This is a useful technique if you have become enmeshed in lengthy bedtime rituals, such as lying down with your baby to help her go to sleep. It works on the principle that a series of small changes is easier to get used to than one big one, but it may take weeks to be successful.
Method: Put your child to bed and then sit quietly by her as she falls asleep. Gradually, over the coming days and weeks, move further away from her bed, until eventually you are no longer in her room as she falls asleep.
Just how quickly you are able to move to the other side of the room and then out of the door will depend on how ingrained your current bedtime rituals are and how confident you feel. Your baby may resist each time you move your bedside vigil a little bit further away - if you remain calm but firm, this resistance should only last a night or two.
Tips for success
- Do not make eye contact or engage with your baby in any way while you remain in her room. Look away from her, or take a book in with you to read, so that she finds it more difficult to get your attention.
- Only move further away from your baby when she has got used to the previous position.
- Go at a pace your baby can manage. If she becomes really distressed every time you reposition yourself further away from her bed, move only a small amount every few nights. On the other hand, if she seems to be taking
- It is easy to become 'stuck' at any given point using this technique, so try not to lose track of the end game: move to your next position as soon as you feel your baby is ready.
- Your baby may show renewed distress when you make the final move to outside her bedroom door, so be prepared to 'keep guard' by her door for a few nights. After this, try getting on with some chores near her room, such as cleaning the bathroom or doing the ironing on the landing, so that she can be reassured you are still nearby. Eventually, you will be able to dispense with even this reassurance.