29 Nov We will crack this sleep training!
“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” Ernest Hemingway
Sleep is a topic that is dear to us at mumstheword. We do not get much of it! But all three of us have been through some form of sleep training with our little ones. We do not claim to have the right answers but if you are thinking about sleep training a baby under the age of 1 years old you can read my plan here, start the routine with me and follow the results.
Joseph is the youngest baby in the mumstheword family and at nearly 9 months old he should (according to average stats) be sleeping through the night by now (12 hrs approx.). The definition of ‘sleeping through the night’ in my case means sleeping from 7pm-7am. No wake ups for milk or partying (See Iona’s post on how much sleep your child needs).
Joe has been a complicated bundle of joy/tears. At the beginning he had feeding issues (tongue tie) and so his weight fluctuated. This delayed any sort of routine and I continued to feed on demand until his weight was consistent. Secondly – he grew 6 new teeth before he was 5 months old (Ella did not get her first until she was 10 mths old) and has caught colds, bugs, everything… Thirdly – for whatever reason my husband and I were not ready. Many times we had agreed to start and then when the crying hit we spent hours procrastinating and then arguing about should we or should we not go to him. Finally – Joseph has not learned to self-settle. This is by the far the hardest one to crack (see Bonnie’s post on her experience of this). I have unfortunately slipped into the dummy trap and to date Joe has relied on a combination of dummy, shushing and cuddles to settle.
Ultimately Joe is a happy and healthy boy, getting three meals a day with snacks and milk in the morning/evening. He is getting more than enough food! I am also going back to work in March and I HAVE to nail the sleep otherwise – well – I will not be able to function. So… here goes….I am throwing away the dummy. No judgments!
SLEEP PLAN for babies fully weaned.
My current routine
Please click here if you want to see the routine I have been following with Joseph since he was 14 weeks old when I moved him into his own room and own cot. This is my schedule based on advice from an amazing Sleep Consultant Heidi Skudder aka The Parent and Baby Coach, who helped us with our first born who has been the best sleeper ever since.
– To set up and follow a routine which incorporates a long lunchtime sleep (I have already established this but I am including this in my blog post because if you have not done this – this is absolutely critical!) Ping us if you need advice on establishing a long lunchtime nap.
– To encourage Joseph to regularly sleep through from 7pm until 6.30am/7am.
– To establish a consistent way of soothing him back to sleep should he wake in the night time (its important to note that all babies wake during the night time, but the important thing is for them to learn to turn over and go back to sleep on their own rather than relying on something like the dummy or boob to send them back to sleep!).
Sleep Training Method – The Shhh and Pat Method
(Note: I am comfortable with some crying. If you do not want your baby to cry this is not the sleep training method for you, also if you have a much younger baby, you may want to go in and pick them up rather than doing the Shhh Patting)
Consistency Consistency Consistency.
As of today – EVERY time I put Joseph down to sleep in his cot I am going to follow this method.
1) We close the blinds together
2) I put him in his sleeping bag with a favorite snuggly.
3) I sing him Twinkle Twinkle little star, kiss him, say good night, leave the room and shut the door. Feel free to pick a sleep sentence if singing is not your thing. This signpost can be taken on holiday with you and when you stay at friends/family. It works!
If your baby cries make sure it is a ‘proper cry’ (nerve crunching, at full rev and makes you feel frayed). Do NOT go to your baby if it is chatter, an angry cry or a moan.
If you hear a proper cry then start timing for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes go into the room, saying “SHHHH” loudly as you walk in (but calmly). Place your hand on baby and pat tummy or rub the forehead in a caring motion, whilst saying “Sleepytime” once or twice. Do not expect to stop your baby from crying. In fact expect them to get worse (that’s not what the books tell you but what Heidi does!) but this method will reassure baby that you are there, however that they are not going to get what they are crying for and that they must fall asleep on their own . After Shhh’ing and Patting for 30 seconds or so (no longer than a minute or it won’t work), say goodnight, give baby a kiss and then leave the room. Then repeat (if necessary).
Based on Heidi’s advice, I am going to follow the below intervals for Joe, given he is now 8 months old, however for a younger baby Heidi recommends following shorter intervals and going in more often…
3 minutes – go in and settle
4 minutes – go in and settle
5 minutes – go in and settle
6 minutes – go in and settle
Then repeating, by increasing the interval by one minute each time you go in, until he falls asleep. It is a battle of wills, so either he will give up or I will and it is not going to be me because I am determined that this will work and be better for our whole family in the long run, and most importantly Joe who is clearly not getting the sleep he should be having for his age.
• Stay consistent!
• If there is a break in the ‘proper cry’ – start the interval again.
• Try to not go in until 6.30am. The hardest one to crack is if they wake up at say 5.45am. I have been doing this a lot as I think, well, it’s nearly 7am. It is NOT. I am buggered because of the sub 6am starts.
Overall – I am hopeful that my goal of a sleeping through baby will be reached within 3-5 nights but I NEED your help and support. I have picked a Thursday start so that we have the weekend to recover. The husband is onboard and my 3 year old is fully bribed with stickers. Please share your ideas and experiences with us all. I will post again next week with a full summary of how it’s been for me. You can also follow my nightly progress (of lack of) on our Instagram account @__mumstheword
Wish me luck!
The Parent and Baby Coach: – a fab sleep consultant who specializes in teaching young babies to settle well. If crying is not for you, there are other methods that can be used. Heidi offers workshops and one on one services within your home.