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controlled crying - advice on whether to try again

(14 Posts)
blushingmare Mon 04-Jan-16 18:44:20

Think I might have messed up
With cc with my 20mo DS and need some advice on whether to try again.

I was previously sitting with him to get to sleep at bedtime, which was taking around 45 mins and then he was waking once or twice at night. Did a version of cc about a month ago that involved going in after 1 minute, then 2, then 3 and so on. First night he settled halfway through the 7 minute pause. Second night he settled after 1 minute. After that we had a blissful week of him settling himself down to sleep every bedtime after a few seconds whinging and amazingly he also started sleeping through! Was v happy!!

However, then he got a nasty cold and couldn't settle and was waking up at night again. And because he was sick obviously I sat with him for comfort etc. I then tried again with the cc after about a week, when I thought he was better, but on reflection it must have been too early because it was really hard and he didn't settle well at all and lots of crying.

Now I don't know what to do. I'm back to sitting with him at bedtime and he's anticipating me leaving because he starts crying as soon as I start his bedtime routine, which he'd never done before. It's taking ages to get him to sleep and he's now waking multiple times at night and the only way I can get any sleep is by sleeping in his room with him.

I think I really messed up by trying the cc again when he wasn't feeling 100% sad. Now I don't know whether to try again as he already seems anxious about it even though I know he's well now. Any advice?

FATEdestiny Mon 04-Jan-16 19:22:35

Does your son have something that has replaced the comfort he was getting from your presence? Like a sleep trigger - some people use a sleep-only dummy or a blankie or teddy he is strongly attached to. I'm thinking that if you are hoping he will get to sleep with no comfort, that could be the problem.

He needs something to offer a feeling of comfort and security at bedtime. Previously that has been your presence. What's he got instead? A friend of mine bought new pillow cases and gave her son the pillowcase off her bed as his special 'snuggle thing' when she decided to start leaving him.

He is old enough now to understand what it feels like to be scared and anxious. He might not be able to verbalise it, but he can feel it. He's crying because he is anticipating what is going to come (he'll be left on his own and that scares him).

Your task, by whatever means works for you, is to teach him that being on his own to go to sleep is not scary. It is just normal and fine. At the moment he doesn't know that, so it frightens it.

So you might decide just to bite the bullet and leave him to cry. In the end he will go through the being scared and eventually get t acceptance and realise that there is in fact nothing to be scared of going to sleep alone, that it is just normal. This is the childhood equivalent of facing your fears head-on.

Alternatively you could gently teach him by slowly and gradually withdrawing. This doesn't mean sneaking out of his room. It means staying until he is fast asleep and giving as much reassurance as he needs until he is fast asleep. But gradually over time you aim to offer less and less reassurance and move yourself slightly further away over time. The key to this working is trust.

he has to trust you will stay and keep him comforted and secure until he is asleep. If he doesn't trust you will, he'll get anxious and try to stay awake. When he trusts you'll stay, instead of sitting next to the cot try sitting a little away from the cot. But stay until asleep. Then further away but stay and keep reassuring until asleep. Then my the door, then outside of the door and so on.

blushingmare Mon 04-Jan-16 22:07:34

What you describe there FATE, is the lovely and peaceful ideal, but harder to achieve in practice! I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to "gradually retreat", but DS notices the slightest change, meaning we still have crying and the already drawn-out bedtime takes four times as long.

Don't get me wrong - I'd far prefer the gentle approach and have come to CC very reluctantly. I fed him at night and coslept until well over a year - I loved that time, but we can't go back there now sad He does need to learn its ok to fall asleep on his own, but I just feel so conflicted between not wanting the heartbreaking tears and needing him to self settle!

I don't mind a bit of crying, but I feel like he's a bit damaged from CC the last time and don't know if I should go there again. I just don't know what to do because so need to sleep at night and to make bedtimes easier, but also need to keep him feeling safe and secure.

FATEdestiny Mon 04-Jan-16 22:37:44

but DS notices the slightest change, meaning we still have crying and the already drawn-out bedtime takes four times as long.

Too much withdrawal and not enough gradual. If whatever change made causes distress, then it is a change too much. The idea of GW is that it is gradual enough to cause no distress. It would take a long, long time though.

Search for a thread called 'what worked for us' - the opening post describes a speeded up version of GW. It does involve crying but it involves you staying and being reassuring throughout, rather than leaving the child alone.

blushingmare Tue 05-Jan-16 09:10:30

Yes I'm sure you're right FATE. Have already been through that thread - none of it is ideal for us. I think I just don't have the luxury of being able to sit with him with our bedtime as it currently is. So I either need to be putting him down later so I can do my DD first and then can sit with him and persist with the tedious and largely unsuccessful gradual withdrawal. That's not ideal because he's already well tired at bedtime as it is (poor napper) and it means I have no evening to do stuff; also means I don't think we address the night wakings . Or we go through the trauma of CC - but as my OP says - I just worry that it's become harmful in itself, so I don't feel as confident with it as I did.

I know there's no ideal solution and thanks for your ideas. I think I'm looking for the magic wand that doesn't exist!!

timelytess Tue 05-Jan-16 09:14:18

The child in me remembers being put in a bedroom, alone, night after night, and instructed to sleep. And no-one giving a damn whether I was scared, lonely, or being forced to act against my nature and instinct, which told me to stay near my parents after dark. The concept of 'controlled crying' is horrific to me - controlled suffering for a child? Why? What on earth could possibly be worth that?

FATEdestiny Tue 05-Jan-16 12:15:23

You last post reads as defensive blushingmare and I didn't mean to make you feel defensive about your decision.

20 months old is really late to be doing sleep training anyway, so whatever you choose to do is likely to be horrendous. You'll either have a load of hysteria (with CC or CIO) or you'll have a load of waiting needed for the gentle methods.

Maybe just the quicker crying methods are your last resort? At no point have I been rude about you using the Controlled Crying method. However, as with my first post - if you are doing this it would be worth establishing something as your child's comfort - as opposed to leaving him with no comfort whatsoever (not a prerequisite of CC - often where CC goes wrong).

That way, when he is poorly or grumpy he has a means to feel comfy and secure with his snuggle thing rather than having to revert to needing Mummy again to provide comfort.

Establishing a comforter is not just a case of giving baby a teddy/blanket/pillow/toy and saying "here, snuggle into this". It takes a bit of imagination. Introduce it as a new, never seen before toy. Give it a special back story - like this used to be mine when I was a little girl and it kept me really safe. Or use something that is yours (PJ top, pillow case) and smells of you and say you have been saving this because it is what keeps you safe and comfy at night but now it's time for LO to have the security.

Loads of gushing about how am-maz-ing this comforter is. How it has special sleep powers. The child needs to buy into the idea that this snuggle thing is very, very special and extremely precious. Not just a toy. Hold it (somewhere special) for sleep time only. So that it is extra special to make sleep times nice and not scary.

I am not suggesting a bedtime comforter will be the magic wand you seek. But hopefully you wont see the time you might need to invest in establishing it as tedious either.

blushingmare Tue 05-Jan-16 19:56:08

I'm sorry if I sounded defensive FATE - I genuinely don't mean to be and I know you haven't been rude about what I've written. I am just so tired - between the two of them, my DC have me up for several hours every night, our bedtime routine is a stressful nightmare with DS not going to sleep and DD getting fed up with being left on her own to wait for me to come and do her bedtime, and I'm working part time in a new and fairly full on job. Therefore I think when I post I am reflecting my own exasperation and insecurity with CC, rather than being defensive towards you iyswim.

I feel terribly uneasy and unhappy about the CC. I'm a total wuss when it comes to either of them crying and always rush in straight away for cuddles and comfort at the slightest thing. I just hate for them to be upset and especially without me there is a horrible thing. I have always been there for DS in him sleep and loved the closeness and cosleeping and I feel awful for abandoning him now to do CC (just to clarify - haven't gone straight from cosleeping to CC though!!) So I don't feel like CC is something I particularly want to do, but it's hard to see another way. Gradual withdrawal will take months and what do I do about DD's bedtime in that time?

Maybe something worth trying is looking again at what DD can do whilst waiting for me to put DS to bed. I guess she would be happy sat in front of the TV.... That's not something I particularly wanted to introduce at bedtime, but maybe it's the lesser of the evils compared to CC for DS. And looking for a lovely snuggle toy - thank you for that advice.

Thank you for your advice. I know all these things are stages, but just finding it hard to manage this one!

blushingmare Tue 05-Jan-16 21:15:52

Timely I don't know what to say to your post other than that I'm
sorry you had a hard childhood that clearly had other things going on to make you feel so abandoned by your parents. I hate cc, but I don't think my DS could ever feel abandoned or that I don't care about him when I'm going in at regular intervals, giving him a cuddle, a kiss, telling him I love him and that I'm just next door.

Why do it? Well that's just the point of my post. I don't particularly want to do it, but I feel like I'm running out of alternatives. I mean, he has to go to sleep somehow and other ways are not working.

What would your alternative be? Given that, in the evening I also have to get my DD to bed, make dinner, sort out the house, get everyone's stuff ready for the next day, do some (paid) work and get myself into bed in order to get at least an hour's sleep in before one of the DC wakes up again. As I've said, I'm not keen on the CC, so if you have a better solution I'd love to hear it!

caravanista Tue 05-Jan-16 21:20:44

You reap what you sow OP. CC is cruel and abusive - no wonder your DS is now anxious about you leaving.

FATEdestiny Tue 05-Jan-16 21:27:02

Its very clear to anyone reading this that you are uneasy about CC and feel guilt associated with doing it.

I think rather than procrastinating you need to 'own' the problem. It'll be better for your guilt afterwards. Don't create excuses why you have to do controlled crying because ultimately you will be able to use these excuses as a stick to beat yourself with after the event (I could have tried harder with gentle methods. I could have co-slept and waited it out).

We all know that you don't have to do CC, so the excuses will just make you feel bad because they all have a logical counter-argument (that you will beat yourself up about and then feel horribly guilty)

It is perfectly OK to just say "I am going to do CC because I need this to work right now". Don't create excuses that you know you can counter. Don't blame (yourself or anyone else). Don't seek justification. Its no ones fault you have reached this point. You just are at this point.

"Own" the fact that sleep is a problem and you are going to solve it with CC. Just decide that this is what you are going to do. In my very honest opinion if you reach that point I actually believe CIO is easier for everyone (including the child) and faster than CC.

Trust in your parenting. Parenting sometimes involves hard decisions. As a parent we all try to do our best. In doing CC, are you doing it with your child's best interests at heart? Are you trying to be a good parent? If yes, then stuff all the rest - you have justified it to yourself and do not need to explain to anyone else (except maybe your DH so that you both agree).

It is quite reasonable to say - Sleep is important. I am being a good parent and teaching my child to get better quality sleep. I am doing this to be the best parent I can for both my children. None of the rest matters after that.

Make peace with your decision and you are likely to feel less guilt about doing it.

Ilovecrumpets Tue 12-Jan-16 14:13:15

I know this post is from a little while ago but I just wanted to say OP that I know exactly how you feel and am in a similar situation albeit with my younger DC who is one and cc ( I also have an older DC who I don't want to have to leave for a long time at bed time). I hope you came to a decision re cc that worked for you.

FATE - thank you for your last post, although not for me it has really helped me so much in owning the difficult decision re cc I am trying to make!

blushingmare Tue 12-Jan-16 20:39:22

Yes thank you FATE - you really know what you're talking about! And crumpets - we haven't reached a resolution! Am still sitting in with him at bedtime and sleeping in his room for half the night. Not ideal, but can't find another acceptable solution for now. And older has been ill and tired so happy to go down to bed before I do DS' bedtime, so the need for a change has lessened a bit for now.

That said, he's just woken up half way through the evening, I'm sitting with him now and absolutely starving hungry as haven't had dinner yet, so maybe the need for change has increased right now!

Ilovecrumpets Wed 13-Jan-16 02:32:16

Oh no blushing! I've decided to tackle mine tonight and bite the cc bullet as my eldest is now waking up all night as he is jealous of the little DC being in my bed. I still wish there was another way. Good luck with whatever you choose to do.

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