What worked for us. Hope this helps.

(651 Posts)
nectarina Sun 29-Jan-12 21:03:49

This post is going to be massive - no apologies however.

So I've posted at least 5 queries about DD's sleep and read about 1 billion threads, because DD only napped for 30mins  in the day, would only BF to sleep (since a newborn I wanted to get out of the habit, but nothing else did it). She spent  the first 5 months in her cot, only for us to end up co-sleeping so we could get a bit of rest. She would BF every 2 hours at  least in the night, and by the end she'd wake every half hour before we went to bed. I knew I couldn't do CC/CIO, I'm not  strong enough even if I thought that was the right thing to do, but I thought that I would be forced to if things carried on  the way they were.

We read No Cry Sleep Solution, which is complicated and didn't work for us.

So a friend had tried a technique, that she recommended and I thought that it was too much of a leap for DD, but i kept  the email, and one evening I sort of snapped and decided that IT WAS TIME. DD was  8 1/2months. I don't know from  what age this technique is recommended, but I don't think I'd have wanted to do this earlier, as you still have to cope with  the baby crying. I knew DD was ready because now she quite clearly has two cries - one properly sad and scared, the  other a bit shouty and put on, so when doing this technique you know what's going on (but I'd like to add that I still  comforted DD when she was shouty - she's still trying to say something, but I deÞ nitely wouldn't pick her up and panic!)

 I'll paste her email to me, hoping she won't mind. We didn't do it in the ten days, as it was just a bit too much, but i wonder if the way we did it made things a bit complicated. So I recommend doing it as laid out.  

But now DD takes 20mins to fall asleep by herself (with one of us in her room) in her cot, in her room. and I do not feed at  all between 7pm and 7am. Dh goes in in the night and he gives her water in case she's thirsty but she's quite happy  without. It takes him no more than about 3mins to resettle her (unless ill).

After starting this at the beginning of January  she still wakes up once or twice a night but it doesn't affect me as I wear earplugs and DH goes in! ha ha ha! (I still hear  her and wake up, but I don't wake up fully and find it difFicult to go back to sleep) Do I need to tell you how I feel like a  different woman?

So here's the email -  

^"Ok, this is a plan thing that we first tried with dc1 when we got to the point where we knew something had to change. There seems to come a point where not only do you get tired of 'helping' your baby get to sleep, but whatever you do seems to work less and less - as if they know something has to change too! It takes a bit of work for about ten days or so but mostly the first couple of days you really put your back into it and then it gets easier. I remember vaguely doing it with dc1 and have just rediscovered it with Dc2 she is a bit of a firecracker so I was expecting trouble but babies love to learn something new, especially around this age and she only woke once last night despite having a cold, which is a HUGE improvement. Dc1 found this very easy and never shed a tear. Dc2 screamed 'TRAITOR!!' at me many times during the first night (she does that a lot), so I'm not saying that there won't be some crying because you will be doing something different to before but you don't have to leave her side and can reassure her as much as you need to, physically and verbally. 
The idea is that you are no longer going to help her go to sleep - in whatever way - if you rock her, feed her, jiggle her, whatever it is. You can be there and reassure her but it is no longer your job to MAKE her go to sleep. It is your job to support her whilst she does it herself. 
First of all, you know that thing that everyone says about having a bedtime routine (which I imagine you already have) is utterly true. By the time they are a toddler, the sound of a running bath is enough to set the bedtime clock going. When you choose to do this thing, it is really important to stick to your bedtime routine without fail for the ten days and it needs to be between 20 and 45 minutes long. Also, this plan also applies to naps, so you need to be able to be at home for naptimes - just until Dd has the thing established - ten days usually does it. Lastly, you are aiming for Dd to be in bed by 7ish in the evening and not much later. If you're like me you're knackered by about half four, so starting bedtime at a quarter past six is no trouble. You've probably done all that so on to the plan. I'll do bedtimes first and then naps. 

Day 1, 2 and 3 - Place a chair right next to the cot. Make it a comfortable chair, you may get to know it fairly well. Have a duvet, cushions, iphone, book to hand. Do your bedtime routine and put Dd in the cot awake. She may well not know what to do next and try all sorts of things. If she stands up you can gently pop her back down again but only a few times - if she insists on standing for a bit then let her - it may just be one of those things she incorporates into her own burgeoning routine, and I daresay she is capable of getting back down again by now. You can pat the bed to let her know you want her to lie down. Sooner or later she is likely to sit down for a bit and eventually plop on to her front. She has to find her own way through this so she may try eating her blanket or playing with a toy before she lies down - that's up to her. If she cries, you can pat her and speak to her. As long as you remember that your patting and comforting is not there to get her to sleep, just to help her calm down in this new and confusing situation so as soon as she starts to settle, lighten your touch with a view to taking your hand off her, and stop speaking. She may go back and forth a bit needing you to touch and speak to her a few more times, but each time lessen your touch when she has settled. Stay there until she has fallen fast asleep and creep out. This bit can take ten minutes for some babies, but most fall asleep after 45 minutes. Two hours is the longest on record! I expected Dc2 to be a two hour effort but no - 45 minutes almost exactly. As long as you know that it is going to take that long, you can get through it. When she wakes up in the night, you do exactly the same thing, each and every time. The first few times she wakes, she will probably yell for you, but as she gets the idea that she can drift back to sleep herself, she may just squeak and go back (sounds unlikely? I thought that too.) The idea is that as time goes on you can wait a tiny bit longer before you go in, to give her the opportunity to practise her new skill.

Days 4, 5 and 6 - move the chair a few feet away from the cot. Keep everything else the same except you are further away. Once you have had your bedtime cuddle and put her in the cot sit down. You can still go to her if she really needs you, and you can still speak to her but she may not need as much help by now. Again, wait until she is asleep before you leave. Repeat as often as necessary when she wakes although, again, leave it a few minutes before you go in.

Days 7, 8 and 9 - move the chair to the door or the other side of the room. Make sure she can still see you, but once you have settled her in her cot and gone to the chair try not to go to her unless she has got herself into a daft position and can't get out. By now she will start developing her own strategy to get to sleep, and you will be able to tell what stage she is at, because you've been watching it all the way through.

Day 10 - you have several choices. If you think things are going really well and baby can cope with you not being there  you can leave the room and see how she gets on. You can hover by the door out of sight and watch what happens, and  reassure her with your voice. If you feel apprehensive about it and think she needs longer you can try the Bustle -  instead of sitting down, tinker about in her room, cleaning up or folding washing or whatever. Or you can continue in the  chair.  The idea of the plan is ultimately for you to be able to plonk and go, but I quite like spending that extra time with DC so I  use a mixture of the bustle and the chair. For night wakings you now really have to give her the chance to go back on her  own. Wait ten minutes ( I know - such a long time!) before you go in.  I got up last night to Þ nd by the time I got to DC's  door, she'd already curled up again! That's the main brunt of it. Just bear in mind that the first couple of nights are the worst - she might wake more frequently,  but stick at it and you'll see an improvement. The other thing is that when they start sleeping longer in the night they get  up properly a bit too early in the morning - but this usually improves over a few weeks as they get the hang of sleeping.  I've kind of assumed that you are going to move her into her own room - there's no reason you can't start this as soon as  you move her in. If DC get ill and it disrupts her sleep, go back to whichever stage in the plan you think works best. You can sleep in her  room if you want to keep an eye on her, but don't bring her in with you.

Naps - Do the same for naps as you do at night times only you can't sit there for as long as it takes - give it an hour and if  she hasn't gone to sleep, get her up and feed her or do something different and try again a bit later. If she resists  napping like this twice in a day you can resort to taking her out in the buggy or something. just so she gets a bit of sleep  in the day. You are aiming at two solid naps a day by the way. If you've started this thing at bedtime the night before, the  nap thing is usually not a problem.  I can't think of anything else right now! By the way this is based on a Canadian lady's idea. I chose to use it because it  doesn't mean leaving a baby to cry. They learn to fall asleep without you intervening, although you might argue that your  presence is a sort of intervention, but before long you will find yourself saying goodnight and shutting the door, because  she'd not taking any notice of you anymore!" ^

So for us the First night it took 3 hours 10mins, which is why for nightwakings later on that night I just fed her instead of  sitting with her. Within the first few nights she woke LOADS less and then DH would go to her and he would just ask her  to put her head down and she would and go straight back to sleep. Needless to say that sort of thing just wouldn't  happen before. So if I remember rightly it was only after 4 or 5 nights that I stopped feeding her. The other thing we've  found a bit hard is waiting a few mins before going in to her when she wakes. We just give it one or two minutes more  than we'd usually do instead of waiting 10.  

DH would like to add that he thinks the important thing is to teach DC to put their head down and close their eyes - he  says' put your head down, put your head down, now close your eyes' and repeats it a bit like a mantra gently until DD  does, and then stops as soon as she does what he says. He says for our 9month old that after a week she knows what it  means and does what he suggests! He says that this is useful in the night and that's all he needs to do to get her to go back to sleep.

For the first night I recommend a large glass of wine that you take in with you. For the second night, have  the bottle waiting for you on the table in the lounge. Also on the first night we both did it together for a bit of moral  support and took it in turns but I'm assuming that none of you is as much as a wimp as I am.

I hope this isn't too much of a mess, my friend's writing is very clear, and mine is all over the shop. I'm just a bit  enthusiastic about how its gone. I hope this is of use to someone.

bagelmonkey Sun 29-Jan-12 21:14:47

Thanks for posting. I think this could be useful for us.

Thanks for posting this Nectarina. Going to discuss with dp and hopefully give it a go (although I'm struggling with the idea of waiting ten mnutes before going to dd it the night). I will report back!

bt1978 Sun 29-Jan-12 22:08:54

Great post Nectarina.
We did almost exactly this for DD when she was 7 months and it worked amazingly well and she has been a great sleeper ever since.
Now doing a version of it with DS (currently 4mo) and have been doing it for just over a week and last night he slept through from 7pm until 6am...which I have clearly just jinxed and it won't happen again ...but this is great progress as he was waking loads before! (I don't leave him to cry if he wakes though, and have more physical contact with him than if he was older - but never take him out of his cot - getting them to settle in the cot is key IMO)

nectarina Sun 29-Jan-12 22:11:28

Attheendoftheday - hmmm yes, i don't think we've waited any longer than 3. Maybe because dd wakes up really crying, if she woke up grumbling i could possibly...

hardboiledpossum Sun 29-Jan-12 23:10:55

I've done this and except the leaving for 10 minutes to settle in the night to sleep. After 10 days he was falling asleep pretty quickly whilst I sat by the door but was still waking up 5+ times a night, I might try leaving for 5 minutes. I don't know if I can face the whole 10, he gets so worked up and then could be so much harder to settle!

LAbaby Mon 30-Jan-12 07:56:10

If my baby can see me he will scream at me to hold him. Do I just ignore him?
This seems like a good plan, more baby friendly than cry it out.

1Catherine1 Mon 30-Jan-12 11:44:43

Do you mind if I ask a question though as I'm planning on fixing my DD (10 months) sleeping pattern over half term when I'm at home all day.

What do you do if baby screams her little head off after 2 minutes of being in the cot and does not respond to "shhh", pats and "sleepy time"? Only to hugs, cuddles and booby?

grace11 Mon 30-Jan-12 13:37:09

We did exactly the same thing (gradual retreat) and it was amazing - we couldn't believe how quickly our dd learnt to go to sleep without bf. The key with it is to wait until they are in deep sleep (so 20 mins after they go into light sleep) or else you have to begin again as they see you leave and scream! This is where books, iphones etc. are key to keep you busy.

1Catherine1, you have to be really strong and comfort her in the cot. I placed my hand on my dd's stomach and said 'go to sleep' over and over. As Nectarina said, her dh has his own 'mantra' which is he just says and his dd goes to sleep - same for us - we ended up just telling her to go to sleep from the bed and she did!! We actually used a sleep clinic, Millpond, who were brilliant if you need an exact programme and someone at the end of the phone to talk things through each week (and more if you need it). They told us to keep a sleep diary too, which really helped us see the progress we were making. I did feed my dd every 4 hours, I should add, as she was 4 months when we started.

nectarina Mon 30-Jan-12 13:47:15

LAbaby - I think you have to find your own way to comforting your baby without picking them up. I've said things like, 'I love you lots, I'm here with you, but I'm not picking you up' and that sort of thing, whilst stroking DD's back. I wouldn't ignore screaming, but you are the best to judge what is protesting about a big change happening (which is totally inevitable) and other sorts of crying. You might find yourself having to ignore all kinds of antics, and you work out for yourself at which moment you're going to go to the baby to comfort them.
What I would say though is to never go against your instincts - if you feel like its going badly and you want to pick the baby up, I'd do it.

A lot of CC/CIO advocates say that your baby will still love you the next day. One night when I was at my wits end I let the baby cry and ignored her. I think she was really upset and i just listened crying, and then the next day she wouldn't look me in the eyes all day! I felt like shit, and vowed that I wouldn't do that again. But with this technique, know that picking up is to be avoided at all costs. I did it a couple of times and it was really difficult to put DD down again, and took lots longer for her to go to sleep.

Hardboiledpossum - What do you do when DC wakes in the night?

1Catherine - have you tried playing with dc in the cot at other times just to get them used to it? IIRC for the first night we spent ten mins just cuddling her and playing with her in the cot so she could get used to it before we said night night.

The other thing which is the hard bit but the most important , is maybe you'll have to comfort her and it won't work - she'll still be screaming - but you're still there for her and she won't feel abandoned. If it feels wrong maybe you're not quite ready, and you can try again later.

hardboiledpossum Mon 30-Jan-12 16:38:45

I would go to him as soon as he woke and stroke him until he fell back asleep. I would never pick him out of the cot. I'm going to try again in a few weeks and see i I leave him to settle himself for a bit longer in the night. Or maybe he is just stubborn?! He has quite bad seperation anxiety and has done for the past 6 months, he cries if I go out of sight in the day as well as at night.

nectarina Mon 30-Jan-12 17:57:03

Hardboiledpossum - what you could try is each time he wakes go in after one minute but instead of stroking him straightaway, start by talking to him then after say 20secs stroke him, and leave it slightly longer each time.
I don't have any experience of separation anxiety - dd was difficult for a couple days and i did intensive peek a boo for a couple of days. It stopped but im presuming its a coincidence.

hardboiledpossum Mon 30-Jan-12 18:39:59

Yes, I will try that. I play peek a boo with DS a lot as I read it help. He is great at playing it himself and often hides behind the sofa or curtains to jump out at us. Unfortunately it hasn't helped us though!

nectarina Mon 30-Jan-12 19:07:54

Hardboiledpossum - I was going to post another message to say sorry for the twattish reply i gave you! I think i'm the last person who should be doling out advice...

LAbaby Tue 31-Jan-12 01:14:12

Thanks for your reply. We were looking for an alternative to controlled crying a that's not for us, but we really need to take action as evenings are now just us tryin to settle our six month old, he gets really upset and exhausted even though I am holding him. Will report back tomorrow!

nectarina Tue 31-Jan-12 17:28:19

LAbaby - i hope it goes alright tonight.

pinkdaisies Tue 31-Jan-12 18:48:38

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this! I'll probably use this when DS2 is old enough as I'm quite sure we'll need it! Just a quick, and probably very stupid, question. If the baby cries hard, which I imagine DS will as he will only feed to sleep at the mo, how is that so different to CC? I ask this as with DS1 we had to resort to CC at 8 months as I was going back to work and he was still waking every 2 hours. I hated it and it's a big regret despite the fact that DS1 is now a happy 2 year old and it worked fairly quickly. I just know I couldn't do it again so this gradual retreat sounds perfect but I want to be sure it's really not like CC! Is it because you're there to reassure them the whole time so they don't feel abandoned even if they have to cry?

I tried the gentle sleep training methods with DS1 and he just didn't respond AT ALL! Feel I need something up my sleeve!

nectarina Tue 31-Jan-12 19:51:02

Pinkdaisies - yep, the baby's crying out of frustration than fear of being abandoned when you're with them. Before de did this, dd could never be consoled by cuddling etc it was only bf that did it. So we were teaching her to let us comfort her by touch and voice as well as go to sleep. But saying that it does help if you do it with an iron will due to being fed up of the situation as its not pleasant albeit knowing they don't feel abandoned...

Thanks for this. It looks interesting (and I like how detailed it is - easy to follow!)

DS is almost six months. Is that too young to try it? Anyone used it for a young-ish baby? bt1978 - how is it working with your four month old?

I'm the biggest wimp in the world - I can't bear for DS to cry even for a few minutes. How did the rest of you find the crying?

watermint Wed 01-Feb-12 07:57:16

thank you for this - v interesting.. I am thinking of trying this for my almost 6 month ds like truth, so would also be interested to hear if anyone thinks it would work at this age?!

nectarina Wed 01-Feb-12 09:53:37

Atruth and watermint - i haven't got the original book so i don't know what's recommended. I think you're the best judge of whether it would be ok.

I think I'm going to give it a go. Something has to change around here so I'm going to wait until DS is over his current cold and then start. Maybe at the weekend. I really can't cope with crying though, so may try with a combination of 'pick up put down'

Can those who are trying report back so I don't feel so alone? I know that sounds wimpy, but it's always good to hear people's experiences grin

dycey Wed 01-Feb-12 14:17:02

I too am grateful for this post OP. My dd is nearly 6 months and some time I know I am going to have to teach her how to fall asleep in a cot without bouncing / rocking or feeding to sleep as she too wakes all night... It's helpful to hear what you did.

I might wait til the spring though as I know she will get ill a fair few times before then! And get her onto solids. And she is my second dc so you would think I would know better but she's different to my ds...

I think there's a lot to be said for you really being ready and feeling it is right. With my ds, I night weaned him at 11 months (would have been earlier but he was unwell a lot from 7 months) and i kind of did it instinctively and with very little crying. But realised after I had used Jay Gordon / no cry sleep ideas - i read a lot about sleep during his babyhood - basically always putting the baby in the cot awake both at bedtime AND crucially in the night...

ladybirdsinmyeyes Wed 01-Feb-12 14:38:05

Thanks so much Nectarina, this might be my way forward too - the only thing is, mine seems older than others on here, just over 16 months, could that be a hindrance with her being more stubborn and aware?

I did CC with my son and it worked very quickly, but with my DD it was much harder work (friends have found the same, boys give up, girls keep going!!) and I have now found myself not only still feeding to sleep but also lying with her (before transferring) and also bringing her into bed. So I'm looking for a way out now! (Would quite enjoy seeing this as time to read a book and drink wine...)

nectarina Wed 01-Feb-12 16:14:20

Ladybird - ithink it will work well at that age - i'd explain what was going to happen and be reassuring before bedtime, but when you'bve put dd in bed, said goodnight, explained that you aren't going to pick her up but you won't leave, you'll be right there. Then you have to ignore stonily- keep your eyes down. She might employ all kinds of antics to get your attention...

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