Sleep Techniques: Controlled Comforting and Camping Out
Updated: Mar 28
In this article, I will be sharing two strategies such as Controlled Comforting and Camping Out to deal with settling and waking problems in the baby.
What is Controlled Comforting (Controlled Crying)?
Controlled Comforting is
- a strategy for dealing with persistent settling and waking problems in the baby.
- to help the baby learn how to settle back to sleep, rather than the parent feeding, patting or cuddling them to sleep.
- found to be safe and effective. Babies whose parents have used controlled comforting are more likely to sleep better.
- different from crying it out method where the baby is left to cry until the baby falls asleep.
- Get the baby ready for bed using a “bedtime routine” such as giving the baby a bath, putting on diapers and pajamas, reading a story, singing or playing a lullaby, feed.
- Put the baby down when drowsy but still awake.
- Leave the baby for gradually increasing intervals of time such as from 2 minutes.
If the baby cries, at the scheduled intervals, the parent can verbally console the baby and gently pat the baby for a couple of minutes, but strictly prohibited from picking the baby up or patting the baby to sleep.
Once the baby has calmed, or after 2 to 3 minutes, leave and allow the baby to try to settle back to sleep.
- Use consistently.
The baby should learn self-soothing skills and begin to settle back to sleep more and more quickly as time goes on.
- Take 3 to 14 days to work.
- Use a mobile phone at time intervals of 2 mins.
- Check the baby when time is up.
- Talk to your spouse first to make sure that both agree with what’s going on and work out what roles to play.
For example, taking turns to resettle the baby or timing the interval each night.
- Remember to leave the baby before the baby falls asleep.
- If the parent sleep with the baby in the same room,
Pat the baby briefly to encourage settling. Turn away when the baby is quiet to allow the baby to settle to sleep. Put a screen or curtain up between the bed and the cot. The baby cannot see the parent directly and might not be as upset when the parent doesn’t offer a cuddle till falls asleep or wake up in the night.
Common Problems with Controlled Comforting
What if the baby is unwell or teething? If the baby is unwell or teething, stop controlled comforting and start again when the baby is better.
If the baby has a slight runny nose and cough but no fever, the parent can still use controlled comforting. What if Controlled Comforting isn’t working? Reasons: Is the parent returning to the baby too soon? Are you following the time intervals exactly? Is the parent going in when the baby is only grizzling, not crying? Babies “grizzle” when drifting off to sleep.
By going in when the baby is grizzling, the parent might be stopping the baby from falling asleep. Are the time intervals right for the baby? Some babies calm down when a parent enters the room. Other babies get more upset.
If the baby is getting more upset, lengthen the time intervals to 5, 10, and 15 minutes. This will allow the baby to have more time to go to sleep and less time to get upset by the parent.
- Try using controlled comforting only at night when it is likely to be more successful.
- If the spouse is good at settling the baby after a few turns, let the spouse settle the baby.
- If the parents feel that controlled comforting is too hard, try using camping out (see below) instead.
- Seek professional help to improve the baby’s sleep if needed.
What is Camping Out?
Camping Out is
- a strategy of dealing with persistent settling and waking problems in babies.
- to help the baby to sleep on his own without the parent to feed, pat, rock, or cuddle them to sleep.
- Place a bed, mattress, or chair next to the baby’s cot.
- Lie or sit next to the baby and pat or touch the baby off to sleep.
- Leave the room when the baby is asleep.
- Start reducing how much the parent will pat or touch the baby until the baby can fall asleep without patting or touching.
- Move the bed, mattress, or chair away from the cot a short distance of 30 cm to 40 cm when the baby is used to falling asleep without patting. Stay in the bed, mattress, or chair until the baby falls asleep.
- Move the bed, mattress, or chair gradually towards the doorway and out of the baby’s room in 2 to 3 weeks’ time.
- If the baby wakes in the middle of the night, return to the bed, mattress or chair when settling the baby.
Stay there until the baby goes back to sleep.
Does your baby “keep waking up in the night”? Here are tips for you to try it out.
- Sit or lie next to the baby quietly.
- Tell the baby that it is time to sleep, close eyes, and sleep. Assure the baby that you are staying until the baby falls asleep.
- If the baby starts to cry and not whine, pat, or touch the baby until the baby falls asleep. If the baby still makes noises for attention, do not entertain.
- Start a bedtime routine AND stick to it. Please refer to the article on “Baby Sleep Tips”.
- Try not to blame oneself or the baby if camping out does not work. Find out other options which are available and try them out.
- Seek professional help to improve the baby’s sleep if needed.
I hope all these strategies, tips will help you to deal with settling and waking problems in your baby and your baby will sleep better.
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