Cry-It-Out: A Gentle Approach
For starters, I have two girls who aren't the best sleepers. In fact, I'd go so far as to say they are pretty terrible sleepers. From one sleep deprived mom to another, I see you. Recently, I've been lucky enough to work with many families who ALL just so happened to be having challenges getting their little ones to sleep through the night. You are so far from alone, remember that. Each of these families had their own idea of what a good night sleep looked like, and all of them had different preferences as to how to get there. As a doula, I get to work with their plans and help make adjustments along the way as they see fit. What I noticed in this process, was that the majority were "desperate enough to try anything," but often looking for a more "gentle" approach to the classic cry-it-out method. Many moons ago I read a book called the "no cry sleep solution," and needless to say, this entire blog been written based on the foundation of that book. I thought I would write a condensed version for all my sleep walking parents out there that couldn't possibility stay awake long enough to read the whole book.
Here are the basics: The classic cry-it-out method entails ensuring that your baby (who is now over the age of 6 months) has been fed and changed. You give them a kiss and lay them in bed and let them fuss and cry until they eventually put themselves to sleep. Unfortunately, this process can take a very long time and is often quite stressful for everyone involved.
The gentle approach looks something like this:
- ensure your baby is fed and changed
- soothe them by rocking, swaying, singing etc. until they are sleepy but not asleep (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!)
- lay them in their crib and leave the room
- let baby fuss and/or cry for a short period of time (usually starting around 2 mins)
- after the alluded time, go back into the room and soothe the baby in whatever way works best
- when the baby is sleepy but not asleep, lay them back in their bed
- if and when they wake up, let them fuss and/or cry for 2 mins longer than before and then return to their room and repeat the process
- other tools that might help: overnight diapers, a full belly, sound machine, lovey & black out curtains
The idea is that your baby is a) not falling asleep at the breast or bottle and b) is learning to self soothe slowly over time. This process is not a one night fix; in fact it can take a couple of weeks of consistent work from all care givers before seeing the results you are hoping for. The key is to BE CONSISTENT. As always, ask for help. If you have a partner, make sure you are taking turns but following the same plan. Your overnight doulas at The Doula Tree are always available for in-home support and constant communication to help facilitate this process.
Fingers crossed we both get a decent sleep tonight,