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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.

atthestrokeoftwelve Wed 22-Jan-14 19:55:24

cats- I totally agree. It's madness trying to get babies to need less comfort and nutrition.
If we can't do that as mothers then there isn't much hope.

kitchensinkmum Wed 22-Jan-14 20:19:34

I don't think less comfort or less nutrition was suggested by any posters . J

catslikefelix Wed 22-Jan-14 20:33:56

kitchen not picking up a crying baby and not feeding a 4 month old who might, no forget that IS probably hungry has been widely recommended on this thread! Have you got short term memory problems?

Bumpsadaisie Wed 22-Jan-14 21:01:17

My son is 2 years and three months old. He still can't self soothe if he wakes in the middle of the night! (This is normal). I have to repeat what we do a bedtime, i.e. quick story and Twinkle Twinkle.

I would do controlled crying with a child that is old enough to understand what you mean when you say you are popping downstairs for 5 mins and will then pop back to check on them. My son isn't old enough for that yet, maybe in a few months. I know from my older DD that things change a lot by the time they are 3 and you can expect more independence from them without them getting hugely upset.

FWIW he fed to sleep as an infant just like all infants do. When I stopped feeding he settled himself fine after story and song.


Bumpsadaisie Wed 22-Jan-14 21:09:06


"We didn't want to ruin her".

You can't "ruin" your little baby girl by always being there and comforting her (though its true that it feels like we are ruined by the lack of sleep sometimes grin). In fact being a responsive and warm parent is the making of confident and trusting children.

My personal opinion is that sleep training is a bad thing with infants/toddlers. Different thing with a preschooler who has got over the separation anxiety phase and who has a mature understanding of the concepts of time and space and who has words with which to communicate.

I would never say I would never do it, because if sleep is SO bad that you are having a nervous breakdown and your relationship with your oH is falling apart, clearly that's no good for baby either. But my personal approach has always been, no sleep training unless you absolutely have to.

(PS my eldest is four now. Sleeps like a dream, never a peep out of her, straight to sleep at bedtime, gets up in the morning and plays by herself. I am sure my 2 year old boy will be the same once he is old enough).

Enjoy your little girl.

PS have you heard about the four month sleep regression? Brace yourself!

Bumpsadaisie Wed 22-Jan-14 21:13:45

PS I agree with Rooners that it is perfectly possible to be a warm responsive parent and at the same time be a parent who can say no when appropriate and set firm boundaries. That's what I aim for (I say aim as of course I don't manage it all the time - sometimes I'm a snappy unsympathetic mum who gives in and lets them have smarties before supper as I'm in a grumpy mood. But most of the time I aim for warm, responsive and firm.)

YoniMitchel Wed 22-Jan-14 21:31:07

I fully agree with kitchen some children need to learn to self soothe , both my DC woke every 30 mins for me to nurse then back to sleep , I did sleep training (gradual retreat method ) with DS at 14 months and wished I had done it sooner , my life was so hard, I couldn't go anywhere in the evenings , I was trying to teach full time too, I was arguing with my husband constantly . we did sleep training with DD last month at 5 months and we're delighted , I do feed her during the night but I won't feed her 30 mins after a feed and I put her in the cot awake for naps and at bedtime, since learning to self soothe her boss have gone from 30 mins to 1.5 hrs , works for me smile

YoniMitchel Wed 22-Jan-14 21:31:49

Naps not boss!!

catslikefelix Wed 22-Jan-14 21:41:54

Yoni children can be taught to self soothe..babies can't! How you describe your life shows that you were having trouble coping with and understanding a newborns needs and that's a shame but to recommend sleep training at this age should be a last resort for parents with difficulties not a widely extrapolated method for night time care of young babies

minipie Wed 22-Jan-14 22:26:13

Felix how do you know? my dd was not able to self soothe (I prefer the term self settle) prior to sleep training, afterwards she was. that to me suggests babies can be taught to self settle.

I don't agree that choosing to sleep train means you don't understand your baby's needs. I understood that my baby needed me to rock her back to sleep because that's the only way she knew how to get back to sleep. I also understood that sleep training could teach her a different way to get back to sleep, ie by herself. It worked (thank god).

YoniMitchel Wed 22-Jan-14 23:18:46

That's very patronising cats, who in the world can hold down a full time demanding job and get up 6-8 times a night to rock /nurse a baby back to sleep ? Nobody I know . I understand newborns perfectly well but I don't class a 5 month old as a newborn , funny how lots if breadtfed babies start waking much more frequently around 3/4 months , it's not just hunger, it's bad habits, no 5 month old needs to be fed every 30 mins, as mini says they need to learn another way to go to sleep

kitchensinkmum Thu 23-Jan-14 06:32:46

Perfectly said Yoni! It's fine to feed on demand through the night with ten wakings + if you don't have to work and have someone to do your washing cleaning ironing cooking and entertain your other small people . Sadly most people don't have these luxuries. A Babylonians of four months only needs to feed twice in the night max . No one says you have to be mean just sensible. Lots of people on here have said that their sleep training took three nights . I know families who co sleep until their child is 2 years but they still train the baby not to feed ten times a night .

atthestrokeoftwelve Thu 23-Jan-14 06:58:00

catslikefelix- you are making assumptions about CCing- that you are teaching yourt babies to "self soothe"- a very saccharine term for a harsh technique.

Your baby cries and you ignore- that to me is "teaching" a baby that his voice is not worth listening to, that no-one is responding, that he needn't waste his breath.
The first crush to self esteem and inner voice that could save his life one day.

Rooners Thu 23-Jan-14 08:17:17

Lots of people seem to be citing having to work full time and it seems this makes all the difference.

Would you still sleep train if you didn't have to work? Or if you could work PT?

atthestrokeoftwelve Thu 23-Jan-14 08:31:03

Good point Rooners- I co- slept because I needed my sleep for work.
I worked 30 hours a week and was tandem feeding a baby and a toddler.
Co- sleeping ensured that we all slept well- and I mean sleeping well as having several night wakenings to breastfeed too.

bigkidsdidit Thu 23-Jan-14 08:46:03

I would have, Rooners, yes. I've always needed tons of sleep. Even now both my two sleep through I go to bed at 9pm and at LEAST once a week I put them to bed at 7, tidy the toys, make the lunches, brush my teeth and I'm asleep by 7.30! I'm hopeless. I could never run the country!

bigkidsdidit Thu 23-Jan-14 08:47:37

Having said that, I do work ft but flexible so I start work at 6.30 m (leaving the house at 5.45 while DH does mornings) so that I can pick them up at 3.30. So I do need to get up early.

YoniMitchel Thu 23-Jan-14 10:42:50

My sleep training involved sitting bedside the bed soothing the baby with my voice and picking up occasionally if very upset , I did this for bedtime and naps , I would never ignore a baby crying but I won't pick a baby up and feed if I feel it's just habit, anyway I've found if a baby can go to sleep themselves they tend yo only wake when genuinely hungry. FWIW I'm on unpaid maternity leave and still did my version of sleep training cos I was wrecked and have a toddler to look after too but I'd recommend sleep training to anyone whether working or not and whether they've other children to mind or not, who doesn't need /want decent sleep ?! I fed DD twice last night but by next month I'd expect her to go down to one feed as she'll be eating more solids. Where I live everyone bottle feeds and has been getting a full nights sleep since 6/8 weeks so I feel like the lenient one, guess it's what you're used to!

YoniMitchel Thu 23-Jan-14 11:06:19

Also I was talking to my GP about it over Christmas , she has 6 kids , all breastfed and she told me mothers have to look after themselves, the babies are always fine , she said feed the baby and go to sleep in a different room and they should go at least 3/4 hours , somebody else should go into then if they wake sooner, she said rem strict is good , having been through hell with DS I agree , strict is good , DS was like a new child , much happier and much more content cos he was getting the sleek he needed smile

kitchensinkmum Thu 23-Jan-14 19:41:48

Yoni your sleep training sounds perfect. Not cruel or mean . It's true the babies are fine but many mother are fit to drop

alliswell2 Fri 24-Jan-14 08:12:01

I hate the term self settle. To me it's a euphemism for let the baby/toddler wear them self out crying and eventually fall asleep from exhaustion or worse, realise (eventually) that feeling hungry and crying is not going to get them anywhere.

atthestrokeoftwelve Fri 24-Jan-14 12:34:46

I agree alli- "self settling" or "self soothing" sounds very sweet, but training your babies to silence themselves is far from sweet.

TheresLotsOfFarmyardAnimals Fri 24-Jan-14 12:49:47

My DS has gone to sleep on his own since he was about 4 months old. He hasn't actually been left to cry it out, although he very nearly always cries before sleep (including the car, buggy etc).

He cries if he is hungry or has any need that he can't communicate to me.

He self settles after we used shhh-pat. He's never stopped crying because noone answered his cry and it is just stupid to assume such things.

TheresLotsOfFarmyardAnimals Fri 24-Jan-14 12:50:43

Sorry forgot to add that the ability to self soothe does not equal neglect.

atthestrokeoftwelve Fri 24-Jan-14 14:37:44

What makes you think these babies are being "soothed" at all?

"Soothe" means to comfort, hush, lull, placate, to bring relief, make calm, appease.

These babies are not doing this, they have simply stopped crying. Why do you assume from that they are "soothing" themselves instead of just come to realise that no- one will respond to their cries, so give up and go back to sleep?

Mothers can soothe babies, there is no research proof whatsoever that babies who sleep through the night do so because they have learned to “self-soothe.

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