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A desperate WWYD - please help.

(27 Posts)
Moohoomeltdown Tue 24-Nov-15 09:42:50

Background: Our DS is nearly 2yo. I am a SAHM and I’m pregnant, due in May. My DH is very supportive, keen to be involved, loving and calm. He works Mon-Fri and is out of the house 6am - 6pm. Our DS is a loving, bubbly, confident, bright little button during the day.

I had postnatal anxiety and I particularly worry about him not forming secure bonds and feeling he is being abandoned. That is why we’ve never been down the CC or CIO route.

He’s never been a good sleeper and I’ve always been the one to put him to bed and resettle him. (This is not because DH doesn’t want to, he really does and is desperate to help but it’s just so hard when DS is used to me and wants me and scream blue murder at DH and ultimately, there’s never a good time to hear the screaming.)

In the early months he BF to sleep or was rocked to sleep. I weaned from BF, I went to the HV for advice, we did gradual retreat and at 11 months he began sleeping. We got a stage where he would settle at night and sleep through maybe a quarter of the time.

Then at 18 months, it all went wrong. Who knows why but he ended up needing to fall asleep sitting on my knee and being put into his cot…at bedtime and every time he woke. It was demoralising and miserable. I’m not a cushion FFS. So after a while I bit the bullet again and started gradual retreat. He falls asleep now in his cot as I sing/hum his sleepy song and hold his hand through the cot bars.

We took our next step last night - Daddy is going to do bedtime. I sat in the room and DH read "The rabbit that wants to fall asleep”. DS cried and cried. (Mummy sing, mummy hold hand. No no daddy, no no book, away daddy. Mummy sing, mummy sing.) But eventually after wiping tears and reassuring he did lie down and fall asleep. Then at 11pm all hell broke loose. I sat with him for an hour, i eventually gave up, he came into our bed, I got frustrated and left to sleep in the spare room (I’ve only ever done that once before). He was still up at 2am claiming his nappy needed changed, wanting to go downstairs, looking for mummy etc. DH tried book again, fail. He ended up sleeping in beside me. I resent it.

I honestly don’t know what to do. I am tired. I am overwhelmed. I’m not handling night wakings well and I can’t see a way out. I absolutely hate it and i know it’s my fault. I know i’ve made a rod for my own back. I know that he prefers sleeping with me and i’ve allowed it for illness in the past and now he just hates his cot. He just doesn’t sleep, he’s often awake for hours in the night, just rolling around, sighing. It’s like he can’t get into a deep sleep. But on the other hand there are days (rare and wonderful) that he does sleep through so he can do it.

Sorry it’s an essay. I didn’t want to drip feed. I don’t even know what I’m asking for…advice? Tales of children who just eventually learned to sleep? Thanks for reading.

Fugghetaboutit Tue 24-Nov-15 09:45:19

Has he got his back molars coming through yet? He could be feeling off.

Does he still feed before bed?

Moohoomeltdown Tue 24-Nov-15 09:57:19


Not sure about molars. Eye teeth are broken through but descending still. Calpol sometimes given if he seems off.

He gets a sippy cup of milk as part of bedtime routine. Dinner, bath, pyjamas, story and milk, cuddles, into cot.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Tue 24-Nov-15 09:59:10

Go away for a long weekend so DS knows you're not at home. Leave DH to it. DH may need to invest a few days annual leave into this.

mouldycheesefan Tue 24-Nov-15 10:07:12

He stays in his cot at night. Full stop. Do not get him up, do not sit up with him for an hour do not bring him into your bed. Everybody sleeps in their own bed. Talk to him about this in advance. Watch the night garden episodes where upsy daisy won't let other people sleep in her bed, reiterate everyone in their own bed all night. Nobody gets up when it's night time.

In the morning lots of praise, stickers and attention.

You will need to tough it out. What naps is he having in the day, could drop any day naps so he is tired at night, the waking up could be that he has already slept a lot in th day.

Good luck

HeteronormativeHaybales Tue 24-Nov-15 10:08:26

Honestly? I would take the path of least resistance. I know this won't be a popular view but I would assume he needs you at this stage.

Instead of a straight swap from you to dad, how about you and dh do bedtime together for a while, with dh's level of involvement gradually increasing until he is more or less doing it all and you slip off after singing (really wouldn't deny him that tbh)?

And tbqh I'd let him come into bed with you (but he has to lie quietly and go to sleep). If he feels he can have thst when he needs it, he may well, eventually, stop seeking it so desperately.

I had dc2 when dc1 was 2.4 and for the first year-ish his cotbed was on one side of our bed and dc2's bedside cot the other. He moved into his room at around 3, when he felt ready. (I won't withhold the info that he still came int our bed some nights until he was 8ish, but by that time he could cope fine with a 'No, love, not tonight, back to bed you go').

Sallycinnamum Tue 24-Nov-15 10:10:35

My DS, who is nearly 7, was an appalling sleeper from birth. At one point he was sleeping two hours at a time and it nearly broke me and my DH. I'm really not exaggerating when I say there were times when I wanted to run away and never come back.

I owned every sleep book under the sun (all of which where pretty useless) and gradually came to the grim realisation that DS was just one of those children who was basically a shit sleeper.

When he was eight months old I finally couldn't take anymore and DH took two days off work and we did controlled crying. We never left him for more than a few minutes and it was a hellish two nights mostly because it was utter torture for me listening to him wailing and wanting to go in and comfort him.

Three nights later he slept 12 hours and apart from a hiccup when he went into a big bed when he as 2.5 yrs, which set us back six months and I had to sit with him until he fell asleep, he happily goes up to bed now, always sleeps soundly and uses a Gro Clock so he knows when he can get out of bed.

dD on the other hand has been a brilliant sleeper from birth and we've never had any trouble with her whatsoever. I think this is just luck rather than anything we've done.

I think there comes a point when you have to take action to save your sanity and your marriage (!) and it will be hellish to start off with but it sounds to me like you're going to have to get tough (in e nicest way possible!)

HeteronormativeHaybales Tue 24-Nov-15 10:12:59

(Oh, and dc2 was sleeping through a lot earlier - has always been a more independent character and IIRC rarely came inro our bed at night once he was in with dc1, which would have been at 2 or 3).

nilbyname Tue 24-Nov-15 10:18:20

moudlycheeese has it.

Op you either have to go through the pain barrier with this one or buy a bigger bed and get ready for co sleeping with a toddler and a newborn.

Fugghetaboutit Tue 24-Nov-15 10:23:14

I go easy while they're teething as they need comfort. I would start sleep training after.

Luckily I trained ds at 10 months as I couldn't take rocking him to sleep for 40 mins every night! I did a slow gentle approach though but it did involve some crying but he now sleeps very well so it's definitely worth it.

MigGril Tue 24-Nov-15 10:25:12

it's really hard I know I was there with my DD, fortunately we had a bigger age gap. What I will say is its not your fault you have a baby who needs you to be close. Was he the type who cried high pitched as a baby when you put him down? Because I'm betting he was, you have a high needs child.
Often this type of baby needs more of everything but sleep. A good read would be DrSears he has some good books and a website.

What can you do now, well sleep traning isn't going to work on him so don't try. Gradual retreat did help with DD but only for bedtime she still woke at night. What may help, would you be willing to let him sleep in your room, it doesn't have to be your bed. But he's craving you're closeness and a bed on the floor in your room may help to start with if you have space.
We have always played music at bedtime for our children, to help them relax and sleep. You don't have to stay and sing then, although you will have to do story first. He can pick hisfavorite lullabies to listen to then.

DD still needed patenting to sleep until 2, we learned a lot from her and where so more layed back with DS he was still in our bed till 18months and coming in for half the night till 2 1/2 when he stopped on his own no drama no traning needed. Just when he was ready they really are babies for longer then you realize and need that reassurance.

Sallycinnamum Tue 24-Nov-15 10:31:13

And I will say that I have friends who have never sleep trained their children and at 7 are still waking multiple times at night and sleeping in the marital bed. All of them work and have demanding jobs and it's killing them.

I have one close friend who hasn't slept in the same bed as he DH since their DD was born 9 years ago!! This is fine if you don't consider it a problem but her and her DH hate it yet seem powerless do do anything about it.

You literally have to nip this in the bud now in a way you and your DH feel most comfortable with.

FurryGiraffe Tue 24-Nov-15 10:33:41

I had a brilliant sleeper who's sleep went to pot at 20 months. He's now 2.5 and after months sleep going in good phases/bad phases we finally (fingers crossed) seem to have settled back into a good sleep routine in the last month. Like you I'm pregnant (also due in May)- so totally understand the horror at a point when you really need rest.

I honestly think the sleep difficulties around this age are developmental. They seem pretty common on here and and I think it's all tied up with them starting to have dreams/being more aware that they are on their own at night etc. It's not something you've done or not done.

I think I'm with Heteronormative and would run with it as far as the holding his hand/singing goes. Then gradually try to pull back to just sitting next to the cot, then gradual retreat etc. You do obviously need to work on DH being involved as well though, because he's going to have to be doing it when you have DC2. I agree that I'd do bedtime together for a period to get him used to Daddy being there, and gradually have DH take over parts of the routine.

As far as the partial co sleeping goes, we had a phase of this, and like you I hated it. What we did was move DS into a full sized single (necessary as he went through a phase where he wouldn't lie down unless we lay down next to him!) and if he woke in the night one of us would get in with him. From my perspective the advantage of this was that my bed was still my own, and he knew that getting in with us was never an option- but he still got to sleep with one of us if he needed it. I went for the tactic of maximising the amount of sleep we all got for survival purposes!

Moohoomeltdown Tue 24-Nov-15 10:34:38

Oh god, I know you are right, in your own ways.

It's either - tough love, no more cosleeping, no more humming for hours on an end, no more handholding, DH doing bedtimes full stop.


Just accept that I have no space, no time, no alone entitlement where I'm not cuddled, poked, rolled on and just cosleep whenever he wakes.

I just don't think I'm strong enough to go cold turkey. How did it come to this? I don't want him to think I've abandoned him overnight when it's dark and lonely and scary. I love him so much but I can't give 12 hours a day then 12 hours overnight too. I feel like a wreck today. Tired, distant, fed up and withdrawn, he can't possibly understand, poor wee thing. And I feel really pissed off that we've struggled through sleep training once and are facing it all over again, only worse cos he's older.

It's the crying and now speaking too, he seems so desperate in the night. sad

mouldycheesefan Tue 24-Nov-15 10:41:44

You won't be ignoring him in the night, you will be helping him to develop good sleep habits, everyone needs these! you will be reassuring him at regular intervals by patting him. but he stays in the cot and you won't be sitting next to him holding his hand. Do lots of talking about it in advance and perhaps let him have some new pjs when the new sleep time plan starts etc and a treat in the morning. Big it up, he is a big boy now so big boys sleep time is important. When he has cracked it he can have a big boys bed etc
Do it together dh and you so bedtime is a joint entreprise and not mummy's thing. Do it at the weekend so you can both have a nap in the day if you are up at night. Start this weekend. Good luck

Sallycinnamum Tue 24-Nov-15 10:42:09

But OP it doesn't have to be like this. It seems utterly overwhelming and a lack of sleep is just tortuous but believe me, he's not going to turn round in 10 years time and say he hates you because you trained him to sleep! He won't even remember this time in his life but you will.

Arrange a weekend or week when you're going to give it a go. Approach it as as you would planning a project at work etc. and try it.

Fugghetaboutit Tue 24-Nov-15 10:45:12

You don't have to go cold Turkey. Do gradual retreat like people are suggesting. It's more gentle. It will involve some crying but in the long run you will be happier and so will he. Look at the bigger picture

Sallycinnamum Tue 24-Nov-15 10:49:00

Exactly, you don't have to go the whole hog with controlled crying if you're not comfortable with it but you do have to stick to whatever you plan to do and not give in after the first 30 minutes.

You can do this OP!

boobybum Tue 24-Nov-15 11:01:26

Is there any chance your DH could take your son away for a couple of nights - even if it's just staying at either of your parents homes?
You wouldn't have to not see him during the day but if he and DH could sleep somewhere else where he knows you won't be then it may be easier to start a new system.
If you did try this then you may need to go out when your DH puts him to sleep once they return home for the first few days so that you don't just fall back into old patterns.

Also it might be worth trying to make your own social story for him. So take pictures of him doing his bedtime routine (the one you want him to have) and make a sort of book. E.g. This is ds having his bath, this is ds having his milk, this is ds brushing his teeth, this is daddy reading ds his story, this is daddy tucking ds into bed etc. It may be easier for him to accept things if he knows in advance what will happen.
You could even make a series of velcro cards for each stage so that he can take each one off as he does it and gets a sticker for each he does, with a big treat for sleeping through or accepting daddy during the night.

Good luck.

Moohoomeltdown Tue 24-Nov-15 11:03:38

Some really good advice. I'll read again later and speak to DH. It seems it's all we ever talk about! Thank you everyone who has replied.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 24-Nov-15 11:09:33

I'd co-sleep full-time. This should reduce the night wakings and mean everyone gets more sleep. DD has only just moved into her own bed and she is 5 (still comes in with me if she is ill). Moving her into her own bed was no drama at all, and she sleeps 12 hours without a problem.

Your DS is probably a bit arrival of new baby etc and needs extra love and smuggles, not to feel like he is being pushed out to make space for newborn (am NOT saying this is what you are doing BTW!)

Fugghetaboutit Tue 24-Nov-15 11:14:50

My ds is nearly 3 and still comes in my room sometimes at 2/4/6am. Sometimes he sleeps through. I don't mind him coming up. I have another on the way in January and will just carry on as is. But he is good at getting to sleep.

We have bath every night with lavender drops, take into bedroom and have a cream rub, then stories while he has his milk and a cookie. He then turns over and is out. I carry him to his bed.

anotherdayanothersquabble Tue 24-Nov-15 11:33:57

Get help. Best money I have ever spent!! (And I mean ever!!!)

It won't be rocket science but if you are paying someone to tell you what to do, you do it.

Find someone you trust, you like and follies a pattern / philosophy that resonates with you. Interview a few people if you need to.

TotalConfucius Tue 24-Nov-15 11:42:39

If you really can't go cold turkey you could perhaps try reading him a story then putting a cd on rather than singing. That way you are not the entertainment. After a couple of nights, your DH can come in and listen too. After a couple more nights, there is some reason you need to leave when the cd goes on - maybe you need to take some cakes from the oven? The next night it is something else (that your ds has a vested interest in).
I had dreadful sleepers and ended up cutting the legs off an ordinary double bed (so no danger of falling) and putting a baby gate at the bedroom door. The whole household was desperate for quality sleep. We were in a vicious circle - so tired we couldn't deal with it but because we couldn't deal with it we were so tired, something had to give. I'd stick the cd on and lay down near the child. No contact. Then if I fell asleep at the same time i was comfy, it was no disaster, I could get my head down for a few hours. If child woke in the night, I could slip into their bed (no fussing) and again get some sleep.
I know it isn't 'training' them. But it enables rest. And it got me through.
Now they are teenagers, I have to shout along the landing 'turn that jeffing noise down, I'm trying to sleep!'

TotalConfucius Tue 24-Nov-15 11:51:27

I should say I did try controlled crying and such techniques.
However, when I hadn't stopped crying after about 5 nights, and DH had developed this sort of involuntary 'sobbing' motion that was affecting his work, we decided to go the 'rest at any cost' route.

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