Firstly, let me apologise! I said I would post this a week ago but I’ve only just found time to sit down and write it. Life is hectic right now as I’m back at work, James has been away and Isla is one in a few weeks so obviously her birthday is taking over every waking moment.
We first took Isla’s dummy away when she was 6 months old and it took five days of controlled crying for every nap and bedtime, day and night, to get her to self settle and fall asleep on her own without the assistance of a dummy or rocking. I couldn’t tell you how pleased and proud I was when I could finally lay her down in her cot wide awake, walk away without her crying and listen to her happily chat herself to sleep and stay asleep all night long. I would be lying at this point if I said I didn’t feel like I had accomplished motherhood! Wrong…
Isla was about 8 months old when she went through what seemed like a never ending period of illness. If she wasn’t teething, she had a cold, if she didn’t have a cold she had some kind of infection, not forgetting her run in with chickenpox! It was relentless and at points she was totally inconsolable. No cuddle or amount of lovingly warmed milk could comfort her like the dummy so back out it came, and out it stayed, until we decided to take it away for the final time just recently.
When we gave it back to her previously, it felt like the right thing to do as we hated seeing her unhappy and the dummy seemed to ease her discomfort. However, two months later when she was back to old tricks, waking 2/3 times a night, we absolutely kicked ourselves for ever giving it back to her. I’ve now discovered that the older a baby gets, the harder it is to break habits and had I of known that we would revert to waking multiple times in the night because she had lost the damn thing I would never ever of given it back. I just assumed that because she had learnt to self settle and could do it previously she would always know how to do it… wrong… again! She had become reliant on the dummy once more and it was worse this time round.
Lots of people messaged me asking how I decided it was the right time to take it away and how I did it, so here goes:
At the point when we decided to take the dummy away, Isla had been waking several times in the night for around about 5 weeks. This isn’t typical for her even when she is teething or unwell so we knew damn right it was the dummy. She would loose it, disturb her sleep trying to find it again, cry out and so on. Both myself and James were understandably exhausted of getting up each night to pop her dummy back in only to do it all again in a few hours and to be honest imagine being tired for a whole year?! That was us. Enough was enough.
Isla has also become increasingly chatty in the last few months and is trying hard to pronounce words so that was another reason for us to give the dummy the boot. Although she never really had the dummy much during the day, we didn’t want to risk it slowing down her speech. Dummy 0 – 2 sleep rich, chatty Isla. Let the fun begin!
If you have read any of my previous posts you will know I’m a massive Blissful Baby Expert fan so it will come as no surprise that I followed her guidance for taking the dummy away.
We practiced controlled crying, day and night, and on day 6 we had a baby who self settled without a dummy or rocking and slept through the night! A M E N. I would be straight face lying if I said this was easy, it wasn’t and it was far harder than before. I try never to give advice, I just share my experiences but if I can offer one piece of gold dust to anyone, the younger you break habits the better. Isla cried far harder and for longer this time round, it was really testing and I was left dreading every single nap time.
I’m sure most of you will know what controlled crying is but for those who don’t, this is exactly what I followed:
1. Lay baby down in the cot, pull the curtains so the room is dark, turn white noise on, give the baby a comfort (teddy, muslin square etc) and leave the room
2. If the baby cries, leave for 2 mins before resettling – ensure not to settle the baby to sleep, you should only resettle until the baby is calm and then place back into the cot
3. If the baby continues to cry, leave for 4 minutes before resettling. Continue to add 2 minutes each time e.g. 6 mins, then 8 mins, then 10 mins until the baby settles
It’s important to listen to the gap between cries, if the gap gets longer this is a sign that your baby is beginning to cry down and settle on their own. If the baby is still crying on and off at a point when you should enter the room to resettle, but the gaps between cries are increasing, it may be worth holding out as they may soon be asleep. I found with Isla, the more times I went in to resettle her and then place her back down in the cot the more agitated she became. I figured it’s better to wait it out but I know it’s different for all babies.
Isla is a sucker for routine so at each nap and bedtime, I put her in a sleeping bag, pull the curtains, play white noise and give her a teddy. They are all indicators of sleep time and she knows what to expect when I do all of those things. Admittedly, this doesn’t always go to plan and we have bad days but on the whole we have cracked this.
I had messages asking if I removed the dummy altogether and whether we practiced controlled crying day and night and the answer to both is yes. I personally felt it would send mixed messages to give her the dummy for some naps and not others and also to practice controlled crying during the day and not at night. We went full guns and I personally think it’s the quickest and most result worthy way to do it.
I appreciate this method isn’t for everyone but it worked for us. Isla was only upset for small periods, she was as smiley as ever when she woke up and if anything she was happier for having a better quantity of sleep. Myself and James are also happier for getting full nights sleep night after night! The convenience of not having to settle Isla at nap times is also MASSIVE! I feel spoilt for time which hasn’t happened in a long time.
Sorry it’s taken so long for me to put this online but I hope it helps someone! Always here to answer any questions
Lots of love