and my parents had just moved cross-country and had no friends or family. My mom brought her to the pediatrician because she was crying inconsolably, all the time, and the doctor, after making sure it wasn't something else, said, "Well, I can prescribe a sedative." And my mom said, "Is that safe for a newborn?" and he answered, "Not for her; for you."

Haha, right? But the point is, there's not much to do for colic for the baby (you can try Happiest Baby on the Block, and it helped my babies, but a friend with a truly colicky baby said it's just comforting to cross the five items off the list and then know you've done your best, and when she's still crying, it's not your fault). But there's plenty to do for you (not sedatives). Is there a new-parents group where you live? A library with a program for babies? (Those programs are really for parents anyway.) Can someone come visit for a few days?

Things will get better soon, within the next six weeks, but in the meantime, you may need to think of things to comfort you.
posted by palliser at 1:34 PM on August 31, 2009

Just FYI, I was a total freak when my kid was that age, and I just looked up his sleeping charts (!!) that I still happen to have on my hard drive.

This was a typical day:

6:30am awake
7:30 - 8:15 short am nap
8:15 - 11:00 awake
11:00-1:30 long afternoon nap
1:30 - 4:30 awake
4:30 - 5:30 short evening nap
5:30 - 8:00 awake
8:00 - 2am sleep
2:00 am feeding, immediately back to sleep
6:30 awake

By no means was this a strict schedule. The intervals were generally like that, but morning wake-up ranged from 5:30 to 8:30 am. In either case, the morning nap occured about an hour later and lasted about 45 minutes. Also, this was right where he was switching between 2 and 1 wakeups each night for feedings.

If I am reading your question correctly, I agree with others that it seems like you're expecting a lot more daytime sleep from your baby than is normal. You should be seeing the emergence of a pretty consistent 3 naps per day pattern at this point.

Totally agree with palliser about the evening cluster nursing - normal, just go with it.
posted by peep at 1:39 PM on August 31, 2009

Echoing everyone else with, yes it's normal and

1) Is there anything else we can try?

Bourbon. For you, not the baby.

It passes. Be very gentle with each other and set very low expectations for pretty much everything. If you're wearing pants, you're golden.

Absolute best baby advice we got: Drink a lot of coffee. Try not to talk to anyone.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:51 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

Do you have a Yoga/exercise ball?
When our baby had trouble getting to sleep, we found that rocking on the yoga ball allowed us to get her to sleep, but also was not as tiring to us as pacing the house with her in our arms.

I've also found the rocking chair (one of the gliders with padded arms) is also very nice for this.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:57 PM on August 31, 2009

Another thing that was v helpful for us, but I'm not sure if your daughter is at the right age yet. Some kind of 2-3-4 guideline. We still use it at 20 months, sometimes, anyway. It goes like this

Wake up, then *2* hours later, a nap. *3* hours after baby wakes up from that nap, another nap. *4* hours after baby wakes up from that nap, bedtime.

It helped us to figure out when the next nap time "should" be.
posted by pyjammy at 2:02 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

I am just working through the responses and will answer answer any questions as I read down the page.

Thanks so much for the ones so far! Absolutely thankful for your responses.

I just wanted to quickly clarify that at night the baby only sleeps if being held. It's not only that we have to help her get to sleep -- we have to hold her and console her back to sleep every 20-40 minutes or so through the night. She is just a helluva lot less fussy about going back to sleep at night.

I think one or two people may have thought I meant we'd rock her to sleep then she'd sleep on her own, nope, we are rocking all night long. But it isn't THAAAT bad compared to the crying during the afternoon/evening. We take shifts at night (wife sleeps 8pm to 2am and me 2am to 8pm) -- we had an ask.mefi question about shifts just a few months back (feels like several years ago now!).
posted by wolfkult at 2:04 PM on August 31, 2009

You could try buying one of those baby wraps and, rather than putting her down for a nap, simply strap her to your or your husband's chest and go about your business. Babies tend to cry less when they're in contact with another person. Obviously this depends on what you need to be doing during that time, though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:17 PM on August 31, 2009

Also, have you considered sleeping in a bed with the baby? That way you could half wake up, rock the baby and fall back asleep. Don't think you'll roll over on him, we're designed not to do that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:19 PM on August 31, 2009

My three month old niece swears by her sleep sheep, maybe it's a heartbeat thing...
posted by iamabot at 2:21 PM on August 31, 2009

Whatever else you're doing, do this (to increase odds of success):

1. Get light-blocking curtains in your child's room;
2. Put your child to sleep at the same time every night;
3. Use the same routine every night, starting about an hour before.

Also, track your child's diet in a little diary every week, and separately track your child's sleeping habits over the same period. After a couple of weeks, look for a correlation; perhaps it's a food allergy.
posted by davejay at 2:24 PM on August 31, 2009

Oh, one more thing: take turns. Every other night, one of you is on-duty and one of you is off-duty. Having a good night's sleep every other night will help your frustration, and there's no need for both of you to be impacted every night.
posted by davejay at 2:25 PM on August 31, 2009

We too are no where near our family (3 hours or 15 hours away).

I assume that you have begun some level of a rigid night time regiment where your baby gets a bath, has some quiet playtime, you read a story, listen to music (lullabys - not Maralyn Manson) and give her a bottle. Yes, for most of those things a 2 month old isn't much of an active participant, but it helps establish a calming routine, not just for her but for you as well.

I assume you also have a rigid daytime regiment.

These are the things I said to my wife:
* I love you.
* You are not a bad mom.
* We are not bad parents.
* This will pass.
* No, this is not typical, but it isn't abnormal. It has happened to other parents, and they made it through.
* We are not scarring our child.
* Our son does not hate us.
* Our son does not hate you.
* Why don't you take the dogs out and get some fresh air?
* Why don't you take some time for yourself and go to the gym?

* Are you safe? (as in - are we at risk of you reaching witts end?

The last question required a very very frank and honest conversation. I went to work everyday and as a result had some way to detox and de-stress (heh - nothing like work where there are occasional layoffs and the pressure is mounting to be deemed relaxing). My wife was not so lucky. She was 24/7 babytime.

My wife and I both basically went through very short but very necessary counciling for support - effectively just because our son cried and there was nothing either we nor she could do. It happens. It passes. By 4 months you'll be supprised how many different sleep patterns you've been through.

Also - it might be too fresh, but don't forget the recent entertainment thread in the blue. Sometimes its nice to just laugh... don't feel guilty.
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:33 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

Totally normal and it will pass. I promise. But you do need to keep trying things. Eventually something will work. I know that's little comfort now, and no one can really tell you what that one thing will be, but I swear to you you'll find it. My son was pretty much like your daughter. We worked it out somehow and here we are, 12 years later, still alive!

Looking back at your post, you say she's down soundly at 8 pm and sleeps until 1 am? Dude! That's FIVE HOURS of sleep for a two-month-old! I know it doesn't seem like much but man, that's practically through-the-night. If you could sleep when she's sleeping - at least one of you - that will make all the difference in the world. Eventually she'll start stretching that time out and then you can play with her schedule so she's going down closer to 9 or 10 and it won't seem like you're going to bed at dinner time.

But really, this "sleeping through the night" thing is sometimes mythological, for some babies. It was for mine, both of them, and we learned to get sleep when we could, take it in shifts, and just take comfort in knowing that it WILL pass. It will. She's still getting used to the world outside the womb.

One more thing: as soon as you figure this out, something else will change. I guarantee it! Even now, with two kids (12 & 9), things sometimes change rapidly and we have to roll with it. At least now we're all getting good nights' sleep!

Hang in there!
posted by cooker girl at 2:43 PM on August 31, 2009

I have to heartily disagree with showbiz_liz. Many, many babies are accidentally killed each year by their parents doing exactly that - rolling over on them. PLEASE don't do this, you will never forgive yourself if the worst happens.

Not co-sleeping also doesn't have the effect of "training" your child to only sleep with her parents. One of the greatest gifts we were given prior to becoming parents was watching our friends struggle with their child with sleep problems - that were exacerbated and enabled by them.

Children cry! It's OK to let it happen sometimes. It really is.
posted by pkphy39 at 3:06 PM on August 31, 2009

pkphy39, I don't believe you're intending to troll, but come on.

2 months old - that is NINE WEEKS OLD. No "expert" recommends leaving a 9 week old baby to cry - not even Ferber.

And co-sleeping may well be safer than crib sleeping. It should tell parents something that one of the loudest voices against co-sleeping is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
posted by peep at 3:27 PM on August 31, 2009 [3 favorites]

I probably wasn't being clear enough, peep - you're right.

I'm not advocating just leaving the baby to cry all night (as that doesn't sound like a problem for this family anyway) - and I'm not intending to troll at all - but I know parents who get into a bad habit of taking the short term ease without a regard for the long-term pain. Just trying to advocate for the opposite.

Obviously there are differing opinions on co-sleeping, and this isn't really an appropriate place for that debate.

My initial reaction to the asker's question was: yup, sounds like a 2-month old. So there's that. I just felt the need to weigh in on the co-sleeping comment as well.

/threadjack over!

Enjoy your new baby! This too shall pass!
posted by pkphy39 at 3:55 PM on August 31, 2009

I just wanted to quickly clarify that at night the baby only sleeps if being held.

Okay. The dirty truth of millions of parents is that not everybody rolls up baby in a sleep sack in the center of an empty bed and walks away.

Babies sleep in car seats, in swings--ours slept in the u-shaped comforting arms of her boppy for nine straight months. We worried, yes, but she was asleep. It was summer when we had her, too hot to swaddle, and we found something that works.

Maybe your baby would like to sleep with you. Maybe you need to invest in a Bjorn. Or maybe you can just put her in a car seat and carry her room to room so she can watch you (you know, watch you with an accusatory look as you weep in front of the keyboard. Babies are all different people. If baby llama had wanted to sleep with us, had been unable to sleep without us being physically right there, we'd have slept with her. She was never into it.

Your baby is telling you what she wants. You're going to be forced to accept her for who she is for a long time. Might as well start now.

Welcome to one of the first great philosophical struggles of parenting, by the way--plenty of people think what I just wrote is utter crap and you should get baby to conform to your schedule. It's not going to ruin her if you opt for that solution, either, frankly.

Oh: also--pick a formula and stick to it. If you want to give her medicine, pick something and stick to it. I personally don't think that's the reason she's crying, but I'm wrong about a staggering number of things. But the bottom line is she has to get used to the whole wide world. For example, she may not have realized she has a back yet. Think on that one. So try to stay steady, calm, try solutions, if she hates it, move on quickly, and recognize that you're not crazy--the first three months that baby is on earth is very hard.

I'm personally stunned that people go back for more. And our baby was pretty easy.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:55 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]

Can you afford a babysitter for a few hours every few days? Find one who's been there, a trustworthy mom or grandma, and take a break together without the demanding babe. You'll be more relaxed and the baby will feel it.

One of my kids was colicky for the first few months and then turned into a very sweet-tempered baby, yours will too.
posted by mareli at 3:56 PM on August 31, 2009

Peep -

I know that there is a lot of controversy regarding co-sleeping and it's benefits, but there is evidence of risk. I'm no expert by any means, but I would refer people to this article (which the AAP agrees with), which I know Dr. Sears referred to in his response. I personally feel that my child looses nothing by sleeping in a crib (without soft bedding, on her back), and that the risk - not only of other rolling on her, but also of suffocation as a result of the amount of soft bedding that surrounds her and other potential risks - is too high.

As for sleeping, I would second the "Happiest Baby on the Block" DVD - his techniques, though simple, worked wonders for our little one. We've been recommending it to every expectant parent we know.
posted by deliquescent at 4:09 PM on August 31, 2009

Looking back, all I remember for the first three months of our daughter's life is constantly trying to comfort her, and not being very successful at it. It was horrible, and insane-making. I wrote about what finally helped in another AskMe here:

"My little girl did the same thing. This included all sleeping times. Long story short: after trying everything we could think of, three things helped. The first was that I was able to hold her most of the day, and a strap-on baby carrier made it possible to do other things as well. That's not exactly the remedy you're looking for, but it was what she insisted on from the beginning. Holding her gave her the comfort and security she wanted, and had no negative effects down the road. Several months later, she's incredibly independent and content. The holding stage didn't last long at all.

For naps and nighttime, we finally found something other than my husband's chest for her to sleep on: the Amby. O, sing praises to the Amby. It cuddled her body, kept her head raised, and bounced and swayed when she moved. After continually refusing the cradle, crib, car seat, and swing, she fell asleep immediately in the Amby.

The third thing had to do with the sleeping schedule itself. We thought she was getting the sleep she needed, but her demeanor completely changed when I did some research on infant sleep and put it into practice. There were no more nightly, hours-long meltdowns, and she stopped the continual fussing during the day. Granted, she still insisted on being held most of the time, but she became a quiet, focused, cheerful baby. I can't even begin to scratch the surface in this comment, but there are some basic guidelines:

- An infant's body generally tolerates a maximum of two hours of wakefulness. This means that a baby should be asleep before those two hours are up. That's incredibly general, and it's best to look for other signs of tiredness that a baby will give once he's better rested.

- Bedtime for a little one is a lot earlier than many people think. I [had to put] my daughter down around 5:30 until she was a little better regulated. Bedtimes should be around 7-8p at the latest.

- Nap times and bedtimes should occur at approximately the same time every day, and should have a leading routine.

The above looks like a complete tangent, but I was so shocked at how changing my daughter's sleep patterns improved just about everything, I cried in relief. For the record, I used a combination of methods from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and The No-Cry Sleep Solution."

We used the Amby during the day, as well. If the slight swaying didn't immediately soothe her back to sleep, we'd bounce it ourselves until she settled right down. She loved the thing.

Somebody up-thread mentioned the "witching hour." I've read that the witching hour is simply the result of an overtired child.
posted by moira at 4:18 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Slight edit: it's been a while since I read the sleep books, and I'm not sure at what age babies are able to be awake a little longer than the infant's 2-hours rule. You'll want to look into that.
posted by moira at 4:24 PM on August 31, 2009

My son had pretty severe colic for the 1st 3 - 4 months, and it tapered off. It was very difficult. Most people assumed we were just clueless new parents. Things that might help: tight swaddling, a warm hot water bottle wrapped in flannel, a running machine (dehumidifier?) making white noise, a swing, a ride in the car, music, sleeping with you. Some people use Benadryl; talk to your doctor.

You and your baby will get through it.
posted by theora55 at 4:48 PM on August 31, 2009

my shift has started so i only have one hand to type, and i have to rock, so i can only hit 2 or 3 keys per rock, so pl forgive grammar/punc/caps.

first, thank you all so much. feeling normal or even "it could be worse" makes a big difference. we have learned a great deal so far and appreciate your time/responses. thank you! askmefi is awesome

responses to a few posts.

we were originally opposed to co-sleep but would do anything tha works nowadays, she wont do it though, she has to be held in a way that she can be bounced/rocked vigorously every 30 minutes thru the night.

we dont really mind carrying her or that she has to sleep on us, its the screaming/crying even when she's being held, full tummy, dry diaper that is hard.

we own a bjorn (hates it more than sling), sleep sheep (heartbeat=no effect), 5 kinds of bottle (dont think its gas anymore, but have stuck w born free), happiest baby on the block (could have got all the info from amazon reviews).

we dont think she really wants to stay up during daytime fussiness because she is fussy/yawning. and by the same token we dont keep her up, we activel try to sleep her 1-2 hours after each time she wakes usually to no avail (usually using Karp's 5 s's although side laying and sucking sometimes unleashes hell's fury on us).

we don't let her, orwant to let her, cry it out at this point (or maybe ever). but there are times she cries in our arms for several minutes then magically stops for no apparent reason so i see the allure.

i agree that wife has it harder, i escape to my job 8 hours a day. this post is mainly for her sanity. she is indeed being treated for ppd but i won't go into it.
posted by wolfkult at 5:09 PM on August 31, 2009

Hang in there! You'll make it.
posted by jquinby at 6:11 PM on August 31, 2009

I am not a parent.

However, I've noticed with other people who have children, the second one is sometimes easier to handle. (not always) One reason is that when you have a toddler the "shuush, baby is sleeping" thing goes out the window. When you are tiptoeing around and make a noise, it might disturb the baby. I think the solution is not to avoid noise but to embrace the noise of normal living.
(perhaps the 2nd kids got used to their older siblings crashing around in the womb though.)

Hang in there!
posted by titanium_geek at 6:38 PM on August 31, 2009

What about a vibrating bouncy seat? The swing was the only thing that calmed my scream-y second baby, but that isn't working for you. The vibrating bouncy seat made my nephew stop screaming quite well. Maybe test out car seat on top of the dryer or something before you spend the money.

I used to sleep with the baby face down on my chest as I slept on my back. I would have let her sleep with a finger up my nose and a foot in my eye to get some sleep. I would check often to make sure her nose wasn't covered or smooshed up against me. Also, babies are no longer allowed to have Benadryl, apparently, but my pediatrician let my first baby have a 1/4 teaspoon before bed at 12 weeks old for a couple of days when I went back to work and she started staying up until 2 am. She was probably around 12 pounds. (I'm estimating. She was 13 lbs 3 oz at 4 months, so subtract a bit.) I am not recommending you do this without doctor's permission, but you could ask.
posted by artychoke at 7:37 PM on August 31, 2009

You know, the normalcy is in two senses -- that she's normal for a 2-month-old, and also that you are completely normal for thinking, "How can this possibly be normal??"

It'll be great, so soon. I do not miss the "fourth trimester," with either child; I'd personally rather be pregnant for a year and skip all the screaming.

Two final suggestions: One, have you tried swaddling, plus the swing, plus white noise, plus the pacifier -- all at once? And two, you can borrow my little lullaby, sung to the tune of "Rockabye and Good Night":* "Shut the fuck up, shut the fuck up, shut the fuck u-up, little baby; shut the fuck up, shu-ut up..." Anyway, you can fill in the rest.

posted by palliser at 8:32 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Please do NOT take your baby to a chiropractor. I'm going to quote Penn & Teller's Bullshit episode on chiropractors - they're baby-twisting mother-****ers.

A baby with a fussy sleep pattern sure can wreak havoc on a new mom who already has PPD. I empathize. And laughingly agree with Palliser's lullaby.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:52 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you have a car and does she have an infant seat? When my brother was a baby, for about a month the only thing that stop his crying and would put him to sleep was riding in the car. Mom would drive around the neighborhood and it would soothe him.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:13 PM on August 31, 2009

My wife and I were all alone here after our first. The nurses would not keep her in the nursery the first night because she would not quit screaming. For her first six to nine months, she was swaddled and in either a Bjorn or sling, or at night on the breast, or else she was crying, and did not sleep. We were not "anxious" parents. Family and friends thought we exaggerated until they saw it in real time, and then were dumbstruck and kept quiet.

Around 8-9 months, we started a modified Ferber sort of thing, just a seat-of-the-pants, "let her cry it out" amalgam of things. We figured we could be certain she wasn't wanting, and that we were more at risk of mental damage than she was. After a few nights, we woke up in the morning to the realization she had slept all night. We both remember the conversation in bed that am:

"Should we check on her?"
"Well, if she's dead we can't fix it now"

And then we went back to sleep.

She is nine now. Intense in her own ways as she was then, and she loves to hear stories of what she put us through.

You are going through a specific sort of hell that few people ever experience. Try not to hate your friends who imagine that rearing an infant is difficult because of an occasional nighttime feeding, or who can't help implying they have some gift that you lack because their child sleeps. About 1 in 20 newborns I see in my practice is like this. I have nothing useful beyond what you've read here, except to be kind to each other and be hopeful. Your child will be fine, but you and your spouse need to come through this whole.

When the time comes, assuming she isn't sleeping better on her own, I expect you'll get her to do so in your own way, using some combination of what sounds decent and reasonably humane, but you should start modifying your time frame a bit, perhaps.

Good luck.
posted by docpops at 9:30 PM on August 31, 2009 [3 favorites]

Also, we have always used high quality fans for white noise, and it seemed to help her once she slept better, to stay asleep at least.
posted by docpops at 9:31 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, your poor wife! I went through this last summer (PPD, eight hours a day of alone time, a c section, and four heat waves in a row). When Mr. Llama came home from work, it was all I could do not to throw the baby at him. She wasn't a non-stop crier, but she cried a lot, being a baby and all. I didn't really know what I was doing, either.

If your wife would like to vent to a perfect stranger on the internet who will not judge her when she wants to throw the baby out the window, tell her to feel free. I remember that time as being terribly, terribly isolating. Antidepressants helped. I recommend them highly.

And we really did do shots of bourbon after really bad moments, and felt like we were living in the Old West, like we'd stumbled into a saloon after a particularly bad day on the trail.

At any rate, work on cultivating a sick sense of humor, and realize this will pass eventually even though your sense of time probably now resembles something like particularly weird science fiction.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:58 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Actually, if your baby is two months old, the timing is identical. I went through this last year.

You'll be happy to know I now spend much of my time well-rested and fully functional: this is your future, and it's capable of not putting baby formula in the coffee maker (which I did. Also put orange juice in my coffee.)

Good times.

Also, now she's lots of fun, so you, too, will someday have a child that does something other than make you feel utterly incompetent. Or at least, that was me.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:01 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Research report from a month ago: Colic: UT Houston Research Identifies Organism That Could Trigger Constant Crying. [via] They're looking into using probiotic bacteria to discourage the Klebsiella bacteria that are associated with colic-type crying. I know that when my last baby was small, over a decade ago, you could buy a dairy-free lactobacillus powder for babies from Whole Foods. Ask your pediatrician what she or he thinks of the idea.

I remember when my older son was an infant. He wasn't exactly colicky because he cried for three hours every evening for no apparent reason, when the definition of colic was unexplained crying for more than three hours a day. It was still the hardest thing I've ever experienced. Much harder than getting a PhD. Keep reminding yourself that it will get better.
posted by Ery at 7:14 AM on September 1, 2009

I have a 2.5 month old who doesn't sleep well (during the day) at all either, so I feel your pain. A couple things I've noticed as we've gone along.

1. Definitely get the exercise ball to bounce on. Just like jiggling but much better on your legs. Mine often will scream until you get really bouncing on the ball and then he calms/sometimes sleeps.

2. Keep trying the bouncy seat/swings. Ours would only go in the bouncy seat at first (bounce at the beginning, then once asleep just let the vibrate keep him asleep, and still would only work for 20-30min). And just now he's started taking the swing and he'll sleep in that much longer often, but this is very new, he'd scream anytime before we put him in it.

3. Baby carriers. Try lots, join a mother's group to see if they have some you can borrow, but each baby is picky. Mine would only sleep in those during the day for a while.

4. For the night, try a cosleeper thingy that attaches to your bed, my baby often does the grunting thing and often just a hand and shushing will get him calm if you get him fast enough.

5. Just a check, but the grunting at night does it always led to waking up? And are you swaddling? Mine grunts and thrashes all night, basically every couple min. Sometimes he'd even be screaming, but we realized that he wasn't waking up doing that. We kept waking him up thinking he was awake, but he wasn't. Finally we moved him out of the room into his crib and then turned down the monitor to miss most of the grunts, but hear him when he really starts crying. Plus our monitor has a video, which allows us to see if he's really awake or not when he starts noise making (we often just give it a couple minutes to see what he's doing). This may not be your baby, but it is a common baby thing (or so I was told).

6. Join a mother's group. Trust me. Get out, they'll understand your screaming baby and you'll get some grownup time.

7. When you are going to lose it (trust me I've been there lots of time), it's ok to put the baby in a crib and walk away for a bit. Take a shower (it will block the crying). Your baby will survive and will be better for it than if you lose it. I was explicitly told to do this my doctors, it really is ok. Don't ignore the cries a lot, but it is OK to do it occassionally.

8. Schedules may help. We feed him at night, give him a bath, let him wiggle till he gets upset, swaddle and the rock him to sleep. In the morning, I've set up a time where we let him wiggle/play with him for as long as he wants after his 10am feeding. Then we try a nap. In the afternoon after the 3-4pm feeding, he gets in the stroller and we walk the dog, that's he's second nap. Often that's all he'll do.

9. Stop trying to get her to sleep during the day, yes she's yawning, etc, but mine does that when coming out of the nap. Just go about your day, bouncing/talking/playing, and if she sleeps, she sleeps, if not, then not. I find the stress of "But my baby must take a nap" gets me really stressed and upset and then the baby gets worse not more sleepy, but when I just bounce and type (which I"m doing over him right now), I look down and often he's asleep.

Finally: 10. It's normal, it sucks, but it's normal. Not all babies sleep well or as much as the books say. At his 2 month check up, the Dr said, should be sleeping on average 18 hours a day, I was lucky if I got 9 hours a day, and most of that was night time.
posted by katers890 at 7:32 AM on September 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to give support, more than assvice here. My first daughter was somewhat similar; did well during the day, unlike yours, but this feeling of dread would overwhelm me as evening approached. I work in child protective services, and came out of that experience being absolutely astonished that more people don't kill their babies. Seriously. (side note: my little sister didn't sleep through the night for three flippin years. My fabulous parents traded off, did everything they could, and my mom still says that there were days that if my dad hadn't come home to take the baby, she would have thrown her against the wall). One thing my folks finally did was trade off nights, rather than trade shifts in the night-mom says it was amazing how they were able to sleep through anything on their night off, and wake when needed on their night on. Shifts are great, but maybe if you could each sleep somewhere else in the house and get a full eight hours every other night you'd feel more able to face the day.

I do know now that one thing I did wrong back then was this almost frantic trying of new things, switching from one to another in this desperate attempt to find the thing that worked. I don't think I gave individual techniques long enough to work-bounce on my lap. She's still screaming? Rock in the chair! Screaming! Walk around the house! Screaming! We did better when I would just sit for a moment, focus on doing some deep belly breathing myself, and try to be a little less frantic feeling.

Second baby was a naturally more mellow kid, so there is hope if you feel like you ever want to do this again (and you definitely want to have the higher maintenance baby first; imagine how fun this would be if you had a toddler, too!). And my first born is, at 12, a dramatic, emotional person still. It really isn't at all about's just her personality. On the bright side, once we hit 3 months it got magically better-and she was a fabulous sleeper as a toddler.
posted by purenitrous at 8:43 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some additional advice: I am not by any stretch of the imagination suggesting that you use his methods but having read Richard Ferber's book, I have to suggest that you read that or something similar as an introduction on the science of sleep. The first part of the book is just an explanation of how babies sleep, the stages they go through developmentally, and how that affects their natural sleep patterns and I found it enormously helpful. I'm sure there are plenty of other books that cover this but it's the only one I know of personally and I thought it was very understandable and really helpful. For me, just understanding how sleep works really put my mind at ease in those early months.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:18 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I heartily agree with otherworldlyglow. Ferber is not at all limited to the method with which he is synonymous; you can find his method (which is completely different from the popular conception of his method) heartless and wrong and still find his book full of insight and wisdom. Understanding the sleep drive vs. sleep deficit distinction, for instance, was enough to power me through some rough afternoons of a 5-minute car sleep followed by a refusal to nap thereafter.
posted by palliser at 11:29 AM on September 1, 2009

Oh: here's something I can't recommend highly enough. Don't be ashamed to buy the kid off with the occasional television or YouTube viewing. Miss Llama loved Dancing Matt.

And: there's a song from The Backyardigans (the most awesomest cartoon ever) called "Rockabilly Lullaby"--it knocks out Baby Llama. And it makes her parents all gooey and misty-eyed.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:33 AM on September 1, 2009

I have a 9 week old (and a noisy toddler too!), so just wanted to offer my sympathy, and I definitely echo many of the points above.

The 4th trimester analogy is really good: the baby needs a further 12 weeks of maturing before it hits him how to behave in this new world.

And sorry to go a bit pseudoscience, but do you have access to anyone who can do Cranial Osteopathy on your baby? I took both my boys to a session at about 6 weeks, and it helped loads. Both babies were calmer instantly, and much more settled. I don't think my new baby is as unsettled as your little one, but it's all I can offer in help that's extra to the above.

I know your baby didn't go through birth trauma since you had c-section, but the osteopathy doesn't only work on birth trauma babies. It's about how your baby was positioned in the womb, mother's drugs during birth, duration of labour, family illnesses etc. And good luck. In 4 weeks, you will have a different baby anyway, I promise!
posted by dimon at 1:02 PM on September 1, 2009

I've got to second the recommendation of trying the car. It's got it all -- gentle bouncing, in-arms feeling, white noise. What it does for my baby (now 4 mos) is help him sleep past that early wakeup (35-40 minutes, in his case) and get a long sleep cycle in. This makes him better rested and trains him to sleep longer at a clip. We had to take off a few days so that the rested spouse could drive and the tired spouse sat in back with baby, keeping the pacifier in till he fell asleep. The first time we did this, he slept for four hours. Some babies can drive around town in circles, but ours will wake up at redlights, so we do only highway driving.

The drawback to this method is that you may then have to wean baby from the car, which is done by putting her in the carseat at home and setting it up with white noise and vibration, and eventually tapering off those things. We didn't have to, though -- once our kid got a few good long car naps in, he was less cranky and able to handle the slings.
posted by xo at 8:30 PM on September 1, 2009

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