FOMO Baby: A story of sleep

FOMO: “A Fear of Missing Out. The fear that if you miss a party or event you will miss out on something great.” ~ The Urban Dictionary

A few weeks ago, my darling baby girl decided to stop sleeping.  At first it was just a missed nap here or there, when I would do literally ANYTHING to disrupt her schedule, such as taking her out of the apartment for any reason or inviting anyone over.  This evolved into avoiding sleep altogether anytime there were sites, people, sounds or smells to be seen and experienced.

We laughed about it for a while, joked about her social nature and fear of missing out on anything or anyone (just like daddy), but now it’s getting serious…These days, even at home, surrounded by white noise and familiar things, she will skip a nap or two, and she can’t seem to sleep longer than an hour without “waking” and needing some minor soothing before falling back to sleep.

At night we keep her close by (either in her Rock n’ Play or curled up with one of us) so that her pacifier can easily be slipped back into her mouth at the first signs of fussing.  She will start out shifting around in her bed, rolling her head back and forth and making little sucking sounds, this leads to some light fussing/complaining, but if not caught quickly with the pacifier things rapidly deteriorate: first to a frustrated, squished face cry and then on to full blown thick, wet tears.

During this nightly dance, her eyes are generally closed – unless of course you let her get to real crying and she completely wakes herself up – and she generally falls immediately back to sleep once the pacifier has been reintroduced.  She will repeat this behavior sometimes 10, 20 or more times in the course of a given night – no joke!  Sometimes it is every 5 minutes for a spell, and other times you get to sleep a whole hour before she stirs again.

When it comes to ignoring naps, it isn’t that she’s hungry or suddenly stopped needing the sleep…trust me she’s tired.  She rubs her eyes, yawns and fusses, and the more overtired she becomes the more amusingly bipolar her mood.  If you swaddle her up and rock her, she will generally whimper a bit and struggle before finally closing her eyes out of sheer exhaustion…then two moments later (particularly if you attempt to put her down) she’ll open those big brown eyes wide once more and smile at you with expectant glee.  Hard as it is, we try to avoid her smiles, keep from making eye contact and just slip the pacifier back in, but lately even that doesn’t seem to help.

Last week a friend of mine came over around 4pm.  Simran had already skipped her midday nap, and I was desperately trying to coax her into her early evening nap before our planned night out.  It was a total failure.  Simran played happily, becoming more and more fussy and needing of constant attention as the hours went by.  Around 7pm we made our way to the restaurant with Simran in her stroller.  I was sure this would do the trick.  We were close to her bedtime, she’d just had a bottle, and she often falls asleep in her stroller anyhow.  HA!

Scene: the restaurant where a complete melt down ensues!  The over stimulation of the restaurant proved simply too much for my completely sleep deprived little one and she went totally ape s&%t!  I took her outside…smiles once again!  Not a sign of sleepiness.  She flirted with every passerby on the street, and refused to have her face turned into my chest, insisting on seeing EVERYTHING. After taking her back into the restaurant, shhing, soothing and rocking her while she cried for another 10 minutes, and finally deciding to just take her home, she suddenly and without warning fell asleep in my arms.  She had been awake since 1:00, following a short, short nap, and it was then almost 8:00pm.

What is going on?  What do I do to help my baby through a full sleep cycle?  Why isn’t she having any deep sleep anymore?  Why won’t she nap, even when she’s exhausted?  I’m running out of ideas.

We’ve tried swaddling, pacifiers, adding rice to her milk, lullabies, bathing, massage, sleep routines, keeping her in her most familiar place to sleep (her rock n’ play – even though I’d hoped to have moved her into her Co-sleeper bassinet at least by now if not her crib), co-sleeping in our bed, putting her down just sleepy, putting her down completely asleep, etc. and so forth.  I start getting her swaddled and cozy at the first sign of sleepiness, she’s fed, clean, not over or under dressed, and she’s completely surrounded in white noise (yet she still stirs at even the slightest noise in the room).  We’ve done the running in at the first noise and picking her up, and the waiting a minute or two, and then just a paci, a quick rub of the belly for reassurance and a silent slinking out of the room.  Nothing works more than once, and frankly, I’m at a loss.




About uncommonnonsense1

Stay at home mom of two.
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8 Responses to FOMO Baby: A story of sleep

  1. Cathy says:

    Totally 100% absolutely normal.

    Look up “sleep regression”. Kids get so worked up about all the new things going on in their bodies and brains and their sleep goes wonky.

    I’ve been a LOT more laid back about it this go around. She’s .. 4 months? I say at that age – sleep however sleep happens. As we eased out of the 4 month regression I’ve gotten all 3 of them into their cribs for overnights, but naps in the crib didn’t happen until 6-7 months (i.e. NOW with my littlest one). It’s fine, I swear, my big two are good sleepers.

    So, my assvice for what it’s worth – she might be outgrowing the want/need to be swaddled as she’s getting to an age where they want to move around more. No advice on the pacifier because I never used them, at all, ever. I’m usually game to try Tylenol for a night or two to see if it’s some sort of pain (or even if it’s not, sometimes a night or two of solid sleep is a “reset” of sorts on them). Get sleep where you can get sleep. Think about what you WANT your routine to be and as she starts sleeping better pounce on this opportunity to get it there. Relax and just ride it out.

    • Hi Cathy,
      Thanks so much for telling me about this. I looked up sleep regression, and have been calming myself with the knowledge that this is normal and will pass eventually! I’m a little concerned about the overuse of the pacifier, but I figure now is not the best time to try taking it away since it is the only thing that seems to be helping her sleep right now. She sucks her thumb, but doesn’t seem really calmed by the action, and if she gets the whole hand in there it just wakes her up more.

  2. Josey says:

    I’m so bookmarking this post to check out what people say. Our 4 1/2 month old has definitely hit the “sleep regression” phase as well, and it is not fun. One tired mommy over here…

    Oh – and we still swaddle (I think she likes the secure feeling) but leave one arm out now, and she really seems to like that. Baby steps. 😉

    • It is nice to hear that this is actually a fairly common problem. All the babies in our mommy and me class are of course sleeping great, and I was starting to freak out a bit.

      I think I will try the swaddling with one arm in tonight!

      • Josey says:

        Yeah, I think it’s a nice in-between stage. She can chew on her hand if she wants, but she’s not as likely to flail around and hit herself and wake herself up (plus her torso is still secure and tight b/c we have the halo sleep sack secured). Good luck!

  3. Alissa says:

    Sorry hon. I am not much help here, but I know my nephew went through this too. He always wanted to be part of what was going on and didn’t like the idea of missing out. He even stopped nursing for a while because he couldn’t pay attention to other things well enough and would only take a bottle. Just do some reading up and it might end up being a phase that you’ll have to wait out. I hope it isn’t. Good luck.

    • Hi A,
      It is so great to hear from you. I’ve been an awful blogger/commenter since Simran’s birth, but I’ve been checking in on your blog and keeping you in my thoughts.

      Waiting to hear about the results of your FET. I know you aren’t planning to test early right now, and I applaud your restraint. I tested too early with Simran, and had a false negative!

  4. Erin says:

    I have a 7 month old who came a month early (which opens up another whole can of sleeping issues). Around 3-4 months, sleeping became really tough and she just stopped sleeping in general for more than about 75 min at a stretch. We did the Happiest Baby stuff (swaddle, swing, shush, etc), and that worked okay. But we found that really did the trick was giving her just a little gripe water. Before each nursing (or bottle…since she came early, we had to supplement with formula early on), we gave her a little gripe water. It took a few days, but she calmed down quite a lot, particularly at night. Within a week of starting the gripe water, she would sleep 4-5 hours at night, and 90 minutes for a nap (which isn’t great, but I totally took it). I think eventually the gripe water started a Pavlovian response, where she knew that with that taste she was going to feel better soon and she calmed down almost immediately. (Later, we started using some gas drops instead of the gripe water, and it worked as well.)

    Also, though we found she slept the “best” in her swing or her bouncey chair for naps, we put her in the co-sleeper at night. I cannot tell you how awesome that was. I don’t know if it was good for her, but it saved my sanity. I got to be able to find her pacifier and stick it in her mouth without hardly waking up.

    Good luck!

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