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Sleep training - desperate advice required

(14 Posts)
Amiatotalmug Mon 18-Jan-16 13:22:52


We have a 20month old who has never been a good sleeper and I hold my hands up as it's totally our fault. We rocked him to sleep for months which meant he was
Completely dependent on that to get to sleep, anyway after months of endless sleep deprivation we ended up co sleeping - something I was dead against but I returned to work and just couldn't function on little sleep.

Anyway I then fell pregnant with no2 so we thought best start helping no1 sleep in his own room, by this stage he was a complete cot refuser so we got a single bed but stupidly ended up co sleeping there with him as he just wouldn't settle without one of us.

No2 is now here (6weeks old) and no1s sleep is even worse, I suspect due to the new arrival. Anyway I was happy to ride it out a bit longer but we just can't any more for the following reasons:

1) ds is completely dependent on us for sleep- surely that's not healthy at his age?
2) my 6 week old sleeps better than him! I kid u not, compared to my ds he's sleeping through- it's crazy!
3) ds always seems tired and I refreshed from sleep so he's obviously not sleeping well
4) husband is now Ill and can't physically sleep with no1 and I can't either as no2 needs me at night (ds can be up down an hour after we put him down!)
5) I want my bed and my husband back!

As u can gather I'm desperate now but how do we proceed? I don't want to scar my ds and I don't want him to feel pushed out. I'm so angry at myself for not addressing this sooner sad

We tried cc and gradual retreat before we stated co sleeping but
We must have given in before it started to work properly.

I should also say he's teething/under the weather so suspect I might need to wait a couple of days before starting a sleep regime....

Pitapotamus Mon 18-Jan-16 15:56:40

I would wait till the teething is over and he's not under he weather and then go for it. My son was so much happier after we did it and he started sleeping well - he certainly isn't at all scarred for it! You can employ sleep training nannies that will come and help you do it (guide ou through the process and generally reassure you with their experience) quite expensive but that's what we did as we really struggled with it.

Pitapotamus Mon 18-Jan-16 15:57:11

Ps best of luck!

Amiatotalmug Mon 18-Jan-16 17:44:01

Thank you for the reply and the reassurance! We will def wait until he's better, plus need my husband better as we both need to be on board to make it work.

Can I ask what method u used? We are considering cio due to his age, obviously we will try and explain to him, reinforce bedtime routine etc but i think he needs extreme measures as he's so dependent on us sad

Pitapotamus Mon 18-Jan-16 20:20:02

We used the one where you go in after the first 5 mins, then extend the period you leave them for by 5 mins each time. Our little boy was only 6 months when we first did it but he'd regress after illness of any sort so we had to repeat it again for a night or two a few times over the couple of years that followed. He's a very happy 4 year old now who (for the most part!) sleeps very well.

ODog Mon 18-Jan-16 20:49:55

Firstly, you have no caused anything. Secondly, it's completely normal for toddlers and children to need company to sleep (you said yourself you would like your DH back, you like sleeping with a loved one, so does your toddler).

I have a 19mo who would be similar if we hadn't embraced co-sleeping when he was about 3 days old. He sleeps much of the night in his own bed now (also a cot refuser) but will need to come in with us at some point and settle back to sleep reasonably soundly. I have a new baby due in May so I'm in a similar position but my plan is to continue letting him in our bed when he needs and I will potentially co-sleep with him and new baby if I need to (although I will be between toddler and baby) and DH will camp out those nights if need be. Since your new baby is sleeping well this shouldn't be an issue for you.

I would take the position of giving him what he needs (ie a parent present at what is a difficult point for him emotionally and hope that by giving that love and reassurance that it will eventually give him the confidence to sleep alone. It's a long term strategy and will require you to embrace and accept and even enjoy cosleeping for that indeterminate length of time. It's obviously up to you to decide if that will work for your family.

blushingmare Mon 18-Jan-16 21:56:08

I'm not sure I'm in the best position to advise you as also have a 20mo very dependent on me for sleep! But your post reads very much that you're beating yourself up about it and I just wanted to say don't!

I don't think it's so very uncommon for a 20mo to still be needing a parent at night, especially if that's what they've always known. You're worried it's "not healthy", but it's just how he learnt to sleep, so it's normal for him. My DS is the same - we coslept, fed to sleep etc, so obviously it's no great surprise that he's not sleeping well on his own in his own room. But I wouldn't have done it any other way - it was a godsend for surviving that phase and I loved the cosleeping anyway

Also think it's very normal for a 6wo to sleep better than a 20mo. DS was a wonderful sleeper until 6mo and now is terrible!

Re wanting your bed and husband back. TBH, I would say with a 6wo that's an ambitious aim even without adding a toddler into the mix. Don't mean that to sound harsh, but I've always viewed this time of the children being really small as a time when nothing is really "your own" and if you just accept that, it's easier to cope with than wishing things would "go back to how they were" because they never will

I reluctantly (was due with DS and desperate!) did CIO with my 22mo DD who was similar, and within a few days she was sleeping through. She's been a pretty reliable sleeper ever since ( now 3.5)

Last month (DS 19mo) I attempted a "gentler" CC (going in after 1 min, then 2, then 3 etc) - it worked for a couple of nights then all went tits up and I gave up. Not sure where we go from here.

I think in your position I would find it very hard to do sleep training at the moment because he is, as you say, teething, and that could go on for a while and you're never sure that they're not. And he's just had a major change in his life (a baby brother) and may well be feeling unsettled because of that. Right now, it sounds like he needs you more, not less. But that is just me and I am totally hopeless with having them cry at all and hated every second of sleep training attempts. TBH though, I don't really buy into the whole "scarring them" thing if it's just a few nights to sort it out. Obviously would be different if someone was leaving a screaming child night after night with no change. I think it's more that it's really hard to cope with as parents - maybe parents are more scarred by it!

So if you feel strong enough then give it a go, but in your position personally I would be inclined to wait a good few months now until life is a little more settled with two. You've got a tiny baby to look after too, so don't make life any more (emotionally) hard, if that's what sleep training would do for you. In the meantime you just muddle through with the two of them and work out a way to make it work somehow.

I hope this doesn't sound uncaring, because I really do sympathise and have dealt with two tricky sleepers with v little support from DH myself so I do understand how hard it is. Also, I am frequently despairing of my 20mo sleep myself, so as I say, maybe my advice is no the best!!

Amiatotalmug Tue 19-Jan-16 07:38:24

Thank you everyone for the different perspectives, it's good to hear other experiences. To clarify I no longer wish to co sleep as it's not working for us anymore and whilst I understand life is going to be normal for some time due to having a newborn, I do feel it's time to help my eldest learn to sleep by himself- for his own sake as well as mine. I would also like a little bit of time in the evenings with my dh and our new baby rather than having to go to bed at 830pm as my ds won't resettle. Long term this is no longer an option for me, that may sound selfish but I feel I've been a sleep crutch long enough. It would be different if ds was waking 2/3/4am and coming through to us but it's not happening like that.

Another Part of the reason I no longer want to co sleep is a few people I know had to sleep train their children at 6&7! i appreciate this is extreme but part of me panics that my ds will end up the same and will not naturally detach from us at night. Anyway each to their own smile

Again thanks for the views, swaying towards Ferber rather than the extreme cio method. I want to make this as pain free as possible for all our sakes, especially our ds

blushingmare Tue 19-Jan-16 09:15:38

I hear you loud and clear OP and feel your pain! Wasn't intending to be critical as am going through the same with DS and would also love him to be more independent. Was just trying say don't best yourself up about it and don't make life too hard when you already have it full on with a newborn too. Good luck smile

Amiatotalmug Tue 19-Jan-16 09:49:48

Haha blushingmare, I didn't take it as critical so don't worry. Was just trying to explain/vent really as in real life it's hard to talk about these things without people jumping down your throat and giving "advice". God the looks I get for saying we still sleep with our ds!! But that's not why I want to change things, I just want to move onto the next stage with him

Writerwannabe83 Tue 19-Jan-16 15:00:28

I used CC (I didn't even think CIO was even considered these days?) when DS was 10 months and it saved my life.

I did it under the guidance of a Sleep Consultant (£90) and she changed EVERYTHING about DS's routines, meal times, nap times, bed time etc etc - it wasn't just simply a case of doing CC but addressing lots of other factors in his day that could have been impeding on his sleep.

Within a week I had s baby who slept through in his own cot every night (previous co-sleeper) and also had two naps a day (previous nap refuser).

She was fantastic!!!!

littleboop Tue 19-Jan-16 20:32:16

Hi Writer, your experience with the sleep consultant sounds amazing - who did you use? I have a 23 mo and were in the same position as the OP (with 4mo baby) and just wish I'd dealt with the cosleeping at 10 months like you!

Howaboutthisone Tue 19-Jan-16 20:50:06

I read your post op and it took me back to a not so distant near impossible time. DS is now 5 and DD 2.5 and we've had issues with both and sleeping. We had to stop co sleeping with DS (which I resorted to to get some sleep) when I was heavily pregnant as he was so wriggly that I couldn't sleep at all. We ended up with one of us going in with him. We always had to lay with him for him to sleep.
With Dd we again resorted to co sleeping- one of us would lay with DS until he went to sleep, the other would try to settle dd and end up giving me up and going to bed with her. We didn't have any sort of down time in the evening.
It got very difficult to sustain as then we tried sitting outside their rooms as a slight change but some nights we would be there for hours in shifts. One night I couldn't take it any more. So we did a mix of cc and cio. I hated it but I think you know your child and of their cries mean that they're truly distressed or if they're having a 'moany' cry. After three nights there was such a massive improvement in both. This was after dd turned two. Most nights dd would still wake but would happily be tucked into bed and go back to sleep alone (if it was after 5.00 one of us would go in for a cuddle). It's been my sanity saviour to have an hour to myself in the evening, even if it's to do work or ironing- these were falling behind so much before that it was causing me a lots of stress.
Both are ill at the moment so there is some co sleeping going on but I can cope (and quite enjoy) that now that I know it's temporary, and more so because I've had some time to myself and haven't had to go to bed with one DC as I've given up on trying to get them to settle.

Writerwannabe83 Tue 19-Jan-16 20:52:11

littleboop - I will PM you.

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