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To get a night nanny or try sleep training?

(43 Posts)
LoveRedShoes Tue 07-Dec-10 11:23:31

Please help! My DD is 17 months and has never ever been a good sleeper - she has never EVER slept for longer than two or three hours in a row on a night, and that in itself would be a big treat. She wakes several times during the night for hours at a time, and we are coming to the end of our tether. I am at the point where I am just getting to sleep and it is time to wake up. I have been barely functioning as I am like a zombie, and DH (who is a good help) is getting so tired he is not 'on the ball' for work. We are both intelligent people, adore our DCs, and have tried EVERYTHING and read EVERYTHING we can on this. Nothing works.
With DS (also a bad sleeper) at least he would co-sleep with us, so even though it was not ideal, I was happy to do that and we managed to get at least some sleep. DD will not sleep in with us, she wriggles and wants to play.
She is not upset particularly, just very very clingy and wants to be rocked or walked around with, and will not lie down. SHe is not like this during the day.
I have tried all the usual stuff, we have a bedtime routine, room is dark and quiet...tried background heating noises...shorter day naps...earlier and later bedtimes...etc....
So... what is the most reasonable next step?
AIBU to be sooo desperate that I am thinking a bit of 'crying it out' might help? I don't really like this method, (tried it with DS in desperation and he would just cry until he vomited, and I felt cruel). Or, do I use all of our spare cash on getting in a night nanny, so we can at least get some sleep, even if we are much worse off. DH thinks this is unreasonable, as at the moment, we can't really afford this.
I am so sleep deprived, I can't think straight. I am starting to feel ill all of the time. Please help!

carocaro Tue 07-Dec-10 11:26:44

Have you tried the gradual withdrawal method? I did this with both DS's and it worked. You have to stick right at it and keep your resolve and share it with your other half.

Google it - Dr Tanya Byron. even if they puck, you clear it and them up but no talking or soothing and no eye contact. You are there for them but not being sucked in to the rocking, soothing etc.

Night nannys are expensive and what happens when the leave?

You can do it and you will be glad you did.

Chil1234 Tue 07-Dec-10 11:28:41

I think you're at the stage where you have to encourage her to self-settle and if that means that she's left to make a noise in her own bed for a while then I think that's what you have to do. As you say, she's not upset... she's just used to getting the attention. If you leave her in her cot, she's safe, warm, not in any distress and it just takes time for them to understand that you're not going to go in to them every five minutes. It might take a few days to get the message but she will eventually.

It's not cruel BTW. What is cruel is what you're going through. Sleep deprivation is a terrible thing to endure. Good luck

carocaro Tue 07-Dec-10 11:28:46 women/families/article557145.ece

LoveRedShoes Tue 07-Dec-10 11:29:01

How long did it take for it to work, carocaro? I have tried this, but I am a sucker for the crying - hate to see DD upset.

LoveRedShoes Tue 07-Dec-10 11:30:44

Thanks for the link smile

Abr1de Tue 07-Dec-10 11:37:24

With chil on this one.

You just have to get on with it (sleep training, as detailed by carocaro). For everyone's sakes.

I went through this at about seven months with both children. It took just three nights.

Unrulysun Tue 07-Dec-10 11:38:41

I would share your concern about some methods of sleep training. There is evidence that crying for long periods affects babies' brains so maybe look at gentler methods first. Kelly mom has stuff on sleep and is a good resource. Have you posted in places other than AIBU here?

thebonkers Tue 07-Dec-10 11:38:56

try millpond - virtual sleep clinic - solved all my probs have recommeded on countless times cost was negligble for the life I got back.

Cleofartra Tue 07-Dec-10 11:40:10

I did cc with all two of mine.

With my dd it worked in three days.

The other one it didn't work with, but he eventually started sleeping through on his own at about 18 months. I've lately found out he's got ASD so maybe he wasn't learning in the same way as my dd. I'm glad I didn't allow it to go on (the crying) too long, given what I now know about him.

I would say to give it a go and see how you get on.

Would also suggest you talking to your HV if you haven't already done so. Are there any sleep clinics near to you that you could get help and support from?

QueenOfProcrastination Tue 07-Dec-10 11:42:32

Have you tried / read "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley? It is a halfway house between attachment parenting and controlled crying.

santasbluebaubles Tue 07-Dec-10 11:45:12

I did controlled crying with my two. I know many people don't approve of it, but it works.

Onetoomanycornettos Tue 07-Dec-10 11:45:20

Long periods of crying may affect babies brains, but my experience is that that is what you get when you don't sleep train relatively early on, you get much more sobbing and crying from older toddlers who are more articulate and likely to make you feel terrible. Personally I traded two nights of about 40 min crying at about eight months with months or years of angst, sobbing and crying and sleep deprivation which my poor friends who felt crying was 'cruel' ended up with for all three of their children. Perhaps others have tried gentler methods, but toddlers (not really a baby in this instance) who can't settle themselves seem to end up crying much more over a longer period of time.

Igglystuffedfullofturkey Tue 07-Dec-10 12:23:04

Could you try a telephone or email sleep consultation?

orangina Tue 07-Dec-10 12:39:53

I did controlled crying with ds when he was about 10 months... he had been a great sleeper from the start, but then had about 3 months of teeth, ear infections etc, and I think "forgot" how to settle. Like you, I couldn't bear the crying, it literally tore into me somewhere inside. I was up 3-5 times a night and then trying to work full time. Impossible. I became hysterical about it, and eventually we did cc. I say we, by that time I had such a strong emotional reaction to even a squeak from him, I couldn't deal with it and DH did it. I moved to the spare room w inductrial earplugs.

It took 2 nights. Longest he was allowed to cry was something like 13 minutes (built up to it from 1 minute, 2 minutes, 4 minutes, etc).

He is a fabulous sleeper now, puts himself to bed if he is tired, head hits the pillow and he is out like a light.

(He is 3 btw, not a giant lazy teenager grin).

orangina Tue 07-Dec-10 12:45:12

(btw our cc was no eye contact, no getting him out of bed, no feeding, but a bit of patting and soothing talk for a bit, then "night night" and out of his bedroom again...)

TattytinsellooksDevine Tue 07-Dec-10 12:52:48


annoyingdevil Tue 07-Dec-10 12:56:54

I personally believe that a couple of nights of controlled crying is less damaging on the child (and the rest of the family) than prolonged sleep problems.

Chances are a night nanny would do this anyway

LoveRedShoes Tue 07-Dec-10 14:42:21

Thanks everyone. Hadn't heard of MIllpond or email sleep clinics. Will certainly explore.
Orangina - thanks for your post. I am now verging on the hysterical - esp as my DH has loads of business trips in the short term future - I really don't want to be pacing the floor all night and then be up and in sole responsibility of two DCs for weeks at a time.
I need to do something NOW as clearly what we are doing is not working.
Perhaps I will try again with the withdrawl/ gentle cc (stay in the room but not pick her up any more).
Do you think I should sit /lie in the room and just pat her when she cries to be lifted out, or just say 'good night' and turn the other way?
I really don't want to have to bring in a night nanny, as I like my privacy and it would leave us very tight financially, as we have just moved house.

orangina Tue 07-Dec-10 15:23:48

I think you should be able to do it without a night nanny, but I think you should do it when your dh is around and I think he should share in the task itself.

my dh didn't have the same kind of emotional response to ds's crying, and it was a task for him. The little cc-ing I did (before I took myself to the spare room!) I decided to treat as a task, and between each crying spell, I would stay sitting up in bed, reading or doing a sudoko with the bedside light on, and wait for the next (inevitable) cry..., check the clock and start the timing process.

You and your dh need to agree exactly what the process will be, and who does what, and when. Otherwise (if you are anything like me), you get some really helpful 4am row thrown in for good measure.

(Ah happy days!)

I wouldn't stay in the room with her, but you have to do what feels ok to you... good luck!

Igglystuffedfullofturkey Tue 07-Dec-10 15:29:15

When DS has been unsettled, I pick him up, cuddle, put him down and say night night a couple of times. If he still is upset, I don't pick him up and stay by his cot saying night night. Usually he'll resettle unless he's really upset with wind or teeth.

Catilla Tue 07-Dec-10 15:42:43

From my experience I wouldn't stay in the room, I found that just distracts them.
I used lots of calming & repeated words, like "it's sleep time now" "shh" "quiet now, time to sleep"
then left the room, as long as they were actually lying down. I was trying to be calming but firm and insistent, rather than simply comforting, which would encourage them to want me to come back.

If they continue to cry, come back in on whatever schedule you've decided and reassure, repeat, pat etc, then find an opportunity to go again.

Like with Tanya Byron that someone mentioned (google House of Tiny Tearaways, not sure if the progs are on the net anywhere?) you just have to keep on repeating and repeating. I think she wasn't bothered about any particular timing, just about repeating the message.

Good luck, you can do it!

ignooored Tue 07-Dec-10 16:11:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kenobi Tue 07-Dec-10 16:50:36

I think that the situation with cc damaging babies' brains is that cortisol, a stress hormone, creates repetitive pathways which can lead to the child being more prone to stress and mental illness in later life. But i think the research is aimed at babies under the age of 12 months. i think this is because under the age of 12 months they don't understand WHY they are being left in the dark alone and ignored.
But you have a 17 month old who is well able to understand 'hush now, sleepy time'. Don't feel guilty: you have to sort this sometime or she might have sleep problems into adulthood and she won't thank you for that.

hatsybatsy Tue 07-Dec-10 16:55:46

we had exactly the same dilemma at about that age - came v close to hiring a night nanny at great expense.

dh talke me out of it - we knew that she would basically come in and do cc with him - so we could either pay her to do it or do it ourselves.

was v hard work (took 5 nights if i remember?) -but it did improve the situation hugely.

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