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Thread: gentle solutions - do they REALLY work?

  1. #1

    Default gentle solutions - do they REALLY work?

    I have to ask.

    because, I had Tresillian around and the nurse said, you HAVE to let your baby cry or he will never learn to self settle. I don't want to let my bub cry, he's only 4 and half months.

    but, he is very heavy (8.7kgs) and currently the only way I can get him to sleep is to rock him in my arms. argggggggggh my back is killing me.

    i have the nocry sleep solutions book, and I am trying a few of the suggestions in it but I don't have a full plan yet.

    I am having trouble with the graduated transitioning to cot ideas, because when bub's head hits the cot, he cries. he won't be consoled in cot with rocking or patting or singing. I can put him down happy but awake and leave him there till he grizzles, once I pick him up and calm him down, though, he seems to go back to "cot is evil" mode.

    I can keep trying. but the Tresillian advice has knocked my confidence right on the head. I feel like a failure as a mum. Why bother if, as they say, he won't learn to sleep unless I let him cry?

    i really just need some confidence boosting (and extra suggestions if you have them) to give me the energy to keep going with this. it's not easy going against the advice of "experts" when you are getting desperate!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne.


    hi mihnister

    have you read any of the Pinky Mackay books? i've found they've really helped me with my confidence and trusting my instincts.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    On the other side of this screen!!!


    I had the same problem when DD was in her cradle. Before she went into her cot, I would spend some time each day in her room, with her in her cot playing with toys and chatting, so she got the idea it was a happy space. Seemed to work as she is generally happier in her cot than she was in the cradle.

    Re the sore back - could you borrow or buy a good comfy rocking recliner chair from somewhere? We have a lay-z-boy and which is really well supported in the back, and it rocks, so I can do all the patting and rocking and shooshing in relative comfort. Might help?

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!


    Some really good suggestions above!

    And yes, I promise you, gentle DOES work.

    Olivia, Charlie and Lexie, whilst all very different in personality and sleep tendancies, have never been left to cry.......and they have all learned to self settle easily. Promise.

    TRUST your instinct.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Perth - NOR


    I think it depends on what you deem "let him cry".
    I have never been to sleep school, for similar reasons you have stated, i dont want to let my baby cry. I dont want him to feel abandonded.
    However, to a certain extent, I htink they do need to learn how to settle them selves, so, i put him in his cot, and if he crys, i just stay with him, and try to console him best i can. If he gets unconsolable, then, i pick him up till he calms down, and then, put back in again. I dont necessarily pat him, but, i keep one hand on his back, or tum, or even his forehead. Or let him hold my finger, and i keep talking to him, calm, steady constant voice. During the night i might pick him up and rock him to sleep abit more as i dont want him to wake the household up, and, i dont want him to wake up so much either.
    It has worked, it has taken abit to teach him to do it himself. I focused on day sleeps first, just being there with him, and then, started on his night sleeps.
    The only time he really goes off the self settling thing is when he is teething now.
    I was recommended to read The Baby Whisperer books, and they where great.

    ETA - I also let him have playtime in his cot, and in his room, so he associated it with a fun place to be. If he wakes, and he is happy in his cot playing, then i leave him there till he wants out. He has his teddy in his cot, and a giraffe and 9/10 times will play happily. I think that is important as well.
    Last edited by ~Debbie~; April 8th, 2008 at 10:15 PM.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Over the rainbow


    Seems to me he ... likes you *wink-wink* He just wants you to hold him and give him cuddles.

    I had a 2.5 month old that for a while (ok, it was more like three months) would only sleep ON me during the day. There came a time when I was to afraid to wake her at 11pm for her last bf of the night, because I KNEW she would not settle back. Thing is ... they get bigger and they learn and they move on, so to speak. ATM I put dd in her cot with her bottle at bed time, give kisses and walk out of the room. Yes, sometimes I have to go back three of four times, just to assure her that I am still around, but most times she just go to sleep. And IMO 4.5 months are to young to "teach" them to sleep when you want them too. When he gets older, you can try leaving him fussing a bit longer. Use your instinct. If you feel like he is just moaning to get your attention, leave him a while, go in, talk to him, give him a dummy (if you use that) and walk out. In the beginning you will have to do that LOADS of times, but they do fall asleep eventually.

    If you are not totaly comfortable with leaving him to cry himself to sleep, DON'T DO IT. It will make you stressed, which in turn would make him more stressed, which would drive you bonkers. Do what feels right for you and your bubba

    You could try putting him in his pram and pushing him around the dinningroom table.

  7. #7


    thanks for the replies everyone, I appreciate the advice and support! It takes energy to try all these new options, but if it works then it is worth it to avoid the crying.

    Last night was the best in two weeks. Maybe because he had his shots yesterday?

    also for the first time I put a hot water bottle in his bed while I was feeding him, and removed it just before I put him down.
    I was thinking that he might be happier if I put him in a warm bed not a cold bed. He did settle straight away, but he also woke up less. because of the 4-month vaccinations. I also followed advice from no-cry sleep solutions to keep night feeds quick, so i tried not to fall asleep myself.
    I think I'll try this trick for daytime sleeps today and see if it helps then too.

    if you think of any more advice, please do let me know cos i will try ALL of it.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Behind the blue picket fence, Sydney


    HI, sounds like you're doing a great job! I also don't want my littlie to cry (although I haven't done much reading on the gentle settling stuff). Doesn't make sense to me, though I've been told by numerous friends I should and that you can easily distract yourself for each 10 minute session! I want DD's needs met and I figure crying is her way of telling me what she needs. She's 4 months, and we've used a range of strategies from the Baby Whisperer's books. I don't follow it religiously, but I've picked some things that work for us, depending on how unsettled DD is.
    I think what I'm working out is that I need to have confidence in the strategy I've picked and stick with it (I look at the clock and know that in 30 min (usually) at the most, she will be asleep. That helps me relax while I'm settling her rather than stressing over what I want to get done.
    Consistency seems to be the other thing - pick your strategy & keep using it!
    The other thing that helps me is thinking what she's saying when she's crying - from the Baby Whisperer "hey mum, I can't sleep, I need some help" - that reduces the stress that the crying produces and gives me more confidence.
    You know your baby best, so keep going with what you're doing. Sounds like you're doing a great job at reading the cues already! Good luck!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia


    The real question is, does controlled crying work? And HOW is really important too.

    With gentle parenting it's not all about the quick/easy fix - while lots of it will work, but the reason why so many do it is because of the positive and healthy effects on their baby and the baby's brain.

    Have a squizz of this article:

    The Con of Controlled Crying
    Kelly xx

    Creator of, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    Follow me in 2015 as I go Around The World + Kids!
    Forever grateful to my incredible Mod Team and many wonderful members who have been so supportive since 2003.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Rural NSW


    Lots of great advice above. Short answer: yes, the gentle approach has worked for me and I've seen it work for many others. I did controlled crying with my DD 13 years ago (when I didn't know any better) and I can't say it worked at all! And now I feel guilty about what all that stress hormone (cortisol i think it is) that is released into a distressed babies brain has done to her. The book The Science of Parenting explains it really well. With my younger two children I settled them the gentle way and the whole issue has been so much easier.

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Jun 2003



    Seth is an awesome sleeper, and we never CC'd. ETA: Paris is an awesome sleeper too

    What really bugs me about most sleep schools is they make you feel as though even a cuddle makes a rod for your own back (I hate that saying!). Total RUBBISH! Every child is different, and with that difference they have different needs. Seth was never a cuddly baby and has always loved his bed, now he likes to have cuddles on a rocker chair in his room before bed. This lasts about 5 mins if that and I don't see why its a problem He likes his door shut, Paris doesn't. Paris always wanted to read a book, and had little rituals of her own (like putting toys in special places before bed). I followed my kids leads with regards to their own sleep routine and whilst I helped them to find a settling technique that they can replicate themselves, I never CC'd. As babies I did pretty much the same thing, but it was always baby led. I never let my babies get distressed, and I would always soothe and try to settle in bed before picking up and this worked for both of them, but I was prepared to pick them up when needed and sometimes they just wanted a cuddle and other times they didn't. And I never looked at the clock, or left the room with them in their cot alone to CIO.

    A gf told me recently that she had read something by a specialist who said that babies have an instinct that prevents them from understanding we will return for them if they are left. This is why babies cry uncontrollably when left as they feel abandoned. I assume this is a protective mechanism so that if something happens to a parent or a baby is abandoned the amount of noise the baby will make will alert others (probably was survival a technique tribal days). But according to this study babies don't realise that the parent/carer will return until they are older than 8 months. So knowing this there is a reason for babies crying, so why fight instinct? Its not about babies being spoilt or demanding.

  12. #12


    Ironically, it was the nurse/middy/LC we saw at Tresillian who told me "babies wake and cry so that someone comes and makes sure they don't get eaten by a dinosaur. it's that ingrown". Makes a lot of sense when you think about it!

    I've posted about this before, but the nurse we saw at Tresillian was very anti cc'ing and talked me through all the reasons why it was a bad idea. She was awesome. I'm beginning to see that maybe I was very lucky we got to see her and not someone else cause I've heard not so great reviews about a lot of their staff (and a few were even from her!!)

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Melb - where my coolness isn't seen as wierdness


    not much to add to all the great advice except to say that yes, absolutely, gentle parenting works, and not only that, controlled crying (that is not being responsive to your baby's distress) is psychologically damaging for young babies (copius studies of which are available from any first year psychology text book).

    My son Charlie is another gentle parenting success story.

  14. #14


    It all depends what you mean by 'work'! I used gentle methods but with mixed success, although I'm still happy with what I did.

    My DS was a 'terrible sleeper' in conventional terms - he was very difficult to get to sleep and woke every 1.5 hours at night for a feed til he was 2 (when I weaned him). Even now if he wakes up in the night and no one else is in the room he'll usually come find me to be led back to bed. Those first 2 years were incredibly difficult but I regard the need to be rocked, the nighttime wakings and his need for company as completely normal. I do wish he'd been an 'easier' sleeper - daytime naps were a nightmare and he gave them up at 1.5 - but he's now a very affectionate, secure little boy and I like to think the sacrifices I made contributed to that. BUT i would never judge anyone who chose to go an alternative route, because those choices can be tough to make.

    People have given you some good suggestions - try them out, read a lot, maybe join the online 'no cry sleep solution' forum (on yahoo i think) for more ideas.

    Good luck!

  15. #15

    Join Date
    May 2004


    I have a nearly 18 month old whose sleep has been through some absolutely shocking periods and even when it's "good" it's unpredictable, patchy and not really that great lol.

    Controlled crying (or controlled comforting, whatever they want to call it) didn't work with him. We tried it on the advice of a private sleep consultant who is apparently Brisbane's answer to the baby whisper...we were on the very edge after 9 months of him waking every couple of hours and were desperate for it to just stop. I think we worked with her method for about 3-4 days and had zip, zilch improvement. And to boot our three year old - who sleeps 12 hours solid every night - was up half the night as well with all the noise.

    I think alot of the attraction with CC is that from what I've seen, when it does work it works very quickly. A matter of a few days. But as kelly said I guess I'm not comfortable with "how" it works.

    Gentle methods definitely are more time consuming, and need a longer commitment from parents to work. Change is often gradual and can be two step forward, and one step back. To me it's definitely a slower process and you do have to be committed and perservere, sometimes doing the same things for weeks before you can say it's getting better.

    Hang in there, listen to your instincts. Despite what anyone is telling you to do you have to be able to integrate that into what you're comfortable with as a parent. Hard gig eh?.

  16. #16

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Rural NSW


    Quote Originally Posted by Tobily View Post

    Gentle methods definitely are more time consuming, and need a longer commitment from parents to work.
    Not always, I'm one of the world's laziest parents and with my third I just don't "do" the pat pat pat thing on the bottom when they wake anymore (for example)... if it's night time my baby comes into bed with me. The crying stops the minute I lift him from his cot... I take him back into bed with me.... we both get comfortable... he instantly settles and has a quick feed, usually about 2 minutes... sometimes we both drift straight back to sleep... sometimes I then carry him back to his cot. Easy as. Some people might apply the logic that a baby will learn to prefer joining the parent in bed... but the opposite has been true with my 2 co-sleepers: they learn security a lot faster than alone cot sleepers and learn to desire their own space more quickly. My 21 month old wakes at 6am these days and comes into bed with us for the last 1/2 to 1 hour. this is very do-able. it's my instinctual way to deal with wakefulness and i'm pleased that it also appeals to my lazy parenting preference!

  17. #17

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Chasing Daylight...


    My two kids are also good examples of gentle settling techniques. Both of mine were rocked to sleep at first, then soothed and settled in their cots with back rubs, pats, gentle touches on their faces as they got a little older (and heavier!) Now, if they both go to bed without any trouble at 7pm. Sometimes they still do come into our bed, but it's usually if they have a nightmare or feel unwell and they need some extra comfort.

  18. #18

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Where the heart is


    I second that, Bath! Definitely easier on everyone all round if you go the gentle road. Gotta spread love, though...
    Being a hard ar$e takes energy, creates stress and stomps on your instincts. Not worth the hassle.
    It's harder in terms of putting up with people's ignorant comments about rods for backs (like you, Cai! Also, I would regard a time schedule as more of a rod...what if you want to go out???), dumb things people say about co-sleeping (oh, not to mention the looks you get from them...if I said out loud what I think of separated sleeping I'd be called rude - and my ideas are backed by research - so what makes it ok the other way around?), and being given looks that imply "why aren't you just letting the child cry/giving him a smack/using 'time out' (ugh!)/yelling at him?"...and then you look at your child and realise that's it's not so hard to put up with that dumbness when you've got living proof that gentle parenting produces wonderful, secure and engaging kids. Not to say that kids who have experienced CC aren't all those things, they just (in my experience) can't be generalised as having those characteristics. Every child I know who is gentle parented has something about them - some call it defiance, I call it mutual respect.
    I've been thinking about something in the last couple of days, in relation to a friend of ours whose husband does hard ar$e. I'm thinking of some way to get through to him without directly addressing the issue. I thought of this:
    Respect, discipline and trust work on a demerit system. When our kids are born and just little, they automatically look to us for protection (this is evolutionary instinct in any mammal). We have their respect for our experience and ability to protect. There is no 'the kid needs to learn to respect me'...we start out with full respect. So, when kids show disrespect, something has gone awry in the parenting cycle - we've eroded a fundamental trust and respect. Every time we pretend that kids are subhuman and undeserving of the attention and consideration for feelings we afford to adults (well, most of us...I think), we lose points. Kids may not have the reasoning and sense of consequence that we have as adults, but they still have these senses - they are being shaped and molded every minute they're awake. Their reasoning is not flawed, it is based on the best information they have at the time, the best that their inexperienced brains can do with that information.
    So, since I decided that I am working on the premise of a demerit system (a few days ago) I am even more careful with how I treat Oscar and how I treat his often 'inconvenient' actions.
    But this is all just putting words to instinct - instinct serves a real purpose and if the warning bells are going off (like when you speak to a health professional)...LISTEN
    BTW: I used an Ergo sling for DS to get him to sleep until recently - he's got to be near on 12 kg if not over (oops, haven't been to the maternal nurse since the 12 month check!). By the end of it, I was waiting till he was REALLY tired before putting him in, so he'd only be in for no more than 10 minutes before nodding off, cos it was getting too hard on my pelvis (I have SPD) to carry him or fight with him (he'd arch and wriggle) for any longer than necessary. Now he can go to sleep with just someone lying next to him (in our bed), often whilst attached to boob.
    Last edited by Smoke Jaguar; April 9th, 2008 at 02:27 PM.

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