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AIBU or is DH - we seem to have totally different approaches to parenting and I didn't see this coming(136 Posts)
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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.
I am pretty outraged on your behalf, I'm glad your dh apologised, but it's pretty shitty behaviour from him anyway. He used his physical strength to enforce his wishes above yours, to physically prevent you from reaching your child. It's abusive. I don't think an apology would be enough for me, I'd need him to understand how far he'd crossed the line of acceptable behaviour in a relationship.
I don't think it's at all unusual for a 6 month old to wake every couple of hours, mine did at that age. It sounds like you're coping as well as you can. If you're doing all the night waking then I think you get to choose how you settle your dc.
Of course there's a middle ground!
I don't know why, whenever there's a mention of doing something to help babies sleep better, some people assume you're just going to leave your baby to cry all night. There's loads of gentle things you can do.
I think babies are like people, some will sleep like a log with no problem, others need a few 'tricks' to sleep properly.
We used something like this when DS was little -- it has soft music and a little lightshow -- we put it on when we put him to bed (sleepy, not asleep) and then again when he woke in the night.
Of course there is a middle ground.
I ebf ds2 too and did all the 'getting up through the night'; until he was about 6 months old.
At that time, I felt he was using bfing more as a comfort method rather than a feed so I started to try and reduce the feed. Until it was very clear he didn't need a feed but only comfort.
It's at this point that I ask DH to step in. Because he could go in and settle ds2 just as well as I did (if not better because I found it difficult to settle ds2 wo a feed to start with).
So we went in, gave ds2 a cuddle, put him back in the cot, left our hand on him until he settled down.
And it worked.
The one thing I would say though is
Remember your child is an individual. Saying that 'babies should sleep though by 6 months old' might not be working for your child because ...well not because of your parenting but because your child needs comfort more than another one.
So don't beat yourself up because 'you haven't done the right thing'. It might just be the way your child is wired (Do check what you do though).
FWIW, One of my dcs slept right through by the time he was 3 months old. The other didn't until he was over 2yo.
Both could fall asleep on their own by the age of 6 months old. None needed a feed/whatever prop to fall asleep in the middle of the night. But one needed cuddles/comforting A LOT and still does now that he is 9 yo.....
Oh, btw, don't take whatever the HV is saying as gospel.
Remembers a HV telling a desperate mum that the only way to deal with her baby waking was to let her cry even though she couldn't because it was waking her toddler up, which then created mayhem
Remember that there is no 'ONE RIGHT WAY' to deal with babies but one right way for THAT baby and you are the best person to decide what it is.
Agree about the HV
Also remember that nothing is set in stone, you can try out lots of different things and see what works. I found something might work for a while, then DS would go off it and I'd have to try something else.
I say this because it can get a bit panicky looking for the one solution, but it helps to just go into it thinking, Right, let's try this and see what happens.... No, okay, let's try something else...
Without bombarding you with loads of different views, which means I'm about to. I've got three and I find Tanya Bryon, Your Child Your way really useful. It looks at each child and each family being different and having different needs and that applying a 'technique' often fails as parents do not look at the root cause of what is happening or at triggers and then to change those.
I used it for advice on feeding, sleeping and tantrums later on. I adapted it to fit mine and my families needs so for sleeping I didn't do CIO or CC, its more probably CC lite. I would leave them to settle, if they didn't and were upset I'd leave them for a little, max 5 mins and then go in, soothe and settle etc, once calm put them down and go out. If they were upset again I'd wait a couple of mins and repeat. The times weren't set in stone and I didn't go down the 5/10/15 mins route. I listened to the cries, if they were getting distressed I would go in and calm them. I couldn't listen to them getting distressed and I think it is counterproductive for them to be distressed, they aren't going to sleep. However I did let them cry a bit and they did learn to self settle. It depends on the individual child and mine have varied.
You have to feel comfortable in what you try and when, otherwise it isn't going to work. If you think 6 months is too earlier, try later and don't try it when the baby is ill, teething, you or DH have a lot going on. Children wil grow out of things, they may need a nudge at times or you may decide that the lack of sleep for you is damaging what you do in the day or your health and you would like to tackle it now. Don't feel guilty about it, as a mother you need to look after yourself too. Overall decide what you and your DH would like and work towards it slowly, parenting isn't quick fixes but about thinking about your childs needs and the parents needs and balancing them. Trust your instincts. I find this stage of development exhausting, everyone does.
one thing I took from the no cry sleep solution was something like this (read it 3 years ago so could be wrong!) - Most adults wake up for a few seconds each night, plump the pillow etc then go back to sleep. But imagine when you wake for those few seconds you aren't in your bedroom anymore, but in the kitchen, you wouldn't roll over and go back to sleep, you'd be sat up, trying to work out what happened and be upset!
If you feed to sleep in your arms (and I was even worse, feeding DS to sleep in a different room as it had a comfier chair then transporting him to his bed!) then the place your DC falls asleep (your arms with boob in mouth) is completely different to where they wake up (in bed/cot, no snuggly mummy, no boob).
You might have to do this in stages, you do'nt have go straight from this to crying it out. What about feeding a little earlier then cuddling to sleep to start with (I introduced a dummy to deal with the needing to suck to sleep, however at the age of 3, DS is particularly unkeen on giving this up so might not be the best advice), then moving into cuddling until nearly asleep then putting down while patting, hand holding until asleep, then eventually they should get to sleep quicker.
Also, if your DS is having a growth spurt, at 6 months, look at the calories in what you are filling him up on in the day. A lot of the early weaning purees are veggie and are actually a lot lower calorie than milk, so your DS could be still genuinely hungry at night even if it looks like they've eaten well in the day. See if you can get extra milk feeds in during the day to make sure he's had enough to get him through the night.
OP iif youa re really struggling I would recommend using a sleep consultant if you can. We used one with our DS (who was waking hourly at about 6 months) and it really helped. We used Millpond and they recommended gradual retreat as we couldn't face CC either - it could be the halfway house you are looking for. It takes quite a long time but is quite gentle. The best thing about it was having someone on the end of the phone or email who could encourage us - we wer just to tired to come up with a plan or follow it through without support. Hope it all goes well and glad your DH apologised - it did sound bad but it's maybe comparable to the times I sat in the corner and cried rather than going to DS as I was so tired or considered putting a pillow on him to stop him crying. Not great but stress and sleep deprivation make you do funny things.
You might find 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' by Elizabeth Pantley helpful. My daughter went through a phase like this at 10 months. Using the book I managed to change things so she was going to bed at a reasonable time and waking twice a night which I was happy with but I probably could have perservered to improve things even more. I fed her to sleep until she was 3 when I nightweaned her easily. You can nightwean a lot earlier but I don't think I would try until 1 year.
At that stage it would be much easier if your DH was the one to go in and comfort him.
Your DH might feel better if he felt there was a plan in place? It's so difficult to think clearly when you're both so tired.
You've gotten a lot of good advice, just want to repeat that it really will get better and you and dh will hopefully look back and laugh at how awful it was. I thank my lucky stars every day that my second child sleeps 13 hours a night without a peep.
Haven't read the whole thread OP..school time- but this sounds very familiar. My ex did exactly this. It was extremely upsetting at the time. But, in my particular situation, it was a drop in the ocean of what was to come regarding controlling and emotionally abusive behaviour. How are things otherwise? Not to scare monger but really struck a cord.