i'm a longtime lurker who has come to appreciate the wisdome in these forums, and i'm looking for some help getting dd into some new napping/sleeping and nursing habits as gently as possible.
dd, 6mo, has co-slept, nursed on cue (and to sleep), and napped in a carrier (or on me) since birth.
here's what i'd like to transition her to:
1) take her pm nap in her floor bed, ideally without me there with her for the whole time. right now, she takes her am nap in a carrier (which is fine); she takes her pm nap in my bed after nursing to sleep, and will not sleep more than 20min if i try to leave.
2) sleep from 8pm to 10pm in her floor bed, then transition to our bed for the rest of the night. right now, she hops in the shower with me around 7:30 and immediately nurses to sleep in my bed afterward. again, if i leave, she will wake up, so dh and i get no time in the evening to reconnect or work on stuff together after dd goes to bed.
3) reduce her night nursing to three times a night. for the past six or eight weeks, she's been waking hourly to comfort nurse, and has been having trouble going to sleep without it. i know some of that was teething, and some of it was a tremendous growth spurt. but it just isn't sustainable for me to continue to wake hourly, and i think it would be good for her in general to develop as many alternative comfort associations as she can.
last night, we tried #2 and #3, and it was pretty difficult -- i'm not sure if the difficult was due to the fact that changes in general are hard, or if we are just trying to move to quickly with her.
here's what happened: she nursed to sleep on her floor bed okay, and i stayed with her for a good 30min before i snuck away. she stayed asleep another 30min or so, and then we heard her stirring, so dh went in to comfort her back to sleep.
well, dd totally flipped out and cried in his arms for 20-30min, and since it just seemed to be escalating into panic, i eventually went in to rock her, sing to her, etc. (i decided not to nurse her right then). she eventually fell back asleep (but would continue to startle awake and scream/sob for a moment before dropping off again).
i spent the rest of the night on the floor bed with her. i nursed her the very next time she woke up, and switched off the rest of the night -- half the time nursing her to sleep, half the time patting and shushing. i got no sleep, but she seemed to tolerate the patting/shushing after that first bout of crying.
any thoughts? should i phase this in more slowly? or is it better to start a new routine all at once? should i be the one to comfort her (at least for now) since she had such a strong reaction to dh last night? or should he continue to comfort her so they can develop their own groove?
dh and i both feel pretty conflicted and awful about the whole thing. on the one hand, things need to change for the well-being of our family. but on the other, we've always tried to pick up on dd's cues and trust her instincts. why are these choices so hard?!
please send us some insights.
DS1 was exactly like your DD. It is very hard. I would recommend you read "No Cry Sleep Solution". In my opinion, nursing her some of the time but not always will be very confusing and frustrating for her. I would aim for getting her to fall asleep without nursing in the first place. Then she won't be so dependent on nursing to get back to sleep. I would also try to change just one thing at a time. Work on getting her to fall asleep without nursing but leave your DH out of the mix until you can figure out how she responds to the first change.
I 2nd The No Cry Sleep Solution - I am reading it right now and there is some very good information in there. I just started reading it this week so I can't say whether or not her advice will work in the long term. Good luck - I know its not easy!!
Mama to M. born 09/2011
Keep calm & carry on
I have been using the NCSS as well to improve DDs (10 mths) sleep habits. I think the "gentle pull off technique" will be especially helpful in your case, plus she has lots of other tips for cosleepers. I borrowed it from the library BTW.
Before, DD would have her bottle, fall asleep while eating, I'd hold her till she was really good and asleep (often 30 min+ after she was done her bottle) or she would wake as soon as I put her down. She'd start the night in her crib and I would bring her in bed with me when she woke and sleep with her the rest of the night. The first wake up would usually be 2 hrs after she went to bed, sometimes earlier. During the night she'd wake up 6-8 times a night, and very frequently in the last couple of hours before wakeup time (crying, so it's not that she was ready to be up, she just had problems staying asleep). I'd give her a bottle of formula or some water, sometimes a pacifier would work.
Anyway with the help of the NCSS I have moved her to her crib for night time sleep and some of her naps. She is usually waking up only once a night to eat now and I have slowly learned how to soothe her to sleep in her crib (I pat her back, sing her "bedtime song", she holds onto my finger). I think the "gentle pull off" to help her (mostly) fall asleep without a bottle and putting her to sleep in her crib (rather than in arms and rocking, with bottle) were key to helping her sleep better. It's not perfect, of course, sometimes she has a bad night and I'm sure there will be regressions with teething/grow spurts/cognitive milestones but we are in much better shape than we used to be.