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I need help. CC after creating a huge rod for my own back.

(14 Posts)
ThisFenceIsComfy Wed 19-Mar-14 11:31:28

My DS is 20 months old. We have co-slept up until now and he feeds to sleep. He has occasionally fallen asleep on his own and, even rarer, fell asleep in his toddler bed. Without feeding him to sleep when he goes to bed and for every wake up (3-4 times a night), he screams though.

Problem is that recently he has been getting up at 5am and been really clingy at night. I used to feed him to sleep then skip off for the rest of my evening. Now he wakes up the second I try to leave and takes ages to settle back down.

I can't do it anymore. I'm going crazy and feel like I've failed him massively. During the days I'm so tired and grumpy and a crap mum because I'm just exhausted. So I decided to try CC. I just don't think that any gentler methods will work. He is a very determined toddler and I'm not sure I have what it takes for a long drawn out campaign, so to speak.

Last night was awful. He screamed and screamed. I went in every 2-5 mins but in between it was hyperventilating screams. Shouting "No bye" and "I'm stuck" and trying to get over baby gate (there's one on his door because there is no where to fit on at top of stairs so we just have gates on the room doors).
When I went in I would give him a cuddle until he stopped screaming and was just sobbing ifyswim and then calmly say "it's time to go the bed" and then leave again.

The screaming was horrific. Absolutely horrendously loud and awful. I gave in after an hour of this. I know, I know. I live in a terraced house and I was getting worried what the neighbours would be thinking, tbh even passers-by must have heard him.

This is a long post sorry. I just need advice on CC and what other people think is best please. Even if it is to tell me to get a grip or that I'm doing it all wrong or whatever. I just feel a bit overwhelmed.

Thank you

drivenfromdistraction Wed 19-Mar-14 11:49:18

Poor you and I am very sympathetic. I don't think, though, that it is fair on a child to go from feeding to sleep to controlled crying in one night. That is a big shock and the child is bound to be upset, confused and angry. I know this sounds very harsh when you are exhausted - but it is really cruel to go from co-sleeping, bf during the night, bf to sleep to controlled crying in your own room in ONE night! It's an awful way to do it. I know you're exhausted, but you need to accept that this needs to be a gradual process - it will probably take 2-3 months to go from fed-to-sleep, fed-during-night, co-sleeping child to a go-to-sleep-on-own-in-own-room-and-sleep-through-the-night child. In fact, with mine, the process took longer, but i think it could have been sped up if I'd wanted - but not to one night!

I think you need to plan by stages. I talk from experience having only just (1 week ago) stopped feeding my nearly 3yo DD to sleep. She is also my third child so have been through this before. Each time it feels impossible, but somehow it happens. And it happens by stages.

I think the way to do it is to pick one behaviour at a time to change.

I would recommend starting with the 'feeding at night'. Continue to feed to sleep, but when he wakes in the night, only offer water. He will get cross at first, and you will have some pretty sleepless nights, but he will accept it in the end - and he still has you there for comfort. The important thing - talk about what's going to happen before it does.

When that is established, the next step could be 'starting the night in your own bed'. Continue to feed to sleep, but put him in his bed rather than yours. When he wakes in the night, let him come into your bed.

Once that's established, the next step is to stop feeding to sleep. With my DD (also a very strong-minded child) I did it this way:- For a couple of weeks I talked to her about how 'soon we'll stop having milk at bedtime' and how 'big girls have a drink of water before they go to bed instead of milk' Just light comments, not making heavy work of it. Then, I said 'in 3 days we'll stop having milk at bedtime' - 2 days - 1 day . I had to delay because in that time she got a chest infection and I thought it was unfair to do it while she was ill. So, when she got better, we did the 3 day count down again.

Then, on the first 'no milk' day, I said to her - we'll have a story on my lap as usual, then into the cot and I'll tell you another story in the cot. She protested a bit going into the cot - I offered her water instead of milk (which made her quite cross). Then I said - lie down and I'll tell you a story. Eventually she did, and I told her quite a long bedtime story (about a girl just like her who has adventures with cuddly toys just like hers...). Then I said 'I'll sit with you until you go to sleep'. We finally settled on her holding my hand. She fell asleep relatively quickly.

For the next few nights she asked for milk each night, but accepted not getting it - and fell asleep very quickly. A week later, she has stopped asking for milk.

However - big caveat. I think a BIG factor in this was the preparation - the fact that we'd talked about it a lot beforehand over a couple of weeks, and so she'd begun 'processing' it in her mind. I didn't just spring it on her. Also, I felt she was ready to do it now - not at a super-clingy phase, or unwell or having any other big changes in her life.

Now she falls asleep with me sitting in her room (very quickly). My next step will be to get her to go to sleep without me in the room. The way I did that with her brothers was to start saying 'I just need to fetch something' or 'I just need to pop to the loo' and leave the room for literally 10 seconds and come back. Gradually I extended the time I was gone, until the magical night when they fell asleep before I came back. After that, I was able to just say 'goodnight' and leave them to go to sleep.

You will get there, but you need to have a plan, be gentle, and talk to your DS about what's happening. And make him feel loved and supported through it - just by different means than the ones he's used to.

A good book is the Millpond Sleep Clinic one, if that's of interest.

Good luck. I know how exhaustion feels and how hard it is to think straight about what you're doing. But there really is an end in sight.

ThisFenceIsComfy Wed 19-Mar-14 13:44:27

Thanks for such a great reply. I know that last night he was totally overwhelmed and it was not the right thing to do at all.

I have tried night weaning before on two seperate occasions of about 4-5 nights run and it has been really terrible. Horrendous screaming and left him really clingy during the day and waking up even more at night. I knocked the idea on its head as I figured he wasn't ready for it and I was trying to do things in a gentle way.

Trouble is, I just feel so so tired. I'm just done with BF after 20 months and things seemed to be getting worse slightly with sleep. I was out of ideas last night tbh.

I think I was probably being a bit delusional then that wasnt going to be a very long drawn out transition. The whole thing makes me a bit weepy but I will just try to keep going with the slowly slowly approach. I'll try night weaning again this week.

TheGreatHunt Wed 19-Mar-14 13:48:15

Is he teething? Does he suffer from silent reflux or food intolerance? Does he snore?

You need to rule out possible issues causing poor sleep before doing sleep training.

Also I would have a bed set up and feed him to sleep then into bed. Sit with him for 20 mins until he falls asleep. Be consistent. Then work on resettling him in his bed every night even if it means camping in there for a bit.

Can your DH/DP help?

I remember ds and dd being particularly clingy just before turning 2 - so it could be harder now because of age anyway.

ThisFenceIsComfy Wed 19-Mar-14 13:55:13

No he doesn't snore or have reflux. I did go to GP about that actually but he doesn't think he has it. He's just finished with his eye teeth(?) so hopefully we should be on a teethjng free period.

He will not even let DP read him a bedtime story so DP can't help. I think the routine of stories, songs, feed, sleep done by me is too ingrained for him and he get really upset if DP tries to do it. Also something that needs to be worked on.

TarkaTheOtter Wed 19-Mar-14 14:04:19

I'd start with getting dh to do bedtime. He'll be upset but it'll be more about getting his own way than being scared/sad. You could feed first and then have stories to break the habit of feeding to sleep.
Once he's night weaned I recommend trying the gradual withdrawal/retreat approach, although I'm not sure how that would work with a bed.
We also did the whole "just going to check on dinner/go to the toilet/..., be back to see you in a minute" thing which worked well. Now when she wakes up she'll ask for a drink (water) then send me away by telling me to "go check on baby" (we've now had dc2), roll over and back to sleep.
We noticed an immediate improvement in self-settling after night weaning. I bet even swapping it for a cuddle in a high necked top would make a massive difference to overall ability to sleep.

TheresLotsOfFarmyardAnimals Wed 19-Mar-14 14:06:26

From your last post I think that Daddy is actually just what you need. I think that you need to be seen to go out and for milk to be totally seperated from bedtime. If your DH/DP does bedtime for two weeks, I expect that a lot of your sleep problems would improve.

At 20 months, I really would go cold turkey with nighttime milk. Maybe just a treat after 7am in the morning.

My plan of action would be a routine as follows;

dinner - 5.30/6pm
bath if needed 6.30pm
book x 2 - the same every evening

CCing/rapid return to settle. Intervals of 5, then 10 and finally 15 and repeat until he falls asleep

Night wakings to be treated the same with the same timings

Expect night 2 to be the worst usually.

If you still want to do milk then do it after pjs but before teeth, book etc to seperate it from falling asleep enough.

Hope you see some improvement soon.

drivenfromdistraction Wed 19-Mar-14 14:31:07

Also - one idea, so that you can get a break. How about you go away for a night? My DC all refused to let Daddy do bedtime if I was there at this age, but accepted it quite happily if I was away (i had to do occasional overnight trips for work).

Best way to do it is to go out as early as possible (not right at bedtime) - if it's a weekend, say, you could go away after lunch. You can always sneak back home later in the evening if you'd rather sleep at home.

Annoyingly, I used to find that DP usually had them asleep and tucked up at 7pm. They just accepted it because I wasn't there. If I was in the house - different story and they'd yell till I came.

ThisFenceIsComfy Wed 19-Mar-14 16:41:26

My DP works shifts so we will have to try home doing bedtime when he has a weeks holiday and can be there consistently each night.

I think if I persevere with night weaning then maybe DP will find bedtime easier as the bed-milk association will have started to be broken.

Thank you for all your replies. Just getting advice is great. I felt so down this morning. It was like being in a fog and I couldn't see a way out.

With regards to night weaning, DS has taken to it so badly before. Is this normal? He would basically scream himself to sleep each time he woke and I refused to feed. It would last 20 minutes or so. Did anyone else notice a regression before it got better? How long did it take?

OhGood Wed 19-Mar-14 18:48:07

fence I have just done CC really successfully though with a much younger DC (8mo).

I did a long slow lead-up though and I wonder whether this might be useful. We spent 6 weeks settling DS into own room and own bed and doing lots of quiet soothing No Cry Sleep Solution techniques, primarily getting him to stop falling asleep on boob. Also totally strict and distinct bedtime routine inc. same story every night etc.

Then once he was clear that this was his bed, he wasn't getting fed to sleep any more etc, we did the classic CC rapid return.

Once DS could settle himself to sleep he started sleeping through (though he does have a dreamfeed) so it was the not self-settling rather than any need for milk that was the problem.

I know how hard it is to make changes when you are so shattered. Maybe consider writing down a plan, week one, week 2 etc. so you can keep yourself moving forward and also when you feel shattered / finished / despairing you can see what you're aiming to achieve.

Good luck, sleep deprivation is horrific.

TheresLotsOfFarmyardAnimals Wed 19-Mar-14 20:17:24

I night weaned 2oz every 3 nights. He was taking 6oz atone waking and had sstarted to wake for another earlier on. I offered water at the earlier waking. After the last 2oz for 3 nights I just let him cry. 10 minutes of awful screaming, 10 minutes of off and on. Never woke for milk again. Teeth were another matter though!!

Bf weaning is the same but reduce minutes.

drivenfromdistraction Thu 20-Mar-14 04:33:49

When I night-weaned DD, she got pretty cross for the first few nights - but it wasn't as bad as doing CC, because I was still there - we were co-sleeping at that point, so I still cuddled her / patted her back / responded to her, and that helped her calm down. She accepted no milk at night pretty quickly after that - and I made sure I didn't do the evening feed in my bed, so that she wasn't confused and stopped associating bed with feed.

I think if you pick one behaviour to change and concentrate on that, you'll feel that progress is happening, and it'll be easier to change just one thing at a time.

fertilizemyeggsbenedict Thu 20-Mar-14 11:33:42

Hello drivenfromdistraction your advice is very considered and although I didn't post the opening question, I shall be using some of it myself for my DS. So I just wanted to say thanks for your time. Also I noticed your last post was at 4:33 - I really hope you're not in the UK!

drivenfromdistraction Thu 20-Mar-14 12:18:09

fertilize - thank you very much! thanks Nicest comment I've had on MN. I am in the UK. Still trying to get used to being allowed to sleep through the night - 3rd child just begun sleeping through so I've had 7 years of constantly broken sleep. My Circadian rhythms among other things aren't what they used to be grin

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