My book, the 7pm to 7am Sleeping Baby Routine has lots of great advice for settling and sleep up to month four, but what to do at a later stage? Here is your self-settling plan of action.
1. Focus on your day routine first. Check your child’s milk or food intake. No settling plan will work or work long term if your baby or child isn’t getting what they need during the day. Contrary to popular belief, food and hunger has a direct impact on sleep.
2. Make sure your routine is in line with your baby’s age and ability. It’s a weekly occurrence to see babies at the baby stage still stuck in a newborn routine, especially with the length of awake time and naps! Another common occurrence is that babies are ready and crying out to be weaned, but are trying to sleep on 4-5 milk feeds only.
3. Set up a relaxing bedtime routine. Lavender in the bath, dimmed lights and calming massage. Allowing time to wind down before sleep is really important. Stimulation can sabotage settling.
4. Introduce a snuggly mini blanket or soft toys which is put over your shoulder when cuddling before bed. In time the comfort you give to settle your baby or child is then transferred to the comforter. This technique can be used from 5 months onwards.
5. Sleep environment. Check the room temperature to make sure your baby isn’t too hot or too cold. 19-22 degrees is perfect for using a swaddle and tucking in or a sleeping bag. Under 5 months I would make sure a baby feels the security of being tucked in and where possible, swaddled until settling issues are resolved. Older babies and children need their own personal space to sleep, during the baby stage it’s best to keep the room blacked out and then for toddler age and onwards, often a night light works best.
6. Your settling plan, now the prep is done you can put a plan into place. This plan would very much depend on your circumstances, are you rocking or feeding to sleep? Co-sleeping? Using sleep tools such as dummies or white noise?
For best results please do book a consultation for personalised plan of action.
Never the less, the advice is always less is more when it comes to settling and showing a clear consistent approach to your child. The aim is to put your child down awake and calm but not asleep, a baby or child will wake once put in the cot, crib or bed due to being transferred or upset because you have gone. It’s much kinder to build confidence in your child and let them fall asleep where they are intended to sleep… Once down, walk out of the room even if you child cries straight away. Wait 2 minutes and then go back in and try to calm without picking them up.
This will either work or it won’t, if it does leave the room again, if it doesn’t pick up until calm and then put back down to bed again. Always until calm not until they have fallen asleep. This is repeated until asleep in the cot, crib or bed. The length of time you wait before calming is extended by a minute at a time until reaching 7 minutes. If crying is intermittent then leave for longer as your child is working it out.
The first few time’s you put this plan into place you could be in and out 10-20 times but if you are consistent, which you need to be in order for the plan to work, within days to a week you will have a happy settled sleeping child.
For further help head over to my consultancy page and book in for a chat!