Giving baby Bradley, the gift of consistent, solid sleep
For some babies, good sleep at any time seems to be elusive. For 10 month old Bradley, it was just night-time that was the challenge.
While Bradley’s day naps were a dream, he was waking between four and six times overnight. “He would go to sleep well at bedtime, but woke lots – after only one or two sleep cycles,” his mum Anna explains.
Anna was feeding him on some of his wake ups, and using resettling techniques on others, but it was all starting to wear a little thing.
Crunch time came when Anna started back at work. “I was back part-time for six weeks before transitioning to full-time, and I was struggling,” Anna shares.
The action came when Anna heard from one of her friends who had enlisted support from Baby Sleep Consultant. “I had been trying to improve things myself, and cutting down to one feed overnight, from two.
However, my friend told me about things improving dramatically in just one week,” Anna recalls. “I felt like this was my window of opportunity to get it sorted and truly I don’t think I could have gone back to work full-time if I hadn’t.”
A leap of faith
Anna started with an initial chat with Waikato-based sleep consultant Becky before booking in for a full phone consultation. “Becky asked lots of questions about what we were doing now and the kinds of issues we were having,” Anna explains.
“There were lots of things that felt like big changes suggested during that phone call, which felt fairly confronting, but after she gave her recommendations, she said it was up to us to decide what we wanted to try.”
Becky’s approach consisted of dropping that remaining night feed, and trying a spaced soothing settling technique, with timed intervals in between attempts to soothe Bradley.
She also suggested removing the Safe T Sleep they had been using, so that Bradley was free to roll over onto his tummy to settle himself (as Anna believed that he was trying to do).
The final recommendation was going one way or the other completely with a cuddly.
Following some research surrounding loose items left in the cots of young babies, Anna had been letting Bradley fall asleep with his cuddly, and then removing it from his sleep area later. “The suggestion of leaving it there, or not letting him have it at all was probably the most challenging one for me to get my head around,” Anna admits. “However, Becky took my concerns on board and went to do some extra research – attaching some of the US articles she came across when she sent through our plan, in order to set my mind more at ease.”
Going all in
Trusting the professional, Anna and her husband decided to go all in.
They set about implementing all of the changes that Becky had suggested, as well as changing Bradley to the other spare room in their house, which would hopefully allow him a quieter sleep with less household disturbances. “It really was a lot of disruption for him to take on all at once,” Anna asserts.
Bradley, however, loved some of the changes. “He loved taking off the Safe T Sleep and being allowed to sleep on his tummy and he loved having the cuddly there when he woke through the night – I think those things alone helped him link his sleep cycles more from day one.”
And in fact, those first two nights were amazing.
Despite Anna’s anxious extra time spent watching the monitor, Bradley slept through the night for the first time ever.
The novelty soon wore off though as Bradley realised he was missing a night feed, and started expressing his displeasure in the spaced soothing approach. “On the third night, he spent at least two – maybe even closer to three – full hours protesting; that was pretty tough!” Anna recalls.
“Night four wasn’t so bad, with under an hour before he went back to sleep and by night five, he started really getting better. I think he could tell that something had changed. It was a lot for him to process though; sometimes it was his Dad going in to resettle him. We took turns more and Bradley wasn’t always having me there to feed him.”
From night six, Bradley slept right through again and has been doing 11+ hours fairly consistently for the four months since. Having a plan that works has made a big difference, as even when Bradley was sick and wanted more comfort one night, he went straight back to a solid sleep the following night.
A “game-changer” all round
For Anna and her husband, the improvement to their sleep has been huge; “An absolute game-changer. We’ve tried to recommend sleep training to some other friends who aren’t able to get much consistency around sleep, and they haven’t gone for it.
Having done this now, I don’t know how you could not…”
It’s not only from the point of view of her own wellbeing that Anna says that either.
She’s also noticed changes in Bradley, which she credits to the fact that he is now receiving the gift of solid, consistent sleep.
“Bradley was always a pretty happy wee boy, but he’s even happier now. When he was overtired, he was almost a bit wired, or edgy. Now he’s so much more consistent.” Anna shares.
“I’ve done some research around how children’s brain synapses form while they are having sustained, quality sleep and I’m so glad he’s getting the full benefit of that now.”
As well as improved sleep and all the great brain benefits, Anna also appreciated the other tools and handouts that Becky was able to provide.
“At the end of our couple of weeks, Becky gave us a solids guide for his age and stage. I’m still breastfeeding, so this has been really helpful for us to work out how I fit this around food too.” Another happy parent!
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