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Sleep training with stairgate?

(13 Posts)
MaximumVolume Wed 14-Sep-16 21:58:18

Right, I'm serious that we need to massively overhaul our sleep situation soon. DH & I are literally getting ill from it & DS1 is really struggling with his behaviour because of not getting sufficient sleep.

So, background: DS1 is 4 & has been a patchy, but not terrible sleeper since 6 months old, having slept midnight-7am from 6 weeks until 6 months. He's had phases of waking up a lot. Every illness, holiday, clock change, weather change, new school etc ends up in a regression.

Since DS2 was born 18 months ago, DH has been the primary responder to DS1 & has created a bit of a Co-sleeping habit. DS1 basically climbs in with us when he wants & it really interrupts our sleep. We keep putting him back but he comes back in. He's also a really early riser. From 5.30 onwards seems to be normal for him. Anything after 6.30 is unusual, 7 days/ week.

DS2 is 18 months and a pretty good sleeper except when ill or teething, but bedtime is a pain. His ideal is to breastfeed to sleep (I'd like to stop, really) & if he doesn't get that then cries in his cot a lot, no matter how much comfort you give him. Doesn't cry for long then settles himself.

But the boys share a room, so if DS2 wakes we can't let him cry for the 5 mins he needs to to get to sleep. Also, I suspect the only thing stopping him getting out of his cot is his sleeping bag, so once he works out zips he'll need to move to a bed.

Recently with new school we've been having such a shot time in the evening. Go up at 6.30 for baths, then I bf baby & DH tries to get DS1 to sleep. It's usually not so bad, but he needs constant supervision or he runs around. Normally sleeps within 10 mins of lights out so wasn't a major problem. Since school started, it's been bloody hours, really not exaggerating! Yesterday he went to sleep at about 8.40.

Today has been more shot than most as DH is away so I was doing both bits. Finally got downstairs at 9.05 & feel like I'm shaking. Had to move the cot into our room so that they didn't set each other off. I feel like they both have sleep niggles that need ironing out so that they can share again peacefully!

So I'm seriously thinking of getting a tall stairgate for the door of their room. DS1 climbs standard ones, but you can get ones which are 107cm which is pretty much his height, so I don't think he'd be able to. My intention is to keep the baby in our room until DS1 is properly sleeping through.

I don't intend to completely ignore DS1 if he wakes, but put a stop to the sneaking in.

Any thoughts/ suggestions?

FATEdestiny Wed 14-Sep-16 23:52:41

It's a behaviour issue with DS1. He needs firm consistency.

DS2 is a feeding to sleep issue. He needs to find alternate comfort to go to sleep quietly and calmly.

With DS1, wait until DH is home and tackle it. doesn't need a tall staircase, just strict rules. Develop a mantra that you repeat endlessly. Say It every bedtime when you tuck him him. "It is bedtime. At bedtime we lie quietly in bed. Nan night" and leave

Every time he gets out of bed, immediately put him back and repeat: "You are out of bed. It is bedtime. At bedtime we lie quietly in bed. Nan night"

Every time he sits up in bed: "You are not lyibg down. It is bedtime. At bedtime we lie quietly in bed. Nan night" and leave.

Everyone he's noisey: "You need to lie quietly. It is bedtime. At bedtime we lie quietly in bed. Nan night"

Every wake up. Every movement out of bed. Every noise. Every. Single. Time. Not only every time, but immediately aswel. It may be repetitive, especially at first. Maybe you'll spend the first night repeating it 29 zillion times. But the consistency is what will work.

With DS1, is suggest a gradual withdrawal. It wont be quick so having the cot in your room for a few months is a good idea.

You are currently bf to sleep, so aim to unlatch sooner until you are just cuddling to sleep. Maybe introduce a comforter for snuggles. In time move the cuddles and conforer into the cot, so you still shush, pat, cuddle, reassure but it happens in the cot. Then slowly reduce the level of reassurance needed.

MaximumVolume Thu 15-Sep-16 10:01:29

Thanks FATE we will have to be firmer with DS1, but as he sneaks in we've let it get out of control. It's hard to be disciplined when you're knackered from months (years) of night waking, but it's good to know that it won't take long once we commit to doing it!

DS2 often doesn't bf to sleep. I work and sometimes I'm at meetings over bedtime (or away overnight) and he'll go to sleep for DH without me being there.

The problem is that if he's not feeding but he's tired, he doesn't much like cuddling and gets really cross (this is perhaps because it's so hot at the moment, and he's a sweaty little thing!), so we end up with him in his cot, where he goes to sleep after 5-10 minutes, but makes a racket in the process, which often wakes DS1.

We've been putting DS2 to bed first to avoid this, but he still naps during the day and isn't as tired as DS1 who has just started school and is drooping by 5.30 so really needs to go to bed first.

Artandco Thu 15-Sep-16 10:10:03

I would make bedtime later also. Instead of spending 6.30-8.40pm every night struggling with bedtime, I would just shorten the whole thing. Bath at 7.30pm, 8pm read him a book, and then let him look at books himself until 8.30pm. The extra 10-15 mins looking at books alone goes if he doesn't settle straight away after.

Still asleep around 8.40, but it's not taken 2 hrs of struggles

18 month old, no more feeding related to bedtime. Give last breastfeed in living room before bath and bedtime so it's completely unrelated. No feeding to sleep

MaximumVolume Thu 15-Sep-16 10:21:48

Thanks Art do you really think that the later bedtime will help? He seems to be hyper but tired from a day at school and I'd worry that he's not getting enough rest.

It is literally only since last Monday (first day of school) that it's been taking so long to get to sleep. Before that, he needed us to stay with him otherwise he would jump around and be silly, but being shattered, once he was in bed he would be asleep within 5 minutes most nights.

Staying with him until he's asleep has (I assume) caused his need to be comforted to sleep overnight and the bed invasions, but until 10 days ago that was the only problem, the evenings were no bother, so I'm loathe to lose 90 minutes of precious sleep for him.

As I said in my OP his behaviour has been really very poor as the late evenings have begun to take their toll (I know starting school will be affecting this as well). In fact, I'm not sure we can cope with him being up and tantrumming.

At least when he's in bed he's quiet and calm until he goes to sleep (he's happy enough to be in bed, but if he doesn't have a parent with him he gets up and walks around the house until he finds one of us).

Artandco Thu 15-Sep-16 10:26:37

Well I think later bedtime will help reduce the faffing around and not settling so quick as he will be really tired so less likely to play around for hours.

But what I suggest is making bedtime late whilst you sort the actual going to sleep etc, then once bedtime has sped up you can gradually bring it forward 15 mins every few days until it's eventually at a time you prefer.
So aim for 8.30 lights out with 9pm asleep, then after a week or so if he is settling quicker then move to 8.15 lights out, 8.45 asleep , then 8pm lights out etc until hopefully he doesn't something like lights out at 8pm, asleep 5-10 mins later

Artandco Thu 15-Sep-16 10:28:41

Can you also talk to him about how it's important to sleep now he is at school, and maybe you or Dh say you will go and see him every 5 mins. So if he comes out, return him and say ' mummy just needs to do x, I will be back in 5 mins', repeat

MaximumVolume Thu 15-Sep-16 10:29:10

Hmm. I see the logic in what you say. Definitely worth a go. Thanks.

MaximumVolume Thu 15-Sep-16 10:38:04

The talking-to thing might help my well-rested 4-year-old, but the shattered version is more like a feral animal and we are struggling with any kind of disclipline/reasoning because he's not rational & just descends with tiredness into a self-destructive ball of bad behaviour. He argues with any admonishment, however gentle or firm. He literally laughs in my face on occasions where he manages to make me angry.

It makes me so sad because he's such a sweetheart when he's rested and fed. We've worked really hard at modelling & praising good behaviour and it works to a huge extent, but then he gets tired and we've got nothing. Most sanctions in our power he doesn't care about, and the few that he would care about (Lego removal) are totally off-topic and provoke an argument (mainly him screaming irrational stuff like "no, I'll take your Lego away, Mummy") which makes the problem worse and not better.

Having said that, he usually does behave himself at bedtime if we stay with him. He lies quietly in the dark, but since new school it's like his mind is too busy to sleep just yet.

MaximumVolume Thu 15-Sep-16 10:41:56

I like the idea of him looking at books on his own. That's a really good way of calming down. Also, we've been listening to audiobooks in the car. Perhaps I could start a gradual bedtime by bringing them upstairs and getting them to play quietly whilst we listen to an audiobook whilst the adult(s) are pottering around doing jobs (we're getting so far behind on household stuff at the moment as we'd usually do it after they're in bed).

MaximumVolume Mon 26-Sep-16 21:21:41

Hi all, just in case you are wondering what happened, here's an update:

The same day as my last post, DS2 got a vomiting virus which lasted a couple of hours but left him exhausted. He went off to sleep at bedtime like a dream. DS1 got the virus the next afternoon & over bedtime.

DH was managing this as I was at a conference. DS2 went to bed nicely as night before. DS1 feel asleep at 9pm & slept in until 7am next morning. Next night everyone tired (DH & I had the strange 4 hour bug over Friday night & Saturday morning, too) so everyone went to bed at 7pm. DS1 asleep in 2 minutes.

And that has been how it's gone for the past 10 days. Both boys in bed & asleep by 7.30! I'm so happy, but more importantly, DS1 seems so much happier now that he's well-rested. His behaviour is so much better & he's a real joy to be with.

InsaneDame Mon 26-Sep-16 22:25:03

Glad things have improved for you. My DS2 used to wake in the night 3 - 5 tines until he got flu at 22 months. He was so tired out by it he started sleeping through every night after!

MaximumVolume Mon 26-Sep-16 22:55:00

Thanks Insane

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