The art of self-soothing: Baby Carter just needed a little space
The first few months of life with your new baby are a magical, if foggy time – however, eventually the fog starts to lift. For first time Mum, Helena, the fog was persisting.
“I was suffering from a bit of depression and the lack of sleep was definitely not helping. I began to feel like there was no light at the end of the tunnel.”
Helena’s five month old Carter was waking multiple times overnight.
“Sometimes he would be awake every two hours, and he needed to be held to get back to sleep. Carter’s naps were also completely hit and miss during the day – we didn’t have much of a routine in place,” Helena recalls.
With her partner’s support, Helena reached out to the experts and engaged Auckland-based baby sleep consultant Chelle for a phone consult.
“Originally we just signed up for the consult and a week of follow up support, but we ended up adding another week,” Helena explains.
“Chelle listened to my description of life with Carter and then talked me through the different approaches we could try to support him to go to sleep independently.”
Choosing the right approach for you
Chelle explained to Helena that the out of the room methods – like spaced soothing, (Read about spaced soothing HERE) – tended to be the most quickly effective, but that gentler methods could still work if you were prepared to give them a bit more time.
“Chelle gave me all of the information, and then gave me the chance to choose,” Helena recalls.
“I wanted the quickest improvement possible by that point, so opted for spaced soothing.”
Helena was in for a rough ride to start with, but Chelle was with her every step of the way.
“It wasn't easy; we’d never let him cry for that long before. My parents were staying with me at the time, so that added to the stress of it. Chelle helped me to stick with it and I trusted her as she was the professional.”
Those early days weren’t without a few hitches either.
“Unfortunately I don’t think I entirely understood the method at first, so don’t think I was doing it right for the first couple of days,” Helena admits. “Luckily I was able to talk to Chelle about how it was going and she explained the approach again, so I was able to get it from there,” Helena adds.
Starting to turn a corner
As the days went by, Helena and her partner started seeing some improvement. “After the first few days I was going in less times to get Carter back to sleep,” Helena recalls.
Chelle shared an age-appropriate sleep guide with Helena that helped her to get Carter into more of a day-time routine too.
“The guide helped me understand when a baby Carter’s age should go down, and for how long. Before I had been trying to read his tired signs, but I think he was often overtired by the time I got him to bed – especially at night-time. Paying more attention to suitable awake times for his age really helped!”
Ditching the dummy
The other change was helping Carter to ditch the dummy.
“When I first talked to Chelle, she suggested that a dummy might be one of the things causing the frequent waking,” Helena explains.
“At that age, Carter wouldn’t have yet been able to find and replace his dummy independently, so we were getting up and having to put it back in for him. We knew it would be easier to get rid of now than later, so after we mastered the spaced soothing a bit, we removed the dummy – and were surprised how quickly he adjusted to no longer needing it!”
Diligence pays off
An earlier bedtime, as a result of a more streamlined routine, helped both Carter and Helena get back on a more even keel.
“It was amazing to have some of my evening back,” Helena laughs.
“I was finally able to eat something properly in the evening and enjoy sitting and watching something.”
The pay-off was worth it, despite the journey not being easy.
“I won’t lie – sleep training wasn't easy, and I think I got a bit obsessive about things revolving around Carter’s nap times. I wanted to do it right and took the nap times quite seriously – I still do!” Helena admits.
“Watching the clock was a good indicator for me in terms of awake times, but the routine was also worth sticking to so that we didn’t have a painful evening later too.”
It also helped that Helena wasn’t alone throughout. “Having someone who believed I could do it really helped – as well as the reassurance about what was normal. Chelle encouraged me to push through, and I needed that. I think I would have given up after night two if it was just me trying to DIY it.”
This confirms what we know. The private follow up support is the key element to your success when you work with our team. Having someone in your corner, your own sleep cheer leader who has your back no matter what.
This makes all the difference.
Now 13 months old, Carter is a happy, well-adjusted wee dude.
He is taking great naps, and sleeping well at night. The nights he does wake and call out he doesn't require a speedy response as he has learnt to self settle.
And Helena's found a much happier balance between strict and go with the flow, so a win-win all around.
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Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.