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if you don't sleep train are you doomed to 2 yrs or more of broken nights?

(27 Posts)
dreamsofsleep Tue 12-Jul-11 08:52:46

hi all
dd is 5 mths old ... from about 3 weeks till she was 3.5/4 mths she would sleep 7/8-ish till midnight/1ish, then wake at 3/4 and at 6/7. since 3.5-4 mths she is waking at 10-11ish, then 2, 4, 6, 7.30. I know there are people who have it a lot worse out there but i am shattered and also really worried because sleep has got WORSE not better and freaked out by stories of people whose babies didn't sleep till they were 2!
i've mostly just fed when she's woken, though in past week we've tried to get her through till midnight before feeding. tried cry it out -horrendous, against all my instincts to try, didn't work she cried for an hour. what mostly seems to work for her is white noise ... interestingly, if i get her through the first waking without feeding or picking up till midnight she then sometimes feeds at midnight and goes through till 3/4 then 6/7 ... but sometimes i feel i have to feed at 11ish as DH gets up for work at ridiculous o'clock and i want him to sleep.
basically, what i would really like advice/survivors' stories on is: if you take the attitude that a) this is a phase b) all babies are different and essentially sleep well when they are ready for it rather than sleep training are you dooming yourself to years of bad sleep? Are there people with older babies/toddlers out there who just waited out bad sleep phases/fed through them etc and who saw them improve naturally? If so how long did it take? And also is 4-7 mths a particularly bad time?
Oh and also, as quite often during night feeds she feeds very briefly and then goes back to sleep -does this mean she's not hungry?or just feeding more efficiently? or just a little hungry? Or what???? Oh, to understand babies better!!

dreamsofsleep Tue 12-Jul-11 08:53:33

oh dd is breastfed, by the way

worldgonecrazy Tue 12-Jul-11 08:57:58

Are you cosleeping? If not then see if you can work out a syste where you can, or even just have her in a cot next to you. Learn to sleep on your side, that way you don't have to stir when they wake up, just pop them on the nipple and go back to sleep. Around 18-22 weeks is a bad time for sleeping, there is so much going on developmentally it really seems to throw them. If she is only waking briefly she probably just wants a cuddle more than anything, but breast is a very easy source of comfort. Around 13 months we night weaned by offering water instead of breast during the night.

lots33 Tue 12-Jul-11 09:02:21

You have my sympathies, it is hard!

Your LO's sleep pattern sounds similiar to mine at that age. I went with it until about 6.5 months when he was taking a good amount of solids. We then dropped to one night feed (or two max) - this took a week of my DP dealing with night wakings and using shush pat back to sleep. It was an awful week but by the end DS was ony waking once - so bed 7, feed 2 ish and waking 6.

He has had a few odd nights of sleeping through - about 1/2 nights a week.

At nine months he had another sleep regression and this lasted only about a week - we were 'tougher' this time as he was older and we were OK about leaving him to cry for 5/10 minutes which we had not been at 5 months.

He is now 10.5months and generally wakes once. I feed him because it is easier and I am lazy but I am thinking about night weaning. I am hopeful he is near to sleeping through.

On the whole, I believe that if they can self settle babies will sleep through when they are ready; it just takes some (mine and yours) longer than others!


jbells Tue 12-Jul-11 09:06:44

hi my dd was pretty much the same as yours the first yesr was horrendous and she finally started sleeping thru at 13 months i know it seems awful but it will stop dd is now 2 and has bin a perfect sleeper for over a year now. one thing i did find helped which i started when she got to 1 but wish i tried sooner was if she woke more than once in the night i wud just give her a little water instesd of milk as she had got used to feeding during nite and this was the only way she wud sleep i found the wster slowly got her off expecting food at nite but without the crying. we also slowly got her used to putying herself to sleep but this was difficult and to begin with we were forever in and out the bedroom but it paid of in long run smile hope this helps a bit im on fone so.sorry for typos

naturalbaby Tue 12-Jul-11 09:14:00

i have a 5 1/2month bf baby and have been following gina ford ish routine as i have 2 older boys. i did sleep training with ds1 but couldn't with ds2 as they shared a room and he has been much more difficult to self settle. sleep training isn't recommended before 6months and i don't think you can really do it before 7months when you are sure they have had enough food/milk during the day to sleep through without waking for hunger/thirst. i am feeding every 2hrs ish at the moment because he is really hungry (we're just starting weaning) and to get as much milk into him during the day as possible.

gina ford recommends keeping the 10pm dream feed untill they can get to 6 or 7am without a full feed. i tried leaving him a few times and he woke at midnight so i try and top him up before i go to bed at 10:30. last night he slept till 5am then back to sleep till 6:30.

i think it is a really good idea to get it sorted well before 12months but i wouldn't start worrying or trying this early. give it a few more weeks as there is a lot of development going on at this age, let weaning get started/settled then decide how you want to do things. i've got the no-cry sleep solution and worked through the whole book before starting self settling/sleep training/cc/cry it out with ds1 so that was my last resort. i have tried letting my 5month old cry it out a few times but mostly he just gets hysterical, snotty so he can't breathe then turns out he's really hungry but can't feed because he's too worked up and snotty!

CountBapula Tue 12-Jul-11 09:22:38

My DS has always been an appalling sleeper - from 3 weeks to four months he was a nightmare to settle to sleep but would do four-hour stretches, but from four months he started waking every hour or two. He did that until he was about 7.5 months and it nearly killed me. I ended up with PND from the sheer exhaustion. We tried a sleep consultant and she pretty much threw in the towel - DS reacted very badly to sleep training and just screamed and screamed - it was heartbreaking.

Around 6 months we managed to start settling him in the cot rather than rocking to sleep, but he still woke just as often. Then around 7/7.5 months we started to see the odd 3, 4 or even 5-hour stretch. One night just after 8 months he suddenly and randomly went all the way through the night - 8:30 to 5:30 shock We had done nothing different to get him to do this, but around that time he had learned to roll onto his side in his sleep, and that seemed to help him. He's never done it again hmm but things got better after that.

He is 9.5 months now and sleep is very random but nowhere near as bad as it was. He has never fallen asleep unassisted but this seems to make little difference to his ability to settle himself. It seems to be largely developmental with him. A good night is one waking around 3 or 4am (I just bf him back to sleep). We get that occasionally. It's not great, but a picnic compared to when he was waking hourly!

dreamsofsleep Tue 12-Jul-11 10:18:12

wow, thanks so much for all the advice ... it's the first time i've posted on here and it's so helpful! i'm interested to see that the general consensus is 5 mths is too young to sleep train - that is really what my instinct said too but dh disagrees and i have some other mum friends who have been very hardcore when it comes to cry it out with very small babies -and when you're sleep deprived you really begin to doubt yourself, don't you?!
natural baby, we actually dropped the dream feed as i thought it wasn't working - i was expecting it to get dd through till 7am by 3 mths - my expectations were far too high! i might try to reintroduce it but hope for less.
CountBapula - oh, the rolling over - glad it helped for you, for us it is hindering as at the moment she is rolling over, getting stuck (one night she actually gor her legs jammed in bars of cot poor little thing) and then waking self up! Am hoping that when she can unstick herself it will improve her sleeping too.
i might try the water trick in a couple of months - thanks for that tip jbells.
who needs sleep anyway?!

missingmyflatbelly Tue 12-Jul-11 14:50:21

With water, do u give it in a bottle or beaker or just whatever they're used to? My ds is 14mo and am in the same boat. Sorry to hijack the thread!

FannyBrawne Tue 12-Jul-11 15:19:01

I co-slept with DS from birth. Didn't intend to - but it was just so much easier with breastfeeding, and I love my sleep....At some points, DS would have a feed 5 or 6 times in the night, even at 6 months or so - I just let him whenever he wanted to.

At about 10 months we stopped breastfeeding, but DS was still in the bed. Tried the cot - but DS was a roller, and kept on banging into side of the cot and waking up.

Big breakthrough was at about 14 months (I think). We bought a double futon to go in DS's room and ever since then we have had a routine which goes; 8pm - go to bed with books; about 8.20 turn off light and I lie down with DS - about about 8.30 he is asleep and I leave him in bed where he will sleep solidly through until any time between 3-7.30 in the morning. If he wakes before 6ish I will get in with him and he will go to sleep with a cuddle (and I definitely miss the cuddles more than he does).... DS is now almost 2.

So it really does get better: do not worry about the future, rod for your back and all that - just enjoy your baby while you can.

jbells Tue 12-Jul-11 17:55:37

missingmy. i gave it to dd in a bottle as that was wot she had her nitefeeds of milk in

HappyAsASandboy Tue 12-Jul-11 18:19:57

I haven't managed to read all the replies, but you've basically described my twins' sleeping pattern. At about 7 months we went back to bed at 7, feed at 12, 3 and then up at 7. Now, at 8.5 months, one twin is still doing that, while the other regularly goes 7 - 4am, feed, then sleep until 7am. I am hoping we're on our way to sleeping throu ....

I can't even entertain the thought of CC. Never. I might consider withholding feeds by just cuddling in a while, but for now, I can manage.

I survive by cosleeping and feeding lying down ....

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Tue 12-Jul-11 19:19:28

we have never done any sleep training and ds mostly sleeps through since 15m...but he's only 17m now so there's still plenty of time for it to go tits up again. grin

We cosleep and i bf on demand. Ds's sleep has been through all sorts of phases, good and bad. The latter often related to developmental things going on. The book The Wonder Weeks has info on these.

Ds had a rough patch at 15m and came out of it sleeping through, mostly. He had slept through before but not for long, regular periods iyswim. He's now 17m and has had one or two rougher nights in the past week...i think he's about to go through another developmental spurt so expect some disruption but know it won't last for ever.

During these developmental spurts ds often wakes up in the night needing solids...if i can get away with just bf in bed i consider myself lucky! It p*sses me off when people say "by x months they shouldn't need bf at night". Really? So how do i force him to eat at a time i consider more convenient? He has far more important things to be doing than "stocking up" for the night.

I'm confident that ds is learning to sleep at his own pace. I'm lucky that i only work part time so have been able to just cosleep through the rough bits, cause it definatly gets worse before it gets better iyswim. But it will get better. smile

dreamsofsleep Tue 12-Jul-11 21:30:30

moonface yes i know it's so annoying that all babies are expected by some people to sleep through in exactly the same way at exactly the same time.
FannyBrawne - yes the rolling is a big prob for us -oh and tonight's new trick - getting up on to her front in a crawling position and for some reason being unable/not wanting to lie down again - she went to sleep at 7.30 and woke at 8.30 and 9.15 in that position ... so the rolling/propping self up thing is obviously developmental, but when will it pass?? Any ideas??

naturalbaby Tue 12-Jul-11 21:49:04

blimey, the crawling position when 1/2 asleep is a good trick at 5months! my 23month old went through a phase around 10months of standing up in the middle of the night and refusing to lie down again, so he would hang over the cot side 1/2 asleep shouting to be put down again!
<sobs> how many more months/years till you can leave them to it??

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Tue 12-Jul-11 22:03:29

naturalbaby i figure once they are 18 it is no longer my responsability to get them to sleep. wink

Dreamsofsleep ime once ds cracked something (eg, crawling, rolling, walking) it got better. This took varying amounts of time. Now they seem to be more mental developments iyswim. He came out the last spurt clearly sucking up was an astounding difference. I expect the new one will be language related. He seems to nearly have tons of words. But only one really..."light" confused

Niecie Tue 12-Jul-11 22:24:37

My DS1 sounds like your DD, dreamofsleep, except that he didn't have any goods weeks, he always woke 4 or 5 times a night. It was really really tough and there were many tears - mine mainly, DS was fine so long as he was fed.blush

We tried sleep training when he was 6 months but it only worked for about 2 weeks and we could't face doing it again, especially when it wasn't the permanent solution others had us believe.

Despite the fact that his sleep was so erratic and there was no pattern to it other than him waking up several times a night (I kept diary for a while - it was grim reading) he suddenly started sleeping through at 10 months. There was no warning at all so it can happen at any time and without training! At that point, since I knew he could sleep through the night and clearly didn't need it, I didn't feed him during the night again so there was no more incentive to wake. Having said that, he didn't reliably sleep through every single night until 18mths but at least we knew sometimes, we would get a decent night sleep and it was bearable.

I was told at the time (DS is nearly 11 but all those night wakings aren't easily forgotten) that babies need feeding until 6 mths. Some would say longer and I was guided by DS, plus if I fed him the time awake was greatly reduced for all of us. Your DD probably still needs the feeds, even if they appear quick.

DS2 was much easier - woke twice a night, sometimes only once, fed quickly and efficiently and finally slept through all night at 8 months. Much easier to handle.

I hope it sorts itself out sooner rather than later, but it will sort itself out eventually. smile

Niecie Tue 12-Jul-11 22:27:32

Just reading some of the other replies, I now realise (10 yrs after the event) that DS started sleeping through when he started to crawl. Maybe there is something in the idea that sleep through when they wear themselves out by being mobile!

Actually DS2 slept through when he started to crawl too. Weird I have only just noticed!

naturalbaby Wed 13-Jul-11 09:49:32

ds1 would only ever nap for 30-40mins, once he started walking he napped for 2 1/2hrs after lunch. i didn't know what to do with myself!

chocolatecrispies Wed 13-Jul-11 10:15:39

We didn't sleep train and co-slept and our son is just starting to sleep through at age 3sad. My brother didn't sleep train his baby and he started sleeping through aged 5 months envy - but he was ff. I think sleep is very individual, personally I didn't want to push ds into sleeping through before he was ready, nor did I want the distress associated with sleep training. I don't regret not sleep training, feel I followed my son's lead on this and will do the same with dd ( now aged 5 weeks so lots more night waking to come)!

Tiggles Wed 13-Jul-11 11:59:57

I have 3 DSs who I have technically all treated the same at bedtime. However, their sleep patterns were all completely different from birth.
DS3 is a blessing - he was sleeping for more than 6hours (uninterrupted) at night before the midwife discharged us at 3 weeks old. He had proper napes in the day. He is now 2.9 and sleeps well still (although I was disappointed that like his brothers he dropped his daytime nap at 18months).

DS1 woke every 2 hours to feed until he was 18months old, at which point I did controlled crying. He still didn't actually sleep he just learnt to stay in his room, but once he went to sleep he did then sleep through. At 9, he now takes melatonin (a hormone) to help him get to sleep, else he wouldn't be asleep until 1-2am.

DS2 woke every 2hours or so, then gradually improved to 3hours. I tried controlled crying at 18months, 2 but it didn't work. He is now 4.8 and starting school in September. I still am doing rapid return to put him back in bed up to about 15times a night. He just won't learn to stay in his own room and sleep. I am exhausted but it is just the way he is. No sleep training (however consistent) is working.

yawningbear Wed 13-Jul-11 14:26:28

Hi dreamsofsleep, I have a 5 month old DS who like your DD was sleeping quite well up until 3-4 months. He now has a very similiar pattern of waking to your LO. I also have a 2.8 DD who still dosen't always sleep through so have been especially keen not to repeat the same mistakes with DS. Over the last few weeks I have been trying to get him to settle himslf in his cot when he first goes to sleep as when we had managed to get DD to do this her sleep improved no end. I have also tried to only feed every 3 hours at night although I don't tend manage this as I am just too weary so just tend to end up feeding. I do find if I can stretch out his night feeds and make sure he gets both sides and doesn't just comfort suck/feed very briefly then he is more likely to last longer. If you haven't already got it the NCSS book is really good. Oh, and in contrast to some of the other posters I have found if I don't sleep in same room as him he sometimes sleeps longer, though not always. Total opposite of DD who only slept well when co-sleeping. Its the total randomness of it all that drives me nuts! Regarding the developmental thing, we found with DD that once she had achieved whatever task she was focusing on, crawling for eg, her sleep would tend to improve, but not necessarily for all that long-sorrygrin

Bumpsadaisie Wed 13-Jul-11 15:17:52

We never sleep trained.

DD started sleeping through from 8 till 8 at about 21 months.

I'll take the same approach with next DC - I think they do it when they are ready.

We tried leaving DD for a few minutes once or twice when she was younger - didn't work for us. She got terribly distressed and I felt dreadful. It just didn't feel right.

Interestingly now she is 2.1 and if she won't settle down at bedtime I do say "look, time to sleep now, mummy's going downstairs, goodnight". She sometimes stands in her cot and shouts/cries "mummy" after me. But I feel OK about this, in contrast to when we tried leaving her when she was younger. The reason I feel OK is that I know DD knows where I am now and isn't really distressed. She is verbal and understands that I don't disappear just cos she can't see me. She is old enough now to be told where the line is and that she has to settle down to sleep. She wasn't at 18 months or younger.

Bumpsadaisie Wed 13-Jul-11 15:23:42

PS Even though she didn't sleep through every night till 21 mths, DD wasn't horrendous at sleeping even before she started sleeping through. From about 8 months she might wake up once or twice between 8 and 8 and often only needed us to give her her dummy back.

Chestnutx3 Wed 13-Jul-11 19:31:29

I had to sleep train DD as she was waking every two hours for months when she was 13 months old, over in 3 nights we did it gently but firmly. Never had to sleep train DS. I have a friend who has never sleep trained her two children, one is nearly 5 and has slept through the night once, the other is 2 and has never slept through - she looks rough. Personally I wouldn't sleep train until 12 months - Pantley's no cry sleep solution very good and can be used early, did with DS and it worked so no sleep training needed.

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