If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s baby sleep problem video:
Hi, Kim West, the Sleep Lady and today, I’m going to answer this mom’s question. This is what she wrote in:
“My life has become a battleground between my son, my husband and myself, and I feel like I’m in a total loss. We have your book. We’ve read it and we have some challenges. I admit to not being very consistent at the night time awakenings and bedtime in terms of allowing my 8-month old son to fall asleep on his own as he immediately becomes hysterical to the point of choking, coughing and spattering, and he does this both with myself and my husband. However, my husband just sits there and does nothing to console him while he wails. Any help or advice you can offer would be amazing and anything you can offer to help my husband see that he can’t just sit there would be helpful. Also, my son is a poor napper and I feel we should be focusing on bedtime and night awakenings. My husband disagrees and we fight on every step of the program that I’m trying to work on. I feel like we’re getting nowhere and we’re just making my son cry like a maniac for no reason. I’m at my wit’s end and cry at the drop of a hat. We need help. Any advice you can offer about this baby sleep problem would be greatly appreciated.”
Thank you for writing in and for sharing your baby sleep problem. I’m not sure that I will be able to address all of his issues and all of these issues between you and your husband, but I’m going to do the best that I can to give you some valuable advice. First of all, as you know from reading my book, Good Night Sleep Tight, when we as parents are inconsistent and we start and stop behavioral modification programs like sleep coaching, it creates difficulty. This is why it is so important that you and your husband talk about what your plan is. If you both can agree on what’s going to happen when your son wakes up, then both parents can be consistent when they go into your son’s bedroom. If for example your husband is going in to check on your son, you can’t coach him from a crack of a doorway, and vice versa. If you can’t agree on how to do it together, then I would recommend for you to decide which parent is going to follow through consistently for a long enough period of time. It’s important for you to remember that if you have accidentally trained your son to cry by being inconsistent in the past, remember he will probably cry for that length of time, until things begin to improve. That is unfortunately the way ‘intermittent reinforcement’ works. The good news is that it can change, but you’re going to have to remain consistent for a longer amount of time.
Because it sounds like there is a lot of fighting and inconsistency about how to move forward, I agree that you should focus on sleep during the night first. I would recommend to try to get him napping any way you can, for up to three hours a day if possible. Let’s make sure you work to get those nap hours in however you can, and also work to have your goal of that reasonable bedtime at 7:00.
If you are feeling hesitant and maybe thinking, “I’m just sitting there and he is wailing. This feels worse for me, I can’t take it. It’s going to make me be inconsistent and I’m not clear and sure if my presence is making it worse,” then I would recommend that you lie on the ground. From here you can intermittently “shh-shh,” pat and reassure him. If he gets really worked up, I do think you should pick him up, and calm him down. Developmentally, 8 month olds have not completely mastered being able to internally regulate themselves (neither have some adults!) so don’t feel badly about doing that. However, you must be careful not to pick him up and hold him until he’s asleep. You can hold him until he is calm and has caught his breath. Then you can tell him, “I love you, sweetie pie,” put him into the crib, pat him to reassure him, and then either sit back on the floor or in the chair. All you really have to do is ride it out. It’s possible that your son could get more hysterical, and not understand why no one is responding if you’re sitting right there. In that case it is better if you have at least has a little eye contact, encourage him to lie down, pat the mattress, or even touch his hand on the railing. Some encouragement can help.
Remember, take it one day at a time and be sure to decide how you and your husband are going to move forward. Good luck.
The Sleep Lady
Video filmed by In Focus Studios
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