Ella was around 18 months when I first met her and her parents. Ella was a great sleeper overnight and during the day once she went to sleep but it was the getting to sleep that was the problem. It could take her parents anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours to get her to go off to sleep and the longer it went on the longer it was taking.
Ella was using all the stalling techniques in the book and would stand up and cry once she had been put down. This meant her parents had to sit in her room beside the cot until she went to sleep. They didn’t have to touch her but as soon as they went to leave the room she was up on her feet, clutching onto the side of the cot and screaming!
So ultimately they had to sit there until she went to sleep, often taking hours and meaning that their evening was completely disrupted.
Older babies can be very attached to someone being in the room with them while they go off to sleep so what we were going to do for the first night was to put Ella to bed after the night time ritual and then we were going to leave the room for five minutes. We did that and she immediately stood up as soon as mum turned to leave.
We let her protest for the full five minutes and then mum went back in and lay her down. She stayed with her, rubbing her back until she was calm which took about two minutes and then she left the room again. Ella’s mum repeated this process four times each time it was taking less and less for her to calm down.
After the forth time going in Ella didn’t protest at all when her mum left the room. She did make a couple of whingy, sleepy sounds but after a couple of minutes there was silence.
This process took a total of 25 minutes and after another ten minutes of silence I popped my head in to see what was happening and Ella was sound asleep.
Ella’s parents could not quite believe it as it hadn’t taken that fast to get her to sleep in a very long time. The second night was even better with it taking her mum only three times of going in the room to lie her down and calm her and on the third night they didn’t have to go back in again at all!