15 February 2012

The dilemma

ah so once again we've reached this point of deliberation and potentially having to make a change to Theo's sleeping habits.

But the thing is, is that I'm happy with the sleeping arrangements, he sleeps in the bed with us. I feed him to sleep, then most of the time get up again and spend some time with Rob downstairs in the evening, then when we go to bed he doesn't usually wake up. He doesn't 'sleep through' meaning he does wake up, but on a good night means that he wakes slightly, and I either put him on the other side of me, stroke his back or feed him back to sleep. But he never wakes up fully and neither do I, so on those nights I feel like I, and we get a good nights sleep. It's only on nights when he is more restless and sometimes is awake for about an hour or more that it's a problem, but these nights only tend to happen when there is something wrong, like teething or feeling a bit ill for example, which is fairly normal right?

I know that at some point we are going to have to sort out Theo's sleep associations, because at the moment the main way he falls asleep is by me feeding him, so therefore that's the way he thinks he has to go back to sleep, blah blah, I've read lots about the patterns in babies sleeps and it's normal for them to wake, he just needs to learn how to go back to sleep by himself, like we do. At the moment I'm trying to address this by only offering him a feed as a last resort, I'm trying to soothe him back to sleep by rubbing his back etc, which works some of the time. So what's the problem?

The problem is is that I'm getting worried that I'm doing the wrong thing (again) and I have constant questions of "isn't he in his own bed yet?" "when's he moving to his own room?" "he really should be sleeping by himself" blah blah blah. Also the other day I met with a friend and her baby, who is a month older than Theo is sleeping through and in his own room. My friend isn't the "oh my baby is wonderful and is sleeping through" rub it in your face type, but it still made me question whether we should be attempting the same thing. She has stopped breastfeeding altogether now, and they reached a point where they actively made a change, because it felt like the right time. It only took four days for the baby to learn to sleep by himself in his own room. Maybe it was because the baby was ready, and the parents were too?

At the moment I'm still completely happy breastfeeding Theo, and if it gets him back to sleep at night then I'm happy doing it then too, but I know there may be a point when I feel I would like to stop, but I don't feel like it's now. I also know that Theo hasn't really given any signs that he wants to stop either, so I certainly don't want to force weaning on him. As with the sleeping I feel happy and really love co-sleeping, and again I haven't got the feeling that Theo wants it any different either. So it works for us, for the time being.

But saying all this I sometimes question myself as to whether I'm making up excuses, because I really enjoy it, and I don't want to give up co-sleeping. Am I being selfish? Should we at least try putting him down in his cot? He might prefer it? Who knows?

Do you just know when it's the right time to wean and to move them out of the bed? Should I just ignore all the 'advice' and pressure I get about him still co-sleeping, or should we start to make a change? I hate this constant worry that I'm doing the wrong thing. Am I setting Theo up for bad sleep habits when he's older, or am I doing the best thing by doing what feels right for us both? in other words:

HELP!

6 comments :

  1. I can really understand this thought process, I have often found myself agonising over the same things. Recently, I have made peace with my decision to help Arlo settle at night. Arlo is not much older than Theo, but here is what I tell myself from my very limited experience:

    1. All babies/children will learn to sleep at some stage, when they are ready.

    2. Some babies/children are ready before others (friends have night weaned their toddlers with little hassle, whereas I know from his hysteria and resistance when we try, that Arlo is not yet ready)

    3. Helping your child feel safe and secure at night is not setting up bad habits. I actually think it puts them in good stead to sleep confidently on their own when they are ready.

    I would say that if you are happy with your current arrangment, don't worry about whether you are creating a potential problem. And you can always try and see how he goes sleeping in his own bed to see if he is ready.

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    1. hi chloe, thanks for your advice! it's really reassuring to hear that other people think the same, and that actually it is ok that we are still doing things the way we are! sometimes I just have a bit of a wobble!

      thanks again!

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  2. From what i can see theo is a very happy loving boy so you must be doing something right?!

    I wouldn't panic about the sleeping...every parent is different and every baby too. For example we put Stanley in his own room at 4 months and he never started to sleep through until he learnt to crawl at 8 months. I made the decision i was happier sleeping with him in his own room and happy to go and breast feed him/or settle him when he woke. When he started to sleep through i started to drop the breast feeding too.... just a personal choice for me. He now goes to sleep in his own room without too much trouble between 7-8pm. He has his final bottle downstairs, watches 'In the Night Garden' and perhaps plays for a bit (especially if i'm waiting for his daddy to get in from from work to see him) then he goes up, brushes his teeth and put him into his cot. He normally is tired so i might just sway him a bit, whisper things to him play his lullaby music and then put him down. He might let out a little cry but on the whole he now goes to bed ok. Then he varies a lot in the night depending on how he is feeling/teething etc. All being ok he'll sleep right through until about 6-7am. Other occasions he'll cry a bit in the night and then fall back to sleep. Sometimes though he'll cry in a way that i know the only way he'll feel better is if i go in to sooth him, or else failing that bring him into bed with us... So that works for us. But i have so many friends with babies and they ALL do it differently. I have one with twins - she is still breast feeding both (they are Stanley's age, but she's trying to drop the day feeding ones, but does go in to feed them at night if they need.)

    Perhaps you could just try doing one thing. Try him in his own room but don't drop the breast feeding....so if he needs you he knows you are still there. Eventually though he might just work out he is fine is his own room and not cry out so much. You could maybe give yourself a limit - like 4 days when rob is around to help you a bit and can go in to settle him so he doesn't think you are coming in to breastfeed him? I personally found having him in his own room meant i also didn't hear every squeak...just the really important ones. This is all easy for me to say though!

    Stanley has a dummy at night...so i can't say that doesn't help to soothe him. You can't win what ever you do though. Only today i was told by my health visitor to drop the bottle and get rid of the dummy?! Easier said than done i told her. They are babies for such a short time. Don't feel you have to rush into anything you don't want to do. If you AND rob are happy to keep him in your bed for the time being, i would. Perhaps he'll wean himself off you soon and then moving to his own bed will be the nest natural step....whatever though, you are doing an AMAZING job and don't ever doubt that.
    Sarah xx
    Soz this is such a long comment!! x

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    1. aw thanks for the kind words! It's interesting to read what other peoples set ups are like, because as you said it is different for every baby and parent. We have tried various things with Theo since he was born, even the 'cry it out' technique, which I have sworn never again, but I know it works for some people, but it was obvious from the start that Theo is a baby who has needed quite a lot of comfort, whereas some babies want their own space more. I'm glad Stanley is a good sleeper though! I have a friend who's baby slept through from quite a young age, and he has a dummy to soothe him at night, but I know she is worried about the time when they have to wean him off of that, so I guess there is no easy way, whichever way you choose right?

      I have definitely thought to myself that theo is still so young (even though i can't believe he's 1!) so there is no rush in trying to get him to sleep independently, especially is he still needs the closeness. And rob and I are both happy with the situation, but I guess sometimes I just worry too much (only natural right?!) we also only have one spare room, which is taken up by our sofa bed at the moment, so moving Theo into that room would mean a whole lot of extra work trying to figure out where it can go, or try and sell it! (but maybe that's just an excuse!)

      anyway, thanks for the comment, i do feel confident in what we are doing, and I guess I feel happy for things to stay the same, for now!

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    2. I think some babies make the decisions for you. I felt like Stanley wanted his own space at 4 months and then definitely didn't seem bothered about breast feeding at 8 months...he really wasn't fussed...so i dropped it. then he just started to sleep a bit better of his own accord. Nothing we did really. And i'm with you the 'let them cry' technique really didn't work for us either. Having him in his own room was one thing, letting him howl is another!!!
      sure he'll let you know when he's ready. you seem pretty in tune to him, so i reckon one day it'll just feel right. same with us and dropping the dummy. i swore we'd never use one, but he really needed the soothing. and so hey we do. but just for sleeping so i feel ok about it. and i'm sure when the time is right he'll feel he doesn't need it. but i'm not going to push it. it's not worth the agro - i can't explain it to him yet, plus i gave it to him so it seems mean just to take it off him...
      it's always nice to hear what others are up to. i feel i need reassurance sometimes about decisions. pretty natural i'm sure. we've never done this before. sure it'll be soooooo much easier with the next one :)

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  3. Hello! I just stumbled across your blog. We have a Theo too, though I think he's a little older. I can really sympahise with you, I've had all these feelings and thoughts in the past too. I decided that the year mark was the time to stop the breastfeeding and start sleep training my little man. I'm ashamed to say that I gave in to the pressures around me (everyone saying, 'you're still breastfeeding?!' 'He's still not sleeping through?!'). On the downside I have missed breastfeeding ever since and there has been a number of occasions where I've thought, if only I was still breastfeeding! On the plus side he sleeps through (most of the time!) and we still have a special, very affectionate relationship and cuddle up as much as we used to. My advice would be stick to your instincts and try to ignore the rest of the world! It'll probably take a week to get him to settle himself, whether you do that now or in another year. Good luck with it all. x PS I wrote a blog post called 'The Imposter' last month you may relate to!

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