exhausted with 13 month old, trying some gentle sleep training, tips welcome

(16 Posts)
weebairn Fri 06-Nov-15 09:09:43

DD2 is 13 months old and I am struggling at work with sleep deprivation so we are trying to gently sleep train.

She has never slept well at night though she is a textbook baby in the day in many ways. She has a good bedtime routine and goes to bed at 6.30 pm in her cot. She self settles. After wake up and feeds I put her back in the cot, awake, and she settles herself, I don't sleep well with her next to me at this age (we did cosleep when she was a newborn). She goes down for 2 naps in the day, self settles for both, variable length, but often 1-2 hours.

She breastfeeds and until a week or so ago was feeding 3-4 times in the night, I didn't feed her every wake up, but most of them. It was killing me. I work long shifts in acute medicine and I need to be able to think straight.

She eats well, she eats loads. She won't take a bottle but she'll drink a whole cup of water. Has no interest in milk from a cup though.

So boyfriend is sleeping with her in the spare room for the last week or two. He offers her water or cuddles if she wakes. She has been too distressed to settle back in the cot so they have largely been co-sleeping. He has successfully got her down to 2 feeds, but it's still loads of wake ups and now lots of crying too, though she will eventually go back to sleep. Now he is exhausted too and helping me less in the mornings (our toddler gets up at 5am). Plus now she is co-sleeping the whole night after her first wake up.

Is this going to work? Are we doing something wrong? Is it even worth it? I just really do not feel safe at work on the current level of sleep.

DD1 had sleep issues at times but she did sometimes sleep all night as well, DD2 just never goes more than 4 hours, and most night not more than 2 or 3.

She has also recently had kidney cancer (finished treatment a month ago) so I feel completely hideous for doing this. But I'm just not safe at work, and my mood is very black when I don't sleep. I feel awful. Please don't tell me I'm a terrible person, I'm at breaking point.

TheHouseOnTheLane Fri 06-Nov-15 09:30:12

Can you take some leave? If at all possible do that so you can concentrate only on fixing this for two weeks or so.

13 months is still very young....and if you're both working and she's still bf then it will be hard.

I think you might need to stop work given the fact that she's been so ill....you or your partner. flowers

weebairn Fri 06-Nov-15 09:31:04

I was off for three months for her chemo & surgery. Just gone back.

weebairn Fri 06-Nov-15 09:35:30

DP wasn't off, but he dropped to 3 days a week and was frequently working less than that too. He is desperately behind at work too. We just need to get back on our feet, it's been such an awful year sad

She is really settled in nursery which is one good thing, she goes two days a week and they say she is really happy, and my mum or boyfriend have her for my other shifts and they say the same, but she is exhausting when she does see me as she is so upset and clingy, and the nights are grim.

missmargot Fri 06-Nov-15 09:44:00

I have been where you are now, right down to the cancer treatment (although DS had enucleation rather than chemo and had stopped breast feeding) and it is hideous- the exhaustion and the guilt are overwhelming.

What worked for us in the end was night weaning. I did it very gradually switching to diluted formula from a cup and then to water. What actually did it for us in the end was when I stopped giving him milk after his bath. He was self settling at the start of the night so I was surprised it worked but it did.

Best of luck, I really hope you find a solution that works for you.

Onsera3 Fri 06-Nov-15 09:44:35

How long from bed time until she gets up? Do you think she needs less day sleep? After their birthday many little ones I know transitioned to one nap.

For me, dream feeding my son btw when he went down and when I went to bed was key. That always got me a good block of about 5 solid hours from him so broken sleep after that didn't bother me so much.

I always settled him before he woke. One stage he did start waking and taking ages to resettle and I thought it might be melatonin so used cherry concentrate which seemed to help.

Could she have some physical discomfort thats causing discomfort?

I like Dr Sears and Jay Gordon for gentle sleep training tips.

TheHouseOnTheLane Fri 06-Nov-15 09:47:13

God....I wish the NHS would provide people with temp night nurses! sad I know there's no money for that but there would be in an idea world.

I really feel for you....I think Margot's advice is good.

weebairn Fri 06-Nov-15 09:51:26

Thanks missmargot. How is DS now? DD2 has just finished her treatment and they say it is extremely unlikely she will ever have further problems, so we feel very fortunate. But also just so shattered.

She can go to bed without a breastfeed because I'm not always back from work in time. She does so many textbook things, but just wakes every 2-3 hours. I don't know why.

ONsera, I think she is switching to 1 nap, some days now she only has one. She was napping loads on the chemo but now it's more like 1-2 hours in the morning, plus (sometimes) an afternoon nap of an hour. Bedtime is 6.30pm. First wake up is anywhere between 8pm and midnight, so that's our longest stretch. (I go to bed early when I can, but I work till 10pm sometimes). Then it's usually every 2-3 hours till morning (7ish).

I don't think she's in any physical discomfort, though there have been quite a few teeth recently.

During the chemo I just fed and cuddled her any time she wanted day or night. I absolutely don't regret that, but I also feel like it has made my life very hard now sad

missmargot Fri 06-Nov-15 10:09:44

It's great news that your DD isn't expected to have any future problems, DS is exactly the same and we are so grateful.

When you've both been so something so traumatic it makes it very hard to understand what the route cause of the issue is. Is her poor sleeping down to the treatment and the distruption of chemo or would she have had been a bad sleeper anyway?

The other thing we did was some energy field healing treatment. I know it's very woo and it isn't something I would usually have considered, but we used to do baby yoga and massage with a lovely lady who offered it and I was so desperate for him to sleep I gave it a go and it really helped. It helped me hugely too, I was in a very dark place and it gave me a real sense of release. It is very possible that me being helped in turn helped DS to sleep, I hadn't realised how tense I was until I started to relax.

It sounds as if your DD is having problems self settling when she transitions between sleep cycles. Most of the sleep advice out there is for babies who can't self settle at all, which my DS and your DD can at nap times and at the start of the night, so I didn't know what advice to follow. The good news is that you know she can do it, she just needs help to remember to do it during the night too.

weebairn Fri 06-Nov-15 10:32:39

I am a believer in this-too-will-pass but it's hard to hold onto.

That mgith be a bit woo for me grin but all your other comments ring so true. I am normally someone who is very relaxed about my kids health and having had this very real and terrifying health condition has been such a hard readjustment. I am also always questioning is this because of the cancer/chemo, or is this just baby nonsense!?

And definitely yes, all the sleep advice seems to be on how to get your baby to self settle and DD2 is great at that! SO I just dunno what to try... Ironically DD1 was crap at self settling but used to sleep all night long once I had fed her for an hour and eased her millimetre by millimetre off my lap. Hah. What do books know!

I am having some counselling myself and doing a lot of yoga when I'm not at work. The theory being if I can build myself up I can view it as "just" sleep and temporary. And yes kids absolutely pick up on when you're tense and stressed. I also feel very black at times. I'm working on it.

Boyfriend is still committed to the sleep training and says he's going to try and get her down to one feed next week. I just worry that it will just mean she is still waking 4-5 times a night but now it will be half an hour of crying and rocking instead of 5 minutes of feeding… sad On the other hand boyfriend works an 9-5 office job which he walks to and no one dies if he mixes his words up.

Mainly I just want lots of hugs. Thank you all for being so kind.

missmargot Fri 06-Nov-15 10:59:48

It sounds like you are handling everything really well and finding your own outlet for dealing with what has happened, which is incredibly important. We found that during the treatment everything was such a whirlwind and we were suddenly given an all clear, which was amazing and we should have been thrilled but we were so emotionally drained and left wondering what on earth just happened.

Be kind to yourself and do what you have to do to get through it. It will indeed pass but it is a completely hideous times whilst it's happening.

FATEdestiny Fri 06-Nov-15 13:46:19

Be kind to yourself weebairn

In your position I would just fully embrace co-sleeping, enjoy the cuddles. Let boyfriend sleep in the spare room when he needs extra sleep so that he can continue to help with the toddler in the mornings.

Given everything you have been though, just do whatever gets you all the most sleep and as much calm as possible. It won't last forever flowers

weebairn Fri 06-Nov-15 14:01:29

I am a bit delirious and depressed after a full night co-sleeping with a wriggly, constantly waking baby. This is bearable if I'm at home with the kids the day after but I just can't cope at work. sad

5am starts don't bother me as much, and boyfriend is a deep sleeper who likes lie ins, so me and boyfriend have switched jobs for the time being…

Do you think we'll ever get to share a bed again!!?

weebairn Fri 06-Nov-15 14:03:35

When we have people staying over in the spare room, (like last night) we all end up in bed together… 5am toddler whispering in a VERY LOUD WHISPER, "mummy can I just stroke baby's hair VERY GENTLY" at 5am, when she's finally fallen into a deep sleep… arrgh! grin

DorotheaHomeAlone Sat 07-Nov-15 10:51:05

weebairn they sound adorable and you sound like you're coping very well with an impossible situation. I do think night weaning and then into a cot on her own is the only way. She's waking because she's programmed to expect food and cuddles (understandable). But now she's too big to resettle easily.

Lilipot15 Sat 07-Nov-15 11:41:56

weebairn - gosh you have had such a year.
It sounds like you have a high pressure job as well, with long shifts.

I'm afraid the only advice I can offer is to say that after the adrenaline and anxiety of the cancer treatment, you're probably still reeling and perhaps feeling more exhausted (if that's possible) now that the acute stress is past. It is wonderful news that your daughter is likely to be well. Now may not be the time for big changes, just do what you can to get the sleep

I coslept for a period with my DD of a similar age when I was working in a high pressure job and pregnant, as it was the thing that gave us all the best rest. Then suddenly she stopped waking! I wonder if as they get more mobile they are more physically tired and sleep better.

Anyway, pat yourself and your family on the back for getting through this, and you have absolutely recognised that your comforting of her with hugs and feeds was the best thing for her at that time (and you, as I expect it was really difficult with so much else being out of your control).
Huge respect to you.

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