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Thread: Gentle Self-settling: on the right track?

  1. #1

    Default Gentle Self-settling: on the right track?

    I'm glad I found this website. My little one, Bonnie, is only 9 weeks old (very young) but due to a) my own obsession with sleep b) reading too many sleep books and c) pressure from my mother's group - I've decided to start to teach Bonnie to self settle.

    To begin with, my expectations aren't unrealistic. I don't expect her to sleep through the night now or anytime soon, I just want to make sure that I don't set up any "bad habits" that may mean terrible sleep in the forthcoming months/years ahead. And I want her to learn to be able to get to sleep (and to re-settle between sleep cycles) by herself.

    Unfortunately, I went with the cry it out approach a few days ago (due to some bad advice taken while I was sleep deprived) which was frankly awful for both of us. Worse still, is that Bonnie now sometimes wakes up with a shrill, frightened cry that breaks my heart. I am absolutely convinced that this is due to me leaving her to cry herself to sleep.

    Does anyone have any advice on how I can undo the damage that I've done? Other than not let her CIO again and to work on rebuilding her trust. Perhaps I could spend some singing and reading time at her hammock so that she begins to see her bed as a comfy place rather than scary place?

    This is how I'm trying to get her to settle at the moment. When she's tired, I wrap her, cuddle her and sing to her and pop her in the hammock sleepy but awake. I give her a chance to go off by herself - and I do let her whinge a little for a bit to see if she can do it. If not, then I kind of bounce the hammock up and down and bit until she dozes off. This usually takes about 1/2 an hour. I'm planning on hopefully being able to reduce the bouncing/patting time as she progresses.



    I'm starting to plan a proper going to bed routine (bath, massage, feed, cuddle, singing), but have no idea how to get her in bed by 7pm and manage to fit in dinner!

    Oh - and one quick question for you all. Is it true that babies who catnap during the day are likely to wake up after each sleep cycle (once they hit 5-6 months) or is this a horror story that early childhood nurses tell you so that you'll let your babies cry themselves to sleep?

  2. #2

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    First of all, welcome to BellyBelly
    As you've posted in the Gentle Parenting section, I will answer in regards to gently parenting, which is the approach my DH and I take with our DD.

    Controlled crying is not recommended for any baby under 6 months of age, and I believe if you are going to try it, do your research first on how to do it successfully. Gentle parenting method does not approve of controlled crying.
    With regards to your bedtime ritual, I have always done it this way: bath, DH massages, I feed/cuddle, then bedtime. With getting her to sleep, it may take a while for her to 'learn' how to get to sleep on her own, particuarly at only 9 weeks of age. Rocking/patting/stroking techniques are recommended. You're right at suggesting slowly decreasing the time it takes to rock her to sleep, but take this slowly.
    To get her trust back with you, just keep giving her lots of kisses and cuddles, tell her you love her, and make bedtime an enjoyable experience for her. If she gets worked up when you put her to bed, take her out of the room, outside even, to calm her down, then try again.
    Lastly, babies who catnap during the day do not necessarily start waking more often at 5-6 months, for that reason at least. My DD did start waking more during the night from 5 months, but it was not due to her catnapping during the day. She was going through a growth spurt and teething at the same time.
    There are ways to help her sleep through to the next cycle if you're interested. After about 30 minutes, go into her room, and before she starts to wake up, pat her, or dreamfeed her if you must, do this without speaking and gently, and she may just put herself back to sleep and sleep for 2 hours

    I hope the above helps you in some way and good luck.

  3. #3

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    In my short experience, babies' needs change so much over the first part of their life that there is no way they can develop 'bad' habits. I agree with what Jodi said about CC and rebuilding trust. I'd recommend reading Pinky's articles on sleep in the articles section of this site. I have found her advice to be be both useful, practical and empowering as a parent. She says that your baby is the book and that only you can know what is best for your child. Their is no guilt or set routine that you 'should' be following.

    It's quite a journey...you'll get lots of support on here. Good luck

  4. #4

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    Clarrie,

    First of all, PLEASE LET GO OF ANY GUILT! No matter what you have tried, it sounds to me like you now are reading Bonnie's cues, so don't stress!

    I am a hammock user too (have done for all 3 of my babies) so I think you have a golden tool there for self settling.

    And the wrapping and cuddling and singing sounds perfect too.......in fact, the way you describe what you are doing now sounds pretty much exactly what I have always done with my babies!

    I'm starting to plan a proper going to bed routine (bath, massage, feed, cuddle, singing), but have no idea how to get her in bed by 7pm and manage to fit in dinner!
    I have found this a godsend for me and my little ones.......6.00 is TV off, 6.30 bath, 6.45 stories, 7pm final feed, cuddle and whispery singing in a darkened bedroom with Peacebaby CD on, 7.30 bed. It works for us really well, and it is MY sanity too, so that no matter what has gone on in the day, that is the "re-start" buttom for all of us.......

    (In terms of dinner, I usually have that all prepped ready to go, so once I finish putting Lexie to bed, DH and I have a glass of wine & a chat as I finish cooking the dinner, and we usually sit down to eat at around 8pm, but that suits us both fine in the week...)

    Best of luck, but it sounds like you are really on the right track.........

  5. #5

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    Thanks all, I feel so much better over the past couple of days. Bonnie seems a lot happier too - maybe just because I've chilled out a bit.

    She's getting pretty good at the self-settling too. She only needs about 5-10 minutes of patting and she's off. She still wakes up exactly 45 minutes later though, and I've tried to stir her at the 30 min mark but with no success. What I'm doing is sitting by the bassinet at the 40 min mark to watch her sleep (I love looking at her when she's sleeping) and as soon as she wakes up, I start with the patting/bouncing again to send her off again. I find that it's the second settling that's the trickiest- this one takes about 20-30 mins for her.

    I would happily get her up after the 45 min mark if she didn't need the sleep, but she really does need it, because she gets awfully cranky without it. Hopefully, when she's a bit older she'll be able to move through her sleep cycles.

    The going to bed routine is working really well for me at the moment. It's nice to have some time in the evening that's baby-free.

    Thanks for your advice, I wish I'd never gone off the gentle parenting track - but you live and learn.

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    Clarrie - glad to hear things are smoother for you. I'm struggling with the 45 min sleeps during the day too but Angus is sleeping well at night so it hasn't been a big issue (yet).

    Lucy - beautifully put practical advice!

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    Girls.......in terms of the 45 minute sleep cycle.........have you tried using a baby CD to break the cycle?

    Olivia, at first (newborn to 4 months) was a shocker for catnapping in 40 minute stints and was a cranky pants, then we started using "Peacebaby" and within just a few days she started sleeping for up to 3 or 4 hours in the day and 12 hours overnight! We had it playing quietly on repeat on a cheapo stereo in her room.

    I have since used it for Charlie and Lexie and same deal......long day sleeps and long night sleeps.

    Peacebaby (Google it: their site is interesting!) has 5 or 6 tracks, with a 60 beat per minute backing (same as a heartbeat) and it works like a charm for us. Plus it relaxes ME, LOL!

    (Olivia is now over 3 and still asks for "special CD please Mummy, for sleeping......." LOL!)

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    Thanks Lucy. It's one of those things I've thought I must buy but have not got around to getting. DH is a musician and has been quite fussy about the 'quality' of music Angus listens to and the quality of stereo and speakers. He's quite funny actually - he takes him downstairs to his studio and plays him things and tells him all about the various artists. My home office is next door to Angus' room and DH is going to run cable through the wall into the wardrobe so Angus can have quality (ie DH approved) speakers connected to my (DH organised) stereo.

    Pinky mentioned Peacebaby too. Angus and I are going to visit his Nan interstate on Thursday and I know she wants to buy him MORE things so I'll suggest this. Music For Dreaming was the other one. Is it best to stick to just one or alternate?

    I've been meaning to say Lucy that you remind me (look like) of someone I used to work with here in Melb. She's married to an Andrew and has a Charlie. My brother Andrew has a Lexie and an Oliver.

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    Sorry Clarrie. Didn't mean to hijack your thread!

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    Ha ha Blackbird......your DH sounds like mine in terms of music.......he cringes when I play stuff on the cheapo stereo boxes in the kids rooms........(I have no ear, and he plays a lot of music.....we are at total opposite ends of the spectrum!)

    I reckon get a couple of baby CD's and then try them both for a few nights, but consistency is the key I reckon, so ultimately pick one that you and Angus like and stick with it. (It is not, sadly, an overnight fix, more like a week?)

    That is spooky small world about the similarities of names........I don't know any other Lexie's at all........(I hope it doesn't get too popular.....Olivia has skyrocketted in the baby name popularity stakes since we chose it, and as soon as we named Charlie (it is a family name going way way back) we realised that it is popular too.........

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    Thanks Lucy!

  12. #12

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    Hey Blackbird, you didn't hijack my thread at all - it's a relief to know that someone else out there has catnapping issues!

    Lucy, I've got a white noise CD for babies (forgotten the name, it's not Peacebaby though) that runs for 75 mins but that still doesn't help Bonnie moving from one sleep cycle to the next.

    This morning, she self settled like magic (no bouncing or patting required) but woke up at the 40 min mark. I've just spent 25 mins getting her to go back to sleep again.

    Maybe I'll give Peacebaby a try though, I've gone to their website but they don't have a sample of what it sounds like. Is it whitenoise, or is it more music?

  13. #13

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    Peacebaby is music.....think hippy new age dolphin heartbeat waves! I love it to be honest....immediately relaxes me.......

    A lovely BB member sent me a copy of Sounds for Silence when Charlie was born, which is white noise, but he was a champion sleeper so I really never needed it, and Peacebaby still won the day......

    I have emailed you & Blackbird regarding this..........

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    Clarrie, glad you're feeling better now that you've shirked the purveyors of old wives' tales! 'Bad habits'...what ARE these? And what's 'bad' in a tiny, little baby who doesn't know any rules in order to be breaking them? You're doing the right thing by your little one - just keep listening to her
    Right from the start I let go of any concept of 'self-settling' and I only put Oscar down to sleep when he's asleep. But that's just me. If you're going to try it, what you are doing now seems to be the way to go. I've heard good things about PeaceBaby.
    My mothers group thinks I'm weird cos I can't participate in their conversations about crying it out, scheduling and routines...but we're still meeting up, so if I'm asked to 'leave the island' I'll know they actually have a problem with my 'hippie' ideals!
    My health nurse knows better than to show me the 'right way', since I practically cooed to Oscar the whole way through the Jennifer Keyte video during the initial sessions...she knows I'm going to do my own thing and that it is not to the detriment of my boyo.
    The best gauge is your baby. The pressure to do what other parents do is huge...and for what? You'll find, that upon probing, they are not happy doing these things a lot of the time, and feel they can't trust their own instincts so they listen to someone apparently more qualified than they (i.e. health nurse). As much as people reckon they know babies, THEY are not YOUR baby's mummy...and that is a huge difference, realising this will help you ride the peer/health nurse pressure wave

  15. #15

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    IK - it's funny, because I'm kind of stuck between the two parenting camps. I started out feeding on demand, but it just wasn't working out for us. Bonnie is quite a, umm, "spirited" baby and if I didn't get her cues right, she'd get hysterical. For example, she makes her booby face when she's tired, bored, has wind, or is hungry.

    Until recently, I'd offer her the breast (I'd breastfeed her all day if she let me) but if she wasn't hungry she'd feed for a bit and then pull off screaming, and she'd end up more distressed than before. I felt like a failure because I couldn't read her cues properly - so then I did try a bit of a feeding schedule for her, just to help me work out what it was that she needed. It's working for us, it really is - and it isn't the path I would have chosen to go down (since I am a total hippy in real life) but she really is a happier baby for it.

    For the record, by "schedule" - if she really is hungry, I'm not going to keep her waiting on anything. But she rarely is hungry, more often than not, she's tired/overstimulated - and I wish the boobs could help her out when she's tired, but they don't (except during our nightfeeds).

    However, the pressure to self-settle is massive - the horror stories that we're told by the early childhood nurses - "45 minute sleep cycles once the baby hits 6 months, so if they can't self settle you'll be up every hour throughout the night", "babies who catnap during the day will never be able to sleep properly at night", "you're spoiling her if you go to her every time she cries" etc etc. When the CIO method was suggested, I was sleep deprived, and Bonnie's temper was wearing thin on my nerves, and BabyLove said it was OK....

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    Well, for the record, Oscar hardly ever completes a 45 min sleep during the day and we have a great sleep of a night. We co-sleep and neither of us fully wakes for night feeds, so we are not one of those horror stories I can't believe health nurses purvey that crap! Mine has obviously been a good experience through the MCHN system!
    ETA: I can fully understand how sleep deprivation can make you desperate for some kind of answer, ANY answer and that in the heat of the moment, CIO could make some kind of sense. It is absolutely not recommended for babies under 6 months of age because there was a time when parents were using this and there were infants presenting with dehydration, failure to thrive etc because the babies needs were not being met. As I've said in another thread, there is no study available to suggest that Controlled Crying/Comforting (CC) is safe. Ethical boards just wouldn't permit such a study...that, to me, is an indication of the 'merits' of CC. I'm glad you've found a happy medium for now! Someone else said it, too, but babies' needs change so much even within the first year, so flexibility is the key
    Last edited by Smoke Jaguar; March 21st, 2007 at 05:00 PM.

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    Good to hear IK. Angus does sleep well at night so I'm not overly concerned but it would be good to have at least one of his day sleeps a bit longer.

    Clarrie - I feel a bit out of it too at times both at mum's group and with my SiLs who have small bubs too. It breaks my heart to hear one of my nephews (only 20 weeks) being let to CIO, even for just shortish periods. I feel a bit of unspoken disapproval when I wrap and then walk/rock/sing Angus to sleep but I know in my heart that what we are doing is best for our family.

  18. #18

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    personally, i just don't believe that baby's need to self settle. if they did then what are we for? baby's need us to help them to sleep, to feel safe and secure in the world. they are baby's, next the 'experts' will be telling us they need to work out the family's budget. it's piffle if you ask me. i have 3 boys and they have never self settled until they were about 2 years old and i just didn't expect them to. they slept on me or in the sling or on the bed with me and if they woke after a short time i would offer the breast again and they were off to sleep again until they woke up happy. research has shown that the CIO, control crying, control comforting or whatever they are calling it now to justify their actions has long term effects on children. keep following your heart you know whats best for your baby. i know it is a struggle to find like minded people out there but we are out there just few and far between by the look of it
    oh and welcome to BB
    beckles

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