Cheat sheet

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Cheat sheet

Inlägg av TorsMamma »

A Cheat Sheet

This is for the deserving parents of young children – that's to say children somewhere between five and twelve months – who need to learn to sleep through the night.
I write this with special kisses to little Gustaf, 8 months, and big hugs to little Cassandra, the girl who managed to shatter all records. She used to wake up 20 to 30 times per night, and logged a personal best of 36! Cassandra now happily sleeps her allotted twelve hours per night.

Prepare mentally. Right, everyone is going to sleep, damn it! Every child's every cry is a question, not an expression of discontent. The “mistake” you make is giving a completely wrong answer. Remember that it's no worse for the child you are going to make sleep through the night than it is for you, mom and dad, who would give your right arms to do the same….

Decide when the “cure” is to begin. Set aside four nights and three days, and concentrate all your efforts on laying the foundations. This operation is going to run like clockwork, and failure is not an option. Take the attitude that sleeping through the night is something self-evident. We sleep at night. Everyone does. Life is boring at night. Absolutely nothing happens – except that people sleep like logs. And if they do wake up, which everyone does occasionally, they go back to sleep. Period.

Plan. Gustaf needs to sleep 14½ hours out of 24. Draw up a schedule. Perhaps you want him to sleep from 7.00 p.m. to 7 a.m. That will leave 2½ hours to be absorbed by scheduled daytime naps. Nap periods that are in step with the baby's sleep rhythms (after which you can simply wake him) are 5 minutes (you can always throw in an unscheduled 5-minute nap in emergencies), 20 minutes, 45 minutes, 1½ hours, and 2 hours. A six-month-old infant needs approximately 15 hours sleep per day, and an eleven-month-old approximately 13½-14 hours.

The schedule will include four meals (and that means the baby is stuffed to the gills after each one. Press food on him for half an hour - but no longer! Also, offer a goodnight drink from breast or bottle. Get as much food into the baby as you can. Stick more or less to the baby's existing daytime routine. Decide on the times and stick to them meticulously. Keep your eye on the clock. The schedule should be strictly adhered to with a maximum margin of 15 minutes in either direction. (This does not apply to the short naps. Check the time when the baby falls asleep and then wake the little angel after exactly 20 or 45 minutes.)

Little Peter, ten months and a morning person, gives you some pointers about his schedule. 7.00: breakfast. 9.00-9.45: 45-minute nap on his stomach in the baby carriage. 10.30 lunch. 12.30-1400: afternoon nap. 14.00: snack (a generous one). 17.30: dinner. 18.00: bath, fun, and a nightcap from breast or bottle. 19.00: down for the night.

Little Oliver, seven months, is a bit of a nighthawk. He thinks the schedule he's been given is a lot more fun. 8.30: breakfast. 10.30-11.15: 45-minute nap. 12.00: lunch. 13.30-15.00: afternoon nap. 15.30: snack. 17.15-17.35: 20-minute nap. 19.00: dinner. 19.30: bath, fun, nightcap. 20.30: down for the night. Remember! A nightly bath creates pleasant associations with sleep. It should be – must be – a ton of fun! And a daily bath won't dry out the skin of a little person who has bobbed around in water for nine months. Quite the opposite in fact.

Practice bottom patting. Have an appropriate partner – dad maybe? – lie face down on the bed with his head turned towards your left. He can fuss if he likes and press his nose into the non-existent cushion, just to make everything authentic. Turn his head towards the right and apply very light pressure. Take his arms and lay his hands on either side of his head, and apply light pressure when they are properly positioned. Straighten out his legs by gripping his thighs. Again apply light pressure when they are in position. (By all means giggle if you like! He will be training you soon enough.) Place your left hand on his back. Spread your fingers and thumb as wide as you can and press down so that he can't arch his back or turn onto his side. If he wriggles his head a little, use your little finger to indicate that he should hold it still. Make a loose fist and press it down into his bottom. (Since dad won't be wearing a diaper, just press down into one buttock.) Think of a catchy tune. One, two, three, four etc. Tap time with your foot. Pat rhythmically and methodically. Keep your left hand on your partners back, and with every fourth pat, apply some pressure. And ONE (pressure), two, three, four, and ONE, two, three, four… The pats should nudge rather than tap so that the little (big) body gets a soft but firm little kneading every time. The patting will spread through the whole body. Your partner is supposed to sleep well, not feel abused! But he should have no opportunity – and no desire either – to start to fuss. He just lies there contentedly and enjoys the treatment. Ideally, he is wondering why you don't do this for him every night – a little shiatsu.

Now train some more using your own thigh. Sit with your legs relaxed. Your right thigh is the baby's little bottom. Push laterally, not down, like you're shining a shoe. The movement should be firm, but flexible. Your left thigh is the baby's back. Apply pressure on your left thigh with every fourth pat. By all means play some music while you practise. It sounds difficult, but you will soon find a rhythm, and that is half the battle. Your right thigh should move with each pat. Be thorough here, for this bottom patting, done correctly and efficiently, will eventually calm any screaming, even hysterical infant in two minutes. (The baby may scream on and off for a while afterwards, but he won't be hysterical, terrified or despairing.)

Practice a jingle. Pick a goodnight jingle. (Dad should too. He can have his own or you can share one.) Mine is “Good-night, good-night, sleep tighty-tight-tight”. You can say it slowly. “Good-niiiiiiiight, good-niiiiiiiiight, sleep tiiiiiiiiighty-tight-tiiiiight.” And it can be said somewhat angrily, or quickly, loudly and authoritatively – draw a line in the sand. It can be said softly and tenderly, almost incidentally, as a confirmation that all is so wonderfully right with the world, or “sung” heartily and joyfully. The jingle, then, has to be rhythmic and melodious. Practice saying it four times in succession. (Works wonders!) Practice a “six-verse” version too. The six-verse variant can come in handy sometimes. Pause very briefly between “verses” , and maintain exactly the same intonation throughout. Happy, angry, tender (but not regretful), cute, hearty, irritated, authoritative … Practice out loud. Remember you want to sound gutsy and stentorian. You may need to make yourself heard over serious screaming! Practice roaring the jingle out as though you were at a football game, and practice saying it softly and gently. Get a real feel for the pace-setting rhythm. Soon you will bet the knack of matching the tone (and the volume) to the right situation, thus adapting the baby's way of asking QUESTIONS. In the end, the four-verse jingle will trigger a purely reflexive response. The baby will hear the jingle and immediately shift into sleep mode.

Refurnish. Gustaf has to have his own room. (Either that or his bed has to be screened off.) He shouldn't be able to see anything. It's fine, however, if he can hear. The crib should be positioned so that the light doesn't shine directly on him when you open the door. (The door should always be ajar.) The room should be as pitch black as possible (even the tiniest thing can be interesting to look at for a little baby, especially early in the morning ) , so that contrast between night and day is total. No nightlights in the nursery. Make the bed flat and no pillow. (That can be added later.) Put a folded sheet on the mattress at the head of the bed (to your left). Make sure it is smooth and tightly tucked in. This will serve as a “pillow” for the baby to drool on. Keep the room cool and don't be afraid to open the window. Dress the baby lightly. Thin quilt or thin cotton blanket. Maybe one, and only one, cute little stuffed animal. The pacifier is gone forever on the first night. Make a clean break and show no mercy. A pacifier is completely unnecessary. It's good for nothing except keeping the baby awake. Banish the misery. The baby will forget all about the pacifier the first night.

Proclaim the clock your best friend, and give it pride of place next to the schedule with paper and pencil beside it. For the first four nights, write down everything you do and how the baby reacts. These notes will provide you with encouraging and informative comparisons. What time did the baby wake up, what did you do, how long did it take, what happened, what time did the baby go back to sleep?

A good laugh before bed starts the ball rolling. Before he goes to sleep, Gustaf is going to have more fun than he has ever had in his life. He is going to laugh until he bursts hopefully. So, forget all that stuff about winding down. If you usually read stories and do the cootchie-cootchie-coo thing, remove them from the bedtime routine! That should be done earlier in the evening, on the sofa for example, or during the day when he is dressed and awake. The baby shouldn't be “manipulated” into being tired and dropping off. On the contrary, he should think it's tremendous fun to go to bed.

1. The message Place the radiantly happy baby in bed. Turn out the lights and draw the curtains. The order is up to you, just as long as the routine is always exactly the same. Ideally, both parents are involved in this. One waves bye-bye and goodnight, and disappears, while the other stays “on duty” until the next morning. At this point, when it's time for the baby to wake up with great fanfare and trumpets, the other parent comes back into the picture. (The same person should take the first two nights. On the third and fourth nights, the other parent does the night shift with his or her jingle. After that you can alternate as you wish each night.) While you go through the goodnight jingle in a matter-of-fact, friendly tone, place the baby flat on his stomach, no muss no fuss, without a hint of anxiety or doubt in either your voice or your body language. You are not asking “questions”. You are sending a message. Night has fallen, and at night we sleep. Everyone knows that!

Quickly and confidently, place the baby in the sleep-inducing stomach position. Arms up, legs stretched out, head turned to the right, blanket on, your left hand spread firmly over the baby's back. Then make a loose fist with your right hand and start patting the diapered bottom with steady, rhythmic, relatively fast tempo. Apply firm pressure over the baby's back with every fourth pat, just as you did during the training sessions. Don't speak. The baby should not be able to see you or hear you. Just keep working. Don't give up. This will soon pay off! It can take a while the very first time. I usually count on 20-40 minutes. But you will feel the little body go limp, relax and be still. The baby is quiet. Only now, and not a minute before, is it possible for him to sleep. This is the goal you are striving for. This is the “message” you have to send to the child, stubbornly and methodically.

As soon as the baby is calm and quiet, and his body is slack, quickly wind down the patting and say the jingle as you get up to leave. Say jingle number two on your way out. As you pull the door almost shut, say jungle number three, and round off with jingle number four just outside the door with the door open a ----. Little Gustaf will probably start to protest as you start to jingle and leave. Let him. Just raise your voice a touch. Say the jingle four times, but preferably not more than six. If it's a real emergency, eight repetitions are permitted.

Now he reacts, and he has every right to. It's a free country. Look at the clock. What time did you leave his room? Write it down. Wait and eavesdrop on him. Is he working himself up, or is the crying diminishing somewhat? Probably the former at this stage. Go in again and, without speaking, quickly, firmly and confidently put the baby back in position. Position the arms, legs and head, spread your hand over the little back again and start to pat. You are re-transmitting the message. Don't be afraid to put a little elbow grease into it. The baby really has to feel this. Be gentle but firm. As soon as the baby's body goes limp and the crying stops, but before he drops off, stop the patting. The minute you stop the patting, start saying the jingle and leave, all the while repeating the jingle. Listen, monitor the reaction, and write everything down. Outside the door to the baby's room, by all means, let life go on as usual with talking, TV, and music.

2. The reminder How does the crying sound? Is it cranking up or winding down? Don't be in too much of a hurry. If Gustaf sounds like he is going to go ballistic, you will have to go back in and give him the message again, in accordance with the instructions above, but in a much abbreviated form. We are maybe talking about a minute. The goal is to get his body to go slack and to silence his crying, but if he does not fall completely silent, he should at least sound much calmer. Exit again, saying the jingle. The reminder's power lies in the jingle not the patting. Wait outside the door. Say the next jingle after a couple of minutes. Adjust your tone of voice. You sound very decisive. Listen. Is the baby “answering” you? Does he sound as though he is listening? Good. Keep waiting. The four-verse jingle (in exceptional cases the six-verse version) should take less than 30 seconds.

The gap between the rounds of jingles whether you use the four-verse or six-verse variety, should all the while be lengthening considerably, but you can still “jingle” every other minute if necessary. If he is really working himself up into a frenzy and it gets to the point where you know that the jingle is having no effect at all, give the bottom patting message again, but keep it really short. We're talking maybe 15-20 seconds tops. For example three rounds of bottom patting (four pats to a round) with light pressure applied to the back with every fourth pat. Then head immediately for the door with a four-verse jingle in a this-is-final tone of voice. Wait for a reaction, listen, and give another reminder. Remind as often as is necessary. Stay alert and listen for when he is truly quiet at last. Then it is time for the crucially important final stage.

3. The confirmation. Repeat the jingle, but softly and reassuringly now . The goal here is to gently confirm that this is the end of the “discussion” - quite literally the last word. Your soft tone of voice says. “You've got it! Very good! That's just what you're supposed to do when you want a good night's sleep.” At the first confirmation jingle, the recently silent baby will probably protest again, but this is no big deal. It's temporary and will disappear, most probably on the first night.

So, let him react. Remind him if necessary with a faintly irritated corrective jingle. Adopt a tone that says , “Screaming is not a good idea. How do you think you are going to get to sleep if you keep screaming loudly enough to wake the dead? Cut it out. You can do better than that, so I don't want to hear another peep out of you. I also have 17 other babies in the next room who are waiting for me to help them calm down so that they can get to sleep, as well as 18 cows to milk once I get through with the kids. So, for your information, I can't hang around here all night!” Wait. Don't give another reminder unless it is absolutely necessary (i.e. hysteria is imminent). Instead, wait for just the right moment to give the confirmation jingle and give it from outside the room with the door open a ----. The jingle should be given in a gently appreciative, friendly tone of voice. Use the four-verse confirmation jingle. The confirmation jingle, which the baby takes with him as he falls asleep, is what causes him to sleep longer and longer – and ever more securely. Don't skip it. Persevere until he takes it to heart i.e. until he is quiet and stays that way!

The next time the baby wakes up, you have to be there right away. Now he is asking questions, and he has no idea what is going on. He needs to be answered instantly. He mustn't be allowed to work himself up. (So don't count on getting much sleep yourself the first two nights.) Go in and give the message quickly and effectively. Wait until he is calm, relaxed and quiet. Leave as you say the four-verse jingle. Wait. Remind if necessary, but allow time for a reaction first. He must be allowed to react before he can take the reminder in and respond to it. Finish off with the confirmation jingle.

Keep this up on and off throughout the night and write everything down. If the next day is supposed to start at 7.00 say, he should keep getting the message/reminder/confirmation that it is still night (at least for him) right up to the appointed time. Use your fifteen-minute margin! Within that margin, you can (preferably) wake the baby up or at least wait for contented silence. The baby should never be gotten up for the day if he is screaming. You should enter his bedroom with great fanfare and shout GOOD MORNING with bells and fireworks. It's the big reunion, so talk lustily and merrily, and make it fun. Lift the kid out of the bed and be nothing but sweetness and light. “NOW it's morning, and you've slept SO well. How WONDERFUL!” The fact that the baby has been drifting in and out of sleep complaining, is totally irrelevant. Still, the baby is bright as a sunbeam, even if the night's exertions have taken it out of him.

The first day

Follow the routine to the letter during the day. (How you use the 15-minute margin should be tailored to the needs of the baby.) Daytime naps are preferably taken in the baby carriage, outdoors, with the baby on his stomach during this “cure”. A tip: tuck the blanket in very tightly so that the baby stays in position. Rock or walk the baby carriage. The little one's head should be kept down and the hood of the carriage should be kept up. Check the clock! Wake after exactly 20 or 45 minutes. During the longer daytime naps, you can avail yourself of the 15-minute margin in both directions if it is really necessary. If he sleeps in his crib indoors, go with a daytime jingle that doesn't contain the word “night”. Differentiate between day and night in other ways too. Ordinary clothes, more light in his room, and more noise around the house.

Get as much food into the baby as you can – prune purée is recommended for dessert every day at this point. The baby will begin to eat much more during the day than before! And keep him awake by any means necessary, when he is not supposed to be sleeping. Today he will be very, very tired.

On the second night, the bedding down routine should go a lot faster. (Write everything down and compare!) Don't pat for a second longer than you have to. It's all a question of not getting stuck by the bed, which can be a temptation. The baby is starting to really like the patting routine, and he would be more than happy to have mom or dad devoted a lot of time to it… Why not all night? Disabuse him of that misconception. The patting should convey the message with maximum efficiency. All your other efforts should go into the jingle. (But don't let yourself get stuck here either. Don't hang around at the door!)

From the second night on, bottom patting should be regarded as crisis management and should be kept to a minimum. Ideally, it shouldn't be necessary at all. (The baby's body should be relaxed and still, but total silence isn't necessary.) “Jingle” on the way out, and then skip the patting and use the jingle exclusively. “Jingle” outside the door without going in. Just don't forget the confirmation jingle! Hopefully, on the second night, the confirmation jingle won't provoke any protests. So repeat it if necessary until the baby accepts it as the last word. If it feels as though the reminder and confirmation jingles are becoming one and the same thing, that's perfectly alright. What's important is that it really is the last word.

The second day

Don't deviate one iota from the schedule! Be prepared every step of the way. The clock and the schedule should be extensions of your body. Today the baby's appetite will be better, and fatigue will turn into drowsiness. The baby may rub his eyes and yawn his way through the day. If he does, you are making great progress!

The third night

Repeat of the second. Ideally, patting should be out of the picture now. The reminder jingle by itself should be working every time (followed by the confirmation jingle). Reactions and protests should be much shorter or gone completely. The baby asks a question, gets an answer and is content with that. Now you should be able to grab a little sleep on the sofa between rounds. (But sleep in the room next door. If and when the baby wakes up, you must be able to intervene with a jingle the instant you hear anything.

Remember that for the baby to take a step forward, you must take a step back . That means showing your faith in the baby's ability to get himself a good night's sleep. For he is now beginning to understand the process and is also beginning to trust his own judgement. But he will only succeed if you give him a fighting chance!

The third day

By now the baby has probably logged more sleep hours during the night than ever before and has stayed awake for much shorter periods. Often he hasn't even woken up properly, but has fallen back to sleep all by himself. Brilliant! Now he is much perkier. He is less cranky but still drowsy during the day. He is probably eating more than ever too. Stick rigidly to the schedule! There is no room for changes during the “cure”. Tranquillity, simplicity and complete predictability are what have to be cultivated. If these three nights have been managed properly, you will notice a minor metamorphosis. The baby's strength begins to gather in his body. (We can't really talk about “regaining strength”. He has been insanely underslept for his entire short life, and you can't regain what you never had in the first place.) And it shows. On the third day, I usually reap my reward. The baby blooms like flowers in spring right before my eyes. It is the most beautiful sight you will ever see.

The fourth day

The schedule should start to “set” little by little, both for you and the baby. And if you thought that the schedule seemed complicated and awkward to follow these first few days, you will now discover that it confers enormous advantages. Life is beginning to seem so much easier. Suddenly, you can plan and predict your days (and nights). And the baby will be a tremendous help. Once the penny drops and the little angel realizes that all this is doing him good, he will want to help. You might, for example, find yourself standing there and wondering why he is so cranky. Then you look at your watch and realize, “Ah-ha! Midday nap's in five minutes, that's why!” That baby himself is on the way to becoming the clock. Life is becoming simple. Nothing but champagne and roses. No more screaming. No more whining. There may still be some fussing around certain points in the program, and they may continue for a week or two. As a rule, the daytime naps are the problem. Just adhere strictly to the schedule, and the fussing will eventually pass. You may still have to issue the odd reminder during the night. If nothing else, asking questions between four and six is a popular pastime, but now the back-to-sleep procedure only takes a couple of minutes and reminders are short “one-shot deals” (and increasingly often segue into confirmation jingles immediately).

The follow-up week after the first four nights is when the whole system “sets”. Peace and tranquillity are what's needed. The days (and the nights) should follow exactly the same course. This is not the time for new impressions, trips, visits, or staying overnight with friends etc.! The baby has been through some revolutionary changes, and he has to get used to them. Now that the baby knows that he is going to have as much fun tomorrow as he did today, he is going to think that sleeping is fabulous!

GOOD LUCK with your new, soothing, firm hand! Something little Gustaf will come to love, since he can now devote his new found energy to grow, develop and be happy, secure in the knowledge that he doesn't need to look out for his interests all by himself in this world – a task that is quite beyond him.
Tor 2006
:heart: BB barn från början. Sov sin första 12h natt 5 dagar före 4 mån, Diplomerad SS vid 6 mån

:heart: FTLOC child from the beginning. Slept his first 12 hour night 5 days before 4 months. :heart:
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