When can sleep training start?
“You don’t have to wait until your baby is grown to start sleep training,” a midwife mentioned during a visit to Jack’s Mum.
Although sleep training shouldn’t be done in the first three months of a newborn’s life, parents don’t have to grin and bear through endless months of wakeful nights either. Naturally, Jack’s Mum was very relieved to hear that!
The midwife also referred her to Kelly, a baby sleep consultant. So, when Jack was 6 weeks old, his Mum got in touch with Kelly, who was able to provide some helpful pointers to get Jack started with good sleeping habits.
After Jack had passed the three month mark, his Mum decided it was time to give Kelly a call once again. By that stage, Jack was 14 weeks old and his night sleeps were going really well, especially for his young age.
He was only needing one feed during the night and would otherwise sleep contentedly. At night, Jack was the sort of baby all Mums hope for!
Daytime naps, however, were a different story. Jack would fuss and cry unless he was being held for each of his four naps. And while he used to sleep for lengthy periods in his Mum’s arms, that was regressing to only about 30 minutes at a time. His parents felt frustrated.
They had, in Kelly’s words, “tried everything; you name it, they did it.
But he just wouldn’t sleep unless they were holding him.” Feeling anxious, and unsure of what they needed to do, Jack’s Mum asked Kelly to come for an in-home consultation to watch how Jack behaved around naptime.
Watching Jack nap
When Kelly arrived, she was able to see first-hand how Jack’s parents would spend ages jiggling him to sleep for his nap. Once Jack fell asleep, his parents placed him in his cot. But he woke up shortly afterwards, upset and confused about the change of environment.
Kelly chatted with Jack’s parents about what other kind of things they’d tried already to get him to go to sleep. Then she came up with a plan to help Jack start napping in his cot from the get-go.
Kelly made the room “super dark” - so much so that they could hardly see each other! White noise was already playing in the room, but it was too muted so Kelly turned it up.
Beyond that, Kelly made sure not to fuss with Jack’s positioning, and gave him a few minutes to settle before encouraging his Mum to go back into the nursery to settle him.
“It quickly became clear that Jack was a case of ‘less is more’,” explains Kelly. “He has a cruisy temperament until you do too much, like swaddle, pat, or move him.
So, what we ended up doing was just giving him a couple of minutes to himself to process that it’s sleep time and allow him to blow off some steam. For a baby like Jack, if you try to settle him too much right from the start, you’ll just have an uphill battle on your hands.”
These tactics worked well from the start. Jack’s Mum didn’t need to pick up and hold Jack; she simply jiggled his chest rhythmically while he lay in his cot. It only took a little over 10 minutes before his breathing slowed and he began nodding off.
Better sleep for every one
Kelly kept in touch with Jack’s progress over the following week. Even within that short time frame, he learnt to go to sleep in his cot. They also worked together to extend the time that Jack was awake between naps.
Before Jack’s Mum called Kelly, Jack would only play for around 75 minutes before nap time. These intervals were slowly drawn out so that by the end of the week, Jack was awake for nearly 120 minutes between naps.
“Working out what his personality was and what would work best for him was key,” says Kelly. “The take away lesson is that you can do a lot, even for babies that age, if you know what you’re doing. He responded to what we did really easily and quickly.”
"We have just finished using Kelly the Dunedin baby sleep consultant and I couldn’t speak more highly of her and their service.
We were having problems with our ten month old son as he wasn’t sleeping at all during the day. Kelly gave me some really amazing information and techniques to use with Harry and was incredibly supportive and helpful through the whole process.
The whole experience was fantastic and we now have a baby who has a morning and afternoon nap of two hours!!!!This really is life changing and has made the world of difference for us!!!I highly recommend Kelly and the team at baby sleep consultants to anyone having issues." ~ Alexandra