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Experienced parents, I need advice!
What r=arethe long-term effects of sleep associations?


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#1 SlowLoris

Posted 03 November 2012 - 10:46 AM

Hi,

My 6 month old DD has a big suck-to-sleep sleep association. She will sleep in her cot for her first night sleep (~2 hours), but won't go back and ends up in our bed.
During the night she wakes 3-8 times, often just for a quick two minute suckle. She also kicks and flails around the bed (super active sleeper). I'm not attached to co-sleeping (Id rather she slept in her cot), but it seems to be the only way I can get any sleep at all.

I'm posting in this forum because I'd like to hear from parents who were once in a similar situation. How did things turn out?

Did you end up doing some form of sleep training (which system? were you happy with the results)?

If not, did your child eventually learn to sleep on her own? When?

With the benefit of hind sight, what would you have done differently?

The thing is, aside from a few particularly bad nights, I am ok with our current situation. Yes, she wakes up a lot, but I've gotten pretty good at falling back to sleep quickly. As far as I can tell, it isn't having a negative impact on my job, my mental health, or my relationship. Although I would like her to sleep through the night, I can handle the current situation for another 6 months if need be. But most of the sleep books I've read emphasize the importance of babies learning to self-settle, and I don't want to make things harder for her down the track, just because I've found an easy way to get extra sleep. I also don't want things to get worse...

Please, any advice/insight you have would be GREATLY appreciated.

#2 ausmumof2

Posted 03 November 2012 - 11:01 AM

Similar here, they only really slept through when I weaned them at around 2 and a half.  I did briefly try some sleep training with DS1, which resulted in him crying so much he vomited all over the cot, so I wouldn't go there again myself.  Others will have had different experiences.

I was so sure that with bubs 2 I wouldn't feed to sleep, but it turns out it wasn't a learned sleep association, but an innate one I think.  I tried to get her to sleep by rocking or any other way and in the end by around four months feeding was pretty much the only way, and the same with my current DS.

Most of the mums I know whose bubs fall asleep in the cot use a dummy, so they still have a suck to sleep association its just that they give bubs something else to suck other than mum.

Personally I would ignore the baby books unless its a problem for you.  I stressed so much with the first bubs because all the books were wrong and something needed fixing.  I now  believe that it was just normal natural behaviour.  If you're not coping then you can change something but if you're only worried because of what baby "should" be doing, then don't worry...

#3 caitiri

Posted 03 November 2012 - 11:01 AM

I think you'll probably get a mixed set of responses because every child is different.  I co sleep my kids are crappy sleepers but it works for us.  My sister had a strict own room policy and used controlled crying her kid is a crappy sleeper as well but what they do works for them.

My oldest can sleep by himself, but he doesn't really want to and we don't really make him.

ETA just to clarify despite the different approaches they are still all bad sleepers

Edited by caitiri, 03 November 2012 - 11:04 AM.


#4 WYSIWYG

Posted 03 November 2012 - 11:20 AM

DD2 was in our bed from birth, and I had absolutely no issues with it because it was the only way I'd get sufficient sleep. Eventually at about 6-8 months old, when it started to get hotter as Summer approached, she didn't seem to want to sleep in our bed anymore and went into her cot with no issues. I think we did get lucky, though.

One of my friends has her 5, 4 and 1 year old in bed with her still, as its the only way she can get sleep and stay sane.

#5 nen-c

Posted 03 November 2012 - 01:21 PM

I think it is the old story of "its only a problem when it is a problem". We were in a similar situation with DS (now 2.5). I did get him out of our bed at the 4-month mark as it was impacting DP too much, but he was still waking multiple times and only resettling with a feed. I think at about 12 months I night weaned I gave him a little milk in a cup and then patted his bottom til he slept - generally more than once per night.  Even at 2.5 he is still up once about 50% of nights, but he goes back to sleep generally very quickly after we put him back in bed. He is just not a good sleeper (his dad is also a very light sleeper and slept badly as a child so it isn't that surprising really)

I tried lots of systems and read lots of books, nothing really helped much, any kind of crying method (where I left the room) did not work as he would very quickly get very worked up and bang his head on the cot and then get so hysterical that it would take an hour to calm him down (with cuddling) enough to go to sleep.

So with the benefit of hindsight I would not wasted time trying different methods of "Sleep training" when he would reliably go back to sleep after feeding or with patting or whatever comfort method I was using then. With him it was just a matter of riding it out and doing what I could to maximise our sleep while he was very young.  So I don't think that going with what they need makes it harder for them in the long run. Yes they eventually do need to learn to sleep without a feed, but a time comes when they don't need it any more, or they are older so it is easier to break the association.

It is worth noting that even when I was feeding him to sleep, or there was a stage where he wouldn't have his day sleeps in his cot - (I rocked him to sleep in the pram) he was at family daycare and they were able to get him to sleep there without a breastfeed, although I think they did use the pram a bit if he was being difficult.

He does now sleep on his own, he is definitely getting better....but for us time was the only real fix.

To give you some hope I now have an 8 week old DD who is such an easy baby, one O/N wake up and sleeps beautifully during the day in her bassinet. At the same age DS wouldn't sleep anywhere except on/with me day and night, and regularly had nights where he barely slept at all.




#6 jayta

Posted 03 November 2012 - 07:34 PM

We have been having a suck-sleep association problem for a long time now. I did Pantley Pull Offs at about 8months to stop DD needing to fall asleep with the boob in her mouth. Now she usually sucks till ready for sleep, rolls over and goes to sleep.

However, at 12months she still wakes all through the night. About 8 times a night at the moment. I dont have to stay awake long (usually just a few mins) but the continual wakeups are finally catching up with me and having an affect. It's hard for me to concentrate at work and I feel tired a lot. I coped ok for about 11months, but this last month it has just been getting harder to deal with.

I think I am going to have to night wean to solve the problem. I hope to continue co-sleeping but if that doesnt work then DD will have to move into the cot.

I have a referral to our local sleep help place and will see what they say. We also have problems with day sleeps, as she will only catnap for 30mins and it is simply not enough sleep. Unless of course I nurse her and she will sleep for 1.5-2 hours

#7 SlowLoris

Posted 04 November 2012 - 08:47 AM

Thank you for the responses!

Jayta, what you are describing is exactly what I am concerned about. I am fine now, but I wonder what will happen if she is still waking up 6 times a night 6 months from now? I've also been considering getting a referral to Tresillian...has anyone had any experience with them? Did they help?

#8 Froger

Posted 04 November 2012 - 09:20 AM

All my children have been fully breastfed, and they were all fed to sleep. It wasn't a problem for me so we just continued feeding to sleep until they stopped of their own accord - which was probably inbetween 1 and 2 years for most of them. I found they still woke up quite a few times in the night until they were about 12 months (sometimes every hour or more!) and then still at least once (or even twice) a night until about 2 and a half years. I do have my young children in my bed at night though, so it wasn't an inconvenience for me to feed them back to sleep.

If it isn't a problem for either of you, it isn't a problem. Children eventually learn to put themselves back to sleep at night. Even adults still wake in the night, it is just learning the ability to go back to sleep by yourself that is what eventually comes to all of us, some later than others.

#9 jayta

Posted 05 November 2012 - 11:12 AM

If it wasnt for our bad day sleeps then I would probably just continue on with the night wakings and feeding back to sleep. But as DD moves to 1 sleep a day, 30mins just simply isnt enough and I worry about her brain development. I know she will sleep much longer if I am with her, so the 30mins is due to her not being able to transition to the next cycle, not because she only wants to sleep 30mins.

Tresillian is not an option for us as I wont do CC. If the local place suggests it, then I will have to walk away. I am hoping they will work with me to develop other strategies, like patting and gradual withdrawal of parental assistance.



#10 BaduBJ

Posted 05 November 2012 - 01:10 PM

Hi SlowLoris! My advice would be not to rush into sleep training yet. This is exactly what my DS was like at 6 months. At 7 months he went into a cot in his own room and still woke 3-4 times (but less than when he was in with us- turns out we were disturbing him). I fed him back to sleep everytime, using a comfy couch beside his cot. At 10 months we started ignoring his cry, but going in if he got louder and more upset and by 11 months he was sleeping through (9:30pm to 6 am) most nights, even though he was always fed to sleep. at 12 months I would get him ready for bed (bath, pjs, stories), breastfeed him, then put him in the cot, so sometimes he went in there already asleep, and other times he went in awake but relaxed. at 15 months he was only feeding before his afternoon sleep and before bed and he weaned himself at 16 months ( i was 3 months pregnant by then). At 20 months he goes to sleep in his cot without any support- He likes me to sit by the bed, but it's usually only 5 minutes and i dont do anything, so its quite relaxing. He sleeps from 8:30 to 6:30 every night unless he is sick, and 1.5 to 3 hours during the day.

In Short: If it's not a problem for you/DH then it's not a problem

             Can you address things that might disturb your child (noise/bumping into things)

             Its OK to have "sleep associations"- most adults do (shower/ cuppa/ read), but you can gradually move from infant (sucking/rocking)towards more age appropriate (pjs, stories, cuddles) sleep associations.

           Google "Pinky McKay" for humane ways to help your child transition to being an independent sleeper. She is an experienced midwife and lactation consultant

#11 BaduBJ

Posted 05 November 2012 - 01:12 PM

Hi SlowLoris! My advice would be not to rush into sleep training yet. This is exactly what my DS was like at 6 months. At 7 months he went into a cot in his own room and still woke 3-4 times (but less than when he was in with us- turns out we were disturbing him). I fed him back to sleep everytime, using a comfy couch beside his cot. At 10 months we started ignoring his cry, but going in if he got louder and more upset and by 11 months he was sleeping through (9:30pm to 6 am) most nights, even though he was always fed to sleep. at 12 months I would get him ready for bed (bath, pjs, stories), breastfeed him, then put him in the cot, so sometimes he went in there already asleep, and other times he went in awake but relaxed. at 15 months he was only feeding before his afternoon sleep and before bed and he weaned himself at 16 months ( i was 3 months pregnant by then). from then on  he goes to sleep in his cot without any support- He likes me to sit by the bed, but it's usually only 5 minutes and i dont do anything, so its quite relaxing. He sleeps from 8:30 to 6:30 every night unless he is sick, and 1.5 to 3 hours during the day.

In Short: If it's not a problem for you/DH then it's not a problem

             Can you address things that might disturb your child (noise/bumping into things)

             Its OK to have "sleep associations"- most adults do (shower/ cuppa/ read), but you can gradually move from infant (sucking/rocking)towards more age appropriate (pjs, stories, cuddles) sleep associations.

           Google "Pinky McKay" for humane ways to help your child transition to being an independent sleeper. She is an experienced midwife and lactation consultant

#12 meerac

Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:24 PM

Hi
My boy had a suck to sleep association from about 4-5 months onwards. I initially stressed about long term consequences, but it worked for us really well until he was about 1. At this stage he started daycare, got a string of colds, teething etc, so his sleep got really disturbed and he was waking four times a night. I was working part time by then, and it really started to wear me down.
So at about fourteen months we did sleep training via "The Gift of Sleep", which is basically the Ferber method. It worked like an absolute charm! He had one disturbed night that my husband handled (I wore noise canceling headphones to avoid stressing out); then has been a pretty excellent sleeper in the five months since then (aside from a couple of sick nights or teething). So I night weaned at fourteen months, and then fully weaned a month or so later. And before weaning we added a strong bedtime routine of bath, story, lullaby, feed; so that it was less of a big thing when the night feed went.

It probably helped that daycare had gotten him used to napping on his own (this also happened really easily, despite my pre-daycare fears). And all kids are different, it may have just been the right time and the right method for my boy. Also since I've weaned, there's no going back, so sometimes we just use other sleep associations like patting or lullabies, if he's sick or teething and waking in the middle of the night. And then do a little refresher sleep training after he's better, if it looks like he's becoming dependent on us again.

I had no problems feeding him to sleep while he was sleeping well, and before I was working. But this stopped working for me later as I was getting really tired and sick; and I haven't looked back since (although I miss all the free calories from breastfeeding!).

Edited by meerac, 06 November 2012 - 08:27 PM.


#13 libbylu

Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:33 PM

If you are coping then I would put up with a bit longer.  The main thing that would make a difference is night weaning, but I think 6 months is probably too young for that.  10 months + would probably be more reasonable.  We persisted to about 14 months and then night weaned and did controlled comforting (ala the 'Sleep Right Sleep Tight' method, which was very effective.  He slept through 5 nights out of 7 for nearly 12 months after that, but in general is still a bad sleeper, taking a long time to settle and still waking about half of the nights at age 6.
I agree with some others that some kids are just good at self settling and others aren't and I'm not sure that you can really 'fix' them with either a full attachment meet their needs type parenting nor a harsh sleep training routine.

#14 Dionysus

Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:35 PM

We had a pretty good routine going with DD - bath, book, bottle/boob, cuddle..

If she didn't go down easily, I cuddled/rocked/patted/fed to sleep, but tried to keep the order/routine the same.  

She dropped her morning nap at 12 months, and that seemed to switch everything 'on' - 2-3hr nap in the day 11/12 hours straight overnight.

From 6 months to 12 months it was hit and miss as to whether she would self-settle or not.  I always gave her the opportunity, but never stressed if I had to assist.

Now, at 3 years old, she is a fantastic sleeper and has been for at least 2 years.

But...she still has a dummy!




#15 XieXie

Posted 06 November 2012 - 09:34 PM

My two were kinda normal to average sleepers initially (waking every 3-4 hours) and then some time after the 4 month mark their sleep started deteriorating. With DD I only lasted two weeks of her waking every two hours before I started cracking up and in desperation started to implement a routine and taught her to self settle using methods based on the Save Our Sleep book.

DS I lasted over a month and could not believe his sleep could get any worse but by the time I cracked he was waking every hour, and then came the horror night where he woke every 40 minutes (or more) - for 12 hours!!! The very next day I got rid of his dummy and started implementing the self settling. Both of them started sleeping better within days.

Now at 2, DD is an excellent sleeper 7pm-7am every night - no wake ups (unless sick or something) since she was probably about one. DS now at 6.5 months is finally becoming a great sleeper too - goes to sleep (naps and at night) usually within a minute now on his own. If he takes longer or starts to get upset I pick him up and pat him to sleep and he falls to sleep very quickly. His modus operandi most nights now is 7pm-6.30pm with a dreamfeed at 10.30 and only one other wake up in the night.

I know there are some on here who will say the Save Our Sleep book is akin to child abuse or something but it really isn't. If you read the book thoroughly and are consistent it really is quite a neat and gentle method and results in less crying overall, more sleeping and happier babies and parents! That's my experience. Sure it won't work for some babies, but it worked for mine.



#16 fun_fairz

Posted 06 November 2012 - 10:39 PM

QUOTE (XieXie @ 06/11/2012, 10:34 PM)
15057256[/url]']

I know there are some on here who will say the Save Our Sleep book is akin to child abuse or something but it really isn't. If you read the book thoroughly and are consistent it really is quite a neat and gentle method and results in less crying overall, more sleeping and happier babies and parents! That's my experience. Sure it won't work for some babies, but it worked for mine.


Worked for my kids too and for most of my friends. I do think people take too literally, I used it as a basis for a routine, alongside babybliss, and it worked wonders. I did not have to do CC and i only know two people who have taken this route, one using SOS or similar and one who had no routine. Both did it in desperation!



#17 nugnugs

Posted 07 November 2012 - 06:59 PM

My daughter is 19 months, still has a sucking to sleep association and has been waking up 5+ times a night for 11 months.

I tried to 'sleep train' her around 7 months. I have tried so many different books to assist with her sleep. Most of them just made things worse. She will continually vomit if we put her near her cot after trying to CC. She is also afraid of "twinkle twinkle little star" after trying to following the DreamBaby Guide.

I was at my wits end when she was waking up 10x a night and my SIL gave me The Baby Sleep Book, by William and Martha Sears. It has been a lifesaver. It didn't change anything except my attitude towards the night wakings, and gave me an insight into why it is occuring, but I am less stressed about it now and DD seems to be sleeping much better at night.

#18 cabbagepatch

Posted 10 November 2012 - 08:32 PM

My DD was a really less than average day sleeper and would wake 2-3 times a night, so not too bad but enough to be draining...

At about 11 months she dropped to one day sleep (which lasted 2 hrs) and only woke once overnight at about 3/4am... by 14 months she just started to sleep through on her own, I did nothing differently it was just a matter of her needing time to do it on her own... At 16 months I weaned her due to being 13 wks pregnant with #2... She is now a fantastic sleeper and 90% of the time will just roll over cuddle her teddy and fall asleep - we have never used a dummy... (not that there is anything wrong with them, DD just wouldn't take one)

TBH at 6 months if it isn't a real problem, give them time... they do learn!

Not sure if you have tried it, but can you give a dreamfeed before they wake after the initial night sleep? might give them the cuddle and top up they need to last that little bit longer... it usually takes at least a week to see results but might be worth a shot???

#19 Natttmumm

Posted 11 November 2012 - 06:56 PM

It comes down to what each Parent is happy with. Don't change what you do because of what others say.your baby is an individual and might not do what their kids did.
I have 2 girls both very different.
DD1 was a horrible sleeper and it did impact on us badly she woke at least 10 times a night every night. We tried everything and every book and even sleep school for a week. She had a dummy to go to sleep and woke often for us to replace the dummy - other reasons too. We got woken a lot. She gave up her dummy at 3.5 years happily out of the blew she decided she didnt need it. She now sleeps all night every night except for illness. We did make attempts to take the dummy much earlier but for us it wasn't worth it - hours of crying for every sleep for weeks.Our worse sleeper is now our best.


DD2 - easily fell asleep from birth with no associations that involved us and slept all night from birth. We lost hardly any sleep except for the odd night here and there. As soon as she turned 2.5 years she has become a horrible sleeper for no obvious reason. She wakes up at least 3 times a night crying and this has been 6 months now.
There is no clear cut answer to what happens with sleep associations. In my view it's best to do what works if you can manage. If not, find another way at that time. I think a lot comes down to age and temperament.



#20 aphraell

Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:08 PM

DD fed to sleep (BF or bottle) and to resettle during the night till about 11 months. We stopped offering milk after midnight (would offer water) for about  weeks and then  we dropped the day bottles completely  and switched night time  routine from bath-book-bottle-bed to bath-bottle-book-bed.  She slept through the night form Day 1 of the new routine.

If she is very tired she will occasionally still fall asleep on the bottle and sometimes if she is overtired during the day we can offer water in a bottle and that seems to relax her enough to allow her to get to sleep.

I don't see it as an issue as it allowed ALL of us to gets some valuable months of sleep and I felt that we were abel to make the change when DD was ready. Yes, she is 18 months and still has a night time bottle, but again I don't have an issue with that, as  she doesn't use it to get to sleep, doesn't need it to resettle and especially as I would have still be BF till probably 2 if I had been able to.










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