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To stop rocking my 14 month old to sleep or not?

(44 Posts)
Videog1rl Tue 01-Oct-13 05:28:09

I have a 14 month old son & have had sleep issues with him since 6 months. Before then he slept well and went off to sleep on his own easily. Myself and my partner were strongly of the opinion he should not be left to cry under 6 months and always went to him when he did. The trouble started when he stopped being fed back to sleep in the night and going down after his feed at the start of the night around 6 months, by this point we had moved him into his own room, and unfortunately he was able to stand and to roll over onto his front but not back again so he would get stuck and need assistance getting back to sleep.

This was when we started to rock and walk him to sleep as it was the only way to settle him. He would scream when put down or if you sat down holding him. We have continued I rock him to sleep for naps and bedtime until now. He will close his eyes on my shoulder and I'm able to put him down after 2 minutes when he will normally fuss or grizzle a bit and go to sleep. He will also go to sleep in the buggy, carrier or car seat. I am still breast feeding and feed him before sleep but do not let him fall asleep at the breast anymore. I have recently night weaned and this has helped with the number of wake ups per night, and sometimes he will sleep through now (11 hours 40 minutes is the record!) but when he does wake it can be 2 hours to get him back to sleep.

We have a bedtime routine of boob, bath, book, lullaby, boob, cuddle/rock. Whenever I try to change the order of the routine to bring the feed before the story for example it doesn't work & cutting out or reducing the rocking results in hysteria!

He is obviously pretty heavy now & strong and I am having back pain and often get head butted by him flinging himself around in the night and am exhausted. Because it seems to have gone in phases of being easy and incredible difficult time seems to have flown by and I can't quite believe I'm still rocking him to sleep at 14 months! My arm muscles are pretty good ;)

All the sleep books I've read offer advice which has never seemed to fit, either they assume if you are breast feeding then you are co sleeping or if you are rocking to sleep the baby will be under 6 months old
& immobile. We have 'given him the opportunity' to self soothe (infrequently out of exhaustion generally!) and it has been very distressing and never resulted in him going to sleep.....partly because when we've tried it my OH has gone in and picked him up having not been able to take it!

I would love to hear from some Mums who have opted for the soft approach to night parenting & come out the other side! Did you rock your baby to sleep & it eventually somehow got easier?! Or have you got a toddler or child with sleep issues still?! Has anyone kindly 'sleep trained' a wilful toddler who likes to climb and needs motion to get to sleep?! How?! Where do I start?!? Please share your insight!!

Thanks for reading! Sorry it's a bit epic...

ZebraZeebra Sun 13-Oct-13 12:17:18

Oh OP it's so hard! Not going to sleep is the biggest test of patience and the thing I struggle with the most. I think my DS is quite similar - he can't stay asleep.

Recently I've been trying my version of gradual retreat combined with PUPD. We co sleep and have a side car cot so I can't just sit in the room and wait for him to fall asleep. I used to do this whole routine and then lay next to him unr he fell asleep.

Last few nights I've say at the end up the bed after the wtnole routine is done. When he gets up and crawls towards me I say sssh darling, sleep time, night night. Repeat endlessly. I know he knows what's coming now because by the second night he was scampering back himself. I plan to also move further and further away. Dare I say it...he's stayed asleep for longer of an evening. Don't jinx myself now!

I've worked hard on my patience and remaining calm, letting him chatter and snaffle, just read my kindle and only respond to him to lay him back down. It's a battle of wills but gentle and calm. Some nights I've been up there two hours but I hope it works.

Could you try this - gently gently catchy monkey approach? Just calm, quiet, gently persisting that although you are reassuring him you're there, this is the new way? I know it's hell. But even though I couldn't try some of the...harder training...all accounts seem to be the babies catch on within a few nights.

blossombath Thu 10-Oct-13 21:07:37

You have my sympathies, we have a big 19mo who still sometimes needs rocking to sleep, esp in the night, and definitely needed rocking to sleep until around 12/13mo.

A lot of the things we did you have already tried - sitting with him by cot, reducing time of rocking gradually, moving boob to before story. To be honest I can barely remember even though it was such a short time ago - sleep deprivation plays havoc with memory. So partly I want to say that even though rocking a writhing, scratching baby to sleep is torture, things can change with bad sleepers, even if you don't quite know how you did it. Just keep trying things, give them a few days if you can, and if they aren't working move on. It isn't anything you are doing wrong or right, and it won't last forever.

I just had a few thoughts that might help
- One thing we use to break him out of a crying cycle is to sing loudly a favourite nursery rhyme or start reciting a favourite story. The loudness helps to shock him out of the cycle of panicy crying, I think. Then we can keep singing the song gradually reducing volume as he calms down. More recentlyif he keeps standing up in cot and asking for milk or cuddle then as I lay him down I say in a loudish, firm voice: 'DS, sleep now' and it seems to break his mood.
- To encourage him to lie down my DH would loudly pat the cot/pillow which seemed to attrach DS to sit down and see what was going on
- Second pillow idea, and suggest using a case that you have slept with first. The first time I used pillow it was in desperation that he wouldn't let me leave room. So I brought a thin pillow that I sleep on through from our room, and put him on it with his teddy and he seemed to find that comfort enough.
- we replaced bed time feed with cup of milk recently but he still demands milk in night. I have no idea what stops that in the end!
- Do encourage your DH to keep trying to settle him. My DS goes through phases where he will settle for DH and times when he won't. But we keep trying because otherwise I go crazy and try to take DS out for buggy walks in the middle of the night rather than face one more second of rocking...

Videog1rl Thu 10-Oct-13 13:11:37

Thanks ZebraZeebra and others for supportive messages, and the apology! I was quite upset at the comment hence not checking back here for a few days...
I definitely don't feel like I'm not putting in hard work!
Having discussed things again with OH he helped more when DS woke for a few days but tbh it didn't help - he does not seem to be able to settle DS so I end up having to go take over after an hour or so and I'm not sleeping whilst he's awake anyway, so we all end up shattered (instead of just me!). OH is definitely not happy for DS to be left to cry to the extent that I think he went in and woke him the other day when he was crying out in his sleep! He does help out a lot in other ways though with house work and cooking and gives me time to sleep when he can so we can go back to him staying out of it ;) I think it works best for our family for me to do the nights, and then OH can be on top form for work, (he does need to be on the ball).
So back to LO! He will be fed to sleep for his nap or bedtime but I found he would not sleep passed one sleep cycle if I do this (cries to have the nipple back in his mouth) and he does not feed back to sleep when he wakes in the night (becomes more wakeful & doesn't relax, in fact I find it difficult to hold onto him he wants to move around & play so much) so I took this as a cue to night wean. I have not been feeding in the night for a month now (though I did try again once recently & it was a typical disaster resulting in going back to pacing up and down with him after to get him to go off).
I even did climb into the cot the other night - it did not help!!!
Does anyone have a tip to pursuade their LO to lie down of their own accord? If I stop breast feeding completely would it be possible he would snuggle on my lap without asking for milk? Do they forget?

ZebraZeebra Sun 06-Oct-13 19:27:59

roweena massive hugs! It's really really really hard and I only have an 11 month old and his sleep is totally imperfect, and I worry I'm doing everything wrong, and like OP am worrying about how I'll cope with another baby and...waah!

So big hugs to you, and OP, and anyone else struggling smile

NipLash Sat 05-Oct-13 20:09:48

I think you do what you have to do to get a good night's sleep. I fed both of mine to sleep, because it worked for us, and didn't cause any issues with their ability to self settle later on. My youngest still feeds to sleep often, but he is capable of being put in the cot awake and going to sleep by himself. But all babies are different, and this might not work for you.

If you really can't cope with rocking anymore, do you think feeding to sleep again would work?

girliefriend Sat 05-Oct-13 17:47:59

I think eventually esp if you are heavily pregnant you will have to stop rocking him to sleep, so this will happen and he will learn how to self soothe/ settle. Its just as with everything babies and kids related, at the time it feels like it will last forever!!

It won't I promise!! smile

Generally I found with dd once I made my mind up about doing something or not she actually generally would go with it, it was when I ummed and ahhed she would get really cross.

peanutbuttersarnies Sat 05-Oct-13 15:52:17

You are in an exhausting phase roweena! Hope everything goes well with the new arrival.

roweeena Sat 05-Oct-13 15:14:45

Ruth - with!

roweeena Sat 05-Oct-13 15:14:20

I agree really, sorry. It was a stupid comment to make, made at the end of a horrible day.

Parenting is tough enough full stop - we are all doing the best we can for our children the best way that suits us & our families. Take my last post Ruth a massive pinch of salt - sorry!

peanutbuttersarnies Sat 05-Oct-13 11:08:40

Thanks zebra. Just what i was thinking but wasnt able to put it into words. A couple of posts on here have been little digs at other more gentle ways of doing things like its some sort of cop out.

ZebraZeebra Sat 05-Oct-13 10:33:32

It's quite offensive/antagonistic to talk about sleep in terms of tough parenting that needs to be done, with the implication being that if you don't subscribe to such methods or theories, you're not willing to put in the hard work.

Sleep is a very emotive issue and parents can easily feel like they're doing it all wrong, that they're crap parents or that there's something wrong with their babies if their children are poor sleepers. It's unnecessary to talk about this as something that can be by sheer hard work on the parent's part - particularly on a thread with someone asking for help.

Fact is, Parenting and Sleep is littered with threads about how parents had great sleepers and now at X age, it's gone to pot. Repeated themes of how they used to self-settle so well and now they don't and the parent doesn't understand why. Everyone - everyone - has to do what jives with their beliefs. Personally I believe some people luck out with good sleepers, some children will always be poor sleepers, and some children respond to some methods. I don't believe much is the "fault" or "credit" of the parent. I believe in a regular routine with sleep associations and consistency on the part of the parent but beyond that - the child will do what that child wants to do. How the parent chooses to respond to that is entirely up to them. I could never leave my child to cry, I'm undecided on the concept of self-settling as something that can be taught, and I don't think I'm unwilling to do the "tough" parts of parenting - I just don't want it to turn into something harsh and that is essentially teaching my child something at the expense of their distress.

If this post is emotive and defensive, it's meant to be. There's far too many reasons to easily blame yourself in parenting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a gentle, waiting-it-out, long term approach. A parent should not be made to feel like they're not willing to put in hard work if they choose the long game.

roweeena Fri 04-Oct-13 22:02:41

I agree with MrsO that I think it is a lot of bollocks that you have to re'teach' self settling after illness, holidays etc. obviously when they are ill they will want more cuddles as expected but they still know how to self settle once they are improving. To me that sounds like an excuse made up by people not willing to do the tough bits of parenting (ducks for cover!)

Also def agree that if it is your DH who isn't on board with the sleep training then he needs to be doing more so that he understands the impact on you of having to rock a 14month old in the middle of the night - that sounds so exhausting.

Seriously this is a 14 month old who needs to be taught how to fall asleep on his own. Also if you want other kids, they are going to have to be left to cry at some point - you have got to bite the bullet! (I'm 39 weeks pregnant & have a just turned 2yo)

MrsOakenshield Fri 04-Oct-13 15:23:21

well, DH has always helped with nights, working or not, so that doesn't wash with me, especially if he's the one putting a spanner in the works.

I don't agree (or rather, it's not my experience) that sleep training gets forgotten after every holiday and illness - if it's well-established then it shouldn't make much difference. Of course, if you don't want to do that that is of course up to you, but my experience has been positive, and at nearly 4 I have a happy little girl who sleeps 11-12 hours a night and these days, if she wakes, she comes into our room, asks us to sit with her for a few minutes and is back asleep (or we tell her we're going back to bed) no problem - and this has been the case for a while.

I would also get her 2 identical bedtime toys, like a blankie bunny - DD from tiny has always had this, it goes everywhere overnight (we have a spare!) and when younger if she was struggling to get back to sleep while we were shhh-patting, she would hold bunny and stroke his ears very rhythmically, which I think helped her a lot. Oh, and a lullaby CD, we've only recently stopped having hers on a bedtime.

Oh - and we still have lots of cuddles!

peanutbuttersarnies Fri 04-Oct-13 07:45:28

Did you let him have a nice long feed first before you did cuddling him? I suppose he may then fall asleep before you have a chance to do cuddling to sleep? My ds stopped fallibg asleep on his last feed. So i let him feed as long as he wanted to get it out his system then cuddled him til he fell asleep.

Videog1rl Fri 04-Oct-13 03:59:32

MrsO I hear you! But OH is working & therefore can't afford the lack of sleep I can (apparently!). He does help at weekends but unfortunately has not been able to settle DS for some months so I end up having to get up anyway and don't sleep while he's trying to settle him so it ends up with both of us being tired & stressed!!
ZebraZeebra I'm going to look at that sling, thanks. I am doing the things suggested in the No Cry sleep solution, I definitely don't like the idea of causing DS to cry and for it to be a 'skill' he has to relearn after every holiday and illness, I just get to the end of my tether with the slow progress of if it and feel I need to do something more drastic every now & then, when I am feeling run down & a useless tired mummy! I would love to be able to get him to settle in the cot! He will not lie down of his own accord. I use the key words when putting him down, he now has a bunny he's attached to for sleeping & I have used white noise and music but I did not find this helped.
Lola88 I do agree with you that there is only so much time for cuddling which you should cherish (the motivation for being in this situation!) but there is also a time to realise it's not safe to be so tired and carrying a 11kg baby around in the night! I'd also like to have more babies and the thought of doing this over and over again is quite daunting. Though I assume without the luxury of time your second will never have the same attention!

Videog1rl Fri 04-Oct-13 03:40:38

If I sit with him he just wants to be nursed. I tried cuddling without rocking tonight & he scratched and pulled at my neckline asking to be nursed instead. So I resorted to keeping moving but less than usual!
He has one nap in the day, it's around 2 hours. I generally wake him at 2 hours as he is definitely more wakeful at night if he's slept too long for his nap. I have noticed in fact on the days he sleeps less in the day he sleeps better at night, so perhaps I should wake him at 1.5hours?
He goes to bed between 7 and 7:30 and wake up time is 7:30. I would say I treat all wake ups before 6:30 as night time wake ups but he has never been a baby who wanted to start the day at 4 or 5am (thankfully!).
I'm getting him a pillow!

lola88 Thu 03-Oct-13 19:50:22

DS is 20mo and I still rock him to sleep sometimes but we got a rocking chair for the purpose he has been in a single bed for 2 months and sometimes I just lie in bed with him, He takes his bottle to bed and just sucks until he falls asleep. I'm working on putting him down when he's half sleeping with the intent of having him sleep on his own (with bottle) by the time he's 2. I can't stand to let him cry he's only going to be little and want to cuddle up for such a short time that it seems a waste to spend that time crying.

ZebraZeebra Thu 03-Oct-13 11:39:56

There's a school of thought that suggests self settling is a total myth, and and that any sleep training will be lost during a period of disruption e.g illness or developmental.

The No Cry Sleep Solution is very gentle - you basically just begin as you are now - laying them down asleep, and then verrrrrrry gradually start to put them down when they're not totally asleep, drowsy, less drowsy etc etc. Might this work?

I don't have the same issue as you in that I can put him in bed - but I can't leave until he's asleep and tend to creep out when he's asleep. This is fine, though I can sometimes be up there for an hour. I would rather this can CC. I don't see the point in putting him through that kind of distress. He'll learn to sleep eventually! But rocking is hardcore and I second the rocking chair solution. Or - have you tried a sling that's easy to remove? The Beco Gemini is very easy to get them out of without waking them up - I do that quite a lot for naps.

MrsOakenshield Thu 03-Oct-13 09:43:13

hmm, well, if your OH is not on board with doing some sleep training, then might I suggest that he is the one to get up in the night to spend an hour settling his child? I agree that this is something where both parents need to be singing from the same song sheet.

girliefriend Thu 03-Oct-13 09:36:18

He sounds a bit like my dd who actually needed to go to sleep on her own, the more I went in and tried to reassure the more wound up she would get. I do understand how hard it is but I think if the rocking to sleep isn't working for you then you are going to have to toughen up a tiny bit!!

He will eventually get the hang of it - it is extremely unlikely you will be rocking a 5 yo to sleep!!

I would do as you were doing and keep going, support him as much as you can in going to sleep but decide that whatever happens you will not revert to rocking.

Does he sleep much in the day?

MinesAPintOfTea Thu 03-Oct-13 06:55:55

Try cuddling to sleep without rocking? Then move into hooding hand through the bars, lying next to him then finally just leaving.

I had a policy of cuddling until he got wriggly, then into the cot (whilst I sat nearby) until he cried, then cuddled again.

Basically giving the choice of sit quietly and still in my arms and go to sleep or be in his cot and only have his favourite blanket and a small soft toy until he went to sleep.

And have you tried a pillow? We really turned a corner when ds first got a pillow at about 14 months.

Videog1rl Thu 03-Oct-13 05:57:07

Okay girliefriend - but what exactly do you do at 5 minute intervals? My son will stand in the cot and scream and grab at me and will trash violently around if I lay him back down, getting up again immediately.
I have tried the sitting by the cot and pretending to go to sleep, and holding his hand through the bars he is calm until he realises he needs to go to sleep & can't then gets upset, then hysterical. I have persisted for an hour & a half lying him back down, not giving him eye contact, shushing and was then pursuaded to pick him up by OH, which made me feel like I'd been torturing him for nothing sad
I have left him to see if he'll go to sleep on his own & gone back in to try & calm him before leaving again and he would get more upset when I came in & didn't pick him up. I know part of it is being consistent and I don't have a plan in my head I can stick to once he's upset and crying for me!
I am not able to put him down in the night unless he is in a deep sleep so it's incredibly draining. I do think I've arrived at a point where we need to do something different but I don't want to have come this far & then break his trust in me/adults.

girliefriend Wed 02-Oct-13 23:15:29

See this is where I draw the parenting line, I will do a lot for my dd but i would not stand and rock a heavy 14month old to sleep every night!!

My attitude to bedtime has always been I will do everything possible to facilitate a peaceful bedtime, so always had a routine in place (bath, baby massage, p.js, bf, into sleeping bag, soothing music on) but the actual settling to sleep has to be something they can do!! Its a life skill and I don't understand anyone who writes off cc as imo you are doing your lo a disservice by not helping them learn an important skill.

Anyway sorry gone off on a bit of a rant, my advice would be to keep doing what you are doing but instead of rocking then place in the cot in a dark room, put some calming music on and leave for 5 min intervals, if this is too hard then sit next to the cot and reassure at 5 min intervals. Its hard to see your baby cry but in the long run once they have worked out how to settle themselves they will thank you!!

Videog1rl Wed 02-Oct-13 23:00:47

Sorry!!!! Drivig me mad....

I can't afford a sleep expert at the moment. I think I'm also worried they will tell me a lot of things I already know or don't want to do or it won't work - but I'm sure it would be money well spent if I had it!

Videog1rl Wed 02-Oct-13 22:57:56

I really don't have the money to spend

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