Gradual retreat sleep training and standing up in the cot

(26 Posts)
Phine83 Thu 21-Jan-21 22:00:43

Has anyone done this sleep training method where you slowly move the chair towards the door? I'm thinking of starting it with my 10 month old but the problem is he's pulling up in the cot the second he is put down if he is not already asleep or drowsy to the point of being virtually asleep. I just can't see how it would work.

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89redballoons Fri 22-Jan-21 11:59:59

We did this, or at least aimed to.

The idea is that the baby will stand up, sit down, crawl about and all sorts of things and eventually lie down and settle themselves to sleep. I thought it would never ever happen with my DS who, like yours, used to stand up in the cot and often scream (or just chat to me!).

You can talk to them to try and get them to lie down or you can pat the cot mattress to try and encourage them to do it. You're not supposed to pick them up but at the start my DS would sometimes get overwhelmed with crying and then I would cuddle him and start again the next night.

So it took us a LOT longer than the 10 days or whatever the method says, but it got to a point where my baby would actually lie down himself in his cot at the start of the night. I'd then sit in the chair quietly until he fell asleep and leave the room.

I actually never bothered moving the chair away after that point confused but would sit in the chair next to his bed til he lay down, quietly tell him a little story or sing a song, and then leave - sometimes he'd be asleep I think, sometimes just getting there and he'd drop off after I was out of the room.

Aaaand that's where we still are and DS has gone from being an absolutely hellish sleeper at 10 months (waking up every hour after midnight etc) to now at 13 months, normally sleeping through from about 7pm to 6am. Now when I put him down in his cot, standing up, and say "shall I tell you a story?" he plonks his head down immediately by himself.

So I would say persevere. The whole point is that your baby learns to feel their tiredness themselves, get themselves from standing to sitting to lying down, and then they can do that again in the night when they wake up, too. I didn't think our baby would ever do it but he did!

Phine83 Fri 22-Jan-21 12:42:46

Thank you so much that's incredibly helpful. I will give it a try next week (need my evenings this week to work on a job application 😂)

Glad to hear your little one is sleeping well and it wasn't too horrendous

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lorisparkle Fri 22-Jan-21 12:47:50

Have you got the book 'teach your child to sleep'? We followed the gradual retreat method in there and it was so helpful. We started with rocking them holding them sitting by the cot etc. I just would ignore them or tap the mattress when they were standing up. Ds2 did get into the habit of lying on my hand which was a difficult step to get through so avoid that!!! With ds1 we were really regimented and it worked fantastically well. Ds2 and 3 were a little more random!

Phine83 Fri 22-Jan-21 18:34:04

@lorisparkle great I'll check this out. Thanks for the advice

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lorisparkle Fri 22-Jan-21 19:12:03

My ds1 was a horrendous sleeper - I saw the health visitor at 9 months and he was waking every hour or so. She let me borrow her copy of the book and it was the best book I had read. I think I had read every book going!!! It is factual- not preachy. Has lots of different options. Has flow charts and step by step instructions. Basically everything a sleep deprived parent needs!

89redballoons Fri 22-Jan-21 19:18:48

Good luck!

There is also an old MN thread called "What worked for us. Hope this helps" which has instructions for doing gradual retreat. It's really old so not active now but you can find it if you search, and useful to read other people's experiences.


3WildOnes Fri 22-Jan-21 19:23:28

I've done a version of gradual retreat with all of mine. Like another poster said, I just tap the mattress to encourage them to lie down and they do all eventually lie down and settle themselves.

Phine83 Fri 22-Jan-21 21:33:36

Fantastic. Thank you all for your useful advice. Off to find that old thread... To read when I'm up all night 🙄

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Phine83 Tue 26-Jan-21 14:40:40

@3WildOnes @89redballoons @lorisparkle

I don't really know how Mumsnet works so tagged you in case that helps you see it...

Anyway, quick question? Do you think it's ok to start midweek? I was going to wait until Friday so my husband was around but I'm at the end of my tether... Massive mistake to start without back up? Or go for it?

Thanks- I've been reading the thread and my book arrived today

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lorisparkle Tue 26-Jan-21 20:00:31

I found that you have to be mentally ready to start any sleep training. I did not have a huge amount of support from DH so if you real 'ready' then start.

I also found that I could be far more flexible with the gradual retreat method than my friend who did CC. If for example I was feeling tired and decided to go back a step then it did not matter hugely. When we were on holiday I had to revert back a couple of stages but when we got home I found it was much quicker to move through the stages again. My friend on the other hand found she had to do the whole painful process again.

89redballoons Tue 26-Jan-21 22:34:39

Sorry, you've probably made your decision one way the other about tonight by now!

I found that DH coming into the room would just distract or upset my little one more, so I don't think it matters if he's in the house or not really - you're kind of on your own either way. You might want him around for a hug or wine afterwards though!

Good luck/hope it went ok, depending on if you did start tonight smile

Phine83 Wed 27-Jan-21 07:14:01

Thanks! I'm starting tonight! I appreciate the support smile

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lorisparkle Wed 27-Jan-21 19:53:05

Good luck! @Phine83 I found that I noticed progress every 3 days or so. The first day it was usually worse, the second about the same and the third a noticeable improvement.

You have to remember it has taken months to get into this sleep pattern so it will not be a quick fix to change it!

Phine83 Wed 27-Jan-21 20:55:37

@89redballoons @lorisparkle

Thanks so much for your support. He lasted for 2 hours then fell asleep sitting up... I laid him down but that can't be right can it?!

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Phine83 Wed 27-Jan-21 20:58:28

I'm quite genuine. How lovely to give such support to a stranger smile

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Indecisivelurcher Wed 27-Jan-21 21:01:44


*@89redballoons* @lorisparkle

Thanks so much for your support. He lasted for 2 hours then fell asleep sitting up... I laid him down but that can't be right can it?!

Sounds fine op well done good start

Wherehaveiputmywine Wed 27-Jan-21 21:13:16

I did the moving gradually out the room method after the crying to sleep didn't work for us(2 weeks where he cried for 3 hours every night).
But first I had to get him to lie down. Think it was a tip from Baby whisperer book. Stayed in room, laid him down. He popped straight up in cot. Just said "time for bed" and laid him down. He popped straight up, so repeated myself "time for bed".
I was in there for an hour before he stayed lying down.
Following night we did the same for 20 minutes. 3rd night he looked at me and just stayed lying down. So I could then move onto the moving gradually out of the room.
Think it took me about 3 weeks before he was happy at me putting him down and leaving straight away.
Good luck!

89redballoons Wed 27-Jan-21 22:59:50

Falling asleep sitting up after 2 hours seems like a really good start!

In theory I guess he might get startled by the fact that he fell asleep sitting up and woke up lying down. The theory is that babies have to fall asleep in exactly the circumstances they will wake up in, in order to knit their sleep cycles together (so in bed, lying down, by themselves in their room, whatever nightlight/white noise etc is going to be on or off all night).

Not everyone subscribes to this theory, though, and getting him to fall asleep himself in his cot does sound like progress.

Happy to chat, I'm by no means an expert and I only have baby myself, but I do feel like I've spent the whole of lockdown reading about baby sleep grin

Phine83 Thu 28-Jan-21 07:24:36

One wake up and back to sleep in 20 minutes!
He lay down himself too!

Now do I try it for naps...

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Phine83 Thu 28-Jan-21 07:29:33


Yes I've read that and think that's largely been my problem. Even if he went in drowsy he was patted to sleep with a soundtrack of various lullabies

I'm so sick of constantly thinking about sleep!

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Phine83 Thu 28-Jan-21 08:58:36


Did you keep putting him down for the hour?

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lorisparkle Thu 28-Jan-21 09:54:08

That is fantastic! With ds1 and naps I used to do similar to night time (I often fell asleep myself led on the floor near his cot!). With ds2 and 3 it wasn't an option so they slept in car/pushchair etc.

Phine83 Thu 28-Jan-21 19:05:23

Cool thanks. I chickened out of the naps today. Put down drowsy and patted but still an improvement on normal!

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Wherehaveiputmywine Fri 29-Jan-21 23:54:12

@phine83. Sorry for delay. Yes I stood there and for a whole hour the moment I laid him down, he sprang up again. So I repeated “time for bed” and laid him down again, over and over and over. My husband was outside the room quietly giggling to himself at how determined his son was!

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