AW Cracked the Code

The Good-Night's-Sleep Cure is just that - a cure - a remedy for young children who need help to be able to sleep soundly and continuously all through the night. The cure works on all children with sleep problems because young children, just like all beings of flesh and blood, need and want to sleep at night. 

We all want to sleep peacefully.  Children are no exception. 

A father writes:

"Quite by chance, I wandered onto Anna's homepage when I was surfing and looking for parents who had problems similar to ours.  I immediately got the feeling that this was some kind of turning point.  I read about the cure and the wolf analogy, and I thought, Good Lord, here is someone who has actually pondered over WHY children wake up at night, not just how you get them to go to sleep. 

We bought A Good Night's Sleep a couple of days later, and the more we read, the more convinced we were that this was the common sense advice that we had sought but failed to find from the so-called experts." 

An american dad writes a book review on Amazon.com:

"I am convinced that if you have a child with a real sleep problem, that none of the experts really have a solution. If there were a simple solution, it would be too valuable not to be common knowledge by now."

Anna Wahlgren, Swedish mother of nine, Cracked the Code:

I cracked the code:

The Code reads Security.

 

These young children would never take my Good-Night's-Sleep Cure to heart so eagerly as soon as they receive satisfactory answers to their anxious questions - and from a stranger to boot - if they were not desperate to avoid having to fear the wolf and wanted nothing more than to dare to sleep well. 

  • About the commonly used method called the Controlled Crying Method

My goal is to see to it that the Good-Night's-Sleep Cure replaces and consigns to oblivion a technique that goes under such names as the Five Minute Method, the Cry-It-Out Method, or the Controlled Crying Method as it is known internationally. 

‘Why?' you may be wondering.  ‘Isn't it much simpler to let an infant scream herself to sleep for a few nights until she figures out that she might just as well sleep?'

To understand the big difference between the Controlled Crying Method and the Good-Night's-Sleep Cure, you have to understand the wolf analogy.  You have to be able to understand survival anxiety from your child's point of view, anxiety that you yourself experienced once upon a time. 

Unlike the Controlled Crying Method, the Good-Night's-Sleep Cure places responsibility on the parents. It is the adults who must help their child find peace. It is the adults who must do battle with the wolf - survival anxiety - force him to turn tail and lock him out for good. It is the adults who must guarantee their child's survival and much more besides.  They must guarantee a good life, a secure life with good sleep, peaceful sleep, sufficient sleep and blissful sleep, sleep that their baby will soon joyously take, secure enough in herself to both dare and desire to sleep that well. 

The principle underlying the Controlled Crying Method has its roots in the United States in the 1940s.  It stipulates that infants shall cry themselves to sleep, while the parents look in on them every five minutes (at best) and let the infants know that the parents are there. This method makes the children responsible for calming themselves down as best they can. It demands strong nerves on the part of the parents, who are expected to suppress their protective instincts, which tell them to whisk their distressed offspring to safety.  It is true enough that children fall asleep sooner or later, since their crying eventually leads to resignation and exhaustion.  Consequently, the Controlled Crying Method does work - provided that the parents are resilient enough to justify their passivity in the face of their child's more or less hysterical despair.

However, the Controlled Crying Method has grave shortcomings. 

  1. The unanswered cries inevitably result in feelings of abandonment. For a young child who cannot survive on her own, abandonment equals a death sentence.
  2. Sleep that is the result of resignation, despair and mental exhaustion is seldom particularly refreshing. That goes for all of us.
  3. The vast majority of children that are ‘cured' by the Controlled Crying Method sleep far too little. The parents have to exhaust them before putting them to bed. Understandably enough, everyone wants to avoid hours of crying.
  4. Sleep that children neither want nor enjoy is easily disrupted by the least bit of stress, such as teething or colds. The results obtained through the use of the Controlled Crying Method are therefore seldom permanent. The Method has to be applied again and again.

The Good-Night's-Sleep Cure, on the other hand, ensures that young children's questions never go unanswered.  The cries that express their fear for their lives, their fear of the wolf, their anxiety over their own indisputable helplessness must never go unanswered. 

In my opinion, young children should not cry at all. They do anyway, of course, but the myriad of questions they ask during the first evening of the Good-Night's-Sleep Cure should be met with immediate and, in the true sense of the word, satisfying answers - even if the first answer takes a laborious 20-45 minutes to get across to an infant who has never slept well (or at all for that matter). Young children can be in a lousy mood, they can be angry and generally react less than nobly, but in my world infants and young children should not be distressed or unhappy. Young children should never be permitted to feel that they have been abandoned for a single second. 

  • About the Apnea Alarm

Buy an apnea alarm and put it in the bed! So called breathing alarms are no longer restricted to hospitals but are available to the general public, and that is a blessing.

Place the sensor plate under the mattress, which will not disturb the child in the least, but will do wonders for your own nerves.  A small light blinks reassuringly on the accompanying monitor, which can be placed somewhere prominent.  You will be spared all that anxiety over your child's breathing, which is impossible to check on every three minutes.  Since the alarm works on the same principle as the smoke detector you have hopefully installed in your home, it will monitor your child's breathing pattern around the clock. The smoke detector doesn't guarantee that your house won't catch fire, any more than the breathing monitor guarantees that your child won't stop breathing, but you will have ample warning.  You will have time to prevent the catastrophe that could have happened.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Breathing is not automatic at the beginning of life - newborns stop breathing for as long as forty seconds several times a day, something that few adults could manage.  Since I would rather be safe than sorry, I would maintain that you should operate under the assumption that breathing is not guaranteed until your child is ten to eleven months old. 

  • Putting your baby on it's stomache
As you have no doubt noticed, I am a shameless advocate of putting babies to bed on their stomachs.  (Yes, I can imagine your terrified objections.  The following statistic may allay your worst fears.  To this day there is not one documented case of SIDS anywhere in the world of the deceased baby having slept in the prone position while equipped with an onset breathing alarm.) I don't advocate this solely because I think that it is so much simpler and more efficient to both rock and buff a child who is lying on her stomach, not to mention how much it facilitates corrective positioning and fanning.  I also champion this cause because the prone position in and of itself is sleep inducing for infants. 

The fact is that young children who sleep on their stomachs from day one seldom develop sleep problems.  ‘Frog sleeping' is as natural for a human child as it is for all other life forms with four limbs, none of whom willingly go to sleep with their vital organs exposed and their legs in the air.

A newborn baby can lift her head, turn it from side to side and take in air.  Lying on her stomach, an infant has a freedom of movement that is compromised if she is placed on her back.  Changing position is something we all need to do, even when we are asleep - if we can. 

The advantages of tummy sleeping are incontestable.  Here are a few of them: 

  • That little digestive system, which is still developing, has a much easier ride if its owner sleeps on her stomach.
  • Runny noses drain.
  • Burps and spit ups can't cause catastrophes.
  • The risk of suffocation is eliminated if the bottom of the crib is smooth.  If something happens to be covering the back of the baby's skull, all she has to do is lift her head.
  • Infants who lie on their stomachs can practice those neurologically essential crawling movements from day one, which aids in the healthy development of motor skills and all five senses.

 Sophia's mother tells her story: 

"By and large, Sophia slept terribly right from the start and things went from bad to worse.  She would wake up once an hour all night.  I would carry her around in my arms from dusk to dawn, but that made things worse rather than better.  Then, when she was four and a half months old, I decided to go for the cure.  We just didn't have the strength to get through the nights anymore. 

It went very well, in spite of one temporary derailment, and Sophia now sleeps fine at night.  She used to have a poor appetite, but only a couple of days of the cure fixed that.  True, we have a few problems in the wee small hours, when she sleeps a little fitfully (she will soon be eight months), but we have the tools to cope and the jingle works a treat.  I always know what to do in the event that she wakes up, and that is such a relief. Putting her to bed only takes a minute or so, and she is usually off to dream land in 15 minutes.  She feels very secure in her own bed. 

The only thing I regret is that I didn't start the cure earlier.  I also wish that I had gotten a breathing alarm earlier and started putting her to bed on her stomach.  She is a stone-to-the-bone tummy sleeper.  She absolutely loves it.  I think it is such a shame that children's clinics don't inform parents about breathing alarms and the advantages of tummy sleeping.  It would have made life so much easier for us." 

But what if the child really prefers sleeping on his or her back? Three mothers from my forum describe what they did (etcetera).

Human beings are fragile creatures.  If we were cast out in the dead of winter, we wouldn't last one night.  We don't have claws, fangs or pelts.  We can't run very fast if we have to escape danger.  Our muscular strength is so unimpressive that we need weapons to fight our enemies and defend our lives.  We are easy marks for all kinds of ‘wolves'.  We are prone to illness, we can't take much stress and we can't survive alone. 

This frail creation called homo sapiens has subjugated the planet.  No wonder that the first order of business for the human race was to ensure its physical security, since the wolf in all its guises was waiting at every turn, poised to wipe humanity off the face of the earth. 

And along comes your infant, the product of millions of years of evolution, who knows in her bone marrow that she would not stand a chance of even getting a meal all by herself.  The wolf that is called survival anxiety began to snap at her heels in the womb, as soon as the food and oxygen supply was cut off.  The child was forced out - there was no alternative if she was to survive - only to be confronted on her arrival in this world by the very wolf she was fleeing from. 

You know your house is Fort Knox.  In a world at peace, a world where material resources are virtually limitless, you know that you can give your child a comfortable, secure life and that there is nothing to be afraid of. Even so, every hour of every day, you take a whole raft of preventive measures designed to keep the wolf at bay. 

You look both ways when you cross the street.  You are meticulous about paying bills so the bank doesn't repossess your house.  You eat a healthy diet to minimize the risk of illness or death. You are especially careful at night, when you know you are vulnerable because you are asleep.  You bolt the front door.  You make sure the windows are secure so no thieves or murderers can get in.  You activate the burglar alarm if you have one.  You might even have gotten yourself a guard dog to warn you about any unexpected visitors.  You blow out the candles, and check the stove and all appliances.  You cast a glance at the smoke alarm, looking for that reassuring blink.  You give the whole house or apartment a quick tour before you go to bed to make sure that everything is as it should be. And then you look in on your child - one last time. 

Humans first built shelters to protect themselves from wild animals.  The safer the shelters, the more secure they felt when they gave themselves over to life sustaining sleep. If they didn't feel secure and protected from the wolf - in war, at sea or on safari in the bush - they either had to stand guard themselves or get someone to do it for them. 


Once you have understood the fundamental importance of a sense of security and learned to communicate this in a way that convinces your child, the Good-Night's-Sleep Cure can't fail. 

‘But why wouldn't my child feel secure?' I hear you cry a little distrustfully.  You and your partner have taken every conceivable precaution to protect the little life that has been placed in your care and for which you are responsible!  You both make sure that your baby is never exposed to danger.  You never leave her alone.  You always look both ways when you cross the street with the baby carriage.  You have laid out a small fortune to ensure your child's safety. You take no risks.  You do everything humanly possible to protect yourselves - and above all your child - from the wolf in all its guises day and night, home and away, indoors and outdoors.

And you succeed.  You know that your child is safe and so does your partner. But your child doesn't. 

If your infant thought she was safe, your child would be sleeping at night because sleeping at night comes naturally to human beings.  It is as natural as it is necessary. When God in his wisdom divided day from night, both men and beasts gratefully took their repose in the darkness. Such was the theory and such is the practice. And children are made of the same stuff as we adults. 

Young children who feel secure, who know that they are protected from the wolf in all its guises, do not wake up time after time during the night, regardless of whether they sleep on their backs or their stomachs, in their own beds and rooms or with their parents, on their mothers' breasts or standing on their heads in the closet.  They sleep.  And they sleep well. And they will happily sleep twelve hours a night from the age of four months. 

On the other hand, young children who do not feel secure, who have not allowed themselves to be convinced that they are protected from the wolf in all its guises, will continue to wake up.  They will wake up time after time, day and night, after periods of sleep that are not only brief but also fitful.  Time after time, they are gripped by survival anxiety.  Time after time, they ask the same anguished question:  Is the wolf coming to get me? 

Your task, should you decide to embark upon the Good-Night's-Sleep Cure, is to answer this question in a way that satisfies your child.

 

Copyright: Anna Wahlgren