Wilfred, whilst a generally happy and contented baby [everyone comments on how cheerful he is], has always woken [numerous times] during the night. Initially, I was breastfeeding, so he was waking hungry. Later, when he was in his own cot, he would wake for a bottle or to be held. I didn’t mind too much, he was my Son and I wanted to make sure he was ok. But he gradually got worse and worse, peaking around 6 months when I had my gallbladder removed [I know, it’s all systems go here!]. I spent a few nights in hospital and when I returned home I faced a week of hell where he’d wake up, up to TWELVE times in a night.
Now, I don’t like to see my baby cry any more than the next mother … but something had to be done. I found myself rocking him in one arm and frantically Googling “how to make my baby sleep” with the other hand. I tried everything I read and nothing worked until I caved in and did the Cry It Out routine. Controversial, I know. Believe me – I did not enter into it light-heartedly. But after 4 nights hard work … our baby slept through the night for a solid 11 hours! He has not had a broken night since. I do believe it is a last resort, but for some mothers/babies it may be just what you need. Here are the basics in case you, too are a walking zombie:
- Give your baby a last bottle before entering their bedroom [somewhere comfy with subdued lighting].
- When they look drowsy [but BEFORE they fall asleep] take them to their room.
- If they wake up a bit, sit and quietly read them a book [they should not be in their crib at this point]. If they stay drowsy, skip to the next step.
- Put your baby into their cot, tuck them in and say “goodnight [insert name here]” and kiss their head. Walk out of the room.
- The baby WILL cry. Check the time and leave your infant to cry for no longer than 5 minutes.
- Return to the room and say “it’s ok, Mummy’s here”, pat their tummy and kiss their head. Do not stay in the room any longer than 2 minutes. Again, leave [they will probably still be crying].
- Leave it another 6 minutes before going back in. Each time, give a reassuring pat and say a few words. Obviously, check they are dry and safe and leave the room.
- Each time, increase the crying time by a minute [until you reach 10, never exceed that amount of time].
I kid you not, the first night, Wilfred was hot, sweaty and inconsolable [as was I]. I returned to his room 4 times that night and was on the verge of giving in, lying there listening to his monitor and feeling like a terrible mother … when the crying just stopped. Obviously, I thought he’d died and rushed to peek through his door. To my astonishment, he had fallen asleep! Well, he had probably cried himself to sleep and that felt awful, BUT he slept solidly through the night for 10 hours, the most sleep he’d ever had in one go. I was elated!
The next night, I was more determined and less upset by his crying [I knew he’d get some real sleep at the end of it]. As if like magic, that night took 3 return visits to settle him. The next night, I returned only once to his cries, which were less pained already. On the fourth night … he whimpered briefly then went soundly off to slumber land. Not only had I had 4 solid nights’ sleep [the most I’d had since being 7 months pregnant], I had a happy chirpy baby in the mornings. I felt like superwoman. Honestly, I’m still a bit smug that he sleeps through. I can’t quite believe it.