"My baby self settles to sleep". Help me out here. What does this even mean and how do you do it?

(67 Posts)
Germanwife Sat 15-Feb-14 17:12:20

What do people actually mean by this? Left, right and cente, all I hear is "put your baby down drowsy but awake", "my lo selft settles and sleeps through the night" etc.

Well, I'm having an epic battle with DS's sleeps. He is ten weeks old and has just stopped nursing to sleep. He also no longer responds to any of our other strategies - rocking, swaddling, patting, shushing, singing, white noise, the sling... This is both for bedtime and nap time.

I plan to follow the No Cry Sleep solution and The Sleep Lady (their plans start at 3 months plus) but in the meantime, since nothing settles my DS anymore I thought I'd try to teach self settling.

So I started putting DS into his Moses basket for bedtime and nap time, drowsy but awake (we watch his sleep cues and the clock to make sure he's not overtired) - but he cries and then screams. I know everyone says be prepared for some crying but today he cried for 45 mins in the basket with us next to him patting and shushing. He did not fall asleep. Every time we do this, he just becomes agitated and wide awake, then we have to try and settle him.

I cannot think how else to teach this self settling. Am I missing a trick? Do you literally just put your baby down and walk out? How often/long do I have to do it? How did you decide when your lo is ready to learn to self settle? And if he keeps crying until he settles, how is this different to CIO? (Which I do not want to do).

slightlyglitterstained Sat 15-Feb-14 17:23:37

I think it's meant to mean that if they wake up during the night, they can go back to sleep without needing you to wake up and help them.

At ten weeks I couldn't be arsed with that so I just fed him when he woke up cos it got us back to sleep quicker. Apparently this was meant to guarantee months of agony later on as he would need retraining in order to sleep properly. Fortunately he hadn't read the books as he eventually got old enough to sleep through (with the exception of sleep regressions, teething, colds or other illness).

Not sleeping at all sounds tough - may be worth asking in the sleep topic? Might easily just be a sleep regression (i.e. gets unsettled for a while cos he's going through a big developmental leap?) and you just need to wait it out for a few weeks?

slightlyglitterstained Sat 15-Feb-14 17:28:34

Oh duh, you ARE in the sleep topic. blush

Hopefully that means someone a bit more with it will be along in a tick. Just wanted to say it's not necessarily that you're doing anything wrong, or failing to do something you should be doing!

gamerchick Sat 15-Feb-14 17:32:11

Watch for the yawns.. you get a 3 yawn window to put them down awake. It's quite tickling to watch.. you learn to be fast to catch it grin

Germanwife Sat 15-Feb-14 18:04:46

Thanks slightlyglitterstained. Luckily we do get a 12-hour stretch of night time sleep (with 4-5 wakings), it's just getting him to fall asleep that's really tough now, whereas before it was easy (feeding to sleep, which somehow doesn't work anymore)

I am really hoping its a phase or a temporary regression!

gamerchick 3 yawn window sounds good, I will try that. I was normally going with first yawn.

Alexandra6 Sat 15-Feb-14 19:05:02

Mine is nearly 10 weeks and so hard to settle too! Feeding to sleep still works sometimes but at the moment we're relying on a dummy which I don't think is ideal at all. So please let me know if you find the answer and hopefully someone else will be along soon with advice!

Alexandra6 Sat 15-Feb-14 19:06:58

Oh and mine yawns all the time, even when she's just woken up so not sure looking out for yawns will work, for us anyway confused

SweetPeaPods Sat 15-Feb-14 19:19:50

Watching with interest. Ds is 8months so older and will not go to sleep without bottle or rocked to sleep. Keep trying to put him in cot when he is clearly tired but he just cries to be picked up.

qazxc Sat 15-Feb-14 19:22:40

I would assume that people mean something equivalent to the french "pause" method. Ie if your baby wakes or cries during the night, wait to see whether he/she actually needs you or if it just still learning to connect sleep cycles (like when we turn over and go back to sleep during the night).
This is only a few minutes pause (ie less than five) and not if it's a hungry cry.
This saves parents from going and picking up a baby (and waking them further) who is just doing a "turning wail".
Unfortunately it doesn't seem to apply to your situation.

Germanwife Sat 15-Feb-14 20:21:31

Alexandra - lets hope it's a phase!

Qazxc - I read about the French pause and keep trying to implement it. It sounds easy enough but when DS wakes in the night his cries only get louder and more urgent, so I always pick him up! I wish someone would show me how to do it and what to look out for exactly. Hasn't anyone made a YouTube instructional on this?

The secret is all babies are different. My babies (twins) never yawn when they are tired. Ever. There was no drowsy. Ever. Either wide awake or fast asleep. Some babies just need you more.

At ten weeks, I would just do whatever it takes to get the most sleep possible. Honestly, I did everything 'wrong"' - fed to sleep until they were ten months, rocked to sleep in the middle of the night if feeding didn't work, let them sleep in me til they were about six months, co-slept when necessary etc

Now at a year, they fall asleep mostly within 15 mins of patting in their cots and hate coming in with us. They sometimes sleep through and are steadily (if slowly) getting better.

At that age, what I find helpful is working out a patting rhythm - we did pat-pat-pat pause pat-pat-pat. I did it when I was feeding them then used the same rhythm when transferring to the cot. Still use the same thing now and they find it immediately calming. DH does the same tempo too. They associate it with comfort and eventually I dropped the feeding bit. It seems like it will never get better but it does. Please chill out about the self settling. It often just happens (but not always). If not, then you need strategies to deal with the getting to sleep thing anyway.

Good luck and be kind to yourself.

mathanxiety Sat 15-Feb-14 21:15:26

It means the baby is not a member of my family.

"put your baby down drowsy but awake" LOL. Not a chance any of mine would react well to that.

If what you are doing isn't working, or if it doesn't feel right to you, then stop. Do whatever works and whatever feels right to you.

Most baby manuals are full of hogwash and were written by idiots. Babies are all different. All the stupid books accomplish for most parents is to make them feel there is something wrong with their baby and that they are inadequate parents.

Having said that, I found the books of William and Martha Sears very insightful but mostly because they emphasise that babies are all different and they urge parents not to beat themselves up or wear themselves out trying to follow 'rules'.

Shakey1500 Sat 15-Feb-14 21:29:28

I was utterly clueless and used to rock DS asleep downstairs and then try and carry him upstairs/put him down without waking him up. It was hit and miss and one particularly bad sleep deprived evening, my elbow "cracked" when lowering him and he woke up screaming sad

Luckily my mother earth sister came round when I was rocking him
and explained this self settling malarkey to me. She advised having a routine of bath, milk, cuddle, put into cot, read/sing lullaby, leave DS with a soft toy, lights down low and leave (while he was still awake). He cried a little bit the first couple of nights but it got easier.

As said though, all kids are different! Hope you find a solution smile

Germanwife Sun 16-Feb-14 01:36:39

Shakey, when you left the baby, how long did he cry each time until he stopped?

Shakey1500 Sun 16-Feb-14 20:17:58

From memory it was probably about 10 mins each time. I say crying but it was more "fussing" (can't think of a better word!) as in, not a distressed cry?

I used to wait outside for a bit and eventually it would turn to gurgles and sleep.

I have to say, doing that was a breeze compared to switching from a cot to a bed grin

How was last night?

MarvinIsHungry Sun 16-Feb-14 20:32:18

It's worth keeping trying to crack this one. I went in to check on DS (6 mo) a few nights ago, about half an hour after I'd put him to bed, and he was just lying there in the pitch black dark eyes wide open, contentedly staring into the dark - just like an adult winding down to sleep.

On the flip side though, he need his cot and black out darkness to sleep; he won't sleep for long in his pram and definitely can't be kept up in the evening to go out - he'd go mental.

LadySybilVimes Sun 16-Feb-14 20:36:59

I think it means that the person is very lucky to have a baby that is settled at night.
We had one of those and were very smug. Then we had ds and that's when I realised about the huge portion of luck we had the first time round.

Germanwife Sun 16-Feb-14 23:00:56

I love your reply ladysibyl. How did you settle your DS?

Thanks shakey, that distinction is very helpful to know. DS usually fusses then escalates to full blown crying until picked up. Last night he slept for 13 hours with 5 wakings, but it's getting him settled that's the problem, especially as he no longer feeds to sleep, particularly in the daytime.

Marvin, yes, I am really hoping to crack this but it may take us a long while yet!

mathanxiety Mon 17-Feb-14 01:33:58

I'd like to suggest you are wasting your time. Babies who don't have it in them to settle are not going to settle. You may think you've managed it if one day they do, but you have no way of knowing what made them do it if that happens. And they can go back to where they were before with no warning and for no reason you can think of.

Germanwife Mon 17-Feb-14 08:31:35

mathanxiety but what's the solution in that case? DS doesn't settle to sleep using any of the traditional methods - nursing, rocking, shushing, patting - and doesn't seem ready for self settling. puzzled

Chocolateteabag Mon 17-Feb-14 09:30:53

I used a fisher price seahorse with DS1 once feeding to sleep stopped working. I used to set it off and it would hold his interest for 5 mins while I scarpered he may have been a bit older than 10 weeks but he's now 3.2 and still has it in his bed and takes it when we go away.

My Ds2 is now 8 weeks and I've been using a Ewan the dream sheep since he was born to try and encourage a sleep association.

Also used a dummy with Ds1 - which he also still has at night - but he is very good at going to sleep so I don't worry ds2 is not so keen on the dummy though

babybouncer Mon 17-Feb-14 10:15:29

My DS used to be able to self settle - he'd be tired and then just go to sleep, possibly after fussing for a minute or two. I assumed it was down to the strict bedtime routine and calm parenting. It had more to do with who he was.

DD has shown us this. She is not a good sleeper, although she has phases that are better and phases that are worse.

Assuming that you already have a strong bedtime routine, you just need to be consistent. Don't worry about making 'poor sleep associations' or 'a rod for your own back' (these are what people who have good sleepers say!) and just concentrate on trying things without losing your sanity. Things which have worked for people I know are; swaddle blankets; sleeping bags; dummies; staying in the room (next to the cot or at the doorway); sort of vibrating them on their tummy with one hand while stroking down over their forehead and eyes with the other; a lullaby and projecting thing; spells of co-sleeping.

I also know someone found this book especially helpful.

Most importantly, although there are babies who sleep brilliantly from a young age, most don't, many need more help settling and all of them will grow out of it.

LadySybilVimes Mon 17-Feb-14 11:03:56

He started to settle himself at bedtime at about 1.5 years old. He was just old enough at that stage, we had a routine and gradually he realised that it was time for sleep.

However through the night he didn't self settle until he was nearly 4. Nothing we tried worked. Nothing at all, and we tried everything! Sorry not to be more helpful!

Ragwort Mon 17-Feb-14 11:14:31

I think it's purely down to luck grin - I more or less did the same as Shakey - I gave DS a final feed, then bath & put him in his moses basket at 7pm, he 'fussed' for a couple of minutes and then went to sleep.

But I did this from the day we got home from hospital so he never got used to being fed, cuddled, rocked or held to sleep. I also put him in the bedroom so it was quiet and dark.

I know this doesn't suit every family and I followed GF but it worked for us.

I think it must be much harder for babies who have been cuddled to sleep to suddenly be expected to 'self settle'.

Squashedinabox Mon 17-Feb-14 12:20:33

It's luck!
DC1 is 4 and needs someone to sit with him to go to sleep. He fights sleep, never admits he is tired and has never self settled.

DC2 has self settled from day 1. I was in hospital for 4 days after she was born and kept asking the midwives if they thought there was something wrong with her blush. I put her in bed when I think she is tired, she grins at me, rolls over and closes her eyes. She now asks to go to bed when she is tired.

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