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#1 of 14 Old 01-12-2003, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Help! We’re having a family bed crisis. My dh and I have chosen to sleep family bed style with our first ds, who is now 15 months old. (We sleep in a queen) We’ve since been questioning our decision based on the following behaviors. 1 - ds wakes on average 4 to 6 times per night and generally falls back to sleep only after breast feeding. Upon trying to soothe him in other ways, his initial wake-up cries turn to full-out screams until he is offered the breast. 2 - He initially falls asleep in the crib at 7:00 fairly easily. Within one to three hours he awakens, and will not go back to sleep unless one of us sleeps with him in the big bed. He appears to be waking with more gusto and screams, and is not easy to soothe back to sleep. 3 - Our ds has an incredible desire to "pick" at our bodies while he is either falling asleep or while asleep. e.g. he pulls at my dh armpit hairs, or the hairs on his arms, or our ds will play with my chin, my nose and try and put his fingers up my nose, play with my lips and put his fingers in my mouth, or press on the tendons on my hands, or find a tense tendon in my neck and move it back and forth. Needless to say, these behaviors are not helping our sleep. Although I have been amazed at my ability to find patience night-after-night, the behaviors are beginning to ware on me and my dh. So my question is this: Have any of you experienced behaviors similar to these, and what have you done about them? My belief is ds is not the greatest sleeper to start, and the family bed has not made him worse. But I have to admit, there is a part of me that thinks, "what have we done wrong? Should we have done the cry it out from the beginning? Would he sleep better if we hadn’t started him in the bed but rather, in the crib?" I’m wondering also if weaning him may help? I’ve bought the book The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, but she doesn’t really address the child who wakes up seemingly disturbed multiple times at night, or the child who desires a lot of contact that keeps us from sleeping. Some nights I have held ds for 30 minutes while he screams. Any thoughts, suggestions, words of wisdom?

Thanks.
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#2 of 14 Old 01-12-2003, 09:04 PM
 
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Hopefully this is a phase. DS likes to touch and pull DH's armpit hairs too.
Have you tried giving him something to hold onto? Maybe a soft toy that has a few things to play with all in one or maybe a favorite stuffed animal that he could touch.
You could try this, but I am sure it will take time for him to lose interest in his two favorite people.

You could alsp pretend that you don't notice (it may not work with the armpit hairs, ouch). If he sees that you aren't responding, which is his intent, he may lose interest in playing with you during the night time.
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#3 of 14 Old 01-12-2003, 11:52 PM
 
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Our ds was also waking 3-5 times a night at this age, waking very upset, and only going back to sleep by nursing. I found a noticeable difference when I cut back on dairy in his diet and mine. I didn't eliminate it, just strictly limited the servings. I could tell the days he had more than 2 servings, esp. after noon, because he would wake more often, more upset, for longer times. Once we limited our dairy he still woke 2-3 times per night and needed nursing, but was asleep again sooner and was not crying, just looking for me when he woke. He never had other symptoms of dairy intolerance, and now that he's bigger he can handle more of it without problems--it was just a mild intolerance but made a big difference in his sleep.

DS has always held or fiddled with my long hair while nursing, and he eventually replaced night nursings with just holding my hair (or using it as a pillow). Can you or dh pick some part of you that ds can fiddle with without driving you up a wall, and keep encouraging that as a substitute for other picking? I made a point of putting my hair in ds' hand at night as a way of soothing him, and it kept him from groping around for anything else.

I admire your patience, and I totally understand wondering if some other way would have been easier--I wondered that a lot. Keep looking for environmental things (e.g. diet or other irritants) that might be causing the crying at night. I found night waking much more tolerable when ds was not so upset. Hang in there!

-Sue
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#4 of 14 Old 01-13-2003, 03:07 AM
 
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Family bedding isn't always the easiest thing to do, but I am convinced it is the best thing to do.
My dd is 12 months and does all those things. i just want to encourage you to hang in there. You have made a great choice. CIO is not a good choice and you would be having these same problems, or maybe worse ones, if you had chosen that path. It is so hard some nights and i just want to scream. But then it passes like a wave and I am stronger than before.
I have no real advice, just to hang in there and you are doing a great thing. This will pass so soon and you'll be wondering where your little baby went.
Beth
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#5 of 14 Old 01-13-2003, 04:01 AM
 
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We sleep four in a bed right now. My 4 year old was exactly like yours at that age and then, it seemed like it was overnight, he just stopped waking up at night. I think he was about 2 years old. My now 2 year old also did the same things as yours at about the same age, he still wakes to nurse but it's much easier now. Letting your baby cry himself to sleep is not the answer, it would only serve to dull your natural maternal instincts. I don't care about the experts who insist on the CIO "method". It's horrific. They insist that it works because the child eventually does go to sleep by himself. Of course, children are good at adapting. The CIO child has learned only one thing, "mom & dad cannot be counted on to help me when I need it", therefore he withdraws into himself a little more each time. This will pass, you wont even remember what it was like. When I think of our experience w/the family bed, even with its trials, all I remember are the really cute things my kids do that I would miss if they were in a crib.

DS 12 DS 9 DD 6
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#6 of 14 Old 01-13-2003, 04:23 AM
 
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I have 4 in the bed now too. Myself, dh, my 4 yr old son and 26 month old daughter (and the 70 lb. dog) : ! Wow is it getting crowded LOL.

Seriously, I had the same problem with both my kids until I started letting them sleep with a stuffed animal. Actually, my daughter started it when grandma gave her a stuffed dog she just loved and would not part with it for like 2 weeks, she took it everywhere including bed. My ds not wanting to be left out, went to his room and picked his favorite soft stuffed toy and began sleeping with it too. It has done wonders for the petting and picking and they both seem to sleep better and fall asleep (or back to sleep) easier while holding their animals. At first I thought, great one more thing taken up precious bed space , but now I think its great .

Maybe it was just a fluke for us, but thought I would pass along the info.
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#7 of 14 Old 01-13-2003, 10:00 AM
 
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Same issues with my 2.5 dd. I weaned her from nursing in the middle of the night before I did anything. I know this may not be a popular response, but when I stopped nursing in the middle of the night things got a little better (I got sick of my nipple being used like a pacifier!). It did take some screaming and a lot of patience on my part, but it was worth it (after awhile!).

DD also LOVES to "fiddle" with us. We call it petting, because it's exactly the way you would absentmindedly pet a dog. She's not interested in stuffed animals or binks, or wubbies or any of that stuff. We helped her to stop the painful petting and SO and I have different tolerance levels for the other kind. I try to think of it as a really sweet thing; she pets us the way I stork her hair or her back when I'm hugging her. She does it less and less at night, and I think yours will, too.

HoneyFern

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Never let your schooling interfere with your education. ~Mark Twain~

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#8 of 14 Old 01-13-2003, 03:26 PM
 
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I haven't had this problem, DD is only 6 mo old. But my first thought was that you should get your son his own mattress and put it right next to yours. That way you all have a bit more room and maybe you can slowly start the transitioning that way. Not sure if this will work but my first thought when I read your post is that you all need more room to sleep.

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#9 of 14 Old 01-13-2003, 04:16 PM
 
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This may not be the most popular view, but here goes...

My ds, now 24 mos, started out in our bed. DH encouraged me to go the cry-it-out route and I refused for a months, with occasional lapses. At 9 mos., his sleeping was getting worse, rather than better. I succombed to the cry it out philosophy, we moved him downstairs to his bed and in 2 nights he slept through the night. My dd is now 9 mos. and in the same position, though she isn't ready to go it alone yet.

My belief is that it depends on the child, but if they aren't sleeping well it's not good for them. And while you can handle it, it's not good for them if you are too exhausted either. Getting ds into his own space and allowing him the opportunity to figure out sleeping for himself was the best thing for him. I have a couple of friends who observed the same thing with their children. Now dd is another question. I plan to occasionally give her the chance to sleep on her own, coming to her rescue when she's not interested, and wait for her to choose when she wants her own bed.

Good luck! It's a tough decision.
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#10 of 14 Old 01-13-2003, 08:50 PM
 
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I could have written your post! You seemed to be describing our situation perfectly. I got the Elizabeth Pantley book months ago and found the same problem you did...no solution for the child who SCREAMS bloody murder if not offered the breast. She repeatedly says "just lay the child back down" well, I can't do that. He will scream louder and wake everyone in my building. I have resigned myself to saying that this is only temporary and someday he will sleep through the night. I also get kicked and poked and proded (he especially likes to poke me in the eyes and throat) and I will just gently take his hand down to his side and say "Mommy doesn't like that. It's night-night time, let's go to sleep." He will usually laugh at me at first, but eventually he gets the idea and will quietly lay with me. We have his crib right up against the side of our bed with one rail off and he can roll back and forth between the crib and the bed. Sometimes when he falls asleep I will roll him into the crib and put a pillow between us so he can't kick me. I get a few hours sleep that way. When he wakes up, he just moves the pillow and comes to me to nurse.
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#11 of 14 Old 01-14-2003, 05:07 PM
 
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Just regarding the picking/poking, I'll move their hands and hold the hand down while saying "ouch, that hurts, please don't do that," things like that. And if they keep doing it I'll take them off the breast. They get the point very quickly.

(and armpit-hair pulling really, really hurts ...)

- Amy
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#12 of 14 Old 01-15-2003, 02:51 AM
 
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My ds not only kicks and pokes and prods, but crawls on top of me trying to get comfortable! The worst is when he lifts his head and he's too tired so he falls down and his head swings right onto my nose! That is the most painful. I love sleeping with him very much--when he's still. I almost decided to put him in the crib for the night (he starts out there) but I don't think I have the heart. However, I hope he sleeps through the night before I have another! I read all the other replies--sounds like good advice, wish I could contribute more, but I'm new at it too! Good Luck, Shana
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#13 of 14 Old 01-19-2003, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's comforting to know that others have experienced similiar challenges regarding the family bed and their childrens' sleeping behavior. The responses, suggestions, validations, etc. have been extremely helpful, and I'm SOOO happy I've discovered this lovely 'chat room'. It's all quite new to me.. the chatting and the mothering. Thanks for responding!

La Tia
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#14 of 14 Old 01-20-2003, 01:01 AM
 
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A little late here, but I thought I'd share my thoughts...

My first thought was that your DS may need his own space. I'm not talking about putting him in a crib in a different room, but maybe you could try hooking up a crib (minus one side) as a sidecar, or putting a twin bed next to your side of the bed. Some kids really DO need more space, and just becasue we love the family bed doesn't mean we should ignore their cues. I'm totally not saying that this is the csae in your situation, but merely that it should be considered as a possibility.

I was also going to recommend NCSS but then saw that you already had it and didn't find it useful. Have you tried the Pantley pull-off? Don't refuse the breast, but try to stay awake long enough to remove it as soon as he stops sucking vigorously. If he fusses, give it back. Repeat as many times as necessary. Eventually you can gently and respectfully curb some of the nipple as pacifier behavior without ever refusing to nurse him. Also, I wonder how much napping he is getting. Kids who don;t nap enough during the day are more restless and wake more at night. I suggest that you re-read the section in NCSS on napping and see if you think anything could be improved.

I'm really tired, so I hope everything came out as I intended.


edited for typos
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