Getting to the retreating part of gradual retreat(2 Posts)
Hello. I posted a while ago about my son's sleep getting progressively worse at 7-8 months. He was held/rocked to sleep, and a few people suggested that now would be a good time to try and move on from that. So we did, and over the Christmas break we tried gradual retreat as a sleep training technique. It worked pretty well after a difficult first night (1.5 hours crying despite me being right there), and now he will happily go to sleep in his cot after 10-20 minutes' rolling around, provided that one of us is sitting next to him and he is holding our hand/arm.
And this is where we're stuck. I've tried not giving him my hand and moving a little bit further away, but he then starts playing with his dummy and throws it out of the cot. We've had nights when we've ended up with all six dummies on the floor and I've had to go and wash/sterilise them all before giving one back to him, and giving in and holding his hand. He's not interested in comfort blankets/toys instead of my hand, and will eventually cry if he doesn't have a dummy (though this doesn't stop him from throwing them out!). So holding my hand prevents him from rolling around, stops him from the throwing the dummy around and generally calms him down enough to sleep... but it means I or my husband has to be there with him until he's asleep. The nursery are having trouble getting him to sleep there, and I wonder if the need for hand-holding at home is part of the problem when he is at nursery.
So, does anyone have any ideas on how to progress with retreating from the cot and out of the room? Thanks in advance
You're withdrawing too fast for him. It needs to be more gradual. Still with changes towards your end-point, but less significant changes than you are making.
* now he will happily go to sleep in his cot after 10-20 minutes' rolling around, provided that one of us is sitting next to him and he is holding our hand/arm.*
That's great progress from where you were.
So, assuming you lean down into the cot to give an arm to hold, the next process would be to stay leaning into the cot, so your whole body stays in the same position as when hand-holding, but once settled lift your arm by your side. The rest of you stays in the leaning-in position.
The very moment he is distressed, hand goes back immediately. So it might just be for a few seconds. Then once settled, hand out again, rest of you holds position. Hand back when/if distressed.
Stay until asleep. Always stay until asleep. Otherwise he won't trust you to stay and will start trying to stay awake to make sure you don't go. He needs to know with no doubt you'll stay until he's asleep.
Over time, he'll get more used to your hand moving away from him when he's settled. Because he'll trust and know that as soon as he needs that extra reassurance if a hand-hold, it will be there immediately. So he should be more able to stay settled with you just leaning over the cot.
Once you get to the point that he is happy to go to sleep with you lent over the cot, then you do another bit of gradually withdrawing. Don't rush and withdraw too quickly, he needs to be happy and not distressed with the last change before you make the next one.
So next I would work on standing up next to the cot, rather than leaning in. So hand hold until calm and settled, then remove hand and stand up. Always immediately back to hand hold if needed. Then consistantly stand next to cot once settled.
Again, stay until asleep. He needs to always know you'll (a) stay until he's asleep (b) give extra reassurance as soon as it's needed, for example back a few steps to hand holding. But (c) that you will consistantly withdraw to a level that will cause no extra distress.
Once it is establish that you will stand next to cot once he is settled, establish that you'll take a quarter turn to that you don't stand face-on to the cot as he goes to sleep.
Then establish that you will stand next to cot, but facing the doorway. Always back to hand-hold if needed. Always consistantly withdrawing when settled. Always staying until asleep. Never withdrawing too much that it is distressing.
Once facing the door, it would be hand hold settle, "Nan night" whisper and a step away from cot.
Then hand hold settle, "Nan night" whisper and wait by the door until asleep. Always, always go back and hand hold, give dummy, whatever, straight if needed. Then withdraw once settled. You might be back and forth on an unsettled night. Or just a settle and wait on a good night.
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