I was staring into my baby’s big brown eyes today as he lay on his mat staring back at me. What a gem he is. He wakes up in the morning, giggling and babbling to himself. He is only 7 months old, but eats like a 7 year old. My hands can’t move quick enough to feed him! He plays happily with his toys while I sit next to him working on my trading business from home. As he is teething and becoming more aware of his surroundings these days, he demands more attention from me. I don’t mind, I attend to him accordingly. The most pleasing thing about my baby is – he gives exact cues of when he is sleepy (rubs his eyes or yawns), and that’s when I put him in the cot in his room, close the door, and know that he is going to fall asleep in the next 5 minutes by himself. Each and every time. I am so blessed, you say?
Let’s back up to 2 years ago. My first baby boy who is now 2 years old was the EXACT opposite of what you just read. I had a horrible birth experience, a worse postpartum experience, and coupled with a baby who cried CONSTANTLY for 9 months due to silent reflux drove me up the wall. And the add to the fun, he rarely slept! I approached so many different GPs, paediatricians and child health nurses but nobody could help me get my baby to sleep. It was an absolute crisis as I was about to mentally lose it. Plus, it wasn’t good for a baby of that age to not get the sleep he needed – you know, for his development. I had to go to the last resort available.
In Australia, we have a parenting organisation run by the government that supports parents through their parenting journey up till their kids turn 18. I called them up, paid a decent amount of money for a 1.5 hour consultation with a volunteer expert, and let me tell you – it was the best thing I had done in a long time.
The volunteer lady asked me all these questions about my baby’s behaviour and I thought – how did she get into my head?! Everything she was saying was spot on! She then went on to tell me a method that they taught parents to help their baby to learn to fall asleep and self-soothe. I followed her method word to word and the results were just absolute bliss.
- Ensure you follow a routine every evening. Dinner at the same time everyday, then massage and bathe the baby, then play in their room/read a book together, and put the baby in their cot.
- Sit next to the cot and baby might cry a fair bit because they don’t want to be in the cot. They will pull themselves up and yell. It’s normal. Put your hand in the cot on the mattress, and encourage baby softly to sit or lie down. Cuddle them while in their cot if need be. Do not take them out of the cot unless they are absolutely distressed. This step went on for 40 minutes every day for the first 5 days.
- Eventually baby will sit, then say goodnight to his/her toes, fingers, favourite soft toy and encourage them to lie down. Then do not give them attention by looking away for few minutes at a time. Still continue to put your hand in the cot to give them comfort.
- Soon, baby should lie down and using your hand as a comforter, or anything else, they should fall asleep. To reach this step, we took about 2 weeks.
For the first week, the crying and yelling went on for 40 minutes, and it took a total of 1.5 hours to complete this method. But by the end of two weeks, it took only 15 to 20 minutes! And things drastically improved from then – baby slept for longer stretches, slept during the day for longer stretches too, self-soothed during the night and I was so much happier overall.
I even remember a few months down the road, my son used to walk over to his cot by himself straight after his bath and looked to climb into his cot on his own!
It is a very simple method, and while I recognise that not all parents would be comfortable with this, it was certainly quite effective for our situation. There are other methods out there where you put the crying baby into the cot and walk out of the room for a minute, come back, then walk out 5 minutes later and keep increasing the time that way. I had tried this once but it was too much to bear for me.
It’s so important to remember that these are temporary phases. It may be stressful at the time when you need to rest but you just cannot because your baby won’t rest. The time will pass I promise. My 2 year old now sleeps like a log. Seriously! So hang in there, and try everything possible including this method. If it works for you too, that’s an absolute lifesaver as I know it.