Hi. I’m Kim West, the Sleep Lady, and today I’m going to answer Laura’s question about re-starting the Sleep Lady Shuffle:
“Dear Sleep Lady,
We have a 20-month-old and have been using The Sleep Lady Shuffle since she was six months. My question is this: when she hits a sleep regression, teething, or mild illness do we just Shuffle through it from the first position? I never know what to do consistently and nothing seems to work until she’s through the regression, teething, illness or whatever it is. By that time her sleep is a hot mess. Then we Shuffle and she’s a champ. What do we do when these regressions last sometimes two to three months? Thanks.
Evaluate The Sleep Regression
Laura, a sleep regression shouldn’t last 3 months. Sometimes it can last a few weeks. If you have a sleep regression and then an illness and they are all lumped together then it could possibly last that long. But, usually when I see a “regression” last that long it’s because a parent regressed with their child.
How To Approach a Night Waking Once She Is Sleeping Well
Think about the first time they wake up during the night after sleeping well for months. Maybe the first night, when you don’t know why they’re suddenly waking up, you do whatever is needed as a parent because they could be sick with a fever, have leaking diaper, or whatever it may be.
You go in and you take care of them and maybe you do more than you “think you should” like hold them to sleep. The next morning assess what happened:
- Are they healthy?
- How were their naps yesterday?
- Did they eat well yesterday?
- What was going on?
- What could possibly have led to that night wakening?
- What am I going to do differently tonight?
Avoid Creating a New Sleep Crutch
You may realize that you need to feed them more during the day. Or you may think she is sick and decide to bring her to the doctor. Make a plan and follow through with it. Then we can respond consistently, not fall into old patterns or add new sleep crutches.
You may feel tempted to say to yourself something like this: “Oh, I used to nurse you to sleep but now since I night weaned you, I’m going to rock you to sleep.” Or “Dad is going to pat your back till you go back sleep.”
But if we add a new crutch like this, we end up having a new problem we have to address every few months. It is possible that this could be what’s going on with your child.
Re-Starting The Sleep Lady Shuffle After a Short Regression
Let’s say that you regressed a little bit more than you “should” have for a week. After all, none of us are perfect, and desperate times require desperate actions. If that’s the case then you will have to restart sleep coaching. If you find this happens often and you are redoing The Shuffle frequently as you shared, then you have one of two choices:
- You can restart at cribside and change your chair position every day or you could do two days in each position.
- You can just start off by the door.
How Far You Regressed Affects Where You Start The Shuffle
If you regress to holding your toddler’s hand to go to sleep or patting their back to go to sleep and you did that for a week or more, then you will probably need to start by sitting next to the crib.
But, if you regress to singing them to sleep, you could probably take care of that of by sitting by the door.
These tips should help you go through The Shuffle much quicker so that it’s not taking a couple of months to get through a sleep regression. I hope that helps!
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