I need to tap into the hive

Okay, I’m not sure, but it’s possible I’ve already ruined my child.

A few months ago you probably remember me posting about Charlie getting fussy with Chief. This has mostly improved. She doesn’t instantly fuss when he comes home and he can really get her giggles going. Sometimes she just wants me but we figure that’s normal because I am with her constantly.

However, at night I am the only one Charlie wants, and it may be a problem. Just to give you an idea of our evenings, here’s how it goes:

At around 7:00 give or take we get started with bath time. We take turns with this and she enjoys it equally with both of us (maybe more with Chief honestly). Then we get her out and the crying starts-she really loves the tub and never wants to leave. She gets diapered and lotioned and dried off and stuff. Then I take her into our room (where she still sleeps) and put her in her sleepsuit. She cries through all of this. Then I lay down with her and nurse her. She either falls asleep or gets really sleepy. Either way I put her in the pack n play and she 99% of the time does fine for a while.

Since the four month regression it’s hard to tell what comes next. Sometimes she’s up and crying in 45 minutes. Sometimes it’s 6 hours. More often it falls in the middle, and she wakes up around 11:00 ish. Tonight it was 9:45. She didn’t wake up straight up crying. She fussed in her pack n play for about ten minutes off and on. We carefully watched. Then when she started to cry Chief went back there. He tried for about 20 minutes of holding and walking and shushing, but she sobbed the whole time.

This is very typical. I know because we’ve tried a lot. She sobs until I can’t take it anymore and I come back and nurse her back down. We are not CIO people, and we don’t like this. We feel like even though she’s being held, it’s still a form of CIO. I’m not criticizing CIO, but it doesn’t feel right for us.

Tonight after I got her back down I talked with Chief. We both think this stems back to a few decisions we made early on:

1. When I got breastfeeding going when she was a week old, the LC told us to try and withhold bottles until she was at least a month old. But even at this point I didn’t give her one because I was afraid she would stop breastfeeding. She didn’t take a bottle really until 12 weeks when she started staying with my cousin once a week-but that’s all it was, once a week. And it was a battle most of the time. Now my cousin has a full time job and so she stays with chief one afternoon a week while I go to the firm, and she flat out won’t take a bottle. She basically goes on a hunger strike until we’re back together. It’s only a few hours at a time so it’s not harming her, but it would be easier on everyone if she would just take even a few ounces from a bottle.

2. I decided not to go back to work (with my husband of course-it was a joint decision), so now she spends 97% of her time with me (I did actually calculate it) every week and my husband is only present for probably 40% (I didn’t take the time to calculate that). They are only alone for 3% of her time. This is probably a problem.

3. When I decided not to go back I felt like I needed to prove that it was going to make Chief’s life so much easier by taking care of her any time she woke up in the night. So now for the past four months she’s only been taken care of in the night wake ups by me, and that is what she wants always.

All of these choices that I made early on I believe are leading to the situation now. What this means is that basically I can never go anywhere at night. Not until she’s weaned at least. That’s what it feels like now.

I’ve done some research and there are two schools of thought:

  1. Attachment parenting says that if I let her cry when Chief holds her it will lead to negative associations with Chief, which we do not want, and that we should always let her be with me when that’s what she wants.
  2. Conventional approaches say that if we keep trying eventually it will get better, but we can’t give in, meaning Chief has to tough it out and hold her through the sobbing. And I’m not just talking some tears, I’m talking full out sobbing, running out of breath, choking and spluttering.

We really don’t ascribe to one type of parenting, but we do feel like we’ve ended up leaning towards attachment styles inadvertently, just because it’s what has felt right. I talked to Chief tonight and just straight up asked him what he wants to do. He said he doesn’t want to let her cry in his arms for more than five minutes or so. I agreed. We both feel like past that point, the heavy crying is doing more harm than good. But this means that we really can’t go out at night until she’s weaned or we find some other way to resolve this. She’ll be five months old next week and we have still not been away from her for an evening. Neither of us is just hankering to get out, but we’re only five months in and that could change. And probably we need to be doing more to take care of our husband-wife relationship than we are.

I’m hopeful that when we start solids at 6 months I can let him take the lead on putting the food in front of her and helping her (although we’re doing BLW and it highly encourages independent eating-meaning not a lot of help from parents) so that when she starts to realize that food is nourishment, she’ll realize that her dad can help too.

I’m also thinking maybe I should try giving her a bottle once during the day so she gets used to it, and then maybe Chief could try at night. We tried a while back having him give her one at night before bed and it led to hardcore tears. So i think we need to lead up to it.

Does anyone have any advice? I’m a bit at a loss. Not letting our baby cry is what feels right, but I also don’t want to permanently stunt her relationship with her dad. Or my relationship with her dad. So I’m tapping into the hive for help.



43 thoughts on “I need to tap into the hive

  1. Don’t know if it’s possible in your situation but we had similar problems when I went back to work and hubby was home with C for 3 weeks in his own. First week sucked, lots of tears and bottle refusal, me running home to nurse her at lunch, etc. It got incrementally better over time, and now on the Saturdays I work, they have a pleasant time together. In fact I think she takes better naps with him. Does she like being worn? She may enjoy that with daddy, and in fact may take a bottle better that way.

  2. I like your plan of you giving her a bottle during the day so that she gets used to it and then you can work your way up to him and the bottles… I met my hubby when he was a single dad to a baby baby and it took a little while for my youngest to get used to me doing feedings and everything else and after a couple weeks of the routine of me helping he ended up being just as easy for me as it was for my hubby… ovbiously I never breast fed him so that wasn’t an issue but him eating from someone else was an issue eventually it all worked out… it was also 10 years ago so some of those months/weeks blur together… especially since me and DH were just neighbors at the time and I was trying to help out since I worked opposite schedules..

      • It was but if Adin could learn to trust and love me then I think your little girl will warm up to your hubby doing the feedings it will just take some time! She’s spent 9 months inside you …you don’t get any closer then that 🙂 it will just take some time and she’ll be comforted by you both in the middle of the night and someday you two can have a date night again lol 🙂

  3. I also despise cio but do not believe holding whole crying counts. They are not being left alone. I do agree that letting her cry in his arms for an extended period is not the answer.

    Does he ever wear her? I’m wondering if she’s already comforted by bring worn by you if she would also recognize those same comforting feelings if he wore her. Also, do you think having him included in all of the night time routine would help? Like after bath, you both lay on the bed one on each side of her while she nurses. Maybe having dad hold her hand or stroke get hair. Do you think?

  4. I have a few friends who had boys first and girls second and they all say their girls are more clingy to mum than the boys ever were. I don’t know if that’s a real thing but maybe it’s hormonal or something about the girl/girl connection. The other thing is regardless of gender the first 6 months, maybe even a year, are really heavy mummy time and that’s ok. They get a bit older and more aware and start banging on the door waiting for daddy to get home at around 12-18 months so just keep at it and know that Chief and C will bond. She is still so little, it really is mummy is the centre of my world time. With the bottles, do what works for you but I will just give you the warning to be careful with how many you introduce as it is a slippery slope. I had a nurse say that to me when Monkey was 4 mths as I tried comp feeding to tackle the 4 months sleep regression (it didn’t work). It just started out as one bottle a day but once you are doing it and they are taking them then all of a sudden something else comes up on one day and they have one here and they have one there and before you know it you aren’t making as much milk anymore (or that’s how it feels) and you slip and slide closer to bottles only. We started the process with one bottle a day at 4 months and I stopped breastfeeding completely at 7 months. I will definitely do things differently with this baby. Sorry not much super specific help there but I hope what little I gave can be added to the mix to help you work your own way out. I honestly think C and Chief will be just fine. Good luck 🙂 xxx

  5. Oh sweetie, I feel you! This sounds exactly like our experience with DD#1. I was always the night watcher, as DW worked and I was home with her 24/7, and I never left her side for more than 2 hours at a time because I was exclusively nursing. I didn’t like pumping and I didn’t particularly want her to get used to bottles or pacifiers, plus I loved nursing. She always had a preference for me, and still does which makes some situations hard but from what I gather from many parents is there is often a preferred patent, regardless of the parenting styles. Later on, chief can establish routines that only he does with her and it’ll be their chance to share things that mommy isn’t involved with. This preference thing is not at all related to the sleep regression you’re going through now. She is at the exact same age dd was at when we decided to hire a sleep consultant because we just couldn’t get her to go down or stay down easily anymore, and there were way too many hours of tears. The sleep consultant told us that things were getting harder and harder because of the fact that she wasn’t sleeping enough anymore. Those extra few hours of tears in the evenings, with us doing all the shushing, swinging, bouncing, nursing, singing, etc, didn’t help her learn to sleep it just prolonged our exhaustion and guilt. We tried all the gentle methods in various sleep books, but eventually we ended up doing cio despite it being not even the last thing I could ever imagine doing. It was hard, very very hard, and we had a lot of judgy parents disagree, but it was effective. We know if quite a few other parents who used the same sleep consultant and had similar success. She learned to fall asleep on her own, without needing anyone to do anything for her. Naps and bedtime became easy and predictable, but it also meant that I was home literally all day and night because she wasn’t supposed to sleep anywhere but in her room, unless unavoidable. The room had to be as dark as possible for all hours that were deemed for sleeping (for us was 630pm to 630 am and naps) and everything has to be kept on a predictable schedule because babies at that age really start to crave routine. This became clear to us when another regression she came around or when we travelled with her, because as soon as we could do one day of the usual routine again, she was right back in schedule without fuss. DW was even able to do bedtime routines without much protest. I guess what I’m saying is your daughter’s difficulties with chief might be improved once the sleep difficulties are improved. I wish you a whole lot of strength through this difficult period. I dread it already and my daughter isn’t even born yet. Xx

    • How long did CIO take to work for you guys? I’m really not judgey about it because I believe that if it’s done correctly it can work and be helpful like in your situation, but i don’t know if we could do it or knowing my daughter that it would work for us. I really don’t want to sleep train at all honestly :-/

      • Yeah you’re the only one who will know if you need to go that route. It’s harder on us. I won’t lie, I cried the entire time she was crying, and DW had to keep me from going into her room to comfort her. I think it was about 3 rough nights, the first being longest lasting (I’d be guessing but I think around 45 mins), the next night about half that, the 3rd night halfed again… Within a week there was zero fussing. She would go down awake after nursing (if I saw she was dozing off while nursing, I’d wake her to make sure she always went down awake) – I think I started nursing at bath time, so there’d be 15 mins or so between boob & bed so to not have an association to the boob being needed for sleep. She would go down with zero fuss. It was glorious.

      • The great part too was that with every regression or travel or sickness disruption that came up, once she was feeling better enough to go back to our usual routine, the fussing/protesting would last 5-10 mins max that first night, then it’d be back to normal after that.

  6. Oh man, reading this brought me right back to when my Ladybug was little! Some of the same stuff going on – we didn’t use bottles, I am a SAHM that spent so much time taking care of her that she went through a fierce mom-only phase.

    I don’t quite remember how we got through it, since Ladybug is now 21 months and 4 seems like another lifetime ago but my friends have reminded me of this time and again and it’s so true: everything is just a phase. mom only was just a phase (she now LOVES and prefers her daddy), teething is a phase, sleep regressions are a phase, learning to walk and talk is a phase. You blink and suddenly it’s gone and you can barely remember that old phase because some new phase is here. Now we are in the testing limits constantly phase. LOL Trust your instincts mama, you will always the one who knows your child best. You know what she needs. And you will get through this, because it’s only a phase.

  7. When she wakes up, could you immediately move her to bed laying next to you, and chief could be laying on the other side? Like a Charlie sandwich? And then slowly, over time. You move a bit further away, while chief stays really close? Not tricking her by any means. But showing her daddy can comfort too? Do you baby wear? Maybe yall could go for a walk or something with chief wearing Charlie, wear she can see you still but daddy is the close one. Calvin usually would do great on walks.

    We would also “shock the system” when Calvin was super fussy and nothing would work. We’d go outside where is 20* cooler, or into a steamy bathroom where its warmer. Or turn on the vacuum cleaner. Just something that is so different he would take pause and most of the time that worked.

    • Oh the only problem there is that chief goes to work at 5:20 before she wakes up, but she cosleeps the second half of the night so she is in between us quite a bit. He does wear her when we’re out quite a bit to give me a break 🙂

  8. For the bottle feeding, I had to have surgery at one point and DD would need to be bottle fed, because of the drugs in my system, but hadn’t been accustomed to bottles… We found that when I wasn’t around that others were able to bottle feed her, but forget it if I was around. She knew the source she really wanted was just a whine away.

  9. I don’t have much advice because I’m still dealing with this and Peyton is 2. I sympathize though. We didn’t give a bottle right away because I didn’t have a pump until she was 2 months old (stupid insurance). At that point, she wouldn’t take a bottle at all. AT ALL. I didn’t return to work, I have no family or friends that could ever watch her. She was 18 months before my husband would be alone with her for an hour and just this October before I was out for an entire evening (6+ hours). Now she’s moving to the Daddy loving stage.
    The more time they are alone, the more she’ll rely on him. I’ve noticed if I’m still nearby, she can tell and screams for me.
    It won’t last forever! Hang in there.

  10. I remember these times and have to agree with the H and early on we had the indoor stroller and the front pouches. The wee did better with the front pouch and dad. Last night the huzz was walking for 20 minutes with the now “not so wee” in the front pouch and that has been the only downside. It does get better!! And you both are going an amazing job. Follow your gut. Sending lots of love and support!

  11. You are going through a tough patch at the moment but it doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong previously. My suggestion is to do what feels most natural to you. If it means that you should be the one cuddling and nursing and comforting then that is what you do. It is just another phase in the life of C and babies are wonderful like that – just when you think you’ve got them figured out and everything is running great – they change it up on you! Believe it or not there will be a time in C’s future when she won’t be comforted by you and she will only want her daddy. Enjoy what you have for now as these moments are fleeting in the grand scheme of things. Before you know it she will be 20 and waving goodbye as she’s on her way to College.

    Here are couple of suggestions as well – don’t be around when Chief is trying to feed her the bottle. It will be difficult for you but it will be difficult for her as well if she knows you are there. Has he tried skin to skin feeding? Have you tried different types of bottles/nipples. How uptight does Chief get when she’s crying? If he’s stressed it will be felt by her. Lastly and most importantly – and this goes with what I suggested above – stop reading the books/internet stuff and try and feel your own instincts. Not every baby is the model baby from books – what works for some will not work for others. She will survive and thrive! Good Luck

  12. I’ve not experienced this at all. Not a brag or anything, just so that you take what I say/think with a big “No Real Experience” grain of salt.

    Chick does well being passed between me and Mr. O in large part because he had to get used to feeding from a bottle very early on. (This is perhaps the only upside from having to fortify his breast milk for two months.) Even now, I’ll breast feed him for the first part of the feeding, and Mr. O takes over with a bottle. We did this more so Mr. O could bond during feedings too, rather than because we were brilliantly planning ahead or anything. Feedings take FOREVER this way, but this has also made transitioning to daycare (i.e. all bottle, all the time) a lot easier.

    When the stakes aren’t as high– like not at 3 am, try having Chief be the comforter-in-chief. (ha! see what I did there?) Also, I have heard that babywearing is veeeeery helpful in situations like this. Have Chief try putting her in your becco/ergo/moby and bounce a round a little until Charlie settles down.

    She is getting what she needs, just not what she wants. Remember– she is not actually dying, even though she may be trying to convince you otherwise. 😉

    • C had to have bottles her first week because my milk didn’t come until day four and after that I had to wait until day six to see an LC to get us going, so she WAS good at taking them, then she either forgot or just decided that no one was allowed to feed her but me.

  13. 1) do daytime dates with chief. Breakfast or lunch. Walk in park. (and they are cheaper than dinner.)
    2) Chief will become her favorite sometimes soon. It happens. Do not worry. She will alternate favorites I promise.
    3) Chief might try feeding with a sippy cup not bottle. MIGHT work.
    4) Chief should do as much baby wearing as possible during the day.

  14. I didn’t read everyone else’s responses, but here’s what we’ve done, as we are in a similar spot (with the added excitement that I am going to DC this Sunday-Wednesday and thus far!) To help a bit, 1) I decided on a certain amount of time (in my case, at 8 months, 3 hours) and if A woke up before that time limit, L would go in and try to soothe him. If he didn’t settle, I’d go in but NOT nurse him. I’ll rock, pat, shush, whatever, but no nursing. This has helped a bit, for sure. I’ve also found that he has grown out of many patterns I was sure were permanent, like needing to be held/rocked back to sleep. Lately, he can fuss a bit and sometimes put himself back to sleep, or we can just rub his back and give him a pacifier and he’ll fall back asleep. This just wasn’t true before, but now it is. Babies change their habits and patterns all the time. I am still the primary for middle of the night, but L does many of the earlier wake ups, when they occur, and that was a gradual transition. So start small – like you are, with him starting and you finishing – and I really think it will help.
    I have 0 advice on the bottle thing, since A has always been great at going back and forth, but I have heard that it’s unlikely she’s not taking a bottle because you waited to introduce it. Some babies just hate bottles. Maybe try a sippy cup?

  15. I don’t have any advice for you because I’ve not been there yet, but I do have a question for you. What are CIO and BLW? I hope the ladies here have helped with their advice and you guys can make some headway with all of this!

  16. Hey friend, this sounds like us. Hubby rocked Bub to sleep from the beginning but he started screaming and demanding me around 3 or 4 months. We just went with it and I became the sole night time person (although it was exhausting for me), and we would try again every couple of weeks. About a month ago, Bub stopped screaming, and hubby rocks him to sleep every night again. Not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but it was around the same time that he speed nursing to sleep and actually needed to be rocked. Also, hubby started spending more time with him during the day so I could grade so that might be related. I’m inclined to say that forcing the issue and having him continue to hold her while she cries could enforce a negative association, and it may just be something you’ll have to wait out. It took about 6 months or so for Bub to warm back up to Daddy at night time.

  17. Hi librarian, my son was born July 2 and is almost exactly the same age as Charlie development-wise (he was 10 days overdue). We are going through a very similar stage sleep-wise. Started getting bad a few weeks before you posted about your 4 month regression.
    Here’s my plan. We are working toward trying to put Isaac down awake and not fed to sleep to avoid the nursing=sleep association (had this with my first, it is tough). We put down awake by doing the same routine at naps and bedtime, super dark room, white noise (we have noisy neighbours and older kids). Usually he fusses a bit and if he starts to sound more upset (the car seat cry) I pick him up, pat him, say the words again (time for sleep) and put him back down. It usually works but sometimes we need to hold him until he is asleep.
    At night, if it has been shorter than 2 hours since the last feed I send in my husband to soothe Isaac. This did NOT work with my first who screamed and screamed if DH went in at night. We were in the same situation as you, overall.
    We did CIO with the first when I started going crazy with the accelerating wake ups in the night every hour. It was tough but it worked in a few days as mentioned above. She was 5 months.
    With Isaac, I am currently feeding him about 4-5 times a night. If this doesn’t gradually improve on its own I will try to eliminate some feeds slowly (you apparently feed 1 minutes less every night for a week). If this doesn’t work and at 5.5 or 6 months he is still waking so often, we will do some more structured CIO (like I will only feed him every 4 hours and we will go in to reassure him that we are here but not time to eat).
    I know this is super long. Thought of you all day!
    both my girls preferred me for the first year and I was soooooo much second best in their second years. The sleeping is really normal for this age. Things change fast. If chief persists she’ll get used to him soothing her but you’ll have to get over that hump. CIO is hard in the short term but saves loads and loads of tears and bedtime drama in the longer term. But try other things first including all the gentler methods. There will be protest but if you 2 are right there with her she will learn and it won’t be as stressful for her. Check out ‘the science of mom’ for her sleep research series about stress and CIO in various forms.
    We are in very similar boats! Sorry this is so long– but I feel so desperate to hear what others are going through and their coping and plans for fixing it (or not). Whatever you choose to do, you guys are being wonderful parents to Charlie and no matter what you so now she will go to bed on her own and very likely sleep well all night in a couple years.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to type this all out! I know with multiple kids ALL free time is precious!

      The other day when she was napping with me she napped really well, chief noticed the same thing when she napped well on him. We both ALSO noticed that her startle reflex is back with a major vengeance. So we’ve taken a step back and are swaddling again. She isn’t rolling from back to belly yet so we’re not in the danger zone luckily. It has been SO much better sleep wise. Tonight she woke up crying 45 miNutes after I put her down but all I did was rub her chest and she sucked my finger for about five seconds and went right back to sleep and has stayed that way for almost three hours now-basically the same thing happened last night. If I can get four to five hour stretches I’ll be a happy camper!

      It sounds like you guys have a really great and reasonable system. It’s so hard to second guess myself all the time, and it doesn’t help with my mom always saying things about how she would do it. I really appreciate all your advice!

      • Great news! Sleep is such a moving target… Don’t worry about what Mom says. I guarantee she doesn’t remember what she did… WE won’t really remember by about February unless we write it down– ah the beauty of nature ‘s amnesia!

  18. Crazy advice: try putting her in pants and socks instead of sleep suits (footy pj’s). Our son had the worst time sleeping in them during the cooler months. I think he felt confined! Once we figured it out and tried pants/socks he started sleeping better. Maybe it will work 🙂

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