Our No Cry Sleep Solution
This is our G Man, one day old.
There is no baby manual that you get handed at the hospital when you become a Mother. Your friends who already have kids tell you that you really should do nothing but sleep in your last trimester as when you have your baby, there will be no more. (I actually tell my expecting friends to get lots of sleep and sex, cos once you have a baby they both go out the window.) You laugh, and think it cant be THAT bad, surely? I mean, I’ve pulled a few all nighters in Uni; I know what tired is.
Then you have your first baby.
You understand why sleep deprivation was a common torture method in prisons.
There is nothing else like it – you are literally a zombie, dragging your sorry arse from one place to another in a sea of fog. But the hope is by 12 weeks your baby will finally have the knack of sleeping through. At least that’s what the books say and the end of that three month period is what keeps you going in your haze, fuelling your mind and body into believing that “this too shall pass”
Book people are Liars.
Great Big Rotten Fibbers.
This is G Man on his First Birthday.
THIS gorgeous little angel was still waking 4-5 times a night and I was actually scared to go to bed in the evenings. I would cry at bedtime because I didn’t want the enter the nightmare world that was my bedroom. If I actually got INTO bed, I knew it would be only for an hour or two before I would be pulled from it, like a rubber band, snapping back and forth, sleep-walking until dawn. I honestly was beginning to doubt my sanity at this time and I knew something had to give.
To be honest, I knew the night wakings were my own doing. I was breastfeeding and from the day dot I had fed G Man to sleep. It was easy, peaceful, relaxing and it seemed like the right way for us. It felt natural. I never had any issues with him going to sleep at night – duh – and I honestly felt that the night wakings would get better. But they didnt. They got worse as he got older. He went from waking 1-2 times at a few months to 4-5 times by 12 months. The problem was I hadn’t taught G Man how to fall asleep on his own; he needed my boob in his mouth and knew no other way. Also, by 12 months he was really getting no substance by way of milk from my breasts but he still needed a boob in his mouth the get to sleep. Every time he woke in the night, as we all do, he couldn’t resettle without it. It was killing me. He would cry, I would get out of bed, unsnap my feeding bra and go to pick him up. Half the time he would already be starting to drift off having heard the sound of the snap and the knowledge of what was coming was like a baby sedative. But the damage was done and I was awake and walking. This happened 4-5 times a night and after 12 months, I was still in a world of mental and physical pain, with no light at the end of the tunnel. I woke up one morning and knew I had to be the one to change, or he wouldn’t. I had to find a way to teach him to sleep without me as a human dummy (and no, he wouldn’t take a real dummy, oh how we tried!)
Mr Point Five and I did a lot of research. CIO was not an option for us; out of sheer desperation we tried it twice and both times ended with G Man vomiting in his cot and us both crying outside his door. It felt totally wrong and went against every Mothering fibre in my body.
The we read about a technique called Gradual Withdrawal Method which sounds completely suss but it isn’t 🙂
You can google it if you want, the book that inspired us, but I will describe our interpretation of it and what we did. Don’t be fooled by the title, our baby DID cry, but he cried in the security of my arms; he wasn’t abandoned or left to cry on his own. That was a major issue for us, not leaving our child to essentially cry himself to sleep.
Basically the GWM is teaching your baby to self settle whilst you are with him, comforting him and letting him know he is not alone.
We started by me sitting and cuddling him to sleep, no boob, no feeding. Of course he cried and screamed for the boob; we had 12 months of habit to break, but at least I was with him as he cried. Despite the crying, he was loved and secure if not a little confused. I sang to him a bit and after about 30-45 minutes of carrying on like a pork chop he eventually fell asleep. Each night we did this, the crying got less and after the 4th or so night he just closed his eyes and went to sleep in my arms with no fussing at all!
THEN I put him in his cot just as he was drifting off, still awake though. Of course he cried when he realised I wasn’t holding him but I sat on a chair next to the cot and put my hand through the rails, patting him on his back. If he stood up, I laid him back down, patting and singing. This took a while too, I think this was the longest transition, but eventually he fell asleep with my patting. After 3-4 nights of doing this he started falling asleep with no crying, just patting and singing.
After a few nights of this I stopped with the patting and just sat next to the cot and sang to him until he fell asleep.
After a few nights of that I stood next to him singing, then moving further and further towards the door with a night or two spent in the same place.
Eventually I got to standing outside the door, just singing to him. After a couple of verses I would stop and listen. If he started crying I would start singing again.
(NB: when he woke in the night I gave him the boob as I wasn’t willing to lose this much sleep in the middle of the night.)
After I got to just singing one verse and hearing quiet the next night I FINALLY said to him as I placed him in his cot, Goodnight my darling boy, I love you and Mummy will be right outside if you need her. Sleep well my Angel.
And I walked out of the room.
He didn’t wake up in the night again. Ever. He had learnt how to get back to sleep in the night on his own.
The whole process took about three weeks and greatly extended out putting to bed routine, sometimes from 7-9pm, but compared to the previous 12 months of night torture it was a little bit of extra evening pain for a WHOLE lot of night time gain. We never looked back. Our Angel just turned six now – I put that milestone down to this technique 😉
Whilst I’m not saying this is the only or right way to get your baby sleeping through, it made sense to us and more importantly, it worked for us.
Best of luck – and remember, This Too Shall Pass. Really, it will.