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To warn MNers with small babies not to make a rod for their backs

(158 Posts)
PenelopeChipShop Mon 16-Sep-13 01:11:14

I am already up for the second time tonight with ds and he won't let me put him back in the cot. He's now 14 months and has never slept for more than 4 hours at a stretch - that was twice and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven at 4 hours sleep. Average is 2-3 hours, but hourly wake ups are not unusual. This is EVERY night, when healthy and not teething, he just cannot sleep for long stretches.

I have come to the conclusion that I can only blame myself and DH I suppose for not teaching him good sleep habits / self settling etc. I didn't read any books on Baby sleep until we already had a problem so did everything you aren't supposed to do - let him nap in my arms, rocked him, fed him to sleep. And co slept for a year. At the time when friends warned me about the things I should have been doing I was relaxed about it and is it thought I want to enjoy snuggling him and not worry about the future. He hated being out down so I never pushed him to sleep alone.

Now I have a 14 month old who still won't sleep and requires constant re settling throughout the night. I am broken with tiredness. Always thought I wanted 2 dc but both DH and I are no longer sure that we could go through this again. I do all the nights though!

So if you have a new baby and thought the same as me be warned. If you don't try and teach babies to sleep before they are too old to object, well guess what - they don't just learn it on their own. It's too late for me but maybe I can save others from my fate. So so sooooo tired :-(

monkeymamma Wed 18-Sep-13 21:31:06

OP I was very similar to you, I always rocked or BF my son to sleep and at 13m he was waking throughout the night wanting milk every couple of hours sometimes even hourly. That was the point where i just couldnt do it any more. We did cold turkey on night time feeds, and I started in the evening breast feeding until he was relaxed but not alseep, then popping him in the cot awake. Once he could settle himself (we didn't do any cc but we did do shh pat/disappearing chair) he just stopped waking in the night. It was like magic. and he has been The Best sleeper ever since (he used to be the worst sleeper ever, even his naps were like 20mins... Now they're 2 hours...ahhh!). I can't tell you the diffence it makes to everything: your outlook, energy levels, ability to cope with a toddler in the daytime!
Basically what I'm saying is, I don't think you've made a rod for your own back, things will likely get much much better sooner than you think. After 12m it is a lot easier to do eg shh pat (if we had our time again, I wouldn't have done it any sooner to be honest) as by that age you have a better idea of when they are distressed and when they are crying/waking out of habit.
Good luck and hope you get some sleep soon!

ThisWayForCrazy Wed 18-Sep-13 21:11:44

I have three children. They are all rods. I wouldn't have it any other way smile

neunundneunzigluftballons Wed 18-Sep-13 21:10:07

When you have a teenager I reckon you will have to drag him from the bed. I had 2 sleepers and then DS who only started sleeping through at 18 mths if I had my way I would have had the same with the older 2 and not the other way around. I adored the night time cuddles and feeds. At the end of the day they grow up fast so it is lovely to have that time when they are young. Don't get me wrong it was tough at times and there were definitely times I would have loved a sleeper but when we night weaned him at 18 mths he was well ready and got into it immediately. Definitely not a rod IMO.

FrameyMcFrame Wed 18-Sep-13 21:01:40


''let him nap in my arms, rocked him, fed him to sleep. And co slept for a year. At the time when friends warned me about the things I should have been doing I was relaxed about it and is it thought I want to enjoy snuggling him''

Comfort and cuddles no?

NothingsLeft Tue 17-Sep-13 12:01:53

I sleep training DS for months. Shh patted, night weaned, gradual withdrawal, CC, even have CIO a go at 13 months out of desperation. We kept at it as every man & his dog insisted sleep training worked. Even paid millpond £350 to help in case we were doing it wrong.

Made absolutely no difference apart from making DH & I even more exhausted.

Co-slept out of necessity once I went back to work (which I had to delay as I was too sleep deprived), fed him if he woke and his sleep improved. After a few weeks he started sleeping through...went back into the cot and is fine 90% of the time at 18 months...

CoteDAzur Tue 17-Sep-13 11:15:19

Tondelayo - I haven't read any of those books and neither have I ever done CIO with either DC.

CoteDAzur Tue 17-Sep-13 11:12:15

Lweji grin

CoteDAzur Tue 17-Sep-13 11:11:40

"there is no such thing as making a rod for your own back by giving too much comfort and cuddles!!! "

That is not what the OP is about.

Those of us who have used sleep training methods don't say "Oooh we gave too much comfort and too many cuddles to the baby today, so no more cuddles until tomorrow afternoon, and we will hold him at arms length until then too, so as not to give any more cuddles".

Lweji Tue 17-Sep-13 11:09:54

Obviously, when people tell you you don't need to sleep as much as you think you do, or that sleep is underrated. grin

CoteDAzur Tue 17-Sep-13 11:08:27

"otedzur. No actually, I am very aware what sleep deprecation is like"

Well, I don't. What on earth is 'sleep deprecation'?

ipswichwitch Tue 17-Sep-13 10:32:41

DS was always a crappy sleeper. The only thing that made it bearable for us was to co sleep (at least we weren't physically getting out of bed to deal with him umpteen times a night). At about 12 months he stopped nighttime feeds (bf) but still woke every 2 hours. At 16 months he stopped his bedtime bf altogether (just as I was thinking of bringing it to an end anyway). He just stopped needing cuddling to sleep and wen he started talking he asked for "bed" so we'd put him down and he wanted to hold hands til he fell asleep.

Then he started sleeping through. Brilliant we thought, he's finally got it! Then his back teeth started coming through. Now he's almost 2, and will settle quite easily at bedtime but we can't seem to progress from the hand holding (gets hysterical if we try, but since its only 10 mins we're happy to keep on for the time being). For the last 2 weeks we've had multiple night wakings again due to teething, and have been bringing him to bed with us as he wants the comfort and we both work.

Guess what I'm trying to say is that as they grow and develop, their sleep patterns change. Just because they sleep through at 6 weeks doesn't mean they will always sleep through (yes SIL, I'm talking to you), and conversely just because they start off being a crappy sleeper doesn't necessarily mean they always will be. We did once try cc ad he got so distressed he vomited all over. That was the first and last attempt at sleep training.

Yes, the multiple wakings an calpolling are hideously draining when we're both up for work in the morning, but we cling on to the mantra that it won't last forever, and we're just responding to his needs as they are now. Fwiw, he is a happy, confident little boy, who seems to gve no ill effects from lack of sleep (just us!)

I know your DH works, but surely not 7 days a week? Maybe he can do all the night waking stuff on weekends/ hen he doesn't need to be up in the morning. Then you get at least 1/2 decent sleeps a week (he'll still get 5 remember!) then you can take over in the morning while he has a lie in. Yes, weekends may be a bit of a write off, but its not forever. We did this and it saved our sanity.

Lweji Tue 17-Sep-13 07:46:07

You are the comforter. smile

One piece of advice I really took on board was that babies (and adults) sleep in cycles of about 2 hours. They sort of wake up and will normally go back to sleep if all is well.
If they are hungry or in discomfort they will wake up, but also if things look different.

So, when DS started waking up a lot I'd double ensure he settled himself to sleep.
That meant a go to bed routine, with a book, a cuddle and dim lights then dark.
I'd soothe every minute for a while, then 2 min. He'd fall asleep usually after the loudest cry. It did help him sleep longer at night.

He is 8, he still likes cuddles to sleep and to sleep in my bed, even though he's quite happy to be on his own as well.

TiredFeet Tue 17-Sep-13 07:29:10

Yabu, but you have my massive sympathies, sleep deprivation is awful.
Only examples I know but my nephew was left to cry to get him to settle and he's now a nightmare at bedtimes
Ds was a nightmare sleeper as a baby and we had to co-sleep/feed to sleep to cope. He now settles every night without any hassle (stories, a lullaby and then he just snuggles up with his teddy and drifts off). I did use very gentle sleep training methods when he was about 14 months though as I was desperate! We stopped feeding at night, dh would go in and offer him water in a bottle instead. And to settle him at bed time I sat by the bed cuddling him instead of feeding to sleep.

zirca Tue 17-Sep-13 05:58:30

I don't think it's necessarily your fault for co-sleeping, cuddling etc. My DS co-slept 'till a year, and was always fed/cuddled to sleep (still is). At a year, I night weaned. It took one night till he no longer asked for milk, then we had a few weeks of him waking in the night and wanting to come into our bed. I never said no. He just came in, cuddled and went straight to sleep. Gradually he woke less and less, and then it only took a hand on his back to settle him when he woke and couldn't sleep. Now he rarely wakes, and usually self-settles again unless he's kicked all his covers off and is cold. We did buy one of those musical things that plays when they cry and it did help as it comes on when he stirs before he's fully awake. I play it when he's first falling asleep too, and it pretty much puts him to sleep now.

PenelopeChipShop Tue 17-Sep-13 05:49:51

Yes the comforter thing has got to have something to do with it. I am also trying out every bear, monkey and frog he owns on night duty to see if any of them make a difference but he isn't especially attached to anything in particular.

leonardofquirm Mon 16-Sep-13 21:03:27

By the way OP your name made me grin grin

leonardofquirm Mon 16-Sep-13 20:34:11

<Looks at 17 month old finally falling asleep on my knee>

Nope it seems to be the way they are.

My oldest gradually started to sleep all night from just before he was 1, he rarely woke up by the time he was 2. He is generally quite laid back and likes to lounge with a cuddly toy.

DS2 has been a different kettle of fish. Had only slept more than a few hours in a row about 6 times and is a wee ball of energy. Just non stop and can hardly sit still for a story, whereas his brother would have listened to 6 in a row at that age. As a previous poster mentioned, he doesn't have a comforter or suck his thumb.

Both bf and/or cuddled to sleep for as long as they wanted and whenever they woke, just different.


PenelopeChipShop Mon 16-Sep-13 19:39:53

TrueStory I hate it too. That's why I based all my decisions on not worrying about it. But this far down the line I am questioning that!

Penelope thanks for another great post. What you say does make sense. I actually intended this post to be semi tongue in cheek but I think my genuine desperation has come through! I hadn't really thought of it as that serious but yeah, I probably shouldn't be making life decisions based on what should be a short period of ds infancy!

Going to have to talk to Dh I think. He really isn't too bad - gives me lie ins at the weekend to catch up and helps put ds down for the night if he's playing up - but it's the middle of the night stuff that's a killer!

Thanks to everyone for thoughts and advice. It is reassuring to hear that so many people don't think I'm to blame, at least!

TrueStory Mon 16-Sep-13 18:42:02

I just really hate that phrase "rod for your own back". Usually announced by bored disciplinarians or wet blankets who cannot be creative with the demands they face. So they come up with that tripe phrase.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Mon 16-Sep-13 18:39:03

Cote Dazur no I haven't forgotten what sleep deprivation is like - which is why I used methods that worked for me - safe co sleeping, feeding to sleep, midnight walks in the buggy, cuddling and rocking. Not reading books about "sleep training" and "self settling" which made things worse and had no impact.

I tried CIO once and it was horrible and made things worse.

LikeItIs Mon 16-Sep-13 18:37:59

I hate threads like this. OP I hope your situation improves and you get some rest. As for most of what's written here...

Posters keep saying "All babies are different. I breastfed to sleep, co-slept, never left baby to cry...." I get a real feeling that, despite all babies being different, co-sleeping, bfing to sleep, etc is what these posters think we all ought to be doing. Well every baby is different and some won't bf to sleep. Some cannot cope with being in the same room as their parents, despite the SIDS advice (nope, baby hasn't read this either). Some cry because they just want to go to sleep but don't know how. No amount of shushing and patting will help that. And if you have a baby like this you might have to do something to help them.

That might be some form of sleep training <shock horror> and if that works, and you come onto an Internet forum saying it worked for your baby, you should not be castigated for that. (All babies being different and all.) I dread to think how many mothers have been put off making a considered choice about sleep training (I don't necessarily mean cc or cio) by the sanctimonious stuff written on here.

And while I'm on my soap box, I'll say: every parent is different too. Some parents cannot cope with months or years of broken sleep. Some cope beautifully and it doesn't significantly impact on how they behave and parent during the day. Some find it tough and sometimes wonder if they'd be a nicer/more productive/happier person if they got more sleep. What all these parents likely have in common is that they love their children and are just trying to do what they think is best on the whole for their child.

There is no "best way" to do it.

Felyne Mon 16-Sep-13 18:26:45

I reckon that sleeping well is just one of those milestones that some kids reach before others, like walking or talking. They write books about sleep rather than other milestones because they sell - everyone wants a good sleeping baby!
My daughter didn't sleep through until about the age of your LO when in desperation I did a sort of controlled crying. I had tried doing Baby Whisperer from 3mo, didn't work for us.
I felt like I'd done everything wrong, all of the effort that I'd gone to to try to get her sleeping through, it didn't work. I just think she finally slept through when she was ready but by the time she was, I was close to a breakdown I think! I was so stressed.

My son is now the same age as yours, he doesn't sleep through yet either. He usually ends up in our bed, I breastfeed him to sleep and if I'm still awake I return him to his cot, or if I fall asleep he stays in with us! He goes about 4-5 hours at most so wakes 2-4 times a night.
With my son, I've accepted that it's just the way he is (or, just the way my kids are apparently) and so I don't feel as stressed about it which helps. I am not fighting to get him to do something that he's not yet ready to do. I don't want to do CC yet as I don't want to wake up DD or husband (who has to be rested for work) unnecessarily. (I'm a SAHM)

When you find what works (and you will), it works because it is the right time for it to work. If you'd tried it earlier, it wouldn't necessarily have worked then if you see what I mean.

FrameyMcFrame Mon 16-Sep-13 18:08:13

YABU, there is no such thing as making a rod for your own back by giving too much comfort and cuddles!!!
Surely you know this really?
By being there for your baby you have reduced their stress levels while their brains are developing. Your baby will reap the rewards of this as they grow.
Don't go against your own instincts and start following a book instead!

Akray Mon 16-Sep-13 18:01:37

cotedzur. No actually, I am very aware what sleep deprecation is like, my DC is 6mths and bf every 2-3 hours during the night, but this time is precious to me ~ they are only this small and dependable for such a short time and I enjoy these one to one moments where I can. Totally agree with rooners grin

atrcts Mon 16-Sep-13 17:24:59

I have to disagree with you (in a nice way) because with my first baby I was careful to try and not rock or push or sing to sleep etc, and he is still an awful sleeper at 3.5 years!

With my second baby, I decided that I had nothing to lose and I was happy with the idea of stroke, rock, sing, and a dummy, but he sleeps brilliantly by himself doesn't often need much intervention from me at all.

So the surprising conclusion seems to be that it largely depends on the personality of the child.

I'm not knocking what experts say about sleep, because too many people seem to be saying the same thing about that, but there are other people who (on the flip side of the coin) suggest that you can't spoil a child and they will sleep when they're ready, whatever you do or don't do regardless.

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