Is motion the only way you can get your baby to sleep?
Often I meet parents who feel they are the only people doing crazy things at bedtime (and overnight) to get some sleep – not just for the little ones, but for mums and dads too. Generally, they aren’t unique in their actions. We all do whatever we have to do to get by. Until it stops working!
I want to show you how relatively quickly things can change, even when you feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel!
This is one of my real-life sleep cases
Sophie was around ten months old when her parents got in touch with me. They were exhausted, as their little girl expected to be pushed around in her buggy for at least half an hour before bed. As if this wasn’t enough of a pain, she also wouldn’t go back to sleep when she later woke without being whipped downstairs and back to the buggy for round two. And rounds three, four and five (and so on)! Did I mention that her mum was also five months pregnant at the time and was beyond exhausted, and also dreading the thought of this continuing with a newborn on her hip?
We met one evening when Sophie had gone to bed. Then, right on cue, she woke and I was able to see exactly what stages mum and dad had to go through to get Sophie to go back down again. Sophie attended crèche on a full-time basis, so she was in a pretty good daytime routine. Occasionally she fell asleep in the buggy on the way home, but it was only for around ten minutes. That was not a big deal as far as I was concerned. Sophie also napped well in crèche, without the buggy, which was frustrating for her mum and dad. Still, we know that children often ‘play’ one parent off against the other, so the same can apply with crèche versus home!
The main problem was the buggy and Sophie’s reliance on it to fall asleep at bedtime and throughout the night. It was purely an association with her house, and she expected her parents to go through these motions each night. It had been so long since her mum or dad had tried to settle her in the cot that they were pretty anxious about starting the process. With a little guidance and reassurance, they decided to try it. Sophie woke on one occasion before I left. I did not suggest that they start that evening with the technique I had shown them, as they hadn’t run through it at bedtime and I felt that would have been a little unfair on Sophie.
Night one went relatively well (although maybe Sophie’s mum and dad wouldn’t agree!). It took Sophie an hour-and-a half to settle. She was awake again at 3am. Her dad went in, and it took almost as long for her to settle. At this time, Sophie’s mum was wondering if perhaps Sophie’s teeth were bothering her. It is not unusual for parents to look for other reasons as to why their child is not settling, but I feel it is important that once you start some training, you try not to stop (unless the child is feverish/sick/quite obviously in pain).
Night two was better. Sophie still woke later on, but she settled back to sleep much more easily. Sophie woke only once on night three and managed to settle back to sleep with very little assistance from mum or dad. Night four was tough all over again. It was tough, but they made it through. Within ten days, Sophie was doing brilliantly. Her pregnant mum was getting rest and the house became a happy zone once again. The buggy was brought out only when they went for a walk!”
Niamh O’Reilly is a sleep coach. She's also a baby and childcare guru, a 'parent nanny' and the answer to many a weary parent's woes. A regular in the Irish media, Niamh's book, No Fuss Baby & Toddler Sleep, is now available to buy from all good book stores or online from Amazon.com.