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Sleep training with controlled crying - is 7 nights and no progress usual? It feels terrible to me

(22 Posts)
Badgerqueen Wed 15-Jul-09 19:44:15

DD2 is nearly 14 months and for the past two months has been increasingly difficult to get to sleep in the evening. We finally, and against my better judgement, but because she shares a room with DD1 (5.5yrs) have been trying controlled crying. First 3 nights were text-book, 40 then 15 then 5 minutes and we thought we had cracked it. Since night 4 though it has been a complete trauma for everyone. She seems to anticipate what is going to happen and cries through her bottle (I don't blame her), she then howls non stop whether we hold her or not til 8.15 and then drops of exhausted and she then wakes too early between 5 & 6. Also she has been doing a poo most nights 10 minutes after being put down so we then have to start the whole thing again. Its a disaster.

DH is adamant we have to keep going but it feels very wrong and we seem to be making no progress. I hate the process and the thinking behind it, and we didn't do it the first time, but she needs to go to bed without 40 minutes to an hour of patting and shushing and messing around so that DD1 can go to bed at a reasonable time. Please help, please try not to judge, we are trying our best here and need a technique that helps her and helps us.

rumdontbotherreplyingmum Wed 15-Jul-09 19:48:07

BQ just a couple of quick questions, have you got a good bed time routine in place, and does she have a afternoon nap?

HollyBunda Wed 15-Jul-09 19:48:28

what about cutting out the patting and shushing and just put dd to bed, say goodnight, and sit in the room, not looking at dd and not speaking.
DO NOT interact with dd, just be there.

that may at least cut out some of the crying and stress that she is having.
I don't judge you for needing dd to sleep, but I really think controlled crying does not work for every child and could harm them.

digitalgirl Wed 15-Jul-09 19:54:25

Am going through cc at the moment with my 10mo. I've been doing this under the guidance of my local paediatric nurse. The first night was hard going but seemed to improve with each waking. Then second night was also improving. But night 3 was worse and night 4 was hellish. So I rang the pn and she said that we need to keep the daytime mealtimes and naptimes fairly consistent. We also need to keep his bedtime routine exactly the same and not start it more than 15 mins earlier or later than the night before. Last night was night 6 and it seems to be getting better now that we're keeping dinner time and bedtime the same. It's the sameness of the routine that makes them feel secure apparently.

PrettyCandles Wed 15-Jul-09 19:56:31

At first it sounded textbook - even to the backsliding on night 4. But she shoudl by now be more accepting of the situation.

Do you have a fixed pre- bed settling routine eg bath, bottle, book, cuddle, into bed, stroke and go? Done exactly the same, by both of you, night after night after night. It does help enormously.

Perhaps you could try starting bedtime a bit earlier? IME early waking can sometimes be caused by overtiredness.

What about stroking her in her cot after you have put her down, rather than trying to hold her? At least she would then be crying from anger or frusttration, rather than distress and abandonment.

I feel for you. I ewent through this with ds2 (after having had two good sleepers) at a similar age. I spent about 2-3 months establishing a solid pre-bed routine, before biting the bullet at aobut 18m. It worked eventually.

HighOnDieselAndGasoline Wed 15-Jul-09 20:01:31

Poor you - sounds very stressful.

My DD is a month or two older and i have recently had great success with the Penelope Leach method. You put them in their cot and say goodnight and leave the room. When they cry, you go back in, say good night again, and leave. Repeat for as long as you need to, i.e. you keep going back into them, saying goodnight (but not getting them up), and then leaving.

The logic is that they know you will come if they cry, but you are also sending the message that it is bedtime and time to go to sleep.

What I liked about it was that you are not leaving them to cry, but going in and reassuring them.

In the book, she says she has never known it not to work in less than a week.

I was astounded that it worked in 2 days with DD, who had always been rocked to sleep.

Badgerqueen Wed 15-Jul-09 20:02:20

She naps after lunch (12-12.30 to about 1.30/2). Bedtime routine pretty orderly (we have two, we know the drill) and pretty much the same tho inevitably some variation due to life. Interestingly she was most tired at 6.15 and for a while we were catching her at this point and she went down nicely, a song, a cuddle, a little patting and shushing or just hand on her and off she went. We did this on observation and the idea that she might need an earlier bedtime when she dropped her morning nap, but it was very stressful if we missed the two minute window. Now nothing works, not patting or singing or cuddling. Currently my lovely DD1 is singing to her sister to try and help. aaaargh

Badgerqueen Wed 15-Jul-09 20:05:29

Oh highondiesel sounds good and more in line with our usual parenting ethos (yuk sorry can't think of another way to put it). which book is this in?

Pretty candles we were trying earlier and stroking - sometimes just a hand on her back worked.

digitalgirl Wed 15-Jul-09 20:06:47

Also your response needs to be the same each time you go in and you need to stick to this. For example, we go into ds's room, shut the door, give him a kiss, lay him down on his back (he's inevitably standing), and stroke his head till he goes to sleep. If he starts crying again and pulls himself back to standing we say 'ok, go to sleep now mummy/daddy's coming back. Night night' and leave the room. It's important to keep the reaction consistent or they will get confused, if you sometimes pick them up and sometimes leave them they will keep crying till they're exhausted.

Badgerqueen Wed 15-Jul-09 20:16:12

Our response is all over the place now. Have been in and picked her up. Had to get DD1 out of there - she is now in our bed. Generally at wits end now. Usually the Mumsnet magic works - she is asleep before I finish typing, but not tonight. We have really cocked this up and are now bellowing at each other. Any immediate solutions?

Jemli Wed 15-Jul-09 20:21:20

Have you tried soothing music. I put my son to bed at 7.30 with his bedtime cd (i think i got it from elc) and stand outsid the room for a few minutes until he drops off. He then usually sleeps through until 7.30am. The point i was trying to make that now after several weeks he associates the music with bedtimes and is happy to settle.

HighOnDieselAndGasoline Wed 15-Jul-09 20:22:04

Oh I do feel for you!

I would just give up for tonight and start a new approach tomorrow.

The Penelope Leach book is her marvellous Baby and Child - available in a charity shop near you, I am sure! It is my bible, she has a sensible suggestion for every situation.

Agree with digitalgirl that it is important to be consistent, but don't beat yourselves up that you haven't been. The sleep thing is very hard

rumdontbotherreplyingmum Wed 15-Jul-09 20:23:28

open a bottle of wine and remember tomorrow is abother day!
don't beat your selves up over this.. it is very stressful and there is nothing worse that hearing your baby cry, just remember your letting her cry, not making her...
what time do you start getting her ready for bed? do you do the eg bath, , book, cuddle, bottle/feed into bed,

Badgerqueen Wed 15-Jul-09 20:53:08

the more I think about it the more messy I think bedtime is. We do bath around 6 with both of them but DD1 a bit disruptive and overexcited recently and bathtime usually seems to end in someone shouting or crying or falling over. Then there is a strange period from a out 6.20 which is a bit unregulated as we try and clear up, try not watch telly. Then at 6.45 its a few books, then bottle in the bedroom, cuddle and song and into bed.

I think we may have to separate them at bathtime for a bit and structure the next stage better so we are not all milling around or tidying frantically. I think we are pretty structured already, but maybe not, it feels so depressing to go down the military/GF route.

Wine wine?! He's on the gin and I am on the whisky! She is still wailing by the way (DH is with her).

What do we do starting tomorrow to get it right?

PrettyCandles Wed 15-Jul-09 21:39:29

We always tubbed all our dc together, and had bedtime drinks and stories together, and put them all to bed at the same time. But ds2 never managed to fit into the full routine. He couldn't feed when there was distraction. So we ended up with me taking ds2 away after the stories, so that dh settled ds1 and dd, while I breastfed ds2 and then settled him.

Apart from hanging up the towels and draining the bath, we did no tidying up. Even supper dishes, toys, etc were left until after the last child was in bed, unless we had managed to tidy up before going up for baths.

Our dc knew that, once we had headed upstairs for baths, bedtime was inevitable and everything we did was aimed at winding down. DS2 had sleep problems because I had let him get into the ahbit of feeding to sleep.

A 6.30ish bedtime for a 14mo on one middling-length nap a day sounds about right to me. Perhaps you need try a routine something like this:

6pm bath both children. If dd1 acts up then give her one chance to behave, the next time just quietly take her out of the bath (if that's the right sanction for her).
6.15 bedtime drinks and stories together.
6.30 dd1 kisses dd2 goodnight and goes back downstairs with one of you for some quiet play - not TV - while the other starts settling dd2.

digitalgirl Wed 15-Jul-09 21:55:50

BQ - this can still work if you want it to. you and your DH need to sip a bit more whisky and gin...then talk about how you're going to tackle this together. Decide tonight what approach your both comfortable with. That could be going in every 5 minutes, or doing the 5/10/15 minutes thing. And then what you do when you're in there, whether that's stroking/patting or not touching at all. Sort out what kind of bedtime routine you think will work around your DD1. Then stick to it rigidly for at least 2 weeks. Same bedtime routine, same timings for returning to the room, same response when you go in there. If you do everything exactly the same for at least 2 week and you don't see any form of improvement then you can say that it definitely doesn't work and move onto another technique.

I'm the same re: hating the whole rigidity of it all. I've pretty much let DS do whatever he likes and he had no routine, not even one he naturally fell into. But if I have to start enforcing some sort of routine in order to help him sleep longer at night (and save me and DH from some sort of exhaustion-induced injury) then I guess that's what I have to do.

Badgerqueen Wed 15-Jul-09 22:22:59

Pretty candles come and look after us! You sound so calm and organised that I feel ready for bed just reading your post! I think you are right and we should pull back bedtime to half 6 and be more orderly after bath. I think its all slipped partly because its so light in the evenings and everyone feels a bit more perky, also on working days I feel like I have hardly seen her if we don't get in till 6 and then its straight into bed and bath (this is only two days tho).

Digital - you are right and we have, between accusations and blame managed to agree what we are doing tomorrow.

She has gone finally after 2.5 hrs of yelling. Now we shall have a large row, blame each other and go to bed.

PrettyCandles Wed 15-Jul-09 23:27:21

Oh I'm no Supernanny! I've just been there, seen it, got the eye-bags grin. I may sound calm now, but oh you could have scraped me up off the floor with a teaspoon then - I felt so useless, bad-mummyish, and knackered.

About the comfort-and-return, you don't need to leave the baby crying for long. I couldn't bear to do the 5,10,20 minutes, so I did 30sec, 1min, 2min, and so on, and always returned if I felt ds's crying was getting too upset. He's not aware of the time, only of his distress.

No doubt that's why it took me a bit longer than expected before ds learned to self-settle contentedly, but OTOH maybe he's just a stubborn little tyke (yup, he is!).

I know it's a drag implementing a super-strict routine when you're by nature a more easy-going type, and miserable to get home and not get a chance to play with your LOs, but this is an investment of probably not more than 1 month to get the most marvelous pay-off. And once sleep has been sorted, you'll find that there can be some flexiblility.

Remember that you two are doing a good job, doing the best for both your dd's and for yourselves as a couple and as a family. It's a tough business, parenting on no sleep.

Tell you what, why don't you skip the argument, agree with dh that you're both knackered, both wrong, both need a drink and a cuddle, and curl up together for some sleep?

saintdobby Thu 16-Jul-09 01:37:46

It doesn't always 'work' for all children. If it isn't working for you, you've not failed if you decide look for something else. Have you read the no-cry sleep solution?

all the thoughtful bedtime things sound good, though.

Sympathies, lack of sleep is so grim. Hope it gets better.

ches Thu 16-Jul-09 04:24:15

I dare say she's probably getting her molars and in pain and that CC is not going to work until the teething has passed.

Badgerqueen Fri 17-Jul-09 13:29:00

Just a quick up date - after the horror of a quarter to ten bedtime on Wednesday, we separated them at bath time and as she was dropping put her down at 6(!) - she went straight away, but due to exhaustion. She slept till 6.10 (usual at them moment) and survived today till 12.30 and went down beautifully. Will give her till 1.45 and then get her up and see how this evening goes with some gentle retreating. It maybe just that she really does need to go at 6ish. Molars/canines, cold, too much/too little sleep - all possibilities - that's the problem....Thanks for support all - feeling a little more human today.

digitalgirl Fri 17-Jul-09 14:44:44

Well done BQ's DD! Hope she keeps it up so you can catch up on some sleep. My DS also slept through, 8-5 last night for the first time ever! That was night 7 of CC (well only 5 mins of crying) btw. Hoping for more of the same.

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