Imagine your eight-month-old had always been a great day sleeper, (except when teething). She begins waking throughout the night and to fix the immediate problem you bring her into bed with you and co-sleep. Unfortunately because of the way the baby sleeps, it’s not a peaceful co-sleep and the undisturbed sleep is impacting both your mood and patience. What can you do to keep her sleeping in her cot overnight? do you let her cry it out? To you continue to feed and let her self settle?
It is really hard to know how to tackle getting little ones to sleep better through the night. Because of course any kind of ruckus of crying or whatever is going to disturb other people. Your partner might be working a job where he doesn’t want to get disturbed through the night, or there may be other children who might get woken up and then have to go to school the next day, and obviously it is not great for you either.
Your worry is my worry
When I hear questions like “do I let her cry it out?” or “do I continue to feed and then let her self settle”, this is what I think. Asking, “Should I let her cry it out?” is kind of like saying to a personal trainer, “What is the best way for me to lose weight, should I start running marathons?”. If I was a personal trainer I would say, “that is a bit of an extreme approach, we don’t need to go that hardcore, there is certainly lots of things, like with exercise, between walking and marathons”. There are lots of things between co-sleeping and breastfeeding and doing cry it out. There is middle ground that can be found as opposed to just shutting the door and not going back, which is a little bit old school. People do it and that’s fine, if that is what suits you and what suits your family, go for it. But a lot of people are not ok with cry it out, and that is what we are here for, because we DON’T actually offer cry it out and we get lots of babies sleeping.
Feeding through the night
Whether a mother continues to feed is up to them. We generally say that a child is physiologically capable of sleeping through the night once they have reached the age of six months, but this comes with more personalised considerations like premature babies, underweight babies, poor feeders, health issues etc. BUT, as long as they are on track growth wise, on track development wise and have started to establish solids (not necessarily meat and three veg a day but started to establish solids) then she is probably fine to go through the night without feeding. However, of course, if you are in any doubt I would implore that you check with your doctor.
You have choices
Assuming that “crying it out” is the only option is one of the main obstacles stopping parents from seeking help. There are other things you can do. There are more gentle approaches, approaches where you might leave the room for a bit then return to reassure her at intervals or there is responsive settling where you kind of gauge how upset she is and you return then. There are also techniques that you might have seen on shows like super nanny, where you kind of edge out of the room each night a little bit further away. We do offer these techniques within our Baby Sleep Project .
What we don’t like about the Cry It Out method.
The issue we have with cry it out, is that you are always going to have that element of doubt. Maybe she has done a poo, maybe her foot is caught in the cot, maybe she does have a fever, maybe she has vomited. And if you can’t go into that room, you don’t know any of those things, and ultimately that doubt kind of kicks in and you end up just going in. It means that it is a program that parents find very difficult to follow through with, for very good reason. Lots of heartache for no outcome.
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