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Is self settling definitely the holy grail?

(62 Posts)
PenelopeChipShop Wed 26-Oct-16 07:07:20

My DD is 6 months, nearly 7 months. She's breastfed and has never slept through, not that I'd expect that at this age but sleep is currently awful. Waking every 1-2 hours all night, longest stretch of sleep is no longer than 2 or possibly 2.5 hours and that would be the beginning of the night, so early evening.

I bf her to sleep as I can't keep her awake by about 6.30 and have got her older brother (4) to put to bed too. I know I should be teaching her to self settle etc but how to do that with a 4yo there and no adult? DH never back early.

Also how do you know when they can sleep all night without feeding?!

Tumtitum Wed 26-Oct-16 07:11:44

DD is 8 months and can self settle but still doesn't sleep through. It does help, e.g. If she wakes in the night I leave her for 5,10 mins (unless she's really upset crying, normally it's whinging and shouting) and if she's not hungry she usually goes back to sleep. So I'd say it helps but don't expect her to suddenly sleep through (although who knows I'm sure for some babies that happens!). Could you try self settling for naps first? I started just leaving DD to whinge for a few mins at each nap time before going in to settle her. I only have the one but is your 4yo in school/nursery some days so you could work on naps?

Jenijena Wed 26-Oct-16 07:15:53

Same gap here. Baby (v clingy and we had a particularly scream you first four months) is so far from self settling - if I left him 5 minutes he would scream and scream. We used a dummy which helped the screaming in the early months. Following with interest...

newmumwithquestions Wed 26-Oct-16 07:19:16

Start stretching the feeds out. By nearly 7 months they can go all night, but they need to be having enough calories during the day and I wouldn't go cold turkey as that'd be a shock to the system for your DD.

I'm not going to comment on bedtime as Ive always put mine down later, but I know lots of people go for an earlier bedtime so go for what works for you.

So when she wakes after 1-2 hours don't feed her. Ever 2 hours is very frequent for a baby that age. Stretch out the feeds so 1st night don't feed her until at least 2 hours since previous feed, then the next night 2.5 hours, then 3 hours and so on. It does sound like she's feeding to sleep. Does she settle with rocking, or a dummy, etc?

Also don't rush straight in when she goes off - do you wait to see if she self settles?

scaredofthecity Wed 26-Oct-16 07:22:11

Definitely. Try using a comforter of some kind like a teddy ect. With my DS I have to be really strict, otherwise old habits soon come back. No coming into our bed ect.
But he is 20 months and till I got strict was still up 4-5 times most nights shock
We stopped night feeding at about 10 months when he stopped waking at the same time for it.
All the books said to put him down before he fell asleep at the boob but that was so much easier said than done. I think the biggest thing I learned was not to give him boob everytime he woke as then he just became dependant on boob to get to sleep.

FlossieFrog Wed 26-Oct-16 07:31:22

Not sure this helps but... I breastfed my daughter to sleep until she was 27 months. Long before that age it was just feeds before nap and sleep. At age 2 we moved her into a bed with duvet and she started sleeping better. She started to self settle when waking in the night (in fact I think she was before age 2). She doesn't need me in her bedroom to go to sleep (been this way since feeds were dropped). Of course she would happily have one of us in her bedroom! There have been phases when she has needed the comfort of one of us with her to go to sleep, but this has been when other things have been going on e.g. after 3 week holiday with us and then starting pre-school. She is nearly 4 and sleeps fine apart from occasional night terrors, and last night waking up crying "where is my baby" confused.

Some children are good sleepers, some need more help. My daughter was always at the shorter end of the recommended sleep range and dropped her naps early. Incidentally at around 2-3 months she did meet the definition of sleeping through but that was sadly short lived.

remem Wed 26-Oct-16 07:31:41

Ds3 is almost 6 months old and we've encouraged self settling from when he was very small. With 2 other kids who are under 4 to deal with, I think ds3 just picked up how to self settle because we couldn't always get straight to him. I echo the advise of others. Don't always rush straight in. Perhaps start small, doing it during the day if he's okay

remem Wed 26-Oct-16 07:31:58

Posted too soon!

If he's ok okay

remem Wed 26-Oct-16 07:34:54

I'm going to throw my phone out the window!!!

try it during the day and see if he'll self settle when playing or napping. My ds doesn't use a dummy so he just whinges and talks to himself, he wriggles about and moves all over his cot but I can recognise now when he's just getting comfy or when he needs me.

It will pay off massively if you can encourage it now. Ds wakes anywhere between 4 and 7 for a feed.

Sleep deprivation is horrible!! Start small and your dc will soon get the hang of it I hope!

remem Wed 26-Oct-16 07:36:53

Just realised it's your dd not ds! Apologies

PenelopeChipShop Wed 26-Oct-16 07:49:37

Ah some great advice thank you. I think I'm so sleep deprived i've forgotten even the most common sense stuff that I should know! Stretching feeds out sounds a good idea, thank you! Currently I do give her boob nearly every time unless it's literally one hour since a feed, but I think only about 2 a night are proper, long feeds that she really needs.

I've sort of started the Elizabeth pantly technique of slowly reducing feeds night by night by a minute or so but it's so hard to keep track of when you're that knackered and I'' never really sure where I am with it!

I'd also forgotten about the existence of dummies, I think I might get one today and try it! she didn't like them as a newborn but maybe it's worth another try.

You're also right about naps I think Tumtitum, I reckon part of the problem is that she's overtired at bedtime as has been up too long but sometimes school runs mess up jet naps and then she doesn't go back to sleep... how does anyone get a second child to be a good sleeper?! Mind you even my pfb wasn't, I spent so much time o these boards 3/4 years ago!!

FATEdestiny Wed 26-Oct-16 09:31:09

I found school runs helped with baby's sleep. Needing to be out the house at 8.30 and 3.15 every day means that i had to establish babys sleeps into a routine to fit in.

Is baby still on short frequent naps or have you moved to a 3 longer naps a day?

For short frequent naps I used to have a 2h -2 1/2h repeated pattern through the day.

■ Wake - note the time
■ Feed
■ Activity - about 80 mins from waking
■ Sleep - resettle if wakes before 40 mins

With this kind of thing you can work backwards from your school run to fit the nap in at the right time.

Once naps lengthened naturally, I started routining the timings to fit in with the school run.

■ 9.00am nap (as soon as we get him from school run) for 90-120m usually.
■ 1.00pm nap - again usually 90-120m. Timed so I could wake baby at 3pm for school run.
■ 4.30/5pm powernap - I would wake after 39 mins so it wasn't too long to affect bedtime.

HughLauriesStubble Wed 26-Oct-16 09:38:38

We started self settling at around 5 months and though it was tough in the beginning, it was definitely worth it. Although having said that, dd never fed to sleep so that helped too. We found a little comforter blanket helped hugely, as did one of those music mobiles that project a picture on the ceiling (our one is motion sensored so comes on again when baby starts stirring).

However, I gave a midnight feed up until dd weaned at 18 months. I found she started sleeping though at around 8 months but then at 12 months, suddenly wanted to pick up the night feed again. I went along with it cos I was awake anyway, plus it guaranteed some extra time in bed in the morning.

newmumwithquestions Wed 26-Oct-16 09:58:43

how does anyone get a second child to be a good sleeper?!
I think it's luck of the draw. My second is a good sleeper, it's nothing I've done. My first wasn't. When I looked at my peacefully sleeping newborn 2nd I wanted to run around pointing to her saying 'see, see, it wasn't me, pfb was difficult!'
Also my 2nd has always been left to cry (not for long, I'm talking 5 mins whilst nappy changing pfb, etc) so I think they taught them self to self-settle quite quickly.

Timetogrowup2016 Wed 26-Oct-16 10:06:01

Dd can self settle at bedtime some nights and some night wakings but other wakings at night she still needs her dummy put back ....
It's not the holy grail everyone talks about.
I was fed the rubbish that if they self settle they can put them selves back to sleep.

PenelopeChipShop Wed 26-Oct-16 19:15:34

See some of the things you're saying I really thought would be the case - yep I've had to leave her to whinge while wiping older one's bum/grabbing him from top of stairs but have never found this has made her go to sleep!

And I also thought the routine of school would help but in practise (at the mo anyway) I often find she falls on the way to school (we have to drive about 10/15 mins including finding parking!) then wakes when the car stops or I get her out. She's happy enough but won't go back to sleep on the way home, so is awake but whingey and overtired for say an hour. Has a sleep 'too soon' (ie mid-morning rather than over lunch) and it's too short and she won't re settle. Then falls asleep on the pick up and does same thing - 10 mins sleep that disrupts rest of the afternoon, conks out at half six from exhaustion.

Whereas ideally she's stay awake for school, have a short nap on coming home at 9ish, be awake for a nice baby group mid morning, then sleep over lunch and be up for the pickup at half two. But I can't seem to make it happen!!

PenelopeChipShop Wed 26-Oct-16 19:18:41

Also the weird thing is she actually did 'self settle' for naps when tiny - up to about 3 or 4 months I think, she'd rub her eyes and I could just put her down! (Genuinely didn't think this wa possible after her brother.) but she just stopped pretty much overnight and needed to be fed to sleep. Has been like it ever since!

Tumtitum Wed 26-Oct-16 19:27:23

Babies are just baffling.... DD took over an hour to settle for her afternoon nap (and didn't, I had to rock her!) but fell asleep with no crying, just babbling to herself for ten mins this evening. No rhyme nor reason!!

somefarawaydream Wed 26-Oct-16 19:33:50

Try not to place to much emphasis on 'self settling'- in my experience it definitely is not the holy grail.

DS settles himself to sleep for bedtime, naptimes and night wakings. Does not get rocked or held. No dummy. Never cries to do this. He has only slept through a handful of times and still wakes often. I think lots of advice places emphasis on them settling to sleep alone means they will sleep through but for me it doesn't. I think he just needs to know I'm there still.

You're doing great flowers

Trinpy Wed 26-Oct-16 21:11:08

I have exactly the same problem with my 7 month old. He used to self settle too then he suddenly changed and nothing else will get him to sleep! Very hard with an older dc in the house too because you can't really leave them for too long or they wake up their sibling.

My plan is to work on leaving him to self settle at naps and slowly stretch out times between nighttime feeds if poss. I'm moving him from his cot sleeper crib to a cot soon too and I'm hoping the change in sleeping space will help. I'm getting a really comfortable mattress for it, mobile, etc. Hoping if he feels comfortable and happy and in his bed he will sleep better in it (he's currently in our bed every night which I think makes him wake up even more).

I have reread the No Cry Sleep Solution but I've never found it particularly helpful. A lot of it seems common sense tbh.

Lireal Wed 26-Oct-16 22:38:09

My 6.5mo ds2 is very similar. Just got through a month of colds between him and pfb. He used to wake every 3hr for a feed, now he's waking every 1hr with upset tummy. I think the introduction of solid food is unsettling him.
He also is trying to crawl. Possible teething. Growth spurt. Seperation anxiety. It's all crazy at this time.
He does have a dummy, but wakes when it falls out.
Non sleeping ds1 started sleeping through at 18mo. Trial and error with his diet. He gets indigestion from certain foods. I think ds2 is the same.

PenelopeChipShop Thu 27-Oct-16 06:58:58

Somefarawaydream, thanks for your reply, and sorry to hear you have sleep problems too. I've definitely been lead to believe that this is basically my fault for feeding to sleep so it's kind of reassuring to hear that actually she might wake anyway!

Trinpy and Lireal, sounds like we're all in the same boat! My plan is v similar, start with self settling for naps when my older one is at school so I can focus on it, and 'space out' night feeds. Based on last night, once again only the dream feed one and the 3am one weee really decent feeds and she's waking every 2 hours just to latch on and snuggle! Lovely in a way but I'm nearly st breaking point!

Do you get much help from your OHs if you have them?

Cinnamon2013 Thu 27-Oct-16 07:08:21


Tumtitum Thu 27-Oct-16 07:35:37

OP a friend of mine fed her baby to sleep every night and he slept through until 5. She eventually stopped and did some controlled crying to stop the early waking but he seemed a very good sleeper to me so don't feel bad for feeding to sleep! I only stopped feeding DD to sleep because it stopped working!!

Neverpeelmushrooms Thu 27-Oct-16 07:48:59

Self settling is definitely not the holy grail.

Dd1 self settled bedtime and naps from under 6 weeks. Still woke in the night a lot and needed me to settle her then. Slept through night aged 2.

Ds never self settled. Ever. Slept through night aged 2.

Dd2 has self settled at bedtime and sometimes naps since 6 weeks. Wakes continuously through the night (similar to op) and needs me to feed/cuddle her back to sleep every time.

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