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Ok really - how bad is sleep training?

(177 Posts)
Chocolatepudding85 Wed 16-Aug-17 09:32:08

I have avoided it so far as I've read studies showing that cry-it-out babies still feel the same level of stress hormone when they're in their cot and not crying, they just stop expressing it (after they've been successfully sleep trained).

But I'm so tired I'm losing the plot!

Toddler DC up all night because of potty training and accidents (Won't go back to a nappy at all).

Baby DC (not far off age one) up all night feeding. Both awake at 5am every morning.

It's baby DC that I'd sleep train, obviously. Not the toddler!

I don't think baby DC needs to feed three times a night (7pm feed at bedtime, 10pm feed, then 2am feed, then 4am feed and up at 5am with no feed as he's full up from the night confused, and breakfast at 7).

What do I do? Is sleep training really that bad?!?! I mean, I know so many people who've done it and they have perfectly happy, secure kids.

Are these studies just giving us something else to feel guilty about?

Baby Dc only ever naps in the buggy, too.

foolonthehill Wed 16-Aug-17 09:39:53

I was very averse to sleep training for the reasons you describe but in the end I had to do it. It was 3 nights of absolute misery (mine) BUT SO WORTH children all learned to sleep, I got some sleep, I was a better mum all the rest of the time and honestly I can't believe that they are damaged by it more than me as a sleep deprived grumpy barely coping Mum.

Tips.....if you do it then do it ie if you try then give in after 2 hours they just learn to cry and protest for longer and the stress for you and them is worse.

I would not sleep train a baby who can't understand a bedtime routine and at least some verbal explanation (so I waited until all mine were over 1) I have no evidence but it seemed to me that it was better to explain what was happening.

Everyone says do it when your partner is there to support....YES if she/he is supportive but if you think they will crack more easily than you don;t necessarily waitfor themto be around.

Good luck.

foolonthehill Wed 16-Aug-17 09:41:14

PS you are right...a 1 year old does not need to feed in the's just habit.

Thurlow Wed 16-Aug-17 09:45:42

The way I looked at it is, how miserable do i feel if I've had a rubbish night's sleep and been woken several times? I don't see why it's that much different for babies once they are old enough to not need to feed at night. While everyone's sleep differs, it's generally acknowledged that we all need a certain number of hours of deep sleep.

In an ideal world babies would slowly learn to do this themselves but a lot don't. So yes, it's going to be a stressful few nights while the training happens, but it's best for the baby if they can be shown/taught how to get some longer, deeper sleep

Chocolatepudding85 Wed 16-Aug-17 09:47:03

Thanks fool! They're both exhausted and grumpy until their nap. I honestly think learning to sleep without my help will be good for them!

What method did you use? 3 nights seems doable!!!

FATEdestiny Wed 16-Aug-17 09:48:46

Once baby is 1y (or thereabouts) he/she is much more independant than a younger baby.

A 1 year old should be able to coordinate own movements to find ways to self-sooth (like rhythmic self movements) or use a comforter object if needed.

A 1 year old should be able to understand language more and more. While he/she may not be able to talk themself, there will be more understanding of simple instructions and sentences. So you can talk to and explain sleep expectations.

A 1 year old should be getting their calories from a healthy, varied, diet of food. Milk should no longer be the main source of calories therefore it can more easily be assumed night feeds are not necessary.

A1 year old should be drinking plenty of fluids in the day, as well as eating. So she's reasonable to assume a well hydrated child should be able to go 12h overnight without being thirsty.

All that said, it is perfectly reasonable to sleep train a 1 year old. Your child needs sleep, sleep is important for development.

SuperBeagle Wed 16-Aug-17 09:54:24

The average baby at 12 months old does not need to feed during the night and is capable of sleeping an 8+ hour stretch.

We did the traditional put them down in their cot, kiss them goodnight, leave the room for a few minutes, then come back in and pat them on the back, walk back out, repeat. No talking or picking them up once they're down. It took about 30 minutes the first night, but there was no more than a bit of grizzling for about 5 minutes by the third night, and nothing after that. DC very quickly learned to be able to self soothe from there.

If the baby is breastfed, I would recommend getting your partner to go into them during the night, not you. A few nights of them realising they aren't going to get a feed will do the trick on that front.

Chocolatepudding85 Wed 16-Aug-17 09:59:32

I feel reassured by this! Yes he definitely understands me and conmunicates with me. When I put him in his cot and he doesn't want to be there, he shakes his head no! He knows what bedtime is, etc. Think the milk is definitely just a habit.

Arg! I am rubbish at all this stuff! I'm just so not firm in any way. It's time to get firmer... my kids are utterly exhausting me! I've really aged!!

foolonthehill Wed 16-Aug-17 10:37:39

If you are going to find it stressful then think of how to cope with that stress...sitting crying on the stairs is ok but not the best!!

For me I did controlled crying for 2 and controlled comforting for 3 dc . I am not sure there was that much difference in terms of stress.

Night 1: Explain (to yourself and child) that tonight they are going to sleep in the cot. Mummy (and Daddy or whoever) will be in their bed, you are going to sleep all night in your cot.
This was what I did.
Do Bed time routine...say goodnight, leave room.
If child cries leave for 2 mins then return, pat back say goodnight leave room
If child cries leave for 4 mins, return, pat back leave room
if still crying leave for 8 mins.....
....10, 15, 30..... or however long you feel is appropriate.
For me the going in may have prolonged the process a bit but meant I checked that they were in bed and not vomiting etc.

The older your child is the longer they can keep up the protest.

If they can climb out of the cot put the mattress on the floor and invest in a stair gate across the bedroom door (or shut the door).

If they wake in the night leave for a few moments to see if they self settle...only go in for proper awake crying. (I got rid of the monitor for night as I was waking for normal night noises and assuming child was distressed...I just used it when I was downstairs).

If they are ill/teething/on hols they may regress and you might have to redo sleep training. It is nearly always just a revision for a night or so.

Prepare for success....don't let them nap late in the afternoon. Set a week aside where everything will be normal all week...don't self sabotage by having a party/holiday/late nap straight after you have succeeded ! (voice of bitter experience).

Have a strategy for your other DC if they wake at the same time...think through what you will do. If wetting is an issue layer the bedclothes so there are 3 sheets with 3 waterproof protectors....whip top one off and hey presto a clean dry bed. sleep in just pants and t shirt for quick potty trip or quick change as necessary. However if you are up to a wet bed more than 2x per night it is unlikely that the toddler is ready to be dry at you convince them of this is problematic.

BathshebaNessling Wed 16-Aug-17 11:07:07

I don't have much experience of sleep training (building up to it!) but did want to just say: your post mentions cry-it-out but it doesn't sound like that's the 'method you'd actually use. Going in to periodically comfort your child is very different to just ignoring them! There are lots of different approaches to sleep training, some more gentle than others, but providing some comfort is very different to just leaving them to cry alone. IMHO! grin

Grayfig Wed 16-Aug-17 12:08:38

Thurlow, babies are physiologically designed to NOT have long, deep sleep stretches. When you say "many babies do not" learn to do this...of course they do, when they are developmentally ready. Children don't damage themselves or their development just by waking frequently (normal, especially for breastfed babies) - that is an odd idea. Babies are not sleep trained the world over, nor have they been in different eras. That is because they do not need to be sleep trained, or "learn" how to sleep, it comes with time. Whether or not parents today in Western countries can tolerate their normal patterns of waking is a different matter. I do sympathise completely with sleep deprived mums who feel there's no other option, I'm there at the moment myself with a terrible sleeper / terrible napper.

This is an interesting counter view to commonly held views on sleep training, (e.g. the NHS / HV's) which references relevant research.

HT85 Wed 16-Aug-17 12:13:52

I agree @Grayfig. It's totally up to OP what she does but I know many people who have sleeptrained and massively regret it.

I am not judging either way.

chloechloe Wed 16-Aug-17 13:30:09

There is such a broad spectrum of sleep training methods that it's hard to say. (I am not talking about CIO which cannot be described as sleep training, it's cruelty and should never be used. Nor am I talking about sleep training small babies).

I think every family needs to decide for themselves. For me controlled crying is not something I can see myself doing unless absolutely desperate. But long term sleep deprivation is a truly terrible thing and it surely prevents people being the best parents they can be. So whilst I would not want to go down the CC route, it may be better than the physical and emotional damage caused by long term sleep deprivation.

There are lots of things that can be tried before CC. Stopping night feeds is obviously a precursor to sleeping through and a 1 yo does not need that number of night feeds if eating well during the day. I would maybe try to drop the 2am and 4am feeds and settle the baby a different way. Yes he'll be pissed off and cry but if you're there to comfort him the whole time I really don't see it's that bad.

You're giving him comfort, just not in the way he's used to.

maudeismyfavouritepony Wed 16-Aug-17 13:48:54

I sleep trained both mine, my sanity was on the line.
Look up gradual retreat. Works in a few days.
I'd be happy to support you through it if you need!

foolonthehill Wed 16-Aug-17 14:23:33

may I gently point out that most of the above article is about very early sleep training (under 4 months) which is not the same as assisting a year old or older child to feel safe and loved even when sleeping in a cot.

It does mention separation anxiety and there is a good point to be made that if your child has separation anxiety during the day when being left it might be a bad time to try sleep training.

riddles26 Wed 16-Aug-17 14:26:35

I've read studies showing that cry-it-out babies still feel the same level of stress hormone when they're in their cot and not crying, they just stop expressing it (after they've been successfully sleep trained).

There are far more studies (which are significantly more robust than the one you have mentioned) assessing the damage of long term sleep deprivation to infants and children.

I am a HCP and did extensive literature searches in addition to talking to general paediatric consultants (I am extremely fortunate to have these contacts from work) before sleep training my daughter . She was much younger than your one and we did not use CC but it was evidently clear from my research that the significant lack of sleep and distress associated with being overtired was doing far more harm to her than any form of sleep training was going to do. We used a sleep consultant and that gave us a strict plan and ensured complete consistency.

It was successful and within 2 months of training, she had jumped from 9th centile to above 50th. All the grumpiness and clinginess disappeared and she became a delight to play with during the day. Of course, life for me became much easier with a baby who reliably naps and sleeps but its the differences in her that were most significant. For us, it was the best decision ever.

thinking12 Wed 16-Aug-17 19:39:00

I didn't properly 'sleep year' as such. But since our lo came home, we've always gone by the 10 minute rule. He only ever slept upstairs in his crib (I hate Moses baskets so would never have one) during the day and night (later cot, now toddler bed). We would give him his bottle, put him down (now he's older he gets into bed himself and lays down) and leave him for up to 10 minutes. During this time he may moan, or have a little cry. But if there was nothing actually wrong, he would always settle himself to sleep within 10 minutes. If he didn't (like when he was teething for example), we would go back up to him.
I never we've saw anything wrong with that approach (my mum used it on all 3 of us, and it always worked fine). I know some people say they can't leave their baby to cry, and of course I hate him crying, but it worked. He's always self settled, and he slept through from when he was 3 months. (And he's never need any sort of comforter to sleep, as I don't like the idea of a baby having or needing music or a blanket. And I hate dummies with a passion).
I will do the same thing in the future, whether other people think I'm right or wrong is up to them. But it worked for us.

HT85 Wed 16-Aug-17 19:43:49

@thinking12, SIDS guidelines suggest all babies should be in the same room as you for all sleeps (or in general all the time) until 6 months old. Just in case anyone else reads this thread and didn't know that.

Mountainviewloo Wed 16-Aug-17 19:45:34

I want to throttle sarah blinking ockwell smith. That is all.

Grayfig Wed 16-Aug-17 22:43:07

Riddles, did you use PUPD? Of course there are gradations in types of sleep training and those where babies are not left alone to cry are qualitatively different. Unfortunately paediatricians are not able to tell us the definite extent (if any) of potential harms from sleep training, as the randomized studies are few and poor quality (and short term outcomes). As I understand it, the risk of harm can only really be extrapolated from studies on attachment. For me, if the outcomes aren't well understood, why risk it (there is probably a reason it goes against all instincts).

Interestingly my DC sleeps poorly, but despite that has gone from the 3rd to 25th percentile. This is just to illustrate that there are too many confounders to use personal stories as evidence.

HT85 Wed 16-Aug-17 22:49:45

@Grayfig agreed. My cousins children were TERRIBLE sleepers, never slept in the day as babies or anything. She was constantly worried. They're now 11 and 13, top in school and sports, very affectionate and emotionally intelligent. Lack of sleep definitely hasn't caused them any problems. Strong attachment in fact seemed to go a long way grin

HT85 Wed 16-Aug-17 22:51:21

There's also no reason your baby won't get enough sleep if you don't sleep train. They still wake freqeuently, they just don't cry out to you anymore as they know there's no point.

AprilShowers16 Wed 16-Aug-17 22:53:17

We have avoided sleep training for the reasons you mentioned and as the poster about said why risk it when the outcomes are unknown. I should add that we have significant history of mental health problem on both sides of our families so I am probably much more worried about this kind of thing than most others.

I have a 1 years old who was an awful sleeper, what worked for us was for my DH to gradually take over settling him through the night. The first week was difficult but once he got used to it then he started sleeping for much longer stretches as he was no longer waking for feeds. There is a big difference in how a baby's brain responds when it's left to cry (even for short periods) and when it's crying in a parents arms. So for us having DH take over was how we chose to proceed given what we had read

HT85 Wed 16-Aug-17 22:58:11

@AprilShowers16 I am the same with mental health history in my family, I'm sure it's much more of a concern because of that. You sound like you had great success with your method x

Owletterocks Wed 16-Aug-17 23:06:10

I sleep trained both of mine but I didn't have the heart to just leave them to cry. I made the decision once they were in their cot I would not take them out again. It was bedtime and sleep time and they needed to learn that. I figured if I was right there with them they couldn't feel abandoned etc so I did sit and comfort ie hold hands, stroke back but didn't talk or make eye contact. It was hard at first to not pick them up but once they got that they were in bed and that was that it was so much easier. I then shortened the patting/ hand holding and did a kind of gradual retreat and went from there.

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