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17 months old can't/wont self settle - what is your stand on this?

(16 Posts)
RaisingMissDaisy Tue 13-Nov-12 16:05:00

Hello all,
My 17 months old DD won?t go to sleep without help, at least not when she is at home. She goes to nursery and has lunchnaps there where they just put her down on her mat and pat/stroke/rub her back - and she manages to go to sleep like that. At home, however, I am afraid she is used to lying next to me and nibbling on my breasts until she is asleep (for lunch naps I put her in the pram and usually use the time to do the shopping) and the same during the night whenever she wakes up (we co-sleep). I am getting a bit embarrassed to admit this to anyone when I am asked about her sleeping as I think she is getting a bit old for being indulged like that, and I also feel a bit guilty for having let her become so dependent on me. We have never done any sort of sleep training and instead have always gone down the easiest route to get her back to sleep as quickly as possible. But this now means that if I am not around in the evenings she has complete meltdowns at bedtime and whenever she wakes up during the night. So it is partly for selfish reasons that I would like to put an end to this situation, but also because I honestly don?t feel it is fair on her to be so dependent on me. But on the other hand I am ridiculously worried about upsetting her/letting her down/not being there for her when she wants me (I think it?s wanting more than needing to be honest). I have read somewhere that children will learn to self settle when they are developmentally ready. Is that true? Does the fact that my DD wants me/my nipples mean that she is not ready to go to sleep by herself? And if you think this is all too much attachment for anyone?s good, then how would you go about teaching her to self settle? I honestly don?t know how to start. Should I try it like the nursery, i.e. after her bedtime routine and last bottle put her down and just try rubbing/patting/stroking until she falls asleep? Or would I need to put her down and actually leave the room for a few minutes, go back in after a while to reassure her, then leave again, etc? And if we do any kind of sleep training, I suppose I would have to put her in her cot for this, rather than keep her in in bed with me? (Is it possible to teach her to self settle while continuing co-sleeping? Is that a stupid question?)
I would be really grateful for any advice and opinions, whether you think I am an idiot for being so soft on her or whether you agree with this sort of indulgent approach, as I am totally torn as to what the best way forward is. I would love to have a bit of my freedom back and also be able to leave her with babysitters now and then, but I hate the thought of causing her (too much) distress in order to get there. But then, maybe a bit more independence from me would be good for her?
Thank you to anyone who is still reading

GEM33 Tue 13-Nov-12 20:33:43

For me your question is one I wish I had the magic answer to.
my 11 month old is exactly the same, she is very dependant on me for sleep and keeps my boob in her mouth until she is in a deep sleep (she will wake if i try and move before this). ITs a safety issue for us now. because we co sleep and our bed is a really high superking size me and dh spend most of the little evening time we have together running up and down the stairs after every little noise we hear on the monitor in case she is moving near the edge despite all the pillows and barriers we put around the bed. she sleeps for 2.5 hrs after falling asleep then wakes every 30-90 minutes for the rest of the night.
im goingback to work jan 2nd including night shifts so god knows how she will fall asleep and what will dh and dd do without my boobs?!!
after all these sleep deprived months and begging for answers, i still havent tried sleep training. i think if you are going to try sleep training you may as well do it in the cot otherwise whats the point? (i keep telling myself this) we both want our freedom back , imagine not having to sleep in funny angles, or having sex in bed again!!
as to how you do it-sleep training, whatever you do, or i do, baby will be cross and upset with the new routine for a while and will involve crying no matter how gentle you are. all we can do is be reassuring.
all i need to do now, is take my own bloody advice!!!
there was a good thread going on "i met andrea grace and this is what happened" where i think it was lucidlady had used a sleep trainer-grace- and she basically told her to have a good sleep routine, dinner bath massage boob story cot and to put her in and leave her there until she slept. take her out for a cuddle if baby got hysterical. if she woke in the night do the same thing.
i ask myself at this point, why will our babies suddenly start falling asleep by themselves if we carry on feeding them to sleep. my friend has a 2 yr old still feeding to sleep and waking every hour for a nip nibble....i do not want to be in this position in another years time. ;-(
whatever you do op, you have my sympathy and admiration xx

RaisingMissDaisy Wed 14-Nov-12 11:52:53

Hello GEM33
Thank you for your long reply. I found myself nodding a lot while reading it. What breaks my heart about sleep training is the thought that I am letting DD down somehow. I put myself into her shoes and imagine her in her cot, crying, and realising that this time mummy is really really not going to make it better and that she simply won't understand why. And I am worried that somewhere deep down, unconsciously, this experience will stick with her forever. Mind you, I know for sure that my mum used to put my brother and me in the kitchen at night so we’d be out of earshot when we cried and I don’t remember that (my dad told me). Can’t say I was ever very close to my mum though, hmmm…. BUT THEN AGAIN, like you said, I am not planning to lock her away in a dark room, I would keep coming back to reassure her that I am still there. Sigh… I think if I am ever desperate enough (for uninterrupted nights in same bed as DP..bliss..) to do sleep training then I may ask a sleep consultant for help as well, to make sure I do it “properly”, there is consistency behind it, and that I stick to it (to get my money’s worth!)
Good luck with your journey, GEM33, and good luck for going back to work in January. Maybe it’s a good thing if you are away for a few nights, then at least your little one will HAVE to get on without you somehow...? Fingers crossed that things are easier by the time she is 2 years old xx

BigBoPeep Wed 14-Nov-12 18:07:49

she WONT remember or bear a grudge - i was born in the days of taking babies away from mum to a nursery and allowing limited access for feeding only hmm we had 2wks of that, then when we got home i went in my own room in a cot come hell or high water and throughout my entire childhood i wasnt allowed to set foot in my parents bedroom EVER. i have a great relationship with my mum though and never felt unloved!

i'm the total opposite with mine, she's fed on demand and sleeps with us - like you shes totally dependent on me to sleep which is v tough thesedays now i'm doing more work etc. not a problem at night, but v awkward for dad and mil looking after her during the day if shes a bit tired and im out confused she will NOT even consider sleep without me/my boobs.

so er, will watch thread with interest!

GEM33 Wed 14-Nov-12 21:04:18

THE FOOD OF LOVE KATE EVANS. She says By age of 1, the cortisol regulation system has settled down, so a well-socialised baby wont produce dangerous levels of stress hormone when upset. over one year old is a more developmentally appropriate age to sleep train. Choose the gentlest method on offer. Its only ok if it works. Some children will resist sleep training, so give up with them and try something else...when a loving parent does an episode of sleep training, ie a short period of crying in an otherwise functional relationship its unlikely to have lasting ill effects.
thanks for your kind words daisy. ;-)

RaisingMissDaisy Thu 15-Nov-12 11:22:41

Good morning :-)
GEM33: That is interesting about the stress hormones.... thank you!
And BigBoPeep: Some of my friends have done some form of sleep training with their kids and as far as I can tell the little ones seem happy enough.. so maybe I am just looking for excuses not to do it. Like you said, the feeding to sleep is not a problem when I am around, which is the vast majority of the time. But the other night I went out to meet a friend in a pub close by after DD had gone to sleep and when I came back two hours later, DD was lying in the bed crying and DP was sitting with her in the dark, unable to do anything to comfort her or get her back to sleep. Apparently she had been like that for about an hour by the time I got back. And that then makes me feel incredibly bad not just for the little one but also for DP. I would love him to be able to put DD to sleep without her just screaming at all his efforts. I am sure it would be good for his confidence in dealing with her as well. That incident that I mentioned above was what made me start this thread. I felt so bad afterwards that I thought maybe for the next few years I will simply tell people that I cannot go out in the evenings. In some way I am blaming myself for DD being this way, so I reckon I have made my bed, now I have to lie on it. But then I feel like such a spoilt sport, always having to say “no” to friends. And I also would love DP to be more involved in the childcare, not just for my sake, but because I think it would be good for his relationship with DD; if he could sometimes to the bedtime routine from start to finish that would be a brilliant start. At the moment it’s virtually only me who puts DD to bed. DP may help with washing her hair twice a week, but that’s it.

Writing all of the above down makes it clear to me more and more that I think we have to do something about this sleeping business. What I am sure of is that it would do wonders for DP and my relationship if DD slept in her own bed, because that (the relationship) has most definitely seen better days. I am just scared of the practicality of it (the sleep training). Probably best to start on a Friday when there is no work/nursery the next day? I hate the thought of DD having cried for most of the night and then having to ship her off to nursery the next morning to top it all off  I am also scared that my DD may be one of those who resist sleep training and never give in. She can be very stubborn, and extremely loud. When she cries, she doesn’t just whimper, she screams! So, if that WERE to be the case, and in the end we DID have to cave in and admit defeat, would that not send the wrong message to her, as in: “Right, I just need to scream long enough and at some point I WILL get what I want!” ?

I always have the best intentions of keeping these posts short, sorry they are always so long and a bit rambling. I can feel myself going round and round in circles in my head….

BigBoPeep Thu 15-Nov-12 17:31:20

snap - if i leave mine with dh after dark/evening she will screeeeeeeam! shes a very quiet very happy tolerant baby, until that button is pressed and then she just doesnt stop!

to be fair, i do 99% of childcare/stuff, so i have recently made an effort to leave her with daddy on their own when she's open minded during the day....

er1507 Thu 15-Nov-12 21:33:57

I cosleep with 16mo dd and up until oct (i took on an evening cleaning job) we had a pretty good routine. She would be in her cot by 7.30 the latest and she would fall asleep with me patting her back. (Took us a while to get to that mind!) if she woke in the early night he would usually flop back down when she saw me and I'd bring her in my bed when she woke up early hours. Since my new Job Id put her down and mum would come over and watch her for the two hours I'd be gone. She woke up a few time and realising I wasn't there would wake up completely and think it was time to play with nanny. Meaning I had a very tired little girly. After a few weeks u thought it would be best to drop her off at my mums early to make sure I'm back for 8pm the latest, this means ds usually falls asleep in the car and its been easier to just put her in my bed than risk disturbing her putting her down in the cot....I'm giving up the job (it was a 2nd job anyway) and am wondering how the hell am I going to get back into our old habits?!

She's recently developed an incredibly high pitched scream and I know introducing her back to her cot isn't going to be easy. Do you think it's too early to take the side off and lie with her then gradually retreat or shall I just lay her in her cot and pat her through the bars?

RaisingMissDaisy Fri 16-Nov-12 17:11:04

Hello er1507
I am afraid I don't know the answer to your question as to whether it's too early to take the sides off and I am really not in a position to give anyone advice on how to get their children to sleep :-) WHat I will say though, is that I think for my little monster (17 months) it is probably to soon to take sides off as she rolls around A LOT during the night and I'd be too worried she'd fall out. (Co sleeping only works in our case because the bed is virtually just a matress on the floor). I have been reading the “We met Andrea Grace threat…” on here and am now pretty determined to try that approach to get DD “back” (she was never really in it, to be honest) in her cot, and that will involve a lot of patting through the bars. Not 100% sure how the cot is compatible with her rolling around at night, she will be bumping into the cot bumpers a lot I suppose, but I just hope she will get used to it at some point. It will be a horrible battle and I am dreading it. At the moment she has a cold and is coughing a lot, which makes sleeping difficult enough as it is, so that is my excuse not to start this weekend, i.e. tonight…Maybe next…? (urgh!)

Good luck to you whatever you decide to do! x

Saffra Fri 16-Nov-12 22:30:29

In a similar situation here with my 14 month old. Considering doing Dr Jay Gordon's gentle approach to night weaning. Would love to get my baby sleeping through rather than constant snacking/comfort suckling. Hopefully it'll work for us and she'll stay in her own cotbed all night without too much tears shed.

There's an online PDF that he's written. Google it if you're interested!

Saffra Fri 16-Nov-12 22:33:13

Also would love to know about the self settling thing, whether it'll just happen when they're developmentally ready with zero encouragement or training. Anyone?

lucidlady Fri 16-Nov-12 22:48:35

Hello! Saw this by chance waves at GEM33 and thought I'd just pop by with some encouragement on trying Andrea Grace's methods. They really do work - it's very gentle sleep training. You do have to be absolutely 100% determined to follow it to the letter, as you need to give baby a consistent message. You can get the book on Kindle - the first few nights are horrendous but it's worth it. Bar the odd teething incident, DD has been sleeping like a dream (although we've had a couple of disturbed nights recently due to a nasty cold). Best of luck and let us know how you get on!

fraktion Fri 16-Nov-12 23:09:01

I have just mostly night-weaned DS with lots of cuddles and rocking and gentleness. He will tolerate DH putting him to sleep but I have to be there if he wakes in the night. We're also on the verge of not co-sleeping - at gone he goes to bed in his own room and if necessary I go in to his room, he doesn't come into ours unless he's ill, so we are getting there.

Anyway the point if that background is that baby steps do work. We aren't feeding to sleep. Ok rocking takes just as long but it's not feeding. I hope we can move from rocking to cuddling and then cuddling to patting.

I won't do CC or CIO - for starters DS would just throw up everywhere but CIO just reminds me of the horrible NSPCC ad with the baby in cot who didn't cry because he'd learnt no one came.

A plan is necessary though. Change one thing at a time and move on when you're confident that they don't need milk for x amount of time, for example,

AnitaBlake Fri 16-Nov-12 23:16:42

Hello! Unusually I'm going to start by saying I have only read the OP. This is because my DD was exactly the same at 17m. She's exactly two now. Last Saturday she climbed the stairs, licked the childcare, went into her room and snuggled down in bed. It was only because we realised she wasn't playing behind the sofa that we went looking for her. She self settles 100% of the time now. Her choice, she just started doing it, she's a big girl now.

Moominsarescary Fri 16-Nov-12 23:42:48

Well I've never coslept and ds3 19 months is formula fed now but we didn't really get any sleep until a few months ago when we moved him into his own room and I stopped feeding him to sleep.

Started by stroking him in his cot then slowly over a week or so moved further away so he knew I was still in the room. I can now put him down and go straight out.

He was in a travel cot until we put him in his own room as the cot was too big for our room, hes got his feet stuck in the bars a few times but that's all.

We've not totally cracked it yet, he still wakes around 11 for a drink but it's much better than it was and he will go in his cot for a nap now, which he never did before.

We were listening to him chat and kiss his Ellie the other night, a few months ago he would have been crying if he woke up and found I wasn't there

threeinone Sun 18-Nov-12 08:38:13

saffa, i never do anything to encourage sleep. am the path of least resistance all the way and cosleep, feed on demand. mine outgrew it themselves and naturally got more organised with sleep. happened between two and two and a half ish.

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