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CC - when is a "good" age for this ?

(35 Posts)
kopoli Tue 30-Nov-04 16:44:56

I have to say I hate the idea of controlled crying or any other sort of crying. But DS is now over 5 months old (exclusively BF and do not intend to begin solids until he is 6 mo) and has NEVER slept through the night. In the past couple of weeks he has become worse (if that is possible) and has at least one session during the night when he is fully awake and we have to help him go back to sleep. This can take up to 45 mins. by which time DH or I are fully awake ourselves and find it difficult to go back to sleep. Please let me know what cc is (i.e what do I have to do - I don't have a clue) and what you think is an appropriate age for doing this to help DS sleep better. He is also a very difficult napper.

Gobbledigook Tue 30-Nov-04 16:47:03

Kopoli - I think it's entirely up to you - whether you've really reached the end of your rope and can put you and your baby through it!

I tried a couple of times - can't remember exactly when but probably around 4 or 5 months and at 6 or 7 months and it didn't work then because ds would just cry till he was sick and it didn't take long - I wasn't leaving him more than 5 mins but he went mad.

When I got pg with ds2 I really had to get him sleeping properly so I did it when he was 11 months and it took just 3 nights to sort him out and he wasn't sick.

I think you have to just 'suck it and see' as they say!

Frizbe Tue 30-Nov-04 16:55:03

We never really had to do this, as such so can't be of much help really, but I can tell you what we did for the experience? We started by putting her to bed at 19:00 when she was about 3 mths, even though this meant I'd be in the bedroom feeding her an hour later! for upto an hour (she was an evening feeder....) when we first put her to bed, she cried, so we left her 5 mins, then went back into comfort her (without picking her up), left it 5, same again and left it 5 same again, then she went to sleep and has never been a bother since really, on the odd occasion she needs another look at either of us after 5 mins, but its rare and she's now 13mths, so if that counts as controlled crying?

Gobbledigook Tue 30-Nov-04 16:56:36

That's what I did Frizbe - I think that's cc isn't it? I'm not sure, I didn't follow a book to the letter or anything. I think in books you leave the gap longer each time don't you? Don't think I did - it was every 5 mins I think.

Frizbe Tue 30-Nov-04 17:02:09

Yeah I guess it is gobbledigook, but like you say with the books I think you leave it longer, and I didn't! but it worked....I do recall my neighbour saying she had to do it with her 2nd dd, when she was 1 and it was a four hours nightmare, with her holding her dh at the bottom of the stairs to stop him giving up! so make sure your partner knows the score and won't bottle it, was the advice from her (I guess tell the neighbours as well)

Gobbledigook Tue 30-Nov-04 17:25:48

Personally I wouldn't let it turn into a 4 hr nightmare - that doesn't sound right to me and I'd have been up there way before that.

kopoli Tue 30-Nov-04 19:35:41

So far very helpful, many thanks. Yes, I think 4 hours must be very distressing for a baby no matter what age. I would tend to go with the 5 minute idea myself. I must say, although pretty sure solids won't help DS sleep longer (he often wakes up for no apparent reason, so I know its not because he is hungry and I always have plenty of milk for BF) I think I will wait a little longer, i.e. maybe to around 7 months before I try anything like this. If my DH didn't help out I would have died from lack of sleep by now ! DH is more keen on the cc idea than myself, but I think beyond a certain age if things don't improve I will have to take some action. I don't think babies enjoy waking up either, why would they ? The frequent wakings must distress them as much as it distresses the parents.

OldieMum Tue 30-Nov-04 20:07:09

There have been several threads on this recently and I have several times referred people to recent academic literature which suggests that cc, and similar prolonged stresses, can have bad effects on the way in which children's brains develop - basically making them over- or under-react to stress. This has been associated with later behavioural problems. I would strongly advise you not to do this, and certainly not with such a young child. For more information, see Sue Gerhardt, Why Love Matters: how affection shapes a baby's brain (2004).

enid Tue 30-Nov-04 20:09:33

kopoli, we did cc at 5 months as I was going bonkers. We did it again when dd2 was 2.

Mine was a bit different as I picked her up and cuddled her until she was quiet, then put her back in the cot. I did it every 5 minutes for about 2 hours. She eventually fell asleep on her own and was a very good sleeper after that.

kopoli Wed 01-Dec-04 08:45:04

oldiemum, thanks for the comments. I looked up the book on the internet and found a summary of it published in the Guardian this year. It seems commonsense to me that babies should never be left to cry and I am sure all kinds of research backs this up.

However, although my DH and I try to remaain calm both day and night and have always picked DS up the minute he starts fussing or crying, we are reaching a point (after 5 1/2 months of not getting a decent nights sleep) that we are seriously concerned about becoming "stressed parents". According to Gerhardt herself the children of stressed parents have more cortisol levels than those of calm parents. Surely once we reach the "very stressed" stage as parents we are going to get the baby into a psychological state which is far worse?

I am not trying to justify cc, as I have said I have never considered it until now and the first thing I did when DS was born was to throw away my Gina Ford book because I realised how cruel her methods are once I had my own baby. (plus her 3-hour routine for a newborn totally undermines breastfeeding - it would mean leaving a newborn to cry for hours until the next 3 hour session when he will be so hungry he can't stop crying - my DS has been exclusively BF from day one and if he is hungry just 20 minutes afterwards, I feed him again until he is full - his beautiful smilely face when he lets go my breast tells me "mummy I am full now", not the clock !). Gina Ford has no children of her own, which I believe says it all.

Those of us who do are in constant anguish over how not to permanently damage the physical and emotional well-being of our babies and children.

bloss Wed 01-Dec-04 09:00:07

Message withdrawn

bigbanana Wed 01-Dec-04 09:04:37

I will get lynched for saying this - but I used Gina ford's contented little baby (took it with a bit of a pinch of salt though) and the controlled crying method did work for us. I had a baby who cried more than any other baby I knew (had reflux which didn't help) and at 6 weeks we started CC. Let them cry initially for 10-20 mins when putting to bed for sleep(as long as they have been fed, burped and changed and there's nothing obviously wrong)then I checked on him every 5-10 mins to reassure him. For us it took just under 2 weeks I think, and by 5 months he was sleeping 12 hours and (touch wood) he's been a great sleeper ever since - he's now 2.5yrs old. It's hard to do, but so is a baby that can't settle itself month after month. But you have to do what feels right for you.

hmb Wed 01-Dec-04 09:05:59

I used cc very sucessfully with both mine in the 9 months to 12 months time frame. They both now sleep very well and are very loving kids of 4 and 7.

That said if you 'hate the idea' of your child crying (I didn't like it either) and feel that cc is wrong for you and your child, then it is wrong for you and your child. There are alternatives that will probably suit you better. Horses for courses and all that.

NotQuiteCockney Wed 01-Dec-04 12:11:52

CC can be done when you're ready, I'd say. Many people say you have to wait until 6 months, but I did cc with DS1 at 3 months, and with DS2 at 2 months and a bit. I'm absolute rubbish at soothing babies to sleep (or maybe my sons are bad at sleeping?), so this is what works for me.

One very important warning, though: if you try it for a bit, and then give up, you can make it very hard to do later. I think you can do it for one night and then reconsider, but if you give up midway through an attempt (e.g. without the baby falling asleep), you put yourself backwards.

That being said, this is how it is done, according to Ferber. You put the baby down where you want them to sleep, when it's the right time to sleep. The baby can be sleepy, but not asleep. You talk to them and leave them be. Then you come check on them at regular, but increasing, intervals. When you check on them, you try to calm them down, you can talk to them and touch them, but don't pick them up.

The book example is to visit after 5 minutes, then 10, then 15, then continue every 15 minutes, as long as the baby is upset. The next night, you start at 10 minutes, then 15, then 20 for the rest of the session.

I did 5-7-9 minutes last night, and today I've done 7-9-11.

I find the first time can take a while. And it's a horrible feeling. But it takes less and less time each time (1 hour + last night, today it was less then 30 minutes). And I find it results in much less overall crying per day, so I don't feel too worried about the effect on my sons.

otto Wed 01-Dec-04 12:27:55

We started doing cc with dd at 7 months and he slept through on the third night with not that much crying involved. We've had several hiccups since with illness and teething, but once they've learned what to do, it's easy to get back on track quickly. I don't think they can really learn how to do it before about 6 months.

It does feel cruel, but it's fantastic when it works. Ds used to wake every couple of hours and would stay awake for over an hour sometimes. I finally cracked when he wanted to play at 2am.

I've read the arguments against cc, but babies cry for all sorts of reasons ie colic and being overtired and yes, Kopoli, being a stressed overtired parent may have a detrimental effect upon the relationship you have with your baby. In an ideal world none of us would have to go through this, but I couldn't find any other method that worked and I decided that my baby needed to sleep as much as I did and if a bit of crying meant a good night sleep, then so be it.

Willowmum Wed 01-Dec-04 12:31:27

We did it with dd at 12 weeks after talking to our hv. It worked really well, dd asleep within 25 mins on the first night. She doesn't sleep through (she's 7 months now) but only wakes up once, has a quick bf and back to sleep straight away.

Easy Wed 01-Dec-04 12:34:20

Message withdrawn

kopoli Wed 01-Dec-04 13:22:00

Easy - could you please give me the gist of the article in the Times you mention ?

popsycal Wed 01-Dec-04 13:22:59

we didnt do it until ds was 17 months and it only took 15 minutes of one evening
i guess he was ready

NotQuiteCockney Wed 01-Dec-04 15:37:10

Leaving a child to cry for any period of time sucks. It's a horrible experience, for everyone involved. But sometimes it's worth it, it really depends on the situation. I'd much rather deal with the horrors of a few nights of controlled crying, than continually be working to try to put my increasingly tired and irritable baby to sleep.

And otto, I don't think cc is about learning in any conscious way. Sleep isn't voluntary, it doesn't work that way, so conscious knowledge isn't relevant. DS1 (3y), who still naps in the afternoon, still sometimes gets afternoon sleeps and nighttime sleeps confused. He thinks the afternoon is "tomorrow". But his unconscious mind still knows how long to sleep for each sleep.

otto Wed 01-Dec-04 15:56:35

NQC. If cc is not about learning to sleep without the help of a parent, then how does it work?

Cha Wed 01-Dec-04 16:57:12

It is, as someone has said earlier, horses for courses. CC doesn't suit every parent or every child and I would agree that it is not a nice thing to do. However, sometimes I think you have to make a choice.

Mine was that I had a 2 year old and a baby who woke between 2-4 times a night and would stay awake for at least an hour during one of those times. He had the 'correct' amount of sleep in the day (as per GF, who I used as a guideline, couldn't follow her religiously) and though I had tried to encourage him to fall asleep by himself, on his own, he (and I) never quite got the hang of what to do.
I was exhausted. So exhausted. I was irritable, snappy, tearful and unkind with everyone, including the baby, but most especially with my darling dd. She was struggling with being 2, having a new brother and no longer being the centre of the universe and most of all having a once loving mummy who had turned into an evil witch. I knew that cc worked and quickly (most friends used it), and that we had to wait until he was old enough to learn what was happening. Ferber says 5-6 months, so that's how long we waited. On the very day he turned 6 months, he moved into his sister's room, and it took just 3 nights before the whole household finally slept through. It has been wonderful ever since and although evil witch mummy does visit (monthly), I feel that for us it was the right decision. I found that I could not be a good mother without being properly rested and if it was horrible for my baby for a few hours, then so be it. Better than horrible to both of them day in day out for months and months and months.
This is my opinion tho, total respect for anyone with more than one kid that can do it without cc!

lulupop Wed 01-Dec-04 17:29:04

kopoli, I really think you should be fretting less about these academic analyses of "stressed parents" and basing your decision on one thing only: what you feel is best for your family at this point.

I tried CC several times with DS from aged 6 months and I really believe I made a bad situation worse by starting, doing it for a couple of nights, then worrying I was "pyschologically damaging" him and stopping. We went through so many cycles of CC, pick up put down, baby whisperer, etc, that we were never consistent with him.

Eventually I adopted the approach of totally leaving him for anything less than full-on screaming. He would often wake up and chunter at a low level for ages, and I'd go and pick him up, so he learnt that by doing that he'd get a result. When I left him, eventually he started going back to sleep on his own and over time the periods of groaning and chuntering got shorter.

You don't have to do CC if you totally disagree with it, but if you pick up your baby every time he cries or fusses, day and night, you will never get him to sleep on his own. Which is fine if you don't mind not sleeping yourself.

I have a second child now and although she fusses quite a bit and would like to be carried all the time, I have to leave her in her chair sometimes while I'm dealing with my toddler. Quite often she cries for a few minutes and then shuts up and plays quite happily with whatever toy she's got. I was thinking to myself this morning, if only I'd done that with DS, I might have ended up with a slightly lower-maintenance toddler!

Frizbe Wed 01-Dec-04 18:32:36

sorry folkes only just checked back on this one! the 4 hour nighmare, was checked up in 15 minute periods, it just went on for 4 hours! which was a nighmare for my neighbour, but like I said it worked in the end, she's not as callous as to leave her dd (now teenaged) for 4 hours flat to cry!

wordsmith Wed 01-Dec-04 18:56:34

Kopoli, Gina Ford didn't invent cc you know!! Many eminent baby people recommend it - yes, even those who have kids of their own! However I agree that it will only work if you feel you can cope with it. You know your child best, and perhaps it may not owkr for you. It worked wonders for me with DS1 at 5months, but DS2 is completely different! He seems to sleep in a totally different way, with him all we have to do is go into the room and put his dummy back in his mouth and he's off again with no fuss. I know I will probably be lynched for this but: a) it sounds as though your baby IS ready for weaning - are there any other signs? How heavy is he? If you have a big baby then it's obvious to me he's going to need more sustenance earlier than one who was a few pounds lighter at birth; b)controlled crying does not mean leaving your baby to cry for hours. It can be v effective and normally works within 2-3 days and finally c) if you rush to the baby as soon as he opens his mouth that is what he will expect. Why not leave him for a couple of minutes at first and see how it goes?

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