Gentle Sleep Training for my one-year-old daughter? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 11-09-2009, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Please help! My husband and I have generally practiced attachment parenting (without knowing it) throughout my daughter's first year. She typically sleeps in her crib in her nursery for two daily naps (morning/afternoon each about 45 minutes) and starts out there at night (7ish). She usually only sleeps for a few hours (1.5-2) at which point we move her into our bed and she sleeps perfectly all night. We have a good consistent bedtime routine established (bath, pjs, story, pray together) and then I nurse her and rock her to sleep. Before she falls asleep she stops nursing and just takes her paci.

Recently, with the onset of her walking, she has started demanding to be on her tummy - in my lap while being rocked to sleep! Needless to say, she never got comfortable (after 45+ minutes of fidgeting, repositioning), I got frustrated and sleep has been hard. We tried bringing her to bed with us immediately and that didn't seem to help. After a week of this, we decided it might be a good time for her to begin learning how to fall asleep on her own and stay in her crib throughout the night (I am OK if she wakes and needs to nurse at night, so at this point I'm not concerned with night wakings/feedings ... but guess it depends on how this turns out).

I have strongly opposed CIO but felt at a loss. This past Friday night (two nights ago), I did what I now know was "walk in/walk out" where I'd get her to sleep, put her down, she'd wake immediately and scream and I would leave the room. We only let her cry for a max of 5 minutes before I went back in to comfort (but didn't pick up). However, she is a strong-willed little girl and very spirited. At one point, she was shaking, pointed to the rocker and asked to be rocked. Broke my heart! Of course, I did so and the rest of the night, picked her up and tried to rock her back to sleep before putting her down. It didn't happen! We ended up bringing her back to bed for two hours before daylight. Last night, we were more attentive. I picked her up every time and calmed her down by rocking, singing and at times nursing. But EVERY time she'd fall asleep in my arms and I would go to put her down, she'd wake up screaming. We let her cry in intervals of 5, 10 and 15 max minutes before going in again. She normally gets 12 hours of sleep at night and last night got 6 (three "naps" of 2 hours each). I feel awful about it.

After reading some info here, I'm back to feeling opposed to CIO (why did I ever let myself get so desperate to go against my heart?!). I'm compelled to stop letting her cry but not sure where to go from here?? My current thinking is to get her to sleep, try to put her down, if she cries, pick her up and repeat all night. Basically it might mean I never get to go to bed, but at least I'm not leaving/abandoning her. At this point, she doesn't go down drowsy but has always gone down totally asleep so I fear we have a looooong road ahead of us.

Have I caused her permanent damage already?! I hate to think we've jeopardized the trust and security we've so sweetly developed over this past year. Any encouragement, advice, suggestions are welcome and appreciated!!!

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#2 of 9 Old 11-10-2009, 04:40 AM
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First of all, you sound like a very loving and devoted mother. So I certainly don't think you've done any "permanent damage" to your DD at this point! My twins have been through so many different phases of sleep patterns (or, should I say, NON-sleep patterns) over the last three years. None of them lasted forever and eventually I just resigned myself to the fact that sleepless nights sometimes go with the territory when you have young children, particularly for those of us that practice AP and are striving to create a relationship of trust with our little ones.

I did have one night during the first year where, out of desperation, I resorted to a few rounds of CIO too. It was horrible. I never did it again. And I stopped listening to the people that insisted "something had to be done", that they needed to learn to fall asleep on their own or that they should be sleeping through the night. If my child wakes up crying at night, it's because he needs to be held, and that's what I'm going to do.

That sounds to me like your DD might be cutting some teeth (maybe molars?). The fact that she suddenly prefers to lay on her tummy and doesn't seem able to get into a deep sleep makes me think she's having some jaw pain. One thing you might consider is giving her a little dropperful of Infant's Motrin at bedtime, to see if that helps. If she sleeps better that night, you'll know her restlessness is the result of pain rather than a developmental shift.

One thing's for sure: If she is suffering from teething pain, or any other malady, this is the time she needs you there with her at night for comfort more than ever. This is definitely NOT the time to make an attempt to move her into putting herself to sleep. I believe that time will come naturally when she is ready.

Good luck and I hope you get more sleep soon!

Amy â Unschooling my twin boys, born April 2006 (12 weeks early at 2 lbs each). Astrology for Parenting -- helping parents attain authentic and respectful relationships with their children and families.
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#3 of 9 Old 11-10-2009, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Amy!
Thank you for your response - and your encouragement that I've not done permanent damage! I have definitely struggled with some guilt the past few days.
Her fidgetiness has subsided since the weekend (not sure if a result of trauma or was a phase) and so putting her down hasn't been as hard the past two days. Although she normally would sleep a few hours in her crib to start out with at night, and only slept 45 minutes last night - so still wondering if she was pretty affected by our foolish and desperate attempts to quickly train her over the weekend. I will say that having gone through this only further reinforced my position on CIO.
I am not sure about teething, we've been wondering off and on a few weeks, so will definitely consider trying Baby Motrin in the future!
Thanks again for your time and words of advice.
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#4 of 9 Old 11-12-2009, 01:29 PM
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From what I've read, sleep training (or whatever you want to call it) is all about teaching new routines. Babies all get conditioned to certain routines, and any changes will likely take 5-14 nights to resolve.

Doing a brief cio routine seems traumatic to those of us who aren't used to it - but one night alone will by no means traumatize your DD. We stopped cosleeping early - around 3 months - and started with naps in the crib (this took about a month to work) and then nighttime sleep transitioned much faster (maybe 1 or 2 nights). And the transition was much as you described - going in to rock, nurse (actually we use a bottle due to elaborate bf'ing issues), etc.

For us now, we are trying to help my dd get to sleep without the bottle - and again it's a slow transition. We're trying to bottle feed her for shorter and shorter intervals, while also using music, rocking, back rubs, etc. Altogether, I'm not going to worry - how many 15 year olds still can't fall asleep on their own? It will all happen in it's own time.

As for teething - I am sure that that (or DD's new colds) contribute to nearly all upsets in sleep routines. Talk to you pediatrician about what to give - I can say that Tylenol definately helped in our latest teething phase.
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#5 of 9 Old 11-12-2009, 07:16 PM
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Just wanted to let you know what we did. My husband and my son's Dr. pushed me to try CIO, which I did to some extent until he started crying when he saw the crib. Then what I tried was putting him in his crib and sitting beside it. He was about a year old. He would usually fall asleep in 10-20 minutes without crying. Eventually I was able to sneak out after a few minutes and now, at 20 months, he will usually just fall asleep quickly without crying even if I walk straight out of the room. However, I also did not mind letting him cry for a while sometimes if I was there. I could definitely tell the difference in his cry if I left the room or if I stayed.

It might be comforting to realize that kids' sleep patterns seem to mature, so what might not work now might work in a month. My son used to only accept being held and walked (not rocked). Now I can rock him to sleep and sometimes I can just hold his hand through the crib rails and he'll fall asleep. Just try different things.

Hope this helps.

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#6 of 9 Old 11-14-2009, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply, Melanie!
I agree that with age, things will likely change and that is always good to keep in mind. It's actually one of the reasons we are in this place -- I'm feeling it is a good/appropriate time to begin working with her. I know it will take time and patience and lots of grace, but I am prepared.
Thanks for your encouragement!!
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#7 of 9 Old 11-16-2009, 04:40 PM
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Happy first birthday to your little one!

I'm so with you! My first thoughts. Possibilities:
-separation anxiety

We're in a very similar boat. DD is 11 months old. We do our bedtime routine, and I nurse her to sleep at 7:00. If she's still awake after, I'll lay her in her crib with a pacifier. Only in the last week or two has she been okay with going to her crib drowsy but still a little awake. She just rolls onto her tummy and curls up. I can walk out on the creaky floor and she doesn't care! Yay!

Usually we bring her to bed with us whenever she wakes up in the night. That time has varied over the last several months, anywhere from 10pm to 4am. Lately though she's been on a 10:45pm kick. (She's very punctual!) Our house has been rocked with illness after illness lately, so DH has been sleeping on the couch for the last two or three weeks (he has a cough that will not go away! ). It's been nice having DD's company, but she's been such a restless sleeper, I don't get very good sleep cosleeping with her. (She wakes up, pushes herself up on all fours right next to me and cries, at which point I offer her the paci again. This can happen several times a night.)

She was just diagnosed with an ear infection this weekend, so does that have something to do with it? I don't know. But it sounds similar to your little one, who just can't seem to find a comfortable position. I gave DD Tylenol last night before bed, but she started getting really thrashy at about 1:30 and it continued until 6am. Now I wonder if I should have re-upped the Tylenol. (We are not giving her antibiotics for her infection--yet. We're taking the wait-and-see approach since it's not too bad right now.) It's just so weird because she acts just fine during the day.

Sometimes I also wonder if my little one has gas/BM issues. Her BM schedule has shifted, so lately she will often have a BM in the a.m. before we can even get her out the door to daycare!

Anyway, gas, illness, teething, I think these are all very valid possibilities. I wish they could tell us what's wrong! Until then, I think trying Motrin, Tylenol, Gripe Water, teething tablets, etc. is a good approach. See if anything makes a difference! Otherwise, maybe it's separation anxiety? Dr. Sears says this is normal for babies who have just learned to walk.

Once everyone is healthy in our house again, I hope to start helping DD stay in her crib longer. If we can just get her back in her crib for one more sleep cycle at 10:45, I'll be happy. Once that's established, we'll do it again for the next sleep cycle. Of course, the best laid plans . . .

Hope this helps! Good luck!
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#8 of 9 Old 11-21-2009, 02:27 AM
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Oh, Kathleen! You haven't ruined anything with your daughter. Hang in there--hopefully some of the advice here will be helpful for you.

And as a general bit of info-sharing and reminding, MDC does not host discussions in support of CIO; we do, however, have several excellent resources on hand for attached parents to deal gently with sleep troubles. Here are just a few links: (I love this one!)

Have you seen the updated user agreement yet?
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#9 of 9 Old 06-07-2013, 12:23 PM
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i realize this post if from ages ago but i wonder if you could share how things turned out?  from what i've read it sounds like you were going through almost the exact same thing as we are going through now with my 1yr old son. he has never fallen asleep on his own and i didn't mind rocking him until a few weeks ago when he started twisting in circles on my lap for long periods of time. he naps in his crib and we start him there at night... he ends up between us at some point (on a good night 2am, on a bad night, 930ish) the main problem we're having now is that he soothes himself in out bed by grabbing our doesn't hurt, but it's so annoying! 

i know something has to change but i don't know what to do. 


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