Please help! I have a one year old who thinks sleep is for losers! My son will not sleep in the cot based in his own room, so I tried putting the cot next to my bed. He doesn’t sleep for very long before waking up extremely upset. We’ve allowed him to sleep in our bed, but he refuses to sleep and just tosses & turns and sits up in bed all night!

The Magic Sleep Fairy’s Answer:

Sadly another example of today’s parents – not to mention the babies – suffering from the damaging effects of a lack of sleep.

Depriving someone of sleep is actually a used and recognised, extreme form of torture, but I fail to understand that when you have little ones it becomes accepted that you simply won’t get any sleep as you’ve had a baby?! You are still expected to perform and be a perfect parent and function as any other ‘normal’ adult – driving a car, going to work, running the household etc, but all whilst suffering with this debilitating state of sleep deprivation!

HOWEVER, IT DOESNT HAVE TO BE THIS WAY and I believe there is a resolution to ALL sleep issues and problems in babies, toddlers and children. Here is just a taster of some advice to resolve the above scenario, sent in by a My Baba reader.

Without me knowing whether the baby used to sleep – but is now not, whether he’s never slept through the night – ever, or whether there is any degree of Gastro-oesophageal reflux going on that could be the root cause of the constant wakings, one thing is certain – much of the problem will have built up through learned behaviour and for this one-year old, waking up throughout the night has become the norm.

Whatever the root cause, we will need to re-train this baby’s body clock to learn to sleep through the night by teaching him to self-soothe and self-settle throughout the natural stirrings of his his sleep cycles. He has simply forgotten or never learned how to ‘switch off’ or sleep independently because the parents have often been doing ‘too much’ to try to comfort him, trying too many different things to make him sleep and it’s all become quite confusing for the little guy.

My Reassurance Sleep Training technique is described in full detail in my book The Sensational Baby Sleep plan and it is based on a clear, simple, no-nonsense approach which has outstanding results time after time.

The researched theory behind my technique gives the baby (and parents) a very clear message of what’s expected throughout the night instead of the previous confusion of his room, mummy’s room, his bed, mummy’s bed, dummy – no dummy, milk – no milk, cuddles – no cuddles, picked up – not picked up… the list is endless!

NB: I have nothing against co-sleeping per-se, but I get so many mums who contact me saying exactly what the reader above describes….’I wouldn’t mind the baby sleeping in our bed if he actually slept, but he just doesn’t’!

For the above scenario with a one year old, I would always suggest, where possible, putting them into the cot in their own room. I know that the reader has previously tried to put baby in his own room, but now, using my reassurance technique, put him back in there and this time see it through without giving up and removing him from the room when he cries.

Choose a night to implement the sleep training when you have a clear diary for the following few days and try to enlist some help from your partner, mother or even a friend. Emotional support often makes the experience much easier for you as a mother, but just make sure they’ve read the Reassurance Sleep Training chapter in my book too so they are fully up to speed with the method and can therefore help! It’s no good if they have a different view or opinion of what you should be doing as it will create doubt and indecision for you which will likely make the experience more difficult to cope with.

You  will need to implement a set bath time routine which you will then follow every night and it only needs to be as simple as this:

  1. Upstairs for bath time
  2. Dry and dress into pyjamas
  3. Milk and a story – try to do this in baby’s room and keep your room out of bounds to break the association of previously going into your bed.
  4. Into sleeping bag
  5. Ensure baby is still awake – he may be drowsy which is fine but he needs to be aware he is going into his cot. If he previously was falling asleep on the boob or the bottle, this needs to change and you need to wake him or not let him fall asleep whilst feeding.
  6. Say your Goodnights, kisses, cuddles, maybe sing a short song…….and then put him into the cot, firmly say “Goodnight Eddie, it’s now Sleepy-Time”
  7. Lie him down and quickly leave the room and shut the door.

When he cries, (as I’m sure he will!) follow the guidelines in my book about going back in to reassure, whilst delivering the same message in a firm and calm and controlled voice of “That’s enough Eddie, now it’s Sleepy-Time”. You might go to the cot and lie him down again if he’s standing, you might not touch him if he’s still lying down or you may not touch him at all but just deliver the message over again. Each visit into the room should be quick, curt and even if he’s crying as you turn around to go out, you must continue out and close the door, going back in a few minutes later. The more intricate details of how many visits, the level of cry, how long to leave between each visit are in the book and clearly set out in an easy to follow guide.

I understand how difficult it can be to hear your baby cry, for even just a minute, but most babies respond to my method so quickly that after the initial upset they sleep through from night one! Others may wake up multiple times during the first night or two, but through using the same Reassurance Technique every time they wake further night wakings are usually short-lived and often the previous sleep problems are resolved within a matter of days and baby (and you) can enjoy a full, relaxing nights sleep!

Many many parents state, after the event, that implementing this sleep training was so much easier than they imagined and brought such wonderful results much more quickly than they had ever dreamt possible – they don’t call me The Magic Sleep Fairy for nothing!

PLEASE NOTE: before you embark on any form of sleep training it is vital that you are 100% sure that your baby is fit and well and not suffering from reflux or digestive issues in any way. Please refer to the last chapter in my book which details all the signs & symptoms of reflux and dietary related intolerances as if your baby has any degree of reflux, this will need to be diagnosed and managed first before embarking in the sleep training.

The Magic Sleep Fairy, Alison Scott Wright