As babies grow and develop, any type of separation from their parents can cause them upset. However, a cuddle or reassuring words often soothe a crying baby quickly.
Over time, babies learn to trust that you will return to them and so become more resilient to change, and more confident in their ability to be away from their parents at night.
However, leaving a baby to cry for long periods interferes with this bonding process.
One technique you could use at night is know as ‘The Disappearing Chair’.
For babies over six months
Settle your child to bed with your usual routine.
Sit beside the cot or bed reading a book or magazine to yourself. Don’t use a phone or tablet as this can overstimulate a settling baby. If they try to sit up or get out of bed, gently lie them back down again with quiet, gentle reassurance.
Each night, increase the distance between you and your baby, gradually moving your chair towards the door. Once the chair is outside the bedroom, you’ve completed the programme!
For some children, this process may be successful fairly quickly, however it’s important to be patient as for others it might take longer.
Changing behaviours can be stressful, but hang on in there, be consistent and remember the end goal: to achieve a peaceful night’s sleep for everyone.
If you’re going to have a go at using the disappearing chair technique, try these strategies will help to ensure success:
- Choose a time when you’re feeling strong enough and have time to see the technique through. The last thing you want to do is to give your baby mixed messages.
- Think about your whole family. If your baby’s crying is likely to keep older brothers and sisters awake, start on a Friday or during the school holidays when they don’t have to get up early the next day.
- If you can, take it in turns with your partner or a family member, to carry out your chosen sleep training technique.
- Start positively, with confidence. If you feel your resolve is weakening, call your public health nurse to talk it through.
- See if friends or relatives could help you by looking after the baby during the day so that you can catch up on some sleep.
- As your baby gets older, start to cut down daytime naps, and think carefully about the timing of naps – if you let your baby nap late in the day, it will make things harder for you at night.
- If sleep routines are disrupted because of illness, holidays or other family events, just return to these strategies and you’ll quickly get things back on track again.
There are other techniques you can use too, so speak to your public health nurse (health visitor) for further information.
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.
Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.
Leicester City: text 07520 615381
Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382