I was recently contacted by a very tired mummy, Catherine. Her 6½ month baby Freddie was a very happy baby, who was fit and healthy. He had always needed a lot of help to settle to sleep, including being fed to sleep – breastfed in the early weeks and more recently bottles. He was also reliant on a dummy and being rocked when unsettled, being particularly tricky to settle at nap times. Catherine often resorted to going for drives with Freddie to ensure that he had enough sleep during the day and did not become over tired. Since moving into a cot in his own room things had got progressively worse, with Freddie demanding more and more bottles in the night, waking very frequently and being unable to settle himself back to sleep. Understandably, Catherine and her husband were exhausted and had begun to feel very anxious at bedtime and night time. They were both in agreement that Freddie’s sleep issues needed to be solved.
I arranged a home visit with Catherine for a “Sleep Solutions Consultation” on a Saturday afternoon and to stay with her throughout bedtime and overnight, to implement the strategies and techniques that we discussed during the consultation, offering her extra support and giving her the confidence to continue with the sleep plan once I had left. Catherine completed a detailed sleep diary for me in the five days before I visited.
During the consultation, we discussed in detail Freddie’s night time habits, his sleep associations and completed a very comprehensive questionnaire. This information enabled me to decide how best we could help Freddie, and ultimately Catherine and her husband, to get a good nights sleep.
There were five main areas that we needed to concentrate on. These were:-
• To stop using dummies
• To break Freddie’s “suck to sleep” association
• To reduce the volume of milk Freddie consumed overnight
• To encourage Freddie to resettle himself in the middle of the night
• To encourage Freddie to nap in his cot during the day
The strategies that we discussed included instant changes – dummies going into the kitchen bin (!) and a new bedtime routine, and long term changes, such as steadily reducing the volume of milk Freddie was offered during the night, and implementing a “gradual retreat” to help encourage Freddie to settle to sleep by himself. This initially involved patting Freddie’s back whilst “shushing” to help him settle to sleep, through various levels of comfort to ultimately leaving him to settle off to sleep happily by himself.
After just one night Freddie had made enormous progress – after his dream feed at 11pm he did not require any milk in the middle of the night, and resettled himself at his wakings without the need for any intervention.
Gradually over the past few weeks, due to Catherine and her husband’s determination with implementing my consistent, calm and gentle approach to sleep training, with regular follow up emails and texts from me, Freddie has begun to nap in his cot and settle happily to sleep by himself – both during the day and at night, enabling Catherine and her husband to get a good nights sleep.
If you would like further information on how you could improve your little one’s sleep, please do contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out an enquiry form on my website.
All names have been changed to maintain the confidentiality of my clients, and permission has been gained to use their story.