The Need for Baby to Fall Asleep on His Own? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I have a darling 6 mth son who is waking 5-10x/night (sometimes more) and only napping during the day while nursing. He nurses to sleep at night as well and only nursing and rocking will get him back to sleep during the night. *He did sleep 6 hrs consistently from 7-11 weeks when he would allow swaddling and a paci but has since rejected those things. I feel lucky when I get 2 hrs in a row. I am so tired and I am getting the feedback that I am doing him a huge disservice by not teaching him to fall asleep on his own. This is usually followed by sleep training and CIO advice. I want his sleep experience to be positive of course and I don't want to do him wrong, yet I am quite confused about how to gently teach him to fall asleep on his own without the terrible crying episodes. And I would love to be able to put him down for a nap. Anything anyone can share on this situation would be so appreciated.


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#2 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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I would try swaddling again, as part of a routine. Like, read our book, change diaper, get jammies on, swaddle, nurse down. Swaddling makes a huge difference for the length of time my Cecilia will sleep.

As for the sleep training advice, oh, I can sympathize!! I get it all the time too. But, like the advice I got for starting solids at 8 weeks old, I let it roll off my back. Also, it helps that my cousin has a son who is exactly one day older than Cecilia. She did sleep train him, and guess what? He's in a regression right now back to the "old way." So there's no guarantee that CIO even will work! Dr. Sears has a great article about why baby sleep is different from adult sleep. I just remind myself all the time that she won't be little forever, and I will miss her tininess greatly when she's a big girl!!

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#3 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 11:54 AM
 
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My older dd never went to sleep by herself until she was 2.5 or so.  Until then, I nursed her to sleep.  Actually, I snuggled with her till she went to sleep for a bit after that even.  But sure enough, at 8, she's been going to sleep on her own with no sleep problems for years.  She was a very high needs little one and really needed help, and I'm glad I gave her that help.  I was sleep trained btw and I have major sleep problems at 43 and have as long as I can remember, so sleep training doesn't necessarily solve them.

 

My little one has fallen asleep on her own forever.  She's an easy little girl.  I think sometimes people have easy kids and then write books or give advice assuming everything will go as easily for everyone else if other people do what they do, not realizing that individual personality is such a huge factor in things like sleep, and parenting skillz aren't such a big factor as they think.

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#4 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Aimee. I appreciate the support. The thing with the swaddling is that DS started rolling over (with gusto) at 11 weeks and did it all night long. That was the beginning of our decline. Now he is full on crawling, pulling himself up to standing and cruising in the crib. So I really think we are too far beyond swaddling. What do you think?

My theory has been that his super fast jump to movement was to blame for the major sleep disruption, but every day the theory changes some ;)


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#5 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 11:59 AM
 
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Oh, mama, I so hear you. The pain of having a baby who used to sleep well but no longer does so has got to be worse than if the baby never slept well at all. My 10 month old used to sleep for 5-7 stretches but it all went awry once she hit six months. I remember my big one's sleep went all to pot when he was about six months, too. He used to wake himself up rocking back and forth on hands and knees. Their need to learn/be mobile seems to invade their sleep somehow.

 

I haven't got any great advice, just commiseration and support. I'd invite you over for a cup of coffee!


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#6 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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Thanks, Aimee. I appreciate the support. The thing with the swaddling is that DS started rolling over (with gusto) at 11 weeks and did it all night long. That was the beginning of our decline. Now he is full on crawling, pulling himself up to standing and cruising in the crib. So I really think we are too far beyond swaddling. What do you think?

My theory has been that his super fast jump to movement was to blame for the major sleep disruption, but every day the theory changes some wink1.gif


Oh, yeah, I would be worried in a crib as well. Cecilia sleeps in bed with us, cradled in my arm. She doesn't go anywhere at night. smile.gif

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#7 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 12:43 PM
 
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We didn't start swaddling until about 3 months, and it made a world of difference in the length of time Georgia would stay asleep. We were actually unsure how to swaddle as she had casts until 12 weeks or so. Now she has boots and a brace that keep her feet about shoulder width. She is only ever in the bed with us or in her cosleeper inches away. When she's in her bed, we swaddle her top only with a Sleep Sack Swaddle top and tuck her feet tightly into a blanket that is tucked under the mattress quite snug. She's not goin' nowhere, as much as she wants to. She will actually fall asleep on her own even if she's crying a bit with the swaddle and the tuck. It's like she sighs and says thankyou... my DH figured that out on his own. It's worth a try anyway, you might be able to do it in a full size crib.

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#8 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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Babies generally do need to be parented to sleep, they lack the ability to self sooth until older. It can be trained yes, but at cost of the child. I consider it more of a pre-schooler trait. It doesn't make feeling tired any easier but someday he really will sleep. So many things interrupt sleep in first 2 years, developmental milestones, teethings, illness, separation anxiety, it really is one thing after another until they older. Just hang in there and it shall pass. 

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#9 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 02:41 PM
 
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Have you read Happiest Baby on the Block? His swaddle really saved us. It's really quite tight and quite constrictive, allowing for no ability to roll over, even when swaddled. It's very hard to roll over if you can't bend well. He says that a lot of people don't wrap tight enough or aren't using a large enough blanket so they assume the swaddle doesn't work, but really they just need to tighten up.

 

I agree with the above posts that in general, babies need to be parented to sleep. For us, we parent to drowsiness and then we let him fall asleep on his own. I try to put DS down in his crib while his eyes are open so he learns to associate the feeling of being tired with the feeling of going to sleep in his crib. If he starts to cry, I immediately pick him back up and rock him some more. In general he wriggles a little bit quitely and then goes to sleep.


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#10 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 04:08 PM
 
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Can you wear him in a carrier or sling for naps? My son won't sleep or nap alone. 

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#11 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone. "Happiest Baby on the Block" was our go-to for the first 3 mths. The swaddle thing is really hard for him now. I was doing a one arm swaddle and then both arms out, but he always rolls to his tummy. He'd start thumping his tucked in legs like a fish out of water and it was so much effort, he would get over but it would wake him up. I didn't like the idea of him on his tummy in the swaddle and he would always get over. I could try him in a fleece swaddle sack thing and lay him down on his belly, maybe, and see how he does. Is that safe though?

 

He was in a co-sleeper until a few wks ago when he figured out how to crawl out of it so the crib thing is new for both of us. If I were a single mom I would def. co-sleep but it really does not work for all 3 of us. I do tend to put him in bed with me around 5 am and he does pretty well.

 

The putting him down drowsy thing is a challenge because he has such a strong breast/sleep association. Like last night, I was going to try to put him down drowsy so I nursed him at 5:30 instead and 6:30 and that was it, he was asleep at 5:30 after 5 min. of nursing. If he's not asleep or on the brink of it and I set him down, he cries quickly and loudly. How does this drowsy business work for others ;)

 

Asiago, DS will sometimes sleep in the Ergo after I've worn him in it for a while. I can do a few gentle things while he's in there. We always used to take stroller walks for naps but it's so cold in MI now and even when bundled well, he won't fall asleep past 40 degrees so the bfing nap is the mainstay but I would like to transition away from it if possible.


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#12 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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I've heard No Cry Sleep Solution touted a lot on this forum and I know she addresses the breast sleep association business in a gentle AP way. I've also heard The Baby Whisperer as someone you might look into. I believe she has a "check and console" method to crying where you rock them, put them in the bed and pick them up when they cry. You soothe them and then they back into the crib. Over and over until they figure out that the crib is where they're going or they get too tired. It's not a method of "no crying" but it's not CIO since you're always responding to them when they cry and letting them know you're right there.

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Thanks everyone. "Happiest Baby on the Block" was our go-to for the first 3 mths. The swaddle thing is really hard for him now. I was doing a one arm swaddle and then both arms out, but he always rolls to his tummy. He'd start thumping his tucked in legs like a fish out of water and it was so much effort, he would get over but it would wake him up. I didn't like the idea of him on his tummy in the swaddle and he would always get over. I could try him in a fleece swaddle sack thing and lay him down on his belly, maybe, and see how he does. Is that safe though?

 

He was in a co-sleeper until a few wks ago when he figured out how to crawl out of it so the crib thing is new for both of us. If I were a single mom I would def. co-sleep but it really does not work for all 3 of us. I do tend to put him in bed with me around 5 am and he does pretty well.

 

The putting him down drowsy thing is a challenge because he has such a strong breast/sleep association. Like last night, I was going to try to put him down drowsy so I nursed him at 5:30 instead and 6:30 and that was it, he was asleep at 5:30 after 5 min. of nursing. If he's not asleep or on the brink of it and I set him down, he cries quickly and loudly. How does this drowsy business work for others ;)

 

Asiago, DS will sometimes sleep in the Ergo after I've worn him in it for a while. I can do a few gentle things while he's in there. We always used to take stroller walks for naps but it's so cold in MI now and even when bundled well, he won't fall asleep past 40 degrees so the bfing nap is the mainstay but I would like to transition away from it if possible.




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#13 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 05:09 PM
 
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Another vote for No Cry Sleep Solution.  This book saved my sanity when my son was around 7 months old.  And ignore the comments...you find out later on that everyone else's kids were up a LOT more than you ever thought!

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#14 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great, thanks. I am going to order that book now. I was second-guessing myself so much on the whole thing, I was actually considering trying CIO this morning but once I temporarily decided that, I became fairly nauseous, so that's the end of that. I hear one of the key ideas to NCSS is putting the baby down awake. We'll have to figure out how to do that without the crying though. I'd love to hear how others manage that move peacefully.


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#15 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 06:14 PM
 
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Is your partner able to help more with nighttime parenting?  I really sympathize with your situation...my DD's sleep was good early on, but poor from 3-6 months and terrible from 6-8 months- waking every 1-2hours and needing tons of rocking/bouncing/nursing to get back to sleep.  I read all those books people mentioned...they were ok, and some ideas helped (we do a simple but consistent nighttime routine every night now), but the biggest help was when we finally decided to involve DH more.  I kept putting it off because DD was cutting a tooth, or had a cold, or DH seemed tired etc... but eventually we just decided there is never going to be a perfect time and we decided to give it a try.  I nurse DD to sleep, but after that, whenever she wakes up, DH goes to her first.  We gradually pushed back the hour when I would go to her, as she started waking up less. (I typically go to her around 4am at this point).  I really didn't believe it would work, but it actually has made a difference, and I feel like it has been a gentle way to improve everyone's sleep without resorting to CIO which I don't feel comfortable with.  


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#16 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 06:34 PM
 
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I wish that we could do that, but when Cecilia wakes up she wants MILK. It's probably because of my low supply. I supplement her at the breast with donated breastmilk. The SNS holds 5-6 ounces, and she generally drains it when she goes to bed. When she wakes up 4-5 hours later, she is hungry hungry hungry. She takes another 5 or so ounces and repeats that again 3 or so hours later.

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#17 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 07:03 PM
 
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I haven't read the replies yet so I apologize if this has been said already.

 

First off, my opinion is that you can't 'train' a 6 month old to do anything, especially how to fall asleep on their own. You can implement a sleep routine and work on gradually laying them down closer to the time right before they fall asleep until eventually they are able to be laid down and fall asleep on their own. But in my experience that isn't natural at such a young age. Heck, it's not even natural at age 2. However, that's not to discredit the fact that you're not getting sleep. I think the real issue here is the frequent night wakings, and that is separate from teaching a baby to fall asleep on their own.

 

So, in order to get your babe to sleep longer stretches, first I'd recommend reading The No Cry Sleep Solution if you haven't already. In addition to that, if I were you, I'd be looking into some other possible culprits. Some things that come to mind are:

-If baby recently started eating solids he could be having some digestive issues or sensitivities.

-In a similar vein, if you haven't started solids yet, is it possible that he is needing a bit more to feel satisfied? Maybe the frequent nursing is due to hunger?

-On the topic of foods, it's possible that baby is showing a sensitivity to something even within your breast milk. Maybe try an elimination diet. A common culprit and a good place to start is with dairy.

-Has baby learned anything new lately? Over stimulation can be a cause for sleep troubles. If this is the case the good news is that it will probably pass on its own.

-It could also be just a good old fashioned growth spurt. Baby is waking more frequently to nurse to get that wonderful mama's milk to grow, and could even be uncomfortable in the process. Again, if this is the case it will pass in time. 

-Another thing that might get easily overlooked is environmental changes. Have you changed laundry detergent? Soap? Perfume? Added a new pet to the family? Gotten new linens? As a mom to a kid with allergies I can tell you that these things really make a difference in attitude and sleep. Just a thought on the same note, the cold air (weather change) could be to blame. Try a humidifier in the room to take the dryness out.

-And last on my list is teething. Many different recommendations for that but imo just needs to be waited out.

 

I also just wanted to add that DD went through a stage when she started waking frequently to nurse. After months of co-sleeping with her I was extremely in tune with her and would wake up at every movement she made. At about that age we both got pretty good at just popping a boob into her mouth whenever she woke up and it would lull her back to sleep. I eventually realized that maybe she wasn't actually hungry or waking to nurse but was just sturring a little like all of us do. From what you described it sounds like your little guy is actually out right crying until you nurse him, so this may be a moot point. Have you tried introducing the paci or the swaddling again?


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#18 of 40 Old 12-01-2010, 07:49 PM
 
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Another vote for No Cry Sleep Solution.  This book saved my sanity when my son was around 7 months old.  And ignore the comments...you find out later on that everyone else's kids were up a LOT more than you ever thought!



Oh yes!  My SIL was quite determined to get her son to sleep on his own.  She wasn't open to co-sleeping (which is fine), and tried sleep training.  Now at two years old, he still has a hard time with sleeping and she has resorted to a TV in his bedroom running kids TV 24 hours a dayjaw.gifso he can watch himself to sleep.  Anyway, even though we do things differently, we've both agreed that a lot of how kids sleep is part of who they are and what we as parents do doesn't really change it that much.


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#19 of 40 Old 12-05-2010, 05:51 PM
 
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I have been struggling with DS too.  We are in the midst of the dreaded 4 month sleep regression which I fear will last straight on through till he's two!  90% of the time he needs to breast to get back to sleep, occassionally he will take a binky.  I won't offer any advice but I can tell you that I read the archived posts on Ask Moxie all the time and it helps me cope.  (For example, there is a post entitled "Samantha needs some hugs" which describes a woman in a similar situation.  She commented on a later blog post with an update that at 12 months her DD was going to sleep with a kiss & a goodnight, as far as I can tell no CIO involved.)

 

There was a time when he was pretty consistently sleeping from 8 ish to 3 ish and then 3 ish to 7 ish.  God I miss those days!!  Hang in there mama... even the worst sleepers mature eventually.  (Or at the very least they become teenagers who can turn on the light and read a book when they wake up in the middle of the night, instead of crying out for you :))


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#20 of 40 Old 01-31-2011, 07:46 PM
 
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re swaddling and turning over- when ds started turning over in his swaddle we worried too. What we figured out to do was put rolled up towles on either side of him- placed at shoulder level all the way to the edge of his crib. These served as sleep positioners- and kept him on his back. It worked great for months. NOw he is 10 months and- btw- he was in a sidecarred crib- and now he can roll over while swaddled but has so much neck and head control that he just turns his head to the side. Just tonight we put the 4th side of his crib on and the bumper and he is swaddled without the sleep positioners- but anyway- that was my solution rather than stopping the swaddle. I think swaddling helps a lot! good luck

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#21 of 40 Old 02-01-2011, 02:54 AM
 
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The No Cry Sleep Solution is about night waking, and has a very solid way to record and map out and follow your own plan. But The No Cry Nap Solution addresses each issue separately (ie nursing to sleep, not sleeping in a crib, etc). I don't remember anything about putting the baby down awake, actually. All the methods I can think of are about helping your baby fall asleep. Maybe with time it leads to putting baby down awake, but certainly not from the get-go.

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#22 of 40 Old 02-01-2011, 07:14 AM
 
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We're actually dealing with this (again) with DS. He's in the middle of the 8-mo regressing, compounded by a nasty cold that's had him up every 2-3 hours for the past 2 weeks. Before this he was actually getting 8+ hours of sleep.

 

That said, the book I keep returning to is the No-Cry Sleep Solution. Her steps are great, and you can choose where you are in the process. Take as long as you need to in each step.

 

 

Quote:
I don't remember anything about putting the baby down awake, actually. All the methods I can think of are about helping your baby fall asleep. Maybe with time it leads to putting baby down awake, but certainly not from the get-go.

 

She doesn't have you put the baby down wide awake, but you do transition to putting him down drowsy. The overall goal is to get the baby to go to sleep without needing the breast or a paci to do so. She is very adamant about routine, and eventually you put the baby down after you've finished your bedtime routine. I think, if you're doing it all "right", the idea is that the baby will easily go to sleep as you put him in his crib. We've never really had a problem with getting DS to sleep initially, but we have a continual battle with getting him to stay asleep. Once he's feeling better (he's had a fever for the past couple of days) we'll be working on lengthening his sleep again.

 

Hang in there. I've decided that the lucky few get babies who STTN from a young age with no setbacks. I've come to accept that this will be an ongoing process.


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#23 of 40 Old 02-01-2011, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! I have been using the NCSS and I'm not sure we.re getting anywhere. I am very consistent with the routine but it ends with me nursing him to sleep. I'm just at a loss for other ways to accomplish the falling asleep w/out crying. My real problem though is the crazy night waking--some nights every 20 min. DH cannot get him back to sleep. I try to rock him but he is screaming and  clamoring to nurse so I do it but gently taking him off every 20 sec. or so. He is usually asleep in 5-15 min. I end up doing it over and over. When I am ready for bed, I have been co-sleeping with him. It is saner for me and I feel like DS benefits in two ways: he gets to have us modeling sleep and seems to try to fall back asleep more with us next to him and he is such a mover, that I can often steady him and keep him from waking himself up. Still he ends up nursing too much--goes through 2 babydry dipes by night's end--and on our very best night, best sleep  stretch is 4 hrs which feels insanely wonderful. It's a slow work in progress but I am still very open to thoughts....


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#24 of 40 Old 02-01-2011, 03:12 PM
 
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so what happens if you try to swaddle him, and then lie next to him and sing and pat? This is what we do- and also a pacifier- have you considered trying the swaddle and pacifier again? When you say he doesn't like it- what happens if you swaddle him? Our ds sometimes fusses while we are swaddling him but then settles into sleep swaddled, where as we still cannot get him to sleep unswaddled.

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#25 of 40 Old 02-01-2011, 03:21 PM
 
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Cecilia can't fall asleep well unswaddled but if she gets her arms out when she's asleep she does okay.

 

But as to the first part of your question, for us, patting and singing or shushing only works if she's already aaaaaalmost asleep. Otherwise she just gets pissed and growls at us (it's a pretty funny sound coming from a petite, dainty little baby girl).


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#26 of 40 Old 02-01-2011, 07:55 PM
 
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When we nightweaned, we had tried gentle methods with no progress...so we went to the next level, "let cry."  For about a week DH slept with DS.  I slept in another room.  Yep, there was a lot of crying...but he wasn't alone.  Each night it got less and less.  DS is particularly stubborn.  With an easier personality you probably could do something less extreme. 

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#27 of 40 Old 02-01-2011, 10:50 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

I think sometimes people have easy kids and then write books or give advice assuming everything will go as easily for everyone else if other people do what they do, not realizing that individual personality is such a huge factor in things like sleep, and parenting skillz aren't such a big factor as they think.



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#28 of 40 Old 02-02-2011, 02:38 PM
 
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I think it gets better around a year, and when they are cutting teeth and all that...well let's say despite having two great sleepers, 6-12 months was ROUGH and then every three weeks a new tooth seemed to be coming and it was hell for another week.  I have found with mine that having a routine at night really helps, and sometimes when all fails I nursed them to sleep.  Mid-night wakings I generally try not to rush in at the first whimper.  I wake up, I listen attentively.  If the whimper escalates, I or DH go in. If it remains the same whiny pitch and they come at the same slow intervals, I listen carefully for up to three minutes before going to get her.  9 times out of ten she settles herself back down.  I was running over at every sound and this seriously impeded her ability to get back to sleep.  She now sleeps for a good stretch of about 8hrs then nursing then 1-2 hours.  A few months ago she was up every  hour or so and awake for up to two hours at a time just furious with us for trying to get to sleep.

 

I know most moms here are really into the co-sleeping and rooming in, but we have found that if she realizes we are in arms reach she will not re-settle and if she is in our bed no one sleeps but her.  The first few nights of having her in her own room was really tough, and since it was DH's idea I made him fetch her, but it really was more effective for us.  By day three she was sleeping for four to five hour stretches, and by the end of the week STTN.

 

It gets so much better after a year and even better after two.  IME anyway. 


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#29 of 40 Old 02-02-2011, 03:05 PM
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Hey folks, I want to remind everyone that Mothering has no interest in hosting recommendation of CIO or harsh sleep training methods.  Please do not post to advocate these practices.  

Some great references can be found here:

Family Bed and Nighttime Parenting Resources  Great reading even if you aren't sharing a bed!

 

 

If you are new to Mothering, please check out these topics for more info on who we are.

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#30 of 40 Old 02-02-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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I know exactly what you are talking about. The longest stretches of sleep I got after DS turned 3.5 months was 45 min with maybe one two hour stretch one night a week. I am not exaggerating!  This lasted until about 12 months where we are now.  I really felt like I was going to lose my sanity with the up every fifteen minutes and literally nursing more than 24 times in a 24 hour period.  I know the amount because I was reading NCSS and that is part of what you document.  I think you have gotten some good advice in this thread.  Currently, DS is going back to sleeping in two to three hour segments with a 3-4 hour segment at the first of the night.  The key or answer to everything?  They just have to grow and mature into it.

 

DS is a light sleeper so there are things I can do to have more of a sleep conducive environment but when he is figuring out something developmentally, it just will not happen.  I really think it was crucial that DH was/is involved.  Right now, I nurse DS and then DH walks him to sleep in the Ergo at night.  I LOVE this because it is a guilt free break where DS is going to sleep without me!  This could not have happened three months ago.  I guess what I am saying is to be gentle with yourself and your LO.  This is a short time and just like figuring out rolling over and walking, your LO will figure out sleeping.  It is really hard and please find little outlets throughout the day to keep your sanity.  It won't last forever, they grow up super fast! Hang in there and yes it sucks!


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