Hadouken! Is your baby a Sleep Fighter?

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So for the past couple of weeks now, our lovely little girl has become a rage monster at nap times and bedtime, and it doesn’t seem to be getting much better. It started initially around 6 weeks ago now I think, when she decided she wasn’t going to be breastfed to sleep any more, and after dozing for half an hour or so would wake up, raring to go. So then we moved onto bouncing her on a gym ball to get her to sleep; this worked for a week or two, then she started complaining about that. So inspired by a relative, we tried breastfeeding whilst bouncing on the gym ball – that worked for around a week but yesterday she started resisting that too.

Nap times are another matter. For a good few weeks we’ve been successfully rocking her to sleep in her buggy, and she’d been happily going for it; to begin with I’d rock all the way through the nap, then after a while I could leave her and she’d nap for 2-2.5 hours (longer than she goes on her own at night!). For both types of sleep we always have white noise on. In the last week, she’s begun shouting at attempts to put her down to sleep in the buggy too, and even my ‘guaranteed sleep inducer’ – swimming then a car journey – has been impacted as she screamed on the way back from the last two swims.

Okay so I know she’s probably still in the 4-5 month sleep regression (she’s 5 months and 2 weeks), and today I remembered to check the Wonder Weeks app to find she’s got another 2 weeks of leap 5 – relationships. So now I’m wondering – not for the first time – if the reason behind her sleep resistance is that she’s worried I’m not going to be there when she wakes up?

The first two naps today were only 30 minutes as she seemed to wake spontaneously from them, but still be tired. I wasn’t rocking her then. I had to get out for a walk (and some chocolate) as I was feeling a bit crazed, and over the course of an hour & half walk she had three mini meltdowns and nearly went to sleep after each one – she kept turning her head to the side, as she always does to sleep, and her eyelids would flutter but then snap open again.

We got home in the midst of the third meltdown, had a break & a play, then I had to work through a fourth to allow her to finally drop off. After 20 minutes (sleep cycle length for babies) she started stirring, and I’ve been rocking her back & forth in her buggy since then, about an hour, as she continues to stir & sometimes even cry in her sleep. I’m actually getting calluses on my hands from the buggy handle, and I’ve had aching shoulders & legs from bouncing her on the gym ball for a few days now (who needs the gym…?).

My partner & I don’t quite see eye-to-eye on my techniques of getting her to sleep, unfortunately. He says relax, have a quiet play, sleep will follow and she shouldn’t cry. He has a point, however now she hates being drowsy even when she’s relaxed it means we miss that sleep window of opportunity when she’s easier, she gets overtired & then it’s all even harder. So part of me thinks go in hard with the sleep-inducing techniques first – loud white noise & fairly vigorous rocking – before she gets overtired. My partner however says, “you can’t shake our child to sleep!” Of course that is true, but also he’s not the one at home trying to get a baby to nap for 2 hours, only to have the nap last for 30 minutes because she’s overtired. Unluckily for me, he’s managed to get her to sleep with no fighting a few times so thinks it’s possible every time – I’m fairly sure it’s not, and that he got lucky & hit the sleep window & now thinks he’s an expert!! Ah, the joys of parenting…

I think she’s currently in one of the deep sleep cycles – she’s gone very still – so with any luck I can get up & go to the loo. It now makes my heart sink to leave her asleep for a minute or two and come back to this little face with her big blue eyes open, looking at me, a bit dazed from waking up – which is dreadful!

In three weeks she’ll be 6 months, and out of leap 5 – so I pray that then I’ll be able to get her off to sleep and move away from her for more than a couple of minutes. I am fantasising now about cleaning the bathroom, watering the plants & cleaning the cat litter tray…!

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