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Gradual retreat - what's my next move?

(2 Posts)
sleepcrisis Tue 26-Mar-13 20:57:38

DS is 21 months and I sit with him to fall asleep. Have done ever since he stopped feeding to sleep! He used to settle himself for naps but now I sit with him for those too, he stopped self settling when we moved house about 6 weeks ago.

So over the last couple of weeks I have progressed from rubbing his back to just sitting there, but he needs an awful lot of verbal reassurance. It takes half an hour and he says 'mama? mama?' over and over again for pretty much all of that time. Drives me mental as he doesn't want to know during the day - won't give me a cuddle full stop and yet offers kisses and cuddles to all the grandparents non stop! Anyway, I respond to his 'mama?' with a shush, and an occasional 'mummy's here', but it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. I spend the whole time sitting on my hands as its so hard to resist stroking him! But it takes so long and I am beginning to dread bedtimes, so it has to stop!

I don't know how to move the chair further away if he just keeps asking for me. I want to avoid tears at all costs. HV suggested popping out to do chores but I think it would just hype him up, he wouldn't get it and would just keep standing up looking for me or calling me. I don't think he's cry necessarily, but he wouldn't lie down and sleep. And when I return, I'd have to start the whole process from scratch?

I think one of the reasons I haven't pushed myself to take it further is that I can't face the inevitable few days of him taking hours to get to sleep. It feels like sitting with him is the easy option. At the moment I put him in bed around 645 and he's asleep by 715-730. (Have tried putting him in bed later, it still takes him 30 mins minimum to wind down) If I start leaving the room, the whole process will take so much longer. And he is such a nightmare if he goes to sleep late - he'll wake super early the next day and be in a grump for the rest of the day.

But I guess a few days of that is the price I have to pay to get him to self settle?

SO what should I do next?

lizzywig Thu 28-Mar-13 07:51:23

I would suggest that your HV is jumping the gun a bit. I should be more along the lines of:

Sat next to cot for 3 days
Sat in middle of room for 3 days
Sat by door for 3 days
Disappear from room on day 10 OR if you feel LO isn’t ready then potter around and dip in and out of room doing chores.

I am completely sold on the gentle retreat because it works for DD but not everything works for all of them as we all know. What I would say is nothing ventured then nothing gained and just imagine if in 2 weeks’ time you can just pop him down and go downstairs, isn’t it worth the initial pain? It’s a bit like losing weight though, you have to be in the right frame of mind to be able to see it through I think.

This is our third time of the gentle retreat and the first two times have worked very well. The first time was a success, the second was because for some unbeknownst reason to us nursery decided to pat DD to sleep & undo all our hard work. We've also done a shortened version after periods off illness during which sleep has gone to pot. We’re now on our third round after DD has been very ill and had a lot of cuddling and milk during the night (at 17mo!!).

When we did it the first time it took DD no longer than 40 mins to get to sleep on night 1 and each night it got gradually less – they say it shouldn’t take more than 40 mins – apparently! We didn’t think DD would be ready by day 10 and were going to try the pottering thing but I decided to be brave and just disappear and she went straight to sleep. I was amazed!!!

I mentioned that we’re on round 3 (this is since we first did it when she was 7mo), I started Tuesday night and she went mental, I had to calm her down first and but kept trying and eventually she went to sleep, I was amazed that it only took 17 mins, then last night it took 3 mins….I had to retrieve my jaw from the floor.

You do have to be consistent and do it at both nap and bedtime. Have a book to hand as a weapon to cover your face so that you can ignore anything that’s going on. If your LO cries a devastated scream then pick him up and give him a cuddle but be boring and resist the urge to speak or sing. Then once he’s calm pop him down. If he has a paddy then resist the urge to pick him up if you can and he should eventually calm down, if it escalates then do the cuddle thing. If he does nothing or just wants to walk around his cot or play, let him. He WILL get bored eventually. DD once spent 35 mins doing this and then just laid down and went to sleep! So if he stands up then let him, your book is there to help you be boring and not burst out laughing when he’s trying to get your attention!! Your main job is to be consistently boring.
The gentle retreat does have it’s moments and it is hard to be consistent especially if they are bawling their eyes out but you are there for them and they are loved and protected, fed, watered, clean nappy etc and it’s just a new thing for them to learn and you’re there all the way. Give it a go and let us know how you get on.

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