I hate the concept of self soothing - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Today was DD's 6 month old check up.  I like our ped very much, except I think he's a very "traditional" doctor and sometimes I come away feeling like I'm a crappy parent.  Today he asked if dd falls asleep on her own.  She doesn't.  I nurse her to sleep.  He told me learning to fall asleep is a learned behavior and that I should start giving her opportunities to do so to prevent sleep problems.  Ugh.  I have tried it and it doesn't seem to work, she just cries, and it takes about 45 mins longer for her to fall asleep than if I just nurse her.  I suppose if I stuck with it she would eventually get better at it, but it just seems like so much work that I don't really want to.  But, I don't want her to have sleep problems. Part of me thinks he's full of crap, but part of me wonders if he's right. Sooo, mamas, did you nurse your little one to sleep and did they end up with sleep problems?

 

On a somewhat separate (but still related) note, dd has issues staying asleep at nighttime.  I can nurse her down, but she will wake 45 mins and need to be nursed, or cuddled, until she falls asleep. And sometimes she will stay asleep after that, and other times she will wake multiple times and need help falling asleep until it is my bedtime and I crawl in next to her.  Cause she sleeps just fine if I'm there. ;-) I know all the websites say the solution is to get her to fall asleep on her own, so she can resettle on her own.  And if I knew it would work and she would fall asleep at bedtime and stay asleep, I would probably be more sold on putting the work in to get her to self soothe.  But if it wouldn't have that result, I don't want to spend time and tears teaching my baby a skill I don't really think she needs. Mamas, did you have this problem and did teaching your baby to fall asleep independently help?

 

Bleah.  I hate sleep training.

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#2 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 06:18 PM
 
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ohh i hate the push for that, also. here is my experience with the oldest 3 of my 4 children. the first was bottlefed/used pacifier but i treated naps/bedtime the same as my breastfed babies. every baby gets rocked and nursed to sleep(substitue pacifier for nursing for my oldest). during the night, if they wake up and fuss enough to wake me up, they got nursed back to sleep. sometimes rocked, depending on whether i was ready for bed. when they were older, i guess maybe close to 2 years? we rocked every night and nursed, but not to sleep. they were all able to be put in bed at that age and go right to sleep! i think what causes sleep problems when they are older is not being comforted to sleep as babies! i can remember being small and screaming in my bed every night bc it was dark and i was terrified. also i wet the bed and was severely punished for it. i still have a hard time at night.

 

this thing your ped said is just one of those myths. keep doing what you feel is right.  

 

my 8 month old also wakes to nurse every 45 minutes all night. my 3rd child did that, too, until she was 16 months and suddenly slept ALL NIGHT one night and never woke at night again lol this really sucks as it takes me forever to fall asleep whenever i'm awake but it will pass, someday :) it is sleep-cycle related...where we usually come out of deep sleep and turn over and go back into a deep sleep, our babies can't do that and need help getting through that light sleep phase. some develop that sooner than others!


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#3 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 06:23 PM
 
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oh- and while i have to nurse my baby to sleep, my 17 year old daughter can turn on some loud "upbeat" music and walk around with the baby and it knocks her right out lol so obviously she can fall asleep without the boob. babies do need comfort, though, and that is good and ok.


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#4 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 06:34 PM
 
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Hey, just had to add my 2 cents...trust your gut feeling, mama. There is no guarantee sleep training will do anything except stress your little one out cuz she doesn't know you're trying to teach her to go to sleep wink1.gif. Your baby's sleep is none of your Ped's business, too. It's perfectly normal for a little person to need mama at night, that's how human beings are made. Both my kids were "nurse all nighters", and my 3 yo still gets snuggled to sleep, but dozes off on her own too. My 1 year old sleeps longer stretches now, but still wakes up to nurse two or three times a night, so we sleep together. Spending hours putting your kids to sleep over the years is a reality of parenthood. But in ten or twenty years, you will still have beautiful memories of snuggling a warm baby in your arms smile.gif. If you are looking for gentle ways to transition your child to more independent sleep habits, I would recommend Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution. But, the best sleep solution for your family is the one in which everyone gets the most sleep.

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#5 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 06:44 PM
 
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The term self soothe gets me. When people propose this preposterous idea, doesn't it seem like a fun question to pose to adults:). "Actually, no doctor. My baby is not very good at self soothing and neither am I. How do you self soothe?".

It is perfectly normal for a baby to need a caregiver to help them fall asleep - if breastfeeding is the way things go in a particular family - as in yours - falling asleep on the boob is the way nature intended. Safe, secure, nurturing...soothing:)

Youre doing a great job mama! Feel free to ignore your pediatricians parenting advice - which is different from medical advice:)
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#6 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 06:57 PM
 
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And the concept of self-soothing is probably a myth in babies anyway. There was a small study done recently that tested stress hormone levels in babies left to "self-settle" ie cry themselves to sleep. By night 3 they had stopped crying but their stress hormone levels were the same as when they cried. So they hadn't learned to manage the stress of being left alone, they'd just learned not to cry.

OP, I still feed my 2yo to sleep. She went through periods of waking after every sleep cycle and needing to be resettled but In between were periods of sleeping for 2-3 hours before first waking. Now she falls asleep about 8:30pm and doesn't usually wake for a feed until 3am-ish. She still sleep with us and I get up at 8:30 after she's asleep and go back to bed for the night around 10pm. Some might not consider that good sleeping but she is well rested and has never been left to cry. I'm happy with those outcomes.

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#7 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 07:02 PM
 
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I bedshared and night nursed my five babies anywhere from 2 to 4 years. The oldest three had zero problems transitioning and going to sleep on their own. #4 goes to sleep on her own reluctantly and usually ends up back in our bed by morning. #5 still sleeps in our bed but is not nursing. 

I think personality has a lot to do with it. Whether your baby learns from deliberate training now or naturally falls into the right pattern, she'll get it eventually.

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#8 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 07:21 PM
 
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I could set my clock by that 45 minute wake time after nursing them to bed the first time!  Both my children did that (well, DD2 still does - she is only 14 m/o).  I know that the second time around I'm a lot more relaxed about this routine; I felt so trapped sometimes with DD1 since I was the only one who could help her sleep.  DD1 didn't start sleeping well until we nightweaned around 2 y/o when I was pregnant with DD2 but now she sleeps amazingly well in our family bed, despite DD2 waking and fussing at times.  I can already see signs that DD2 will do the same once she is a little older.  I've personally believe human babies are supposed to wake often to nurse and be comforted by their mama, as a safety and survival mechanism, and that helps me feel more relaxed about it all.  Best wishes with your baby's sleep journey!


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#9 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 07:34 PM
 
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Eh, it works out.  By two all of mine have been in their own beds, sleeping all night, without issues of crying or whatever.  Just wait until they are ready and ease them into it.  Interestingly, my younger ones have transitioned sooner and easier than the older ones.  I think because they want to be like the big kids. 


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#10 of 36 Old 06-20-2012, 09:11 PM
 
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I could have written this exact post, OP...DD is almost 11 months. She has a hard time getting past the first sleep cycle. If she manages it, she will usually only wake 1 time to nurse in the night. If she wakes with the first cycle, it can take me 3 hrs to get her back to sleep. Nursing doesn't always work anymore. I'm finding it hard because getting her back to sleep involves a lot of crying, even though I never leave her alone. I try rocking, lying down with her, etc, but she fights sleep so hard and just cries and cries. I feel bad because I feel like she is almost CIO although I never leave her. She is crying in my arms or next to me in the bed. My pedi encourages self-soothing also, but is not worth the wear and tear for me. I believe/hope that one day she will start sleeping better on her own because she is more mature and hasn't had bedtime become something scary by being left alone.
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#11 of 36 Old 06-21-2012, 04:55 AM
 
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Rducky...is she eating solids yet? When mine have done that, it is usually because they are hungry or thirsty. A quick snack...handed to them to eat in bed in the dark while I rock or whatever, usually does the trick. Another possibility is teething. A sipee cup of ice water can help that.

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#12 of 36 Old 06-21-2012, 06:58 AM
 
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My 14 mo. old still nurses to sleep for naps and bedtime (we co-sleep).  I agree with other PPs - I think it's a survival mechanism, it's how human babies are wired (to be close to mama), and I think the alternatives are horrendous.  I think "self-soothing" is an archaic myth that I hope disappears soon, along with other "advice" like formula is better than breastmilk, etc. eyesroll.gif  I absolutely believe that babies are still stressed to the max - they just learn that crying will get them nowhere, that no one will come, so what's the use?  

 

To me, that is surely what causes sleep issues later on - they come to associate the night with terror, and they can't trust their parents to come if they are scared.  I mean, I can't even imagine how crappy that would feel as a young kid - to know that when I cry alone in the dark, nobody will come - let alone as a brand-new, immobile, defenseless infant?  The way we treat babies is downright inhumane sometimes.  Like they aren't people.  I mean, really - "sleep training"?  What are they, dogs?  I'm a grown woman and if I cry, DH better take notice and come running! lol.gif

 

OP - I would continue to do whatever makes sense for your family.  It's all about meeting the needs of baby, mama and family.  Every baby is different - my own DS has been rather high needs since birth, which led me to AP out of sheer necessity!  I do know easy going babies that can pass out anywhere, but that doesn't mean we should try to force all babies to, ykwim?  There is no one-size-fits-all prescription.  It's about your needs and the needs of your baby (not your pediatrician!).  

 

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#13 of 36 Old 06-21-2012, 07:06 AM
 
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One other thought - even though I nurse DS to sleep, for a while he was having a really hard time winding down and going to sleep.  What made a BIG difference was when we started EC and I'd offer him the potty before bed.  We all know that a bedtime bathroom trip can do wonders!  Poor kid - he was probably anxious because he knew he had to pee, but was worried he'd have to sleep in a wet diaper. greensad.gif

 

Just wanted to throw that out there - even occasional EC or offering at wake-ups and before bed could help.  Perhaps that could also be part of your LO's wake-up after 45 min., rducky?  The snack idea is also a good one.  But maybe needing a new diaper or anxiety over having to go could be part of it?  Something to consider, anyway.  Good luck!


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#14 of 36 Old 06-21-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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Yeah..sleep-training just boggles my mind.  Our strange culture seems to think the only care babies need is a clean diaper and food...their emotional needs are just as important.  This nonsense all started in the 1920's when parents were told not to cuddle their kids, just give them a hand shake lol...we havent come very far in 2012 have we?  My dd is a preteen and I never let her cio..well once but it was horrible and I gave in after a couple minutes...and she sleeps great.  I just don't get the weird sleep advice....how can a baby screaming all night teach them to "self soothe?"  BS,,,its called giving up.  And I dont mean if your baby is screaming for hours and you set him or her down for a sec and leave the room before you lose it...you gotta do what you gotta do.  But telling mothers to ignore their instincts when their heart is breaking for their crying baby and all they want is mommy just pisses me off.  You are doing great mama, keep trusting your heart. 

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#15 of 36 Old 06-21-2012, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the encouragement, all.  I was kinda bummed about the visit last night, and kept telling myself that he was wrong, and only I know what's best for my baby.  And that she will outgrow it eventually and I would rather her feel comforted to sleep than forced into independence too early and not have a healthy sleep attitude, etc.  But then there's that small part of me that thinks "Is he right?"  It's so hard to get away from the sleep training advice now.  It's so pushed on mamas, and I am a FTM so I know I'm more vulnerable to all the advice than seasoned moms, but it's tough to wonder if you are doing something "wrong", or maybe not "wrong", but if you did something differently your baby would all of a sudden sleep like a rock and you could spend the evening with your husband downstairs instead of both of us hanging out, whispering in the bedroom, watching "Lost" with subtitles so that when your baby wakes up you can get her back to sleep asap.  Cause yes, that's what we do..... It's so tempting to think there's a quick fix..... But at what price??  Katelove's comment about there still being stress hormones in babies on the third day of a cry it out program is heart breaking. :-(  I would hate for dd to feel stressed about sleeping. 

 

Honestly, I like nursing her to sleep.  It's just the waking up 45 mins later I would change if I could.  I'm telling myself she'll grow out of that.

It's good to hear I'm not the only mama whose baby wakes up 45 mins into bedtime....  I know that if I stayed with her she wouldn't wake (we cosleep) but I'm not about to go to bed at 7pm.  I'd much rather watch "Lost".

 

Pickle18, I agree that learning to navigate and defend my choices is a huge part of being a momma.  I'm just not good at those things....  Hate having to "defend" a parenting choice because why is it under attack anyways? Argh...  I just wish it were more mainstream to consistently meet babies' needs without trying to push them to independence.  Why do drs, or sleep trainers, act like you are making a wrong choice by nursing to sleep, co-sleeping, etc?  What do they care if you are happy with the situation?  That's part of what was frustrating for me at the dr.  I hadn't complained about nursing her to sleep, he just advised not to do it and acted like it would lead to poor sleep later.  That's what concerned me, but if you guys have had babies grow out of it and become fine sleepers than I say to heck with that advice!

 

On the bright side, we've watched (or read, rather) 5 seasons of Lost since dd was born.  haha. smile.gif See, I'm accomplishing things!

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#16 of 36 Old 06-21-2012, 02:14 PM
 
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Is there any reason why you'll need her to fall asleep without nursing in the next few months? Do you have an evening work schedule, or are you planning trips without her?

 

If not, then just do what works! I nurse my son to sleep, too. I call it "Parenting: the Easy Way" (TM)

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#17 of 36 Old 06-21-2012, 03:26 PM
 
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Some great suggestions. I will try them and see if anything helps. I feel that part of the problem for my daughter is learning to live with her increased mobility (fast crawling, standing without support, etc). She wants to be on the go all the time and seems to have trouble calming down even though we follow a bed time routine which includes some quiet time. If she wakes up, she instantly stands up in bed. It's kinda funny some times...

I agree about developing parenting confidence. I am currently trying to make my inlaws understand why I won't do CIO. My MIL is desperate to have DD stay with her and she doesn't get that we're not ready for that yet, especially since we're still BFing with no plan to stop anytime soon. So much unsolicited advice, especially for FTMs.
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#18 of 36 Old 06-21-2012, 05:07 PM
 
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Sleepless in America has a good section about our national sleep issues and how early sleep training contributes to sleep problems later in life, not prevents them. Maybe you could read that to reinforce what you already know and then give a copy to your pediatrician too smile.gif

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#19 of 36 Old 06-21-2012, 05:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by aaahmyeye View Post

Today was DD's 6 month old check up.  I like our ped very much, except I think he's a very "traditional" doctor and sometimes I come away feeling like I'm a crappy parent.  Today he asked if dd falls asleep on her own.  She doesn't.  I nurse her to sleep.  He told me learning to fall asleep is a learned behavior and that I should start giving her opportunities to do so to prevent sleep problems.  Ugh.  I have tried it and it doesn't seem to work, she just cries, and it takes about 45 mins longer for her to fall asleep than if I just nurse her.

You just have the perfect recipe to create sleep problems right here.

 

I would tell the doc, thank you, I am not interested in parenting advice. Please make sure she is on the right track medically, I can handle the parenting part.


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#20 of 36 Old 06-22-2012, 02:58 PM
 
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I was the same way. I would and still do vascillate between listening to my gut and fretting about the mainstream way.

 

My DD is 17 months old and she has been full time bedsharing since 5 months. She needs the boob to fall asleep unless she is in her stroller or the car or the Ergo. She also used to wake up every 45 minutes. Slowly, but surely, things are getting "better" - she slept 7 hours in a row two nights in a row while we were on vacation. Usually she wakes up twice a night, after I go to bed. But you know what, she is happy, I am happy, we both get sleep, and I actually love how easy it is, even though she can't fall asleep without help, mostly mine. 

 

I would say, you are doing a great job fulfilling your LOs needs and things are as they should be for such a young baby. 


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#21 of 36 Old 06-22-2012, 04:06 PM
 
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aaahmyeye

 

Mama, you are doing the right thing by nursing your DD when she needs it.  Listen to your baby not your doctor.  In my experience, pediatricians are good with medical issues but are very old school when it comes to parenting.

 

I have an 18 month old son who initially needed rocking or nursing to sleep.  When he was about 11 months, I found I could lay him down on the bed next to me, sing to him, and he would drift off to sleep - so that's how he goes to sleep at night now and for nap time.  And I take a nap right along side him! We always go to him when he wakes up and cries, and give him a cuddle or boobie to get back to sleep.  I want him to know that I'm always here for him, whenever he needs me.

 

Your DD is only 6 months and that is still so young.  She needs to know that mama is close by and that you are there for her.  By soothing and comforting her at nighttime, you are teaching her that sleep is a safe and pleasant state to be in.

 

I do not believe in "sleep training" because all it really teaches bubs is that if they cry, no one is there for them.  What a cruel lesson for them to learn.

 

And I think the concept of "self soothing" is a crock....again....I think that "self soothing" just means that bubs has given up crying because they believe they are all alone, so what is the point.

 

You are doing a great job mama.

 

Remember, just because someone else offers parenting advice, does not mean you need to take it.


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#22 of 36 Old 06-23-2012, 04:45 PM
 
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We still have the 40 minute wake-up here sometimes at 27 months old!  And if it's not 40, it's 1:20.  And if not 1:20, then exactly 2 hours. 

 

I think...yes, your daughter will learn to fall asleep on her own whether you nurse her to sleep or not, and yes, the nursing to sleep probably does contribute to the night-wakings.  My daughter only in the past month or two went from waking 5 or more times a night to 1 or 2.  I've made some steps to encourage her to fall asleep on her own, but they all happened in due time, and with relative ease.  It does bother me that I feel like my daughter has no idea how to relax and go to sleep.  She has never, ever in her life, no matter how exhausted, just fallen asleep, other than being in the car.  But I don't think sleep training is the way to go about teaching her.  My daughter is very cerebral, and I think she will actually have to "learn" about sleeping before she can do it at will. 

 

I agree with others here that the concept of self-soothing is odd.  Most people seek out comfort from others when they're feeling upset or troubled, even in adulthood. Odd to think that a little baby should do that. 

 

One thing I used to do when my daughter was 5 or 6 months:  She'd sleep-drink her bottle for so long, that "the 40" was almost there by the time I put her in bed.  So I just kept her on my lap and soothed her through that first wake-up before even trying to put her to bed.  It was just easier that way.
 

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#23 of 36 Old 06-25-2012, 08:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I think a lot of you are right in that "self soothing" is an unrealistic expectation for a little social being.  It's true, as adults we seek out others when we need comfort. It's a pretty crazy expectation to hope a baby would be able to comfort themselves to sleep.

 

So, I have another question.   Like I said, I usually nurse dd to sleep but lately that hasn't been as effective as I would hope.  She will nurse for awhile, but if she decides she's done nursing but is still awake, she won't continue nursing just to fall asleep.  That means I have to employ other methods to get her to sleep.  The problem is that my baby is no lightweight.  She's 19 lbs at 6 months.  I used to walk her, or put her in a sling/ergo to get her to sleep.  But she is getting heavy.  These methods still work, but they take longer than nursing and are getting tougher on my back.  And she just keeps getting bigger... Soooo, like with sleep training that teaches a baby to fall asleep independently, can you teach your baby to fall asleep to a different method?  Since nursing isn't foolproof for me, it would be nice if I could teach her a back up method that's easier on my body than walking with her.... Has anyone done this?

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#24 of 36 Old 06-25-2012, 10:19 PM
 
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When nursing to sleep doesn't work, I rock my daughter and sing lullabies, or put her in the stroller and take her out for a walk (the latter only works for naps - I have never managed to transfer her from the stroller to her crib without waking her up).  I used to just put her in the carrier, but that is no longer possible (she's 28 months and 32 lbs. - my back just can't take that any more).  Now that she's older, I nurse her until she feels like her body is settling down and relaxing, and then I sing or tell long boring stories:)  It really does seem to be all about getting her relaxed before I put her in the crib - she's a very active, high-strung little person, and she really has problems settling down on her own.  Bedtime used to take 1-2 hours, but we have it down to about 1/2 hour now.  

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#25 of 36 Old 06-25-2012, 11:34 PM
 
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At 4 months my DD is already starting to not fall asleep while nursing and needing something else to put her to sleep so I turn her on her side and pat her bum till she falls asleep. Its a similar motion to rocking for her and but she's already laying down. I can usually turn her to her back but don't always since she can roll over both ways. Sometimes I'll hold the binky in her mouth (she's learned how to take it out and put it back in herself which I don't want her to do over and over when I'm trying to get her to fall asleep) with one hand and pat her bum with the other. She has a good deal of nighttime cloth diapered bum to pad her too. smile.gif

My sister used to love getting her bum patted and to this day, at 20, it still makes her get sleepy. The other morning when DD woke DH up early after DH had just gotten home the night before from an exhausting red eye flights for a business trip, I put DH and DD back to sleep by patting both their bums at the same time. smile.gif Then they both took a good long nap together. He would be mortified if he knew I posted that. Hehe, but it was so cute. I felt bad he got woken up so early, poor guy works so hard for his family that he deserves to sleep in once in a while.

I also second no cry sleep solution if its anything like no cry nap solution. The chapter on getting your co slept baby to take a nap independantly was invaluable.

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#26 of 36 Old 06-25-2012, 11:35 PM
 
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I also can't stand the phrase 'self soothe.' greensad.gif

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DD Seraphina born at home on 2/21/2012! 

"Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one."
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#27 of 36 Old 06-27-2012, 07:49 PM
 
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When I think about "self-soothing" it means managing strong emotions or using relaxation techniques --that's not how it's applied to babies.   Self-soothing by my defination is a useful skill, but you'll have plenty of time to teach a child that, and not just at bedtime.  Not to mention that to teach is much more deliberate than just walking out and hoping something good happens.  Some kids might appear to learn to soothe themselves when confronted with parental withdrawal, but I think it's more likely that they're just learning it's not worth it.  I don't think that CIO is always harmful, but I do think that there is always a great risk of harm.  To me, it's just not worth it.

 

Another thing -- I think it's really awful that we should expect babies to do something that plenty of adults have trouble with, and those things usually seem to be for our own convenience. 

 

My kids still aren't great sleepers, though greatly improved.  I think I may have to "teach" my older, excitable, night-owl relaxation techniques, maybe even hypnosis!!!  But she's old enough now to actually learn what I intend which is much different to me than just that I won't come.

 

Are you open to a new ped?  The part that bothers me about your situation is that it's making you doubt your choices and come away from a visit feeling bad.  Right or not, I've found that it's not uncommon to get parenting-type information as well as strictly medical.

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#28 of 36 Old 06-28-2012, 08:26 PM
 
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I agree, trust your heart!  My ped has pushed the same thing.

 

We are doing what feels right to us and couldn't go with the "self soothing", "cry it out" type of recommendations that the professionals gave us.

 

The boys are confidant and THIS time goes SO quickly.  It took a while ... but with the boys being 18 months and 20 months now, they USUALLY sleep through the night and they USUALLY go down without a problem.

 

Good luck! 

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#29 of 36 Old 06-28-2012, 08:59 PM
 
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I don't have anything to add.  Just popping in to say I have really enjoyed the conversation so far and I love our little corner of MDC. heartbeat.gif


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#30 of 36 Old 06-30-2012, 02:48 PM
 
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I got the same advice from my pedi.  I ignored it.

 

I wonder how many adults crawl straight into bed and go to sleep.  I'd wager just about all of us get into bed and then read, or cuddle with our partner, or toodle on our phones, or watch movie on the laptop, or whatever.  Why should we expect an awake baby to just lie down and fall asleep?  And why are we okay with older kids getting a bedtime story or bedtime cuddle or something, but not okay with young babies (or toddlers) being nursed to sleep?

 

So silly.  Do what feels right.  




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