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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.

Rooners Sat 18-Jan-14 08:38:33

Yes, 'self soothing' has become a bit of a buzzword which allows people who write books about 'sleep training' to make a lot of money.

It's a totally fabricated concept imo. In the context it is anyway - self soothing was originally the term for that thing babies do with their mouth when they look like they are suckling in their sleep.

According to my mother anyway. It's not a 'skill', or anything to do with not needing their parents to attend to them.

atthestrokeoftwelve Sat 18-Jan-14 08:43:33

In the ansence of conclusive proof either way as to whether Cc is harmful or not I prefer to follow my heart and trust my instincts.

If my baby cries I give him comfort- it's very simple.

I prefer to trust my instinct rather than some cookie ideas of some American psychologist dabbling with child rearing techniques.

duchesse Sat 18-Jan-14 10:39:40

I agree with twelve- in the absence of proper long-term studies, I think we should trust our instincts (unless our instincts are to keep the baby in a box under the stairs of course).

curlew Sat 18-Jan-14 10:49:31

I'm always interested in the "teaching them a vital skill" proponents.

I always responded to my children crying as soon as I possibly could- and they seem to have learnt the vital skill of going to sleep by themselves without any training. And I would put money on them learning as quickly as many CC babies. If they needed to be taught to go to sleep how come mine aren't still waking every hour now they are 12 and 18?

duchesse Sat 18-Jan-14 10:54:24

Nor mine, curlew, at 20, 18 and 16? grin

Could do with the flipping 4 yo sleeping through the night but that's another story... Latest of all my children to sleep reliably through the night. Would be the one born in our 40s rather than 20s...

marthabear Sat 18-Jan-14 11:08:17

My babies have all woken numerous times in the night. Completely normal. Co sleeping and breastfeeding has worked for us. In fact, I have lost very little sleep over the years as I just breastfeed back off to sleep in a lying down position and drift back off myself. Very little night crying. No distress. And a (reasonably) rested me. I really don't worry about so called bad habits. There's no such thing really....apart from nose-picking.

CoteDAzur Sat 18-Jan-14 12:00:28

"they seem to have learnt the vital skill of going to sleep by themselves without any training"

Of course they do. Eventually.

Some of us don't want to wait for the year or two it can take a baby to take his sweet time getting there, that's all.

thepobblewhohasnotoes Sat 18-Jan-14 12:07:17

Co-sleeping might well work for you, it certainly does for us.

DD wakes several times if in a cot.
She sleeps through in my bed.

It's a no-brainer. When she's in my bed we both get a good night's sleep. If she slept in her cot I'd be shattered!

I make sure I'm following the guidelines for safer co-sleeping, do you know them?

Rooners Sat 18-Jan-14 12:13:27

I generally like to wait for my children to learn to do things in the most natural manner, like walking, crawling, sleeping at the 'right' times, etc...we wouldn't force a child to eat when it wasn't ready to be able to do it naturally, or to walk, or crawl by leaving it on its front on the floor or something...

we wouldn't try and force a child to do without nappies, or learn to dress itself by leavig it cold and naked.

I don't see any real difference. All the things we do to 'force' developmental stages before their time cause the child distress.

Rooners Sat 18-Jan-14 12:14:40

And we know this because the child cries.

Which is why crying is to be avoided if at all possible.

thepobblewhohasnotoes Sat 18-Jan-14 12:47:42

emmak8383 do you know where you got the idea from that feeding a baby in the night will "ruin her"?

Our society is really weird about BFing, it's peculiar to certain cultures sucj as ours, but it's not like this the world over.

Nature has designed boobs for feeding babies. Babies need feeding, and most of them will need feeding at the night at 4 months. Your baby knows this, she knows she's hungry. Your instinct knows you should feed her.

However you've received the message from somewhere that there's something wrong with this, which is not surprising as this message is everywhere in the UK!

But it might be worth reflecting, do you know where it came from? A book? The older generation? Friends? Wider society & the media? Wherever it is from, they're feeding you misinformation.

You absolutely can't "ruin" a 4 month old by comforting her, or feeding her.

Trust your instincts, you know what to do smile

Pusspuss1 Sat 18-Jan-14 12:59:06

The advice is usually no sleep training before 6 months. My baby is now 5 months and is sleeping much better than a month ago, so hang in there! I really liked the book 'the no-cry sleep solution' which talks about gentler alternatives to cc which will help babies to sleep.

curlew Sat 18-Jan-14 13:03:14

"Some of us don't want to wait for the year or two it can take a baby to take his sweet time getting there, that's all."

Does this apply to all developmental stages? Or only those which suit the convenience of the parents.......?

duchesse Sat 18-Jan-14 13:47:23

You know in countries where they parent instinctively, the babies hardly cry at all or much less. Interesting link here.

duchesse Sat 18-Jan-14 13:49:44

Have to say my four have cried very, very little as tiny babies. Perhaps I've been very lucky.

duchesse Sat 18-Jan-14 13:50:23

Guardian article by Deborah Jackson.

CoteDAzur Sat 18-Jan-14 13:55:12

"we wouldn't force a child to eat when it wasn't ready to be able to do it naturally"

If my baby wasn't physically able to sleep through the night, she wouldn't do it after only two nights of sleep training. The fact that she did means she was able to do it before but had the habit of feeding twice in the night at around 2AM and 4 AM.

Once the habit was changed, she ate more in the day and didn't wake up in the night.

CoteDAzur Sat 18-Jan-14 14:03:46

duchesse - Yes, you were very lucky.

I had one of each. DD cried all of her waking hours until she was about 5 months old, except when she was feeding. When friends said "Ooh I can't sleep train because I can't listen to my baby crying", I didn't know what they meant because mine cried all the time anyway, whether I was holding her or whatever.

Then we had DS who practically never cried.

I can assure you that they were not parented any differently. Same parents, same home.

Now they are 8 and 4. DD still complains all the time and DS is still just happy mostly. Some things are their character. Parents are not to blame for everything.

BotBotticelli Sat 18-Jan-14 14:28:42

OP at 4mo i did some very gentle 'sleep training' with my DS....i hate those words but its a useful shorthand on this site. Basically i did what you outlined - shhh'd and patted him without picking him out of the cot. about 80% of the time he would go back to sleep - think he just needed to know I was there.

HOWEVER, i was FF him, not BF and i think this does make a difference re: night feeding? DS did not feed in the night after 3mo - we gave him a large 7oz bottle of milk at 10pm when we went to bed (dreamfeed) and then he didn't need feeding until morning. So I knew when he woke up he wasn't hungry (tried a few times with milk in deserperation but he just wasn't hungy - think he just woke up and needed to be reassured and comforted that someone was there).

I think BFing babies usually need to feed in the night longer than 3-4 months, so this might not work with your baby if she is hungry in the night?

HelenHen Sat 18-Jan-14 15:45:19

We sleep trained at around 4 months, it took a couple of weeks and wasn't always pleasant for everyone but we ended up with a happy baby who, at 18 month's, still sleeps wonderfully. However, it doesn't work for everyone cos all babies are different! Do what works for you but, whatever you do, stick to it. I think babies crave stability. Don't try one thing one day and another the next! Don't listen to any of the judging, just trust your instincts and do what feels right when it feels right! You know about as little as the rest of us smile

curiousuze Sat 18-Jan-14 18:08:33

OP I would take the baby back into your bedroom with you as well, if possible. 4 months is quite little to be in her own room and if she's waking a lot to feed then it'll be easier for you. Our son slept better if we were in the room with him at that age. It's easier on you if you can lean over and stick her on your boob without having to stumble down the hall.

We tried CC when he was 9 months (the wuss version with me sitting by the cot, crying with him!). It didn't work, at all. What did work was time. He just grew up and didn't need milk at night so often.

toomuchtooold Sat 18-Jan-14 18:47:17

We sleep trained our twins at 6 months (as they were early, that was more like 5.5 months) and never looked back. We did it after noticing that on the nights when the difficult one went to sleep between our frequent trips upstairs, she would sleep right through to 3am, whereas when she fell asleep with us there she'd be up and down all night. She did continue to take a night feed at 3am until she was about 13 months though but it was just one waking and immediately after she would turn over and go back to sleep.

I wanted to post in this link about the St Thomas' sleep clinic in which the consultant there talks briefly about self soothing:
"Don't do anything at bedtime that you are not prepared to do five times a night, including at 3am."
This guy is a child sleep specialist in the NHS with a medical degree and years of experience. For me, if there is anyone I am going to trust to tell me how to get my kids to sleep, this is the guy. You will hear a lot of opinions on here that are anti sleep training but it sounds like it is something you want to do and I just wanted you to see that mainstream medical opinion in the UK supports you in that.

HoratiaDrelincourt Sat 18-Jan-14 18:51:30

Except that by default he sees the worst cases and not those who get it themselves within a few months.

That is to say, the vast majority of children.

The "nothing at bedtime that you won't do at 3am" is a very good principle though, assuming it means literally bedtime and not bath/teeth/story.

NoisyBrain Sat 18-Jan-14 19:50:18

I feel so reassured reading this thread! My DS is 20 weeks today and we're now in week 2 of the 4-month sleep regression.
From 12 weeks he habitually slept for around 7-8 hours from 10.30/11. Then it all went tits up at 18 weeks and he now often wakes less than an hour after going to bed (I just pat, shush and insert dummy to re-settle him at this point as he's not properly crying) then at around 2am for a feed, then again at 5am or earlier for another feed, then every hour or so after that til we get up. I bring him into bed with me and DP by about 6.00 which helps me get a few hours' more broken sleep but it's really tough after several weeks of being spoilt!

I was chatting to my best friend earlier who was a self-confessed 'sleep Nazi' (her words not mine!) with her 3 DCs. DP and I have been very much of the 'go with the flow' school of parenting so far which for me, as someone prone to anxiety, has really worked as I'm not stressing about schedules etc. I had to bite my tongue several times as my friend talked about me making a rod for my own back and the risk of getting DS into bad habits by feeding him during the night (while I'm thinking "but he's clearly hungry and Mumsnet says he's too young to form bad habits!") and expressed surprise that we don't put DS to bed earlier (he goes to bed at around 9.30). I know she meant well, she's my oldest friend, but I felt a bit doubtful of my methods after that conversation (DS is my pfb).

thepobblewhohasnotoes Sat 18-Jan-14 21:12:28

NoisyBrain that's the other thing about the UK, many people seem to think DCs will explode or something if not in bed by 7pm. Sure, lots of DCs do prefer to be in bed by that time, and lots of parents like it too. But that doesn't mean it's best for everyone.

MIL comments if she sees DCs in the supermarket after 7pm. She massively disapproves, it's just beyond her why anyone would have a child up that late, let alone out of the house.

But this is despite us living with her for a while; she saw DS staying up till 10pm most days. He had long naps in the day and a late bedtime. He was getting enough sleep and it suited us fine. I could have spent weeks or months fighting him to change his natural pattern, but I couldn't see any good reason to do it (MIL's disapproval not withstanding).

When DS dropped his daytime naps, we put him to bed earlier. It happened naturally with little effort from us.

Later, when he started school, we had to shift his day earlier, to give enough time before school, but we all adjusted, no problem.

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