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Sleeping & food & swaddling @ 6 months

Our angel is now 6.5 months old. She's started on solids — baby-led, she only eats what she can grab and shove into her mouth and she loves it. We're having a tough time trying to work out how this fits in with her day, like when to breastfeed and so on. Some books say just beforehand, some say an hour before. She's refluxing a lot less than she did when she was only on breastmilk, but still occasionally if she drinks too much too fast. She's definitely fartier now!

Anyway, at almost the same time, she's started getting strong enough to wriggle out of her swaddle at night. She's been swaddled one arm out for about a month and doing fine, sleeping in good four-hour chunks. But now she's getting the other arm halfway out and waking up screaming and scared. So we've started trying her completely unswaddled. The first night she had a fabulous time and the day after, she had two one-and-a-half hour naps, unheard of for our little catnapper. We thought we'd found the solution! But since then, she's having a really hard time going down for naps at home — goes to sleep, startles awake a minute later screaming, settles, rinse and repeat. She's sleeping fine in the car seat or in the Ergo carrier, just not in her cradle right now. And she's waking every two hours at night and won't settle to a pat, has to be fed... And the waking at night is whether she's in the sidecarred cradle or in with me, there's no difference.

I'm wondering:
  • Has anyone else transitioned out of a swaddle at this age and what are your tips?
  • Could it be food-related? She's only eaten potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, banana and pear (she doesn't like avocado) and we've introduced each one in the morning on its own and watched for allergy signs and haven't seen any related to one particular food. Could it be wind?
  • Could it be because she's now getting fed more often in the day that she's wanting to be fed more often at night?
  • Could it be that she needs fewer naps? How do you cut out a nap? Which nap? We're still responding when she looks tired (yawning, rubbing her eyes) and that's still about two hours after she wakes up. She then only has a 45 minute nap IF THAT — with the current fussing, she's getting a 10 minute nap sometimes.
Any and all suggestions gratefully accepted...


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 4th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
your icon is SO cute :P

How long have you been feeding her solids? that many foods seem like a lot at only 6.5 months BUT each child is different. Yes it could be gas disrupting her sleep, or it could be a major growth spurt/developmental growth spurt happening. My little ones never wanted to be swaddled so I'm no help there. As for nursing and solids, I always nursed before solids AND after to be sure that she was getting what she needed; they should only be eating about a tablespoon of solids and still getting their primary needs fed by breastmilk. Good luck!
Aug. 4th, 2009 03:14 am (UTC)
She started grabbing my food and licking it at about 5 months. I've really only been offering her sticks of her own steamed vegies for about three weeks. She eats maybe four little sticks of vegies at a sitting, maybe 4cm long (an inch-and-a-half?) and pretty thin. And if she's had a big breastmilk feed before, she'll only eat one or two or maybe play with them and throw them all on the floor!

I know the food is more about learning to eat and starting the gut closure than about nutrition. In fact, I wrote a long post on it at my blog: http://modernmama.world-changer.org/2009/07/first-foods/ (which, looking at the date, means she's actually been eating solids for more like four weeks now, although the pieces then were *tiny*).

Edited at 2009-08-04 03:17 am (UTC)
Aug. 4th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)
that's a great article; I'd never heard the theory that the gut closes with the introduction of solids!
Aug. 4th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
Thanks! I hadn't either, before I started researching it!
Aug. 4th, 2009 05:41 am (UTC)
This was a great article! I think I'll repost to babyledweaners.

My son also took foods off of my plate at 5 months and began licking/sucking them. Corn and strawberry were amongst the first things he wanted to taste and explore. It has been fascinating to watch how weaning evolved when you do it the baby-led way. First only licking and exploring, then gumming, then nibbling bits off, then chomping down with the gums and chewing--very little came into his diaper until he was about 6.5 months old, even if he was tasting and exploring foods on his own for a month before I saw actual output.

As for your actual sleep questions, this all sounds vey normal for this baby age and I'd attribute it to the "wonder weeks." If she's transitioning to a new nap schedule it may take a couple weeks for things t work out. With my elder daughter, I battled to force the nap transitions when I saw them approaching and it was a terrible struggle. With my son, I just kept following his cues and eventually he just transitioned on his own to new nap schedules--no battles. So I'm keen on continuing to follow your child's cues on this issue.

Edited at 2009-08-04 05:45 am (UTC)
Aug. 4th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you and yes, feel free to repost the article!

Thanks for the advice on naps... that sounds like what both I and my partner want to do instinctively, so it's good to know it works.

I think we might offer her fewer foods and less of it for a while, as she never knew when she was full with breastmilk (always drank too much and then refluxed) and I don't see why I'm suddenly assuming she knows when she's full now... if her oesophagus isn't fully closed, she won't be getting those cues, so I need to be a bit more proactive, I guess.

She slept better last night with a smaller meal of solids, so that might be it — and then again it could be random! Ah, love the constant guesswork!
Aug. 4th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)
Our babies are extremely physical AND space hogs, so neither really took much to swaddling, so I can't really help you there. It sounds like you're at a sleep regression: sleep disturbances linked to growth spurts. Some people insist that the introduction of solids also starts a regression.

They're usually temporary (though it feels like forever, especially if you take the route I did and spend your nights attempting to bargain with the baby to go back to sleep).

My little girl is the same age, and I've noticed she's been sleeping A LOT more lately. We don't do solids every day and we've been giving her foods that are probably a little harder to digest (peaches, oat cereal, home made pasta) - not sure if that has anything to do with it. Very little actually makes it into her mouth - right now it seems to be all about squishing it into a ball and rubbing it into her (freakishly long for only 6 months old) hair.

Here's a free tip: rinse rice before you give it to your baby - the starch makes it stick EVERYWHERE and as it dries it becomes almost impossible to get the stuff out of baby hair unless you have a power washer.
Aug. 4th, 2009 09:30 am (UTC)
I transitioned both of my kids from a swaddle to a baby sleeping-bag. They were much younger than that, but there's no reason why you can't introduce a baby sleeping-bag at 6 months. I use the Grobag brand, it's a British brand, I don't know if it's available internationally.

Yes it could be food-related. Not necessarily an allergy though. My daughter couldn't handle sweet potatoes or bananas till she was closer to a year old, they gave her tummy aches and made her constipated. I would stick with pumpkin, carrot and pear (my daughter was fine with those three foods anyway) and see if things improve.

She's far too young to start cutting out naps. If she's tired she's tired, and should be allowed to sleep. If she was napping for more than about 3.5 hours a day then I might consider restricting naps, but I wouldn't cut it back further than that.
Aug. 4th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that. I'll try cutting back to those foods for a little and see what happens.

And that's my instinct on the naps too, I just wondered since I'd read other people talking about it. Thanks for the encouragement.
Aug. 4th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
A good rule of thumb is to introduce one new food every two weeks. It really does take that long to see any allergies or reactions.

At 6.5 months, they are eating to learn about new foods, not to get any significant nutrition. And if you think about the first foods, they tend to be sweet, but not have many calories. Its entirely possible that she's waking up because she's hungry. She's filled her tummy with things other than breastmilk during the day.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 4th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks! 8^)
Aug. 6th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
I used to put my son down on his belly. He didn't like the swaddle, but would startle himself away. When I would put him on his belly, he couldn't jerk his arms and wake himself. Worked pretty good.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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