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AIBU to ask how to get my child to sleep independently?(26 Posts)
My baby is almost one. We co-sleep at night and for most naps. There are some valid reasons for why I originally did this but I won’t go into them here.
The problem now is my baby can only sleep by being breastfed (then using me as a human pacifier for a significant time), or by movement (in a carrier/car seat/pushchair).
I want my child to start using the cot to sleep, independent of me. It’s just the two of us home alone during lockdown so any tips to make the transition as gentle as possible for both of us?
Apologies for the bump but I would love some help. I posted last night but that was probably bad timing as evening threads tend to be saucy, whereas I just need some good old baby advice.
Are you continuing to breastfeed OP? Only reason I ask is if you will still be feeding at night anyway then I found it easier to just feed DS to sleep and have done with it.
I stopped at 14 months, and to be honest I can't remember the specifics but I know that I tried all the 'gentle' sleep training methods and the only thing that worked was controlled crying which I realise isn't for everyone. I think I had some success with the shush, pat method for a while. Trouble with DS was, a growth spurt would undo all the work.
Thanks leafy. Yes, he is still bf. I’ve read so many things about this, but putting it into practice and the thought of letting him cry...
I've never been in your situation but I have several friends who were. They all went one of two ways, they either waited it out until the child was ready to stop and move into their own bed (which did happen eventually, I think before age two in almost every case) or they used controlled crying.
In order to do it gently you will need to phase out gradually. It will take months and even doing it slowly, there is likely to be SOME crying. This doesn't mean leaving them to cry, but it does mean accepting that to reduce reliance on breastfeeding to sleep, you will have to move to other means of comfort and your baby won't like the change.
E.g. breastfeed till drowsy, then rock to sleep. When baby is used to this, rock to sleep from fully awake.
Rock til drowsy, then pat in cot until asleep.
Pat til drowsy, then lay in cot with hand on tummy till asleep.
Hand on tummy till drowsy, then nothing but remain in room, singing etc.
Sing as they are falling asleep, but gradually leave room singing.
It will likely take at least 2 weeks in each of those stages, much longer if you have a bit of a stubborn clingy baby.
Ps the baby WILL cry. Why would they accept change without crying. A gentle approach means you don't leave them crying, you can offer comfort but you should be aiming to gradually reduce the amount of physical comfort you need to provide.
Also - introduce a comforter or cuddly toy. My 9m old has a satin edged cloth and will rub/chew this, it's fantastic.
Do you have a partner who can settle your baby with you out of the way? They could do a gradual withdrawal method which might work.
While you are still feeding it’s a bit unlikely you’ll be able to change this now.
Ps it's perfectly possible to do this while continuing to breastfeed (I did with both of mine), but
A) there will be crying
B) more likely to be successful if you get dad involved to resettle at night
C) more likely to be successful if you gradually change how you feed - if it's your go to/only way of comforting your child, day or night (rather than being primarily about nutrition) it is going to take much longer/not be successful.
E.g. when I did it (earlier on for me, 4-6m) I also changed from feeding on demand to a more scheduled approach, and I stopped allowing loads of non nutritive sucking unless very poorly. From 6m onwards your milk supply is well established and demand led, and a reduction in non nutritive suckling should not impact it.
Nothing much works until you drop/reduce night time feeding. In my experience.
I did it in a 2 stage programme, starting by focusing on EITHER getting them to settle in the cot OR drop the night feeds, and then add in part 2 when we started to get a technique going with part one.
Different things worked with different children (I have done this 4 times) and some of them took to it really easily, some took a lot longer.
One thing that worked with all of them was singing 10 green bottles over and over again in a slow, gentle rhythm and rubbing their backs. And being really, really persistent. You get there in the end, but only if you don't give up.
The best way I can suggest is starting to get your baby off to sleep but without being breastfed to sleep if that's what you want to do is to get somebody else to rock your baby to sleep.
My daughter was always fed to sleep until 13 months of age. I wanted her to stop relying on the boob to fall asleep so dad stepped in with a rocking chair and rock her to sleep. It was great because I've got my evening is back and she learnt to fall asleep without the boob.
In time I tried to get her to sleep without the boob and so far I've been successful each time. She has her booby downstairs, then gets ready for bed and goes up.
My Nextep is to stop feeding her every time she wakes up at night which is a lot. I tried gentle quiet out the other day and it was an absolute disaster I'm not doing that again so I don't advise it personally.
As for the cot could you put the cot next to your bed like next to me crib or keep the crib in your room but over the other side of the room or are you looking to put them in their own room entirely
If you find the answer please let me know......4 years later DD still in with me no matter what I try! 🤣
OP, it helps to remember that a big part of why baby might cry at bedtime is because they are tired. Also to realise that doing controlled crying doesn't mean your child crying at bedtime for the next 5 years.
My daughter is happy to be put in her cot. She smiles up at me as I say night night, reaches for her satin edged blanket, and is wriggling down in her gro bag as I leave the room. She hasn't "learned to lie there upset but think there's no point in crying" which some people who are again at controlled crying will imply. She's calm, happy and relaxed in her own bed - she has learned to associate it as a comfortable, safe, secure place where she is happy to sleep.
I can only tell you what I did. From about 6 months old I moved us to a mattress on the floor in his room. I kept feeding to sleep and then left once he was asleep.
At first I would move him to his cot once deeply asleep. Then at about 1 year old I just started leaving him on the mattress all night.
I did eventually stop breastfeeding at 21 months old, it was pretty easy in the end, I just said the milk was all gone and offered cuddles and songs. I was pregnant though, so maybe he knew my milk was gone.
Our new routine is stories and cuddles until he falls asleep. Recently, at two years old, I've been able to say that I'll stay for two minutes after the last story and then say goodnight. He cried about that for 3 mins the first night, 1 the next and has been fine with it ever since.
So it has just evolved naturally. And at two years old he self settles in his own room and sleeps through the night.
One thing I've found is that they can understand a lot more than you think, so really explain, and repeat why you are making a change.
Gradual is kindest. Be consistent so they learn what the new expectations are.
I did all the bedtime routine. Laid with them for little while to read. After that said good night, hugs and kiss. Left the room. It was hard at first, lots of crying and I waited until they were sleep a few times in the beginning.
Depends on the child, my dd I was preparing for it to be emotional for us both. It wasn’t, she went to sleep never looked back.
Yes agree with above poster setsoma.... explain even if you think “they won’t get this”, it really seemed to help.
To echo another poster we used gentle methods tonight wean my son of bottles. He would still scream the house down if there wasn't a bottle of milk at 2am and 4am and 6am for him. So we swapped to water, then to a cuddle and then to a pat on back. All done is 2 week phases. Yes there was crying the first night but key is to be consider and not give in so we cried for his milk but got water and a cuddle. It took so much time and sleepless nights but he adapted.
When we taught him self settle to start with (7 weeks) we used to place a hand on his stomach and give him a comforter (which I wore down my bra to scent it) and he still now at 2 won't go to sleep without it. Works for us
OP if you decide to sleep train (which as someone doing it currently with a 5mo and unable to believe how many hours of my life I wasted holding my firstborn in the dark, I personally recommend), there’s a “support” thread in the Sleep section for a few of us doing it currently. It’s worth having a look to see how we’re getting on, we’re all really pleased and the babies are more rested also.
My eldest started sleeping through consistently at 15mo once he went to nursery and was getting more tired during the day. I breastfed to 17mo but didn’t co sleep. If you don’t want to make abrupt changes, I’d recommend the gradual step changes someone advised upthread. Having said that, sleep training should take 1-2weeks, so you could always commit to a method for 7 days/nights and then reassess after that if you’re not happy with the outcome.
I think you need to stop feeding him to sleep...
You are a human dummy. Stop night feeds and feeding to sleep. I would do that before I considered stopping co-sleeping as he will need comforting as he learns to sleep without either sucking or movement.
Thanks for all of the responses. So useful. I welcome any more tips and yesI will head over to the sleep section. I didn’t know there was one.
My husband works for the NHS and is currently living away from us so for safety can’t help
I read a lot/listened to a lot of advice with my first baby. And then I tried the bits I liked the sound of. And then adapted them as I went along. And built a slightly different technique with each child. The key is finding a way that feels OK for you. And remembering that whilst advice and suggestions can be incredibly useful, there are also no hard and fast rules (so long as everything you do is done with love and respect).
Mesmeri is right; try a few things and do what feels best for you and your child.
At 4 DS now goes off to bed happily, but ends up in our bed at some point through the night. I don't change it because we all quite like the cuddles! Maybe if it's still happening when he's 40 I'll worry
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