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Attempting the Ferber method

(19 Posts)
sophiaslullaby Fri 29-Apr-16 13:55:43

Firstly I don't want to start a what's right or wrong debate as know the CIO method is controversial - I've made my decision from lots of thinking, reading and now, detrimental sleep deprivation all round!
My DS is 6months, sleeps in cot in own room. Goes to bed at 6.30pm, falls asleep from awake well and likewise is awake when I put him down for naps so I KNOW he can put himself to sleep.
At night however he's waking 4-5 times and I'm going in picking him up and feeding, feeding lasts for 5mins before he's asleep... He's EBF. I have started to wean but today am so exhausted I can't be bothered and it's this 'can't be bothered' attitude that's now scaring me so....something needs to change.

Need to know from someone who's done the Ferber method (check LO at timed intervals) - when you check your child and settle for the 1min then walk out, what happens? And what do you do?
I've loosely tried it once and my DS screamed blue murder in anger as I walked out the room! Guess i just need to know what to expect because if my resolve fails then I won't see it through.

I have tried the whole sitting by DS, rubbing tummy as he cries and to me that's worse because he can see me and wonder why I'm not picking him up, his cries have got more intense and I've ended up picking him up.

Luckystar1 Fri 29-Apr-16 14:04:34

Sorry I will be of zero help to you and I'm not judging, but he is still so tiny, please at least consider a gentler method and see if it works.

Pick up, put down was shite for us, it only pissed him off more. I had great success with womb noise accompanied by shush patting.

Believe me, I know it's not easy, I had to start actively assisting DS to sleep at 3 weeks old. I spent literally days of my life getting him to sleep. But he's now 18 months and (touching every single wooden object in the vicinity) he's a pretty good sleeper.

Good luck with whatever you decide. I lost my rag on more occasions than I'm proud of when it comes to sleep, but I'm very proud of what we've achieved.

Luckystar1 Fri 29-Apr-16 14:05:55

Ps. Patting for me worked best when he was on his side.

Also, it might help to introduce the womb noises at other sleep times to give him an association with them.

sophiaslullaby Fri 29-Apr-16 14:28:21

That's the thing, DS sleeps on his back (in a sleep bag) so to move him onto his side and then pat his back really would peeve him off even more. He used to sleep really well, would go from 7pm to 1pm around 3months, but as time has gone on he's got worse (so know it's not a growth spurt, especially as he doesn't actually FEED) and know boob is a sleep association now.
Music or sounds (we have womb noise on his monitor) actually stimulates him too much so he'll coo/chatter, then wake up properly then really loose his rag! :-) I actually have an easy baby on most accounts, he won't take a dummy, doesn't have a toy in the cot (partly because i'm scared of it harming him - LOL, Peter Rabbit never looked so vicious!!) but does want boob! Should I maybe introduce a soft toy in the cot for company now he's a bit older than teeny-baby stage?

Cathster Fri 29-Apr-16 14:40:19

We have been using the Ferber method for a week now on our 7mo.

Your DS sounds similar to our DD in that she slept well in the newborn period but hit 3 months and went downhill from there, waking sometimes hourly for dummy. Occasionally she would do a longer stretch so we knew she could do it but she was waking and crying confused because we were rocking/feeding her back to sleep.

We have introduced a soft toy and muslin to DDs cot, she does cuddle up to them a bit so not sure if that has helped.

I honestly didn't think the Ferber method would work for us as if I tried to settle DD in her cot she would scream the place down. Yet when we actually implemented it, it's worked like a dream!

First night she cried on and off for 10 minutes, then chatted to herself for 10 minutes, then fell asleep for hours! We were amazed. A week on and she whinges for maybe 5 minutes then goes to sleep of her own accord and generally sleeps through, maybe whinges occasionally in the night but always sends herself back off within a few minutes.. Her naps are already a lot better and she's fallen into a routine which she never had before.

We always struggled a bit with the timed comforting as a lot of the time she was just protesting or chatting, so we never knew whether to go in or not. We have a video monitor which has been so useful in terms of seeing if she's close to falling asleep.

You do need to be really strict about sticking to the method, there have been a few moments of me sitting on my hands but not as much as I expected.

Ultimately do what's right for you. I debated for weeks on whether to use CC and was so worried that it would fail but it has really worked for us and DD is sleeping so much better for it.

sophiaslullaby Fri 29-Apr-16 16:27:40

Cathster THANKYOU - what you said is exactly as I imagined it would be. Even down to the whinge/chatting - so not exactly crying but LO is still unhappy soooo - do you go in or not. Last night DS was doing just this, we have a video monitor so I could see he was going to drop off to sleep (as DH describes it: "his batteries are wearing out") but after 30mins I couldn't take it. But when I start I will 'sit on my hands' and be strict with myself. I also worry about the neighbours but they'e away this weekend so perfect timing.
I'm not expecting him to not make a peep all not - even at naptime he'll whinge or HUM (quite sweet grin) himself to sleep. He can sing Twinkle Twinkle if that's what it takes but just so that he doesn't need boob every darn hour because I'm not functioning so well anymore so, glad to hear a success story.

What did you do at night to keep yourself calm when your DD was crying?

Cathster Fri 29-Apr-16 19:14:49

I think when you get to the point where you're struggling to function and are so sleep deprived it actually makes you that much stronger, as we knew that if we went in and picked her up then we would just be straight back to square one.

We don't go in now if she whinges/chats. We know she's ok and just protesting at having to go to sleep. We did to begin with and she would just get more annoyed as she was actually dropping off and we were disturbing her. We only go in if its proper crying that continues for more than 5 minutes, which has happened maybe 3-4 times in the whole of this week and usually an underlying reason e.g. tummy pain/teething.

DH gets his colouring book out and I just watch the tv or surf Mumsnet, it's easy to focus elsewhere when it's not proper crying and knowing that you're only going in at a certain point. It's when we can see she wants to go to sleep but is struggling to switch off that I struggle!

Also be aware that there can sometimes be a peak at night 3/4 where it seems like things are getting worse. Ferber doesn't mention this but says you should see a significant improvement by day 3. For us day 3 and 4 were worse than days 1 and 2, but we just kept persisting and she's now doing really well (apart from being up for 2 hours at 2am last night thanks to a poo - but she had been asleep from 6:30 before then!)

Massive sympathies, DD was waking mostly for the dummy (formula fed) or needed rocking back to sleep, can't imagine having to have been a human pacifier for her all night! I hope it works for you (and it should as long as you are consistent), good luck.

sophiaslullaby Sat 30-Apr-16 15:12:27

That's great advice, thanks. I'm ok too with the whinge/chattering.
We're battling another issue in that my DS has eczema :-/ but this sleep deprivation isn't helping any of us deal with that issue very well so getting to the point where I'm almost 'looking forward' to sleep training. Like you say, it's all making me strobger/ more determined for this to work.

I'll watch out for the day 3 or 4 blip then. Am weaning too so will keep him on gentle foods for the week i sleep train - DS is a fan of the night poo too..!

sophiaslullaby Fri 13-May-16 10:33:57

Cathster - calling to you as your situation seemed similar to ours - did/are you BF or FF your LO? Delayed the sleep-training as DH is going to do it and waiting for a weekend off. Starting it tonight but working myself up about DS going the whole night without a feed.
He wakes 2 -3 times but only "feeds" for 5-8mins. The 2.30am feed does seem like a feed but he's doubled his birth weight and I'm HAPPY to not feed him at night, just not sure if DS will do it.

Or have I answered my own question? Am I going to take control or continue to let DS do what he wants?! :-) I'm twistedly excited about tonight (we.need.our.sleep - nearly dropped him from exhaustion other day!) but also bit teary about hearing him cry.

Thanks in advance for any help

Skiptonlass Fri 13-May-16 11:55:03

It didn't work for us. Lo is seven months and I think is getting separation anxiety. On being left he screamed (expected) did not cal down when we came back in, just got more and more upset. There was no 'crying for a fewhoursthen falling asleep.' He cried all night.
It was out doctor who suggested it and the useless eejit, when told kiddo had cried all night, said 'no, they fall asleep after max 3 hours.'

Sigh. Anyway, six months is still tiny. Plus it's likely there are teeth on the way plus the separation anxiety thing as well. We may try cc again in a few months but right now it's not worked for us.
What has worked is actually being with him more. He's obviously scared if I leave so we've moved bedtime later (very light nights here in Sweden, it's common to do this) And I go in to him the moment I see him stir on the monitor. I've found that if I can catch him before he wakes, a hand on the tummy works half the time. If I leave until he's really awake and calling for me I have to feed him back down.

Good luck with whatever you do. I'm it opposed to cc but right now it didn't work for us. Hope you get some success, sleep deprivation is brutal!

Zaurak Fri 13-May-16 11:57:38

Oh and maybe don't cut all the night feeds at once - that might make it harder for you as he'll be annoyed and hungry.
I'd take whatever interval he goes in the day and if he wakes before that, no feed. You may have to feed 1-2 times in the night at first then gradually cut it down. If he's been used to feeding at night he may not be taking enough in in the day to compensate.

Jw35 Fri 13-May-16 12:13:03

If you don't respond appropriately to his cries at this age you will just make him anxious which will create more crying which is why the so called experts will say 'it gets worse before it gets better'. In reality the getting better part is just when the baby gives up trying to communicate with you which will effect the bond you spent 6 months creating. It's counter productive. There's so many reasons why he might need you in the night beyond hunger, if he slept well once, he will again! I wouldn't introduce other comforters or attempt to use someone else's method. You can be slower to pick him up if that's what feels right to you but for gods sake chuck any rule book out the window when it comes to your baby. When you feel anxious and stressed later listening to him cry it's because his cries are designed to make you do what you need to to do even when you don't feel like it, please don't ignore that instinct! At 6 months you probably have less than 3-6 months left of the current sleep issues your facing. It will get better on its own!

InsaneDame Fri 13-May-16 13:37:42

I wouldn't say your DS is 'doing what he wants'. By all means many breastfed babies still need a night feed at his age, if not two. I think to stop giving him anything during the night will be very much to his detriment physically and mentally. I can understand how much you want to have better sleep - I've been there and done it twice (still am kinda there some nights!) But unfortunately this is the very hard part of parenting that does and will pass given a little more time. Accepting that will make it easier.

FATEdestiny Fri 13-May-16 13:50:24

Goes to bed at 6.30pm, falls asleep from awake well and likewise is awake when I put him down for naps

^This is key.

Your baby can and consistently does go to sleep without you. So your baby would do this in the night if going to sleep was her only need. Your baby as a need, that's why she's not going straight back to sleep.

Sorry it is inconvenient that she had a need to be met in the night. She is probably in need to calories.

Early weaning (6-9m ish) often is a time when calorific intake is hard to judge so night feeds reappear. The calories baby gains from early solid (veg, fruit) are low calorie but fill up the tummy with their volume. As such babies milk intake actually increases when they start weaning. Fitting in more milk feeds per day, plus 3 'meals' per day can be logistical nightmare! I recall it feeling like going back to the newborn days when baby spends their whole time eating or sleeping!

Parents who use CC or CIO usually have a baby who needs teaching to self settle. Not a baby who has a need to be met (like needing a milk feed).

I assume one of the reasons you like to BF is the bonding and closeness it brings. I think your are likely to better maintain that closeness and bonding by changing to formula milk and meeting every need your baby has, in comparison to continuing breastfeeding, resenting the night feeds and listening to baby scream instead.

Tallulahoola Fri 13-May-16 20:29:00

I am in exactly the same situation. For the past 2 weeks I've been following Ferber's advice to try and space out the night feeds first, then tackle the association by doing cc. But it hasn't worked - he's still waking up every 90 minutes even though I'm trying to be strict about only feeding him every 3 hours.

I'm tempted to throw in the towel and try it again when he's about 9/10 months. I did that with DD (another rubbish sleeper) and felt more confident about it then because by that stage she was eating 3 proper meals a day. I worry that at this stage he really is hungry a bit at night (though obviously not the 5 times he wakes up). And with her it worked exactly like the book said it would.

It's so hard isn't it? I remember with DD almost dropping her because I was so insanely tired I actually forgot I was holding her and just had a feeling that there was something heavy in my arms I needed to get rid of.

BisherBasherBosher Fri 13-May-16 20:49:43

Agree with Fate re formula. I wanted to breastfeed DD but had major supply issues so combination fed for a while. DD definitely got hungry quicker if I gave a bottle of EBM rather than a bottle of formula.

I know breastmilk is better for them, but your baby has had all the goodness of the antibodies etc for six months now. Formula really is fine, especially now baby has the more mature digestive system of a six month old. I think it would be much kinder to see if switching to formula works before doing CC.

TeaTeaTea Sat 14-May-16 09:58:45

All for the Ferber method - have to do it properly and not give in otherwise it won't work. Well - still might NOT work but least you're giving it a better chance. Did it with my DC's and excellent sleepers now. And no, didn't hurt the bond, they're happier, very loving and dare I say it calmer as not so over tired.
Is very tough though. Oh and if your BF get someone else (DH, boyfriend?) to go in and settle LO as you'll be smelling of dinner to your child - and then walking out the room!!
But would agree with giving one feed in the night for little bit longer before dropping it.
Good luck!

Skiptonlass Sat 14-May-16 12:31:02

* recall it feeling like going back to the newborn days when baby spends their whole time eating or sleeping!*

Yes! Gosh yes, absolutely. I was saying to dh the other day that it's like having a newborn again. Absolutely exhausting.

I'm struggling with sleep big time. We've tried so many things and I think come to the conclusion that that's just the way it is right now. I read an interesting article yesterday (in Swedish so I won't bother with the link!) which said similar. You can just try to get good habits, do a few key things if you can but that babies sleeping ability varies massively in the early months.
There's so much going on at this age, they need security above all.

Sleep deprivation is brutal flowers do whatever works for you and chuck the books out the window.

sophiaslullaby Tue 17-May-16 19:29:16

Took all your advices (for both sides), thank you. I went for it with GREAT results. And by this I mean in how DS is during the day - he's sleeping from 7am, will wake at 2am when I'll feed him - as was suggest and i agree with but it is only for 5mins before he's asleep - and then he's waking HAPPY and alert at 5.30/6am.
DS is happier and chattier (for which only his teddies know what he's saying!!) and eating better.

The method itself - we only had crying the first night when DH kept going in (for 20mins). 2nd night DS's crying was the whinging/settling cry. 3rd night same but only 6mins. This suggests to me that DS could sleep through and I was effectively waking him by going in to him at every sound.

Also appreciate that at teething/illness etc. he'll have more wake-ups which I'm happy to give comfort for but at least I know he has this sleeping basis.

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