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4 month old and controlled crying/self soothe

(225 Posts)
emmak8383 Fri 17-Jan-14 20:32:54

I call it controlled crying but what we are just trying to do is help our daughter to self soothe. Our daughter is breastfed and has always gone to sleep on the boob. Because of this she is unable to self soothe when she wakes in the night. I am still feeding her during the night but sometimes she has woken an hour later after being fed and we have had to go in to her to get her back to sleep as she obviously doesn't know how to do so herself.
So what we have started now is to soothe her by not picking her up. We rub her belly and shush her. We leave her for a minute or two and then we go back and try again with the belly rub and shushing. Sometimes we do pick her up just in case she needs a burp (even though she has already been burped) and then put her back down to try again.
Let me make it clear that we are not just letting her cry it out till she stops. We are trying to soothe her without picking her up so she doesn't rely on it.
We are just after some thoughts about whether this is too early. A lot of information that we have read says controlled crying should not be done before 6 months or 9 months old.

HoratiaDrelincourt Fri 17-Jan-14 20:39:24

Six months is the usual minimum age, yes.

However, to think about it another way...

At four months she is likely entering or well in a growth spurt. She may well genuinely need that much milk. If she is falling asleep after a short feed, try to keep her awake for a longer feed (tickle feet or face, talk to her, etc) so she will genuinely go longer.

Why are you wanting her to sleep longer?

Is it so you can sleep more? That's a reasonable desire but this isn't the only way to achieve it. Would you consider co-sleeping, for example? It's saved the sanity of many a bfing mother!

Is it because someone has told you that baby "ought" to be sleeping through? Because you see that was an unfair and unkind thing to say to you.

CoteDAzur Fri 17-Jan-14 20:39:48

I predict that you will get a flogging on this thread.

We sleep trained DD when she was exactly 4 months on the advice of her paediatrician, with great success. 1st night was bad, 2nd night much better and she slept through on the 3rd night. She has been sleeping through ever since, going to bed with a smile.

It is not fashionable these days to give this advice, but it has worked for us. Good luck.

marzipananimal Fri 17-Jan-14 20:42:05

It soounds a reasonable thing to try but I warn you that my 6 month old settles herself at bedtime and naps but still often wakes every 2 hours at night and only resettles with a feed, so it may not achieve what you hope

purplemurple1 Fri 17-Jan-14 20:46:28

I did similar from birth my ds can self settle but only rrecently made it through the night without food (almost 5 months). Thu mine doesn't like to be picked up so it was natural on a way.

TheGonnagle Fri 17-Jan-14 20:46:33

I really feel for you- I know how much you really need to go to sleep and just stay that way, believe me!
But I think she is just too little yet, sorry. Co sleeping was my saviour in the same situation, but I know that's not to everyone's taste.
Good luck, I hope you get a decent nights sleep soon.

Rooners Fri 17-Jan-14 20:52:15

It's too early, sorry sad

'Because of this she is unable to self soothe when she wakes in the night.'

No, thats because she is a 4 month old baby, and isn't meant to be able to take care of her own needs yet.

I don't want to flame you. It sounds like someone has told you she should be self sothing by now? That's not true, it's really not.

Please don't worry, your baby is entirely normal smile You haven't done anything wrong but please don't try and distance her from you yet. There is loads of time for that when she no longer needs you to respond quickly to her.

For the time being just roll with what she needs x

duchesse Fri 17-Jan-14 20:56:36

There's no such thing as "controlled crying". It's "ignored crying". This "self-soothing" is the calm of a child that has given up hoping for any help from its caregivers.

Self-soothing was invented by the same person as controlled crying.

Rooners Fri 17-Jan-14 21:07:41

It seems to be being promoted by a great number of health visitors at present, which is worrying.

emmak8383 Fri 17-Jan-14 21:08:16

Well luckily we have only tried it half heartedly for two days. We will stop and continue to comfort her when she needs it. (just to make it clear that we were not just letting her cry) We were just worried that we were getting her in to bad habits and didn't want to ruin her. We are new parents and we are trying to find our way and do best by our daughter.
Lack of sleep is very hard sometimes on the very bad nights but we are four months in and have good days and bad days. Lack of sleep just seems to set you back and make you feel like you're falling apart. Waking up to smiles does make you forgive the bad nights.
We will continue as we have been and continue to go to her.
Thank you for your comments and advice. We felt it was too early and will stick with our gut feeling from now on.

Rooners Fri 17-Jan-14 21:10:02

Oh that is brilliant to hear - you sound like lovely parents and it is very hard to know what is right especially (but not exclusively!) with your first.

Your instincts will be very important in bringing her up. Listen to them and you will not go far wrong. smile

HoratiaDrelincourt Fri 17-Jan-14 21:10:58

I think that's probably best.

If you do try again in a few months, you must must must go for it 100% because that's what makes it work.

Don't be afraid to say "this doesn't work for our family" when it doesn't. Nothing in parenting suits every family.

TheGonnagle Fri 17-Jan-14 21:11:10

Emma, I promise you won't ruin your daughter. It's so hard with a new baby, conflicting advice from all sides and just trying to do your best. And the lack of sleep is a complete killer. By four months you have done the lions share of the really really hardcore no sleep phase.
Trust your gut- I'm sure you're doing great. And enjoy the beautiful smiles smile

Rooners Fri 17-Jan-14 21:11:30

Oh and btw babies and bad habits - that's another myth! They just act on pure, pure instinct and so you will never spoil her by doing what she asks. In fact it will make her stronger and happier.

Good luck with it all, keep posting x

Rooners Fri 17-Jan-14 21:12:57

Oh and co sleeping, or at least sleeping in the same room, has saved a lot of parents' sanity - somehow you don't have to wake on the same level in order to respond to them, when they are right next to you.

I don't advocate co sleeping just for the benefit of the infant! grin

CoteDAzur Fri 17-Jan-14 21:16:44

Oh please. Spare us the theatrics. "Given up hoping for any help" because parents delay responding to baby's cry for a minute or two? hmm

How exactly do you know what goes on in the mind of a little baby? Maybe he thinks "These parents of mine are all over me in the day but they get awfully slow when it gets dark. And when they come to give me a hug I get no milk so it's not worth it. I think I'll just go back to sleep."

MrsOakenshield Fri 17-Jan-14 21:17:40

I did it at this age because I didn't realise it was CC - I think it's in Baby Secrets where they call it spaced soothing and advocate it at this age. It did work but looking back I wish I hadn't done it at this age (though at aged 4 I honestly can't see any ill effects - these days if she can't get back to sleep she pops into our room and we go and lie on the sofa in her room for a few minutes which seems to help). It was sold as mild CC (I now realise), so 1,2,3,4,5 minute intervals and no more than 5. We also didn't allow it to get to full on crying - as soon as she wailed a bit we started timing.

I agree to use your instinct and do what you feel is best for both you (you matter too!) and your baby.

Rooners Fri 17-Jan-14 21:18:41

Well while I'm not given to theatrical words either Cote, I think we can agree that we don't know what the baby is thinking, aside from the fact he is crying, and on that basis I prefer to do what stops him crying iyswim. Because it makes me feel better.

But I think there are degrees of leaving to cry, obviously.

MrsOakenshield Fri 17-Jan-14 21:19:32

a child that has given up hoping for any help from its caregivers.

I think that's rather melodramatic and unhelpful.

CoteDAzur Fri 17-Jan-14 21:23:02

Do what you feel is right for your family, Emma. You can't "ruin" your baby smile We sometimes teach them habits but then we can unteach them when they are no longer needed. I used to lie next to DD in my bed at nap times to get her to fall asleep, but then she managed to fall asleep on her own. She also had dummies until she was 2.5, then managed without them. I know a mum who had to push her DD in a pram for the entire duration of her nap, rain or shine. She now naps in her cot without problems, as well.

Do what you are comfortable with to survive these tough days. They will pass.

HoratiaDrelincourt Fri 17-Jan-14 21:24:01

My 2mo sometimes has to wait a couple of minutes crying if I'm on the loo, or wiping someone else's bottom, or similar.

But I agree that while CC works for many babies, the unknowable why is it working isn't necessarily very nice.

Rooners Fri 17-Jan-14 21:24:23

Great post Cote.

emmak8383 Fri 17-Jan-14 21:42:28

I have also started to lie next to DD in our bed in the day time as she is a very bad napper during the day and I read this can help which it does. Even a good chance for me to have a much needed nap although not always easy to sleep when you know you need it. We are lucky that she sleeps in her cot in her own room, we have just wavered as she has had some very bad nights lately. 4 month growth spurt is what we thought and teething.

43percentburnt Sat 18-Jan-14 07:33:07

I agree with cote, do whatever you can to get through the sleepless nights and early days. Enjoy the time you are with a baby as it flys by far too quickly. I co slept with my dd (now 14) she transferred to her cot and bed fine and is really independent and self sufficient, definitely not ruined by too many cuddles. I am doing the same with my baby ds. I believe they only cry for something that they require. Co sleeping allows us all to function!

Booboostoo Sat 18-Jan-14 08:09:36

I don't know if this helps OP but I was reading an article the other day on how there is no scientific evidence that there is an ability to self-sooth to sleep nor any studies confirming when it might emerge. Some babies sleep well, some do not.

Your baby is also going through the 4 month sleep regression which is not an easy time for anyone. Hang in there it does get better.

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