Drum roll please … It’s time for my very first guest post and by none other than Sophie author of Contented little mummy the nimble fingers behind Stepford Stitchers the creator of THE cwtchie and the person behind twitter handle OptForOptimism. She’s a busy lady but luckily she found time to write about her experiences with sleep training Gina Ford style. I know this is a HOT topic in the parenting world and it’s really interesting to read even if you don’t agree with it entirely which of course some of you won’t. Life would be boring if we were all the same… Anyway I shall stop waffling and let you read:
Sleep training for me came about when I was pregnant with my first son. Determined to not be like my friends, whose children were up several times in the night, I read Gina Ford’s Contented Little Baby book throughout pregnancy, and became familiar with what was expected and what were the results.
We waited until he was around 10 days old, and began to put the routine into play. I breastfed and Ford made this easier by designing several routines in her book for breastfed babies, bottle fed babies and multiple babies. She teaches of encouraging milk supply, how to cap over supply and how to simultaneously feed two babies at once. Her routine works by setting strict nap times, and wake up times throughout the day. We found by adjusting them slightly (with an earlier bed time) that it worked very well for us. In the early pages, she explains why feeding on demand isn’t always successful, and the demand a hospital birth can put on the mother to do so. After ten days I followed the routine religiously, making one fatal error. I used to walk Elijah in his pram for his long midday nap, or put him in a bouncy chair in the sitting room. This resulted in him not sleeping in his bed for naps during the day and only sleeping in his bed at bedtime. This lasted until he was 20 months old and he dropped all of his naps all at once.
With my second son, born a brief 20 months after the first, I started the routine again from day ten. This time all naps were done to the book. Literally. Not only did this help me to work and get house work done, but also to give some one on one attention to Elijah. I breastfed Isaiah until he was 8 months old, where as I only managed 5 with Elijah. The set feed times meant that my milk let down on time.
As Elijah is broaching 3 years old, we put his bedtime back a little as we found he was waking early. This is our routine for the boys, currently aged 2.5 years and 9.5 months.
7.30am Wake up, dress and breakfast by 8am.
9.30am Isaiah has a 40 minute nap.
10.30 Isaiah has a snack and some juice.
11.45am Isaiah has his lunch
12.30pm Isaiah goes down for his afternoon nap
1pm Elijah has his lunch and then walks the dog with his dad for an hour on the farm.
2.30pm Isaiah wakes.
4.45pm Isaiah has his supper.
5.45 Isaiah has a bath, his milk, a story and is put down in bed by 6.10pm
I found Ford’s bedtime winding down routine sacred.
Take baby up to the bathroom. Run the bath, bath baby and dress baby. Then leave baby to crawl/lie in his room while you tidy away and prepare the bed and his feed (warming up milk or getting your boob out!). Once you are ready, dim the lights right down, and limit all talking. Feed and wind, and put the baby down awake. If baby wakes throughout the night, leave them to settle themselves (for no longer than 15-20 minutes, after this time, go up to baby check nappy, temperature etc. Do this with minimal eye contact and minimal lights; and preferably with no talking). This isn’t always the case if something is bothering them, so take into account if the baby is teething or has an upset tummy they may need to have some medicine or attention administered. Nine times out of ten, the baby wants attention, or to play. I limit this during any scarce wake ups that occure and ensure that bedtime is associated with sleeping.
6.30pm Elijah, my husband and I have our supper.
7.15pm Elijah has a bath, drink, story and is put down in bed by 7.30pm
Alone time. The babies don’t wake until the morning.
Does it make life hard sometimes? Yes. It’s strict. The first 6 months of Isaiah’s life were dedicated to taking it in turns in leaving the house so his nap time wasn’t disturbed.
For us, the day time naps are crucial at the set times in order for Isaiah to go down to bed and sleep a full 14 hours. I work full time from home, so alone time to catch up with my husband and just be adults is absolutely crucial, without the issue of a baby being awake at 9pm and then in our bed all night long.
Bed times aren’t a new technique, and most misunderstand Ford’s routine as being “cruel”. Most don’t know her teaching style, and have no intention of enlightening themselves. That’s fine, and that works for them. For us, this works. The ability to be parents by day and adults by night. Are my babies traumatised? No. Restless? No. Am I a tired wreck with bags under my eyes? Absolutely not. We had children to enrich our lives. They do that, and tremendously so; however, we’re still people, and still need time to be people, and for this purpose, Ford works. That, and the fact she does indeed produce contented little babies. And parents for that matter.