I get lots of parents asking for advice on my methods and lots of questions related to sleep via Facebook, Twitter and email. It’s good to have a document to refer busy parents to now and then, so today’s post is all about my Michi Method. I love working with parents and families and I’m passionate about helping them to achieve a good night’s sleep. We cannot function without sleep and being deprived of it affects a lot more than we realise. So if you have questions related to anything that I do, please bookmark this post and share it with your friends. This is your very quick guide to the Michi Method.
Before you start
Before I start work with any family, it’s essential for me to speak to them first to find out their individual situation. No family is alike, just as no baby is alike. Therefore it stands to reason that no ‘one size fits all’ approach is suitable. The Michi Method is a guide that is adaptable to you and what you and your family are comfortable with.
The principles of the Michi Method are simple. You do not need to leave your baby to cry it out. You do not need to do anything that you are not happy with. You do need to be prepared to have a lot of patience, a good back up team, and determination. You need to be consistent and sure that you are helping your child to develop the skill set needed to ensure good sleeping habits for life. Let’s begin!
- Stick to your usual bedtime routine. BUT don’t pat, rock, bounce or nurse your baby to sleep- you want them to be able to fall asleep by themselves eventually.
- Lay your baby in the crib. If your baby cries as you try to leave, try first to soothe them with your voice only.
- Listen to and interpret the cry. If it escalates into Mummy I Need You Now (MINYN) then try to soothe your baby another way that you know usually works- bounce, rock, sing etc
- Don’t let your baby fall asleep on you. You need to place baby back in the crib awake and calm so that the important process of falling asleep independently is achievable.
- If baby cries, rolls over, tries to sit up etc- try to avoid eye contact with older babies as this will make the whole process easier for you (but remember that this is your child and if you believe eye contact will work that’s fine).
- If baby’s cries lessen you can use your hands to soothe- pat, stroke, or just hold your hand on the tummy or chest (wherever you know will provide comfort) so that baby knows you are there.
- If baby’s cries become MINYN- pick him up. Repeat the soothing and lie him back in the crib once more.
- If baby is standing- remove their hands from the side of the crib and hold them. Guide them back to the crib to sit on their bottom, then lay them down. Don’t pick up.
- Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This is where the patience and determination comes in. Eventually your baby will become tired and you will notice the difference in energy with movements and cries. Remember that however hard this part is, you are by your child’s side and you are letting them know that you are there for them, and teaching them that sleep is an essential skill to learn.
- When your child becomes sleepy and begins to relax a little, keep your hands on him to soothe and comfort as he falls asleep. Stay with him; give him confidence in you and the fact that you are not going anywhere.
- If baby begins to cry again, and the cries escalate, pick them up and repeat all of the above again. They will evenutally fall asleep- promise!
- Use your instincts. If your touch is making baby cry harder or become frustrated, use your hands sparingly, or use your voice instead. You know your baby best.
- When your child falls asleep- wait for at least 20 minutes until you are sure they’re in a deep sleep. This is essential because if they wake during a lighter period of sleep, you want to be on hand before they are properly awake.
- Each and every time they wake after this, you need to repeat all of the above. But do listen to the cries- sometimes baby will cry out in sleep or self settle quickly. If cries escalates into MINYN and you know that you are needed, go in and repeat the method.
Once you are a few days into the Michi Method there are a few points to remember:
- Eliminate one element of how you help your child to fall asleep every 4th night. This is so that your soothing pats, shushes or strokes do not become a new crutch that your baby relies on to fall asleep. It is up to you how you handle this and only do what you’re comfortable with.
- If your child is feeding through the night, you need to decide how long is reasonable to go between feeds. 3-4 hours is usually ok. Feed at feeding time and use the method at other times.
Sleep training is not easy but it is an essential part of teaching baby how to sleep- and sleep well. Ultimately you are setting up your child with vital skills for life, and helping your family too. Read up on my Sleep Training Survival Guide before you start, and do get in touch with any questions at all. Good luck!