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give me to improve 18mo bedtime please!

(13 Posts)
blushingmare Sat 12-Dec-15 07:08:51

DS is 18mo, never been the greatest sleeper, and although I started off with good intentions of letting him try to self settle more at bedtime than I did with DD, from around 6mo I fell into sitting with him until he goes to sleep, and that's where it's remained!

He's now taking longer and longer to go to sleep and it's becoming a real
problem because my poor DD has to wait for me to come and do her bedtime and sometimes she can be waiting over an hour these days!

I remember going through this with her and ended up, out of desperation, leaving her to cry it out. It worked, but I found it horrible and would rather avoid it if I can. I've looked up about gradual retreat (and read some of the "what worked for us" thread on here), but I'm still not sure how to do it in practice. And is it normal with that approach to still have a lot of crying? At the moment I sit with my hand on DS's back, and as soon as I move it he starts to cry. If I leave the room he loses the plot completely. I don't understand how you "retreat" without getting lots of crying- or is it just that you do get lots of crying, but because you're in with them it's not as harsh as CIO?

I have tried a few attempts at removing contact, cry, replacing hand til he's quiet and removing it again, but this process would take so long to get him settled, so I always end up just sitting with him to try to get him to sleep as quickly as possible, so I can get to DD. Over Christmas DH has 2 weeks off, which he hardly ever has, so I thought if we're going to try some kind of plan, then would be a good time.

So could anyone give me a good plan for this two week period where I could try to get DS to settle on his own at bedtime please?

YouBastardSockBalls Sat 12-Dec-15 07:14:19

CIO is not nice. Jo Frost's controlled crying method worked really well for me in the same circumstances.

You go in and tuck them in, do all normal bedtime stuff, then say goodnight and leave. They cry. You go back after 2 minutes, lay them down, say shhh it's ok etc then go back out. Then go back after 4 minutes, then 8, then they're usually asleep.

I modified it a bit and did 1 minute, then 3, then 5, then 8, then 11, and then she was asleep. It really worked and I never felt like id really left her

CoodleMoodle Sat 12-Dec-15 10:10:40

Completely agree with PP. CIO is horrible but CC is much gentler. Nobody enjoys it but it works and improves your quality of life so much.

We did 1min, 2, 3 etc, all the way to 10mins, with a plan to then repeat 10mins until DD was asleep. Don't think we ever got that far. It doesn't really matter how long the gaps are, I don't think. Just not too long! And we stayed right outside the door at all times, sometimes in her room but out of sight. The crying isn't nice but it really won't last long, and they DON'T remember it the next day. You have to be consistent and do the same thing if he wakes in the night, though.

DD got the hang of it quickly and we are all so much happier - her especially! A few crappy evenings for a happy, well rested baby is so worth it. We've had to redo the CC a couple of times (when she's had a cold and sleep has gone out the window, or when we stay over at DM's), but in general life is so much better. We did it when she was 14mo and she's 21mo now and we haven't had a bad night in ages (barring aforementioned colds, etc).

Good luck OP! flowers

blushingmare Sat 12-Dec-15 19:19:40

Thanks. Do you think CC is better than a gradual retreat type of method? I'm not good with them crying and was trying to avoid crying really, but as I say, I imagine we will get quite a bit of crying with gradual retreat anyway so maybe I should bite the bullet and try CC.

I hated doing CIO with my DD, but I was heavily pregnant and knowing I'd be having to deal with a newborn in a few weeks - I had to do something. I had tried CC a few times with her and going back in to her just enraged her even more! I guess that's why I haven't considered it with DS. In my defence, she was 23mo, so I felt like she understood what I was doing and was crying because she was mad at me, rather than afraid/abandoned.

blushingmare Sat 12-Dec-15 19:23:47

Another question re CC. When you go back in, do you settle them down and wait for them to be settled and quiet before leaving again? I think DS will take a while to settle down and be quiet (he takes 2-5 minutes to settle down in the night), so it wouldn't be a question of just a quick pop in and leave again.

How many nights of CC did it take for your DC to settle themselves without crying?

YouBastardSockBalls Sat 12-Dec-15 19:31:35

No, just go in, lie them down and shhhhh then goodnight and back out. It's just so they know you're still there.

Took 2 nights smile

CoodleMoodle Sat 12-Dec-15 20:44:50

Well, I think you're supposed to calm them down again before you leave, but sometimes that made DD even more furious, so we literally just shushed and said goodnight again.

Took us about a week for the crying to stop completely. First night was half an hour, second nearly an hour (probably because she knew what was coming), third to fifth was about fifteen minutes then just muttering to herself. By the end of the week we were saying goodnight, she would sing to herself for a few minutes, then sparko.

She takes longer now she's older, but no crying, just chatting to her toys, etc smile

FATEdestiny Sat 12-Dec-15 21:40:39

There needn't be any crying with GW, but it is likely to take longer than 2 weeks.

The idea is that you make a tiny change that causes no distress, inching towards your end point (put down awake with comforter and leave baby to go to sleep alone with no crying).

So if your hand is on his back until he sleeps now, maybe you change to a slow pat so that hand is constantly on-off contact. Stay until asleep (since that's what you do now). Then, for example, part with more hand-off time than hand-on. Or whatever gradual change works for you.

Point is you make a change in the right direction, but only at a pace that causes no distress. This is GW in its true sense. This is the philosophy I was using for DD from birth. She was around 12 months when the point was reached where she could reliably be put down full awake (with dummy and blankey) and go to sleep alone.

So a years worth of tiny, gradual changes with no distress. The chances of achieving this in 2 weeks is pretty slim

blushingmare Sat 12-Dec-15 22:27:08

Ok that's interesting FATE. I don't mind it taking a long time to make the change. But my issue is if in making the change it would take him longer to get to sleep each night. He can already sometimes take 45 mins to an hour to settle down and I just do what I've been doing without changing it as I think that'll get him down the quickest. I really can't do anything that will take any longer as need to get to DD for her bedtime ASAP. It's already difficult with her as it is.

I'm also not sure where to start with that tiny change. I think he'd notice and object to anything. I'll try the patting, although when my hand is on his back, he often grabs it and holds my hand instead of having it on his back so it's hard to get away from that!!

FATEdestiny Sat 12-Dec-15 23:21:47

How about a gentle rub then instead of a pat? If patting causes distress then it would be too much withdrawal and not gradual enough for true GW.

There is a variation on GW ( as explained in the what worked for us thread) that is faster with bigger changes and do invariably does cause distress. It doesn't have to tho, GW isn't meant to cause crying but it also isn't a quick fix. It's a whole parenting ethos really.

If you make a micro change that is at a level your DS is not distressed by, then it should make no significant difference to the time bedtime takes at all. That is the whole point I'm making, you go at a pace that suits the child, not the parent.

But what you don't do (as you have been) is keep things identical. It should be always with a view to where you want to get to and when one change is accepted as normal, that marks the time when you introduce another tiny change. Let that settle and another change, and so on.

The process is made difficult for you primarily due to your DSs age, the younger you start GW the better.

blushingmare Sun 13-Dec-15 07:15:49

Ok thanks FATE I'll give that a go and see if I can sneak in something he doesn't notice. I have tried various things to "back off" at bedtime and even got to the point a while back where I could put him in the cot and just stand by the door. But every time I had a bit of success, after a few nights he'd start crying again and I had to start it all over again. Just didn't feel like I was getting anywhere. But maybe I was trying to do things too quickly - I hadn't realised how slow GR is.

You're right of course, I should have done it sooner. Up until 6mo he would settle himself beautifully, which DD never did. But then we hit teething and he became much more needy and that's how we've fallen into the pattern we're in now. It worked ok up until now, when he's taking so much longer to go down. And I just haven't had the strength or energy to do anything about it, but now it's becoming so difficult I'm a bit more motivated to try!

FATEdestiny Sun 13-Dec-15 13:27:13

Between my DD being 6m and 12m we had various times when I could put her down awake (with her comforter and dummy though) and leave without any distress. But I lost count of the number of times we had to back-track. Be it teething or a growth spurt or poorliness or whatever, I'd be back standing next to her shushing. But each time you take a few steps backwards, the steps back forward again come much quicker next time.

So small set backs don't mean GW isn't working, it just means that GW progress isn't linear (much like sleep progress). Just keep the small changes happening rather than keeping things static and unchanging.

Regarding time taken to go to sleep - I used to find that if DD 'caught' me trying to sneak out of her room before she was ready for me to go, then it resulted in several days of her not settling to sleep easily or quickly. It was as if it was a trust thing. She'd feel anxious that I might leave so wouldn't settle easily. Whereas I learnt that if I never left the room until she was ready (which initially would be once in a deep sleep), then the worry of 'will Mummy leave me on my own' was removed and so she settled to sleep much more quickly, trusting that I would stay with her.

I am not sure if that would be the same for everyone, it is our experience though. DD has rarely taken more than 10-15 minutes to settle to sleep, even now (and almost 15 months) so over an hour seems like a very long time. Are you sure he is tired enough?

blushingmare Sun 13-Dec-15 19:24:32

Yep. Definitely tired enough. He will often only have a 45 minute nap, finishing around 12, so must be tired. Will sometimes sleep for two hours, finishing around 3 and it's just the same, so not over tiredness either. Yesterday he only slept for 10 minutes during the day and still took 45 mins to go down! I think they just get to a stage where it's distracting having mummy in the room. DD was just the same, maybe a bit older though.

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