My DD is 4.5 months, and up until yesterday I'd always nursed/bounced her to sleep (we bounce her on a big yoga ball which she loves). However, lately she's been waking up in the middle of the night and doesn't want to nurse (she gets even more angry and refuses it when I offer), and I have to bounce her on the ball for an extended period of time in the middle of the night to get her back to sleep (I used to be able to just nurse her back to sleep easily). Similarly, when my husband takes care of her when I go to work (once a week, I'm a nurse PRN), he has a horrible time getting her to sleep and it involves swinging her around for a long time and lots of crying. I know something has to change -- my lack of sleep is interfering with my ability to be a good mom. So the past 2 days I've been nursing her till she's almost sleepy (I've read the No Cry Sleep Solution), then I put her down on her tummy on the bed (we bed share), and pat her back while she cries until she falls asleep. I've done this to sleep last night, and then for 3 naps between today and yesterday. She falls asleep within 10-30 minutes of this, and she sleeps SO much better and longer than when I nurse her to sleep and put her on the bed (she only sleeps 30 minutes when I nurse her to sleep and leave her alone on the bed). But I have mixed feelings -- is it CIO if I'm there with her, patting her back and singing/shushing her? She is crying and trying to roll over, but I'm there with her so I don't feel like I'm abandoning her...it does hurt me to see her cry so much, but at the same time she sleeps SO much better this way. I still nurse her back to sleep in the middle of the night, and I'm definitely not planning on stopping nursing her to sleep period -- I just want her to also learn to go to sleep on her own (or at least, without being nursed/bounced), for her sake as much as mine, since she really does seem upset when she wants to sleep but doesn't want to nurse. Thoughts??? I've scoured the internet but there doesn't seem to be much info out there about patting to sleep, and if there is, it's described as a crutch in the same vein as nursing, rocking, etc to sleep, but with all the crying it doesn't feel that gentle...sigh...
It sounds like bouncing on the ball is really not sustainable and this is a reasonable alternative. I could rock all night if I had to (and have) but I could not bounce a baby for very long. I think you're wise to transition from that.
Thank you so much everybody for the support. It's really true what you said, Viola P., that babies don't know what's best for them -- patting her to sleep results in her sleeping better, which makes her happier and cry less in the long run! It's just hard, and even my husband feels a little weird about it, since like me he's totally opposed to CIO -- he still does his ridiculous swinging her to sleep in his arms thing, because he can't bear to hear her cry! I appreciate the encouragement, I'll keep it up and keep working on teaching her to fall asleep on her own (gently). I wish this whole sleep thing wasn't so hard!
I think it's a fine idea. It's still soothing her,
For a time I was wondering about CIO. I heard so many people say they did all these things while their babies still technically screamed and I wondered if the physiological affects on the babies were still the same.
I have yet to find any studies on attempt-to-soothe-crying versus the typical CIO, but from what I can find it seems any type of soothing is better than none (sounds a little too duh.)
Just an update...she learned to roll over (this was probably extra motivation for her!) after I'd been trying this for about 3 days. Hah! So she thwarted my attempts. Now I'm back to nursing to sleep, sucking it up, and waiting it out...gah. I'm at peace with it though!
If you were having success and don't want to go back to the bouncing thing, I'm sure there's other things you can try. For instance, you could try simply holding her without any dramatic swinging/bouncing/rocking when she wakes and doesn't want to nurse. My DD likes me to smooth her forehead to help her sleep, although she might have been older when that started to work. She also liked falling asleep while being jiggled when she was young by holding her across the belly and sort of vibrating her back and forth. Hard to explain, but point being that you don't have to stand on your head and spit nickels to get your baby to sleep just because it works in the moment. You do your best and you stick with her and hold her hand during the hard process of sleep-learning. In fact, my DD went through a stage as she was learning to sleep more independently where she literally held my hand. And if nothing works this month, it may very well work next month, if that's any consolation.
Definitely not CIO to pat, in my opinion. There were nights when my girl cried no matter WHAT I did and I would not say that all my efforts of swaddling, bouncing, rocking, walking, nursing, etc. were CIO because I was there with her and we were communicating and trying to work it out together.
I did start patting a lot around 5 months old and she was definitely rolling. After a few times, she just got used to it and didn't roll anymore...for the most part. Now at 13 months old, just a light touch on her back is enough to get her back to sleep, so it's a nice method in that you can easily reduce the intensity when it becomes overstimulating. It's also really cute that she pats me on the back when it's time for bed (she also "sshh" and pats her dolls which is ridiculously cute).
My DH does the patting, but DS is on his back, so he pats his chest. It works like a charm for him, not so much with me, I'm not sure if it's not vigorous enough or what. You might try it even though your LO is rolling.
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