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experiences with sleep "training" for toddler who wakes at night?


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#1 tenar

Posted 06 January 2013 - 06:58 AM


Has anyone sought the help of a sleep expert to help with a toddler who settles readily in the evening, but when waking in the night wants to breastfeed to get back to sleep?  

DD2 wakes and wants milk.  She cries, escalating to a scream, if I don't feed her (can be as often as hourly all night).  We have co-slept up until recently (and still often do), but lately we have been trying putting her in her cot and DH resettling her at night.  This is working, kinda, but it involves her crying while he rocks or soothes her and since her crying is loud, this is waking our neighbour (see my thread in venting about the joys of having a neighbour screaming at us at 4am).

I thought that sleep training was mostly about setting, rather than resettling, and since DD2 settles very easily in the evening and for her naps, I figured that they wouldn't have much to offer us.  Is it worth us seeking help for this resettling-without-milk business?  

I think that part of it is a question of teaching her that she really doesn't need the milk all night and part of it is dealing with her increasing levels of toddler-defiance about it as best we can.

#2 axiomae

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:05 AM

I don't have a toddler but have just finished reading Sheyne Rowley's Dream Baby Guide which is about sleep and all the issues that can lead to poor sleep such as communication, nutrition, play etc and I have to say it was so comprehensive, a massive read but it really helped me with establishing some kind of a routine with my DD

She suggests night weaning after 6 months (which is a little early IMHO) if you are trying to break a feed to sleep, resettle association. She basically does a form of controlled settling/resettling, which involves interpreting cries and responding to distress but not to protest, which I'm sure you know all about. I found it interesting because it deals with resettling more than other sleep books I've read - having a specific routine so that you don't confuse your LO and they know what is expected at them of certain times.



#3 tenar

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:09 AM

QUOTE (axiomae @ 06/01/2013, 08:05 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
She suggests night weaning after 6 months (which is a little early IMHO) if you are trying to break a feed to sleep, resettle association. She basically does a form of controlled settling/resettling, which involves interpreting cries and responding to distress but not to protest, which I'm sure you know all about. I found it interesting because it deals with resettling more than other sleep books I've read - having a specific routine so that you don't confuse your LO and they know what is expected at them of certain times.


Does she have a suggestion for night weaning at 18 months when the toddler is aware enough to be angry about it?  Toddlers are rather different to babies in quite a few ways (as I'm sure you'll find out in due course), and they require different approaches.

#4 Neko NoNo

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:17 AM

what state are you in? most of the sleep schools (if not all) have hotlines that you can call for help and coaching. They could give you some ideas and you can get a feel for how they are run so you can see if you agree with their methods. I was very suspicious of sleep school, but I was desperate (at only 11 months- I don't know how you are doing this still at 16!). Worked wonders for me and was nowhere near as bad as I had been led to believe by the EB PP brigade.

there were people at my sleep school with kids of all ages. One was 4 and was there for sleep and feeding issues, so it's not too late.

#5 melaine

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:24 AM

I think this is a fairly common problem so sleep school nigt have some ideas. I found even just doing the triage phone call with them have me some ideas to help.



#6 axiomae

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:28 AM

There is a section on resettling a toddler up to 15 months - so close! it says give your LO space to self settle and only go into the room when you feel your LO needs assistance. Lay them down calmly and lovingly and say your sleep cues in a gentle voice while stroking or patting your LO for comfort, particularly if they are angry. When they are calm and lying down and you have finished your cues, leave the room, don't worry if they get up again as it shouldn't be something they learn gets attention. Repeat until asleep.

The sleep cues are words and phrases that you develop in your settling routine that you sing to your LO when initially settling. Apparently using the same cues won't confuse them because they already know what is expected when they hear those cues.

They best thing about this book though is that it is 700+ pages and only the last few chapters are about the sleep and routine specifically. Most of the book deals with things like consistent communication and nutrition that can affect night sleep. She thinks that imbalances in the day affect the night, and I have to say it has helped with my DD. I put her on the day routine and within a week she was STTN, without me doing anything at all. I was prepared to feed her overnight as she's still 7 months, but I haven't needed to. Probably different with a toddler though.

#7 Corella

Posted 06 January 2013 - 07:54 AM

We used Jay Gordon's approach to night weaning and it worked well. I don't see the point in changing from a gorgeous relationship to one where your child cries themself to sleep - at the age where she is aware as you say, she's also going to be aware of you abandoning her to cry, which is what some sleep schools suggest. That said - a book on nighttime parenting might give you some ideas.
What happens when she wakes? Do you get up to her, or lights on, or a bit of muttering, or what? Telling a toddler that boobs are sleeping and being consistent with no more is what worked for us. As did continuing to co-sleep but just me and her, and DH continuing to get sleep. With the last feed of the day - which was the last one she gave up, just at Christmas gone - was that I counted down and then she came off, rolled over and went to sleep.
What does she eat during the day? I find that feeding her a big breakfast, a good lunch and a small dinner helps her sleep better. Miss breakfast, only have snacks for lunch, or an upset dinner and she doesn't sleep as well.
Now to get her to not take an hour to *go* to sleep.

#8 Jingle Flea

Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:12 AM

I night weaned my DD at 17 months. I talked to her for a few days beforehand that she was a big girl now and didn't need milk at night and the feed before bed(in the dark, soft music playing) was the last feed till morning.

Then if she woke at night, I offered water in a sippy cup. I still picked her up for a cuddle in the early days as part of the feed is comfort as well. Then I gradually stopped picking her up, but kept offering the water. I also kept the cup in the top part of the bed where she could reach it...but she never has lol. She still wakes for me to give it to her I[m sure. It does make it easy to find in the darker room though. Also, having my husband go in a fair bit helped her get over the need to feed at night.

#9 red_squirrel

Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:00 AM

All of the above methods are great for getting rid of the night feed however they have one problem in common.
There will be much crying as your daughter fights giving up the overnight feed. It normally continues for up to a week.
This is why sleep school is so good. All the crying happens in another location and not at your house. By the time you come home you have a baby/child that sleeps through the night.

#10 Guest_Sunnycat_*

Posted 06 January 2013 - 11:17 AM

OP my have my sympathies, I have a frequent waker, who likes to be attached to me all night. This morning from 5-8am he was attached and every time I tried to unlatch him he just latched himself back on.

My DS is almost 15 months old and wakes probably every 2 hours. If he does a 3 hour stretch its a miracle. He always wants boob to go back to sleep.

I have tried many times to wean him. I have let him cry (me there to pat, rub, soothe, talk to) and he screams hysterically to the point of choking for over an hour and a half. He did fall asleep eventually, only to wake up 40 minutes later and then he screamed fr another hour. Repeat all night. No improvement over a week, just a moody, depressed, clingy child for the next month that takes us ages to recover from.

I offer water, tried cuddling, rocking, patting everything else other than feeding back to sleep but he doesnt want a bar of it.

I don't know what the answer is, people keep saying that it's about consistency, but it hasn't worked for us. People assume I must not be trying hard enough because it hasn't worked for us.

If I had the money I'd hire a sleep specialist to come out to my house and help me.

If you can afford it OP maybe give sleep school a try or a sleep specialist?

Good luck.

Edited by Sunnycat, 06 January 2013 - 11:18 AM.





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