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Is it possible that my child is genetically unresponsive to all sleep interventions?

(32 Posts)
Kittyburgh Tue 11-Feb-14 23:39:52

My 3yo DD was always a terrible sleeper. Until 18 months when, with the aid of a homeopath, she started sleeping 13-14 hours a night unbroken. This continued until DD2 came along when DD1 was 3. Now we're back to square one - a lengthy bedtime battle every night and then 3 or 4 wakings a night. Her argument is that she doesn't want to be alone because DD2 is in with us. I understand that but she doesn't seem particularly distressed, just playful even in the night. She gets on well with DD2 and is otherwise the same happy child by day. Homeopathy hasn't helped this time so reluctantly we decided to try intervening (we co-slept, breastfed til 14 months and first time round used nothing but the homeopathy to treat her sleep). To date we have tried:
- returning her back to bed each time she gets up. We have never managed to get her to sleep this way as she doesn't physically stay in bed long enough to drop off. She can go for hours and hours and mostly we don't even make it out of her room
- gradual retreat. Well, not entirely. After six weeks of sitting by her bed as she goes to sleep, it still takes her an hour or more to drop off and we haven't been able to move the chair away yet as she still just gets out of bed
- reward chart. She's never been very keen on these but the length of the night is just too long for her to understand/care about the sticker
- banana before bedtime. I was desperate, it doesn't work.

Is it possible she's just resistant to all forms of sleep training? I've read everything I can get my hands on and the only thing we haven't tried for any length of time is letting her cry. We've done it twice by way of just stopping the nonsense and getting her to sleep but it involves shutting the door and I don't feel comfortable with that (and I suspect it won't be long before she can open it).

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated..

Teatimetinny Wed 12-Feb-14 07:26:33

Can you try just giving her what she wants which is to be with you? Can you put her little bed in your room?
Caveat: I'm co sleeping with my 3yo and baby. It just seems so cruel to shut her away while you all have a great time (in her mind) with her replacement

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Wed 12-Feb-14 07:30:32

Sounds like she is a bit jealous of DD2 which will pass.

It all sounds behavioural not a genetic sleep disorder.

My DD has one (she has SN) and she is quite happy at night but just wide awake.

First thing I would do is not reward the night wakings with any extra attention. Be ultra boring have no eye contact and just repeat a phrase like"its sleep time" and return her to bed as iften as it takes.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Wed 12-Feb-14 07:31:48

I suspect you have tried this but I would keep ait even if it takes hours and hours. If you give in after hours it will make things worse. I would keep going all night if you could.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Wed 12-Feb-14 07:32:05

Keep *at it

atthestrokeoftwelve Wed 12-Feb-14 07:40:17

I agree with Teatimetinny , your Dd is looking for extra reassuarance and comfort at this tme, as she is no longer your baby.
She soounds very mature and clever to actually tell you why she is having trouble at bedtime, and you can't fault her reasoning.
We slept with our children until they were about 4, their decision mainly, with only a little coaxing, and it was a smooth easy transition.

Maybe not the answer you want to hear but if your DD is looking for reassurance that she is still wanted at nightimes, it may only take a few weeks of having her back in your bed to give her that message.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Wed 12-Feb-14 08:12:41

I would give the extra reassurance in the daytime, personally.

atthestrokeoftwelve Wed 12-Feb-14 08:16:55

Fanjo as you say that's a personal decision, and up to the OP. I respect you view, having a three year old in bed for a time to give extra reassurance is not for everyone, but it is an option, and ultimately up to the OP.

I do agree with you that the child needs extra reassurance in some way.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Wed 12-Feb-14 08:22:42

When did I say it wasnt up to OP.

She asked for advice and I repeatedly said "I would".

Have worked with sleep professionals on dDs sleep for a long time.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Wed 12-Feb-14 08:25:04

They did fix all the behavioural stuff.

somedizzywhore1804 Wed 12-Feb-14 08:27:34

I was and am a terrible sleeper. From the age of about 3 I told my parents I didn't want to sleep because "it's a waste of time". Mum stopped having do much hassle once I could read and basically entertain myself at night: if I didn't want to sleep that was my own silly fault!

I was impervious to all interventions and they tried everything. Potentially your daughter might be the same. Looking back my mum says she wouldn't have battled so hard as it just made life hard for everyone in the house.

Not much help but maybe worth keeping in mind.

blackteaplease Wed 12-Feb-14 08:30:13

It sounds like you have tried lots of different techniques. Six weeks isn't that long for gradual retreat. We took 2 months to get dd to stay in bed for most of the night then went away for Christmas and are back to square 1.

I went to see the sleep specialist at my hv clinic who asked loads of questions and tailored an approach based on my answers. She also said not to do sticker charts for sleep as the child knows they can't succeed so they get too distressed.

I dont have any solution s for you. Since Christmas dh and i have been in separate beds co sleeping with the toddler and pre-schooler. Dh is off on a work trip for a fortnight so when he gets back we will repeat the gradual retreat with dd.

Kittyburgh Wed 12-Feb-14 09:23:40

Thanks for your replies.

I didn't go into full detail in my original post. We have tried co-sleeping the four of us and also with her in a bed in our room. DD1 finds this too exciting and just wants to chat and play and still wakes up 3/4 times a night. This wouldn't be a problem for us but DD2 is very hard to settle and when disturbed takes up to 4 hours to go back to sleep. So no one was getting any sleep (and even William Sears says not to continue with a bad experiment!). We have recently started sleeping in separate rooms - DH and DD1 and me and DD2. That's much better for me but not for DH. Also DH has to go away soon for work (on a weekly basis) and I need to sort something out before then as DD2 likes to be latched on from 7 til midnight and I don't know how to do this and sit with DD1 for two hours.

I know 6 weeks isn't that long but we didn't even retreat a tiny way - we were just sitting with her til she went to sleep and then again in the night. How long should it take to getting to being able to move your chair?

blackteaplease Wed 12-Feb-14 11:00:18

The hv told me it depends on your child and the level of attachment they have made with sleeping. If you want to avoid tears then then it will take a long time. You can force the issue with cry it out/ controlled crying but I found that was too stressful.

I hope you find a solution soon. can you get someone to stay over when dh is away to help at night? Your mum maybe?

I am planning on having both dc in my bed while dh is away but that means early starts as the toddler wakes for a feed at 4/5ish and disturbs the preschooler and that's it for the day. Not something I want to carry on with long term!

blackteaplease Wed 12-Feb-14 11:05:35

I forgot to ask, how old is your dc2? When my dc2 was small and still in our room I would bath both dc together, feed dc2 in our bed while cuddling dc1 then pop him in the crib and take dc1 to bed. Dc2 sometimes cried for a few minutes but would fall asleep by themselves. Then i would sit with dd until she fell asleep. This went out the window with the 6 month sleep regression.

Now i leave dd watching tv, feed ds to sleep another sit with dd until she is asleep. The slow cooker is my friend, otherwise I wouldn't ever eat.

Kittyburgh Wed 12-Feb-14 12:14:06

Dd 2 doesn't go to sleep without my breast in her mouth. She uses me as a dummy and if I move she wakes up. That's partly why we co-sleep. So usually I do bath and stories for DD1 and then DH sits with her while she goes to sleep and I go to bed with DD2 for the night about 8pm (DD1 will take anything up to two hours to drop off - I'd love for it to be me that sits with her but DD2 starts screaming around 8). DD2 can't have a bottle because she's allergic to milk and she eats so frequently I'm unable to express.

DH will be away Monday to Friday every week and my mum lives 250 miles away unfortunately.

givemeaclue Wed 12-Feb-14 12:16:20

Have you asked for a sleep clinic referral?
Is the same not going to happen with dd2?

GingerMaman Wed 12-Feb-14 12:30:54

OP, I have a sleep fighter who is up every hour. May I ask which homeopathy treatment you used and at which age? Thanks!

Kittyburgh Wed 12-Feb-14 12:34:42

Dd 2 doesn't go to sleep without my breast in her mouth. She uses me as a dummy and if I move she wakes up. That's partly why we co-sleep. So usually I do bath and stories for DD1 and then DH sits with her while she goes to sleep and I go to bed with DD2 for the night about 8pm (DD1 will take anything up to two hours to drop off - I'd love for it to be me that sits with her but DD2 starts screaming around 8). DD2 can't have a bottle because she's allergic to milk and she eats so frequently I'm unable to express.

DH will be away Monday to Friday every week and my mum lives 250 miles away unfortunately.

AcrylicPlexiglass Wed 12-Feb-14 12:40:22

How old is dd2?

CuriosityCola Wed 12-Feb-14 12:42:18

Intrigued at the homeopathy treatment. Sorry I don't have any useful advice. I'm in a similar situation. Dc2 sleeps far better than dc1. sad

Kittyburgh Wed 12-Feb-14 12:43:12

7 months. And yes I suspect the same will happen. I haven't asked for a sleep clinic referral because I assumed that as DD1 slept so well for 18 months that the doc would just tell me to wait until she grows out of it (change of family circumstance, unsettled etc).

AcrylicPlexiglass Wed 12-Feb-14 12:50:01

I would concentrate on getting dd2's sleep sorted out if she is 7 months and cannot sleep without your breast in her mouth. Sorry to be blunt but I think you will face exactly the same problem with her if you don't try and intervene now as she clearly can't move between sleep cycles without the breast and that is one sure fire cause of sleep problems, ime. What is that book that talks about how you can co-sleep without feeding all the time? No-cry sleep solution or something like that? Take a look and try and get dd2 in a better pattern. Then you can tell dd1 that night time is for sleeping and look, her little sister is doing better than her!

AcrylicPlexiglass Wed 12-Feb-14 12:52:20

I think you would be a definite candidate for a sleep clinic if you think it would be helpful. You have two non-sleepers and are on course to be a single parent during the week, effectively. Pretty stressful. Good luck sorting it.

AcrylicPlexiglass Wed 12-Feb-14 13:14:40

I would also consider moving dd2 into a cot for the first part of the night and doing whatever form of sleep training you can bear, shh pat or pick up put down or controlled crying until the time you go to bed. Then if she remains unsettled you could bring her into bed with you for your period of sleep. If you could get dd2's evenings sorted you would be free to concentrate on returning dd1 to bed. I think the current arrangement just won't be sustainable with your husband away and the only way to solve it is to sort out dd2's sleep as you won't be able to see to dd1 if you are lying in bed feeding dd2 for the duration of the evening. 7 month old babies really don't need to feed throughout the night unless there are particular issues and 7 months is a good age for sleep training, ime. You don't face the wily ways of older toddlers/children and they can't get up and run around the house defying you!

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