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Night time 'bad habits' ... the independent baby sleep - support thread for anyone trying to break baby sleep habits

(276 Posts)
Millipede170 Tue 07-Mar-17 15:43:31

This thread is for anyone who routinely 'helps' their LO to get back to sleep when they wake in the night, would like them to start being more independent, but doesn't relish the thought of CC or CIO. Or maybe you've been there and are out the other side and can share your journey/pearls of wisdom (you could be my new hero). What methods have you tried or come up with? Please share ...

Millipede170 Tue 07-Mar-17 15:48:00

My 10mo breastfed DS is 'not a sleeper'. He's a '5 times a night waker' - sometimes more sometimes less. But one thing's a constant: he needs me to help him back to sleep every time he wakes in the night.

Why? Because, within our breastfeeding relationship, neither of us made the distinction between nursing to feed and nursing for comfort; because as he got older (and I got more tired) feeding him back to sleep in the night was the quickest and quietest way to get him back down; because as he can settle at bedtime and naptime just fine, I thought he was a great self-settler, so I just couldn't work out why he was waking so often and calling out to me.

Turns out we've got stuck in a rut of him waking and thinking he needs me to get back to sleep. A couple of weeks ago I stopped feeding in the night and started stroking DS's head and turning him on his side/tummy, and he goes back to sleep. So now he calls for me each time he wakes to repeat that process!! I'm going to try gradually reducing my interaction with him until he gets the hang of resettling by himself. I'll let you know how we get on...

scottishbride Tue 07-Mar-17 21:13:32

Hi Milli - you know me wink

Similar story here. DS is 10 months, breast fed - slow weaner!- and is a night waker. We coslept from about 2 months, although there was a very brief period when he would sleep well in his Moses basket, but then this finished. We have a Snuzpod but apparently that wasn't close enough for our little man.

Anyway, current situation - cot in his own room, has a book, a bath, pyjamas in nursery, a feed then handed to daddy awake and daddy settles him in the cot. We kind of started pick up put down but my feeding in the night probably ruins this.
He sometimes goes till past midnight, I feed, then maybe 3 hours, then 2 but he's been teething the last week so been up a lot screaming and needing brufen/calpol so no real "typical"

Last night was one of our best - down at 7, woke at 9 but quickly settled by dh, woke again at half 10 (apparently, I was asleep) but easily settled again. Woke at 1.30, I fed him, probably fed to sleep, I can't remember but he slept till 5.30!!! - world record here!!- then he really struggled to settle with a feed, then pick up put down for half an hour, then another feed and he did go back to sleep at about half six till 8. Normally up about 7.

In the days ds naps on me or in his pram - have not attempted a cot nap for a while because he just cries so much and I just want him to have sleep.
At the moment, I am just trying to get over the horrific teething nights and see what's left!! Hoping to stop feeding to sleep before I go back to work in 2 months but need ds to eat a few more solids in the day I think.

Aliveinwanderland Tue 07-Mar-17 21:15:54

My DS is only 4 months but I worry I am creating the same problem as you. He goes down for naps and at bedtime awake and settles to sleep. But every time he wakes in the night I feed him back to sleep. This is usually 5/6 times a night. I've tried just stroking his head, patting etc but only feeding works.

Millipede170 Wed 08-Mar-17 07:32:43

Hello Alive

That's about the age feeding-to-sleep set in for us too. Multiple wakings (normal around 4 months with babies' sleep patterns changing) which were exhausting, and the quickest/most pleasant way to get back to sleep was boob. 4 months is too young to 'sleep train' by conventional wisdom but if I could go back to that age I would definitely try to slowly encourage independent settling. Pantley is good on that one (her method takes a while but you've got time in hand). As is Pinky McKay, who is v pro-boob but advises establishing a number of sleep associations to avoid relying solely on nursing. Also read about object permanence if you haven't already. Try to bear in mind that the need to feed during the night should decrease, not increase with time (notwithstanding growth spurts etc) so I would be mindful of whether you're feeding or comforting. I definitely let myself think for a long time that my 6+ mo LO still needed to feed 3+ times a night. Not so!!!

Best of luck and let us know how you get on

Millipede170 Wed 08-Mar-17 07:38:11

Hiya scottish glad you had a good night! We are still v much in the thick of teething here too so lots of wake ups (I was up & down like a yo-yo between 10 and midnight last night) but no feeds and some noisy self settling in the early hours. Up at 5.50 today 😴

Have you decided what your Plan is going to be? Or are you just going to play it by ear for now with a bit of feeding down and a bit of PUPD?

scottishbride Wed 08-Mar-17 10:18:54

I totally agree that 4 months was probably when I relied most on boob to get ds to sleep, but also to let me and dh sleep too! But not sure what I could have done differently, sorry, that's not much help!
Very similar night again last night, 2 wake ups before 11 handled by dh (and they must have been after half nine cos I didn't hear them!!)
Then he went till half 2!!! Record. I fed him to sleep then he woke at half 5, I fed, I picked up, put down etc, fed again, picked up, let him explore the cot, eventually back to sleep at half six, but up for the day at 7.15, so big improvements. What's weird is that yesterday was such a weird day! He looked tired at 11 so as it was sunny we went for a walk, he didn't fall asleep till back at the car at half 12 so I kept walking and he slept till half 2!! So we didn't have lunch till 3 then dinner at 5 and he ate the most dinner he's ever eaten so maybe that helped?

If the 5.30 wake was a quick feed to sleep I was going to try to just comfort then but cos nothing seems to work for an hour I'm going to keep going with this and see if I can keep pushing back the first feed- and try to encourage more solids in the day.
And in direct contrast to yesterday, he's fallen asleep in me nowconfused
Sorry you've still got teething going on, if it's any consolation I'm not sure ds actually has any new teeth to show for his efforts so I'll probably be back with you soon! Well done for not just giving the boob!

IamChipmunk Wed 08-Mar-17 15:41:56

Hello can I join?
I have a 7mo Dd who was a lovely sleeper until the 4m sleep regression hit. My ds was a poor sleeper waking 2 or 3 times from 6-11m until we sleep trained him.

Dd makes him look amazing as she usually wakes every two hrs and once or twice a week will be awake for between 2-4 hrs in the night.

We have tried not feeding her everytime but she cried for two solid hrs so I went back to the easy feeding option.
She is starting to allow dh to settle her by patting occasionally and I can rock her to sleep 50% of the time.
She wont settle with me patting her.

She was quite good at napping (although always rocked to sleep) but that's gone to shit recently too!

Urgh! I'm trying to style it out til I can sleep train her at around 11m but it's wearing a bit thin...

scottishbride Wed 08-Mar-17 16:59:34

Hi Chipmunk

Welcome! The 2 hourly (or less) wake ups are horrific aren't they?! Well done for sleep training your ds, I think about it, then chicken out and dh is totally against it at the mo. Actually, it was the day I made dh read about sleeptraining that ds slept for 6 hours straight! As if he knew what we were planning!!

I'm not sure anything we've done has made much difference except for dh getting more involved in settling at bedtime so I don't have a chance to give in and feed him to sleep!! Wish I could be stronger in the night!

What's your rationale for 11 months?
We'll certainly empathise with your sleepless nights!

IamChipmunk Wed 08-Mar-17 18:48:25

Hi Scottish I was reluctant with ds too but spoke to our hv around that time who convinced me that he definitely, absolutely was not hungry (eating 3 meals, snacks etc) and did not need milk in the night!

Once someone else reassured me I wouldn't be starving him we decided to night wean/sleep train so I had a time slot (12-4) that if he woke I would feed him, (didn't want to just go cold turkey!) outside that we rocked and then sush patted/gradual retreat, teeny bit of cc. One night he just didn't wake. Took about a week and a half.

At 7mo I wouldn't not feed Dd as I feel she could still need milk so it's making any settling other than feeding difficult.
She was not impressed when I just tried to stretch the gap to 3 hrs!!!

She occasionally does a 3 hr gap in her own (amazing!) And I can just about manage 2.5hrs but 2 hrs means actually only 1.5ish hrs for me which is a killer!

She has done the occasional 4 hour gap but not many since 4m.
Have given her porridge for tea today to see if that helps! Although we do blw so not masses goes in!

Millipede170 Wed 08-Mar-17 19:25:36

Chipmunk I started trying to find an alternative to the boob at about the same age (I actually employed the services of a sleep consultant at 6 months, but I don't think I was in the right space to be as consistent as she needed me to be to see 'results'). It was really hard because nothing seemed to soothe him at all except for a feed. I just kept trying everything I could think of on rotation and eventually he seems to think that putting him on his side and stroking his head is ok. It wasn't a fortnight ago, but now apparently, it is. So maybe keep trying different stuff and something might eventually stick??

Millipede170 Thu 09-Mar-17 07:55:02

So my DS came down with a hideous cold and cough yesterday afternoon. Really unsettled evening, kept waking up wailing. Have him some Calpol at about 8 and plugged in his vapour plug-in ... he slept til nearly 5!!! Longest sleep he's had his entire life!!!

Not kidding myself tho ... it's because he's poorly...!

Tabitha1983 Thu 09-Mar-17 08:27:31

Hi ladies...can I join your chat?!...I think you could all help me 🙏🏻
...I'm in the thick of 4month sleep regression where DS is now waking 1-2 hourly all night and will only settle if I breast feed to sleep. Don't know how to stop tho?! He's too young to sleep he? He takes dummy for naps in pram but will not fall asleep with dummy in snuzpod 😕 I have to feed him to sleep then transfer which is know is wrong thing to do 😞 Keep trying the transfer 'drowsy but awake' but he just screams.
Some nights I can alternate between settling with dummy 1st wake then feed next etc but this is happening less and less.
I struggle figuring out how to stop as I appreciate at 4 months he still needs to feed in the night...but clearly not hourly!! It's definitely just comfort and 'bad sleep association' I guess?
This is all probably exacerbated by his 30 min naps that have become the norm...sometimes 20mins! X

Aliveinwanderland Thu 09-Mar-17 09:12:30

Tabitha we are the same! Used to be able to feed every 3 hours in the night, all other wake ups we resettled with dummy. Stopped working a few weeks ago and now the only way to resettle is to feed.

We have a snuzpod too although DS often ends up in the middle in our bed as we find he settles easier. I don't co-sleep properly (I.e with instant boob access) as I can't get comfy doing it.

I had an awful night last night with him and am shattered today.

Millipede170 Thu 09-Mar-17 10:34:44

Hello ladies,

Sorry you're both so shattered today after rotten nights. Goodness knows I can sympathise with that feeling - sleep deprivation is the devil.

Please, please don't get me wrong here. I put 'bad habits' in inverted commas because actually I don't believe there is any such thing when it comes to comforting little babies in the night with mama love! Boobs are the most wonderful and natural soothing aids for babies and genuinely I think there is a place for doing exactly what you are doing, when that's what your LO needs. 4 months is a crazy intense time. Your bub probably doesn't need to feed every hour or 2 but he/she does need you more right now, so please don't feel like you're doing the wrong thing for responding in the most nurturing way!! And please don't think that you have to sleep train them out of it - definitely not now, and later not until you are both ready (if at all)....

But ... I would just say once this phase starts to calm down again, be mindful of whether you have become stuck in a rut (which will impede your progress towards independent sleeping) and whether you could start introducing other ways to comfort your LO or for your LO to comfort themselves, such as a little muslin to cuddle if you're comfortable with that, or other soothing techniques (DHs can be super helpful with that).

Don't despair ... and certainly don't beat yourselves up and believe people when they say what you're doing is 'wrong'. But also don't be afraid to try new things when the time comes that you need to make a change. 💕💕

PontypandyPioneer Thu 09-Mar-17 10:43:11

Can I join? I have an 8 month old DS who since Xmas Eve, has woken up several times every night. Last night was 4 wake ups. He can be rocked back to sleep if it's before midnight but after that he'll only be settled with milk. He's actually increased his night time milk intake over the last month.

So now has 3 meals and 4 bottles during the day and another 2 bottles at night. He eats an enormous amount.

He also only has 2 half hour catnaps during the day. He will not go longer no matter how hard I try to resettle him.

I'm shattered. Also have 2.5 year old DS who gave up naps 6 months ago.

Millipede170 Thu 09-Mar-17 10:47:15

On a more practical note: around 4 months I enlisted my DH's help at nap and bedtime to settle DS for sleep. We stopped feeding to sleep (I started doing a feed on waking rather than on settling) and he would rock and shush to sleep before putting him down into his cot asleep. I think that took about a week before there were minimal tears (it was hard initially, but o do believe crying-in-arms is far removed from CIO) and at that point I introduced a dummy and he started doing down awake in his cot with the dummy. I'd sit in the room initially as he fell asleep, then started quietly doing 'jobs' in his room or the adjoining one as he dropped off, until he got to the point he didn't need me at all.

Millipede170 Thu 09-Mar-17 12:39:23

PPP you are very welcome.

Catnaps are horrid. Mine has been catnapping again for the past couple of months I have no idea how to lengthen them at this age - maybe someone will come along in a minute and enlighten us! The last week we've been having good naps, maybe because I got frustrated looking for 'sleepy signs' which are totally unreliable and so I just started putting him down at 9.30 for his first nap and then 3hrs after waking for his second, perhaps that's helping? But also I started giving him nurofen for his teething and his naps have suddenly got better 🙊

Have you chatted to your hv about he amount he's eating? We are bf so I don't have anything to share on that one.

Also there's a thread called 'What worked for us' which is about gradual (or not so gradual!) withdrawal method for settling and night waking, that scottishbride and I were trying to follow (badly!). Might be worth a read?

Littlemessymiss Thu 09-Mar-17 12:59:24

Can I join too?
I am going back to work and will be operating machinery at the start of April.
The challenges I need advice on are:
1) DD2 now 6months is a boob monster. She is hardly ever fed to sleep but wakes up 3-4 per night and usually feeding is the only way to get her to settle again.
2) She refuses bottles. Must be rectified sharpish!! It would be great if someone else could help with the night shifts.
3) She is a slow weaner. (Early days, I know). She likes to teethe on her food only. Hates porridge or purees. If she actually eats anything, it gives her wind, leading to problem 1...

Need to probably work on 1 and 2 first. 3 isn't an issue yet as I am happy with BLW.
DD1 was a boob monster too. I recall having to give up BF as it was the only way to get her to decouple wake-ups/ comfort.
Any advice welcome. Support to all you other blearily eyed parents...

Millipede170 Thu 09-Mar-17 14:25:57

Hi littlemessymiss, welcome 😀

When you're settling DD during the night, are you putting her down asleep or awake? One of my goals is to make sure that every time DS goes down into his cot he is awake, to encourage the self settling. Otherwise it's an 'object permanence' issue - they wake up after a sleep cycle in a different place from when they went to sleep and freak out. The 'What worked for us' thread might help for you as well, just depends whether you're happy to endure a few nights of tears or not.

I totally hear you when you say about stopping bf'ing to decouple feeding from comfort. I honestly don't know how you skin this cat if you're still feeding, when it seems consistency is key 🤔 I have a friend who has chosen one time window during the night to feed (she's switched to bottles at night - DH feeds him) and they comfort their LO in his cot for all other wakings, just sitting with him/stroking head etc. Seems like they are making progress but there was a lot of upset at first.

Littlemessymiss Thu 09-Mar-17 18:35:21

Hi milli, yes DD is always put in the cot awake from when she was small, as she used to have an inbuilt tilt sensor and used to wake up as soon as I put her down, if she fell asleep on me.
If she falls asleep whilst burping, she is woken up (poor lamb) and clumsily replaced in the cot.
You'd think I'd have it all sorted- but no.
I think the bottle refusing and comfort nursing are related

Littlemessymiss Thu 09-Mar-17 18:36:42

I dream of checking into a nice hotel with rolltop bath for the night...

Millipede170 Thu 09-Mar-17 19:03:04

I think the bottle refusing and comfort nursing are related

These small people, they're smarter than they bloody look ......

You're way ahead of me then, I only just twigged that feeding until asleep in the night was a massive clanger.

I think prioritise 2), get your DH into the bottle regime, then head for the luxury hotel ... 😉

AlfieTheRailwayCat Thu 09-Mar-17 19:44:01

I think I've found my people. 7month old DD who is back to every 2 -3 hours after a glorious month of only one wake up a night. Feeding back to sleep is the only thing that works. I tried a few nights ago to not feed her and set a time in my head that I would give in but I gave in earlier because I couldn't listen to her little sad sobs. I'm torn between not caring that I feed her to sleep and panicking that I always feed her to sleep!
Has anybody successfully introduced a comfort blanket/toy?

Littlemessymiss Thu 09-Mar-17 20:21:15

Alfie comfort toys are essential in the messy household.
DD1 had lots of dummies attached to hers
DD2 has them and likes to cuddle them whilst being fed and still cuddles them when going to sleep.
This lady makes a lot of sense if you are trying to wean off feeding to sleep...

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