to think we can parent differently to SIL and avoid sleep problems?

(218 Posts)
GoingToRegretThis Tue 01-Jan-13 14:17:08

I have actually NC for this as not sure this thread is a wise idea, but want honest opinions.

We are just starting ttc number 1 after ages debating about it. One of DH big concerns is that the baby simply will not sleep, as this is what happens with SIL's children. They go to bed okay but are up and down all night, for example, waking up at 2 or 3am, getting into bed with their parents, refusing to sleep and wanting to play. SIL's children are 2 and 5.

DH is terrified of this as for financial reasons we will both have to WOH. He is prepared for a rough few months with a new baby but feels it will be a nightmare if we hit 2 years and are still surviving on < 4 hours/ night.

I think that SIL has naturally wakeful DC, but I also keep telling DH you can parent to minimise that. For ex, SIL will take the children into bed and not insist on them staying in their own beds. That is NOT a criticism, as she is a lovely mum and very child-centred. But I think we can be stricter, parent differently, and not encounter the same problems years down the line as she does.

Am I just a crazy optimist? Are there just some children who never sleep no matter what, and getting up with them is what you do? Or is it actually possible if you are a working parent to work out an okay routine with wakeful children?

LightTheLampNotTheRat Tue 01-Jan-13 14:38:18

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think there's a lot you can do to increase the chances that your child will be a good sleeper. A good night-time routine from the earliest stages. Showing the baby from the start that night-time is different to day-time. Putting the baby in his/her own bed from the start and - crucially - putting them in awake, so they learn to fall asleep by themselves. Not making it exciting or even interesting when they do wake. Etc. There are lots of useful books on the subject - I found they gave me the confidence to believe that babies can and do sleep, and night-times don't need to involve the sort of shenanigans you're afraid of.

Obviously children vary. But still, I believe that they all need sleep, they all need routine, and they can be taught how to sleep in the same way we expect to teach them other things.

"You can have a wonderful routine planned out in your head. Children, however, haven't read the books"

This is exactly what I have to remind myself a zillion times a day

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 01-Jan-13 14:39:01

You sound like every prospective parent I've ever known. It's the modern equivalent of hanging charms over the cradle to avert the Evil Eye. smile
You will do your very best as a parent, try not to do all the wrong things that your parents and relatives do. However you will make entirely new and different mistakes.
Mine slept 8 hours a day from the age of 6 weeks. Nothing to do with my parenting I think, more that the planets were aligned right.
So, do your best as we all do and forgive yourselves and your children when things go pear-shaped.
Good Luck.

TeWisBeenNargledByTheMistletoe Tue 01-Jan-13 14:39:24

I realise I sound a bit smug, really didn't mean to. I just honestly think most dc will sleep ok given the right approach for them.

whistlestopcafe Tue 01-Jan-13 14:40:10

Before you have children you are a idealist and have set ideas on what it will be like. Then you have children and all your big ideas go out the window. However my children have always slept well, this is partly luck and partly down to them being in routines from the word go, I didn't need to resort to controlled crying because my children got themselves into a routine.

My nephew is 2.5 and he has never slept for longer than 2 hours, I could not tolerate that I am not capable of surviving on such little sleep if either of my children had been like this I think I would have had to leave them to cry out. Nephew has 2 hourly milk feeds throughout the night, he is often up at 3 a.m playing with his toys and has never had a proper bedtime, if you want them to sleep you have to give them a helping hand.

itsmineitsmine Tue 01-Jan-13 14:40:14

I know lots of people in RL who are smug about how well their children sleep and don't understand parents who make a rod for their own back by attending to their child's needs at nighttime.

The very, very vast majority of them (the people I know, I mean) have been leaving their child to cry alone at night since they were small babies (not all the time, but obviously when they won't sleep). So, you may find that yes, there are parenting techniques that 'solve' this but you might not actually want to use them.

FWIW - my 2 and a half year old was a dream baby and slept through from 6 weeks. At 6 months she started waking around 5 times a night and getting up for the day at 5AM. We muddled through with a combination of taking in turns to shush pat her back to sleep, co-sleeping and finally, finally she started sleeping through in her own bed at the age of 2 after I spent a week sleeping on the floor of her room.

We survived, though it's put me off having a third dc.

Oh dear.

I have parented my kids the same way, stuck to the same routines etc, DS needs lots of sleep he always has, DD1 doesn't need a lot of sleep at all, she maybe sleeps 6 hours a night, its just the way they are.

Children don't do exactly as you want because you parent a certain way I'm afraid.

(Fwiw I was an eternal optimist and an expert until I had children too)

rubyslippers Tue 01-Jan-13 14:40:29

when you haven't slept for weeks/months on end you will do anything that gets you a couple of hours kip regardless of whether they are 2 months or 2 years old and if that means you are all in one bed then so be it

i have two kids and i haven't slept through the night since October as DD has been pretty poorly since then - she is 3 years old

it's what happens with kids - I work FT as does DH

TBH, sleep deprivation is just one of the ways your life will irrevocably change

coppertop Tue 01-Jan-13 14:41:14

By all means do things differently to your SIL, but don't make the mistake of thinking that this will guarantee a sleeping child.

I have one child who falls asleep quickly and stays that way all night.

I have one child who stays asleep all night but sometimes takes a while to fall asleep.

I have one child who is regularly awake until 1am and beyond, sometimes even after taking (prescribed) medication that is supposed to make them feel sleepy.

I have one child who generally falls asleep late but is usually asleep by midnight.

I'm sure if someone had asked me pre-children, I would have been right there with you in thinking non-sleepers could be easily avoided. I soon learned my lesson.

HopAndSkip Tue 01-Jan-13 14:43:27

TeWis the problem is the right approach for them may not seem the right approach for you (Eg. they may sleep perfectly when co-sleeping, but scream until they vomit each night if you try to put them alone) like my DD.

Owlfright Tue 01-Jan-13 14:44:08

IMO once many babies reach a certain age, consistency and firm boundaries can make a big difference. However, I think done children are exceptions to this and are naturally not good sleepers.

In the case of my DC I did no 'sleep training' whatsoever until they were about 12m. Then we made a 'rule' that once they were in bed they had to stay there. We gently enforced this, and it worked for our DC. If they have needed one of us close by, we have used a blow up bed on their floor.

I've been lucky to have kids that sleep well, I do think we helped this to happen a bit. However, I'm under no illusion that had one of them been naturally wakeful, there may have been very little we could do about it.

ll31 Tue 01-Jan-13 14:46:22

i just think its a strange attitude on your dhs part which suggests to me that maybe he's not so keen to have kids..

itsmineitsmine Tue 01-Jan-13 14:46:22

Oh, I should say. I thought I knew what I was getting into with DD2 as when her sister was born we did the pick-up put-down thing from the baby whisperer when she was about 6 months old she started sleeping through 13 hours a night within a couple of days.

I was sure I could just do it again if I needed to with the second. No chance!!! It didn't work with her at all. All babies are different!

whathaveiforgottentoday Tue 01-Jan-13 14:46:30

you might get lucky and have a naturally good sleeper. Truly, i wouldn't be worrying too much at this stage as you will get what you get and if you are prepared to go with the flow, it all works out.

However, a good routine does help, but be prepared to be flexible as lots of things can throw them out such as being ill, teething, christmas, summer nights (too much sunshine).

We had one really easy baby (DD1) and one that had reflux (DD2) and found settling into a routine tricky. With DD2 I co-slept for much longer as that just made more sense.

GoingToRegretThis Tue 01-Jan-13 14:46:40

Wow lots of responses!! Going to try and respond.

MsVestibule and Booyho we are worried about this now basically the last 5 years of BIL's life (DH brother) have been dominated by child sleeping issues. BIL and SIL are amazing parents but they look like zombies, go to bed at 9, up again at 11 with one of them crying, up again at midnight, up again at 2 etc etc. DH has a 90-min commute and we both work long hours and we are just worried about this.

Yes I know our child might have SN, I grew up with a sick sibling and appreciate how physically tough it can be. You can't do anything about that, I suppose.

MyLittleFirebird Tue 01-Jan-13 14:48:59

Yes, YABU and very naive. But you're allowed, because all of us were naive about what it would be like.

My DS is 5 and is, always has been, a brilliant sleeper. I would love to take credit for that (co-slept from birth, never woke to a crying baby once, I was consistent with napping), but the fact is I got lucky. Maybe what I did just worked with his personality, maybe I was lucky that I was very relaxed about the whole thing. Yes, there are things you can do to encourage healthy sleep habits but they may mean nothing and 'stricter' means nothing. Yes, you do need to sign up for years of tiredness and disturbed sleep. Although I think my son has been a brilliant sleeper, there have been plenty of sleepless nights - there are nights of illness, he has had all the textbook sleep regression periods. By the way, it is absolutely natural for children, as baby mammals, to want to sleep next to their parents. That isn't caused by parents not being strict enough and your SIL is probably smart enough to just be choosing to maximise sleep for everyone by taking them into bed when they wake.

itsmineitsmine Tue 01-Jan-13 14:49:08

Re: your OP - tbh, the way you describe your SIL she sounds like she might be practising attachment parenting. Which, you're right, you absolutely do not have to do.

If that's how they parent their kids though, that is fine and it sounds as though they are well responded to and looked after.

GoingToRegretThis Tue 01-Jan-13 14:50:00

needles you said I am ignorant - I am - that's why I'm asking people who know!!! I don't think it's shameful to be ignorant, but only to be wilfully ignorant.

I know babies are not dolls and there will be hellish times, and wonderful times. But I am not talking about a few nights here and there, I am talking about every single night for 5 years. That is what I am wondering if we can avoid.

SirBoobAlot Tue 01-Jan-13 14:50:05

If you make the commitment to having a child, you make the commitment to accepting your life will change forever, and that their needs come over yours. And that includes responding to their needs in the night. Some people have utterly unrealistic expectations of children.

itsmineitsmine Tue 01-Jan-13 14:50:47

One more thing. My DD1 (age 4) creeps into bed with me sometimes in the middle of the night. I love it! Certainly don't insist on her going back to bed, it's nice to feel close to her.

"DH has a 90-min commute and we both work long hours "

You realise this ^^ is a choice, right? It may be a big life-changing choice to change this, but so is having children.

DozyDuck Tue 01-Jan-13 14:51:48

Well... There's no guarantee with children. They may not be able to produce melatonin like DS, and not sleep, they may be born with disabilities, SN. If you have a child you have to accept that they'll come first. Which I am sure you will. Not everything will be perfect no matter how you parent

GoingToRegretThis Tue 01-Jan-13 14:51:57

Good luck with it all and I look forward to hearing about your superior parenting one day

Numerical honestly I don't think I would be superior, just different!!! SIL is a great mum, she really is. I am just not sure her methods would work for me.

itsmineitsmine Tue 01-Jan-13 14:52:46

Oh, and another thing.

Well, you'll get what you'll get. I don't think you should waste your breath trying to convince your DH that things will be different for you - you just don't know how it will be.

I'd be more concerned with working out how committed he is to the idea of having DC. What if you convince him you won't have long term sleep issues and then you do? He's an adult, he's expressed a valid concern. It might happen.

SirBoobAlot Tue 01-Jan-13 14:53:16

You will have no idea what temperament your child will have until they arrive. So you may have a child that sleeps through from two months old. Or you may have a child that wakes up at 3am for three years needing a cuddle.

Can you avoid your sleep pattern being forever changed, your energy levels being utterly depleted, and your life generally being turned upside down? Nope. No way. Not a chance. And that doesn't matter how they sleep, that is a condition of parenting.

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