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I'm starting a gradual withdrawal from dd... please come and tell me if I'm doing it correctly. Sorry this is a long 'un.

(4 Posts)
headfairy Mon 19-Sep-11 11:16:34

She's never been a great sleeper. She didn't sleep through the night until she was over 1, she's 20 months now and though she had been ok for a few months - waking maybe 2 or three times a week which needed me to settle her. But now something's slipped and she wakes every night, and won't settle at all. The only way I can get her to sleep is to get in to bed with her but she thrashes and kicks and I'm not convinced she's getting proper sleep that way. I know I'm certainly not.

My mum has said she thinks I've been spoiling her too much. Ds has always been such a great sleeper that having a bad sleeper like dd is a bit alien to me. I work three days a week too so I've been guilty of taking the easy path, getting in to bed with her and cuddling her back to sleep. But things have got ridiculous now.

Normally dh puts her to bed while I put ds to bed, and she's brilliant with him. She settles instantly. If she wakes in the evening he'll settle her again and again she goes back to sleep straight away. If I go in she gets hysterical if once I've settled her I put her back in her cot awake, so for me to settle her takes at least half an hour.

Last night I was on my own and so I had to leave ds watching cartoons while I tried to put her to bed. She was sleepy and I put her in her cot but the crying started before I'd even put her in. I went back to ds to see if he was ok and left dd for 5 mins. She got utterly worked up so I went back in to settle her until she was calm. I then put her back in her cot awake but sleepy again and again the crying started immediately. Not sleepy whingey crying but "I'm being murdered" crying. I left her for another 5 minutes and when I went back in she was so hysterical she'd been sick. I then cuddled her until she was asleep and then put her to bed.

She slept until 3.30am and woke up. I left her a few mins to see if she'd settle back but the crying got hysterical again so I went in. I didn't speak to her, I gave her back her dummy she'd dropped and patted her on the back and stroked her hair but she got hysterical saying "cuddle mummy, cuddle mummy" so I decided I needed to phase out my withdrawal. I got her out of her cot, as normal and put her on the bed as normal. But instead of cuddling her I lay down next to her with my back to her. She kept asking for milk and crying but it wasn't hysterical. More whingey type crying. After an hour and a half she fell asleep.

Am I right to keep doing that for a bit? No talking, no cuddling, just picking up putting her on the bed and lying down next to her but facing away. I was thinking the next stage would be for me to pick her up and put her on the bed and then just sit on the end. Then hopefully just me being in the room would be enough and so on.

At what point do I move on to the next stage of withdrawal? I've got to do something now, I can't have a two year old that doesn't sleep through. It'll kill me.

Sorry for the essay. Any opinions gratefully received.

headfairy Mon 19-Sep-11 19:56:26

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Ktay Mon 19-Sep-11 20:50:27

Hi Headfairy, I feel your pain as I was there myself recently although I only have the one DC to manage at bedtime currently. DH could put DD down/settle her no problems but she would kick off for me. I used to have to stroke her back for upwards of half an hour to get her off to sleep and it was a similar story when she woke in the middle of the night.

I ended up using a sleep consultant (Millpond) when DD was 2.1 and it has worked wonders. But with the exception of a few things specific to our circs that she cleared up during the first call, there wasn't much the consultant told me that you couldn't read up on for yourself.

One thing that was in my favour - and the same applies to you I think, so I mention it to give you cause for optimism - is that DD obviously can settle herself as she was fine with DH doing bedtimes (once she got over the initial minute-long screaming fit when she realised he was doing it rather than me). So it wasn't a question of having to teach her some of the basics from scratch, but rather changing the way I acted with her at bedtime/during the night.

I had a bit of a head start on you I suppose in that I could at least put DD in her cot awake (albeit as a prelude to the back-stroking shenanigans) so you might have to work out a few extra steps before you get to the point where we started off (or maybe not). But we started by replacing the stroking with me putting my hand firmly on her back instead for a few nights in a row. This was a big help I think as I had assumed I'd have to break off all physical contact straight away - this step helped bridge the gap. Then once she was used to that, over the course of the next few weeks I'd spend three/four nights sitting at increasing distances away from her cot while she drifted off. We still have the occasional blip but we're pretty much at the point now where I can put her in her cot and leave her to it happily.

I assume you are doing a consistent bedtime routine with your DD? One of the key things the consultant told me was to keep this to 30 mins max as any longer than this and you miss a crucial window of tiredness (apparently the routine induces an temporary artificial shot of melatonin). I'd been spinning the bedtime routine out in the hopes of getting the most benefit from it but that turned out to be counterproductive. I saw a rapid improvement once I'd sorted that out.

You are right to keep the talking to a minimum - just something like 'sleepy time' or 'quiet time' and attend to any of her needs with the minimum fuss you can get away with (the consultant called it being 'robot mum'). But on the subject of talking, another thing that I found helped was talking to DD (not at bedtime obviously but in the run-up or during the day) about what would happen so she was prepared for the changes - with lots of reference to the fact that it was what 'big girls' did etc.

I hope some of this is helpful. To answer one of your questions, try taking each step in 3/4 day chunks (perhaps a few days longer if needed - the consultant suggested this timescale but seemed surprised when it actually worked for us). It can be a fairly lengthy process from start to finish but I was so encouraged by some of the early improvements that that gave me the stamina to stick it out (appreciate it is trickier with 2 DC though).

Good luck!

headfairy Mon 19-Sep-11 21:21:40

Thank you so much Ktay for your reply. It's so helpful and heartenening to hear from someone who's cracking the nut of night time waking smile Unfortunately right now I don't think we've got the money for Millpond but thank you for letting me know what advice they gave you. It sounds pretty similar to what my mum and sister thought I should do. I just wasn't sure on the time scales so I will bear in mind the 3-4 day time scale and try to keep to that. Last night we had an hour and a half of crying before she fell asleep. I'm praying tonight it'll be a bit less. Although I'm quite good at coping on very little sleep I'm pretty tired. 5 hours a night I can do occasionally, but not every night for three months!

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