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how to teach self-soothing in an AP way?

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  • how to teach self-soothing in an AP way?

    Hi all,

    I've been checking out the recent threads on sleep and it all sounds so familiar! Here's my particular wrinkle:

    We've been co-sleeping with DD, now almost 21 months, for most of her short life, and she's very dependent on help - principally from mommy - to get to sleep AND to fall back asleep after waking in the night, which happens frequently. Like last night 15 or so times (sometimes it's 1 or 2).

    We are now working on getting her out of our bed and onto her crib mattress next to my side, because even though we love co-sleeping she flops and flails around in the bed so much she wakes us up. She's okay with the mattress, but she still wakes up multiple times in the night and needs cuddling to get back asleep (we night-weaned at 16 months in an effort to stop night-waking, with not fabulous results, although mostly it's better than it wa). Here's my problem: I love the cuddling and closeness so much, but I am desperate for less interrupted sleep. DH and I have been trying to come up with strategies, and last night instead of getting on the floor with her I just shushed and stroked her and put her pacifier back in her mouth (wish she would do this more herself!) - and the night-waking was much more frequent than usual.

    We will give this more time, but today I'm feeling depressed and in mourning about giving up some of the closeness in our efforts to try to help her learn to put herself back to sleep better. We've talked about separating her further for sleeping (moving her into her crib/toddler bed in our room, or moving it into the living room - we have a one bedroom and can't move soon, so she can't have her own room and I don't think I want her that far away anyway!) and leaving her to cry soon, but I hate that idea. Is there an AP-friendly way to help a toddler learn to self soothe? Is it all or nothing - either I help her fall back asleep every time, or we force her to learn it on her own and never co-sleep again? It feels like an impossible situation: something has to change so DH and I can get more sleep, but I don't know what or how. Any ideas?

    Some other wrinkles:
    - DH can't really do the nighttime parenting because he uses a wheelchair and has mobility difficulties. DD's mattress is currently inaccessible to him, but he couldn't easily get out of bed to attend to her anyway.
    - Going to sleep is a whole other thing - she used to nurse to sleep lying down, but lately has been so revved up at bedtime that I've had to rock her to get her to sleep at a reasonable time. I know we need to start the bedtime routine earlier so we don't keep missing her "window" before she gets so over-stimulated, but as the able-bodied parent I just have so damn much to do in the evenings that it's really hard to get in the bedroom before 8.

    Thanks for any input and encouragement you might have!

  • #2
    Is there an AP-friendly way to help a toddler learn to self soothe? Is it all or nothing - either I help her fall back asleep every time, or we force her to learn it on her own and never co-sleep again? It feels like an impossible situation: something has to change so DH and I can get more sleep, but I don't know what or how. Any ideas?
    Hi Alisa, nice to see you here at our forum.
    I hear how frustrated you feel and can totally relate.
    It is NOT all or nothing....It is a process and I know how tedious it feels when you are shushing her and helping her resettle but there are long term advantages to doing this slow and easy

    I have a few questions.

    How much does she nap during the day?
    What time does she wake up in the morning?
    Have you considered digestive or enviromental sensitiivties that might add to her night waking?
    Do you nap with her during the day at all?
    Does you husband wake when she does?


    API links to look at
    http://attachmentparenting.org/blog/...er-sleep-tips/
    http://www.attachmentparenting.org/f...ead.php?t=3366
    http://www.attachmentparenting.org/principles/night.php

    I look forward to reading more!

    Comment


    • #3
      In response to your questions:

      1. How much does she nap during the day?

      Usually about 2 hours. When I'm around the routine is the same as nighttime - rocking and/or nursing to sleep, and we co-sleep (I'm always so tired I need to lie down too!), although since school ended (I'm a teacher) I've started putting her on her mattress until she rouses the first time. Sometimes it's more than 2, sometimes less, but she always rouses a few times.

      OR - at daycare it could be 0 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. My provider just puts her in the crib and leaves her, and she FINALLY (after many months) learned to fall asleep without crying. I wish we had an AP daycare provider who would wear her, but we can't afford a one-on-one nanny and this woman is great.


      OR - like today, I rocked her for an hour and couldn't get her to nap (she'd fallen asleep in the car earlier, and didn't stay asleep even though I put her in the Ergo), so she went back in the Ergo and I've been bouncing on the exercise ball for an hour.

      2. What time does she wake up in the morning?

      It depends - when it's up to her, around 7 am (this after rousing at 4, 5, and 6 to nurse - when we night-weaned I decided the no nursing window would be until 4 am). When my husband gets up at 5:30 for work, she'll wake up if she's in the bed between us - she seems to be a light sleeper! Before we put the crib mattress down next to my side of the bed, we had a bed rail up and I moved her to that side of me and snuggled and soothed her to sleep when my husband got up (during the school year it's 5 am). Then I could get up myself and she'd usually wake up around 6 or 6:30.

      3. Have you considered digestive or enviromental sensitiivties that might add to her night waking?

      DD had weight-gain issues earlier and is still a tiny peanut (under the 1st percentile), and so we had a whole drama about food and trying to up her calories and get her to eat more. It's clear she's developmentally fine and healthy, so we don't worry about it any more, but I hesitate to try to cut out foods. If we did look into this, where could we start? What foods tend to be the culprits?

      4. Do you nap with her during the day at all?

      Always, if I'm the one around to do naptime. I'd be happy to try to start independent napping, but not sure how to go about it. I did recently nurse her to sleep and then left the room, but she roused shortly thereafter.

      5. Does you husband wake when she does?

      Sometimes, especially if she's in the bed between us. Sometimes it's not that she rouses, it's that she flops around and wakes us up!

      I did read all those links you suggested and got some ideas - and also validation that if I can hold out, DD will eventually learn this on her own. It's just tough to have so much to do (to take care of daughter and disabled husband) and have no regular relief that I don't have to pay for. My husband is awesome with our daughter and I think co-sleeping is a big part of why they're so bonded, but sleep is hard for all of us!

      Comment


      • #4
        Napping and waking seem pretty expected......I'm glad you are resting when you have a chance. Do you have a local friend support group? Mine have helped me with these transitional times!

        If she is waking you and your husband maybe a single bed in your room (as opposesed to the crib mattress where you cannot lay with her well) that you and baby can lay together on some/most of the night. This so she can have her own space, be together with family but NOT wake hubby up.
        We do this now with my 21m old who is also going through a sleep transition which I think is very developmental at this age. Sometimes I make it back to bed with hubby, sometimes not but we all get some sleep!

        DD had weight-gain issues earlier and is still a tiny peanut (under the 1st percentile), and so we had a whole drama about food and trying to up her calories and get her to eat more. It's clear she's developmentally fine and healthy, so we don't worry about it any more, but I hesitate to try to cut out foods. If we did look into this, where could we start? What foods tend to be the culprits?
        These two things *could* be related actually and worth investigating.
        Short (non-API) article on connection - http://www.bellybelly.com.au/article...ild-diet-awake
        I have had a lot of luck with wisdom from moms in this (non API) Yahoo group 'Foodlab' - http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group...guid=264691946 Join and post her weight gain issues, sleep behavior and ask if they have any ideas. It may be a little too much to handle at first but they do know their stuff!

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't have much time to write right now, but I would suggest reading the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. I hesitated to buy it at first because I felt like I already understood what she was going to say, but it turned out that reading it was actually very helpful. She has a book for toddlers and preschoolers specifically too. It does involve a lot of work on the part of the parents as far as helping the child learn to fall asleep on their own in many steps. We actually didn't have to get too far into the steps though for the nightwaking to decrease dramatically. In the short term, there is more work and sometimes frustration on the parent's part, but long term, it is definitely helpful. Also, one thing I think has been helpful for my son is that we offer him a big bowl of oatmeal every night right before bed, even though typically he has nursed about 30 minutes before, and had dinner an hour or two before. At least I'm not as worried that he is hungry then when he does wake up. Good luck!

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