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Help and advice needed on sleep training for 6 month old

(32 Posts)
tam203 Fri 27-Oct-17 14:03:36

Hello, long time reader (well 6 months) and first time poster. I'm dad to a joyful little girl Ada (6 months / 5 adjusted) who needs a little help learning how to fall asleep in her cot.

I'll skip the back story but where we are is we have (I think) taught her some strong sleep associations with rocking / breastfeeding and lullabies. I'm happy with the lullabies (I could play them all night to help me sleep) but the rocking and feeding is a problem when she wakes up 4, 5, 6 times a night. Night time is roughly 7 to 7.

We have good nights where she sleeps in her cot and only needs picking up and feeding/rocking back to sleep 3 or 4 times and we get a few 2 to 3 hour interrupted hours of sleep.

And then we have bad nights where she's waking every 40 minutes or hour and we usually end up all falling asleep mid brestfeed and mum has a very uncomfortable sleep and doesn't feel at all rested in the morning.

It's very very rare for her to fall asleep on her own in her cot (It's happened about twice) she will fall asleep in the car but I think that's the motion and white nose that helps.

I think we've taught her what she currently knows and now it's time for us to teach her how to fall asleep on her own but we are rather apprehensive!!!

I'm not sure we are ready for controlled crying so are looking at the 'gentler' methods, any suggestions?

Currently if we put her down before she is deep asleep she will wake crying instantly and usually we can not settle again with patting rubbing shhhsing etc without picking her up.

We give her a dummy when going to sleep/naps which seems to help, she doesn't have it during active awake times. We'd like to ween of this but it's not a priority and we don't want to do to much at once.

Also with these methods should we apply them to naps too? I'm reluctant to commit to always doing this as mum takes her to a lot of groups and activities and often the car ride is a good time for a nap, as is the ride in the carrier on a dog walk.

Any hint's tips help really appreciated.

Incase it helps below is an example day or two from the sleep diary, we tried to keep for a week (but it's hard to do a 3am).

14 Oct
Us to bed 2150.

2309 crying , can't comfort. Feed rhs at 2310 drop off to sleep and stop feeding quickly. Char have Apple. Drops in her rhs ear. Back into bed 2333 with dummy.

0018. Wake. Feed LHS.
251 wake crying had spept in mums àrms. Food RHS. 303 back into be bed.

Wake 326. Cuddle Mum and suck dummy. Back in to bed 333.

403 wake. Feed RHS.
514 rhs
600 wake in mums arms. Feed RHS. Un-settled calmed on LHS.

730 wake up on mum, feed RHS.

15 Oct
730 Get up dressed and play for 1.5 hours.
900 feed both sides (and ear drops). Then try to get to sleep and got more wound up in bed, eventually screaming and quickly got more stress and eventually screaming..

1010 Come down stairs with mum who patted and hummed to soothe and sleep with dummy.

1045 wake and then play

1150 feed, difficult feed lots of whineing/discomfort seeming. Swap sides but didn't see to help much. Blanket and lights off seemed to help calm her down and feed better.

1219 fall asleep on mum after soothing with dummy and humming with blanket on head.

1234 drops in right ear.

1311 wake up.

1403 feed, squirming and squeals didn't really get much milk in. We abandoned fairly quickly.

1455 poop and feed.

1547 fall asleep in carrier

1715 wake up

1738 feed but only a little each side.

1855 feed.

1944 in to cot after falling asleep on mum to Roger the rabbit.

2139 wake (likely caused by us having showers and getting ready for bed). Feed RHS.
2156 was put back in to bed but quickly grizzled and unhappy. Took out and feed LHS.
2215 put Ada back in cot. And us to sleep.
2304 Ada wake.

140 back into bed
301 wake up
404 back in cot.
443 wake feed LHS
540 Up feed LHS RHS
640 get up for the morning

crazycatlady5 Fri 27-Oct-17 14:37:32

No advice other than to say this is all normal and sleep is particularly tricky at 6 months due to lots of debelopmtal changes and a growth spurt. Sleep itself is developmental, you haven’t don’t anything wrong with ‘sleep assosiations’ - it’s what babies are born with and naturally crave. It’s normal. I’d recommend embracing cosleeping or putting the cot up against mums side of the bed so she has more room.

I believe sleep training isn’t recommended now until at least a year old. I’m sure someone will be along to advise you on methods, but be prepared for tears if that’s the road you want to go down.

crazycatlady5 Fri 27-Oct-17 14:38:27



Changerofname987654321 Fri 27-Oct-17 14:43:40

At six months I started cosleeping. It was the best thing I decided to do.

ineedwine99 Fri 27-Oct-17 14:48:01

Hi OP, is Ada in her own rooms? We moved our baby at 6 months as i had noticed us getting ready for bed was disturbing her plus any noise we made while asleep. She slept more soundly being her own room, we also use a white noise machine playing heartbeat sounds which she loves, that plus her small muslin comforter.
You could try putting her down when she's drowsy and siting by her cot while she drifts off, gradually moving further and further away from her over a couple of weeks?

ineedwine99 Fri 27-Oct-17 14:49:01

FATEdestiny is very helpful with sleep

crazycatlady5 Fri 27-Oct-17 14:49:20

Second the white noise - we have rain playing all night. She doesn’t sleep through yet at 9 months but she literally stirs for a feed and goes back to sleep. She sleeps till 8.30 most days.

RockinRobinTweets Fri 27-Oct-17 14:59:23

If you'd like an alternative you can try gradual withdrawal which is easy to do - you just do a bedtime routine in the 'right' order to establish 'healthy' habits and then sit next to the cot whilst she settles to sleep.

You can also try pick up put down (PUPD) but she might be a bit old and get a little overstimulated by it.

I like the EASY routine so would encourage milk feeds upon waking from sleeps rather than before sleeps, apart from bedtime where there's another milk feed no too long before bed to keep her full up.

The ideal order for bed, in my opinion is:

Milk - if applicable
Grobag - if applicable
Book - the same one
Into bed wide awake

For night wakings, decide how many feeds you're comfortable with. Personally, I think that at 6 months I'd be happy with one feed. You can either offer this as a dream feed when you go to bed or you can pick a time, say any time after 3am. I'd then offer no milk until after 7am. If you think she needs more then use your own judgement.

Naps at 6 months are often transitioning from 3 to 2, depending on how long they are. If they're more like 90 minutes each then there's two of them but 3 forty minute naps is very standard. If you're on 3 naps then they'd be at 9am, 12pm and 3pm, or if you're on 2 naps, they'd be at 10 and 2.30

Be consistent with every sleep for a couple of weeks. When on 3 naps my DS used to fight the 3rd so I'd take him for a walk in the pushchair to get that one to happen for a while!

tam203 Fri 27-Oct-17 16:02:59

@Changerofname987654321 we've been toying with the idea of cosleeping as on the occasions when my wife and little one have cosleept she has slept a little better. My wifes main hesitation is that to get any naps in the day time if she's not in the car or walking she's currently having to hold DD for the duration of the nap else she wakes crying. We worry cosleeping won't help with this and/or make it worse. It makes it very hard for my OH to get lunch ready for either of them, get ready to go out, etc. Also I worry that I will lose the ability to put her to sleep and care for her myself independently meaning OH will never get a chance to have an evening out with friends or such like again...

@Changerofname987654321 what have your experiences been? Also when / has your little one progressed to their own bed (I know this would happen at some point but wonder when in peoples experiences).

tam203 Fri 27-Oct-17 16:10:12

@ineedwine99 not in own room currently (or rather we are also in her room and haven't left it yet).

I love "putting her down when she's drowsy and siting by her cot while she drifts off" in theory but tend to find she starts screaming when put down. What do you do at this stage? Pick her up? Sit by reassuringly but let her scream?

I like the suggestion of white noise, I think we'll try this. Thanks.

crazycatlady5 Fri 27-Oct-17 16:26:08

It’s unlikely that your OH will NEVER be able to go out with friends smile it may just be a little while until that time. It depends if she wants to go out ASAP or will wait until baby starts sleeping more independently by herself.

tam203 Fri 27-Oct-17 16:35:13

@RockinRobinTweets with "gradual withdrawal" what do you do if when put down in be she starts screaming and working up into a fit? Do you pickup and try again once calm or do you just try be a reassuring presence as she get through it?

Our bed time routine currently is:

Tea (she's just started baby led weening)
Feed and Story (this is when she falls asleep)
In to Cot.

We've read Tracy Hogg's book a month or so back and like the idea of EASY but are struggling to get the sleep without the feed and/or rocking associations so it didn't really falling in to place (with the result that the Y is not currently a reality for my OH). I feel like we need to crack the sleep in order to implement something like this but maybe I'm wrong?

We are a little sensitive around feeds because we had some trouble with getting her back to birth weight but she doesn't need as many feeds as she gets at night by a long shot!

Thanks for the reassurance about the naps that sounds like our experience and it's nice to know that's normal.

yumyumpizza Fri 27-Oct-17 16:40:09

She's only 6 months old, she's sleeping exactly as a tiny baby should! Try cosleeping, but also try adjusting your expections. If she doesn't fall asleep by herself (which would be very unusual at her age??) don't force it, leaving her to cry won't teach her to sleep nicely it just teaches babies that no one is coming to comfort them imo

Changerofname987654321 Fri 27-Oct-17 16:56:15

My little one is 17 months and is still in our bed. She does not sleep through but unless she is unwell she only needs a quick cuddle and Ewen the dream sheep put on and she goes back to sleep. Recently when she wakes I just ask her to come over to me for a cuddle so I don’t have to move at all. We stay with her for nap times/bed time until she is asleep and then we leave. I sometimes fall asleep though. DH and I alternate nights so she is used to us. At nursery she goes down fine in the cot.

2014newme Fri 27-Oct-17 16:59:30

Totally exhausted just reading that! I put mine down awake and never fed to sleep but I had twins and your schedule wasn't doable with 2. Good sleep habits are so important. You've done well to realise that you've taught her how she sleeps currently and if it no longer works fir any of you it's time to change

ScottishDiblet Fri 27-Oct-17 17:05:25

Hello, just an idea but we found the book “The sensational baby sleep plan” by Alison Scott-Wright a total game-changer for us in terms of teaching our DD to self-settle. It’s not for everyone though. Good luck.

Kentnurse2015 Fri 27-Oct-17 17:11:13

When you put her down and she cries, how long are you leaving her for? Are you picking her up straight away? I used to leave mine for 5 mins, then go back in for a quick cuddle and then out again for 5 mins. And repeat. No younger than 6 months though!

Waking in the night at 6 months is normal. They are still so small. Try and solve the getting to sleep part and the rest will come with time

FATEdestiny Fri 27-Oct-17 19:10:51

In relation to your daytime routine, which I've summarised here:

730 - wake, partial feed
900 - feed
(awake time = 2h40m)

1010 - 1045 - nap (35 min)
1150 partial feed
(awake time = 1h34m)

1219 - 1311 - nap (52 min)
1403 - partial feed
1455 - feed
(awake time = 2h36m)

1547 - 1715 (1h28m)
1738 - partial feed
1855 - feed
(awake time = 2h29m)

1944 - asleep

So things strike me about your day:

● Your awake times are too long. Aim for 60-90 minutes. By thay I mean start settling to sleep 1h after waking, to allow for 30 minutes to settle so that baby is not awake more than 90m. You need to clock watch for you 1h awake time.

● You are feeding when baby is tired, so the feeds are not full feeds. This perpetuates the problem because baby then is both hungry and tired and so will struggle to do either. Feed baby upon waking up, then dummy to get to sleep. This completely seperate feeding and sleeping and also means any awake time grumpiness is always due to being tired.

● Non-consistant use of the dummy. Dummy is the single best no crying sleep took. It's a wonderfully effective sleep trigger. You need to use with complete consistancy every sleep time all the way through.

● adequate dummy use should not involve crying - that's the whole point of a dummy. So you need some tactics to do if baby is crying to get baby to actively suck the dummy. It should not limply sit in baby's mouth if crying - take it out and try to get baby interested in sucking on it. Stroke cheek/lips. Remove and replace. Tap on our side. Get baby sucking, then she won't be crying.

● inconsistant place a for naps. Now is the age baby needs consistancy with naps. At least most naps.

RockinRobinTweets Fri 27-Oct-17 19:34:41

With gradual withdrawal you’re supposed to just sit there whilst they cry, yes. No eye contact or picking up. Initially you sit next to them and once they are able to fall asleep like that you edge towards the door.

She wakes and needs to be fed and rocked because that’s the only way she knows to fall asleep

RockinRobinTweets Fri 27-Oct-17 19:38:24

I feel like we need to crack the sleep in order to implement something like this but maybe I'm wrong?

I’d say that if you get into an eat-wake-sleep pattern, the sleep would improve. Chicken and the egg

ineedwine99 Fri 27-Oct-17 19:38:27

Hi OP, we did leave her for a few minutes, if not settling then another cuddle, kept doing it until she was so tired she dropped off, thankfully was rare she did that. Good luck OP, hope things better

FATEdestiny Fri 27-Oct-17 19:51:53

RockinRobinTweets: With gradual withdrawal you’re supposed to...

Not at 6 months old you're not.

The single premise behind Gradual Withdrawal in ideal circumstances is always giving as much comfort at baby needs for as long as it is needed. Always.

That, at 6 months and when initially starting, would mean lots of eye contact, touch reassurance, continual and hands on active comforting.

wintertravel1980 Fri 27-Oct-17 20:27:53

I would try pick up put down - it is supposed to work pretty well until the baby is 6-7 months old. I used a modified PU/PD (a bit of PU/PD and lots of shushing/patting) when my DD was a newborn and for me personally it was 100% worth it.

I love "putting her down when she's drowsy and siting by her cot while she drifts off" in theory but tend to find she starts screaming when put down. What do you do at this stage? Pick her up? Sit by reassuringly but let her scream?

Pick her up avoiding overstimulation (e.g. eye contact), comfort her by whatever method you usually use (e.g. my DD always loved firm patting on her back) and put her down. Repeat and repeat and repeat...

Tracie Hogg describes PU/PD pretty well in her book. Here is also a link which may be useful:

PU/PD is not a tears free method but you will be there to comfort your baby.

Of course, sleep is indeed developmental so there is always an option to embrace co-sleeping and just wait for the baby to learn to sleep on her own. The problem is you cannot predict how long it will take. It may be a matter of months or it can last years. Someone close to me had to go for hard core CIO after 18 months of attachment parenting because their child was getting nowhere with independent sleeping and they couldn't wait for much longer. I tried to avoid that and in my case early sleep training actually worked.

RockinRobinTweets Fri 27-Oct-17 20:35:34

This is quite a good site too - gradual withdrawal


tam203 Fri 27-Oct-17 20:36:00

Thanks all. Some really interesting things to think about. Will, read, digest and be back with questions and progress report soon.

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