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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am asking this here because I see that the majority of you are anti-CIO and advocate gentle parenting. Dh and I desparately want to be gentle parents and we need some help.

Dd just turned one year this week. Generally, she is a sweet, laid-back baby. She has consistently slept through the night for several months now. Her normal routine was to sleep from about 7:00 or 8:00 pm until 5:30 or 6:00 am, plus two daytime naps for a total of 3 hours of naptime. (Yes, it was a delightful time!)

About 3 weeks ago, she began fighting sleep. When it is obvious she is sleepy, we go through her bedtime routine and try to lay her down. She screams inconsolably. We then begin a lengthy (sometimes 2 hours) negotiation with her until she finally passes out. During this time, she "demands" multiple nursing sessions, drinks of water, books, playtime, stuffed animals, etc. It sounds silly to me to say that my 1-year old is "demanding" things, but she is! She knows how to sign for these things, and if we don't give them to her she screams & shrieks and will not be consoled. Help. What have we done?

Aside from the bedtime battles, she has also begun waking during the night. At first, she would wake & cry, but I could very easily nurse her back to sleep. No big deal. Now she shrieks and screams, is on & off the breast multiple times, etc. She is awake for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night.

It is apparent now by her daytime behavior that she is severely lacking sleep. Please help us. We want her (and us!) to get sufficient sleep. How can we get her to bed at a reasonable time? We need to end these lengthy negotiations, but cannot stand to hear her shriek & sob uncontrollably.

We are seriously considering some form of CIO because we're thinking it may be less cruel to let her cry for an hour one night rather than have these long, drawn out, miserable sessions several times a night. But I really don't think either dh or I would be able to follow through (with CIO), which would probably just make matters worse. We feel so lost and confused. If you have any suggestions at all, please share. Thank you.
 

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I offer this very humbly...but I am almost positive it will work. Bring her to bed with you in your bed. Nurse her to sleep. Stay there physically until you can tell she's in a deep sleep. Fight any urge to 'get away' sooner because I'm conviced children can sense this when you feel it, and it makes them want you to stay there longer. I am guessing she is going through a phase, maybe a growth phase physically or her awareness of being alone is increasing and needing some TLC...If you're already doing this, I will leave it to others to offer suggestions, but if you can tell during the day that your daughter is sleep deprived, then I think you have to make sleep a priority right now. You HAVE been unusually lucky with her previous sleep pattern. If you try this and it doesn't work, I would talk to her pediatrician (but I hope your ped is not a cry it out advocate). Remember, whatever the cause, it truly is not her fault. Gentle responses will reassure her more than leaving her alone.
 

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Well, first off, it's not less cruel to have her cry for an hour than to be patient with her at bedtime. A one year old is not mature enough to understand that the reason mommy won't come when they cry is because it's bedtime. What she will understand is that she cries and nobody comes.

Here are some suggestions for easing the transition to bedtime from the naturalchild.org site:

Quote:
Establishing a bedtime ritual, such as a warm bath followed by book reading (Goodnight Moon is relaxing, as the pictures become gradually darker); soft music or singing, or a gentle massage can also be very soothing. Parents should try as much as possible to avoid stressful situations in the evening. Young children are the "emotional barometers" in the family, and can react to stress and excitement even if they are too young to understand the causes of this. Parents should also avoid loud noises and bright lights, especially close to bedtime. A dimmer switch can be helpful in this transition - electric lights, with their sudden shift from brightness to darkness are a new stimulus for a Stone Age baby! Room-darkening window shades can help block out morning sunlight. In a recent study, jasmine scent sprayed on bedding was found to help subjects fall asleep more quickly and to sleep more soundly. "Sleep talking" (talking softly to a sleeping child)2 is another helpful approach, during which a parent can ask the baby or child for help, provide explanations of stressful situations, apologize when needed, or simply express love to the child.
 

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I didn't see if you wrote this in your post, but do you cosleep? I would recommend cosleeping, in my experiences it improves the child's sleep and the parent's too.
I agree with frand about how they sense that you are leaving, my dd used to do that and it took me over an hour to get her to fall asleep every single night, but I did that because I never wanted to let her CIO.
I also agree that it's not her fault, and she needs love and support in this sleep problem that she is having.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
 

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I second, or third
, the suggestion to co-sleep.

The only other thing I would suggest is when she asks for things at bedtime, stuffed animal, books, playtime, I wouldn't give them to her.

Do whatever bed time routine you always do - for example two books, one song and then nurse. After that if she asks for another book. I would keep repeating something like, "It's time for you to go night-night. Books have gone night-night." Otherwise it just might be a fun game to play with Mom and Dad at night - kwim?

I would nurse when ased though because that does help settle them for bed.
 

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IMHO, this is the worst time possible to try CIO. If you look through the toddler archives, you'll see that this type of sleep behaviour is very common at 12 months or so. Sleep tends to be disturbed when there are major developmental milestones being hit, and to boot this is often the age they start experiencing teething pains from the first set of molars. It certainly happened in our household. DD also began dropping one of her naps at this age; a nap too late in the day would create havoc at bedtime. At some point I just accepted the more frequent wakenings, and they eventually went away. How long? Maybe a couple months.

There are some great suggestions here, all worth trying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for the responses. I will try to address the questions & concerns, as I still feel a bit lost as to what we should do.

NoHiddenFees: I understand your point that this may be a phase, and I will look through the toddler archives to see if I can find some more ideas. It is not the frequency of wakenings that bothers me, but the fact that nothing we do helps her go back to sleep. Last night she slept from 9:30 until 1:00 and then we were up until 4:30 getting her back to sleep. She then slept until 7:00. I am looking for suggestions on how to get her back to sleep in, say, a half hour instead of 3 1/2. Thank you.

dotcommama: In our bed, she thrashes around, gets up on all fours, stand up, and, eventually, gets out of bed. I cannot force her to stay in and she will not nurse to sleep. That's why I'm looking for suggestions. As far as not giving her the things she asks during bedtime routine....Yes, I think it has become a fun game for her. But if I don't give her whatever she shrieks and screams. Should I let her do this? Or is it better to give in? Thanks for your ideas.

loving-my-babies: We have tried both cosleeping and a crib, and neither seem to work for dd. I agree, too, that it is not her fault and that she needs love and support. But what, specifically, can I do to show love and support? Thank you.

phathius5: Thank you for the ideas. I do want to be patient with her at bedtime. I truly do. I do not want to be cruel, that is why I am asking for help. But what do I do when she will not stop screaming? She will not nurse, she will not stay in our bed, she will not sleep. She just screams. I agree that she does not understand what bedtime is and only understands that nobody comes (which we have not yet resorted to, BTW).

We have tried many of the suggestions you posted (routine including washing up, brushing teeth, nursing, reading book, music; limiting stress and light in the evenings; room-darkening shades; a dimmer switch; lavender scent (although not jasmine); sleep-talking). I have done a lot of research around this and am really looking for more suggestions. You are right; we need to be patient. And we are trying to do that. But she keeps screaming, no matter how patient we are. That is why we *wondered* if she actually needs to be alone? Because it is something we have not tried. We just are out of ideas. Thank you.

frand: I have tried to bring her to bed and nurse her to sleep. She will nurse for a bit, then pop off and want to play. She crawls all over the bed, stands up, and eventually climbs out of bed. If I try to nurse her more, she screams & pushes me away. I DO know that we have been amazingly lucky with her sleep patterns and overall disposition to date. I also want to make sleep a priority right now, but am just unsure how to help her get to sleep. What other ways can I show TLC? Maybe I do need to call her pediatrician. Thank you for your help.

Again, thank you for the responses. I value your input. We do not want to let her cry, trust me. We just are running out of ideas, and when she will not stay with us or nurse I don't know what to do. Also, we keep second (and third, and fourth) guessing ourselves.
 

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QUOTE:
In our bed, she thrashes around, gets up on all fours, stand up, and, eventually, gets out of bed.
END QUOTE

That would end before long once she realized that sleeping with you is what she's there for. A week or little more at the outside. Just keep laying her down, letting her know this is "night" time now and for sleeping. Be sure the room is quiet, dark and night-ready (they can tell if you plan on getting up again). FAR better to be persistent with cosleeping than with CIO!

We STRUGGLED with sleep issues for years with my twins. We chose CIO because we didn't know any better. Only once we brought them to bed with us did we get sleep. It was a LONG *4* years.
 

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It sounds to me like she is ready for a change in her schedule. Is she still taking two naps a day? I would *definately* transition to one afternoon nap during the day. If she has already transitioned to one nap, then I would think about whether or not it is a little too long or too late in the day. Babies and kids who rely on very regular/predictable schedules will periodically need their schedule adjusted. My older child was like this. There is usually a couple of weeks where it is very hard on everyone. Its normal, and it passes!

I also wonder if she is ready for an increase in the physical activity she gets during the day.
 

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A few thoughts

~First, a physical explaination. Could she be in pain? Could she be having an allergic reaction? Is she teething?

~Second, what mamaduck said. Is she getting too much sleep during the day?

~Third, regarding whether to give in or let her cry when she asks for repeated additions to her bedtime routine:

Well, I would make sure that she is physically healthy first. If she is, then I would recommend you consider this approach at bedtime:

Don't think of your role as being one of "She who stops all crying" but one of "She who is here to be patient and supportive". Maybe your daughter WANTS to cry to you about something. Have you considered this? Since she is pre verbal, but going through some major growth right now, she may periodically be frightened or upset, on an emotional level, or psychological level, but lack the ability to express it. Crying might be her way of releasing pent up stress or worry at the end of the day. If this is the case, then I would suggest that it would help for you to stick to a regular routine, and then when she begs for more additions, and you gently don't give in, you let her ,even encourage her, to cry in your arms, or beside you if she prefers. Let her cry and rage. Don't stop her. Tell her it is okay to be angry or upset. Try to make eye contact, and simply sit quietly, and let her know you are listening, and love her very much. Let her work through her upset with the safety of knowing you are there for her while she rages. You may find that once her crying fit winds down, she becomes very calm, even happy, or perhaps sleepy. She may immediately begin to sleep better at night if she is allowed to get out her feelings at bedtime.

This is far, far different than CIO alone. Remember, all crying is not bad. It can be very healthy for a person to have a good cry. It is being forced to cry alone that is so frightening. It is not being listened to that is so upsetting.

You may find that once you stop viewing your role as "stopping the crying" (which is, as you have seen, actually impossible, if your child is determined to cry!), that you regain a sense of confidence and usefulness. You can't control her emotions, but you don't have to let them control you either. Just be there for her, whether she is happy or sad, and don't spend hours trying to stop her crying if she wants to cry! Let her, but stay with her, and just give her emotional support as she vents.

Good luck!
 

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Definitely make sure there is not a physical cause - ear aches, for example, are known for making children who normally sleep well very resistant to being laid down.

heartmama -
Perfectly said.

Yes if you don't give her the story she wants she will cry, but just hug her and rock her, sing, whatever until she calms down. CIO means CIO alone, this is very different.

If she gets you to play a game with her - I ask for book, mama get's it. I ask for water, mama get's it. . .she's not going to be motivated to fall back to sleep - she's having too much fun with you. If your just sitting in a still dark room being calm and loving, but boring, she'll soon realize that nighttime isn't very fun and she might as well sleep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you, thank you. The last few responses have really helped me begin to understand.

dotcommama & heartmama: Thank you so much. Yes, I DO think that she wants to cry. That is why I am feeling so bad and it is so heart-wrenching. But I think you're right. I will try to just *be* with her and comfort her by letting her know she can cry, rather than trying to give her the entire world to try to get her to stop crying (which does turn into a fun game for her). You're correct: I cannot get her to stop crying! Thank you a million times for validating what I was thinking but could not express. I am already feeling better about tonight!

BTW, I am 99% sure she is physically healthy (I say 99% because I have no doctor's opinion). She has shown no signs whatsoever of ear infection or other illness. I know sometimes ear infections are not too apparent, but I am very familiar with them from my work, so think I would notice something if that were the case. Also, it is not teething at the moment. That has been an issue recently, but it manifests differently than our current situation. Thank you for that reminder, though.

heartmama & mamaduck: I have thought about her nap schedule, and yes, it is probably related. We are sort of in between 1 and 2 naps now, depending on the day. So yes, daytime sleep has been irregular, and as you pointed out, she is a schedule-happy baby. Do you think I should just cold-turkey switch to one nap, even if she seems very sleepy at the first naptime? I have been reluctant to cut down on daytime sleep because she is SO tired all the time. I've been figuring some sleep is better than none, even if it is during the day. But that may be backfiring on me, huh? Thank you.

NatureMamaOR: "FAR better to be persistent with cosleeping than with CIO!" Thank you for that reminder. I guess I thought she *did* know night & bed were for sleeping. Although now that I read your post, I'm reminded that I have lately allowed her to play in bed with me after our am nursing time. Big oops. Probably a good idea to get right out of bed when we're awake in the am! I had not even thought about that. Thank you. Also thanks for your story. I can't imagine having twins! Let alone trying CIO with them. Poor you. I'm glad to hear you finally got things to work out.

Thank you again. I am feeling much better now, and hoping that tonight might go better with this new attitude. I am a list-writer, and I now have a list of ideas to draw from, which is much better than what I had last night (mostly tears, feelings of worthlessness, and a headache!). Sometimes I really just feel like a horrible mama, but I guess that comes with the territory. Thank you.
 

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"You're correct: I cannot get her to stop crying! Thank you a million times for validating what I was thinking but could not express. I am already feeling better about tonight!"

You are welcome! It is amazing how many AP parents torture themselves with frantic nighttime acrobatics trying to stop a determined baby from crying. And I have seen so many posts where that parent considers giving up and CIO, even though neither attitude feels right or good to them or the baby.

What I like about the approach of accepting the crying, is that it does tend to give the parent an immediate "ah ha" feeling of relief. It feels right and positive and natural when you are dealing with this kind of crying. When a baby cries even though you have rocked, fed, changed, and held them, you can suspect they might actually want to cry! And if you keep rocking and feeding them anyway, it just prolonges the inevitable, and instead of a good expressive, release of emotions, the baby fusses and cries and stops and starts up again for hours while you distract them. Then they will wake in the night to start up again! And again! And eventually the parent winds up feeling totally useless and helpless and ineffective. And when they realize they can stop all that and just be there, close to their baby, and say "Hey, it's okay, I will listen", it can actually be a special bonding moment, instead of a traumatic one.

I have mentioned this approach here before, and that it comes from a book called "The Aware Baby" by Aletha Solter.

I think it is the perfect answer to situations like your's, and I hope it helps you to feel a sense of order once again.

As far as naps, I don't know. It may be hard to try 2 new approaches at once, but if you sense she is getting to much sleep during the day, I would go with your intution, and change her napping as well as the way in which you respond to her crying at bedtime.
 

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Ilovelife-- I will second the suggestion of dropping a nap so your daughter is only taking one AND another suggestion I remember from Mothering that worked for me was getting my daughter outside in the fresh air as early in the day as possible. I have unofficially noticed a correlation between parents who say their children are 'good sleepers' and the fact that those are the children I see playing outside early in the day. The idea is that it 'rights' the body clock in terms of the circadian/sleep rythyms -- that a natural tiredness sets in x number of hours after your body is first exposed to outside daylight. At night, a warm bath before bed and cosleep falling asleep in a very dark room

This is a transition. You will get through it!

I give you great credit for seeking gentle solutions.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by heartmama
"The Aware Baby" by Aletha Solter.
There was an article by Aletha Solter a while back in Mothering Mag. You can read it here: Crying for Comfort

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aletha Solter
While the attachment parenting approach is a healthy trend in the right direction, it is possible that, in an effort to counteract the harm caused by the cry-it-out approach, parents may overlook an important function of crying. In our eagerness to persist in soothing and hushing our babies, we may be missing opportunities to help them release stress and heal from trauma. Although it is stressful for babies to cry alone, there is no evidence that crying in a parent's arms is harmful, once all immediate needs are met. On the contrary, crying in arms can be beneficial for babies who have an accumulation of stress.
and

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aletha Solter
When all immediate needs are filled and your baby is still crying, even though you are holding her lovingly in your arms, a helpful response is to continue holding her while trying to relax. This is not the time to continue searching frantically for one remedy after another to stop the crying. Take your baby to a peaceful room and hold her calmly in a position that is comfortable for both of you. Look into her eyes and talk to her gently and reassuringly while expressing the deep love you have for her. Try to surrender to her need to release stress through crying, and listen respectfully to what she is "telling" you. Your baby will probably welcome the opportunity to have a good cry.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by frand
I have unofficially noticed a correlation between parents who say their children are 'good sleepers' and the fact that those are the children I see playing outside early in the day. The idea is that it 'rights' the body clock in terms of the circadian/sleep rythyms -- that a natural tiredness sets in x number of hours after your body is first exposed to outside daylight.
I've never heard that before, but it really makes sense. You should do a little poll here in the Nighttime Parenting Forum
 

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Just wanted to add my support. It seems strange, sleep was our biggest issue for the longest time and now that it's "of the past" I have to really access all those crazy, hazy memories. You will get through this! We often times had to change the routine for DS when things got rough. Anytime I see a post like this, I get the same idea: something needs to change in the routine (as Mamaduck suggested).

Just wanted to add my support to changing the nap schedule. We went from two to one cold turkey (10 or so months) as well. DS was fighting the pm nap so badly and I just didn't think it was healthy for either of us to be battling every day. So we just stopped the pm nap and slowly moved the am nap (always the easier nap I'm thinking due to his nightwaking). It went very well and the one midday nap led to a fussier evening for a time, so we adjusted bedtime to earlier for a while. Once we cut out the second nap, life got much easier... well, until he changed and we had to adjust again that is.


The best and hang in there!

Any
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well, dh & I approached last night armed with our new info (thanks to all of you!) that we don't need to stop the crying or give in to dd's requests, just be patient and loving. Dd also had just one nap yesterday and a very active day, as well. Well, I was able to remain calm and patient, whereas before I would get nearly as upset as dd. We stayed with her for almost two hours (took turns) and there was plenty of crying, but NOTHING like before. And there were no games or negotiations. It was wonderful! And, as if that weren't enough, she had no all-night wakings, either!!!! I can't believe it. Was it just a fluke? I guess we'll find out tonight.
Either way, I can't thank you all enough for helping me gain some perspective and giving us some fresh ideas. Thank you.

Embee: Thank you for the support and BTDT stories. I appreciate it.

dotcommama: Thank you for the references. I'll keep reading, as I'm sure this isn't the end of our need for new sleep-helping ideas.

frand: That is interesting about a possible correlation between morning fresh air and sleep patterns. It makes sense to me. In any case, we often have breakfast outside, as well as morning playtime. I'll definitely keep this in mind.

Thank you all.
 
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