How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Alone
As with the controlled crying approach, some children test their parents resolve – often on night five. If you can weather that storm, the next couple of nights should be the last on the programme. Most children are sleeping easily within a week.
If kisses seem to take too long or your back can’t manage all that bending, then a pat on the hand or the head works just as well. Just make the same sort of contact each time.
Sometimes parents live in ways that make this sort of intensive procedure difficult to do. If you are a single parent, start the programme on a Friday, and ask a friend or your mother to have the baby for Saturday and Sunday afternoon so you can sleep. By then your baby should be falling asleep more quickly.
Kate used the kissing game with Jade when, at 18 months, she seemed frightened to go in her cot.
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Jade suddenly stopped wanting to go to bed, it was as if she was scared that if she touched the mattress she would disappear. I didn’t know how to go from pacing up and down to putting her down. At the 18-month check-up I told the health visitor all about it and she told me about the kiss-and-retreat programme. The first night they think it’s a game so they play along with it until they doze off. The second night they fight it. When she has a tantrum it’s really upsetting to watch because she head-butts the wall. She was scooting down to the end of the bed and I was trying to put her back up to the pillow. It was 45 minutes to one hour of constant head-butting and screaming, she was so tired at the end of it she just conked out. On the third night she tried everything she could. But it worked because afer a week I stood by the door, and after that outside the door. Then I shut the door and she called to me and I said:
“Go to sleep, I’m here.” And afer that I thought I might as well go downstairs, so I did and she was fine.’
Angela and Neil used the same approach with Alex when he was eight months old:
The problem was that I’d lay there for ages rocking him He’d sleep for 20 minutes and be awake again. I was up four or five times a night. He basically catnapped. I ended up sleeping with him in the double bed. The health visitor gave me a plan: put him in his cot, give him a kiss, shut the curtains, say “Night-night”, and walk away. When he starts creating go back and comfort him Don’t make eye contact. Drop the side of the cot, put my body-weight on him Say “Everything’s OK, mummy’s here”. The first night was horrendous. It took me an hour each time he woke, straightening the bedding, no eye contact. I sat on the end of the bed with my back to him and then gently worked that bit further out of the room. But it only took about two nights. He went from going to bed at 11 pm, and then up at 12, 2am, 4am, and 6am with two catnaps in the morning and three in the afternoon to 40 minutes in the morning, two to two-and-a-half hours in the afternoon, tea, a play, and then upstairs for a long bath, a regular routine in his room for a bottle, and a blog. He’s usually in bed by about 8pm and sleeps through until 7am or 8am He’s definitely happier during the day and he doesn’t look like Count Dracula any more with his red eyes and white face.’
If you’d like to try this approach with the support of your health visitor, it’s worth showing her a copy of an article by Dr Olwen Wilson who devised the programme. (See the further reading section on page 155 for a complete reference which you can order through your local library.)