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My co-sleeping high needs baby fell asleep on his own for the first time. I cried.

(73 Posts)
cosmicdancer89 Tue 03-Nov-15 18:46:25

I've been posting around for a few weeks now in desperation of getting my 6.5 m.o DS to sleep better/fall asleep without a boob-and-arm-numbing-rock routine. He's high needs, very active and determined, never ever slept in his cot, never fell asleep without an aid (stroller/sling/boob). Co-sleeping became shit (he would still wake 4/5 times a night ,sometimes to comfort suckle, sometimes he wouldn't resettle til he was rocked again), doesn't take dummy, etc. Textbook high needs bad sleeper.

I saw my NCT friends yesterday and all their babies go down without bottle/breast/rocking, two of them STTN, the breastfed one feeds twice a night but definitely doesn't wake every hour. They take naps in their cots so the mums can actually CLEAN the house, make food, etc.

My baby only slept in my arms, would wake up right when he was put down. This meant I got nothing done, had to go to bed with him at 8pm, no intimacy with DP, no chance to work on my freelance writing (that was the plan - work from home once he's 6 months.. Hahahaha).

Anyway, something snapped in me last night and I did our usual bedtime routine, bath/feed/walk around the darkened room calmly singing to him, except then instead of getting into bed with him and letting him nurse to sleep, or rocking him and then laying beside him, I..... Put him in his cot. I got a chair, put it beside the cot, and.. Well. The next two and a half hours were NOT fun. He screamed. Cried his heart out. I cried too. But I made up my mind - no picking up. I bent over into the cot to kiss him, I stroked his cheek, kept my hand on his belly, he thrashed and freaked and just wouldn't have it. After two hours of this I was ready to give up. But he eventually got tired, and fell asleep. He woke a few times that night, but was easier to resettle.

Today, he went down for a nap in his cot after protesting for 25 min. Again, I never left his bedside. His second nap he didn't cry as dramatically, more fussed.

And now, bedtime, he went down with 15 min of crying (again, not leaving his side).

I'm amazed. I never ever ever ever thought this would work. I felt shit knowing if I rocked him he'd stop crying and sleep but honestly our co-sleeping situation was NOT making him or me happy -- sure he'd fall asleep, but he didn't stay asleep, and I was knackered and starting to get really irritable at my lovely DS.

I know people say - oh they just want cuddles and contact, just enjoy it, they're little -- well we did enjoy it until it stopped working for us and made everyone feel like shit. What's the point in persevering with something that doesn't work well anymore?

Anyway, I wanted to post this for reassurance for anyone who's in my situation. That first "cot sleep" moment will be horrible, be prepared to be dysfunctional for the following day and get HELP from friends and family. I'll keep everyone updated on how our week goes. But I can only hope it'll keep improving as I've already seen improvement in just one day.

Oh and I would never ever just leave him to cry alone in his room. I mare sure he wasn't hungry etc., goes without saying I think. But he did get tired in the end and now he knows he is able to fall asleep without mummy and man, do I feel a massive weight lifted off my shoulders !!!

cosmicdancer89 Tue 03-Nov-15 18:47:12

To clarify -- I cried of delight when I saw him asleep in his cot shockwink

SweepTheHalls Tue 03-Nov-15 18:49:38

Well don

SweepTheHalls Tue 03-Nov-15 18:51:00

Make that well done you flowers. Its hard teaching them to sleep, but when you are all ready it is so worth it x

nottheop Tue 03-Nov-15 18:51:29

Glad it worked for you. It is so much better to do it before they can pull up to standing.

cosmicdancer89 Tue 03-Nov-15 19:12:30

Thank you guys!! Nottheop, you're right, it's why I started now.. I knew I was capable of delaying it month by month til the point he was 12 m.o going through hardcore teething and getting up in the crib and it would've been sooooo much worse. Honestly 6.5 ~ 7.5 months seems like the optimal time...

BathshebaDarkstone Tue 03-Nov-15 19:16:08

Well done! star

FATEdestiny Tue 03-Nov-15 20:21:10

Actually gradual withdrawal like this starts best from newborn age. But as said, starting before baby is standing makes a huge difference.

Well done op.

mummalumma Tue 03-Nov-15 22:05:25

Rly pleased you achieved a no rock/BF sleep in cot! I would love to hear updates from you about how things continue with your LO's sleep.

My DD1 was also HN and I became quite depressed as a result -- i'm sure you can relate :-) however, my DH and I were against CIO or CC techniques. We now have our lovely DD2 and I am slowly seeing similar sleep issues emerge, though at this stage I think it is too soon to describe her as HN. However, second time round, there is no way I can allow sleep issues to cause me to be depressed again. I want to enjoy my baby and I am open to trying sleep training techniques if need be... I can't help but wonder if BF has something to do with it... though of course there are plenty of mums with FF babies who have sleep issues too...

GL with your new routine xx

cosmicdancer89 Wed 04-Nov-15 00:09:49

mummalumma -- I didn't think I would do training, but when he started to wake 5/6 times a night whilst co-sleeping and ending up chronically overtired during the day I realised something had to change and I had to try the "cruel to be kind" approach. In all honesty though, you have to remind yourself it isn't child abuse sitting beside your baby and verbally/physically reassuring them whilst they are in their cot -- you're just trying to help them get used to a new way of falling asleep. I completely understand you when you say it can get quite depressing.... the thing is with high needs babies is that if you don't get enough sleep at night, you're doomed for the day because they require 110% of your attention/commitment, so sleep really becomes quite crucial.

And yes, I think BFing helps develop a "comfort sucking" need, because most women BF on demand, and end up BF-ing 4-5 times a night because breastmilk is easily digested etc. etc., and after 12 + weeks of this the LO comes to expect it and quite heavily relies on the sucking and mama warmth to feel cosy and safe. Again, nothing wrong with that, and I am planning to continue BFing til my LO is 12 months, but I just wasn't willing to be up every 2 hours a night anymore because I made for a crappy mum in the day time as a result.

Hope everything goes well with your DD2! Best of luck smile

cosmicdancer89 Wed 04-Nov-15 19:46:48

Boy did I speak too soon.....

Last night after 3am, DS was up every 45 mins, crying for 30, sleeping for 45, etc. etc. til "awake time" at 7.10am. So I got about 3 hours sleep.

Tonight he went down at 7pm. I put him in his cot post routine at 6.30. So he had about 30 min of crying as I sang to him beside his cot. He was asleep for only about 35 mins until he woke up screaming. I left him for 5 min hoping he'd drift off.. but nope. full on screamworks for 10 min now. So I'm back to sitting beside him and reassuring him..... I'm guessing he'll be up every 45 min again today..
he's super super overtired and in an awful mood, as am I, it's just misery all around, hearing him scream is soul destroying! I thought it would get easier but it's getting harder because we're both so tired now.

Giving this another 3 nights and then giving up. My baby is so strong willed he'll break me I'm afraid sad

cosmicdancer89 Fri 06-Nov-15 10:22:42

Going to log my progress here to have a record of it and if any mamas I similar desperate situations come across the thread maybe it'll be useful.

Night 3 was a bit better than night 2, but he was still waking up every 2 hours consistently and took 3 (!) hrs to go down. I sat by his bed the entire time and tried to out-hum and out-shush his cries... I decided also that in going to work on night weaning off of breastfeeding once he's more comfortable with falling asleep on his own , so in a week or two.

Day 4:
Woke up 7.10
Breakfast, played.
Put down in cot for nap at 8.30, asleep at 8.45 (minimal crying, record time)
Woke up 10.30.
Went down for stroller nap from 1 - 3pm.
Started bedtime routine at 6.
Put down in cot at 6.30
Crying / fussing til 6.45
Asleep at 6.50!!!!

Wake ups on night 4:
10.30pm (breastfed)
1am (attempted a formula feed but he wasn't having it) ~ awake til 2.15 (resettled by himself but took a while, no crying)
5am - breastfed, fell straight back asleep
6.20 - shouldn't have picked him up but I was desperate for more sleep so I gave him a quick cuddle and feed
7.55 - awake!

I'm going to try to minimise the breastfeeds and reassurance cuddles in the early hours because it reinforces his crying and I don't think he's all that hungry really.. He just knows mummies warmth and cuddles are cosier to doze off to! But unless I can get him to take a formula dream feed I have no way of knowing whether he's genuinely hungry or not.. Blah. He just won't take any more than 50ml of formula milk no matter which brand I try.

I think 6.30 is a good time to put him down as he's asleep by 7 which seems to be working out for him. This also works well with his two longs naps a day - the morning one aim for 9 - 11am and the afternoon aim for 1-3pm, give or take an hour or so for flexibility.

Overall, there was minimal crying last night, def no hysterics, just fussing and tired moaning more like. I was so anxious about him waking frequently that I myself didn't manage much sleep.. Wtf. Will aim to go to bed around the 10pm mark today so I get a bit more sleep. Hopefully night 5 wi be even better!

cosmicdancer89 Fri 06-Nov-15 10:26:00

Other points of advice -

He seems annoyed if I touch him in the cot and not pick him up so I don't. I find singing and humming and sshing works better for his temperament. If after about 15 min I can sense his cries are escalating and he's working himself up, I briefly pick him up and give him a comforting cuddle for 2/3 minutes til he seems to calm down, and then I put him down. I make sure he doesn't fall asleep mid cuddle.

I think having that flexibility really takes the pressure off me, night 1 and 2 I was scared of picking him up as everyone says don't cave in, but it went against my instincts and as a result I felt really awful. I try to avoid picking him up but I know him and his cries so I know when he will eventually stop moaning and when he's on a hysterical roll and won't calm himself. It's all very individual of course.

cosmicdancer89 Mon 09-Nov-15 05:04:40

Right so it's been a week and between 7-7 he wakes up around 5/6 times. At least with co-sleeping I was half asleep through his feeds, but now that he's in his cot I am basically getting like 3 hours sleep a night tops. It's ridiculous. I always thought them learning to fall asleep on their own was the holy grail - if I cracked it the night wakings will reduce, that's what they all say! Ha ha ha. The only positive is that I can now put him down at 7 and get on with my evening, as opposed to being forced to bed when DS goes to bed... But I don't even know if I care about that that much when I get 3 hours sleep a night.

53rdAndBird Mon 09-Nov-15 05:56:58

3 hours sleep a night does not sound sustainable for you. If you've been trying this for a week and he's still waking/crying just as much, it might be worth changing tactics.

In your place I would probably put him down in his cot at bedtime, get that sanity-saving bit of time for yourself in the evening, then cosleep from his first wakeup or when you go to bed. Then you can either try again in a couple of months or work on the gentler longer-term No Cry Sleep Solution stuff that high needs babies sometimes deal with better.

FATEdestiny Mon 09-Nov-15 10:05:25

Why don't you move the cot to be right next to your bed, rather than having to get up and go into another room?

cosmicdancer89 Mon 09-Nov-15 11:14:17

Our flat is really small. I've been sleeping on an air bed next to his cot. The problem is when he wakes past 12pm it takes ages and ages to settle him back.. I'm sticking to the "soothing him in his cot" thing but at 3am after an hour of attempted cot soothing when he's still whining I just can't cope anymore and end up feeding him. I persevered quite well the first 5 nights and didn't rock or feed at all during his wakings, but wife the sleep hasn't improved I'm starting to crack and "cheat", so to speak, in a desperate attempt to get back to sleep..

I just feel so shit that I've given this so much commitment, was so disciplined and yet, the only progress has been that he goes down to sleep at 7pm in his cot. I wouldn't mind 2 night wakings for genuine thirst or hunger reasons but this is just intense.... And there are those people whose babies just sleep bloody through with no training from 8 weeks and all their advice to me is just infuriating me angry people have no idea how tough it can be with stubborn temperament babies...

cosmicdancer89 Mon 09-Nov-15 11:15:08

So he sleeps okayish 7-12 and then it's hell on earth til 7am

shiteforbrains Mon 09-Nov-15 11:36:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

shiteforbrains Mon 09-Nov-15 12:02:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MangosteenSoda Mon 09-Nov-15 12:31:27

Not as bad a sleep experience here as the OP and some other posters, but bad enough and I really feel your pain! Baby 8 months old now.

My DS is also impossible to settle after waking. I'm lucky that he can do a long stretch, but after the first wake up, it's a disaster. It's been like this since we came out of the 4 month regression (which started at 10 weeks and lasted for THREE MONTHS).

I also did the co sleeping and going to bed at 7 routine as it was the only way to get him to settle at all. Awful times. He has never been able to successfully nap by himself during the day, so I literally had a baby attached to me for 24 hours most days.

From 6 months I did similar to the OP. Baby in cot, me sitting by the side. He learnt to self settle and after a couple of weeks would fall asleep after about 20 mins of tossing and turning. Then - bang - back to normal. Started it all again. But this time he developed a hair fetish. He would not even contemplate settling unless he had hunks of hair to rip at. So I somehow found myself hanging over the side if the cot for around an hour every evening while he pulled my hair to sleep.

Two weeks ago, I let him CIO. I was home alone with DS, was putting him to bed, was taken unwell. Had to plonk him down in cot, then spent an hour in the bathroom with head (and other bits blush ) stuck in the loo bowl. I could hear his screams for 40 mins.

While this was truly an awful experience, I can't say I regret it. I just feel relieved. The next night, I put him down and walked out of the room (thinking I'd be back in with him after 5 mins), but he just grumbled for a couple of minutes and went to sleep. So far so good. The stupid thing is, I kind of knew that my presence was distracting for him and picking him up or touching him in any way made it worse. I just felt way to guilty to leave him.

The other big surprise was that he actually stopped crying after 40 mins. When I'm there and he's fractious, he can easily cry for well over an hour. In fact, he still does, most mornings. While evenings are currently sorted, I'm still looking fir an answer to the early wakings. Typically he will now sleep for 9-10 hours (Yesss). Problem is, it's not enough for him. After feeding he still needs more sleep but finds it impossible to drop off again. Carrying, rocking, feeding again, cosleeping, playing, singing... Nothing works. He just gets more and more grumpy until he starts screaming, then basically screams for an hour whether being held or otherwise. It's a pretty crappy way to start the day every day. Still can't nap either.

So I'll also be looking for answers! flowers

cosmicdancer89 Mon 09-Nov-15 13:11:16

Shiteforbrains, boy do I sympathise.. I feel like you've literally described my DS, minus the mobility although for a 6 month old he's incredibly squiggly and rolls around everywhere.

Prior to trying gradual retreat he also only slept in my arms and I, too, would spend my evenings on the sofa with my arm going numb, having whispering conversations with DP.... I was desperate to get my evenings back and start working slowly and be able to flippin do the flippin dishes and batch make his purees!!! I was so excited when he fell asleep in like 15 min on his own on the third night, but then the crazy frequent wakings began..I know it's ridiculous but I often feel like he's trying to out-manoeuvre me.. Once I think I've cracked him, he ups the stakes.
I'm currently out in the muddy park pushing the pram looking positively corpse-like but I had to get him to go to sleep -- when he's overtired he's near impossible to please, and my shattered self can't handle anymore crying.
As for the shower - I just put down a blanket on the bathroom floor and plop him down with some toys and speed shower. I've got it down to 3 mins now.

Mangoes, I'm sorry you're still struggling, but do enjoy those 9 hours! That sounds divine to me right now. Have you tried white noise? On the off chance when my DS seems unsettled he will calm down to the sound of the hairdryer.. But again, this isn't consistent in the least. I have the admit I laughed at the hair fetish bit.. Am afraid my DS is developing the same ...last night the only thing that seemed to mildly soothe him is my levitating above his cot with my head on his belly as he chewed my hair..... Needless to say my back is unbendable today!!!

Stay strong everyone. I'm so tired I feel like I might drop dead and am hearing/seeing things......

cosmicdancer89 Tue 10-Nov-15 08:58:16

So we had a non-horrendous night! After a terrible day where he hardly slept at all, even in the stroller which he normally enjoys - he was whiney and cranky and overtired and I was running on next to no sleep and about to have a complete breakdown -- I put him down after usual routine and he fell asleep after 20 mins of on and off grumbling. He woke a few times between then and 10.30, which is when I managed to get a bottle of formula down him (he normally doesn't take more than 50ml).
Next wake up was 2.40am, I didn't feed, but cuddled him and it was hard to get him back asleep so at 3.20 I blasted the hairdryer on and he passed out. I hate leaving it on as I'm worried I'll fall asleep and it's a fire hazard.... But he won't be fooled into recordings of white noise, only the real thing will do! It's a problem really but at least there is something out there that kind of soothes him in the middle of the night... Doesn't always work though, I was just lucky last night I think.

So all in all, 2 wake ups (there were a couple between 7pm - 10pm but I don't count them as I wasn't asleep haha). Wasn't easy to resettle at 2.30am and I was getting worried he'd be up for 3 hours like the previous night.. But the cuddle and hairdryer saved us.

However, now I put him down for his morning nap and he's freaking out hysterically for over 20 mins fighting it like crazy. Hairdryer on again and nothing -- this kid is so inconsistent it drives me nuts!

fieldfare Tue 10-Nov-15 09:13:40

Glad last night was a better night, it's so frustrating when they don't sleep easily and you're getting more and more tired. Have you tried having low level background noise on in his room all the time? My Dd didn't like the silence once everyone had gone to bed and the house quietened down for the night so I put a little radio in her room with radio 2 on ever so quietly. Gave me something to listen to in the wee hours when she needed feeding too.

fusionconfusion Tue 10-Nov-15 13:02:04


Just to pop in to say my eight year old was like this. It nearly killed me. I felt really despairing at times.

I have three now, and the second two slept in with us actually MORE but it just didn't feel the way it did with my first.

My youngest is eighteen months and in a cot now though he might have the odd snuggle in bed if he's teething or sick.

It gets better.. and this doesn't always feel like a battle. My eight year old has been sleeping from 7pm in his own bed with no hassle consistently since about three (and more or less, with some moving beds, since 2).

What you're going through feels a lifetime ago.. and yet I remember, too.
It seemed silly to be so caught up in it but it felt all-consuming at the time. I remember. This WILL pass.

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