Author Topic: Getting back on track using Walk In/Walk Out (WI/WO)  (Read 11922 times)

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Offline jess, lukeys_mom

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Getting back on track using Walk In/Walk Out (WI/WO)
« on: March 12, 2010, 15:21:06 pm »
The Walk In/Walk Out method can be used to help older babies and toddlers who are already sleeping independently get back on track. (If your baby has not been sleeping independently already, please do not look at WI/WO as a sleep training method. Rather consider shush/pat, PU/PD, or gradual withdrawal depending on age - or post on one of the sleep boards if you need help knowing the best method for you  :-*)

It is commonly referred to on this site for helping a LO get back on track from about 8 or 9 months old when experiencing Separation Anxiety. It can also be helpful for getting back on track after an illness or jet lag (in both of these instances you would want to be sure your lo is well and rested enough to get back on track though).

Please note that this method is NOT to be confused with letting a LO cry it out, or controlled crying. The difference is that with WI/WO, you are entering and leaving the room based on your LO's cues and the sound of their cries. It is not about going in at timed intervals.

Separation Anxiety and Walk in/Walk out

(approx. 8 months & older)

When is it used?
     -  wi/wo is typically used to help alleviate problems arising from separation anxiety. 
     -  it is typically NOT meant to replace pat/shh or pu/pd, but to be used along with it
     -  it is used here to help older babies get back on track after veering off of their routine and normal sleep. this is not a method of teaching a baby how to sleep independently for the first time.

How can I recognize separation anxiety?     
     -  it typically starts around 8-9 months, but can begin/last/flare-up-again until 15-18 months (any younger and you are probably dealing with stranger anxiety, which typically starts around 4 months)
     - all of a sudden, your baby is using a piercing shriek very unlike his usual hunger/tired/whatever cry
     - clingy, especially to one parent
     - does not want to be left alone in a room, or with anyone else
     - suddenly has problems at sleep time; doesn't want to be left in his crib
note - be sure to rule out anything along the lines of sickness, pain, fever, teething, hunger/growth spurt...

Why does it happen?
     - he is starting to realize that you are a different person (and not an extension of him)
     - he now realizes you can leave him, but he doesn't quite yet understand that you are always coming back
     - all this new information and independence is kinda scary!

How do I do wi/wo when I'm having trouble putting them down for a nap/bedtime?
     - do your winddown routine as you have been (a few extra cuddles might be in order)
     - put him to bed
     - when he cries, soothe him as works for you (pat/shh, pu/pd, whatever) until he is calm
     - after he has stopped crying, whisper "good night" (or your favorite alternative), and walk away preferably out of his line of sight
     - when he cries and he will return to his side IMMEDIATELY and soothe again
     - repeat as often as necessary

How long will this take?
     - it can take up to 45 minutes or more at a time the first couple of days.  but if you stay consistent and persistent, it should not take as long after a couple days

Is there anything else I can do during the day to help my baby through this transition?
     - anything that will help your child develop object permanence (the idea that even if you can't see something, you understand that it still exists and will come back) 
some ideas:
          o play peekabo
          o don't try & sneak out on your child tell him you are leaving, and then you will be right back (sound chipper!); then when you return, say "here I am!" with smiles and hugs
          o when soothing your child during playtime, see if you can get down to his level & gently talk to him & cuddle him, rather than scooping him up
          o try working/reading/cooking/fill-in-the-blank right next to him, and gradually slide farther away again, not leaving without telling him

What if my baby is having a really hard time with separation anxiety at night?
     - with some babies, you might find that they are waking several times a night wanting reassurance.  this can get very exhausting for both baby and mommy.  you may want to sleep on the floor of their room for a couple of nights.  usually this needs to be done no more than 3 nights at a time; after that they usually begin resettling on their own

information taken from BWSAYP, Tracy's sleep interview,, and the posts of some of our members

For more info on SA and Toddlers, look here:
Separation Anxiety in Toddlers

For more information on WI/IO and Toddlers, look here:  Toddlers: Walk In/Walk Out vs. The Gradual Withdrawal Method (HOW TO CHOOSE)
« Last Edit: July 01, 2015, 08:24:58 am by Martii85 »
Mom to Luke (2007) and Dylan (2009)