Question: Hi Heidi, Thanks for your reply I thought it would be best if I gave you some more info! At the moment I am going to stick with lily sleeping in the bed with me as she seems much happier there!
I have given Lily a bedtime routine since she was about six weeks old as follows:
5.30pm go upstairs and run bath, close curtains and get lily undressed. 5.45pm bath 6-6.15pm change and bottle then cot.
From this time up until about 3 months lily would fall asleep on her bottle (I know the opinion is to wake baby and put in cot awake but It didnt seem right to wake her up!) She would wake about 11pm and then 3am for a feed would then sleep until about 6am.
From 3 months things started to change. Lily started waking more in the night and needed cuddling to get back to sleep (I know this didnt help with her self soothing back to sleep but she would really cry if not). Although also at this stage she was awake at times after her bottle and I would put her in the cot with the mobile on and she would be asleep by the time I had tidied up the bath things.
At 5 months things got progressively worse with lilys sleeping in the cot waking every half hour in the night and I was so exhausted she came in the bed with me. She was sleeping for longer periods but this didnt last long and I took her to a cranial osteopath who suggested controlled crying by adding 2 mins on each time in her cot. She never cried for more than 11 mins over the three nights and then was only waking once in the night, at this time she had a bottle and was awake afterwards putting herself back to sleep in the cot.
This continued untill about the beginning of January when she did something unbelievable!!.. slept through the night from about 6.30-5.30..amazing! This is when I dropped the night feeds. This lasted three weeks untill my friend and her children came to stay for the weekend and the pattern of when she was 3 months started emerging again. At the end of January I was going into her room about 13 times a night, my back was killing me so I decided the only option was to bring her into my bed again. She started sleeping better but then she started really fussing at bedtime this began about march and would not go to sleep, at this point I thought that the bedtime bath may be waking her up so I changed this to the morning which to be honest made no difference. So I moved the bedtime slightly later to 7pm and she has been going to bed much better although now instead of starting off in the cot I put her into the bed. I would like to add that if she is awake after her bottle we have a cuddle and she goes to sleep and then I put her on the bed.
Where we are now.
10.15 sleep (on bed for approx 2 hrs)
2.30pm juice and snack
6.30pm ready for bed & milk
7pm sleep (bed)
last night woke about every hour cries and when she knows I am there settles back to sleep. I started giving her milk again in the night a week ago as this seemed to help her sleep longer but seems to have lost affect. I have read so much info and tried everything, light night, no night light, warmer room, cooler room, lavender, bedtime story,all sorts. Her sleep just seems really disturbed, I even took her to have a food intolerance test which didn't make any difference. The GP told me to do controlled crying which I tried about 3 weeks ago and she cried for 2 hours (i went in every 5 mins) it made me feel depressed the next day and I couldnt stand it (even though part of me feels guilty for not doing it as the GP said she needs training to sleep??!) so we didnt do anymore.
Lily is in my bed now (HATES her cot) and has very disturbed sleep which obviously isnt good for her but not sure what to do without a great deal of crying!
Thanks for your help
Heidi's Answer: Hi Emma,
Thank you for giving the extra info, it is definitely helpful.
It's clear that you have tried many things, which is a good thing, but I understand that after reading many different sources and experimenting with success sometimes, sometimes not, you've both become confused and weary of more tries.
To me, Lily's sleep issues seem a combination of her sleep patterns (physical), habit (psychological) and separation anxiety.
Therefore, let's set up a strict basic plan to start from. Knowing that she will not sleep like an angel within a few days (there is no magic) but that you can set a firm base for her to develop a decent sleep pattern again. Some of these things you're already doing, some not, or not strictly, but the best start right now is really to go 'back to the basics' and be consistent.
So, here's the plan I would like to suggest right now: phase I first, for a week or two. Then move on to phase II, and then, if necessary, to phase III.
Phase I - Back to the basics -------
1. You've decided to co-sleep for now, so stick to that consistently (do not even 'allow' her near her crib ... ;)). Do remain alert that it is always safe of course, also now that she is surely becoming more mobile and may be able to crawl off the bed or so.
2. No more feeding at night, that is between the last and the first feeding. She's at a good age now to be without feeding at night and it is not a habit you want to set. If you feel she may be needing a bit more food, you can fit in extra during the day though, for instance some extra milk at tea time.
3. Having the bath in the morning is a good idea, so keep that there. At nap and night bedtime: make sure you have some simple, recognisable 'activities' in your bedtime routine. So, next to the changing, also things like 'say good night to some favourite toys', close the curtains together, switch on the nightlight and sing a lullaby. Always do the same, over and over again.
4. During the night, make things as dull as possible, and definitely keep lights dim.
5. Then, most of all, work on the schedule. Simple changes to the sleep schedule are often enough to alter sleep patterns sufficiently.
I'm surprised to see she has only one nap. Regular and sufficient naps have a great influence on night time sleep. I suggest you add a nap after the early afternoon 'juice and snack'. Never mind if the naps are just an hour, it's the regularity that will help.
Phase II - Alter bedtime --------
If you've done the above for one or two weeks without much improvement: shift her night time bedtime to half an hour earlier. Ten minutes each day for three days and then keep it there for at least a week and see what happens.
Phase III - Scheduled awakenings ---------
If things haven't gotten better, we can experiment with 'scheduled awakenings' where you will wake her before she wakes up at nights. But it is something to be careful with so let's detail that if we get that far.