If your baby’s going through a sleepless phase it can seem like a never-ending, exhausting black tunnel – and it can be worse with older babies and toddlers, who’ve reverted to wakeful sleeping after a spell of untroubled nights. Health visitor Kate Daymond, author of The Parentalk Guide To Sleep (Hodder & Stoughton, £5.99), offers some advice.
A common problem is when your baby will only fall asleep while you’re nearby, holding him or while sucking on a dummy, bottle or breast. This is fine in the day or at bedtime, but it’s not so much fun looking for lost dummies at 2am.
At around 4 months your baby will start responding to the patterns you have established and his sleep habits will become fixed. At around 6 months it’s time to move him out of your bedroom unless you want him there forever! Decide if you want your baby to learn to fall asleep alone or with you there and always stick to it.
There are several reasons why your child won’t sleep – and as many ways of helping her get into good habits. It’s important for you to choose an option that not only suits you and your partner, but also your child.
‘He was waking out of habit ‘
Linda Hunter, 34, from St Neots, has one son, Joshua, 18 months
‘Joshua slept well at first, but by 8 months he was waking regularly at night for a feed. For months I breastfed him back to sleep. Then we tried controlled crying. The first night we went to him after five minutes, then 10, then 20. And 45 minutes after he’d stopped crying, he was asleep. The second night it took 20 minutes. The third he went straight to sleep. It was great!’ Kate says: ‘With controlled crying, you let your child fall asleep on his own and lengthen the gaps between visits. Initially you may only last 30 seconds before returning, but can later manage five or 10 minutes. Don’t leave a crying baby unattended for more than 20 minutes at a stretch though.’