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I'm done with sitting in a dark room for up to an hour. Please come and talk to me about gradual retreat!

(20 Posts)
PPL Thu 18-Oct-12 13:12:40

I am becoming so infuriated with 16mo DS and his inability to self settle. He sleeps through and often resettles during the night but not at bedtime. I sit shushing and stroking his back, encouraging him to lie down etc. If I leave the room he goes hysterical.

He used to self settle at nap time amazingly. We have just come back from 5 days away where I had to shush pat him to sleep for his naps too, I just assumed things would return to normal when we got home. Not so. I just spent an hour settling him for his nap when he used to take 5 mins on his own. I tried leaving him to cry (more like angry shrieking) for 15 mins but it did eventually turn to full blown hysteria with tears, snot, the works, so I stayed with him, but once the tears subsided he was raring to go and grinning away at me! Eventually I stroked him to sleep. I am so so so fed up of sitting in pitch black for what seems like an eternity.

Don't think CC or CIO would work with him, although I'm not totally against the idea as I am so attentive the rest of the time, and with him 24/7 - I'm fairly convinced that now, at 16mo, he knows I will be there for him if he really needs me. But I'd still rather try Gradual Retreat.

But how the hell do I move away from the cot? If I stop the shush/rub/pat then he pops up like a meerkat and grins at me.



daisylulu Thu 18-Oct-12 13:52:10

No ideas but marking my place. Same issue with 17mo DD. amazingly she is still self settling at nap time but not at bedtime. lol at the popping up like meerkat. Yes DD does this too and I am becoming increasingly pissed off with the bedtime refusal to go to sleep. It takes on average on a good night 45-60 mins to get her off to sleep.

Looking forward to hearing the suggestions smile

tuckingfits Thu 18-Oct-12 15:06:47

Hmm,I might not be a lot of use here as I have only got so far into this. I used to have to shush & pat ds to sleep. It took forever. I had to be certain he was deeply asleep otherwise he woke up as soon as I was got a couple of steps away from him towards the door.

Then I read the no cry sleep solution book. Although I had carried out the same routine every night from dinner time onwards,I now incorporate a little chat & cuddle during which I tell him we're going to have a bath,go.upstairs & get ready for bed,have milk & a story,a quick cuddle til he's sleepy,into cot & I will stay with him til he's asleep but that he has to stay in his cot & go to sleep.

As each step progresses I remind him of the next step... At first I had to cuddle him til nearly asleep,tell him I was putting him down & then sit right next to the cot,sometimes holding his hand. Over several weeks I have gradually moved my chair further from his cot so that I now sit a good 7 feet from him & only a couple from the door. This is where I have got stuck. I can't get further away without being out the door,he won't tolerate that though & I am loathe to fuck up all my hard work!

Naptimes he settles within a few minutes,but bedtimes I can be sitting in a dark room for upto an hour still. Although at the moment he seems to be dropping off within 10 or so minutes,which is great because otherwise my evening is eaten away by sitting in a dark room wishing my son was asleep already & worrying about all the stuff I have left to do!

Whole I was moving the chair away from him,if he wasn't happy with the distance I was from him,I would move the chair slightly closer again & just try to increase the distance the next night.

I might try sitting in the door way for tomorrow's nap settling,since he seems to settle well for that at the mo.

So as I say,I may have beenno use. Just wanted you to know that you're not the only ones with issues! He's always been a terrible sleeper but this is a vastly huge step forward for us - I used to be stuck upstairs with a screamer for literally hours. I can't leave him to sort himself out as he doesn't. He gets more & more distressed & there is just no way he can calm himself from the hysterical state he has gone into in the past when I have lost my temper 3 hours into bedtime & had to walk away for 20 5 mins to calm my own jangling nerves.

He is now 20.5 months. I reckon I started this regime when he was 15ish months. Good luck to you. Just be consistent,I reckon.

CharlieMouseWillDoIt Thu 18-Oct-12 20:47:06

Oh, you have my sympathy PPL.

My 20.5 month old takes aaaagggesss to go to sleep too. For example tonight I took her into the bedroom at 6.50pm. She has been almost-but-not-quite-asleep since then (it is now almost two hours later). She's not upset, but not asleep either. I did an hour with her and my DH has taken over. My DH has popped out of the room for a few seconds, but we daren't make it much longer than that or she'll get upset.

Here's a long thread about gradual retreat:

DeathMetalMum Thu 18-Oct-12 20:56:39

Marking my place too, dd is 20 months and I have got to the door a number of times and never made it out, something such at tething or a cold seems to pop up making her get upset so easily. This week has been terrible so far tears and having to pick her up out of the cot twice or more for extra cuddles before she goes to sleep (if I dont pick her up she makes herself sick?! :'( ) We are moving house so im pretty sure that has something to do with it and also sure things are going to get worse next week once we have moved.

PseudoBadger Thu 18-Oct-12 21:03:00

Oh wow 20 months is definitely the time for this then! Bedtimes gradually got worse between about 15 and 20 months and peaked a couple of weeks ago, where if I wasn't lying next to him on his bed with his arms vice like around me he just had hysterics.
The last couple of nights I've been able to give him a breastfeed, lay down with him for a minute, he puts his thumb in and I get up and hover for a few minutes and leave the room. Done and dusted in 10 minutes. BUT I fully expect to be spending hours in there occasionally. So no advice sorry, more of a relief that I'm not alone!

CharlieMouseWillDoIt Thu 18-Oct-12 21:40:34

Phew, DD is finally asleep (on our bed, and still needs to be transferred to her cot...) after almost 2.5 hours. Tonight was an exception though, but it's never less than an hour from taking her into the bedroom to her being asleep.

I have tried gradual retreat twice, once starting at 15 months, then again at about 18 months. We saw some progress, but then bouts of teething/illness put us back firmly to square one (i.e. breastfeed lying on our double bed and her falling asleep next to me, then being transferred into cot).

DH and I are planning on moving DD into her own room next week which will really force us into trying gradual retreat a third time.

I have just finished reading Andrea Grace's Gentle Sleep Solutions book, which has lots of case studies based around the gradual retreat method and has helped me formulate a plan for when DD is in her own room (that's the theory anyway...)

PixieHot Thu 18-Oct-12 21:47:25

Hi all smile, count me in as well.

We sit with DS while he falls asleep at night - it can take 1.5 hours on a bad night (probably 45 minutes on a good night). We've made some progress over the last couple of nights, and he went to sleep without me touching him tonight. Now we just need to get out the door! He's usually fine at nap time confused.

PPL Fri 19-Oct-12 22:41:38

Well I guess at least I'm not the only one! It truly sucks. Tonight took an hour and he was just messing about, standing up facing the door as he could hear the grandparents downstairs and he wanted to party!

I spend all that time patting and shushing but I wonder if I sat back and left him to it whether it would take the same amount of time or longer. Am scared to try.

Tonight we had a new trick - he started to take my hand and move it up and down patting himself if I dared to stop! I was torn between laughing and screaming. I find myself feeling so angry!!

Tempted to try cc although i don't think it would work on DS sad

tuckingfits Sat 20-Oct-12 22:54:16

I just wanted to update you all & give you hope. Tonight is the third night in a row that 20.5 month old DS has need put into his cot,told I will be by the door & left to go to sleep alone. And he has. And slept through. It's a fucking miracle. Excuse the language but I have been the angry mother who has stomped off after sitting for two hours in a dark room with the live wire child who refuses to sleep. I have cried,shouted (in the garden),despaired,rejoiced at not having to pat him to sleep (but still be in the room/within inches of him). I have probably jinxed it totally now but,I won't do cc,it's not for us & I don't believe it would work for DS & have friends who have to do it over & over depending on colds/teething/holidays and so on.

Keep going. I reckon I started gradual retreat 7 months ago,it probably shouldn't have taken me this long to get the guts to just leave the room but I was terrified of undoing all the work plus he has had a few bouts of illness that have taken me back closer to the cot in desperation to just get him to sleep. If it all goes tits up,I'll let you know & if he maintains this fabulous going to sleep alone thing I will also let you know so that you remain hopeful!


PixieHot Sun 21-Oct-12 11:02:45

tucking, that's great news, well done.

We're moving in the right direction too - we've gone from kindof patting to sleep, to not patting, to sitting further away in less than a week. It took us ages to decide to do it though, even though we've made progress with DS's sleep every time we've made a consistent effort to improve it.

Good luck to everyone smile!

FaintingGoat Wed 24-Oct-12 22:30:56

Reading with interest here too. Currently DD goes into her cot and, for the most part, goes off to sleep in 15 - 20 minutes, with me sat in the chair. I don't talk to her, except to say lie down if she sits up, which she might do a couple of times. Normally she does, but sometimes I have to lay her down again. So it's not bad, but now and then she'll take an hour to fall asleep. I'd love to be able to put her down and leave her to fall asleep herself - it's so frustrating because I am doing absolutely NOTHING, no patting, no shushing. Her room is tiny, I can't move my chair further away because then I wouldn't be able to get out the door. I'd rather not do cc but I am not really sure what to try.

cerealqueen Wed 24-Oct-12 23:09:09

Am with you OP. Sat in darkened room Now BF dd2 for third time tonight. I have had enough. I should know better after dd1, when I even bought a guide from one of those American Sleep gurus that bombarded me with emails.
How about Nectarina's thread, can't link as on phone?

cerealqueen Sat 27-Oct-12 21:46:57

I just came cross this and bought it:

Recommends a sleep training strategy based on the type of parent you are!

PPL Sun 28-Oct-12 19:24:15

Sorry I haven't replied for a while. tuckingfits I am so glad you made it out of the door!

I'm not sure I have the patience, but I have decided to embark on gradual retreat as of this week. Gave up the bedtime bf yesterday, sob, and this evening he went to sleep in 30 mins with me patting him, no tears which I was so pleased about. I am obviously more upset about that than he is.

So next I need to stop physical contact with him I guess. He just gets so hyped up trying to reach me through the bars, with a big grin on his face!

I am preparing myself for the falling to sleep process to egt longer before it gets better sad

tuckingfits Mon 29-Oct-12 16:12:57

there is hope. I know how hard it is but gradual retreat has worked here,it took a long time & was frustrating at times but after two nights of telling DS I would be outside the door,I then told him for two nights that I would be in my bedroom & now I can give him his milk & a story (current favourite is Say Goodnight to the Sleepy Animals),a quick cuddle,put him into bed & say goodnight & a kiss and then I tell him I'm going downstairs night night & off I go down our incredibly noisy stairs.

It is amazing. I feel so liberated even though I'm not doing anything good with my time - just other peoples' ironing - but at least I can get to it before 11pm. He has slept through since,althoughhe was generally sleeping through for a few months beforehand,if he did wake up it could take another hour or so of sitting in his room for him to fall asleep again. On the odd occasion that I have disturbed him when I check him before I go to bed,I've picked him up for a wordless cuddle & pit him down after a minute,said night night & left him to go back to sleep.

I never thought the day would come but I knew I couldn't do cc so I had to persevere with GR. Keep going girls. I've even reduced baths to every second night now (due to eczema) and it hasn't affected him settling himself to sleep.

I hope I don't sound smug,I just want to encourage you that one day your children will learn that you aren't abandoning them at bedtime.

FaintingGhost Mon 29-Oct-12 23:23:38

That's brilliant, tucking. I really feel like DD ought to be settling herself now. I suppose I just have to bite the bullet and get on with it.

tuckingfits Tue 30-Oct-12 01:12:03

Fainting it's got to be worth a try. If it doesn't work you just go back to sitting in your chair until you're brave enough to try it again. I'm still astonished that it works,he was obviously just ready & I don't know what made the difference,but I do know that he wouldn't have accepted it before.

PPL Wed 31-Oct-12 19:54:46

faintingghost how did it go tonight?

tucking Your bedtime now sounds so amazing. I can't imagine leaving the room and DS not crying! I do leave him for naps, and he does cry (quite loudly) but only the length of time it takes for me to do a quick wee! So I don't feel so bad about that. But I would love for him to just let me kiss him good night and walk away happy.

So the last 3 nights have been ok but I'm quite impatient! Each night it has taken 25-30 mins for him to go to sleep with me sat right next to his cot. The first 15 minutes he has been up and down in his meerkat fashion, with me gently saying 'lie down' and having to physically lie him down a few times. The second 15 mins he just sorted himself out, lots of rolling around and getting comfy, but no touch or talk from me - so a real improvement! He wasn't upset, apart from early on when he was reaching out to touch me (he kept tapping me to get my attention) - if he couldn't reach me he let out a few wimpers. So I'm sure that moving the chair away will upset him and I don't really know what to do about that. He really needs a bit of physical contact to stay calm and happy.

It's annoying because when we're sat on the chair drinking milk and reading stories, he's so sleepy and relaxed. As soon as I put him in his cot, he perks up and starts messing around. Prolonging it all I guess, making me stay for longer.


FaintingGhost Thu 01-Nov-12 16:07:29

Hi PPL thanks for asking. Not great, unfortunately. DD is teething and is contracting one cold after another, she has been streaming snot for ages now and is all blocked up sad I think we might wait a week or two and try again when she feels a bit better.

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