Are you struggling every sleep time to settle your baby or is your baby a cat-napper and wake after their first sleep cycle or does your baby wake habitually during the night and is not really hungry or does you baby wake too early in the morning and want to start their day or has your baby become dependent upon a sleep prop to get to sleep (eg: a pacifier, being rocked to sleep or fed to sleep)?
Encouraging your baby to sleep independently is really important. Sleep is a learned behaviour so if your baby hasn’t been taught how to settle or resettle on their own, this can cause much frustration and upset.
Many sleep issues arise around 4 months of age. Your baby’s brain has continued to develop and they are now able to make the connections between their behaviour and the behavioural reaction from you as their parent. So if accidental parenting has taken place or if your baby has started to become dependent upon a sleep prop to fall asleep it can cause parents some real challenges.
The good news is that all sleep issues can be easily solved! By learning and establishing good sleep habits in your baby (see my session information), using a good settling technique that is appropriate to your baby’s maturity and following these guidelines, I promise you with good support, you will have great success.
Once you have decided that there needs to be a change, generally you are at a point where you will make it happen.
Be Fully Committed. If you are not 100% committed to the technique you choose you will be unlikely to succeed. You need to feel strong enough emotionally to manage, as it won’t be easy. Keep your own emotions and self-interests in check. Parents who feel guilty are more likely to give in and you will not only undo all of your hard work but you will create confusion and mistrust for your baby. If you do give up, you will go right back to where you were and as your baby gets older, it will become harder to change her sleep habits.
Know that you are giving your baby the greatest gift to become an independent sleeper.
Be Consistent. Otherwise all you are going to do is create confusion for your baby. Most babies will improve by 3 days, most will have vastly improved by 7 days and new habits will have formed by 21 days. You may think that you will only have to do this once but the only consistent thing with babies is change itself, so you will be challenged at various times with growth spurts or your baby being unwell because their sleep patterns can be affected. Be reassured that as long as you stick with the same technique each time, your baby will remember and will adapt to it much quicker the next time around.
Use the same technique day and night. Repetition is the key.
Ensure you have Full Support from your husband or partner because you will need it. Make sure that you both clearly understand the technique and follow it through with a consistent approach. My advice is whoever starts to settle your baby into bed, continues to do so until she falls into a deep sleep. Introducing someone new into it half way through, even if they are being consistent with the technique is like starting the technique from the beginning. Let your baby deal with just one parent at a time. Get professional support if you need it.
Choose the Right Technique for you and your Family. There are lots of techniques out there, with each technique offering a slightly different approach. Some have a more gentle approach than others. It is a personal choice, so choose a technique that sits comfortably with you and ensure that you take into consideration the age of your baby.
Be patient. Give it time to work and be prepared that it will not be a quick fix. It may take 3 – 5 days or it may take up to a week for your baby to learn and adjust. You have to be patient and remain calm. It is hard work but it will be worth it in the end.
Have a Clear Plan, Write it down and Keep Track: Sometimes just having a plan to stick to gives you such a great feeling of relief alone. Keep a log, writing down feeding and sleeping patterns, in particular how long it took you to settle your baby or how many PU’s/PD’s you had to do for example. During times where you may have doubts that it is not working, refer to your log as it will show you that you are making progress.
Be Confident that it will work but expect to feel upset and frustrated during the process. At times you will want to give in and just go back to how things were but resist those feelings as much as you can because you know that this is what you both need.
Choose the Right time to Implement your Plan: Staying at home during this time and not having any visitors will create the right environment for success. Always ensure that your baby is well or is not having a growth spurt during this time.
Know your Baby’s Cries, Cues and Body language: (Tired, hunger and settling signs). Know the difference between a genuine cry and a ‘mantra’ cry. A mantra cry is an odd burst of crying that baby’s do when they are settling themselves down to sleep. A genuine cry will increase in volume compared to a mantra cry that is repetitive in it’s cycle and volume.
Be Realistic: Expect some resistance and tears mainly as a result of your baby feeling frustrated, especially if she has always relied on a sleep prop. Expect her to test you after a few days of success, making you feel like all the hard work has been for nothing but trust the process and within a short time you will have a baby who has the skills to be able to settle herself to sleep.
Every baby is Different: Each baby has a different temperament and some may take longer than others, so you need to consider your baby’s personality and tailor the technique to your baby.
Feel free to contact me at anytime if you need any further advice or support with your baby’s sleeping and settling. Take care and enjoy that precious baby of yours.