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Controlled Crying

(36 Posts)
Kinsie Sat 21-Jan-17 23:38:08

I know controlled crying is a controversial issue, but it has been recommended by my health visitor and I am at a point where I feel I need to give it a go.
I am prepared for comments about how cruel it is, and to be honest a few months back I would have agreed. But sleep deprivation is now taking a real toll on my mental health and I need to do something.

DS is 6 months. We successfully did pick up/put down at 4 months to help him transition from our bed to his cot in his own room, but the more gentle methods of sleep training no longer seem to be working.

He was exclusively breastfed until 4.5 months but we have introduced a bottle of formula each day on the advice of a paediatrician after he lost weight. Weight issues are now sorted and we have started weaning.

His sleep has never been great, but seems to be getting worse.
At the moment, we do bath time at 6.15pm, he's dressed by about 6.30pm and then I sit and breast feed him until he's pretty much asleep before putting him down, super drowsy but awake - usually by 7pm. Ideally, he would then have his formula feed at 10.30/11ish, but has taken to waking between 9 and 9.30 screaming and refusing to resettle without being fed so his bottle is getting earlier and earlier. This means I'm then up another 2/3/sometimes 4 times each night to breastfeed him back to sleep when he wakes.

Can someone please talk me through the steps of CC?
I absolutely do not want to leave him to cry it out, and the timings I am finding online seem to vary so much. Some say start with 1, 3, 5 and build up to 10 minute intervals, whereas others say 5, 10, 15, and others suggest build up to leaving for up to 20 or 30 mins (which just seems like CIO to me?)

Also, some say not to pick up but just comfort in cot for 2 mins before leaving, and others say pick up but immediately put back down?

Do I need to switch his bedtime routine round and do feed (bottle?) bath and then bed?

Everything I read seems contradictory, and I don't want to do this unless i am doing it right.

If I am confident that I have got the method correct, then I am prepared to have the balls of steel needed to try it for a week and see what happens.

Kinsie Sat 21-Jan-17 23:59:52

I've just realised how long that post was!

(I'm in bed, but can't sleep because I'm on edge waiting for the next wake up...)

Heratnumber7 Sun 22-Jan-17 10:03:25

I would say you should do whatever you feel comfortable with. There are no hard and fast rules.
It does work, it isn't cruel, and your child won't hold it against you when he's 16.

nuttyknitter Sun 22-Jan-17 10:15:28

You're right OP - it is cruel. Imagine you were caring for a confused elderly relative - they don't sleep well, they cry out in the night, they need attention etc - would you close the door on them and leave them to scream until they were sick? Can you imagine a health professional suggesting doing that? Your health visitor's advice is appalling - ignore it.

Heratnumber7 Sun 22-Jan-17 10:21:45

I don't think controlled crying means letting a baby scream until its sick.
It means waiting to see if the baby is just crying for attention rather than because it has a dirty nappy, is hungry or cold or something.

CC isn't cruel, OP. Sometimes you have to consider your mental health too, and if you're sleep deprived and at the end of your tether, it's going to impact on your parenting ability during the day.

We did CC with my daughter once she got to about a year old, because she seemed to get more wound up when we were in there with her. The websites felt a little extreme to us so we counted in seconds - starting off with ten seconds, twenty seconds etc. She was so exhausted I don't think we ever got to a minute; she'd calm down almost immediately once we were out of the room and would be asleep.

On the rare occasions she got more upset after we left, we didn't bother with the "pick up but immediately put down", we'd go in, pick her up, give her a cuddle and then pop her back down and shh-pat. Sometimes that would work and send her off to sleep, sometimes it wouldn't and we just had to resign ourselves to one night of shit sleep, but it was better for everyone than night after night of screaming and shit sleep.

You can do varying levels of CC/CIO, some people go in hardcore and it works (and they still have excellent, secure relationships with their kids), some people like us take a softly-softly approach and it works. You'll figure out what's best for you, but you can start as softly as you like and build up if it doesn't work smile

MusicalChairsOh Sun 22-Jan-17 10:28:39

I have an 11 month old who still wakes at night to be breastfed to sleep.
I wouldn't let him cry himself to sleep. I do however cuddle or rock to sleep if he wakes before midnight which seems to have cut out the earlier wake ups now.

He didn't appreciate it at the beginning and took about 45 minutes of picking up cuddling etc before he settled but now takes about 5.

He could be going through a growth spurt or waking up in pain from teething, he needs reassurance at his age.

FATEdestiny Sun 22-Jan-17 11:19:42

I would night might wean before considering controlled crying.

I cannot think of greater mixed messages than providing the breast for comfort in the night sometimes, and at other times refusing the breast for comfort and leaving to scream.

To avoid being cruel, baby needs to know that they will always have to make their own comfort.

What are you providing for that independantly accessed comfort? Dummy? snuggle blanket? At 6 months baby will not have the manual dexterity skills to physically coordinate their movements to get comfort from physical objects like that.

There's good reason why controlled crying is not recommended under 12 months.

Maybe your expectations are not at realistic as they could be?

Kinsie Sun 22-Jan-17 11:21:51

Nuttykniter I am absolutely not planning to leave him to scream until he is sick. Which is why I posted to ask questions, because some of the advice I have read advocates leaving them screaming for 20+ minutes at a time and I could see how that could lead to them being sick and I don't want to do that.

I think ovaries has hit the nail on the head though. Not only is it impacting upon my mental health, it's impacting upon my parenting ability during the day.
I am exhausted and sleep deprived, and finding myself getting frustrated at DS when he refuses to nap during the day because I know it will have a knock on effect at night.
He's 6 months old, he's not doing it on purpose and I don't want to be feeling this frustration towards him. I want to enjoy my baby, rather than feel anxiety about whether or not he will sleep.

Ragwort Sun 22-Jan-17 11:34:07

There is so much controversy about CC on Mumsnet that it's probably not the best place to ask for support about it grin.

I did CC with my DS very successfully, when he was really very young (younger than your DS), there have been no side effects, he slepf from 7pm - 7am for many years - he's now a teenager ........... of course he might turn out to hate me in the future - but will that really be due to CC or anything else - who knows. confused.

Try it, really persevere, but don't post about it on Mumsnet.

Kinsie Sun 22-Jan-17 11:35:22

FATE I was hoping you would reply, thank you.

I was under the impression from the HV that CC was ok after 6 months rather than 12. It was my HV who recommended it 'now he is old enough.'
I know not to take everything the HV says as gospel as they can be a bit rubbish, but as a first time parent it so hard to know what to listen to and what to not!

DS has a teddy comforter toy/blanket that he will use to help him self settle. I tend to put it next to him when I put him down, but if he wriggles so it's not right there, he will reach out and pull it in to himself to cuddle/suck.

I've tried shhh-pat, in fact for a good while that was what we were using to help him settle when he couldn't settle himself.
It doesn't seem to work now though - it's almost as if he is distracted by it and it keeps him awake. I'm not sure if that's possible? But it's how it feels.

I also try and rock him back to sleep when he wakes after only an hour or two. Sometimes I can get him calm and settled again in my arms, but then he howls the second I put him down.
I'll repeat the process, but it will go on and on with him only getting more distressed each time, which I can't bear.

It so frustrating as we did the EASY routine with pickup/putdown and shush-pat before and it worked brilliantly. Other things have happened though and now that's gone totally out the window and I'm not sure where to go from here.

Nightweaning sounds a good option though. Please could you talk me through how I might go about doing that?

Kinsie Sun 22-Jan-17 11:38:36

Haha ragwort, I know. I've read enough CC threads over the years to know how this will go!

Don't worry, I donned my hard hat before I posted 😉

It's hard though. Before I was a parent, I was that smug woman who read the threads thinking it sounded cruel. Of course, I would be a calm and collected mother with a brilliant sleeper so I'd never even need to consider it.

<hollow laugh>

Anatidae Sun 22-Jan-17 11:47:29

We tried cc when I was at the point of breakdown with ds. It didn't work. He just wouldn't calm down at all when we went back in, and he went from asleepto awake/distress very fast.

It can work, for sure, but it was last resort option for us - and when it didn't work it was just awful, because I felt like I'd put him through that for nothing sad

Here's what did work a bit: I settledhim to sleep, then his dad did any wake ups before we went to bed. It meant he was with someone, being held/cuddled/patted it whatever works for you, but not getting milk. when we went to bed his dad co slept and I went to sleep in the spare room. This is the o lay thing that worked for us.

What I will say though is to think about why they are waking. For ds it seems to be fear of being alone. He often reaches out a little hand in the night, finds one of us, pays us and back to sleep. In the day he is upset if left alone. With that in mind it's obvious why cc didnt work. If you feel it's more of a habit issue then it may be different.

6 months is still really young by the way, and 2-3 wakeups, while knackering, is not in any way abnormal.

FATE's advice is excellent as always (mine really just based on our own little sleep dodger.)

Anatidae Sun 22-Jan-17 11:48:28

Typos... argh. Oh for an edit button

DialMforMummy Sun 22-Jan-17 12:03:18

Hi, I attempted CC and it made my DS1 really angry for me to come and not pick him up so in the end we let him CIO. Yes, it was tough but 5 days or so later, he slept through and it was beneficial for all involved.

I think that you might be better off taking the "guidelines" with a pinch of salt, see what works for you and use what you read as a loose guide.
I really feel annoyed by the guilt-tripping posters who claim that CC will damage your child etc.. I am certain you can find evidence online about that and the exact opposite also.

I can only talk about our experience and it has been a positive one, where we all sleep well now unless there is of course, a genuine problem.
Whatever you choose to do, be consistent and agree with your OH because lack of consistency I'd say is what is distressing for children.
And for reference, neither of my DC became sick as a result of crying (I am not saying it does not happen though).

Good luck!

StinkyMcgrinky Sun 22-Jan-17 12:06:00

I never understand why people insist on replying to threads just to tell the OP how cruel they are when they have already said it's an emotive subject, no need for these sorts of comments shock oh to be a perfect parent! I could also say it is unfair on the child not to learn how to self soothe, imagine waking up in the night and not being able to get back to sleep on your own, exhaustion would soon set in...but I'm not a goady twat.wink

We did CC with DS1 and it was textbook. First night we left him for 1 minute, went in and did shhh and stroked his head, then did 3 mins, then 5, then 10. The first night it took around an hour for him to drop off and it was upsetting, but we had exhausted all other options. We NEVER left him to get really really upset but as a parent you know the different between shouting and moaning vs real cry.

Second night we did the same and it took around 30mins

Third night it took 10mins.

Fourth night he went straight to sleep and slept through. He's now slept through from 7-6 most night since and is very happy going to bed, having a story, laying down and being left. He's just turned 2, and as far as I can tell he doesn't feel abandoned or have trust issues. He's a very loving and happy little boy.

DS2 is a monster and still isn't sleeping well at 7 months (me and DH average 3hrs a night...). We tried CC around a month back but he was too upset for us to continue so we have put it on hold until he's a little older. As I said, you know the different between just shouting and a proper upset cry and DS2 was upset so we wouldn't leave him. Just go with your gut, you know your child's feeling better than anyone else. If it's too upsetting leave it and try when they're older or you feel like they're ready to try again.

Good luck, OP.

Angryangryyoungwoman Sun 22-Jan-17 12:07:21

Your child is only 6 months old and obviously needs you otherwise wouldn't be waking up. My advice would be to nap in the daytime so that you can cope better with the night time wake ups which are normal for this age.

Ragwort Sun 22-Jan-17 12:12:19

How easy you make it sound Angry - how many people can have a nap in the daytime so that they can cope better at night? hmm - Not everyone has the luxury of being a SAHM - even if you are you may have lots of other commitments that make 'having a nap' just impossible.

And lots of babies/children just don't grow out of the 'waking up at night' phase & it is not always because 'they need you' - they can just get used to waking up at night and receiving attention - an extreme example I know but I have a friend who would just never impose a bed time 'structure' with her children - at 10 & 12 they were still waking and coming into their parents' room every single night.

StinkyMcgrinky Sun 22-Jan-17 12:16:08

angry fantastic advice. My 7 month old doesn't sleep for longer than 2hours at a time. I suppose I should nap in the day in my meetings and presentations while working full time during the week and looking after my 2 year old at the weekends

DialMforMummy Sun 22-Jan-17 12:16:50

they can just get used to waking up at night and receiving attention Exactly. That's why it's a habit that is not that difficult to break, provided that you are consistent and on the same page with your OH. Hearing your child crying is not easy, I won't lie.

Hedgeh0g Sun 22-Jan-17 12:17:50

I did cc to remove dummy and night wean at 6 months with my first. It worked. It wasn't fun, but then neither was slowly losing my sanity from sleep deprivation.

To answer your questions, pick intervals that are comfortable for you. I can't remember what we did, but I think the point is that they increase and you cap them at a reasonable length of time.

Yes, you probably do need to switch the routine so you don't feed right before sleep, and feed with lights on etc.

I was exclusively bf when we did it, (and continued to 18 months so don't believe people who tell you bf babies can't sleep well). So we did bf at 6.30 ish for 7pm bed, dream feed at 10, then I wouldn't feed until 5am. We did get a 3am wake for a few weeks after though, so, if I did it again, I might consider feeding at that time (also to avoid starting the day at 5am). But pp has a point about mixed messages.

Kinsie Sun 22-Jan-17 12:31:12

Thank you to everyone who has posted their own experiences, whether it worked or not, and advice or answers to my questions.
It's all very helpful.

The post with a blasé 'nap during the day then' deserves another hollow laugh.
I do as and when I can, but DS is pretty rubbish at daytime naps, I have other commitments too. It's just not that simple.

Plus, I'm back to work in a few weeks. What do you suggest then....I take a nap in the book corner while the children in my class fend for themselves?

Anatidae Sun 22-Jan-17 12:40:34

Ds doesn't nap in the day either sad

It's really hard - and honestly I dont think there is a single solution for every child. Cc didn't work for us, but it might work for you. Is it cruel? Hmmm.. again I think that depends on the child. Ds seems to get very distressed when left alone so for us it felt cruel to continue. The pp above who had a textbook experience with her first - not cruel, more temporary discomfort for longer term benefit. As she says her second wasn't ready so it'd have been cruel to press it.

Good luck. I'm back at work in a week too and a bit worried how ill cope (high pressure job.) hope it works out for you!

MusicalChairsOh Sun 22-Jan-17 12:52:06

Can I just add to my last post, I tried cc with my first dc, who was an awful sleeper, and it made things a lot worse. I think he became more anxious for it. He eventually started sleeping through when he was in his own room and I night weaned him. At 16 months old.
I've not done cc with second because of those reasons I mentioned above, and as for early wake ups I know he's not hungry 1 hour after putting him down and it was a habit I believe. That he's mostly out of now.
It's hard isn't it.
I had dc2 17 months after the first so have had pretty much no full night sleeps in 2.5 years.
I hope you find something that works for you both.

FATEdestiny Sun 22-Jan-17 16:19:31

Nightweaning sounds a good option though. Please could you talk me through how I might go about doing that?

The primary factor in night weaning (when breastfeeding) is developing other means of comfort for baby. Breastfeeding is less about calories and more about comfort*

So - how are you and DH going to get that baby to sleep in the middle of the night if you dont breastfeed?

I'd have baby's cot next to my bed, do lots of in-cot settling with the dummy. I wouldn't be expecting no wake ups, not for a good 6 months. So would not be moving the cot out until then, for the sake of my own sleep deprivation.

The key to cc not being cruel also comes down to baby being able to self-comfort. If baby can't, it can't be forced so leaving baby (a) won't/can't work and (b) would be quite cruel on the baby

*but you do need to ensure baby has adequate calories from milk. So that will mean lots and lots of daytime milk, even if to the detriment of solids (which are low calorie). If you are going to refuse night feeds, weaning needs to be slow because daytime milk feeds will be necessary.

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