AIBU or is DH - we seem to have totally different approaches to parenting and I didn't see this coming

(136 Posts)
PenelopeChipShop Sun 13-Jan-13 08:24:06

Am a bit scared of posting in here but I really need other opinions / perspective and can't exactly moan about this at the NCT group. Our DS1 is 6 months old and lately DH and I seem to disagree all the time on how to handle him, mainly his sleep rather than anything else. He's not a good sleeper - settles fairly well in his cot in his room at 7pm then needs a feed between 10 and 11, then one at about 1am, then he wakes every 1.5 to 2 hours needing resettling (9 times out of 10 this is with a feed) until he's up for the day at around 5.30 or 6am. Although this is tough I gather its fairly typical for his age? On week nights I do all the night time duty as DH works full time - I guess this is reasonable. However in practice I get up on weekend nights as well and DH only helps if DS won't settle - I think this just evolved because he always seemed to need feeding above anything else and he is ebf. We did try to introduce bottles of expressed milk early but he never really took to them and I struggled to find time to express every day so that DH could try bottles regularly, with the result that he now doesn't 'get' them at all. I'm working on introducing cups but that wouldn't be practical for night feeds yet so I have to do them. I am happy with this as bf-ing has always worked well for me and I enjoy it.
The problem I suppose is that DH seems unhappy with how we/ I have managed things - he thinks ds is too reliant on me, that I feed him too often in the night, shouldn't let him fall asleep on the boob at 7pm as he isn't learning to self settle, and that we should be giving at least a bottle of formula a day, ideally late at night so ds will sleep longer. I don't have a problem with that last one at all but it just isn't working out as he doesn't do bottles. Dh also thinks I should be starting to wean him off the boob in general but I don't think either of us are ready. What we are rowing over is how to soothe ds when he is really fractious - I generally start with a cuddle but inevitably he will ask for a comfort feed and I always give it - I have always fed on demand, it's just what feels right to me. DH thinks I indulge him. I think that comfort is just as good a reason to feed as hunger. Last night this came to a head with DH physically barring me from approaching the cot and picking ds up as he cried. He said he knew I would feed him and that he was 'putting his foot down' and that I couldn't feed him til his 'average' time of 10.30pm (it was about an hour to wait). Admittedly I don't think ds was hungry from his cry but I wanted to comfort him as I thin he was teething - after giving the usual remedies he likes to suck to relax. DH insisted on just picking up and putting down until he cracked at about 10.20 and 'allowed' me to feed ds. By then he was completely worked up and wouldn't settle even after the feed - we were up til 1am which is v unusual. All exhausted today. I know his wakefulness might not be entirely down to DH's intervention as he is teething too but it certainly didn't help. DH thinks I am being controlling in not letting him try to comfort ds himself. I am outraged that he prevented me from feeding ds when I felt he needed it resulting in a very upset baby. This is sad in a way as we are not trying to do our best but I saw a very controlling, domineering side to him last night that I have literally never seen before - he is usually a very easy going, gentle person. So Was I being unreasonable not to give him a chance to help last night without interfering? Or should he not have made me go against my instincts to feed? I just find it so hard to listen to ds cry when I know I can make it better, but DH interprets this as a criticism of him. Good grief sorry this is long. Just so confused this morning and knackered.

ScalesAndMirrorsLie Sun 13-Jan-13 09:01:51

You need to talk to your dh and set some agrees guidelines.

He absolutely should never, ever, stop you from going to your son to settle him. Ever.

If using bf to soothe, settle and comfort your lo feels right for you then continue doing it.

Having a bottle of formula will not make baby sleep longer.

You need to get a happy medium between the two of you.

Your ds will be using your boobs as comfort when he wakes-who wouldn't like a warm, soft, comforting boob cuddle? But every 1.5-2 hours at 6 mo is a bit much ime. He won't be hungry all of those times.

Maybe, say, from 3am to 5am you refuse a bf (or whatever one you think) and get your dh to settle him everyday at this time. It will give your dh an opportunity to try and settle ds himself, give you a break, and will get ds going a little longer between that feed. Then gradually, or when it feels right, extend that time period so he goes 3 hours between feeds.

But you'll get better bf advice on the bf threads.

But you do need a happy medium with your dh. Ds is not just yours and a lot of men take a long time to adjust to the new change if dynamics in a relationship when a new baby comes. So you both need to compromise. But if you're happy to keep bf then keep doing it.

Finallygotaroundtoit Sun 13-Jan-13 09:02:27

Why should the baby be forced to take a bottle or 'learn' how to self settle just because the dad has some strange ideas about normal baby behaviour?

Op, your baby's need for you and your need to comfort/feed your baby are normal. You can't train a baby not to need it's mother.

This will pass and your baby will need you less in this way (but probably more in other ways) as time goes by.

Places where babies co sleep tend to have strong family bonds and fewer mental issues from being brought up in our detached western style

BinksToEnlightenment Sun 13-Jan-13 09:02:59

I agree that you are both being unreasonable - but it is so so so understandable.

You have this little defenseless baby bellowing like a fog horn at you, you're both supposed to be psychic and just know how to fix everything and you're both tired and stressed.

Getting angry with the situation and with each other is normal.

It really doesn't matter how you get through this time. Neither of you are right. The baby just grows up and stops being so dependant on you. And learns to say I'm thirsty or I want a cuddle. Until then, you're just guessing.

I think since you're breastfeeding though, you should probably dictate the feeding schedule for now.

myroomisatip Sun 13-Jan-13 09:03:18

I agree with Bottleoffish. I think that was a very cruel thing to do and also, if you are upset then your baby will sense that and it will only make matters worse.

If my husband had done that I would have been absolutely furious and he would certainly never do it again!

Every baby is different and what works for one won't necessarily work for another. But you do need to find a way to agree on something but baby must come first.

Tailtwister Sun 13-Jan-13 09:03:37

It's totally normal for a bf baby to suck for comfort NotMostPeople. That's why people use dummies as a substitute for the breast.

CaptainNancy - what are you trying to say> That bf a baby for comfort will make them over eat and obese in later life? What a load of nonsense! Where's your evidence for that?

Babies self settle when they are ready.

Finallygotaroundtoit Sun 13-Jan-13 09:04:10

Babies can't tell the time and wouldn't understand why they could have a feed at some times but not others

AmberLeaf Sun 13-Jan-13 09:06:28

YANBU your DH is.

Im appalled TBH and it sounds like its much more about how your DH feels than what your baby needs.

How did he think it would be with a baby in the house? he needs to grow up

strumpetpumpkin Sun 13-Jan-13 09:10:32

not co sleeping doesn't mean detached
co sleeping does not mean your child wont have issues.
people in many third world countries where co sleeping is the norm have mental issues as much as anyone else

NotMostPeople Sun 13-Jan-13 09:10:56

Tailtwister I know that I have had three bf babies.

I also had three babies who mostly slept through by six months. I am not suggesting that your baby needs to learn not to need its mother that's a very emotive take in the situation. I think that if a baby has an established routine whereby it wakes numerous times in the night and is fed and cuddled each time it's going to continue to do this. You will be still posting and saying you have a three year old who doesn't sleep very well. If you really believe that this is the best way that's up to you but I can see why the op's DH may well get fed up with it.

jojane Sun 13-Jan-13 09:11:06

I have 3 children, I exclusively breastfed all of them on demand until 12 months old or thereabouts. They woke several times a night and I would normally feed them to sleep again. When I then weaned them off the breast they all slept through after about a week. Just trying to say that feeding a 6 month on demand at night isn't going to ruin their sleep forever.

bigkidsdidit Sun 13-Jan-13 09:11:56

It's hard when you are both sleep deprived and frustrated and I can see both of your sides.

My DS was the same and at 6 months we very gently taught him to self settle over the course of 6 weeks or so (only feeding every three hours ish at night, letting DH comfort him in between, cuddling and singing etc rather than automatically boob). As soon as I stopped feeding more than once a night he slept through and has done ever since.

If you want to carry on as you are obviously that it your prerogative but your DH must want to help and be an equal parent and comfort his own child. And might see you exhausted and feel bad - so don't jump all over him, he is likely desperate too.

littlestressy Sun 13-Jan-13 09:12:03

This is really hard, I can see your point of view but also your DH. It is totally totally normal behaviour at this age and when your baby is crying you want to comfort them in whatever way you normally use, for your DS, just like so many other babies that is a breastfeed. It is also good though to try and get your DH to help comfort him...what if you weren't there and he wad upset, your DH needs to be able to cope too.
What you need to do is sit down with your husband, let someone look after your son for an hour or two so you can talk alone. He probably sees you getting up all night long and wants to help...but isn't sure how to do it. Obviously the physical barring from crying baby last night was wrong and you need to explain why it is wrong.
Does he feel left out? Does he want you to get more rest? You need to talk to him to understand what he thinks and discuss your differing approaches as calmly as possible.
However don't let him make you wean your DS off the breast until both you and he are ready, sleep will come in its own good time, whether you decide to do sleep training or not. You can breastfeed successfully until he is much older, it won't mean he will still wake every 2 hours.

I feel for you - similar rows with my dh too.

Ds was mix fed and if he woke up & dh was meant to be on duty he would immediately make him a bottle of formula he didn't need which irritated me as I was trying to keep him to only a bottle at bedtime.

We tried it this way as also have 3 dds who needed us at bedtime & I found it easier to share the load by doing a bottle then.

In the night I knew if I lay ds down in bed with me with my top up he would just sort himself out and we would all get more sleep but dh didn't like the co sleeping either..

Could/do you leave ds with dh for an hour or so during the day?

Sirzy Sun 13-Jan-13 09:13:10

When your husband is around during the day how much does he do for your son?

PenelopeChipShop Sun 13-Jan-13 09:14:32

Thank you all for replying especially to such a rambling post . I am considering everything that's been said. I am going to make it clear that he absolutely can not do what he did last night again but possibly I also need to let him have more time to try to comfort ds himself. I just know I will struggle because if I'm not in there I hear things go quiet and think ok, it's in hand - then ds starts crying again so my ears prick up and if it quickly escalates I KNOW it's because he has been put in the cot and left for a bit to self settle, which he won't do. So I go in wanting to cuddle ds and DH gets mad and says I'm ruining what he's trying to achieve. I suppose I can see his point of view but he doesn't understand what ds's crying does to me - its like an ache, I can't rest or bd happy unt I'm hiding him and trying to comfort him myself. If I hear his cry and see DH just standing looking into the cot it's like torture . This is how I feel, if might be irrational but I can't help it.

Tailtwister Sun 13-Jan-13 09:15:54

Actually NotMostPeople my currently 4 yo sleeps fine and did so when he was 3 too. So yes, I do think it's the best way. If OP's DH is fed up with his wife responding to a 6 month old baby, the he really needs to look at himself not at her.

Inertia Sun 13-Jan-13 09:16:01

It's unreasonable for your DH to bar your way to the cot. No wonder DS became distressed - he needed his mother, could see her, but the other person at the centre of his world was keeping mum away ; he was probably scared and confused.

You and DH are both tired, and you need to talk and agree strategies. That isn't the time to do it, and it absolutely is not the way to do it. You need to talk at a time when DS is calm , and decide together how best to share parenting. Weaning DS off bf is not necessary; breastfeeding is recommended as a baby's main source of nutrition until at least one year. A more helpful suggestion could be that your DH takes an active role in preparing and feeding solid foods as you gradually begin to introduce them.

AmberLeaf Sun 13-Jan-13 09:18:27

'just standing looking into the cot'

What?? why would he do that?

Is he one of those that thinks babies are wilfull and that it is a battle of wills?

He stands over his babies cot while he cries, is that correct?

AmberLeaf Sun 13-Jan-13 09:19:29

I don't know why people are saying the husband is stressed etc, he gets to sleep for 5 nights out of 7.

Gomez Sun 13-Jan-13 09:20:04

Breast feeding a baby isn't the only way to provide comfort. You and your DH need to decide on alternative approaches that work for you both, and that you both can do.

Arguments on what happens else where in the world, usually the developing world don't translate to here - babies there very much fit in to the basic demands of the family. Mothers don't chose to wear their babies whilst working it is because they have no choice, as an example.

The frequency of nighttime feeding you describe works if you co-sleep perhaps when baby self latches on and off. But that s not what you are doing and also perhaps doing your son a disservice by not allowing him to develop other ways.

One last thing - read the sleep boards on here. Many, many examples where parents were happy to do this at 6 months, pissed of by 12, utterly shattered by 18 and then contemplating throwing themselves of a bridge at 24.

Tailtwister Sun 13-Jan-13 09:20:10

How you feel is not irrational at all OP, it's natural. You are tuned into your baby for a reason and when he cries of course you're going to need to respond to him.

DontmindifIdo Sun 13-Jan-13 09:24:45

a bottle of formula won't help your baby sleep longer, but you could sleep longer if your DS can learn to take it and your DH can do that. If your DS won't take a bottle from you (of expressed milk or formula) has your DH tried when you are out of the house and there's no boob option for DS? I know several friends who said their DCs wouldn't take a bottle from them but would from their DP or their parents, same DCS wouldn't take a bottle from me or other BFing mothers who smelt of milk. It's worth going out round a feed time knowing your DH has a bottle (and possibly enough for more milk for 2 lots if DS does still feel hungry) and see what happens.

If that means you could take at least one feed out in the night (maybe the early the 10 - 11pm one so you could sleep from say 8pm -1am but your DH not have to get too tired for work - and a bit more sleep for you might do you both a world of good).

There's also a case for letting your DH try to settle your DS without milk, you assume he wants milk for comfort and have taught him this is the only sort of comfort available, perhaps when not feeling like death at 1am you could discuss it, next weekend let your DH try to settle DS without you feeding, if after 5 minutes he's not able to do so, you'll feed, but if he can, then I can see it making a huge improvement to your life. Make sure you both have clocks so you can see when it's been 5 minutes. (30 seconds listening to your baby cry can feel like a lifetime.) If you'd agreed a time for stepping in, then you don't look like you are undermining his attempt to help or saying he can't do it - it's a strategy you've both agreed on. If he doesn't think DS is settling after2 or 3 minutes he doesn't have to wait 5, he can bring DS to you straight away.

TrazzleMISTLEtoes Sun 13-Jan-13 09:25:32

OP, when your DH is trying to settle DS, can you take the opportunity to get out of the house and go for a walk? Or pop to a friend's for a coffee? Obviously not if this is in the middle of the night...!

Stonefield Sun 13-Jan-13 09:25:38

This sounds really normal to me. You're both exhausted, reaching the end of your tether and both behaving in ways you wouldn't if you weren't quite so tired and frustrated. Other posters vilifying your DH are being totally overdramatic. I think it probably is time for a new strategy as your child is waking a lot. Why don't you let your DH take the lead for one night and see what happens? You might be surprised.

LadyWidmerpool Sun 13-Jan-13 09:25:56

Your baby sounds like mine except mine is 16 months! I would find it hard to get over being physically kept from my crying 6 month old. 6 months is still tiny and a lot of babies that age and much older need help to sleep, whether breast, bottle, dummy, rocking, music or lights. I can't just lie down and go to sleep immediately either!

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