My Grandson (now 15 months old) has generally slept well since he was very small. Because my Son works nights my Daughter-in-law came to me when he was about 7 weeks old and asked what she could do to start gently settling him into a routine, to help her cope better in the evenings. Babies begin to learn the difference between night and day at around 6 weeks old and you can start as early as this to create positive sleep associations (e.g bath, feed, low lighting, story etc).
He started settling himself to sleep naturally at around 7 months old however about a month ago he went through a sleep regression. This can happen when babies are going through a significant development milestone (e.g rolling, crawling, walking, talking etc) their little brains are full of new information and experiences making it difficult for them to sleep. Sometimes as they get older it can simply be because they are more aware of their surroundings.
In this case he was taking a long time to settle even with mummy or daddy in the room and then waking as soon as they crept out. Bedtime was taking over 2 hours and he was waking multiple times during the night.
After a few weeks, completely exhausted they decided enough was enough. They did some gentle sleep coaching to help get things back on track and have put together a diary of their progress.
I gave lots of support and encouragement over the phone to help them stay strong and consistent. This is what I offer in my email/telephone consultation and all my packages come with 4 weeks follow up support.
Sleep coaching diary…
After his usual bedtime routine, I put him down and left the room for 10/20/30 seconds, building up to 2 minutes.
I then went in and out every 2 minutes to reassure him until he fell asleep. It took 45 minutes in total for him to settle but he was asleep and I wasn’t trapped in the room trying to plan my exit route without stepping on all the creaky floor boards!
He then woke around 9.30pm and took another 45 minutes to settle with me going in to reassure him every couple of minutes. We were both asleep by 10.30pm and slept until 6.30am (my first full nights sleep in weeks!) the next day I felt like a new person and was determined to continue.
Lunch nap 1pm
Sam suggests giving an initial 10 minutes self settling time so I gave this a try. I put him down and left the room. After 10 minutes had passed he was still awake and crying so I went in every couple of minutes to reassure him. He took 30 minutes to settle and then slept for 2 hrs!
I found it helpful to keep occupied during the time I was out of the room, even if it’s only for a few minutes it’s hard to hear your little one crying. I kept busy by folding washing or loading the dishwasher. At least that way the time went quickly and I wasn’t hovering on the landing questioning why I was doing this. Having Sam on the end of the phone reassuring me that he was fine and just cross because we were changing things, was a huge help. I knew it was for the best so I kept going.
He took a total of 15 minutes to settle and I only had to go in once to reassure him after the initial 10 minutes self settling time. This was a huge improvement compared to bedtime the day before, and in just 24 hours.
Woke at 12.30am so gave initial 10 minutes self settling time then had to go in twice to reassure him until he fell asleep. He then slept until 6.30am.
Lunch nap 1pm
He fell asleep within the initial 10 minutes self settling time and I didn’t have to go back in at all.
Settled within minutes without a peep and didn’t have to go in at all!
“The first couple of days of sleep coaching were hard but we noticed a difference straight away. We stayed consistent with Sam’s method and by nap time on the third day he was going down happily and settling himself to sleep within minutes, something he had not done for well over a month. We had got so used to the bedtime battle and multiple night wake ups, it wasn’t until we were all completely burnt out that we decided something had to be done. He sleeps so much better now and is much happier for it, meaning we are too!”