Please note: You cannot expect a baby to sleep through the night, until they have started on solid foods. Just putting that out there – you may have to wait!
Sleeping Through The Night (Not Waking for Milk)!!
Ok, first things first! If you’ve read my last post you will know my son used a sleep prop to get to sleep (a hairdryer), and he also woke for feeds during the night. I mentioned the night feeds during his check ups and the doctor (and sometimes nurse) always said the same thing. It was me. I was encouraging it and he didn’t need the milk during the night. I was told to offer him water instead.
‘But he doesn’t want water, he wants milk!’ I had said.
‘Of course he does, because you keep giving it to him!’ They would tell me.
Sure enough, I cut down the milk intake, upped the solids and only offered water during the night. Suddenly he wasn’t waking for feeds anymore. Hey presto – he sleeps through the night!
A baby usually adopts a sleep prop during the first few weeks of life. They don’t adopt a comfort item until they’re about 6 months old. That’s the difference. A soother/dummy can be either. For example it is a sleep prop when he only sleeps with it in his mouth and wakes up crying for you to put it back in if it falls out. (I was guilty of this) It is a comfort item if he uses it to go to sleep and pops it back in himself when in falls out! (But he now does this!)
To help with the soother/dummy issue, we started putting several of them into the cot with him so that if one falls out or he wakes looking for it he can find one himself in the dark.
To ‘wean’ him off the hairdryer (which I now realise was actually all about me, he didn’t need it at all), we just gradually started turning it off earlier and earlier each night until we were no longer turning it on to begin with. We replaced it with a night light that plays music for 15 minutes. When I’ve forgotten to buy batteries he is able to sleep without it – it’s just part of the bedtime routine I do.
Teaching Him to Get to Sleep on His Own
I used Supernanny’s Timed-Controlled-Crying Technique. Before I start on this, I will say is, Devin never really ‘cried’, it was always a lazy/tired whine, he was never crying full blown tears and I know I just wouldn’t have been able to do it if that was the case!
I had tried some other techniques before hand and this was the one that finally worked! I felt that a lot of the ‘cry it out’ techniques would break the bond of trust between us, so I never wanted to try them. However, when I discovered this method I knew I had to try it.
Something to understand here is that it’s very important to be able to put your child down awake, if he’s always used to you rocking him to sleep or letting him fall asleep in your arms while you watch TV, he will wonder where you are when he wakes. If he is able to put himself to sleep when you put him down in the evening, he will be able put himself back to sleep if he wakes during the night.
Jo Frost says consistency is key, along with making sure baby is getting all the love and attention and stimulation he needs during waking hours. This is in no way neglecting your child, it is teaching him a healthy way to soothe himself to sleep – something every child has to learn at some point!
Here is the method (You will need a stop-watch, or your phone):
- Stick to the same bedtime routine every night, for me that’s playtime, watching ‘In the Night Garden’, bath time, and a bottle. And the V-Tech Dream Bear night light that plays lullabies for 15 minutes 😉
- After your bedtime routine put baby into his cot. Give him kisses and say goodnight and leave the room.
- The first time you hear him cry out go in and say ‘shhh’, lay a hand on his tummy but do not make eye contact. Then leave.
- Sit outside the room and wait for 2 minutes (Supernanny says to wait 5 minutes, but this is the way I did it), then go back in and repeat as above, then leave.
- Sit outside again and this time wait 4 minutes – if he is still crying go back in and do the same thing again. Then leave.
- Each time you will double the time, so you will wait 8 minutes, then 16 and so on.
The first night I did this I didn’t have to wait the full 4 minutes. The next night I did, but I didn’t have to go in again. The night after that I didn’t have to go back in at all. Waiting two minutes is hard enough, and it is possible that you will have to wait 20 especially with older babies because they know how to guilt you! I promise you though, the results are so worth it.
He will not think you don’t love him, he will not think that he shouldn’t bother crying because nobody will come, he’s had a great day with you and he’s going to wake up and have another one tomorrow!
Obviously if Devin is sick, or teething it’s a completely different story! Sometimes he wakes up in the night and I will go in and soothe him because I know he’s not feeling well, or maybe he needs some pain relief. You will also know this yourself!
We have had people baby-sit for us, and they have done the evening routine and put him down for the night and haven’t heard a peep after – it’s an amazing achievement for both you and him when it finally happens. Maybe this will work for you too!