What is 'Wake to Sleep'?
Wake to sleep is a strategy used by The Baby Whisperer (and others, but she was the first I learned this from so she gets to be mentioned here) to help reset a child's pattern of habitual sleep awakenings. Just like any other sleeping method, it requires commitment and consistency. The Baby Whisperer says it usually takes around 3 days to work but I'm going to say 3-5 days because I think that is just a safer number for those of you who start to freak out (I know, I'm one of those people) if something doesn't go by the book. If it doesn't work after this amount of time, you may want to reevaluate the situation to make sure nothing else is going on, and then try again for at least another few days. Before using this method, do make sure your child truly is waking up habitually and doesn't have something else going on (click on the links in "when to use it" below for more information on this).
When can I use 'Wake to Sleep'?
How to use 'Wake to Sleep' at night
Your goal at night (this includes early morning awakenings too) is to get your baby to partially wake up into a semiconscious state so that she starts the sleep cycle over without completely waking. You do this about 1 hour prior to her normal habitual waking time by going into him while he is sleeping and moving him around a little, stroking him, maybe even changing his diaper. What works best depends on your baby. For my son Joshua I would have probably had to do a dance to get him to wake up enough. For my son Jacob I could whisper his name on the opposite side of the house and he'd wake up (OK, not really, but seriously, this kid is a light sleeper and it is super annoying!) You don't want to wake him up too much or he may want to stay awake, especially in the early morning hours. This isn't as big of a problem in the early part or middle of the night (assuming he is used to putting himself to sleep) because the drive to sleep is very strong. Set your alarm clock. Try to be pretty exact in your timing. I know it won't be fun to do that in the middle of the night, but in the long run it will be worth it!
How to use 'Wake to Sleep' for naps
For naps you go into your baby about 30 minutes into the nap (this is shortly before she starts to rouse from a sleep cycle) and pat him gently on the back until his body relaxes which may take up to 20 minutes. If he doesn't relax with the patting, The Baby Whisperer suggests moving onto P.U./P.D. if over 3 months in age. Although The Baby Whisperer suggests to pat which would probably be very useful for some babies, especially those who have used her shush-pat methods in the past, it may not be useful for all babies so I suggest using whatever method of soothing works for your baby (although I have to warn against using certain sleep props that will result in more problems in the long run). Another good thing to do instead of patting is applying pressure to baby's tummy or back (depending on how she is sleeping) during the sleep transition to keep baby from jolting awake.
And finally.... Some Extra tips!
- The Baby Whisperer's method during naps is a bit different than some experts. What many people suggest to do is go into baby during a nap just like you would at night. In other words, try to rouse them slightly without waking them and get out of there as fast as you can!
- If baby doesn't stir (even a small twitch is usually enough) at all after like 30-60 seconds when you do your rousing method then do it again and do it a bit more vigorously if you need to. Trial and Error is necessary for this part. You won't really know what is too little or too much for your baby until you do it. But it is probably better to error on the side of too little at first.
- I have italicized the word about before mentioning how early to go in to baby for a reason. This also requires trial and error. If baby wakes up when you go in then maybe try going in 10 minutes prior.
- At naps you only go in once.
- If there are multiple wakings at night I would work on one at a time. Once baby is out of the habit of waking at that time move onto another waking.
- Make sure you are timing things by when baby falls asleep for naps, not when you put baby to bed. A video monitor obviously makes this easier to do but you can do it without one.
- Sometimes you have to do wake to sleep more than once. Baby wakes up habitually...wake to sleep stops this...baby starts to wake habitually again...wake to sleep stops this again. The hope is that it will work for good the first time, but we all know babies aren't that simple!
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Wake to Sleep - Personal Experience
Wake to Sleep AGAIN!