Settling independently | No dummy | No rocking
"She is a different baby now, and a much happier baby too" ~ Sophie, Poppy's mum.
4 month old Poppy was taking good naps, but waking frequently at night. Her mum knew something had to change, but was apprehensive to remove her dummy, and if she took away the dummy, how would she stop rocking to sleep?
It seemed all a bit too hard.
Despite Poppy's broken night sleep, Mum Sophie had worked hard to establish a great day time routine for Poppy, she had worked hard at consistent naps, and consistent timing.
Her day sleeps were spot on timing wise (Mum understood the importance of consistent nap timings, and was following our nap routines already).
But she was still fully rocking to sleep and she needed the dummy to help her settle, this had lead to overnight difficulty.
Poppy would wake looking for the same set of circumstances that she had while she fell asleep. The dummy, and being rocked in mums arms. Because babies go through a sleep cycle every 90 minutes or so at night, Poppy was waking crying every 90 minutes needing mum to re-settle her with more rocking, more holding, more dummy replacing.
It just wasn't sustainable for anyone.
Earlier on in Poppy's newborn days it was just once or twice, and mum assumed Poppy was hungry, so fed her, popped her dummy back in, and back to bed.
But as the weeks carried on, these wake ups increased, and soon Poppy was waking every 90 minutes, and was taking longer and longer to be settled back to sleep.
If you've been in this situation, you understand how exhausting this becomes, and how frustrating it is as a parent to feel so stuck.
If your baby uses a dummy Check out the pro's and cons on dummys here
The fact that Poppy used to sleep relatively well with her dummy and rocking sleep cues shows how age appropriate these are for newborns, but as Poppy was now over 4 months old, her sleep was falling apart with these same sleep cues.
She had outgrown her newborn sleep tricks and mum needed to learn some new tricks to ensure Poppy got back to her old habits of sleeping well at night and in the day!
Poppy was showing all the classic signs of being ready to learn to sleep and settle independently.
She was ready. Mum was ready.....
**Sophie’s goals were to teach Poppy to settle independently and hopefully reduce her wake ups to just two overnight. Both of these goals are totally achievable at this age, given the fact that Poppy is thriving developmentally and weight wise. **
I arrived well before the time we would need to start settling so we could have a thorough discussion on what settling strategy would be best suited to Poppy’s temperament.
A lot of people assume sleep training is a one size fits all approach.
But the key to success in these situations is understanding your babies temperament.
A strong willed stubborn baby won't respond to gentle sleep training, and a sensitive tactile baby wont respond to a cry based method.
Sophie (Poppy's Mum), felt that Sophie was quite spirited, and curious. She was also fairly strong willed, and had previously not responded to gentle techniques to try and remove her dummy association.
We decided to get rid of the dummy since Poppy is too young to replace it herself and it would be contributing to the frequent wake ups because of falling out.
Nap time came; we adjusted her pre-sleep ritual.
Pre-sleep rituals are like a protective base layer when it comes to settling to sleep without stress and tears. If we don't give our babies enough warning time that we are moving from awake to asleep, they cry more, fuss more, don't settle, and struggle to sleep well.
Think about it..... do you jump straight to bed at night? Or do you have a wind down ritual that helps you settle to sleep? Brush teeth, shower, read for a bit, lights out? No one just lies down and goes straight to sleep, yet this is often what we expect of our babies.
We popped her in her cot without the dummy and we waited…...
When you stop and listen before you react, you get to know your baby, you learn their noises and sounds, you'll start to understand what they actually need to fall to sleep, rather than panicking at every sound.
She did a few minutes of on off grizzling, and I spoke to mum about the fact that she wasn't escalating, she sounded sleepy, but a bit annoyed that she wasn't asleep.
Knowing this, we stayed out listening to Poppy trying to very hard to put herself to sleep.
We did one check in to help wee Poppy calm, put her back in her cot and off she went to sleep after a little grizzle.
All she needed was a little bit of space to get herself off to sleep. Sophie could not quite believe it, she did it…in less than 10 minutes..Poppy was asleep – by herself, NO DUMMY OR ROCKING!!!!
Over time we worked on re-settling, and longer naps. Poppy was 100% ready, she was settling in minutes, and mums confidence was growing by the day.
As a natural consequence of learning to self settle in the day, and some adjustments we made to her night sleep, Poppy naturally dropped all her night feeds and started sleeping through.
Often day sleep supports night sleep in such a way that sleeping through the night falls into place with no stress or tears at all!
She now sleeps through the night, and naps like a champ.
Mum is ecstatic!
"Just want to say a huge thank you for your help with Poppy. She is a different baby now, and a happier baby!
She is sleeping from 6:30pm to 7am each night, settling herself easily back to sleep if she wakes up and almost no grizzling now when she is put down for her sleep.
This is the same with all her day naps as well, it has been so much easier! We have got rid of the dummy and she now has a cuddly that she loves and can easily grab now that both her arms are free now.
Thank you so much for coming in and teaching me how to get Poppy to self settle and for all your help afterwards. You've been so lovely and supportive.
It's hard going through a change like that so thank you for all your help, it's been so much easier having you there to chat to and ask questions.
Would love to keep in touch as I'm sure Poppy will go through more stages that I'll need help with! :)" ~Soph - Poppy's mum
Karen is an Auckland Sleep Consultant, early childhood teacher, psychology graduate and mother.
Call Karen: 022 6785568
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