My top tips for establishing a bedtime routine
- Establish a bed time routine before you even begin to put an all night sleep plan in place.
- Aim to start and finish your day at the same time each day.
- Once you leave the living area to begin your bed time routine, no going back until it is time to get up.
- No TV an hour before bed time.
- Try not to put your child to bed over tired.
Introducing self settling
Unfortunately I do not have a magic cure to a no cry sleep solution; however I do firmly believe that all children should be allowed to self settle.
- I do believe in lots of reassurance for both you and your child.
- I use lots of going back to your child, picking up and cuddling.
This is one method I would use with a child between six months and one year.
- Put your child in the cot awake.
- Walk away from the room (or stand next to the cot).
- Every three minutes say shh and pat you child’s back, and lie down if standing up. Pat for maximum 30 seconds.
- After fifteen minutes pick up, hold and clam down for maximum three minutes.
- Return to cot.
- Repeat shhh and pat for fifteen minuets.
- Pick up and cuddle for three minutes and return to cot.
- If still crying HARD after forty five minutes( from when you first put them in their cot) , offer a small feed, breast or 3oz formula, but stay in nursery.
- After fifteen minutes return to cot and repeat until asleep.
Night one often terrible as you don’t know how it will end!
Night two often not too bad.
Night three can be a nightmare with it being worst than night one.
Night four is often the turning point.
If you have really been consistent for the four nights, and crying was as bad if not worst than night one, I would be asking you to reassess and maybe tweak your plan, and look at other issues that ay not be helping with self settling.
A Mum’s story.
The day I emailed Linda I immediately felt a sense of relief as at last I had done something proactive! The email read as follows:
“M is 8 months old and has never been a very happy or comfortable baby. He had an operation at 9 weeks old to stop his stomach twisting (his stomach is now stitched to his abdominals) and has also been diagnosed with reflux so is on reflux medication.
He has no routine to speak of day or night, has never really slept in a cot, is sleeping in bed with me and is breastfeeding on & off throughout the night. We are both therefore exhausted.
I would be really grateful if you could get back to me and let me know if you think you can help us!”
Written down in black and white it looked awful and I seriously wondered if Linda would want to take us on!
Our first conversation immediately allayed any fears I had over what the next few months would hold. The first thing I think I said was “if you are going to ask me to leave him to cry I won’t be able to do it as he may be really uncomfortable”. Linda reassured me that she would never ask me to do this as he had already been through so much and that we would take it at a pace I was comfortable with.
I felt like a great weight had been lifted. Linda was now in charge of the decision-making process and with her knowledge and experience I knew she could objectively consider every option before putting a plan in place (something I neither had the energy nor the headspace to do).
As we had no routine at all (I like to think of ourselves as a blank canvas on which she could work her magic!!) Linda set about establishing a day routine. The great thing was that it was flexible and was constructed to work around our life (M has an older sister). His daytime nap therefore had to be at the same time each day but could be in the pram or the carseat.
We also set about tackling his reflux with a view to making him as comfortable as we could. This involved not only his diet but also mine as I was breastfeeding and had an almost immediate effect making him much happier.
Finally we started putting him in his cot at 6.45pm. Controlled crying was introduced very gently (I only had to wait 4 minutes before going in to see him) and I always had the option to pick him up if I felt he was uncomfortable. Within 2 weeks he was sleeping in his cot for the majority of the night – something I never thought would happen!
All in all we worked with Linda for 9 months and throughout it all she was incredibly supportive. Sometimes old habits crept back in and we were put into “mummy & baby bootcamp” in the nicest possible way! She made sure I was happy with each new routine and understood fully what I had to do when things didn’t go according to plan! She was also always at the end of a phone if I was having a nightmare.
I often get asked what the magic formula was and I struggle to give a concise answer. I think most importantly she taught us the value of a well structured consistent routine for both children which worked within the demands of everyday life. She does however have a few tricks up her sleeve to use as required!
I look back on this experience and wish I had done it sooner but as Linda rightly pointed out I wasn’t ready before then to trust M’s welfare with anyone else. M is now nearly 2 and is unrecognisable from the 8 month old baby we started this journey with – he is now sleeping in his cot from 7pm-7am with an hour nap at lunch. Most importantly of all he is happy and thriving.
My advice to anyone considering this is do it now and save yourself months of stress and exhaustion. You have to commit to it and believe it can work and it isn’t always easy but the rewards for the entire family are infinite.
We will be forever grateful to Linda for what she has done for our family. Together with his surgeon, Linda has helped M grow into the happy healthy wee boy we now see before us and that is the most important thing for any parent in my book. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
G, S, I & M