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Gradual retreat with a 6mo. Anyone done it?

(10 Posts)
Highlove Thu 16-Feb-17 23:11:32

DD2 is just over 6 months. Started life as a great sleeper and we were a bit smug and thought we'd got lucky after the sleep nightmare that was/is DD1. At one point DD2 was consistently sleeping 8-10 hours. Ah the joy. Then 16 weeks arrived and you know how the story goes... Well. We're not smug now.

Now at just over six months her sleep seems to deteriorate by the week. Her first night waking is getting earlier and earlier when she's harder and harder to settle without feeding, and then it'll be every couple of hours. (EBF.) I'm pretty realistic and definitely not expecting her to sleep through yet. But waking every two hours or more seems a bit uneccesary at this point.

I think improving bedtime is our starting point and the rest can slowly follow. Currently she feeds to sleep (I know, I know) so only I can do it. It takes half an hour or more and has to be done in our room (she's still in with us). That's just isn't sustainable with another DC.

Anyway, that's my justification for why we think we need to sleep train. In practice, I'm nervous about it. Last week we made a failed first effort when I put her down wide awake and DH sat rubbing her tummy and shushing her, picking her up for the odd cuddle to settle her. 25 minutes later she was sobbing hysterically and he gave up and rocked her to sleep.

So. Has anyone done gradual retreat/withdrawal with a baby this age? How was it/how long did it take/did it work? Is there a more gentle technique I've missed? I think we just need to prepare ourselves so can you share your experiences?

Liskee Fri 17-Feb-17 08:09:22

Following as I have a 7 month old who co sleeps and am now desperate to get him into his own cot, let alone his own room! I am weaning him off the breast so that's our first step, but welcoming any and all advice on this too! And're not alone!

FATEdestiny Fri 17-Feb-17 10:16:45

Has anyone done gradual retreat/withdrawal with a baby this age?

I taught independant sleeping using GW from newborn.

Firstly set your expectations - done properly (without ever causing any distress or upset) it is:

○ no quick fix. It may take many months.
○ requires independant settling tools. Ways to get baby sleeping without being held/fed. Primarily this involves a dummy. How do you feel about dummy use?
○ even with comforters and dummies, baby will still need help getting to sleep using these until they have improved motor skills. Probably about 7-10 months old.
○ not the easy option. The easy option is cosleeping with free access to breast feeding at night. GW is hard work.
○ works best done by a sole carer, for complete consistancy. So not really lending itself to sharing the load with DH.

How was it/how long did it take/did it work?

From birth it involved things like swaddling, dummy and putting baby down to sleep. From after the newborn stage, so 3 months ish, and with the help of a co sleeper cot (for in-cot cuddling for comfort at night) and bouncy chair (extra movement for comfort in the daytime) it took until about 12 months old to reach the stage of place child standing in cot with dummy, kiss nan night and leave.

Is there a more gentle technique I've missed?

You're going too fast. Too much withdrawal, not gradual enough. Well, assuming you want to do this without tears. You can do it quicker, but it will create a lot of crying and distress.

Your start point is feeding to sleep. So your aim wants to be not feeding to sleep. This doesn't mean going from awake to asleep in the cot. That's a massive jump.

For example:

- feeding to sleep and leaving nipple in mouth for 20 mins after finished feeding until in a deep sleep.
- aim for feeding to sleep, taking nipple out once asleep and cuddling for 20m until in deep sleep.
- one that ^ is tolerated aim for feeding to very drowsy but not asleep, swap nipple for dummy and cuddle for 20 minutes until deep sleep.
- then feed and stop while still awake. Dummy in. Cuddle in arms until asleep.
- then seperate feeding and sleeping. Feed in a different room. Dummy in at bedtime. Cuddle in arms until deep sleep, then into cot.

Now sit back and congratulate yourself on the fact you are not feeding to sleep. Ext tackle cuddling to sleep. Co sleeper cot (cotbed with one side removed) helps with this.

- Dummy in, cuddle to sleep. Into cot when asleep.
- then aim for dummy cuddle until very drowsy, into cot, you lie next to cot, into the cot. Encircle baby, cuddle up. Eye to Eye, head to head. Dummy reinserts as needed. Shushing. Firm hand on chest. Cuddles until asleep. Extract yourself once asleep.
- once ^this is accepted, seperate the dummy from the cuddle (so dummy = sleep). So feed before bath, ready for bed, quick cuddle until settled, into cot with dummy. You lie next to cot, cuddle reassure, shush, hand on chest. Stay until asleep then seek out.

Now sit back and congratulate yourself that baby is now settling in the cot.

- lie in cot with dummy, hand on chest, but don't cuddle right into the cot. Face baby, hand on chest, shushing and reassuring. But from your bed, not you in cosleeper cot
- now dummy in, but you lie face-up with hand on chest. Not facing baby.
- now side in the cot (a big day for gradual withdrawal). Dummy in, you sit on your bed next to cot, hand on chest. Lots of eye contact and reassurance. Stay until asleep.
- into cot with dummy. You stand by cot, hamd on chest. Stay until asleep.
- Into cot with dummy. Hand on chest until settled. Remove hand but stay next to cot when settled. Put hand back on chest whenever distressed. Remove once settled.

I could carry on, but I'm hoping you get the idea...

Make each change so tiny that it causes no extra distress, but be consistant with the changes towards the end-point you want.

88Nikki88 Fri 17-Feb-17 11:06:03

Have you tried the 'pick up put down' technique - Tracey Hogg baby whisperer books? Worked for us. I breast fed and fed to sleep but began doing that for daytime naps and gradually swapped from breast milk to formula from 8 months, by 10 months we were all sleeping through smile could be pure luck of course!

Highlove Fri 17-Feb-17 14:12:42

Thanks both.

Thanks Fate especially for the very detailed response. Really helpful. ahe actually doesn't have to be in a deep sleep to go down - comes straight off the nipple when she's sucking very slowly/largely stopped. So I think I can start moving towards her bring rocked rather than fed to sleep straight away, and that definitely feels like a less daunting step! Thank you.

Nikki that's interesting, thanks. How long did it take to get her settled the first few nights/naps? Did she cry much? I can cope with a little light whinging and even a gentle cry for a few minutes, but neither I nor DH are up for letting her cry hard or for longer than a couple of minutes.

FidgetMcGee Fri 17-Feb-17 14:49:06

- aim for feeding to sleep, taking nipple out once asleep and cuddling for 20m until in deep sleep.

FATE - I'm trying this but DD (5 months) wakes every time I take her off me. Do I just need to leave her on there for a bit longer? But am I actually then just going back to step 1?

Sorry to jump on your thread Highlove. We're in a pretty similar situation

FATEdestiny Fri 17-Feb-17 14:54:48

I'd do a swap for a dummy at that stage - to establish the dummy (which can go with her to comfort in the cot) becomes the method of getting to sleep, instead of the nipple.

So it depends how you feel about dummies?

If you don't want want to keep going with a dummy, it's likely to be a much slower process. The "pantly pull-off" is what you want. It's very gradually unlatching earlier.

FidgetMcGee Fri 17-Feb-17 15:09:30

I'd love for her to take a dummy but every time we've tried giving her one she's had a meltdown. My fault - avoided giving too early because I heard so much about nipple confusion and then left it too late. She won't take a bottle either.

Just googled Pantley - will give it a try. Have accepted it's going to be a long/slow process!


88Nikki88 Sat 18-Feb-17 23:45:12

I couldn't leave my little one to cry either, with the pick up put down technique you don't leave baby alone to cry. Put baby down to sleep and if she cries just give her a minute to see if she settles then pick her up again and cuddle her. Then, when she stops crying put her back down again. Keep repeating this until she stays asleep in the crib.
I generally held my little one for a minute at least after he stopped crying before putting him down. At first it did sometimes take up to half an hour before he settled alone, but this did improve to 5 mins or so.
At bed time I think the consistent routine helped so it was clear to baby that it was time to go to sleep.

gallicgirl Sat 18-Feb-17 23:48:10

Jesus Christ, they're still tiny. There's nothing wrong with feeding to sleep. Babies are supposed to wake at night, just like we do. Give them a cuddle, feed them, whatever they need until they're a bit bigger.

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