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Questions re Gradual Retreat

(14 Posts)
user1474565301 Wed 01-Mar-17 16:49:59

My 12 month old little girl has been rocked to sleep for naps so far but settles herself for bedtime really well. She wakes once in the night, around 4-5am, is breastfed and then settles herself after a while (anything from 20 mins to 2 hrs to resettle).

To help her naps and encourage her not to wake wanting a feed at night, I have started using gradual retreat. We are on day 3 today.

Day 1: took 55 mins to go to sleep for each of 2 naps, much later wake at night and quick resettling afterwards, Day 2: 35 mins for am (yay), pm nap gave up after 90 mins of trying, earlier night her wake and 90 mins to settle afterwards, Day 3: 20 mins for am (yay!!), gave up on pm nap after 90 mins.

For her afternoon nap, she does just not want to give in, even though I can see she is trying and tired. She keeps standing up to get my attention and I lay her back down without eye contact or speaking.
Has anyone else found such a difference between times of the day with this method? I'm not sure if it's something I'm doing wrong, or if I am trying too early or too late? Or maybe I should stop laying her back down and let her flop down when she gets bored?
Thanks in advance.

FATEdestiny Wed 01-Mar-17 17:18:56

She'll "settle" quicker when she is more exhausted. I would dispute you are teaching her to settle though. You are just waiting for her to be completely and totally exhausted and give in.

I can foresee that the eventual outcome would be that she drops naps, refuses them, and exists on the bear minimum sleep. She'll probably settle really easily then, because of how exhausted she is. The nap refusing isn't because she doesn't want/need the nap though, it is that she has not learnt the process of going to sleep when tired.

There are gentle ways you can teach her though.

No eye contact and basically just ignoring her isn't likely to be it though. That's typical sleep training for a toddler. It's a bit much for a baby going from getting her comfort from being in mind arms to... nothing?

What's the replacement source of comfort now its not you? Snuggle toy, blankie, tags, teddy? Maybe she sucks her thumb or tickles her own cheek? Dummy?

I would give a lot more reassurance in the cot. Leaning in, firm hand on chest/back constantly to keep her still. Something to suck helps, or snuggling her comforter. With your (in cot) reassurance, care and compassion too.

FATEdestiny Wed 01-Mar-17 17:20:58


"baby going from getting her comfort from being rocked in your arms to..."

user1474565301 Wed 01-Mar-17 17:27:08

Thanks for your advice. She has a blanket which she sucks on for comfort.
She seems to be going to sleep really easily in the mornings though after having had 11 hours over night (with one gap). She is also only awake for 3 hours before her first nap. There has been no crying at all so far.
So should I be speaking to her and making eye contact whilst we try for a nap?
How long should we try for before stopping, if it doesn't work? I only have the one LO and have cleared some days for this, so not restricted on time.

user1474565301 Wed 01-Mar-17 17:52:27

Just for extra information, in case it makes a difference, when she was being rocked to sleep, it was never a peaceful experience. She would be arching her back, crying, pushing against me with her legs, etc.
Morning naps over the last three days have all been over 90 mins in length.
It's confusing!?!

FATEdestiny Wed 01-Mar-17 18:50:52

Not speaking to her, it is bedtime. But still being kind, nice. Not off-ish if you see what I mean?

What you need to remember is she weeks your comfort. So to get her settling well in the cot, give it her in spades- but in the cot rather than in your arms.

Timings is difficult to say without more information. How long is she sleeping for?

It's not really a good idea to give up on a nap if you know it's needed. But giving up on a way of getting to sleep, there will be a limit when it becomes pointless. So at that point you just say "enough is enough" and get her to sleep any way possible.

How often and for how long is she napping?

user1474565301 Wed 01-Mar-17 18:58:02

Thank you again.

I currently use awake time of 3 hours all through the day. She wakes up for the day at around 7, give or take. Whatever time she wakes up, I take her upstairs 2 hrs 40 later and start settling for first nap.
So nap 1 is usually around 10am for 1hr 30 - 2hrs. I wake her if it gets to 12.30, so that we can fit another nap in. Nap 2 is 3 hrs later, at around 2.30/3pm and only for 30-45 mins (if it happens to work).

user1474565301 Wed 01-Mar-17 18:59:28

I forgot bedtime. She is in bed by 7 (or earlier if nap 2 has been missed. Sleeps until around 4-5am, takes ages to resettle and wakes again at 7am.

FATEdestiny Wed 01-Mar-17 19:11:33

I wonder if she's starting to get ready for 1 nap a day?

How would she cope aiming for a 11.30am single nap? It may take some gradual changes to get there, 10.30 first, slowly pushing forward and adding in extra naps as needed during the transition.

What I'd aim for, expecting it to take a few weeks or month to get there, is an 11am lunch then 11.30am nap. Ideally you want 3-4 hours from this nap. You describe baby being able to do long naps, so this might work for her.

If you don't think pushing the morning nap forward is possible, she's probably not yet ready for 1-nap days. But she's getting there. In which case I'd start limiting that morning nap, waking after 45m or do. The idea being to extend the afternoon naps.

user1474565301 Wed 01-Mar-17 19:24:52

That makes sense. I will try your suggestions. They have been much appreciated.

sycamore54321 Thu 02-Mar-17 00:37:10

For the lying down, I followed the advice to physically lay the child back down once and after that, just quietly pat the mattress with your hand at a body's length from where they are standing. They often will come down to investigate and are more likely to stay down that way.

user1474565301 Thu 02-Mar-17 10:05:14

Sycamore - thank you

Fate - I have a couple more questions, if I may? How do I make her stay down by just putting a firm hand on her? She is very strong and it would take a lot to keep her from getting up. I'd literally be pinning her down.
When she hopefully accepts drifting off with me leaning in to the cot, do you then proceed with further stages? Ie. Have a hand on her, then hand next to her, then sitting next to cot, then moving the chair?

FATEdestiny Thu 02-Mar-17 13:38:57

Its not about pinning her down or anything like that. More that by keeping that physical contact with her to reaffirm that (a) you are there, she could close her eyes and know you are still there because she will be able to feel you there and (b) you want her to stay still.

I have no doubts this is harder with a 12 month old than when I was going through this with a learning-to-crawl 5 month old.

I think sycamore54321 makes a good suggestion, if she will follow that instruction. If not, then I'd start off laying her down and I would probably lay down next to her on my bed (cot next to bed) and lean an arm over the cot with a hand on her back/chest.

If she started to squirm around, I'd start a patting movement with the hand, maybe add in a "shushhhh" to try to resettle. If the moving becomes her trying to get up, I'd sit up myself, lie her back down (do try the patting bed to see if she is developed enough to follow this instruction yet) and probably lean over into the cot. Eye contact, shushing, maybe two hands stroking and patting, to reaffirm lying down. Then once settled, I'd lie back down on my bed, keeping a hand on baby. Patting with my hand again if any squirming or movement.

If she keeps getting up, Id keep lying her back down. Gentle, nicely, I mean. Not with any negativity, just the same as you would when first going to bed. Lift, lie down, lean into cot, lots of in the cot attention to keep her there.

When she hopefully accepts drifting off with me leaning in to the cot, do you then proceed with further stages?

Yes, that's right. You've got to get her happy to settle in the cot first. It might go something like:

- You leaning into the cot constantly, actively stroking, patting, shushing, lying back down. Right until asleep. Then stand, leave hand there for a few mins to ensure she is in a deep sleep, leave.

- You leaning into the cot to settle, then stand/sit/lie down next to cot, keeping your hand there once quiet and still. Returning to lean into the cot if needed, withdrawing to just the hand when settled. Stay until asleep. Remove hand once asleep, wait for a few mins to ensure deep sleep, leave.

- Lean into cot to settle, stand/sit/lie next to cot with hand on chest/back. If any squirming, pat with hand and shush only. Lean into cot only if squirming escalates. Withdraw to just hand once settled. Stay until asleep. Keep doing this stage night after night until you reach the point where...

- Lean into cot to settle. Then stand/sit next to cot with hand on chest back and mostly you just need to stay there and wait until asleep, with little fidgeting. Stay until asleep.

- Put into cot standing and pat mattress with a smile to encourage her to lie down herself, lean in cot with put hand on chest/back until calm and still, remove hand and stay still next to the cot. Hand back in the moment there is any fussing - still, firm hand on chest/back to still baby again, then remove hand. At first your hand may be in and out of the cot like a yoyo.

- Put child into cot standing, pat mattress to get her to lie down, firm and on chest/back for reassurance for a minute of so. Then withdraw hand and stand/sit quietly by cot until asleep. Hand back whenever needed, but withdrawn once settled. Stay until asleep.

- Put into cot standing, let baby settle herself to her sleep position, you wait right by the cot until asleep. Hand in if needed, but should be less frequently needed.

- Put into cot standing, wait next to cot but facing away from the cot. Stay until fully asleep.

- Put into cot, take a step away and face away from cot. Stay until fully asleep

- Put in cot, go to doorway, wait by door until asleep.

- Put in cot, go to door, keep coming and going from doorway until fully asleep.

- Put in cot, leave, keep door open, close door 10 mins or so later once asleep.

- Put in cot. leave and close door :-)

user1474565301 Thu 02-Mar-17 17:40:40

Wow, thanks so much for taking the time to reply in such a detailed way. I'll give it a go!

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