Self Soothing Sleep Training
I’ve had so many messages since posting about sleep anxiety and sleep training so thought I’d share my experience with my boys and hopefully help some of you out too. I honestly swear by this method but it does come with some major disclaimers…firstly I am no expert (but then who is really let’s be honest), this is just what worked for us, and secondly it requires perseverance…it isn’t easy. But…it’s quick and effective…think short term pain for long term gain! And I’m ALL for that.
What you’re setting out to teach your baby is the skill to self sooth and this is something that can only be learnt. We did exactly the same with both boys but at different ages. This was simply because first time round with Tommy I was still innocently googling “why doesn’t my baby sleep through the night?” until he was 6 months old. Whereas with Rex I was definitely more on the ball, plus I couldn’t have coped without a routine having 2 so close together. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that a good night’s sleep is an absolute game changer on so many levels. It can completely change how the day after goes, it can change your mental health literally overnight, and most importantly can just improve your outlook about everything! Even your marriage can depend on it at times!
This is the method that worked for us:
- Make sure they are changed and dry and also warm and comfortable – so you know for sure that any crying is just after you and not because they’re in discomfort.
- Put them down after their last feed when they are definitely sleepy, but not well past it where they have already started crying. Also make sure they are still AWAKE (this is crucial).
- Say your cue, ours was ‘bedtime baby’. A cue is a sign to your baby that it’s bedtime and something after not long that they will remember and recognise.
- We then use to put on a light projector which also played a little tune on a timer…in fact Rex still has it now!
- Leave the room and let them cry for a short period of time – to begin with this was 5 minutes
- Go back in, without turning any lights on or picking them up. Lean over them and rub their back or head and say your cue again.
- Then leave again.
- Wait this time 10 minutes…be warned Mama’s it’s not easy listening to them crying and your instinct is to shoot straight in there and pick them up…DON’T!
- Go back in and again calm them…don’t stay for long.
- Leave again.
- Repeat each time adding 5 minutes on until they fall asleep in one of the intervals.
We never let our boys reach serious hysteria but they were both giving it big time cries, it takes a lot not to go in, but when you hear that silence you’ll know it was worth it. After the first night we then repeated this method with naptime and every further nighttime…you have to stick to it, that’s the key. Tommy took 5 days/nights of this and Rex took 4. After this we could put them down awake, say goodnight and they would go asleep without intervention. There were the odd nights they would whimper a little but within 10 minutes they would be asleep. And there were days when they weren’t well which would obviously throw a spanner in the works but overall it completely worked.
What age can you do his from? Well it’s usually not recommended before 5/6 months old but with Rex we did it at 9 weeks old. Tommy was 7 months old. It’s much easier second time round! I generally think once they stop falling asleep on that last feed, they’re ready.
What can do before this age to lay down the foundations?
- Follow a routine each night and try to always stick to it – bath, bottle/feed, bed.
- Give them their last feed in their place of sleep, either their room or yours, wherever they are going to sleep…in the dark or very dim light.
- Say the same word each night as you put them down - we used to say ‘bedtime baby’.
- During the day after feeds when you know they are tired and due to sleep, place them down in the same room as you or close by– this lets them practice self-soothing and falling asleep on their own.
- Don’t let them sleep in a dark room during the day…they need to learn day and night and the small cues you give them can allow them to tell the difference.
- Keep bedtime and the time preceding it quiet and calm, so they start to relax and aren’t over stimulated.
This is just what worked for us, I’m not claiming this will work for every baby out there - but I challenge you to try it and I’d love to hear from you afterwards to share your own experience and hopefully you’ll be well rested and on top of the world again very soon! Good luck Mama’s!
Image credit @jennarenfrowphoto