Help needed - bedtimes

We have always had a good bedtime routine, whereby we bath/wash, dress, feed (all while light show is playing), then put our LO into the cot awake. More recently it's been a struggle to keep him awake and I think he's got used to being fed to sleep. I was reading that you should finish the feed 10-15 before bed, rather than just before, as I've always done and I was wondering what others have done.

When my LO goes to sleep, I struggle to keep him awake and would love to know what techniques you use. My fear is that we bring forward the feed but he still goes to sleep anyway! He used to be great at self setting but is not now, I'm desperate and welcome any thoughts, thanks xx

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  • Hi
    I give DD (8 months) bottle then within a couple of minutes put her down to bed - awake.
    I had to bring forward her bedtime as she was sooooo shattered and struggling to stay awake. It's only 15 mins earlier than it used to be but she settles to sleep lovely now and I think it's because she's not over-tired, or using me/bottle to fall asleep on!!
    Could you maybe try bringing forward bedtime, just try 10 mins the first couple of nights.
    Oh & it makes no difference to what time she wakes in s morning, if anything she goes a bit longer! x
  • Could you stop the feed half way through and read a story? That's what we do with LO as she's desperate for her milk so can't read to her before, but it gives the milk time to go down before she has the second half.

    Just a thought x
  • MrsAmanda - you are absolutely right, he often does need an extra nap but if I can't get him to drop off before 5.30pm, then I give up as we start his bedtime routine around 6.45pm.

    Thing is because he is so tired, I think he'd do the same if I took him an hour earlier because he is needing that nap.

    We have never done stories at bedtime, he's always so ravenous after getting ready for bed. Maybe that's worth a try and I do like the idea of teeth brushed before bed, as he has just got 2 so that would be a good routine to get into.

    We are really struggling with naps and getting him to self settle, despite him being really good with this previously. For naps, we put him in his cot, dark room and I give him a dummy and comforter. I started this so he could distinguish between day/night sleeps but I think this has back-fired, as he now looks for them when he wakes at 4am and can't self settle. Any ideas on what to do in this situation?

    I really am feeling low today after a crap night and do appreciate any advice you can offer. Thanks again xx
  • If he is struggling to go down for an afternoon nap, can you just put him in his cot in a darkened room for half an hour? Peter will quite happily crawl around and chat to his stuffed animals and always seems much perkier afterward, even if he hasn't actually slept. If he gets distressed, I sit in the room with him, although usually it just means he's thrown his sheep out of the bed and he'll settle back to chatting once it is returned.

    As for our bedtime routine, we have always had a story which is very helpful for keeping him awake. So we have bath, milk, teeth, story, bed. He can then chat for up to 45 minutes before he actually goes to sleep, but he hasn't been distressed at bedtime since about 7 months.

    Self-settling is a real skill and can take some time to establish, so don't be too hard on yourself. Could you leave the comforter in the cot for him to find at 4am, or that you at least can just hand quickly and quietly to him to get him back to sleep?

    Good luck, and I hope you have a chance to catch up on sleep yourself today!
  • I do leave him in his cot when I know he needs a nap, he generally just whines and I go in several times to replace the dummy. When I know it's too late, I'll go in all happy as if he's had a sleep and he does come out a bit perkier. But is still so tired when bedtime comes around.

    TheHistoryGirl - that's the most annoying thing, he has always been great at self settling during the night, we've had it cracked for months. He's always woken once (sometimes twice) for a feed and he has always gone back down great, settling himself off to sleep within 5 minutes or so.

    I can't help thinking it's my own fault for introducing the dummy/comforter. I have started giving the comforter at first stirrings during the night, which initially worked but now he's looking for more! I realise I have been somewhat fortunate but am desperate to get back to good ways xx
  • Hi Lawso,

    Just wanted to let you know that you're not alone. My LO is 5.5 months and for months has been so good at self-settling for both naps and bedtime until about a weeks or so ago. I've changed nothing yet I get a screaming match every time I put him down for naps. I thought maybe he wasn;t tired enough so have extended his awake time a little to see if that helps. To be honest it's a bit hit and miss, sometimes I get screaming, other times he goes off. When he screams I calm him down by walking him round the room in the semi dark with him rested upon my shoulder and lull him to almost asleep by singing to him. Once he's calm, I place him in cot. Sometimes he cries as soon as he hits the cot, so I pick him up and do the same routine, walk around with him singing until he does fall asleep. I don;t give up no matter how distressing it is to hear him cry. He's got better with time. I think it's because he's at an age where he's so much more into everything and doesn;t want to sleep regardless of how tired he is! Fortunately it hasn't affected his bedtime routine as he goes down awake and can self-settle but during the day he just wants to play.

    I find the walking round and lulling him into a drowsy state works. I can't put him down fully awake now as it just doesn't work but drowsy does. Think babies go through phases of not wanting to nap in cot and the key is perseverance and not to give up then they will re-learn how to self-settle again.

    As for the comforter, I tuck a muslin or 2 down the side of the cot as he loves to snuggle up to it! With it being tucked he can't grab hold of it and throw it around the cot then worry where it's gone. he knows it's always at the side.

    Hope that helps, good luck xx
  • That does help Gichu, thank you xx
  • Hi again,

    I sometimes worry that the cuddling around the nursery may become a prop but I figured if it's comforting for help and helps him drift off then it could be recognised as the routine for your LO.

    Sometimes my DS falls asleep on the bottle at bedtime as we feed him in a dimly lit room before putting his lullaby on then placing in him cot. If this is the case I'll gently arouse him (maybe just call his name) just enough to wake him slightly so he knows he's gone in his cot. When I've put him down fully asleep he has sometimes awoken an hour later or so crying as he last remembered being in mummy's arms and not in the cot.

    When you LO wakes at 4am does he fully cry or just whinge? Mine used to whinge and I'd leave him and normally he would re-settle. If his cry got louder, I'd go in and re-assure him then leave. At times would have to pick him up, but always put down once he's calmed.

    They do get back to self-settling I'm sure. Mine's getting better (the afternoon nap I was able to put him down awake and he drifted off himself - how long it'll last for is another question) by me being consistent and not giving in till he falls asleep at naps. With a little help they'll be back to self-settling with less and less of mummy's assistance. Just remember that they used to be able to, you've just got to re-teach them xx
  • Thanks again, it really is helpful to get other peoples views and opinions.

    I always try to arouse him before I put him into the cot but except shouting or stripping him naked, nothing works. I talk loudly to him during the feed when I can tell he's falling asleep to try to keep him awake, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    Although I understand what you mean about cuddling around the nursery being part of their routine, I wouldn't want to do that every time he stirs during the night (is that bad?).

    When he does wake at 4am he doesn't really fully cry but then he rarely does properly cry, only if he's hurt, shocked or something equally distressing. It's more a whingey cry, I do leave him a while but after about 5-10 minutes I'll get up, feed him (in silence) and put him back down. Instead of self settling he has now taken to singing (whinging) himself to sleep but can take anything from 5-45 minutes.

    I think I am over analysing things and probably just need to allow him some time to work it all out for himself, with a little help of course xx
  • Hi Lawso,

    how did last night go? I know what you mean you don't to be walking around and cuddling too much at 4am in the morning. I would just pick my LO up until he calmed, then lay him down, go back to my room, if he whinged again for longer than a few minutes then I'd do it again until he stopped. He used to just need it doing once or twice. My DS won't take a dummy, but sucks his fingers instead.

    Have you tried re-settling without a feed or is he definately hungry at 4am? What time did you normally feed him prior to 4am, If he's had a good feed just a couple of hours before, he may just need help re-settling. Mine used to get into the habit of waking and comfort drink so I would just re-settle without and he soon got the hang of sleeping through. Still get the odd shout out but I leave him if he's not distressed and he goes back off.

    How much sleep does he get during the day? I limit mine to 3 hours max (although it's morelike 2-2.5 hours) and try not to let him sleep past 4.30pm.

    The routine of walking around/cuddling works well with naps - not as bad for mummy as not tired. I'm sure your LO will get back on track soon x
  • Thanks Gichu. Last night was a strange one, he woke early around 11 but this was for a feed. He hadn't taken enough through the day so took over 8oz. He woke again at 2 and I fed him (3oz), even though I know he wasn't hungry, I did this so that I could get back to sleep 10 minutes later - bad mummy but it worked! He woke an hour later but self settled - yeah. He then woke at 5 and whinged until we got up at 6. I did try lots of things in between, cuddles, light show, water, dummy for short time but nothing worked. He might have settled with the dummy in for longer but I really don't want to go down that road.

    During the day he normally has around 2.5hrs in 3 or 4 sessions but the last couple of days it's been more like 3.5 hours as he's not getting as much sleep at night - vicious circle.

    At least last night he went to bed awake, as I brushed his teeth and put his sleeping bag on after his feed and he did self settle, so that's a start.
  • Hi Lawso,

    know what you mean about vicious circle - you want to pack enough in the day so that they don't need any at night. We dreamfed for weeks and he would take 6oz so wasn't really willing to drop it but then hubby was out one night ( he normally does this feed) so I thought I'd wait for him to wake. He didn't (although I did lots) despite only having 25 oz all day! He now makes up for it in the day and has 32-35oz and doesn't wake in the night. I knew he wasn't hungry when he woke at 4/5am as he'd only take couple oz and it would ALWAYS affect his morning bottle. I just persevered with re-settling him without a feed. It may seem hard when you're knackered but it worked in the long run. I needed to get it sorted as I'm back at work in few weeks.

    Great progress on the self settling at bedtime, that's a great start. He's already catching on! x

    P.s if you want help on sleep issues, I would recommend visiting www.babysleepanswers.co.uk
    the ladies really helped me in dropping his night feeds, self-settling, early waking, napping etc. Really helpful!
  • Thank you and I know you are right about feeding during the night. He does normally have enough in the day, yesterday was a one-off but I still normally feed him back to sleep. What an awful habit. The more I get into this parenting, the more I realise that it's me that causes bad habits, not the baby!! Must try harder Lawso!

    Appreciate the advice, thanks xx
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