How to sleep-train your baby

Getting your baby to sleep. The holy grail of parenting. And the thing every new parent covets. But how to do it? Well there are many ways and means. Here are my favourites.

1. ‘Nothing Controlled About it Crying’

Controlled crying. It’s the marmite of sleep training. You either love it or hate it.

On first inspection, it looks like the easy option. Put your drowsy baby in its cot and leave it to cry.

‘Fab, that can’t be too hard,’ you think. ‘I’ll go and watch Corrie. Nice one.’

Five minutes later your baby is screaming the house down. So far, not so controlled. In fact, you’re feeling decisively out of control. 20 minutes later, you’ve been subjected to that NSPCC and Great Ormond Street Hospital advert and you’re desperate to go in and rescue your poor, despairing baby.

Then just as you put your hand on the door knob, your baby goes quiet. WOW, you think. This DOES work. So you tiptoe back downstairs, feeling rather smug. But by the time your bum hits the sofa, your baby is screaming again. Arggghhh!

Nope folks. This method is certainly not for the faint hearted. Better if you don’t have a heart at all. It takes perseverance and a will of steel but if you can go the distance, you absolutely deserve to have a baby that sleeps.

Rating: Hardcore.

Top tip: Chocolate. A good box set. Earplugs.   

2. ‘The Bedside Vigil’

One of the most time consuming methods, you need patience for this one. And tons of it.

It basically involves sitting next to your baby’s cot until your baby goes to sleep. Which is fine if your baby falls asleep quickly. Not so fine if two hours later, you’ve dropped off but your baby still hasn’t.

You’re sleep training your baby, remember, not yourself.

Rating: Varies from easy to excruciatingly slow 

Top tip: Comfortable chair. Pillow. Blanket. Wine and a ready meal if you’re in for the duration.

3. ‘The Commando Crawl’

We’ve all done it. Settled our baby and then wondered how the hell we are going to get out of the room without being busted.

So, naturally, we get down on our hands and knees, drop onto our tummies and begin the precise and silent commando crawl past the cot. We shuffle towards the door. It’s within our reach, we can almost touch it and then… CREAK… our knee catches that loose floorboard and PING!

‘Wahhhhhhhhh!’

One wide awake baby.

Rating: Risky.

Top tip: Map out your route, mark out any obstacles and practice in advance.

4. ‘Lead By Example’

This is my personal favourite. Otherwise known as the ‘I’m So Knackered, I Just Don’t Care,’ method, it’s really very simple.

All you do is put your baby where he or she can see you. Then you climb into your bed. And go to sleep. That’s it!

Gestures should be exaggerated so your baby doesn’t miss your cues. A big stretch, a dramatic yawn. An ‘I’m so tired’ announcement. You get the gist.

If you’ve done it right, your baby should follow your lead.

If you haven’t, you’re asleep so what the hell do you care?

Rating: Easy peasy.

Top tip: A nice, warm Ovaltine to get you right in the mood.

5. ‘The Rock and Drop’

This is as rock and roll as it sounds.

Probably the riskiest of all the methods, you need a steady hand.

After rocking your baby to sleep (‘forgive me Father for I have sinned’), you will begin the delicate task of transferring your baby to its cot.

Drop it too early and the second your baby touches that mattress the arms will spring up, the face will wrinkle and you’ll be back to rocking. For the foreseeable future.

Yup, you gotta wait this one out. When you think your baby’s asleep, add on another 15 minutes and you’re probably safe. Probably.

Rating: Living life on the edge.

Top tip: Make a baby hammock and drop them in together.

6. ‘Pick And Mix’

This is the method you’ll likely choose when you’re completely sleep deprived.

It is exactly what it says. A combination of every sleep training tip you’ve ever digested. Because you’re so desperate, you’ll try anything and everything. At the same time.

Yes, you’ll perform ‘The Rock and Drop’ (badly) followed by ‘The Commando Crawl’ (unsuccessfully) before finally giving up altogether and doing the ‘Lead By Example.’ Except instead of getting into your bed, you’ll pass out on the floor.

Because by this time, you’re so knackered, you just don’t care.

Rating: Road to nowhere.

Top tip: Get some sleep.

How do you do it? Are you more Commando Crawl or Pick and Mix? Leave a comment below then come and join Surviving Life and Motherhood. Bring chocolate. And earplugs.

Image © Minute | Dreamstime.com

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