Gentle sleep training - the flaw(25 Posts)
So I'm currently trying to persuade 20 week old DS to start napping in his cot (in our room) rather than next to me on our bed. He's wiggling and starting to roll and it just doesn't feel safe unless I'm right there next to him and I don't want to spend 3/4 hours a day lying in a darkened room for the foreseeable future.
(I know the guidance is for all sleeps in the same room until 6 months but he's an inquisitive soul and a light sleeper and just will not drop off/stay asleep downstairs - which is why we started the cosleeping naps upstairs. They were also a great improvement on the previous regime of vigorous rocking and shhing/stomping in the sling - he's a big baby and not one of life's natural sleepers. But now he's a little older I want to be able to get on and potter and quietly pop in and out to check on him. I'm comfortable with this having considered it carefully.)
We are taking it slowly, obviously, because he is so wee. So far we have had some success - he will now eventually consent to dropping off if I sit on the floor next to the cot with my hand on his chest and occasionally stroke his forehead. Win. BUT it takes him quite a bit longer to drop off, which makes each nap a bit late, and he is currently mostly waking after one sleep cycle and resisting soothing whereas I could (80% of the time) soothe him into a longer nap if I was lying next to him. Result is one overtired little boy, and his sleep last night was even worse than usual. So settling him for naps is harder today, and he is more resistant to the cot, and so it goes on...
Before I had him I couldn't see why people would use controlled crying etc. when there were more gentle methods available. But if the gentle methods take weeks of slowly moving the goalposts, surely you end up in a horrible cycle where you're constantly asking your DC to sleep in ways which are slightly unfamiliar for them and they don't sleep properly for ages? As opposed to 3ish days of misery with e.g. Ferber?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to start CC on my 4 month old, but is there any other way around this problem? Do I just do one nap a day in the cot, or will that just confuse him? Do I stick it out and hope he starts to get through that nap transition by himself sooner the more practice he has? Do I just lie in a darkened room a lot for the next few months and then do something a bit more direct? Gah.
At that age we weren't usually home all day so we did one or two cot nap and one or two buggy/car/sling naps. If early afternoon nap went bad we had a wee walk at 4ish to let him nod off if he needed to but no stress if he didn't.
That doesn't answer your question but explains how we prevented an overtired cycle.
I do feel that a few days of crying is preferable to weeks and weeks of trying to be gentle, if the end result is that they cry just as much, if not more over the whole period. But that's my baby. I discovered when he was 3 months old, that he cried himself to sleep. In my arms, this was up to an hour of crying. In his cot/pram/car seat it was 5 minutes. So we went with the path of least resistance. He cried himself to sleep for every sleep until he was about 18 months old at which point he just went to sleep.
I was fairly strict about the naps as he was a better sleeper overnight when he had napped well. His form was always much better.
If your baby naps in the pram, stick with it for one or two naps per day. It is really valuable to not be stuck in the house for 2 hours a day until they're 3 (or whenever they drop the nap) IMO.
I think DS was 6/7 months old when he went from 3 naps to 2. They were 2 good naps then and much more predictable. It was basically a really early lunch, then a nap and another one before dinner. The routine revolves around food!
I don't think it's a flaw. Your are teaching a tiny baby to trust and sleep .
The flaw with controlled crying is yes they cry for a few days and sleep at home. But then they have to repeat that process to fall asleep in each new environment such as pram/ grannies house/ on plane/ on holiday.
So gentle teaches slower to start with but then doesn't need to be taught again. Cc teaches to cry in each new environment until they give up, so maybe 3-10 days in each new place. ( that's a whole two week holiday screaming potentially)
I used to be able to get longer naps in the pram but that stopped working a while ago. Basically the cosleeping nap is the only way I've managed to get him over the 45 min barrier since he was about 8-10 weeks ish, apart from occasional long motorway journeys. Now he's used to stationary sleep he'll only do 20/30 mins in the pram or car seat (sob!). I thought I was helping by weaning off motion but obviously not. Haven't tried the sling nap for a while so maybe I'll do that.
I wasn't too unhappy with our previous routine, even though it meant time at home. Basically he'd have a long sleep in the morning, with me sneaking off for a shower in the first 45 mins then sneaking back to soothe, then we'd do baby groups mid morning (they all seem to be at 10-11ish round here), catnap on the way home, big nap after lunch, out in the afternoon if we fancied, then another catnap, then bed at 7ish. Maybe I should just wait a bit and fit in showering etc elsewhere. Although I was hoping that more independent settling in the cot would help his night time sleep (which is also abysmal, but that's another story) and maybe (maybe!) he would learn to do longer naps by himself.
Anyway, he's currently asleep on the bed next to me after a cot catnap. He was in bits after he woke up - he was wide awake at 5am for ages and I think it's all caught up with him. He did a sort of relieved sigh as he dozed off next to me. Poor little soul.
What Artandco said isn't my experience. In fact the opposite is true. I used gentle/no cry methods first but in order for them to work absolutely everything had to be perfect - right amount of naps, strict bedtime routine, dark room. Once I did cc they just "got" how to go to sleep.
I do think they need to be ready for it to make a permanent difference though. With dd we tried too early (she wouldn't cosleep so options were limited) at about 7/8 months and we did end up having to repeat after teething etc. With ds we waited til nearer one and he's slept well ever since.
I think (basically talking to myself here, but it does help) I've formulated a new plan. First nap of the day (which is the easiest anyway) starts in the cot. Gradually reducing my input. I can get washed and dressed. Then concentrate efforts on trying to get him past 45 mins in the cot. If it goes tits up I can move him onto the bed for the 'second half' and if that doesn't work we've got the rest of the day to catch up. Long afternoon nap together (tbh I could do with a nap myself most days - I had about 3 hours sleep last night). Stricter about being put down awake at bedtime and soothed in cot rather than fed/cuddled and transferred asleep.
Does that sound like a good plan or just confusing to a 20 weeker? Is there a better plan that I'm just not seeing?
Aim obviously to have all sleeps in cot once we've nailed the morning nap.
I did that with DS at a similar age to get out of the 35 minute nap cycle that we were in at the time. Worked a treat so worth a shot.
Ooft, 3 hours, that's rough. Hope nighttime improves sooner rather than later!
Web you say 'that', nottheOP, can I have a step by step walk through? Desperate times here!
Yep, last night wasn't fun. I lost the plot about 5.30am and my lovely DH sent me to the spare room until 7 while he took over baby wrangling duties.
Yeah, so DS was a prolific cat napper and as I say, he used to cry down before a sleep. For all sleeps, we would put him down in his cot, let him have his cry until it changed to a sleepy cry (up to 5 minutes, usually less), then we'd go and shh-pat him, still in his cot. For naps, as he was waking up at 35 minutes, I went in at 30 minutes and shh-patted him or cuddled him through the sleep transition, ideally still in his cot but sometimes we'd be cuddling. I think I did it on every nap we were home for for about 10 days. It just got him used to napping for longer and he would then sleep for as long as he needed.
I never really know if it was something I did, or if he would have just got there on his own a couple of weeks later anyway but it made me feel better for trying to do something about it. It was so frustrating when he'd wake up from his 35 minute nap still tired, he would just be grumpy until he went to sleep again. If his form was fine, it wouldn't have bothered me!
Hope that helps!
FWIW, DS's sleep was a shocker at that age. He'd roll, get stuck, wake up and repeat. All bloody night. Occasionally he'd just wake up to practise crawling (he was a little on the early side for that sort of thing). Makes me feel tired thinking about it!
My baby has a dummy. Ergo has never cried to sleep.
The dummy is by far the gentlest of independent sleep aids in my experience.
At 4 months, short frequent naps are usual. I wouldn't be concerned with 30 minutes sleep in every 2 hours. I was still using the bouncy chair for naps at that age (with dummy).
Entirely by her own doing DD started sleeping for longer (more like 60-90 minute naps) at around 5 months and this marked when she was ready for cot naps. So we kept the 90 minutes awake between naps and I patted DD (with dummy) in her cot.
Took about 5 minutes to get to sleep (zero crying because of the dummy) from being put down awake.
Two longer cot naps per day were established from about 6 months just within the last couple of weeks (DD is 9 months) she has moved to one 3 hour cot nap per day, as a result of 13 hours block of uninterrupted sleep at night.
Congratulations FATE you got a good sleeper, we also used a dummy which DS liked to spit out and then wake up a thousand times (approx.) per night asking to be reinserted.
They are wonderful if your baby likes it and doesn't spit it out.
My other three children all took a dummy as soon as I gave them one - DC2 and DC3 from being a couple of weeks old. DC1 wasn't offered a dummy until much later, about 20 weeks (because like all middle class FTMs, I assumed dummies were evil).
But my youngest, DC4, she would spit out, gag on and generally refuse the dummy. It took a lot of daily and constant perseverance for her to 'get' the dummy. It is not automatically natural to some babies that they can suck on (rather than push out) plastic in their mouth. Especially so for breastfed babies.
I am wholly grateful for the work needed to get her to accept the dummy - which happened when she was 7 weeks old (started offering from about 3 weeks old, EBF). This is the reason she (and my others) didn't cry to sleep. Nothing more magical than a dummy.
The dummy is the gentlest of all sleep tools, IMO.
As with all sleep aids, many parents give up with it before allowing enough time for it to establish.
Dummies ruin teeth though, and don't work Imo
How do mine sleep fine then without ever having a dummy?
I don't know. How do mine all have perfect teeth yet used a dummy?
Depends how old your children are tbh fate. If they are over 18 then that's unusual all 4 children's teeth are good after dummy use. If they are still small you cannot say if any damage has or hasn't happened yet
Depends how old your children are tbh fate
Coming up for 11, 10, 6 and youngest is 9 months old.
They all have perfect adult and baby teeth
I didn't have a dummy and don't have perfect teeth!
Thanks NottheOP - that's really helpful. We've been doing nap extensions for a few weeks now but maybe that plus settling in the cot is the magic combo! Like you say, I'd be happy with 30 mins asleep, 90 mind awake if it made him happy but by yesterday evening (after a day on that pattern) he was pie-eyed with tiredness.
DS has a dummy which was a godsend when he was tiny but now he just cries with it in his mouth, or takes it out but doesn't know how to get it back in, or tries (and fails) to get his fingers in at the same time. Not sure if it's helping or hindering at this point.
Ah, I remember that 4 month 'discovering hands' phase. When baby just seems to want to chew on their fists all of the time because they are just discovering that they have actual control over these things at the end of their arms.
Have you swaddled previously, when baby was younger? It's like marmite, some love it and some hate it. But 4 months saw the return of the swaddled for maybe a couple of weeks to get through the worse of the hand-thing they do at this age.
Are you sure baby is getting enough milk? Has the amount of milk she is having gone up recently? Because you could take this unsettled period as an indication that it is needed. Any moments of 'the dummy won't do' are generally explained by hunger (or thirst now she is older and weaned) for DD.
4 months saw DDs milk intake the permanently increase by 25%, which not an insignificant amount. She was never one for big feeds though, preferring more frequent daytime feeds. I think we added 2 extra daytime feeds by making them more frequent.
He's definitely eating more - largely at might as he's too busy during the day. But this is really me looking for a new solution to a long standing problem. Can't use the swaddle for the same reason I can't leave him alone on the bed - he's starting to roll over. He hated it when younger but if I had my time again I might persevere with it. Maybe for PSB!
To get ds to nap in his pram I would get a muslin cloth and swaddle him by tucking it into the sides of the pram around him, this would trap him hands. I'd then stick the dummy in and walk.
He would cry with it in as you say but after a few minutes he'd give in, suck on it and go to sleep.
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