Elusive Sleep

Sleep has been elusive since the second trimester of pregnancy.  Roo turns 6 months old on December 21 and her adjusted age will be about 4.5 months.  The “books” say that babies can be “sleep trained” when they reach 4 months old.  I’ve been reading some of the preemie boards and many preemie parents don’t sleep train until their babies adjusted age is 6-9 months old.  So, I’m not sure what is correct.  I’ll ask her pediatrician at her next appointment.

The thing is that she still wakes up to eat throughout the night.  I don’t believe that she’s ready for any kind of sleep training.  Right now her “schedule” (on a good day), if you want to call it that is as follows starting with when she falls asleep in my arms:

7:30/8pm – goes to sleep in my arms
8:30/8:45pm – I put her in the nap nanny next to our bed
Sometime between 1-3am – wakes up to nurse
6:45/7am – wakes to nurse
7:30-8am – plays for a little while
8:30/9a, – nurses and naps for 30 minutes to 1 hour
11am/12pm – nurses and naps for 30 minutes
1:30/2pm – nurses and naps between 1-3 hours (3 hours if I nap with her)
If she naps for 3 hours, she’s awake until she goes to sleep for the night; if she naps for less, she may take another cat nap before bedtime

That’s a good night schedule.  The bad nights are when she gets up every 2.5-3 hours to nurse, like when she was first home from the hospital.  That happens around once a week (though last week, she did that several nights in a row).

Here’s what is killing me: she only will nap in my arms.  If I put her in her nap nappy or her bassinet or even on the floor on a blanket, she will sleep for 5-10 minutes and then wake up.  If she sleeps in my arms especially if I take a nap with her, she sleeps for significantly longer.  It drives me crazy but I want her to get sleep.  I’m an enabler.  I know it.  But, it started when she was tiny and having major reflux problems.  Now, I can’t stop.

At night, she sleeps in her nap nanny (and sometimes we do full on co-sleeping in our bed, usually after the 3am feeding – I hold her upright for 30 minutes after each nursing session so she doesn’t wake up from reflux – it helps).  The reflux is getting better and she is able to handle it at night much better without getting as distressed as she used to become.

I’m ready to sleep train her so she sleeps in her own room all night but I’m worried.  I’m worried that it’s too early and I’m worried about her spitting up/reflux.  When we put her in her crib, I want her on her back to sleep.  I don’t know if she’s ready and I don’t want to traumatize her.  I bought the book the No Cry Sleep Solution.  It should arrive any day now and I can’t wait to read it.  I’ll read some more preemie boards to see what other parents did and I’ll see what her pediatrician says.

Any advice from other preemie parents who’ve BTDT is greatly appreciated!  Any advice on getting Roo to sleep for longer than 10 minutes on her own for a nap is also greatly appreciated!!  When/if you comment, please remember her adjusted age is just 4 months old…!

8 thoughts on “Elusive Sleep

  1. Dont have advise for a preemie but I know that at 4 months there is a natural sleep regression. C is going through it now. She is up every 2-3 hours when she used to only get up once a night! Hang in there and do what feels right. There is no one answer!!!

  2. I just want you to know that if my baby sleeps for 3 hours without nursing…THAT is a good night! Getting up twice to feed baby? Sounds like heaven to me and my baby is 4.5 months old!!! Good luck with sleep training, I’ve been thinking about it too!

  3. We did a schedule of eat, play, sleep and that worked well for an easy transition of them dropping their overnight feed. I want to say they were STTN by around 7 months actual / 3.5 months adjusted. But I do know that babies who are BF are much less likely of dropping the overnight feed that bottle fed babies. Are you supplementing at all? One option would be to do one bottle a day before her bed time. You’re also approaching the age of starting solids. You could add a spoon / solid feed prior to her last feed and it may encourage STTN. Or you could add some rice cereal to a bottle to encourage STTN.

    I know your struggle is the napping. Are you napping her upstairs away from everything else? We got our good nap stretches when we started napping them in their nursery. I know you didn’t mean to, but you created a habit. One that is very hard to break – all my friends who cuddle / rocked their babies to sleep struggled to break that habit and some still do it at 12-18 months old! It may be time for a little CIO so she can learn to self-soothe. We do modified CIO as necessary where we go in every 10 minutes or so to give a binky, rub their back / belly, and then walk away.

    Our schedule around her age was:
    7:30am – wake, bottle, play
    cat nap (30 mins-hour)
    10:30am – bottle
    1:30pm – bottle, upstairs to nap
    nap for 1-2 hours
    4:30pm – bottle
    6:30pm – spoon feed in highchair
    7:30pm – bottle, bed

    We recently added a second spoon feed for lunch so our current schedule is:
    7:30am – wake, bottle, play
    cat nap (30 mins-hour)
    10:30am – bottle
    1:00pm – spoon feed in highchair
    1:30pm – bottle, upstairs to nap
    nap for 1-2 hours
    4:30pm – bottle
    6:30pm – spoon feed in highchair
    7:30pm – bottle, bed

  4. I think if she sleeps 8-1 that 5 hours is what is defined as sleeping through the night. I know… that isn’t your sleeping through the night. But 5 hours at her age really is doing well.
    About the napping in your arms thing…. put her down once she fades to near sleep, swaddled and on a warm spot. Then let her try to go to sleep on her own for 10 minutes with just your hand on her legs/lower belly so she doesn’t flay around with her legs, then gently move towards less you involvement. I think it is possible she moves both legs wakening herself…….. MAYBE. GOOD LUCK!

  5. I’ve been a long time reader but don’t think I have ever commented. I’m probably not much help….my daughter co-slept in the nap nanny and then co-slept and for a VERY VERY long time she was rocked to sleep by me or my husband. I knew it was a bad habit but she spent time in the NICU and I didn’t hold until a few weeks after her birth so when I finally could hold her I never wanted to let her go! However, we also had the nap issue. I finally was able to get her to sleep in the nap nanny for naps without me holding her….I would lay with her and have my hand on her lower belly or legs and once she was in deep deep sleep I would be able to QUIETLY and GENTLY move out of the bed/room. It was tough and I know it isn’t quiet the answer you are looking for as you are looking to get her to her own room. But maybe it could be a start.

  6. I hope you are able to get some sleep soon…it has made such a difference for me!
    A couple thoughts…our babies wouldn’t nap at all unless held until we did the sleep training, and they adjusted to the crib rapidly (they had been sleeping in the crib at night, though). We did sleep training at 7 months adjusted age, but I feel like we probably could have successfully done it sooner.
    Also, I have heard there are sleep consultants you can pay that will do a tailor-made plan for you and support you while you are doing the training. We had a very easy time of it, but I had been thinking how much more confident an expert involved would have made me feel.
    Good luck and keep us posted!

  7. I’m not planning on any sleep training at this point, more letting Molly fall into her sleep routine. I’ve been lucky with her sleep habits though.
    Here’s my one piece of advice: make sure you’re ready for it too, not just her. It’ll require consistency and patience on your part! I enjoyed no cry sleep solution and when the time comes will use its techniques.
    Good luck hon!

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