My baby is 14 months old this week and I can count on one hand the number of times he has ‘slept through’. Typically he wakes once or twice. We live in a two bed place and I am desparate to move him in with his three year old sister so we get our room back. But I keep putting it off because of the night wakings and I do not want to disturb her sleep.

So, after much consideration I am starting a controlled crying programme – something I have never done with either of my kids and to be brutally honest I feel sick and scared.

I’ve researched in thoroughly and I discovered a 10 day programme on the net which I am going to follow.

Night one

It is recommended that you and your partner discuss and make a plan. It’s crucial that you are both on the same page and your partner supports you. We have decided that I will be the chief settler. My husband will sleep in the lounge. I am on a make shift bed in the office and baby will stay in our room in his cot as this is his familiar surrounding. We are starting on a Friday so I get a lie in and break Saturday and Sunday. Plus Monday my toddler is in daycare so I can get a rest (hopefully).

So, the first night is just getting you comfortable with the idea. Doing your usual pattern. I have breast-fed for the first year but he now takes a bottle at bedtime which normally knocks him out and I put him to sleep in a slumber. When he wakes I respond pretty immediately and give him a bottle of milk and cuddle him until he sleeps. So tonight I did the same but I was preparing myself, listening out for those cries – is he in pain?

One night of listening and I realise that he is ok. All that is wrong with him is that he has developed an association with falling to sleep. He expects to be picked up, cuddled on my bed and given a bottle of milk to drink. All I need to do is break that association…

Night two

So this is where it really begins.

He is now asleep. I pretty much followed our usual routine but I made sure he was more awake when I put him down. He didn’t cry and just settled himself which isn’t that abnormal at bedtime. It is the night-waking I am dreading. Wish me luck…

1.54am the first murmer, quiet, then a bit more, quiet again…then the crying starts…the advice says wait…count two minutes before I go in. He is standing up as usual as if asking to be picked up. I embrace him while he is still in the cot then attempt to place him writhing, arching his back in the cot. Not easy. Also not easy to resist all the maternal instincts just to pick him up.

This is hard. I know I have to leave after two minutes. No sign of him calming so I leave. Stop watch on for two minutes .

Basically the pattern behind controlled crying is 2 minutes in the room where you attempt to settle using patting and a soothing voice; then you leave for increasing periods of time before going back in to attempt to settle again. Each time you go in should only be for two minutes.

The sequence that I am following is 2, 2, 4, 2, 8, 2, 10, 2, 10, 2, 10, 2 until sleep!

I am now on the 8 minute cycle and it’s hard – writing this blog is the only thing that is keeping me from going in. The stop watch says only two minutes have passed. I need to keep going. He is showing no signs of giving up. By 6 minutes the cry is starting to waive and there are slight quiter moments which crescendo into full on scream.

I approach the door as the timing in nearing 8 minutes. He is standing up in the cot but this time he easily slumps in the cot and allows me to pat him. He is clearly shattered, poor thing. Again I am only supposed to stay for two minutes so I start the “shhhinh, mummy’s here” while patting and I turn on his sleepy sheep which distracts him for a second of two. He is showing signs of settling but just won’t give up and just as the two minutes is nearly up he is bolt upright again desparate for a cuddle. I am supposed to leave. I go against all instinct and walk away.

Common sense and the advice is, that if the baby is nearly settled you can stay a little longer than two minutes but on this occasion it just isn’t happening for me .

Now the really tough one. Ten minutes. This is for a baby who has never been left to cry for more than two minutes all his little life. God, what I am doing to him? Am I the worse mother in the world? It certainly feels like it. I glance at the stop-watch…only five minutes. I need to stop looking at it but I am running out of things to write!

I think I am going to offer him water after this one. The advice is that after the first 10 minutes you then follow the cycle of 2, 10, 2, 10, 2 , 10 until the baby self settles. I think I might go back to 2, 4, 2, 8, 2, 10.

Only 7 minutes. I resort to looking at facebook…thank god for the internet!

This settling was a lot easier. Again he slumped and let me pat and stroke his hair. I resoved to stay that bit longer as he seemed to be going but after about three minutes he started to squirm. I have since left and he is still crying but it’s definitely less intense and there are clear peaks and troughs. The idea is to stay outside for 10 minutes…let’s see who breaks first. It’s now 2.45. Nearly an hour since the first wimper.

Facebook distraction and he is definitely quietening. I am going to stick out 10 minutes. The cry is almost a wimper at times but after 10 mins he is till going so I go in again.

At 3.06 left him with a bottle of water, don’t feel like either of us has won. But by 3.26 there is quiet. I am not sure who this has effected more, I feel exhausted and emotionally drained.

That night he slept till 7.15. Result!

Night three

He slept from 8pm till 5.15am. I went in, as it’s strictly night time and attempted the 2, 2, 4, 2, 8, 2, 10, 2 pattern. We made it to ten minutes but he just wasn’t giving up so I broke and gave him bottle and a cuddle.

Night four

He slept from 7.30pm to 5.07am. I am now worried that it is pure conicidence that he is ‘sleeping through’ to 5 am and hasn’t learnt to self-settle at all. I tried to settle for another hour this morning but he just wasn’t having it – perhaps he’d had enough sleep?

Night five

He slept from 7.30pm to 5.13am. I started to read up about 5am waking and supposedly it is quite common in babies. The advice is to pick a hour which you decide is morning/wake up time and treat anything before that as night time so do the contolled crying until it’s ‘day’ in your books.

I’ve decided 5am can be ‘morning’. Anything after that I stop/give in and take him out of bed and into ours. I don’t care if it is giving the wrong signals.  I just can’t do controlled crying in the early hours. I would rather doze with him in our bed. Good night!

 

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