Start you sleep coaching at bedtime.
When making changes to sleep it is vital to start at bedtime, from there you can continue to coach through the night or you can just focus on bedtime for a few weeks to see if the rest of the night improves on it’s own. An alternative is to focus on bedtime and the first third of the night and to do whatever works from about midnight to morning.
What if my baby cries?
Sometime babies cry during sleep coaching and this is never pleasant for babies or their parents. Unfortunately for some children some crying will be part of the process no matter what the method is or how gentle we make the process. Temperament, past experience and age are contributing factors in the amount and intensity of the crying.
Prolonged, unsupported crying is harmful for babies. So what is too long? This is for you to determine, however, if your baby has not had calm periods in 40-60 minutes then please pick your baby up. It’s important to monitor and comfort crying as well as set limits on the amount and intensity of any crying.
If you are not comfortable with crying it is fine to stop and wait until your baby is older to make changes – it will never be too late. Here are some suggestions for managing crying during sleep coaching:
Monitor crying and fussing
Is your baby hysterical? Are they crying on and off? Are they showing signs of self-soothing or quiet brakes? Does the crying seem more like complaining?
Comfort crying and fussing
Staying with your child is the best strategy at this age. If he is fussing or crying make sure he knows you are there with him during the process. You can offer verbal and physical comfort so he knows you are there and that he is safe.
Set limits on crying
No matter what method you are using it is important that your baby does not cry for lengthy periods of time. If you feel that your baby is crying too long or too hard (hysterical, screaming) it is always fine to pick him up and comfort him.
If you put him down when he is calm but awake you will still be making progress. Kim West talks about this “Pick up to calm” tool in her book Good Night Sleep Tight. Be sure to do a pick up to calm at least by the one hour mark of coaching if your baby is not close to falling asleep. Most babies are asleep within 30 minutes of being calmed this way.