A little night owl makes the switch
For Waikato-based mum Annette and her husband, day-to-day life was intense with two littlies. Their son, Kaleb, and daughter, Carly, were just 13 months apart, and they were right in the thick of the baby and early toddler stages.
“I had been following Baby Sleep Consultant on Facebook for some time and got lots of handy tips, but after my daughter arrived and we’d got through the newborn fog, it was my toddler’s sleep habits that were giving us problems,” Annette recalls.
Having learnt from her experience with Kaleb (then 20 months), Annette had managed to get six month old Carly used to sleeping in her bassinet next to the bed.
“My son was still in the bed with me and my husband was mostly on a mattress on the floor.” It was cosy, and not the ideal situation for anyone, but that wasn’t all.
“Kaleb wouldn’t settle to sleep in the evening until 11pm or even often midnight! I needed to lie with him and cuddle him to sleep, which could take 30 to 40 minutes – and if I managed to get him down any earlier, he would wake at least a couple of times before midnight. From midnight, however he would sleep through until 9am, so that’s when we’d all start our day.”
To some extent, this was working for them; Annette’s husband worked until late in the evening, so they were all on a similar schedule, however the late nights were beginning to wear Annette down.
“I was so tired that I wasn’t doing anything much during the day and could tell I’d fallen into a rut. I didn’t feel like I was giving anyone my best.”
Reaching out for help
The decision to do something to help change their sleep situation wasn’t made easily.
Annette had tried several things, including the idea of starting the day earlier to try to bring everything back, but nothing had worked yet.
Annette’s parenting style could best be described as ‘going with the flow’ and the thought of a routine scared her. “I didn’t think I could stick to one, as I really liked to just go with the flow, but I had got to the point where I knew that something had to change.
Luckily my husband was supportive too!“
When Annette reached out to Baby Sleep Consultant she was put in touch with Becky.
“I definitely thought I would need an in-home visit, as I had tried putting Kaleb in his cot and it was a nightmare; he would scream and I didn’t want to do that.”
However, an initial phone call with Becky set Annette’s mind at ease that perhaps they could tackle it that way.
“As I was explaining to Becky what was happening, she could pre-empt what else was occurring – she totally got it!” Annette recalls.
“We agreed on a gentle approach, which definitely suited me better and Becky assured me she would create a plan that gave approximate times for things. I asked her lots of questions related to Carly too, and it was definitely worth it to get a plan for how to fit the two – at different ages and stages – together in a way that worked.”
Sleep strategies for a nocturnal wee fellow
Despite waking at 9am, Kaleb had still been (quite willingly) going down for a two hour lunch nap at midday. Becky’s first suggestion was to delay that until closer to 2pm and stretch his morning awake time to be a bit longer. The pair also agreed on an 8pm bedtime (and 8am ideal wake time) so planned the rest of the routine from there.
“The later lunchtime nap took a while for him to get used to, but he was OK with it,” Annette confides.
“The other daytime change was dropping some bottles. He really loves milk, so was probably having too much by that stage, so we’ve stuck with one only when he’s going down for a nap and at bedtime. He’s eating more as a result; his appetite has emerged!”
Lastly, there was the matter of getting Kaleb to sleep in his cot. Annette started with the cot side down and his cot attached to the side of her bed.
“The idea was that I would gradually each time get a bit further away from him,” Annette explains.
“As he got happier going to bed, we could eventually put the side back up and then we got to the point where I could even leave the room and pop back in to check on him – that was huge!”
Soon Kaleb was not only settling earlier, but was sleeping through solidly.
“That 8pm bedtime has made such a big difference!” Annette admits.
“Even for my relationship, because I hadn’t really had any time with my husband. He still sometimes comments that he misses having him up with us in the evening, but it’s nice to spend some time just the two of us. I feel as though I have some sanity back because I get some time to myself. I have more energy during the day too; I’ve even started exercising, which I couldn’t have done when I wasn’t getting enough sleep!”
Commitment and confidence
Once Annette had committed to sleep training, she went all in.
“I pretty much stayed at home for the two weeks of doing the plan, so that I could see it through. I think both consistency and the timings of everything were what made it work.”
For Annette though, the real value came in confidence.
“Having some sort of routine, and appropriate timings, meant that I felt more confident putting the kids down and I knew where they were at. I had a better guess whether they were hungry; I could tell what their cry might be telling me. I also learnt a lot about different children’s temperaments. I can leave my daughter to cry for a few minutes more easily than I can with my son, because they’re so different.”
“We’ve found a good mix of what works for me, and for each of them – and Becky helped me to get there. She was supportive and never judgmental as she tailored something that would work for me. It was definitely money well spent.”