Friday, April 17, 2009

Sleep Training: The Four S's

When McKenna was born, I wasn't sure exactly when I was going to start sleep training with her. I like to start early because I hate to teach the baby to need one way to fall asleep (like rocking) only to take that all away several weeks later. I think that makes things harder on baby. However, I also hate listening to my babies cry (who doesn't?) and didn't look forward to it.

I have been reading The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. When McKenna was three days old, I read Hogg's Four S plan for teaching a baby how to sleep on her own. I decided to give it a try. It worked! It worked and McKenna still, at three weeks old, has yet to cry for a nap. Not only that, but she wakes at transitions and goes back to sleep without crying.

I am sure many of you are very interested in what these Four S's are. I am going to share them with you, along with my own tidbits. However, if you want to try these Four S's yourself, I highly recommend you read what Hogg has to say. I read over the Four S's about 30 times before executing it. I wanted to be sure I understood the method. These are found on pages 182-186.
  • Setting the Stage: The first S is setting the stage. This is your sleep ritual; it is your routine before a nap or bedtime. See the post Sleep Routine for my thoughts on this. You want your routine to be the same before naps and same before bed. Routine is a signal to babies and children. Even a newborn can start to recognize patterns. Make your routine calm. Set the stage in the room to the needs of your baby for successful sleep.
  • Swaddling: The next thing you do is swaddle your baby. Hogg says to do this even if your baby does not like being swaddled. I have been asked if swaddling is a sleep prop and something that is anti-babywise. I do not think that swaddling is anti-babywise. Babies have no control over their limbs, and this can really wake them up. Some babies have better control than others. For example, McKenna has better control over her limbs at this age than Kaitlyn did. If she breaks her swaddle, she can still stay asleep. But those arms can get going and really freak her out at times. Most babies stop being swaddled with no problems around 3-4 months. Some can stop sooner. Some go on longer. Some babies have some transition time. But most stop the swaddle and sleep even better because they have arm control and are able to sleep more comfortably. See the blog label Swaddling for more on this.
  • Sitting: For me, this is where the real magic of the Four S's lies. With Kaitlyn, I had my sleep routine and my swaddling. But I did not have the sitting. Once your baby is swaddled, you sit. You hold baby with her in the vertical position. Plan on sitting like this for about five minutes. You sit still. You don't rock, jiggle, pace, etc. You are sitting and holding her without stimulating her. You will feel her body relax and perhaps jerk a little. You then give a kiss, say what you say, then put her down in her bed. You want her in bed before she falls asleep. You then leave the room so long as she doesn't cry. You trust that she can fall asleep on her own.
  • Shush-pat: I haven't ever had to use the fourth S. You use this S if your baby cries. You keep baby in the crib and whisper "shh, shh, shh" while patting her back. Hogg has a long description on how to employ this step successfully, so if you need it, I recommend you read her description, especially since I have no experience with it.
What is so great about this method? It is the sitting. If you have your baby's nap cues right, she isn't over-stimulated when you start to put her down, waketime is optimal, etc. then you have done everything right so far (for help on waketime length, see Optimal Waketime Lengths). With the sitting, you are holding baby until she is at the perfect moment to fall asleep. She is relaxed. You didn't rock her to get her there. She got there without external forces. The sitting helps you time things perfectly. Through careful observation, you can do this all without the sitting, but when you add the sitting you ensure baby is primed for falling asleep easily on her own.

Another thing I really like about the sitting is that it is a quiet time for me to hold McKenna at the end of each cycle. I hold her a lot during feeding and burping, but those aren't moments where all I am doing is enjoying holding her. I am focusing on her taking a full feeding and getting that air bubble out. With the sitting, I am able to just relax and hold her for a few minutes before her nap. Any mom with more than one child knows that this is harder to come by.

This method is great because it teaches your baby to fall asleep on her own from the beginning of life without other things that can be props (like rocking to drowsy). As McKenna gets older, I see the need for the sitting becoming less pertinent.

If you plan to use this method, I recommend you also read the CIO Bootcamp: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/11/cio-bootcamp.html. This post will help you time things right and help you to know how to read your baby.

UPDATE:
Want to know how I liked it? Here is my post The 4 S's Three Years Later. You can also see how I did it with my fourth baby, Brinley, here at "Four" S's In Action.

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42 comments:

Andrea said...

Yes! I completely agree with you. I love Hogg's method of sleep training! We have been using BW for routine and scheduling but found that we weren't cut out for CIO and this method has worked like a charm! BW really helped us calculate waketime and that is key to this working, and it does work! We actually didn't do the sitting, but I guess I sortof do - but just standing still with ds if he needs to calm down. I found that if he gets really relaxed and i am holding him while sitting, the act of standing up can disrupt him too much. But sometimes i just stand still with him by the crib before putting him in. It's so exciting when something works! I am glad you are having success.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for explaining these. I think I need to get the book myself...this sounds wonderful!!

Jeanne said...

I read about the 4 S's at 3 months, when my LO would only nap in the sling. After a couple of days of some hard work, he is now a great napper and sleeper. He's 8 months now and I still set the stage and swaddle with the Miracle Blanket. I don't have the shush pat or sit anymore.

LC said...

You know, to each his own...but one of the aspects of BW that attracted me to it...was the idea that you can eventually lay your child wide awake in his crib and he will fall asleep w/o props. That is what eventually happened with my son and I hope will happen real soon with my daughter. This just sounds like a production...no difference to me between using a rocking chair as a prop or holding the baby till he calms....isn't he suppose to achieve this on his own w/o us? That's what I did with my son and honestly...I am struggling to do with my daughter (7 years later)....and I think since I haven't been as purposeful with her as I was with my son...I may be making it even more difficult. Anyway...glad you're finding something else that is working for you...I'm not too sure about it for us...especially since my daughter at 5 wks old does not like being held when she is tired.

Plowmanators said...

Andrea, thanks for your comment. I actually do just stand by the crib also. It is for less than a minute each time before she is ready to be put down. She doesn't fuss at all. I only sit if she gets the hiccups because I hate to put her in bed with the hiccups!

Plowmanators said...

It really is great Jennifer!

Plowmanators said...

Jeanne, that is great it worked so well for you at the older age!

Plowmanators said...

LC, you do lay your child down wide awake. The only difference between this and what I did with Kaitlyn is that I take a moment to hold McKenna before putting her down. It is literally less than a minute 95% of the time. She is awake with her eyes open when I leave the room. She goes to sleep on her own without crying. Learning to self-soothe doesn't mean they must cry. If the child will go to sleep without crying, all the better. Believe me that if it were a prop situation, I wouldn't do it. I enjoy being able to put my children to sleep wide awake. This method just puts you a lot more in tune with your baby so you time everything right, which leads to less crying.

Becca said...

ok, I know you said you didn't use this part, but how I've heard lots of people talk about patting a babies back while in the crib...how does that happen if we're supposed to lay them on their backs? am I missing something? :)

Jeannie Herrmann said...

Wow, I really like that sitting concept and can see so many benefits in it. Interestingly, this is kind of what I've fallen into with my sleep time ritual with my 5.5 month old. I usually hold him for a few minutes before naptime as he starts to get fussy, but I've learned that I need to keep him up past the fussiness to get a longer nap out of him. When I hold him, he faces out and we look out the window, say hi to the dogs, etc. I see this holding as kind of a wind down for him. Then, when nap time arrives a few minutes later, I turn him around and hold him up against my shoulder. I am usually walking into his room by this point or already in his room. Amazingly, he has learned this as his signal that it is sleep time because he will immediately put his fingers in his mouth and let out some tired fusses. Now, I usually end up swaying him back and forth in this upright position and tell him good night, etc. The swaying lasts about 10 seconds and he never dozes off or anything in my arms. It actually usually takes him 10 minutes to settle himself once in the crib. He's so active and it seems hard for him to get comfortable :)

Maybe I'll try not to sway him and just hold him still and see if this helps him fall asleep faster. Maybe it stimulates him...

Either way, I'm glad you've found something that works so well for McKenna! It sounds like everything is going great with her!

thesprian said...

I didn't discover Baby Wise or Baby Whisperer until my son was about 6 six weeks old and we tried to implementing them then. At that point I wasn't sure about CIO so I wanted to try Tracy's method. With my squirmy 6 week old, I couldn't figure out how to keep him swaddled (I have since figured that out) and he didn't like to be held when he was tired either. So I tried the Shush-pat and sometimes spent up to an hour hanging doing the Shush-pat! THough I do think it was helpful, we ended up doing CIO but used the shush pat to calm him at intervals.
I've always thought using Tracy's method would probably work great for a new born because they are learning in their first moments here on Earth to go to sleep in their cribs, and without crying. I plan to use all the 4 S's with my next baby from day 1. I am curious, Valerie, if McKenna starts to cry for naps as she gets older. Please let us know! =)
To answer Becca's question about patting doing the shush-pat while baby sleeps on back, Tracy mentions propping them onto their side. With my son, as he calmed down, I was able to slowly lower him back onto his back and just lightly pat his bum while still saying "shh".

Sarah said...

I commented a few days back about finding your blog. I find myself referring to it regularly now!
I do have a question:
I have a 10 week old preemie (corrected age is 3 weeks). We are on a 4 hour schedule (4am,8am,12pm,4pm,8pm,12am) and waking on her own. She is eating approx. 4 ozs. each feeding and doing fine. I would love for her to be able to eat at 11:00pm for her last feeding and then sleep until 4:30 or so. I have tried to give her more at the last feeding, but it doesn't seem to be helping. Any suggestions or ideas about her schedule? It might be too early to expect this since she is a preemie but wasn't sure. Thanks for your help!

Val said...

I don't admit this to many people...but I sort of threw out BabyWise after finding The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. I tried CIO once and almost threw up myself, especially because my son went almost 2 hours of screaming. After that ordeal, I said no more and found TBWSAYP. Everything in her book has worked...especially her wake to sleep method. I, sadly, have a 45 minute napper for a son (my daughter, his twin, sleeps full naps all the time)...so each day I have to go into his room, 20 minutes into his nap and poke him a little and then leave. On most days, he will then take a full nap. On the days I do not poke him...45 minute nap, guaranteed.

thesprian said...

Hi Val,
I don't blame you. My son never cried for more than twenty minutes or so and we always went in and soothed at 10. If he ever cried longer than that, we knew he was past the point of no return, and CIO wasn't going to work that time. At which point we turned to the pacifier or back to Tracy Hogg's methods. (He's 9 months now, puts himself to sleep, and doesn't use a pacifier). I wouldn't have been able to let him cry for two hours either!
Glad that Wake to Sleep has worked for you! We did it once when he was having a hard time dropping a middle of the night feeding and it worked for us too then!

Rochelle said...

I have been struggling with sleep on and off for all 14 months of my daughter's life....and just today as I was finally trying a new bedtime routine I magically hit upon this very thing!! It was amazing! I'm so glad to hear that this is actually something recommended. I am switching to Babywise after finding that my daughter won't nurse to sleep anymore...so out the window goes my old AP hat with all my old tricks. A Babywise friend told me she sings a song to her daughter before bed, so after dinner, nursing, potty, bath and story I stood up by her crib, held her against my chest/head on shoulder and sang 3 verses of our song (Great is Thy Faithfulness) very calmly. The miraculous moment (after a traumatic day of sleep training I thought she would HATE the crib) she turned and reached for her crib!! I laid her down and she snuggled in, sucked a finger for a minute, turned her head back and forth, and was out within a couple minutes. This from a child who could "CIO" for 2 hours straight (tried at Christmas and then gave up from frustration/emotional overload.) Wow! I'm so glad to know that I have more tools for when I have baby #2! Next time I'll start off this way instead of waiting until the second YEAR. Glad parents are allowed to make mistakes. I know I sure have. God is so gracious to me.

Rochelle

Plowmanators said...

Becca,

Hogg does address this. She says to put baby up on their side while you pat, then back on the back when you are done? I think it seems complicated also :)

Plowmanators said...

Jeannie,

10 minutes actually isn't long--acording to Hogg. She says "textbook" is 20 minutes, but some are longer and some shorter.

Plowmanators said...

thesprain,

I will keep you updated. She has only had three times before naps taht she has cried at all at almost 6 weeks old--all three were less than 2 minutes each. One was when she was very overly tired. I agree with you, it is a great method from birth because it is the first training rather than re-training.

Plowmanators said...

Sarah,

I am not really sure. I would be inclined to say she needs to go to a 2.5-3 hour schedule in the day so you can hope for longer stretches at night. You want to get the ounces in her during the day so she doesn't need them at night. Since you need to treat her as a 3 week old, also consider that a 3 week old should have at least 8 feedings in a day and your baby has 6. At this point it would be about 5 weeks old? So adjusted she is about the same age as McKenna.

Basically, if you want longer stretches at night, you have to have more food during the day. You do that either by offering more at each meal or offering meals more often.

Plowmanators said...

That is interesting Val. I am glad to hear the wake to sleep method works. If McKenna becomes a habitual waker, I am going to try it.

Plowmanators said...

Rochelle, I am glad you have had success! We all make mistakes, and most of them fall on our oldest. I guess that is what makes oldest children who they are :)

cfriece said...

have been following your posts for the last year. I have done BW since my baby was 4 weeks and now she is exactly a year. Since 3 months, she has never had a problem with going down for naps or bedtime. Within the last week, when I put her in her crib for naps, she stands up and cries for 15 - 30 mins. I eventually go in and try to calm her down, then place her back in her crib, but nothing seems to help. I know she is tired. She is not hungry, no dirty diaper, not sick, etc. My question is what should I try to help her out and is this normal?? I am at a loss!! HELP!! Thanks!

Travis and Amber said...

I had never heard of BW (properly called) but our peditrician had given us this awesome "schedule"-feed, wake, sleep, every 3 hours (and lay them down right before they fall asleep). We did it with our first and she was sleeping through the night by 5wks! We have done it with our 2 other children and have loved how we can put our kids to bed and they fall asleep and have always been fantastic sleepers. Now with #4 I'm having problems-he's doing that 45 min wake thing, will do a 5hr stint at night and then up every hour after, he needs something to suck on always. Maybe I'm forgetting something, I don't know-but I need some help/advice. He's now 11.5 wks old-and I don't want to keep bad habits. Thanks for anything you can give me

Lisa Middleton said...

So glad to see this post! We're having a "witching hour" before the bedtime feeding, and maybe the sitting will help. Definitely worth a shot!

La profesora Sarita said...

I turned to BW when my daughter just would not go to sleep in her crib (one of many issues we've had with her being extremely fussy). We did the shush-pat (sometimes for 20-30 minutes before she'd fall asleep) for a couple of weeks, and now she'll go to the crib awake and fall asleep by herself at 9 weeks. She does normally have the pacifier, but she also has a nasty case of reflux and the pacifier seems to soothe that a lot (she actually won't take it if she seems to be crying out of fatigue or boredom). Anyway the shush-pat is a lot of work every night for a little while but it worked for us!

Plowmanators said...

cfriece, I answered this in the other place you asked it.

Plowmanators said...

Amber, have you treated it as a growth spurt? When they wake early, it is best to first treat it like they need more food. If they take it, you know they are waking for hunger. If not, then you move on to other trouble shooting possibilities.

Plowmanators said...

Lisa, if it doesn't work, just keep in mind that during witching hours, do what it takes to keep baby happy. I would put McKenna in the swing (for the two weeks she liked the swing). I would also rock her, hold her, give her a pacifier, etc. Only the swing became problematic for her (but never did with my older daughter).

Plowmanators said...

La profesora Sarita, Thanks for sharing that! I think many moms wonder if it actually works for people, so it is good to have someone attest to it working.

Josh and Corina said...

Hi Val, Thanks so much for your blog. So helpful! I read BW before I had my now 12 wk old son, and fully intended on implementing it. At about 6 wks I realized I had the schedule part down pretty well, but knew I was missing something because he wasn't a good sleeper! I was rocking and nursing to sleep. (he'd been in the hospital at 2 wks, and I think that made me hyper-sensitive to him, and keeping him happy!) He was waking at all hours, and wouldn't cooperate with a schedule, and was still waking 2-3 times at night. Anyway, found your website and realized I had missed the whole laying him down awake/CIO part. At 6 weeks I decided to try CIO. He cried for 2 hours, straight through his nap. He did this at least twice more, and I couldn't take it! I found the 4 S's and that seemed to work for us. At first I still had trouble with consistent wake times, but his schedule has stabilized. The sitting was the part I liked best, but this past week he's started crying as soon as we sit. Sometimes he'll calm down within the 5 minutes, and then I can lay him down mostly awake. But then the rest of the time he cries and cries. I've tried shush-pat and sometimes he's just hungry, but usually the only thing that will calm him is his pacifier, which he usually spits out before he goes down. I feel like I'm probably doing something wrong, but I don't know what it is! Help!

Plowmanators said...

I think some babies can kind of outgrow the 4 S method. That could be going on.

But if he sometimes wants/needs to get some sucking in before he goes down, I don't see a problem with that. I would give it to him and let him suck away until he starts to spit it out. That is unless you see it starts to become a problem for him.

He also might be a type who doesn't like to sleep. He knows the routine and knows that when you sit, it means nap is about to start, so he cries.

Good luck!

Theresa said...

Hi! I have a 2-week old newborn and starting BW this week.Is an hour of CIO too long for a 2 week year old? We will reassure her every 15 minutes but it doesn't seem to work. I will try the 4S' and get the baby whisperer book too. But, wanted your two cents on this! Thanks!

Mike and Kristin Atkins said...

I have a 3 month old, and although I've followed Babywise to get him on the eat, play sleep cycle and he already sleep through the night, I have completely neglected letting him CIO or teach himself to go to sleep.... We rock him for every nap and before bed, and we rock him atleast 30 minutes usually. Is it too late for me to try to teach him how to go to sleep on his own?

Plowmanators said...

Theresa,

Go with what you feel is best. The intensity of crying would weigh in. Be sure to read the Newborn Sleep Heirarchy post.

Plowmanators said...

Kristin,

Definitely not too late. See the CIO Bootcamp post as well for help on getting started.

Jen said...

Love your blog! I'm on it everyday and love the back and forth from moms all over the country. Thanks for the forum to do so!

I have a 3 week old, cuddly, sweet boy. I have been trying the 4 s's, which has worked out well during his sleepy newborn phase. Well, the phase has ended and now he is awake and very curious! When I go to stand still with him, he just looks around bright eyed at everything around us. I try to put his head in my shoulder, but he just raises his head and looks around. He also roots around a lot like he is hungry even though he eats (breastfeeds for about 20 minutes every 2.5 hours--his waketime is around 45-50 minutes). What do I do if the "sitting" phase isn't happening no matter how long I stand with him?

The only way I have gotten him to sleep is by holding him and covering his eyes with my hand until he is completely asleep with his pacifier. Then, when I put him down (if he doesn't startle awake), then he will usually wake up every 15 minutes or so ro sometimes he will make it to 30 minutes. I've combed both baby wise and baby whisperer books and I am not sure what to do. Hopefully you have an idea!! Thank you!

Jen said...

I just stood in the room and watched him through a nap and found that after I calmed him, he would start to close his eyes until they were like slits, and then jerk awake. I know you have advised others with this issue that they are overtired, but if I am trying to get him to sleep on his own, then he is going to be overtired. It seems like a catch 22.

Kristen Darr said...

This has worked great for us although sometimes it's hard for him to stay awake by the time we put him down! We are getting ready to transition our 9 week old from a SwaddleMe to Merlin's Magic Sleepsuit. Would you suggest using the 4 S's as described or modify them a bit?

Kristen said...

Hi there. We've been doing BW with our LO since she was 4 weeks old but nothing from the 4S's.

She is now 13 weeks old--is this too old to start the 4S's?


Amanda said...

I have been trying the 4 S's for the past couple days. Before that I did something similar, but not exactly. My daughter seems to need the shush-pat. She has a hard time relaxing. However, I find it hard to do once I've put her in the crib because it's hard to reach her lol. I'm leaning over the railing and my back is completely cramping up. Am I the only one with this problem? I really like the idea and I'd love to try it in entirety.

Tiffany Scholes said...

I have read this book cover to cover and the sleep method over and over and I LOVE the routine idea and use it with my daughter. BUT...I have to say this, you have to know your baby. My daughter REFUSED to be put to sleep this way. There was no 'sitting' because she HATED it! She would scream the minute I put her in this position. Then she would scream for over an hour while I did the shush patting. It was exhausting, frustrating and just awful! After over a week with it not getting easier or better, I stopped using this method. My baby was happier and I was happier. So KNOW YOUR BABY! One method isn't right for all babies. We ended up trying this sleep training with her 3 more times & she never got it. She just wasn't ready for sleeping training. But when she was finally ready (at 10 months) I came up with my own method and it was easy.

Tiffany Scholes said...

I have read this book cover to cover and the sleep method over and over and I LOVE the routine idea and use it with my daughter. BUT...I have to say this, you have to know your baby. My daughter REFUSED to be put to sleep this way. There was no 'sitting' because she HATED it! She would scream the minute I put her in this position. Then she would scream for over an hour while I did the shush patting. It was exhausting, frustrating and just awful! After over a week with it not getting easier or better, I stopped using this method. My baby was happier and I was happier. So KNOW YOUR BABY! One method isn't right for all babies. We ended up trying this sleep training with her 3 more times & she never got it. She just wasn't ready for sleeping training. But when she was finally ready (at 10 months) I came up with my own method and it was easy.

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