Between 5-6 months Fiamma’s sleep was getting worse not better! I initially thought it might have been night hunger and I considered weaning early – however that was NOT the solution (read about my weaning vs. sleep experience here).
Quite simply, it came down to what my nonna had always said. These are her words of advice…
“Before 4 months, let a baby be a baby. Give them as many cuddles as you like, don’t try and instill a routine….they are too little, enjoy this phase (it goes too quickly) and don’t stress about creating any rules.
Around 5-6 months, the babies will become more aware and they’ll start to learn how they can get their own way. There is no need to suddenly panic and bring out the “von-trapp” discipline whistle, however, this is the time you might want to start forming a few simple routines and letting the baby know who’s boss.”
Righty-ho….so around 4 months I had been giving Fiamma a bath always before bedtime. Already I can see this is a great trigger for getting her to understand it’s time to settle….so much so, that now when I try to dress her after a bath so starts to get really ratty as she knows what is coming….MILK!
However, nonna also said it is also time to let your baby cry on occasion, so they learn that you won’t rush to them every time they whimper and moan. …. ugh I don’t like this part!
This is where my sister give me the kick up the behind that I needed. As you may have read in my previous entry , Fiamma’s sleep had got worse and worse until she was waking every hour around the 6 month mark. My theory was, she’s not a bad baby, all I need to do is give her a little stroke/dummy/milk and she settles straight away. Why let her get distressed and angry?! I don’t want to encourage her to be a nasty baby…
Cue Emi, the nanny expert – she basically told me Fiamma knows exactly what she is doing – never underestimate how clever a baby can be. My excuses – she’s had a cold, she might be teething, if she rolls onto her back she struggles to find her thumb to soothe herself, her dummy keeps popping out etc. etc.
Rubbish (said Emi).
That’s as simple an explanation I got from my sister. She said “trust me Mik, if Fiamma wants to go to sleep, she will”. She has to learn to self soothe and you have to do this the hard way.
So this was my “training” Emi encouraged me to try:
1. Make sure baby is fed and nappy changed so no reason to be upset. Put her down on her tummy. Give her a kiss and walk straight out of the room.
2. She will cry. Time yourself 10mins (yes time on a stop watch as 1 min will feel like eternity). You are NOT to enter the room until 10mins has passed. If she hasn’t stopped after 10mins, you can go in, pick her up and soothe her until she stops crying. You are NOT to feed her.
3. Once soothed, put her back in cot and repeat step 1 and 2. Do this until baby is asleep.
4. Next time Fiamma is due to sleep, give yourself 12 min intervals
5. Next time, add another 2 mins and give yourself 14min intervals
6. It will feel like torture but it will work.
7. Do not feed the baby as this will only confuse them and make it worse. You’ll be back to square 1. If you keep sneaking in the room or letting the baby see you, you’ll just frustrate them and it’s not fair. You have to give them clear signals – reassure, and leave them find a way to self-soothe.
8. At night, judge how long you think Fiamma can go without needing a feed. I know she can go at least 4 hours between feeds so Emi told me to give myself 3.5 hour markers and that I was not to feed her if she woke between these intervals. I was to follow the time intervals above.1
Well HA! What a joke! The first time I tried this, Emi had to pin me to the sofa….she pulled the monitor away from me. It was absolute TORTURE….poor thing was going mental, howling, tears streaming down her face. UGH.
However, after 2 attempts Fiamma didn’t cry for more than 4 mins…we didn’t even get to the 12 min intervals and after 2 nights she slept right through the night!!!!! It seriously felt like a miracle!!!!!
As much as this was utter hell for 2 days, now it is absolute bliss. She still wakes on occasion for a feed in the night but I am much better at letting her settle herself. For any parent struggling to get their baby to sleep better, as backwards as it might sound, do give this a go as it might just save your sanity (but maybe find someone to let you squeeze their arm for the difficult minutes!)