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Anyone doing the Millpond gradual retreat technique?

(13 Posts)
KitKat1985 Tue 20-Oct-15 04:15:43

Hi all. Am doing this with DD (13 months) at the moment along with breaking the 'milk to sleep' issue as advised by our HV. To be honest though HV only gave me a printed handout and I'm confused by some aspects of what we are supposed to be doing. I did speak to HV on phone last week but it hasn't really helped. So for example we are now at a point where DD only has minimal milk at night when she wakes but she's up screaming afterwards for about 2 hours (like she is now). We're not sure what we are supposed to do doing this time with her? We asked HV who said we just need to go into her quicker at night and she'll settle quicker but we go straight to her anyway as soon as her milk is warm. I'm so frustrated (and tired)! Anyone done this and can advise?

KitKat1985 Tue 20-Oct-15 10:46:12

Sorry just realised my 4am post after an hour of hour and a half of listening to DD scream wasn't very coherent. confused

Basically HV has said we need to follow this piece of paper. For those who can't see it basically its says we need to gradually start giving her night milk downstairs rather upstairs, and drop this by an oz at a time. So for example at first she has 1oz downstairs, 9oz just before going into cot for 3 days, and then 2 oz downstairs, 8 oz before going into cot for 3 days etc. This is to break the 'milk to sleep' issue we have. This part seems to be going fine as she's usually tired come bedtime and falls asleep pretty easily.

The problem we have is with night wake-ups. Part of the plan is when DD wakes at night we only give her the amount of milk she has just before she goes into her cot at night (to keep her 'going to sleep' cues consistent and get her used to less and less milk at night, until we are eventually down to none, to get back to sleep). This part is NOT going well. Last night was a good example. We are down to 3oz on the plan just before we put her down so that it is what we gave her when she woke at 2.45am this morning. We gave her milk, put her down and she screams. We leave her - she screams. We cuddle her - she screams. This goes on for ages. The other night was 2 and a half hours, but 1 and a half - 2 hours is common. We literally have no idea what we are supposed to do here the bloody piece of paper doesn't say . I think the presumption is that by now she will happily be falling straight back to sleep on less milk but she just isn't. Do we cuddle her? Offer her water instead? We've been rocking her (but am mindful we could just end up replacing 'milk to sleep' with 'rock to sleep')? Do we just leave her? All she wants is more milk and nothing seems to deter her from this. Me and DH are literally at our wits ends now with exhaustion and frustration.

This isn't actually the first time we've tried to stop her milk at night. At one point we went nearly 3 weeks with offering no night milk (we were told by some smug git that after a few nights she would adjust to this and sleep through happily), but honestly after nearly 3 weeks of nearly 2-3 hours of screaming on each wake-up (and she was sometimes waking more than once) we lost the bloody will to live and just gave her milk. I don't think she's hungry. She eats pretty well in the day and I am giving her a bowl of porridge now just before bed. I think she just wants the comfort of a nice bottle of milk when she wakes in the night. But I'm so desperate for the night feeds to stop now. Almost every other baby I know her age sleeps through the night and now I'm back at work as well (doing 14 hour shifts on a busy ward) really need to start to get a decent nights sleep in.

As for the part of the plan we come to soon with gradual retreat I'm also confused. I also think (from experience) that DD will happily go to sleep on her own without us there to comfort her (at bedtime we just give her milk, put her down and leave, and she self-settles quite happily) so I'm a bit reluctant to start to soothe her to sleep at bedtime. If anything I think it'll make her worse as she'll be standing up trying to get mine or DH's attention to play with her. What should I do?

Sorry ended up being a long post. If you've managed to get to this point and haven't lost interest please have some cake and thanks in advance.

FATEdestiny Tue 20-Oct-15 22:37:11

Have you talked through your DDs diet with the HV? It would be worth checking if she is getting enough solid food through the daytime, that her portion sizes, meals, snacks and so on are enough.

9oz strikes me as a massive bottle of milk at 12m+. Especially if there will be more milk through the night too. I think the 1-3y Toddler Milk (the stage 3 formula) tin recommends 6oz bottles.

If your DD is up and screaming anyway after a small amount of milk in the night, if it was me I'd just stop all night feeds and do it all in one go. Rather than prolonging the agony, get it all over and done with in one go.

As to what to do - that's where the gradual withdrawal comes in. If you weren't doing night feeds then no need to wait for bottle to warm, so you will get to her sooner.

I am not sure what the millipond version is, but my whole ethos in establishing independent sleep is GW based so I can help with that. Basically the first step (which is where you are) is doing anything to get baby to sleep. Preferably with baby lying in cot and you leaning into the cot, patting, shushing, reassuring firm hand on chest/back, tickling, whatever is needed really. It will take a long time and have lots of tears. But you can't move onto the second stage until you have established a 'lots of reassurance and plenty of your presence' way of getting her to sleep without milk.

Once established, then you start making gradual changes to lessen the dependence on your presence and reassurance - you gradually withdraw. But you can't start withdrawing until you have a way to get baby to sleep in the first place.

If I am perfectly honest, while I am a huge advocate of GW, I believe it is an ethos that starts from newborn baby and is very, very slow and gradual over the first 6 to 12 months. I do not believe GW can work effectively if started later in baby's life once bad habits are engrained. Or it would wake a very, very long time.

Where is a thread on the sleep board called "What Worked For Us" that has a Gradual Withdrawal method that worked for an older child. It might be worth a read of the opening post.

Your HV probably isn't allowed to recommend things like Controlled Crying or Cry it Out, so is giving you the gentle option. But it might be more effective for everyone if you consider the sum-total of the distress caused to baby and you over the many months that GW will take, compared to the awful but quick option of CIO or CC.

KitKat1985 Wed 21-Oct-15 08:49:35

Hi. Thanks for replying Fate. flowers

As far as I know, (she's my first so I'm not sure exactly how much is normal for a child her age), DD is eating well now. She was difficult to wean though. Wouldn't eat anything really before 8 months and then only yogurts and certain purees for about 2-3 months after that, but we seem to have got there now and things are much better, and she seems to be enjoying food now. I do think though that her lack of food intake helped establish bad habits (because she was eating so little and needing to wake to feed in the night). She still loves her milk though, and it's been a pain but we've worked hard to reduce it. We have nearly got rid of all of her day milk now but she likes a big bottle before bed. 10oz before bed is actually a reduction for her (it used to be 16oz)!

The GW approach you describe does sound similar to the Millpond method, except in the Millpond method you gradually withdraw more and more every 3 days.

To be honest me and DH are also talking about replacing gradual withdrawal with CIO or similar, as I think it would actually be quicker in many ways (and in that way less distressing for everyone). BUT does it actually work? DD is so stubborn I just can't see her giving up easily.

mintbiscuit Wed 21-Oct-15 16:45:50

I think FATE is right about GW not working as well with older babies. I used rocking to sleep as a sleep prop for dc2 (used shush pat/GW for dc1 but didn't for dc2 as he was a fussier baby - although in hindsight wished I had persisted) . At around 13 months dc2 was waking more and more frequently in the night and required rocking to sleep each time (sometimes for an hour!). Tried to use GW but wasn't having much success and seemed to prolong the crying. I felt like I was causing him more distress overall. I think around 14 mnths we decided to do CC. It worked very quickly (though I know not all babies respond that fast). He didn't cry as much as I thought he would. By day 3 he was settling to sleep at night and night wakings had pretty much stopped. Naps took about a week to crack. I kept a log and worked out the time he spent crying was actually far less than trying to withdraw the soothing gradually. You really do have to be consistent though otherwise it will not work.

FATEdestiny Wed 21-Oct-15 21:31:22

The GW approach you describe does sound similar to the Millpond method, except in the Millpond method you gradually withdraw more and more every 3 days.

Surely though that's got to be all about crying?

I think vast amount of crying is inevitable with you given your DD's age and ingrained habits. This is quite different to the GW I know, which involves no crying at all. But that's because it starts young and only makes a change when that withdrawing does not create any distress.

Hence back full circle. GW is going to cause a massive amount of distress so in your position (I have been there) I would do CIO.

My first born (I made many sleep mistakes and learnt many sleep issue lessons from DC1) was milk dependant on every wake up and was also rocked (and the rest - sung, ticked, walked) to sleep. My problem was that when DC1 was 14 months old DC2 arrived. Nothing like the newborn baby and hormonal postnatal mother to focus the mind on needing change.

I just refused to deal with it all anymore. I wasn't pandering any longer and did CIO. Certain DC1 was well fed, not thirsty, had access to her dummy and comforter, was tired and comfortable to sleep - then she was put to bed and left. Completely. Took probably about 90 minutes of screaming first night (this was 11 years ago, I can't remember exactly). Plus wake ups of well of an hour. But second night was not more than 10 minutes and no wake ups (she was exhausted), third night no more than a few minutes of grumbling. By the fourth night it was sorted. She slept through from then onwards. Aged about 14.5 months old.

It was awful though. It really was and now I don't generally advise or advocate CC or CIO. I am not at all proud of doing CIO. I am actually ashamed that I had to. But had to I must, so I understand where you are coming from KitKat.

KitKat1985 Thu 22-Oct-15 10:55:32

Thank you for your replies. Me and DH have spoken about it and think we are going to do CIO. I hate doing it, but honestly something has to give. Did it for the first time last night. Went into DD when she woke, made sure she had a drink, was dry etc and then left her. Completely. She screamed for an hour and 15 minutes. It was bloody hard. Although as you can see in my OP that when she wakes in the night and we go into her repeatedly, she often screams for 2 hours, so actually she settled quicker than with the 'gentle' sleep method which is encouraging. Hoping in a few nights things might be better. Will update you all next week if you like.

FATEdestiny Thu 22-Oct-15 11:42:08

Ouch. I don't envy you, it will be hard and horrible. But good luck. Hopefully things improve significantly soon. flowers

Please do update the thread. It is useful for other parents considering it, to see 'live' how it works for others.

KitKat1985 Thu 22-Oct-15 20:21:20

Thank you Fate. x

KitKat1985 Mon 26-Oct-15 10:35:21

Well, a quick update. So far things are going okay. I put her to bed last night after having all of her milk downstairs (so none just before going in her cot) and it took her a bit longer than normal for her to settle but she wasn't particularly distressed (just happily chatting to herself in her cot). The past few nights when she has been waking, we have given her a drink, checked she is dry etc, and then just left her. The first couple of nights she cried for like an hour and 15 minutes but this seems to be getting easier. Last night we just went in gave her calpol (she's teething) and a drink of water when she woke and then put her down and left. It probably took her 45 mins - an hour-ish to fall back asleep but crucially she wasn't crying (just chatting to herself in her cot if you know what I mean) so I just went back to bed . Overall I think things are getting better and she's getting used to the fact that we won't go back into her repeatedly throughout the night.

Obviously now I've said this she'll probably cry for about 6 hours solid tonight.

FATEdestiny Mon 26-Oct-15 14:11:41

That sounds promising. Glad things are getting better for you

Rach000 Wed 28-Oct-15 16:19:53

Hi, how are you getting on? Just read this as we may have to try this at some point as my daughter still wakes for milk in the night. She is only 8 months so might wait a bit longer but I think she could go longer without milk as she doesn't have that much during the day so need her really to not have much or no milk at night and more during the day.
I would love a full nights sleep as well, and will be going back work in a couple of months so needs to be sorted if possible.

KitKat1985 Fri 30-Oct-15 08:56:02

Hi Rach. Things are going okay thanks. Tuesday night she was only up 20 mins in the night, weds night she slept through (wahoo!) and last night she slept through until 5.20am but sadly there was no getting her back to sleep then (hopefully a one-off as I don't 'do' early mornings). I think doing CIO is helping.

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