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Dads - please give me your honest opinions!

(10 Posts)
baldybaby Tue 02-Oct-07 12:53:05

Firstly, I'm not posting this because I'm canvassing for support. I'd really like to get objective views on this because it's causing a big problem between us and I don't know how we're going to resolve it.

Here's the deal. We have a gorgeous 10 week old baby boy who has lots of trouble with wind and colic. He doesn't sleep well at all (ie he can't fall asleep without some help from us, either feeding or motion usually). He's also a very light sleeper. These things mean that it's very easy for him to become hugely overtired by the evening, which results in screaming. My technique when this happens has been to go to bed with him where it's dark and quiet and feed him to sleep, which may take some time but eventually works. He is very slowly getting better.

DP feels that we would be better leaving him to cry. He thinks that handling him, albeit to comfort and feed him, is just adding to the stimulation and making things worse. He suggests putting him in the cot in the dark and letting him cry himself to sleep. He wouldn't advocate leaving him to cry in other situations, but thinks in this case we should try it.

I am against this for two reasons. Firstly, I can't bear to leave him crying by himself - it instinctively feels wrong, he's too little and it doesn't, to my mind, teach him anything. Secondly, I don't think he's the sort of baby who would 'cry down', because when I've had to leave him before (eg to give myself a chance to calm down if he's stressing me out) his crying just escalates and becomes hysterical.

I have told my OH that I cannot do what he's asking me to do because to me it's fundamentally wrong. He feels upset because he thinks I'm not considering his views or giving his ideas a chance and he also points out that my techniques aren't working anyway as our baby still won't sleep by himself. My feeling when it comes to our life together is if either of us feels strongly that something is the wrong thing then neither of us should do it, but he is sure that it could help our baby.

I'd really appreciate opinions and experiences of how others have dealt with similar impasses. I have also posted this in AIBU.

1crazymumof2 Tue 02-Oct-07 12:59:58

Baldybaby, sorry to post as i'm not a bloke, but had to give my opinion, i think your little one is probably in pain and uncomfortable, so no i would'nt just leave him to cry. I have two dc's three and one, and on occasions i do let them cry themselves to sleep i.e if they are overtired, being stubborn, but being a 10 week old his hard enough without being in pain.
I feel your husband is being to harsh. Also have you ruled out acid reflux? as you said he likes to be held its a possibility that he could have this, its similar to heartburn and increases in intensity when the baby is lying flat. Just a thought you may like to get checked out.

baldybaby Tue 02-Oct-07 13:03:01

He has Gaviscon but seems to be getting better at lying down as time passes. He's also seeing a cranial osteopath. The crying I'm referring to is mainly tiredness, I'm fairly sure because it correlates so closely to the amount of sleep he has during he day, but I agree that pain cannot be ruled out 100%.

1crazymumof2 Tue 02-Oct-07 13:07:52

There are very good wedge cuhions available to prop the baby up slightly, and yes acid reflux will improve and then rectify itself as the muscles become developed.

I think if you feel unhappy letting ds cry himself to sleep then dont do it, however if you want then try it for a night and see how it goes. If you are sure its because hes overtired then move bedtime forward a bit so hopefuly he doesnt get to that stage?

EricL Tue 02-Oct-07 14:08:01

Your DP has a point. But i would get past this medical issue first though before doing it the hard way.

It happened both times for us when the DW kept going in and fussing whenever baby made a sound and i think this is quite natural for a mother so no need to excuse your behaviour.

It gets to a point though where you do just need to shut the door on them in a dark room and let them sort themselves out or the disturbed sleep will continue.

It was a difficult few nights for both of ours when we first did this but it worked a treat and now both sleep the whole night without disturbing us at all when that door is closed.

Hope your baby gets over this wind issue so you can all get some quality sleep!

DaDaDa Tue 02-Oct-07 14:34:45

10 weeks old is far too young to leave a baby to cry IMHO. If he's crying and it's not the colic, it's because he doesn't know where you've gone and is too young to know that you'll be back. I would be thinking about CC or Shout it Out as a last resort around 10 months, not 10 weeks.

It's hard to get out of the feeding/rocking to sleep habit, but it's still early days. I'd continue as you are for now, be consistent with your sleep cues (bath, quiet feed, lullaby, bed).

We got into a few bad habits with DS (now 11 months) and got out of them using Baby Whisperer techniques like sshh-pat and pick up put down. Her tone in those books is irritating and it's time consuming, but it did work for us.

I agree iwth you that you both need to agree rather than him wanting to try his way without your support. Also I wouldn't mess with a mothers instinct! Perhaps you could show him research which backs up your feeling that 10 weeks is too young to leave your boy to cry alone. There's a lot out there - even Ferber (CC advocate) apparently now only recommends using it after 1 year.

cestlavie Tue 02-Oct-07 14:47:52

Had very similar situation between myself and DW and I know various couples who have had the same, i.e. that woman can't bear to leave little one to cry for any period of time whilst the bloke things that some period of crying is necessary for the kid to be able to get itself to sleep. Equally I know that various couples (including ourselves) get/got pretty stroppy with each other about it because it goes, to an extent, to the heart of parenting at a time when you're both pretty stressed.

Couple of points which worked for us. Firstly, try and discuss (and if possible agree) things whilst the baby is asleep NOT at 2.00am when the kid's been screaming for an hour at which point you're both off your head with stress. You might not get agreement but at least you won't end up shouting at each other!

Secondly, try and find a middle way. You might feel fundamentally but he probably does as well. In our case, I felt fundamentally that it was absolutely in his and our best interests to be able to get himself to sleep and that crying in itself doesn't always mean there's something cataclysmically wrong, just that, for example, he's gutted cos he's tired and can't get back to sleep. DW obviously felt the way you do that him crying for just wrong.

We agreed that whilst leaving DS to cry was wrong, equally comforting him to sleep might get him into bad habits; what we did was sit by him and hold him or rest a hand against him whilst he cried so he was never left to cry alone but also wasn't getting too much help getting back to sleep (i.e. the previous being jiggled around the kitchen through the early hours!). I'm sure there's other possible compromises that can be reached.

Thirdly, don't blame each other, hugely tempting as it is. If you try something different try to avoid conversations along the lines of "well I don't see your way working any bloody better either" or "well if you know so much you do it then". Try and new approach for a few days. If you both decide something's not working, try to agree and move on. (Hmmm much easier said than done but do as we say rather than as we do!)

Finally, he's only 10 weeks. It's a brutal time. There probably is no easy answer unless he decides he wants to sleep himself. Whatever you choose to do is going to take time and patience on both your parts, and a lot of crying on his. I was down the pub with a mate last night who's got a similar situation (but has been through it with kids from a previous marriage). I asked how they were doing and he said "mate, you've just got to look at it as being 6 months of sleep hell you've got to get through". Pretty accurate I think.

Hope this helps a bit! You're certainly not alone in having this debate with DP.

Expedite Wed 03-Oct-07 09:58:49

I think at that age it's not about teaching them something - leaving them to cry (in my opinion) is about checking to see if after a few minutes without any attention they would settle down on their own. Based on your "second reason" you're pretty sure that wouldn't work, but perhaps it's worth demonstrating to your partner that it won't work. It won't hurt your baby to do it once.

As for more practical solutions, my suggestion is to get your husband to spring for a hammock (like the Amby Nature's Nest). The reason they are so good is that they allow you to comfort the baby by bouncing or swinging the hammock, without him being able to see you. In my experience he'll find this soothing rather stimulating. If you're walking around bouncing him up and down, then when you put him down the sudden change of environment means he wakes up. With a hammock he is already in his sleeping environment so there is no jolt and he doesn't suddenly think "hang on, where's my mum gone?".

You also say he is a light sleeper. With a hammock if he wakes up and starts moving around a bit the hammock will bounce itself (more so as he gets a bit heavier) and this might, if you're lucky, lull him back to sleep.

Make sure you use a GroBag or similar sleeping bag so that he can't kick the covers off or end up with them over his head.

Don't worry that he's already 10 weeks old. My son spent in his first month in an incubator and nasty plastic heated cot, only making it to the hammock around 10 weeks.

Of course, it might not work, but at least it'll give your partner something to do and feeling like he is "trying something" might be all it takes.

Fizzylemonade Thu 04-Oct-07 21:49:44

Baldy - sorry I am not a bloke, but will say 10 weeks is very little to do any kind of leaving a baby to cry.

I had 2 reflux babies so can relate somewhat, I think that you seem to be saying that you are not jiggling him around or walking around with him you are just feeding him in a quiet and dark room.

You can get cot props which basically raise the head end of the cot to help the reflux and with reflux babies the more they cry the worse their reflux becomes.

Your OH probably feels like he isn't spending much time with you on your own, and craves your time and attention because he loves you. He wants your son to sleep well but his methods aren't to your liking but his intentions are good.

Men don't have the hormones that go with having a baby and possibly don't understand when we say that it is "instinctively" wrong to leave your baby to cry. It would be like asking him to go into a shop and steal a packet of crisps. It is ingrained into us not to steal.

I think that you should continue down the same route of staying with your son whilst he settles, he is only 10 weeks old, controlled crying is recommended from 6 months (I hate it & did the baby whisperer when required)

At the end of the day, you want a baby who goes to sleep and relaxed and happy parents. Good luck.

clerkKent Fri 05-Oct-07 12:58:53

I found it very useful to read an expert opinion on what to do. We both swore by "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems" by Richard Ferber - the methods worked for our children, and it was better than an empty argument between dw and me about what felt right. We often found that the solution was not intuitive.

In your circumstances, I would do whatever it takes to help the baby to get to sleep while he is ill, and only try other things once he is well.

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