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Sleep Training - now or later? 6 month old

(8 Posts)
OneTwoOrThree Fri 05-Oct-12 21:07:33

DS has just turned 6 months and his sleep is a disaster zone. I need want to sleep train him asap, and am prepared for a tough ride. I'd appreciate some advice on:

a) whether or not this is the right time (would it be easier / better to wait until he is taking more solids?)
b) how to go about it

I'm not totally against a controlled crying approach (I think), but do think this would be hard to do. The important thing for me is fixing the current situation...

So, to explain where we are:
1) Daytime naps happen in one of three ways i) pushed to sleep in the pram ii) falls asleep in car, iii) suck my finger and is rocked / jiggled to sleep
2) Night time... Is fed / jiggled to sleep at 7pm and placed in cot (going in the cot awake results in hysterical screaming). Sometimes wakes at 9pmish and is resettled with jiggling / finger sucking. Wakes at 11pm and is fed, then we co-sleep (which I really don't enjoy, and want to stop asap) as I can't get him back to sleep otherwise. Same at 3am, sometimes again at 5am. Woken at 7am by alarm clock....

I don't think he needs the night time feeds, but they were an easy way to get him back to sleep so I kept going with them. It doesn't work now, and I think the feeds are habit rather than need (but I can't be 100% sure). He certainly isn't starving (and sometimes not even hungry) at 7am.

So, what do you think? Is not the right time? Should I tackle everything at once (no feeds, own cot etc), or fight these battles one at a time?

Thanks in advance...

getoffthecoffeetable Fri 05-Oct-12 21:18:41

Am nowhere near an expert at this, lots of my friends' DC were sleeping through the night before mine was but I'd recommend tackling naps first. Then you can get your nap too while you're doing the sleep training at night.
Have you tried to introduce a dummy or a comforter? Am just going by you saying that DS will go to sleep sucking your finger? When we first introduced a dummy, had to hold it in DS's mouth until he fell asleep until he got the hang of it. He ditched the dummy himself when he learnt to self soothe at around 10 months.
Once your wee one is happy in their cot then it'll be an easier transition for sleeping at night.
Do you have a bedtime routine as well? Helps wee one to know that bedtime is approaching. Good luck.

caramelgirl Fri 05-Oct-12 21:20:36

Did it at six months. Had a nightmare sleeper- no naps unless lying on me pretending to feed or occasionally in buggy.
Fed to sleep throughout night. 8 wakings a night or up for a couple of hours over feeding, puking then feeding some more.
Hated it.
Rebecca at helped us to formulate a plan (was £150 or so and DH and I say was the best money we EVER spent- you could prob do it yourself but we were just so sleep deprived and miserable).
Week I started weaning I began to stop her dozing on me. She could feed but not nap. Also started playing gentle ganes in her room for positive associations.
The Week after we scheduled a weekend and did controlled (not much) crying. She woke, I went in and patted and shushed her for five, then out for five. Carried on until she stopped.
Turned out, when I made myself listen and not just automatically stagger through, that it was more an angry than sad cry. Was for attention, not desperate for food or love. Some people happy to give attention in night. I hated the kind of exhausted and miserable mother I was in the daytime. Had to make a choice snd so so pleased we did training.
Anyway, first night, total of two hours crying, second night 45 mins, 3rd night brief murmur. She is still a fantastic sleeper at 3yrs. Feel that we gave her a valuable tool: how to sleep!!
Friends who copied plan also v grateful. Some friends still have nightmare sleepers. I feel v sorry for them. I only really started enjoying motherhood fully once horrendous tiredness went (clearly c lazy person!!).
HTH, obvs everyone's limits v different but for our family it was the right thing to do.

caramelgirl Fri 05-Oct-12 21:22:45

YY to bedtime routine. Bath, milk, story, song etc.
We were told nighttime sleep first, naps would follow - and I was so happy when they did. But whatever works.
Also I wore muslins in my bra to smell of me (and stale bm no doubt) and put in her cot- was good comforter and still her sleep tool of choice.

AlfieBear87 Fri 05-Oct-12 21:29:45

Hi there,

My ds was a nightmare sleep wise until about 7 months. I think the one thing that helped the most was to not feed him to sleep so I'd work on that first if I were you. If you bf, then try giving him a feed before his bath (or whatever other bedtime routine you have in place) so he still has a full tummy before bed. If you ff then give him a bottle sat up on your lap. Also if he finds sucking your finger an easy way to fall asleep have you considered using a dummy? I swear by my ds's. He only has it for naps and bedtime and he uses it as a sleep cue. I'd carry on putting him to sleep on your lap - start by rocking/jigging him. Then gradually move to sitting down rocking. Then sitting still. Eventually you'll be able to put him in his cot awake. Hopefully if he's falling asleep with feeding at bedtime then he won't expect it during the night and won't need it to fall asleep again.

I also found that once my ds started crawling at 7.5 months his sleep improved massively as he was so tired.

Good luck, I hope you find something that works for you. The sleep deprivation is the hardest part of parenting in my opinion!

SirBoobAlot Fri 05-Oct-12 21:30:13

Firstly, can I tackle the whole "crying just for attention" thing. What the hell is wrong with that? If they were older they would use words and tell you. Just because you can't make sense of what they are communicating, doesn't mean they should be ignored.

Cutting out night feeds for a six month old is not a good plan, really. At six months it is entirely normal for them to still need to wake for feeds. And as difficult as that is on you, it is just par of the course, and it passes.

TBH - I know you're tired, but what you've described sounds not like a nightmare, but a normal six month old baby.

Solids for the first few months are more about experimenting and learning than calorie intake - children get the majority of their calories from food up until around a year.

Its also important to remember that between four and six months there is a huge sleep regression, and development spurt. During this, its normal for them to be more unsettled, and need more comforting.

Six months is way too early to sleep train. He needs to be waking up right now. Trust him. And seriously - in a few months time, you will barely remember this.

ElphabaTheGreen Sat 06-Oct-12 00:00:29

We're starting sleep training and ours is younger than yours (my cry for help is here) so I can totally empathise with you. In fact, our sproglets seem to have a similar presentation. I know that the waking is normal as SirBoobAlot says but, in my case, I don't see how my DS's daily overtired meltdowns are of any biological or developmental benefit, so I want him to learn how to self-soothe so he can have better quality sleep and, therefore, better-quality awake time, not spent being grumpy or in floods of tears because he doesn't know how to go to sleep. I also feel that a better-functioning mum is going to be better for him in the long run. There are those who agree with sleep training and those that don't, so you're going to get wildly varying, not to mention emotive, responses. But I think the decision as to whether you do it or not ultimately has to be based entirely upon your own personal circumstances and what you, who knows your baby better than anyone else and all the factors impacting your decision, feel would be best for them.

SirBoobAlot Sat 06-Oct-12 00:12:04

Elphaba whilst I understand what you're saying - and I really do, trust me - self soothing at this age just really isn't feasible. More than that, the younger you sleep train, the more evidence there is that it comes undone further down the line. Its a short term fix.

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