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Tips on self settling please

(8 Posts)
HollyC255552 Mon 18-Jan-16 13:36:21

Hi,

i want to teach my 6 month DD to self settle for naps/bedtime. I'm not really prepared to do CC or CIO. Does anyone have any advice on what technique is best & how long it took you & which one i should tackle first? I currently have to rock/cuddle my DD to sleep which i love but i wont be able to do forever now she is getting older. Also in regards to naps she will not be put down anywhere i have to have her in my arms, as soon as she is put down she becomes wide awake. I know this is probably my fault & this is all she knows but would appreciate any advice/tips. Thanks!

Touchacat Mon 18-Jan-16 16:59:46

Hi, I'm certainly no expert on this stuff as my 7mo sometimes needs a helping hand to get to sleep. But one thing you could try is a comforter, like a baby-safe cuddly toy or a muslin. Introduce it when you are feeding (breast or bottle) so she gets used to the feel of it when she is in that secure, happy place. You could also sleep with it snuggled up to you for a few nights so it smells of you. Then, make sure it's there for her sleeps so she associates it with sleep time.
Don't expect miracles from it to begin with but in time it can help.
Hth and that you get some other useful tips!

waitingforsomething Mon 18-Jan-16 17:42:36

Look up shush pat technique - I used it with both mine from very little and they could both self settle at night time from 3 months.

jessplussomeonenew Mon 18-Jan-16 20:29:50

Definitely don't think that it's your fault - it seems perfectly normal for a six month old baby to like being held. Can you rock and cuddle in a chair?

Generally I go with the approach that it's not possible to teach a baby to self settle - if you have a baby who happily dozes off in a cot fantastic, if you don't, there's not much you can do to create one! You might find this interesting: sarahockwell-smith.com/2014/06/30/self-settling-what-really-happens-when-you-teach-a-baby-to-self-soothe-to-sleep/

FATEdestiny Mon 18-Jan-16 21:29:19

Re: Sarah OS link above - This article could be simply summarised as "use a dummy from birth for your baby" - but that wouldn't sell many books!

The dummy is the ultimate in no-crying sleep solutions. What Sarah OS's science explains (and is absolutely correct) is that babies/toddlers/children need something as a form of comfort in order to sleep.

Babies/toddlers do not do what adults do: tired > lie down > close eyes > relax > sleep. This doesn't happen until a child has the right level of emotional development, which is around school age, as the article explains (in a ridiculously emotive way).

However, there are lots of ways and props that Mums have been using for years to teach a baby to sooth independently (ie without an adult). They are not self-soothing in the way Sarah OC berates, they are using comforters, but they can do so independently.

The simplest and easiest way a child can sleep independently is using a dummy.

There are three common themes that help babies to go to sleep:

MOVEMENT
- rocking in arms
- Sling walking
- Pushchair
- Carseat
- Bouncy chair

All of these require someone else, so none allow for falling asleep independently

SUCKING
- Breastfeeding to sleep
- Bottle feeding to sleep
- Comfort breastfeeding
- Dummy sucking
- Finger/thumb/hand sucking
- Sucking a comforter (muslin, blanket, toy for example)

Some of these require someone else, some allow for falling asleep independently

REASSURING PRESENCE
- Being held
- Lying close - co-sleeping
- Reassuring touch - firm hand on chest, patting, hand holding, tickling, stroking
- Reassuring sound - shushing, repeated sayings, white noise, calm music etc
- Reassuring object - comforter toy, blankie, muslin smelling of Mum etc

Some of these require someone else, some allow for falling asleep independently

Generally I go with the approach that it's not possible to teach a baby to self settle - I agree with that. But there is a very important difference between self-soothing (as adults do and babies cannot) and independent soothing (which babies can do, or learn to do, with zero distress and upset).

What I dislike about Ms Ockwell-Smith is her all-or-nothing approach to selling her books. It is not Do it this way of listen to your baby scream. There are loads of options in the middle ground. But most of these are simple and don't sell books.

if you have a baby who happily dozes off in a cot fantastic, if you don't, there's not much you can do to create one!

Completely refute this in its entirety

Some babies will take longer to learn to doze off in the cot, but all can learn in a no-tears way with enough time and patience.

FATEdestiny Mon 18-Jan-16 21:58:03

HollyC255552 - Gradual withdrawal would work. The basis of this is that you have an end-point in mind (being able to put baby into cot awake and she will go to sleep), accept that it will take a long time to get there but keep on making tiny, little changes towards that end point.

There will be hundreds of fairy-steps to get there. But, for example:

Your start point is rocking to sleep
- Be conscious of how vigorously you rock, the speed you rock and how long for. You cant make changes until you know where you are currently.
- Rock slightly slower than normal. But keep duration the same.
- Rock even slower, Try to put down to sleep a few minutes before you normally would
- Have periods of, say, 5 minutes rocking as above, 1 minute rocking very slowly, 5 minutes of normal rocking and so on. Try to put baby down a few minutes before you were
- Extend the periods of very slow rocking
- get to the point of very slow rocking and just a very quick burst of slightly faster rocking only if needed
- Get to the point where you can hold baby without rocking

At the same time as this is happening, focus on settling when in cot:
- Put baby down fully asleep and while there, lace firm, reassuring hand on chest.
- Try to be less delicate when putting fully asleep baby down, so they are roused eversoslightly.
- Firm hand on chest, dummy (ideally) and shusshhhhhh. Lean right up close, head to head ideally, lying eye-to-eye on your bed next to cot. (3 sided cot ideally - lean right in and cuddle up). Reassuring patting as needed. Stroking, tickling, repeated words "sleep time, nan night" - whatever works for you.
- Very gradually reduce the amount of reassurance needed until just placing firm hand on chest and staying there until baby is asleep works (I have jumped many steps to get here, it would be tiny changes)

Then the focus is on leaving the room
- In cot tired but not asleep, firm hand on chest. Slight finger pat as needed. Stay until fully asleep.
- Firm hand on chest when placed in cot, then lift and hover hand for a minute, returning hand only when needed. Stay until fully asleep.
- Firm hand on chest then stay stood by cot, only replacing reassuring hand if needed. Stay until fully asleep.
- Place in cot, quick firm hand on chest then wait by cot. Stay until fully asleep.
- Body facing cot, face looking over or behind cot once settled. Stay until fully asleep.
- Turn body away from cot when place in cot and settled. Stay until fully asleep.

and so on and so n. The key is, if any stage causes any distress then it is too much "withdrawal" and not enough "gradual".

In doing all of these, establish one or two key independent comfort mechanisms. Make sure she has something to snuggle into and something to suck. Establishing a comforter as something very, very precious and special is important. Don't just put it in the cot and hope she attached to it, you have to work at establishing the comforter bond.

Once she has something to do so that she can help herself to fall asleep, then while she isn't self-soothing (she will still be using a prop), she can learn to do this independently.

In terms of time line, you are starting late and with unhelpful habits. I'd say GW will take you 18-24 months if taken at a pace that creates no distress. It can be speeded up if you can tolerate the distress that may create.

I used the GW ethos with my DD from birth. Always providing enough comfort to create no distress, but always with a view to independent settling as the end-goal. It took until she was 12 months old to reach the point of being able to put her in the cot with dummy and blankie awake and she would go to sleep herself.

So that was a 12 month journey without any habits created at all. My DC3 was very much quicker than this and was settling independently lots earlier. Likewise DC2. This goes to show all children are different - but the GW journey is possible with all children.

HollyC255552 Mon 18-Jan-16 22:00:40

Thanks all - much appreciated. DD does have a dummy & a comforter but she seems to like playing with it more so at bedtime confused. This is then preventing her from sleeping. FATE great advice/help as always.

HollyC255552 Mon 18-Jan-16 22:10:13

Thanks for all that Fate thats really helpful.

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