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A Solution for Sleep Problems that Works!!! Lock Rss

When our daughter was about 4.5 months old my husband and I noticed that we were having more and more trouble getting her to sleep during the day. Some days she would go down easily and sleep for 3 hours and others she would sleep for 45 mins after a struggle to get her down. At night it was less of an effort to get her to sleep but sometimes she would fight it. Another challenge was that we could not guarantee she would go to sleep for babysitters. We needed help. We also felt that her temperament was not as happy as it could be. Her overtiredness was limiting the number of smiles we would enjoy and she was often irritable.

I went looking for help on the internet and came across a book called ‘Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child’ by an American Paediatrician called Marc Weissbluth. I got the book from the library and devoured it within 24 hours. It was just what I was looking for. The book provided an easy to read guide on the sleep habits of babies (and children), how much sleep they should have and most importantly of all – a plan showing how to help them learn to fall asleep themselves, ie unassisted.

I immediately began implementing the daily schedule discussed in the book for babies 5-12 months old. Within two hours of my daughter waking up in the morning I would begin the ‘soothing to sleep’ techniques. Initially this involved breastfeeding (as it always tended to make her drowsy) along with singing and patting in her darkened room. Then I would put her in the cot with a kiss and leave the room. My daughter did put up a fight and some episodes of crying ensued. I used the ‘gradual extinction’ method (or control crying) and would go into her room at timed intervals to pat her (and check she was alright). I would repeat this for her afternoon sleep two hours after she awoke from her morning nap. We also began putting her to bed earlier at night, initially by 6pm but gradually extended this to 6.30pm.

Within a few days we saw an improvement. She was having at least two regular naps every day with two hours of awake time in between and the crying episodes became shorter and less frequent. She was also much happier. When she would wake up in the morning or from a nap she would smile from ear to ear. She was much more content within herself and the irritability had disappeared. There would be days where she would have a 3rd nap however this was always more difficult than the other two so often I would just bring her bed time earlier.

Putting Dr Weissbluth’s book into action has taught me many valuable lessons in my daughter’s development and I am forever indebted to him for educating me. When a baby falls asleep, they will sleep deeper and for longer if they fall asleep themselves. I realised that my trips into my daughter’s room to pat her or sing to her were hindering her learning to fall asleep. In a way, to learn to fall asleep herself she needed to be left alone to do it with no nursing, cuddling, rocking etc from me or my husband. She now enjoys being put in her cot (as opposed to crying even before we entered her room!) and will often lay there talking to her favourite toy or singing to herself before falling asleep. I believe we can now see and enjoy the true beauty of her personality as she is well slept! I recommend that all parents read ‘Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child’ by Dr Marc Weissbluth prior their child reaching six weeks of age.

NicoleC, Brisbane

we did something similar with our twins. i went to Riverton Parenting Centre in Brisbane (we called it baby jail with the sleep nazis). It was great - the timed intervals were hard, especially when you've got two babies screaming (I also had severe PND and had anxiety attacks and my husband worked nights so I was on my own). Now we can just put them down in their cots, they may hav a whinge for a few seconds and we hardly have to go in to settle them. I recommend all parents to do the sleep to settle routine - it's hard if you have trouble with the crying but I used to self talk in my head that it was the best thing for them - we also read the baby whisperer book which isn't bad.


hi Nicole,
Thankyou for telling me about post this is great thankyou for you help

mum of peter 25/12/04

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