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too late to improve sleep?

(5 Posts)
earthtodad Wed 20-Jan-16 14:38:24


I am the dad of a beautiful, energetic, bright, loud, determined, hilarious little 16-month-old boy who is the life and soul everywhere he goes by day, but come evening, he is a different child. He inexplicably slept through the night in his cot on three successive nights when he was 11 months, but those are the only times he has done so. He rarely puts 2 sleep cycles together (sleeps in 30-60 min stretches in the evening) and has always cried as if terrified when he wakes up, making him very difficult to settle. He sleeps in our bed as, after 6 months of trying the cot, he eventually climbed out (which required him to get his leg to head-height) and fell onto the floor, a distressing experience for us all. He has never been able to drift off to sleep on his own, and every attempt to let him do so (many, many times since 3 months) has always ended in hysterical screaming, sometimes with vomiting. He has always hated the car seat (screamed his way out of the hospital at 1 day old), buggy, moses basket, highchair and cot. He LOVES breastfeeding (his face is a picture of ecstasy when he feeds!) and it's very difficult to get him to eat solid food (trying since 6 months), though his appetite is improving very slowly. We have had the same bath-low lights-stories-feed-lie down bedtime routine since birth. He has either one 2-hour lunchtime nap or sometimes a 30-min morning nap plus a 90-min lunchtime one. When awake, he NEVER stops moving and investigating things. He crawled at 8 months and walked at 11 months. He seems to find it extremely hard to switch off at the end of the day, and the idea of bed/sleep seems to really worry/scare him. Ideally he would like his mummy with him all evening, but obviously we would like some time off together. I have a great relationship with him, but he seems to see me as the one for fun and my wife as the one for comfort. It's sad to watch him getting so distressed at bedtime, and we don't want it to become traumatic for him. We're not into CIO, but we don't mind a bit of crying if it will help him settle, though we've yet to see any evidence that it will (always escalates). Any attempt to put him to bed without the boob results in screaming that can go on for a LONG time (longest we have had is 50 minutes, but I stayed with him then). My wife has started to stop the feed then lie down with him and stroke him to sleep, which works better than it used to. The next step is for me to settle him every night for a week when he wakes up in the evenings. Sorry for rambling, I think I just want to know if anyone might have any ideas we've missed, or experience to share. Thanks for reading!

Iwonderif Wed 20-Jan-16 14:51:32

Hi, I didn't want to read & run.

I can sympathise on SO many levels here apart from the relying on still feeding from mama. What I will say is that I'm sure you'll get some sound advice on here.

My daughter who is now 8 slept really well from a tiny baby. My son however who is now 5 was the total opposite. It was s huge shock! He sleeps amazingly well now I must add and did as soon as he started a playgroup when he was just over 2. My son sounds very much like your son. He too was incredibly active from a tender age and into everything. He still now is constantly on the go and is only quiet when asleep.

My HV advised me when our son was much younger was to keep retrying things that you maybe started doing but then gave up because it wasn't working...if that makes sense? So leave it for about 5 days then retry again. I found leaving our son to cry highly distressing so did my DH so we just couldn't do that. My son also sees me as a comfort and his daddy as playtime. My son hated bedtime too as he knew it was time away from me so it was lots of stories in dimly lit bedroom. Milky drink. Quiet but not overly quiet. So many of us on here will fully understand the situation you're in. You know it will get better I wish I could tell you when!

I hope it does soon so you and your DP can have some quality time together.

Sorry I'm not much help.

earthtodad Wed 20-Jan-16 15:06:58

Iwonderif - thanks very much for replying, it's nice to hear someone else has experienced a similar situation. We'll have a think about retrying some of the things we've tried previously. We did try me settling him after evening wake-ups around 1 year in the hope that he'd get the message there was no milk after bedtime (and therefore wake up less often), but after a month there was no change. Maybe it's time to try that again. It's the frequent wakings that are the toughest issue. Thanks again!

jessplussomeonenew Wed 20-Jan-16 20:53:06

Sounds remarkably familiar to our DS who's about 17 months. Would a floor bed in a babysafe room be more relaxing for him when you need to put him to bed before you? It's something I'd like to try as I've heard some babies really hate the feeling of being enclosed. We've basically decided to go with sleeping in shifts and waiting it out for now, as trying to change things even very gently was stressful for him and us and we also didn't want to make bedtime an unpleasant experience. The Pantley pull off (in the no-cry sleep solution) might be worth a try, and Sarah Ockwell smith has some great tips on night weaning if you want to go down that route.

earthtodad Wed 20-Jan-16 21:11:20

jessplussomeonenew, my wife mentioned a floor bed recently, I think it's something we'll look into as there is definitely a bit of an issue with being enclosed - he was always anxious about the cot from day one. Like you we're more on the wait it out side of things, but giving the odd gentle nudge here and there and trying not to let bedtime become an unhappy experience for him. We'll have a look at the No Cry Sleep Solution and see what Sarah OS has to say as well. He's actually been asleep for 1 hr 40 so far this evening so that's pretty good round these parts! Thanks a lot for your suggestions and good luck to you!

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