WARNING – THE START OF THIS POST IS FICTITIOUS I DO NOT REALLY RECOMMEND THE FOLLOWING – PLEASE READ TO THE END!
I am 99% certain I can get any baby, even a tiny 8 week old ‘sleeping through’ 7pm to 7am. I am not some baby whisperer magic sleep fairy baby sleep expert, I’m just a mum, who happens to read a lot. I have not attended a special school for guaranteeing a contented little baby or set up a £1 per minute phone line for my advice, but I’m certain I could do it!
I am certain that I could get a four month old who wakes every two hourly from 8pm to 8am snoozing through in less than a week, in fact I’m going to shorten the odds and say I could probably do it in 3 days! After all, isn’ t good sleep essential for our baby’s health? and isn’t ‘self soothing’ and ‘self settling’ a vital skill to teach our babies?
How would I wave my magic sleep wand? Would it involve leaving your baby to ‘Cry it Out’, or use ‘Controlled Crying’? Of course not! I don’t use these methods, I use methods that are stress free for you and your baby! What do I use? Well, now that would be telling you and you haven’t parted with your money yet, so I can’t tell you all of my secrets…..I’ll let you in on a few tiny little snippets instead. I would probably use some or all of the following:
- Dream feeding
- Formula top ups (or bottles of expressed breastmilk fed by dad if you are strongly opposed to formula)
- Not rocking babies to sleep or allowing them to fall asleep in your arms (even in the daytime
- Getting babies used to being in their own rooms from birth
- Using blackout blinds
- Using artificial heartbeats (in the form of a toy)
- Never letting baby fall asleep on the breast or bottle
- Using a cue word, such as ‘it’s BEDTIME now’ when putting baby to sleep.
- Make them wait for their food, just a little bit longer each day.
- Moving further away from baby, towards the door, each night
- Picking up and putting down
- ‘Controlled Comforting’ or ‘Controlled Soothing’
Now, I know I said I wouldn’t use controlled crying (nobody uses CIO anymore so we’ll ignore that bit), but really I do….I just give it a different name to make it sounds ‘softer’ (such as ‘controlled comforting or soothing’) and often I will stay in the room whilst I do it, but you know it’s really the same thing right? It’s just a good marketing tool for me, because, well you know, folk are getting a bit uncomfortable with controlled crying nowadays particularly with that research last year that showed how much it stresses babies.
So, what I’ll do is tell you to go to your baby when they cry, but here’s the key ideally you won’t pick them up at all, you’ll stroke their head or pat their tummy and tell them it’s bedtime, hopefully they’ll stop crying, but usually it takes at least 3 nights to ‘break them’. Sometimes, if they’re really crying and they’re really distressed I’ll let you pick them up, but the minute they stop crying you’ll have to put them straight back down again.
HOLD IT RIGHT THERE………..
No, I haven’t gone insane, I **COULD** do everything I’ve said, I **COULD** get any baby ‘sleeping through the night’ in less than a week, I’m absolutely certain I **COULD** break any baby, because you know baby sleep training isn’t exactly rocket science, I could break even those babies with the strongest will, but I won’t.
I will NEVER do anything I’ve said above, why not? Because I have morals, because I have ethics, because I know that everything I’ve said here carries potential side effects, potential damage to the parent-infant attachment, potential side effects to the detriment of breastfeeding and potential side effects to the development of you baby’s brain. I think it is VITAL parents make an informed choice, if they want their babies sleeping through in 3 days they need to know that their baby will experience trauma, so will they (however gentle the techniques supposedly are) and they need to know that they will not be meeting their baby’s needs in doing so, they need to know how unnatural the methods are and how unnatural it is for young babies to ‘sleep through’ (not just young babies – but older ones too!). I think it’s also really important to tell parents that sometimes sleep training doesn’t work and often the effects are only temporary. How many ‘baby sleep experts’ tell parents the side effects of their methods?
So, whilst I **COULD** break your baby and guarantee you uninterrupted sleep in less than a week, I never will. Instead I will help you to understand that your baby’s sleep is normal, I will help you to find the support you need to survive the pressures of parenting a young baby and I will help you to use gentle tips that can help a baby to sleep a little longer whilst helping you to understand that there are no ‘quick fixes’ when it comes to babies that do not carry significant risks of psychological and physiological harm. I will help you to understand the science that helps us to know our baby’s needs and normal behaviour. I may not be rich but I will sleep better tonight knowing that I am not advising parents to ignore a mountain of scientific evidence and perhaps the most important thing of all – their instinct and their baby.