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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The four month sleep regression is hell in a Gro-bag

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So Friday had me in tears of stress, tiredness & frustration.

I’ve been trying to nap train baby for a week now, taking ideas from my sister-in-law A and biological sister N. The first nap of the day is about an hour after baby has woken up, so when we come downstairs I pop her almost straight in the sling whilst I make lunches for my partner and I. He has awful IBS and his stomach reacts badly to fat, and I’m still trying to lose the rest of my baby weight, so it’s very healthy: wholegrain rice salad with cottage cheese, and low fat yoghurt with strawberries, blueberries & honey. He also has Herbalife shakes so if I remember I make one of those up for him too (they’re great, by the way – for losing weight or just to have in the cupboard as a good snack, with soy milk). I also do the washing up from the night before, because that’s how we roll! Anyways I pop on a white noise app on my phone, playing through a little bluetooth speaker I got (Divoom Bluetooth Bean – tiny, very portable, great sound, cheap!) and bounce around the kitchen making shushing noises until she drops off for a while.

Then around 1 hour 1/2 to two hours later I start the next nap – into the car seat on the travel system chassis (age hates the pram), with a blanket, muslin, favourite dragon toy & white noise on the speaker again, and I sing my favourite song to her, ‘The Temptation Of Adam’ by Josh Ritter, and push over the rugs in the dining room which provide a soporific bump. The record is ten minutes to go to sleep, she’s definitely getting trained to the white noise!

However on Friday, baby wouldn’t nap. Possibly she was picking up on bad vibes because I was upset with my partner having argued about me not doing enough in our relationship, and around the house, and I’d text him but he was ignoring me & I was getting more & more upset. And baby got more & more upset, as she got progressively more shattered.

I tried every one of our usual techniques twice: pushing in the buggy, breastfeeding on a cushion, bouncing in my arms, breastfeeding & cuddling on the bed, but she kept arching her back, crying, looking at me as if to say, ‘make it better mummy!’ I guessed her reflux must have been bad too, and breastfeeding to sleep can be problematic when you’ve filled them up but they’re still not sleepy, as it just come back up, overflowing, and upsets them.

After three hours of this, I called my partner in tears & asked him to come home & help. He works ten minutes’ walk up the road so fortunately he came back, to find I’d temporarily distracted baby with a YouTube animation of black & white butterflies, but as soon as he took her, the screaming started again. However his presence must have had a calming effect on one or other of us, as after ten minutes I got her to have a boob suck & a snooze, thank god. I thought it wouldn’t get that bad again.

My partner and I talked it through, and worked out our differences. And last night was supposed to be a nice adult night – he was going to make a pizza from scratch (he’s an excellent cook) and I’d help. However baby had different ideas, of course!

I usually feed baby to sleep on a pillow, sat on the bed, with her moses basket beside me, and when she’s fast asleep I transfer her to her bed. I usually feed one side then the other, partially to fill her up and partially as one nipple is more pronounced and she has a habit of keeping it in her mouth, sucked in, and I can’t remove it without waking her, whereas the other is still flat & needs work to keep it pulled out, so when she’s falling asleep it’s easier to remove. Last night she was dropping off when I switched sides but as soon as I offered her the other nipple she seemed to wake up – very unusual. She was looking up at me with her huge blue eyes & chatting at me, being totally adorable, which was very endearing for a while. However, she wouldn’t drift off, she kept looking at me & wouldn’t go back to feeding, and eventually started getting cranky & being sick, which must have hurt her throat, so I had to hold her upright & walk her around, rocking & patting, but still no sleep. She was totally fighting it, she had her dazed stare on when she was quiet & was screaming the house down the rest of the time.

After 1 hour 1/2 of failure my partner brought me up homemade cheesey garlic bread, which helped morales. After 2 & 1/2 hours, 2 poos, and reflux on 3 onesies & two Gro-bags I admitted defeat, my partner made the pizza (it was amazing), and I managed to placate baby into having a soothing, sleep-inducing boob in front of the TV, (white noise still on) whilst I had a well-deserved glass of red. Then when she was finally asleep I transfered her upstairs to her own bed (she didn’t even wake up) and crashed out myself. Happy bank holiday!!

No Buggy Fit today – Wonder Weeks leap 4 & reflux

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Baby has never been that keen on the pram attachment for the travel system – I think mainly because she’s a nosy & slightly clingy baby & likes to see her surroundings and us, but recently I think her reflux has played a part too. Today, and last Thursday, there’s been enough rain to mean taking her out, as usual, in the car seat bit hasn’t been an option (it has a sun shield but there’s no way of protecting it from the wet). Each time when I’ve put her in it, she’s screamed blue murder pretty much immediately! Poor little thing.

I’ve been following the Wonder Weeks app – from the bestselling book by Dutch child psychologist Frans X. Plooij. The idea is that, in addition to the growth spurts your baby’s body goes through, her mind also has growth spurts, which he calls ‘leaps’. These result in a more clingy, crying & cranky baby as she adapts to her new understanding of the world. So far his timings have been spot on for us. It’s very interesting stuff.

It’s not even bloody raining right now… But she’s having a comfort feed & snooze to recover from a tough morning of puking & crying. It’s not easy being a baby!

The best classical music album for soothing babies

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This album is my absolute favourite for soothing baby to sleep – she seems to particularly like piano music and the Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi is perfect baby calming music. If you haven’t heard of him already, you may find you recognise some tracks – ‘Divenire’ was used in the Proctor & Gamble ads for the 2014 Olympics, and they used ‘Primavera’ for an ad for this year’s winter Olympics too. The BBC has used Einaudi music across programmes too, particularly Top Gear according to Wikipedia, how odd!

Anyway, it’s contemporary classical music, very lyrical, not stuffy, just beautiful & very easily accessible. I think this album is a kind of best of. We love it – listen to his stuff on YouTube first but we highly recommend it!