Darcie has been hard work at night, mainly because of hunger not necessarily playing up at bedtime. However I know lots of mums out there who are struggling at night and so I thought I would look into a term I have herd thrown about in forums called Sleep Training.
Sleep Training can begin at a young age, and some methods recommend starting as young as six to eight weeks but generally the consensus is that six months is a good age as babies then have the capability of being able to sleep through the night (meaning they shouldn't get hungry through the night etc).
With Darcie from the day she was born until she was 10 weeks old I cuddled her to sleep. For both me and Darcie this comforted us both and felt the right thing to do at this period of time. Plus she was brand new of course I was going to comfort her (despite being told that I was teaching her bad habits!). At 10 weeks I started to put her in her cot awake with her dummy and then potted about upstairs until she fell asleep. Pottering around enabled me to keep an eye on her and for her to feel comforted that I was still close by. By the time she was 13 weeks I would put her down awake and come straight back downstairs. She would stir a couple of times but on the whole she went off to sleep by herself. Now I have no problems what-so-ever putting Darcie to sleep and haven't for a very long time. The problem with Darcie is that she always woke more than once in the night. Sometimes because she lost her dummy, others because she had left me a nice present in her nappy, or mainly because she was Hungry. Now she is on solids AND on hungry milk she goes through till about 6!! Hurrah!
However when Darcie was waking a lot still I did lots of research on Sleep Training...
Here are some popular methods
*Crying it out*
A very popular method but at the same time a very controversial one. Parents often presume that this method of sleep training involves leaving a baby to cry for as long as it takes to fall asleep. But crying it out simply refers to any sleep training approach that says its fine to let a baby cry for a specified, usually short, period of time before then offering comfort. The theory goes that without rewarding response to his cries, a baby learns that its not worth the trouble to cry so hard. This method usually involves putting baby to bed awake then working in intervals, these begin at three, five then ten minutes long. Then over a week the intervals can be extended, gradually reaching 20 minutes to half an hour after seven days.
This method is one me and Jamie do not practice. I just couldn't leave Darcie to cry. Mainly because I know my baby, she doesn't cry for no reason, so thankfully we have never had to even contemplate this method as I can imagine it to be extremely hard for parents and baby. However, I do know of people who have used this method and it worked really well for them and their family. Different methods suit different people, you just have decide or see what works best for you and your family.
*No Cry Method*
The no cry method does not mean that your baby will never cry, but means that you remain with them to comfort them or at least take a flexible approach to bedtimes. This method can also include co-sleeping. This may suit parents who enjoy bedtime bonding at the end of a hectic day, this is also very popular with mums who are breast feeding. However if you do decide to co-sleep please remember that there are dangers, and the safest place is in there own cot.
This method is quite similar to what my family practices. Darcie goes to bed when she is ready this is normally between six thirty to seven. I put her to bed awake, give her a dummy (I plan on removing this when she is one....), give her a kiss, tell her I love her then stroke her face and then leave the room. I take the monitor downstairs and leave her to it. She grumbles (doesn't cry)to sleep then when all is quiet I go upstairs to check she has settled ok and then normally she doesn't wake until about 530-6. When she does, I bring her into our bed and we co-sleep till 7-730. I really enjoy this time in the morning, even though where both not really asleep its nice quiet time and she often strokes my faces or just smiles at me. Perfect.
*Pick Up Put Down Method*
This method was used by The Baby Whisperer and she states that its the "cornerstone of her middle-of-the-road philosophy" because "your child is neither dependent on you or some kind of prop for going to sleep, nor is he abandoned". This strategy is used after implementing a good routine and should be used on babies 3-4 months or older though for some babies this may be over stimulating until the child reaches 6 months of age. Generally this method is used up till the baby is one.
For Babies 4-6 months old: Do not hold them longer than 2-3 minutes at a time. Just put them down after this much time has passed and pick them up again if they are still crying. Holding a baby too long at this age can lead to a parent turning into a prop (meaning that could be the only way they will then fall asleep).
For Babies 6-8 months old: If your baby gets more upset when you pick them up, first hold out your hands to them and wait until her holds out his hands before picking him up. Once you have picked them up put him in a horizontal position comforting them and then place them down again. You may need to walk away at this stage as your appearance may be distracting and it may take them longer to settle.
For Babies 8-12 months: Babies at this age usually settle better outside your arms so don't pick them up unless they are very upset. instead at this stage talk to them while offering a stroke, then as they are calming down continue to offer words of comfort and then stand away or leave the room.
I have done some of these elements in our sleep routine, like offering words of comfort if she is ever particularly unsettled. But for Darcie she settles much better in her own cot, picking her up only unsettles her more. But all babies are different. So this in one method that I would perhaps keep in mind for future babies.
*Gradual Retreat Method*
This method has two slightly different options you could take, the first is known as the "disappearing chair" which is a method suitable for babies over the age of six months. The basic idea is to have a chair or cushion by the bed and once you have put them into there cot you then sit down. If your baby cries you should then gently pat or stroke them and try to avoid eye contact, as soon as they have settled move the chair further to the door and sit and wait. After you have moved the chair a few times you will find yourself outside your babies room. Once there your baby should be settled. This method is often time consuming.
Another version is known as the "kissing game", this is a method which is suited for babies aged 6 months through to two years. The idea is that you put them down drowsy and promise to give them a kiss, you then return almost immediately to give another kiss, then take a few steps to the door then return to give them another kiss and promise again to return for another kiss. Pop out of the room for a couple of minuets and then return and give them a kiss, this can continue up to a long period of time.
To be honest I have not tried this method, nor have I come across anyone who has so I wouldn't like to comment. However I would like to hear your thoughts!!
So there we have it... Sleep Training... What do we all think??
Mummy B xoxox