In the final part of my little bedtime series, this blog is all about putting a baby down for sleep when you just can’t even get them from your arms to down. I know that problem and I have got the solution!
You often find that you are stuck with your baby in your arms or on you and you know they need to lay down. Your arms are aching, you need a bit of free time too. Perhaps you need to express some milk or you’ve got just a few jobs to do or maybe actually you just deserve to put your feet up and have a rest but you can’t relax because babies asleep again on you or perhaps you’ve even tried the sling, the carrier and they have to sleep in there and yep, you get a bit more space with your arms but let’s face it, it’s not ideal and it’s not sustainable.
It’s okay now and again but what I don’t want to see is you being in this place where you feel like it’s the only way. It’s fine if it’s a way but if it’s the only way and you feel like you actually cannot put your baby down for sleep, that’s who this is for. Here are my micro steps for getting a baby down to sleep. This is something that I would recommend people do if they have a heavy reliance.
If baby has got a heavy reliance on being on you to fall to sleep and if you do put your baby down, that’s it, they’re awake, they’re crying again and you’re like, ugh, it’s just not worth it. This is something that I would also recommend for some people prior to starting my fade out approach because, the micro steps are what you need to do first. Once we’ve got through these steps then we can start step one of the fade out. What do we do? First thing you do, change the hold.
If your baby typically falls asleep being held in your arms, try the shoulder position. If it’s a shoulder position, try a side position. Change the position in some way. We want it to be noticeable. We want baby to be, hang on this isn’t right. If they don’t really care, try something a little bit different. It’s not a big enough stretch of their comfort zone. Try something that’s enough for them to be, hang on a minute, I’m not sure if I like this. We want them to notice it. Why? Because as I say, it’s stretching the comfort zone. It’s showing them that, hey, look, I’ve changed something but you are still okay. I’m still right here. You’re still with me. You’re still touching me. I’m still here for you. So they’re realizing that, oh, there’s a small change but I’m still safe. This is okay, I’ve got this. So make it subtle but significant. That sounds like a complete contradiction doesn’t it, subtle but significant, but there’s a reason, subtle but significant enough that they are aware of it.
Next?. Think about creating a small amount of distance, small bits of distance each time. Perhaps you change the hold. We’ve now stretched the comfort zone there. Now can we create a bit of distance. Can we hold them in a way that’s slightly further away. If it’s a chest thing, can we get away from there? Sometimes people will do the lap hold so you’re sitting and you’re holding baby, cradling them but in a forward feet to tummy and head in hands way across the lap so there’s a bit more distance there. Can you find a way to hold in a way that creates a bit more distance?
When changing the hold and creating distance, you could also change parents. If it’s always mummy that does it try daddy, if it’s always daddy that does it try mummy, that can also be an option to make a small change but whilst still giving that comfort and reassurance. Whilst you’re doing that, whilst you’re changing the hold and creating that little bit of extra distance we want to reinforce other forms of comfort. A great one is the shush. The shush sound, it’s a white noise sound that’s reassuring. So reinforcing shushes, even if you don’t think your baby needs it, you’re going to use it later. By reinforcing the comfort of shush or whatever sound you want to make, really whispers, means that as you change things, that thing stays. So they start to go, well, hold on, that’s still there. Oh, that’s still going, okay, that’s still there. It’s a comfort they can take with them through these steps.
Makes sense? Now the next stage of this is to lay your baby down so you’re going to put them down in their sleep space and this time with your hands still there. Whatever your current hold position has been, you’re going to move to the next step, which is to place them down but keeping your arms on them, around them in some form for a few minutes, you need to be in a position where you can lean into the crib so that the difference isn’t too huge. You may get a “Hang on, I’m lying down in here, I don’t like it, I don’t like, oh, but you’re still there. You’re still touching me. You still have your hand, ok…”So it’s almost a subtle step but this is by no means the first step, I would take these steps over a number of bed times.
I wouldn’t do this all in one night, start the change of hold for one or two nights. I would create some more distance as I go. Then on maybe night three or four, I might try putting them down but if it doesn’t feel like it’s time yet you can take as many bed times as you need to make these differences. Try not to get stuck and plateau in one position or in one hold, make sure you keep moving along piece by piece.
Once you lay your baby down and you have achieved the goal of putting them in their sleep space and you’ve got your hands on and hands in there for comfort but they are falling to sleep there, then you are ready for the fade out approach.
Use these micro steps, take your time with it and get to the point that you can place baby down even if it does involve lots of shushing and hands on comfort. Once you are ready to move on check out some of my videos on the Sleep Nanny YouTube channel or my book for the Fade Out approach.