BEDTIME SLEEP TRAINING

 

WHAT

Cry it out method. It is hard, but it is short-lived and it works. If you are against cry it out method, please do not continue. Please do explore other methods prior to committing to cry it out sleep training.

WHO

Kids who cannot be reasoned with. Older kids will require a different method. This is for a child who:

  1. Requires prolonged help to fall asleep (rocking, bouncing, walking etc), only to wake up after an award-worthy stealth place-in-the-crib performance.
  2. Wakes up multiple times at night and usually also early awakening.

WHY

All bedtime sleep training methods, including cry it out method, aim to teach your child to self soothe and sleep unassisted. This is an important life skill. Children (and adult) go through several periods of light sleep through the night. If they can self soothe, they will go right back to sleep, allowing for uninterrupted sleep. If they are unable to self soothe, they risk waking up completely during the light sleep period (and screaming for you).

WHERE

Dark, quiet room. Use white noise. Use black out shades.

WHEN

Make sure your child is old enough to not need night feeding and swaddling, typically after 5-6 months.

HOW

Preparation: about 2 weeks

  1. I follow the chart below religiously. You can choose any other reliable sleep/nap chart out there. The goal is to have a guideline to follow.F5220BAC-2F48-4EC5-8052-2110220BE32B
  2. Get rid of any sleep crutch that “disappears” during the night ie pacifier, mobile, music etc.
  3. Stop swaddling so baby can self-soothe. A baby usually starts growing out of the startle reflex at 5-6 months old.
  4. Introduce a lovey. Forced friendship. Make sure baby and lovey are stuck at the hips. The lovey provides comfort in lieu of you.
  5. For 1-2 weeks prior to sleep training, do whatever it takes to make sure baby has adequate nap, according to that chart you chose. A sleep deprived baby cannot be sleep trained. Also make sure last nap is not too late. You get it : follow the chart. I sacrificed my vacation time to do this and did not regret it.
  6. Have a short and consistent bedtime routine. Every.single.night. The usual ones are bath, dry diaper, bottle, book and bed.

d4dc573f70ea01b6e8fe1735b68db087--babies-stuff-sleepless-nights

Sleep training: allow a week

  1. Be strong. If you give in you will have to start all over. Find ways to distract yourself.
  2. Do the usual bedtime routine.
  3. Make sure baby is comfortable ie. Well fed, not thirsty, not sick, dry diaper etc. You can feed more frequently in the late afternoon or evening to make sure baby is not hungry,
  4. Put baby in bed comfortable but awake. Tell baby you love him/her very much. Say goodnight and leave. Do not return unless you are convinced your baby is in harms way or really need something.
  5. Again, be strong. The first couple of nights of cry it out are hard. Mine cried for 1h and 40 min the first night but was sleep trained in 5 days and we never looked back.

Bonus tip: You can solve most sleep issues with good nap and bedtime schedule. When in doubt, move bedtime earlier. This is of course a generalization. But sleep begets sleep, it is true.

Good luck and may you find sleep again.

 

Yours positively,

Positive circle.

 

 

 

6 Comments Add yours

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/moral-landscapes/201112/dangers-crying-it-out Neuronal interconnections are damaged. When the baby is greatly distressed,it creates conditions for damge to synapses, the network construction which is ongoing in the infant brain. The hormone cortisol is released. In excess, it’s a neuron killer but its consequences many not be apparent immediately (Thomas et al. 2007). A full-term baby (40-42 weeks), with only 25% of its brain developed, is undergoing rapid brain growth. The brain grows on average three times as large by the end of the first year (and head size growth in the first year is a sign of intelligence, e.g., Gale et al., 2006). Who knows what neurons are not being connected or being wiped out during times of extreme stress? What deficits might show up years later from such regular distressful experience? (See my addendum below.)

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    1. i absolutely understand that sleep training of any form, particularly the cry it out method, is very polarizing to both parents and physicians. There are multiple small studies out there supporting or rejecting this idea. One of the more recent reputable articles published in Pediatrics (Five-year follow-up of harms and benefits of behavioral infant sleep intervention: randomized trial) showed no harm at all. As with most decisions with parenting, you make the best decision possible after weighing all pros and cons. Sleep deprivation in both babies and moms have negative consequences as well. And with any sleep training, you have to set your child up for success. You absolutely do NOT decide one day to just ignore the cries for hours on end. My article details how you can set your child up for success. And in the end, you need to observe your child. Some children do not do well with cry it out. Sleep training is a trial and error endeavor. One may need to try several methods before you find the right one. Ultimately, all sleep training aim to teach a baby how to self soothe. Some parents are ok with dealing with sleep deprivation. Some parents are not, maybe they have to work an 80 hour work week to make ends meet, maybe they have little support, maybe they have health issues, maybe they have a special needs kid who already need a lot of attention. Everyone is different. Thank you for being the best parent you can to your kid ! 🙂

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      1. I totally understand the reasons behind your advised method, but it’s completely unacceptable, unnatural (makes mums feel bad about themselves and the baby) and is on the borderline with child abuse. There are plenty of other ways to improve babies sleep and one of the ways is to ASK HELP to share parenting duties and prioritise.

        Babies are no more capable of “self-soothing” as they are of riding a bike. The fact they stop crying is their natural defence mechanism kicks in. They have lost hope that someone will come so they keep quiet to save energy. If babies are “made” keep quiet through the night, they won’t call you even when they are in trouble or there is something wrong with them… Think about that.

        Please have a read of Sarah Ockwel’s articles. I really don’t mean to comment here to criticise you or anyone else. I just want to show that there are better ways to deal with the hard work of parenting that are more beneficial to both – babies and carers. https://sarahockwell-smith.com/2014/06/30/self-settling-what-really-happens-when-you-teach-a-baby-to-self-soothe-to-sleep/

        If you practice sleep training (that could be controlled comforting, spaced comforting, controlled soothing, controlled crying, cry it out, rapid return, spaced soothing, gradual withdrawal or pick up put down – call it what you will, really they’re all the same in their intent and actions) are you teaching your baby to self soothe? No. You absolutely are not, unless you have a wonder kid about five years advanced in their brain development!

        What is really happening? In most cases something is happening on a very basic primal level. Let’s go back to the hindbrain and the fight or flight response. What happens when those stress hormones reach such a level that they are toxic yet you can’t take flight……..or fight…..another ‘F’ comes in, this time it’s F for ‘Freeze’. You freeze all activity in order to try to conserve homeostasis, or more simply put – conserve life. Dr Sears calls this ‘Shutdown Syndrome’.

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      2. Thank you for this discussion. Here are my thoughts:

        1. There is absolutely no scientific evidence in the article you quoted. It is a wild extrapolation of an anatomy textbook, written in the author’s OWN interpretation. It is fine to promote your way of parenting, but not fine to say that everyone else is doing it wrong. And that article did not suggest a better way to “deal” with sleep issues, it basically just said it’s ok to be sleep deprived.

        2. Most sleep training fail because of inadequate prep work. That’s why you have to do the prep work to set them up for success. Such that, when you start sleep training, your baby doesn’t actually NEED you. They WANT you out of habit. This is merely a behavioral intervention. First of many…….

        3. I am not advocating for ignoring your child’s cry regardless of what happens. If they are sick, have stranger anxiety, nightmares etc, you should go to them, because now they NEED you.

        4. You can absolutely teach your baby. You are teaching him/her that they can go to sleep by sucking their thumb, or playing with their lovey or humming a song. If you don’t let them try, they will never know they are CAPABLE of doing it. They stop crying because they learn that they have other ways to sleep, not because they lost hope. You can’t compare sleep training with kids in orphanage left to cry. That’s utterly ridiculous!

        5. Children learn when you give them a chance. They are programmed to learn by trial and error. Just like if you carry your child everywhere because you are afraid he’ll fall and cry and be “stressed out”, he’ll never know he can walk. (Totally not saying you do that!) They also learn by association. For eg. Bedtime routine = bedtime. Hugging their nighttime lovey = lying down in bed. You can even teach a dog that way (Pavlov). So babies are definitely teachable.(that’s my version of wild extrapolation 😂) Learning a new thing can be a stressful event for babies. Eg. They have to fall hundreds of time, bump their heads on every possible thing, cry many times; in order to learn walking. It’s life and you can’t shield them from it.

        5. In your previous reference about chronic stress, sleep training, done correctly takes 1 week at most. That is not CHRONIC.

        6. Sleep deprivation in babies have detrimental side effect on their emotional, psychological health, their personality and their learning ability.

        Let me tell you a personal story. My son was the crankiest kid you’ll know. And he is well loved, we responded to his every cry. And then, we figured out that he was sleep deprived, because he woke up 10 times every night wanting to be soothed. So I did the prep work for 3 weeks, and then we sleep trained him. It took us FIVE DAYS. For the first time, he woke up in the morning giggling. And he was happy the entire day. For the first time we had calmness. He now goes to bed like you and I, except he’s much happier than you and I. We have a fun bedtime routine and I kiss him good night. And then he sings a few songs to himself and recites all the words he knows and goes to sleep hugging his favorite monkey. He is a very loving child. And I am a loving mom. And he absolutely still calls me in the middle of night when he needs something, because he knows I’ll come. And we are a well rested family.

        There are many types of parenting. If your child magically sleeps through the night at some point, count yourself lucky. But not every child is like that. Every mom has a different circumstances. Understand that sleep training is usually the last resort after all else have failed. To say that sleep training is child abuse is a far stretch, and frankly mom shaming. I welcome ideas and a good discussion on my site, but please refrain from making a blanket statement like this. Most mothers have their child’s best intention in mind, and we should support and respect each other.

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