Baby Sleep Consultant will help you restore your family's sleep patterns with a plan develop individually to suit you baby and your parenting style. Our insightful blogs provide further information and tips on all aspects of baby and toddler sleep problems and how you can improve things.
Like his namesake, Gabriel was a little angel. Except, that is, when it came to nap time. At 13 months old, his parents expected that he would already be settled into a regular routine of long naps and nighttime sleeps. But he hadn’t learnt to self-soothe at all, and his parents were concerned (not to mention tired!). Of course, Gabriel’s parents had tried all kinds of tricks to get him to nod off. Nothing really worked though, other than to rock him to sleep in his pram.
Evenings were no easier. In addition to being difficult to settle, Gabriel would wake up frequently throughout the night. His mum had to tend to him anywhere between 2-5 times every night! And whenever he woke up, he had to be breastfeed back to sleep each time. Needless to say, the sweet wee angel was exhausting.
Getting advice over the phone
After 13 months of rocking Gabriel to sleep in his pram, his parents knew that they needed to make a change. Gabriel’s Mum got on the phone with Narisha for a one-hour consultation to see what could be done to change his sleeping habits.
Narisha listened and asked questions to work out what kind of sleeper Gabriel was. Together they talked through what techniques could be used to help him settle, such as gradual withdrawal and the pick up/put down method. “But Gabriel’s parents were emotionally and physically exhausted, so they needed to use a faster method,” Narisha explains, which is why they ultimately decided to try spaced soothing.
Trying spaced soothing…again
Gabriel’s Mum was already familiar with the spaced soothing technique because she’d given it a go once before. But it hadn’t worked with Gabriel because it hadn’t been used consistently. Naturally, Gabriel’s Mum was “super nervous” to try again, although she trusted that it could work. Narisha supported her to stay consistent with the spaced soothing this time around, and his parents really committed to sticking with it. Gabriel’s Mum even took time off to help Gabriel have his naps at home for a few days.
No more nodding off in his pram
It may seem like a miracle after 13 months of battling sleepless nights, but Gabriel’s parents started to notice the spaced soothing technique was working after only one day! Within another three days, Gabriel was settling in well for all his naps and not waking up during the night at all. Narisha had three follow up phone calls to check in on Gabriel’s progress, and by the time of the second call, Gabriel’s Mum “sounded so confident in what she was doing, and couldn’t believe that it was really happening.”
Consistency really was key in getting Gabriel to make the shift from the pram to his cot. He’s sleeping well and no longer needs to be rocked in the pram – much to the relief of his parents! Narisha believes that the technique worked so well “due to his parents’ commitment with consistency and repetition. They did such an amazing job and the turnaround time in getting him to fall asleep by himself showed that.”
We are so grateful and happy to have had you as our sleep consultant and help our 13 month old bubs sleep! From waking every couple of hours and only sleeping whilst being breastfed, he is now sleeping through the night! And from taking his day nap in the pram, now sleeping in his cot! Your support, advice and knowledge is much appreciated. We thank you again for all your help, and I would highly recommend any family struggling with their bub’s sleep to contact you!
For Noelle, night-time had been for co-sleeping; cuddles with Mum and Dad and feeding on demand.
While her parents felt this was a lovely start to life for her, they’d began to feel that it might be time to move her into her own cot soon. Noelle was waking 4-5 times during the night and her mum had taken to sleeping in another room with her.
By the time Noelle was nine months old, her mum Kylie was tired and knew it was time to make some changes.
Unsure quite how to break the patterns she’d created, Kylie did what so many others do; she turned to the internet. And there was no shortage of information there!
Kylie spent the next four months trying all sorts of different things to help Noelle learn to settle and sleep independently. “It was really stressful. I would stay in the room for over an hour trying to get Noelle settled and we both just felt traumatised! It was really hard, but we struggled on. One night Noelle was so upset she made herself physically sick in her cot and I felt horrific – so guilty.
I wasn’t being fair or consistent. She’d had such a lovely start to life and now I felt like I was torturing her each night.”
“As a first-time mum, I wanted reassurance and an idea of what I could expect – as well as someone to troubleshoot and problem-solve with. I needed consistency and someone outside my family to help me through.”
Kylie and Abby clicked right away, as Abby found out about her parenting style, Noelle’s personality and the shape of their days, so that she could tailor her advice and strategies to suit.
“She was really open, non-judgemental and encouraging and I appreciated that she was also a mum herself. She listened to what we’d already done and gave me all the information. It was like having a friend on the end of the phone.”
Until that point, Noelle’s mum had been a happy attachment parent and Noelle was thriving; sleep felt like the last piece of the puzzle. Noelle was used to feeding on demand, lots of close physical contact through babywearing, and being fed to sleep.
Having attempted more gentle, in-room methods without success, Kylie and Abby decided that an ‘out of the room’ method would be best to try with such a vocal and wilful wee girl.
“As well as educating me on things like biological sleep windows, Abby gave me a step-by-step guide, with contingencies – based on everything we’d discussed.”
For Noelle, the plan started with some tweaks to her bedtime routine, so that her breastfeed wasn’t last thing in the evening anymore.
The first night settling Noelle into bed was challenging, but Kylie stuck to the plan; leaving the room for five minutes to begin with, then eight and ten, despite Noelle crying out.
“After the timed intervals I would go in and give her a hug and some reassurance, however, I tried not to lift her out of the cot and when she was calmer, I would say goodnight and leave again. The first couple of nights were hard, and we did a few of those ten minute stretches!”
Making the approach her own
As the week wore on, not only did Noelle start learning to settle herself, Kylie was learning too.
“I began to read Noelle’s sleep cues better and adapt her routine a bit. I understood that the key thing was not to put Noelle to sleep, and to make sure she didn’t need to rely on me for that, but I loved discovering that some of my gentle methods and the rituals we’d shared before could still be incorporated.”
Within a fortnight, Noelle was sleeping through the night and going to bed without tears.
“It’s no longer a big drama, and she knows what to expect come bedtime,” Kylie says with relief. However, it hasn’t only been Noelle’s evenings that have changed. Not only is the household feeling like they’re back to a normal situation with everyone sleeping in their own rooms, Noelle’s mum and dad were finally able to have their first evening date night. “I feel as though I got a bit of my life back. I’d been giving my all to Noelle – which I had expected to do – but I’ve realised I need some downtime and a chance to recharge too.”
Above all, Kylie appreciated the holistic approach that Abby took.
“It wasn’t just about sleep! I picked up general parenting ideas and considerations – and Abby empowered me to start the process of weaning Noelle. I was really struggling with that, but we got down to less feeds at night and now she’s only feeding twice a day. The change in her appetite during the day, and her intake of solids, has been immense. She’s eating more; the benefits truly have been far-reaching!”
Call Abby for your own free chat about how Abby can help you and your family: 0420 766 175
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We take into consideration your babies temperament and your parenting style.
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To think that I can facilitate confidence and more importantly enjoyment of motherhood again it seriously makes me want to shout from the rooftops!!!
“I first met Abby when she visited my local Mothers Group, where she gave us all some tips to help our babies sleep through the night.
After evaluating our situation at the time, she suggested dropping the third nap cold turkey at 7 months old, and THAT NIGHT my baby slept 12 hours straight at night and did so up until he was 10 months old. I’m not joking!
Then the 10 month sleep regression hit, and along with some bouts of illness and teething, our previously fantastic sleeper started waking every two hours at night and would start the day around 5.00am very cranky and tired (he was previously sleeping to 6.30/7am so I knew this was not normal).
He started having shorter naps, making it so much harder to get him to bed time and was not the happy and cheery little boy he usually was!
The situation was made even more stressful by the fact that I had to go back to work in a few weeks, so the thought of having a terrible night’s sleep, waking up ridiculously early and leaving a very overtired and cranky baby in the care of others was almost too much to bear.
I was crippled with anxiety and had no idea what to do.
I can’t put into words how appreciative I am for Abby’s support and guidance these past few weeks.
From our first phone conversation, she helped me wipe away the tears, lifted me up and filled me with confidence that we could do this!
First we sorted the room environment (which started lengthening his naps almost immediately) and then focused on keeping him within his age-appropriate awake windows during the day.
Once he had better naps and using some of Abby’s techniques, the night wakings stopped within a day or two. In the two weeks since our first conversation, he has only woken once in the night very briefly, and hasn’t done it since!
Early morning wakeups were our next challenge, but after consistently putting in place Abby’s suggestions and techniques, if he ever wakes early, he will usually (90% of the time) go back to sleep past 6am!
And if he doesn’t go back to sleep, there are other things we can do to avoid him getting overtired – which has saved my sanity!
I also feel equipped with the skills so that if ever history repeats itself and another regression hits, that with persistence and consistency, we will get through it!
The biggest difference is the feeling I have as a mum.
I’ve gone from having my confidence shattered and bracing for the worst every morning, having panic attacks before naps and bedtime, to waking up happy and enjoying every moment with my son.
She even went out of her way to send me a message of encouragement on my first day back at work!
Abby is such a vibrant, warm and friendly person with so much passion for what she does.
My family is so much happier thanks to her help and I can’t recommend her more highly! “
Abby is a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant
You can call Abby on 0420 766 175
or email her firstname.lastname@example.org
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A parent’s responsibility: The mindset shift that’s key to successful sleep training
“I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING AND I CAN’T GET HIM TO GO TO SLEEP….”
“I COULDN’T MAKE HIM SLEEP, NO MATTER WHAT I DID…NOTHING WORKS!”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard one of the above phrases…
They’re variations on the same theme – and they all reflect, either consciously or subconsciously, a fundamental belief that so many parents have that it is somehow their responsibility to get their child to go to sleep.
However, I’m here to tell you that this isn’t actually your job.
This may seem like an odd thing for a sleep consultant to be saying; surely it’s our job to show you how to get your child to sleep?
Not exactly… Our job is to help you to support your child to learn to fall asleep on their own.
For a start, let me say that I’m not talking here about newborns; in those very early days it is absolutely our role to get our newborns to sleep and we do this by almost any means necessary. Instead, what I’m talking about here is those children who are the other side of six months old or who, in some cases, are well into toddler-hood and who still struggle to fall asleep on their own.
For many, this shift should be a relief.
Think for a moment about the flipside of your feelings of responsibility; the stress and anxiety, the frustration and feelings of failure. Of course you want your children to sleep well – for their own wellbeing and development, as well as the sanity and functioning of your family.
However, it simply isn’t our role or responsibility to make them.
Still not convinced?
Think about mealtimes… When you serve up dinner in the evenings, your job (so to speak) is done. You’ve provided healthy and nutritious food choices, as part of their balanced diet – it’s up to them what they choose to eat from what’s on their plate.
So, what exactly are your responsibilities around sleep?
I believe that, as a parent, your job description contains the following, as related to sleep:
Provide a safe sleep environment – with appropriate bedding and no hazards.
Ensure the environment your child is in encourages sleep – that it’s sufficiently dark and quiet and that it’s not too hot or too cold.
Help to prepare them for sleep – ensuring that they have a well-sustained, full tummy, that they are dressed appropriately (and won’t be too hot or cold), and support them to wind down.
Sleep is a skill and needs to be learnt
Although sleep is, in many respects, a biological need, those transitions of going from awake to drowsy and then to sleep are a skill, and something that needs to be learnt.
Our children need to master this before they can hope to fall asleep independently.
It can help to think about it this way, because how do we learn a new skill?
With time, practice and repetition (so…. much…. repetition!) Think about your child learning another skill – say, mastering the ability to walk or ride a bike.
We wouldn’t be frustrated with our child for taking “too long” to pick that up; we’d be patient with them trying it over and over until they get it.
And what else do we do?
What’s our role as our child works on and, eventually, masters this new skill?
Our focus is on being there for them – gradually withdrawing our involvement and allowing them to do more of it for themselves along the way.
We don’t step in to do the thing – or expect to learn the skill – for them. This wouldn’t work for walking or riding a bike and the same goes for sleep.
Analogies aside, how do you support your child to fall asleep?
As with when they are learning any new skill, children need our support and guidance.
If they’re upset as they’re learning to go to sleep, you support them – emotionally, as well as physically. This might involve picking them up, cuddling them, staying in the room, patting them or even feeding them.
The key thing however is that you are doing these things, and providing this support, not to make them go to sleep, but to calm them down so that they can go to sleep themselves.
This may seem like a subtle difference, but the mindset shift is significant.
The other key thing is consistency.
We see so many parents who are simply doing too much.
Pick one technique and be prepared to keep doing it (and doing it, and doing it… Remember how I mentioned about repetition earlier?)
So often we shift between techniques because what we were trying doesn’t seem to be working – we give our child a cuddle and they don’t calm down, so we walk them around the room. But that doesn’t do it either, so we stand there bouncing. And then we start in with the shushing or other vocal soothing.
None of these approaches are inherently ‘wrong’, but we often move too quickly between them.
If you’re still carrying the responsibility for sending your child to the land of slumber, all these techniques can be relatively fraught.
There are obviously more factors and conditions that you can set the stage with to best support your child to learn the skill of sleep.
And as so many of you will have experienced, if your child is simply not tired, or is not responsive to it, most of the other techniques you try will be futile.
However, I truly believe that this shift in mindset will set you free. I’ve seen time and again that it’s the single most significant factor in whether a family achieves success in their sleep training endeavours or not.
Rest easy… All the best for a superb sleep this summer!
If you think you are ready for change, and ready for that mindset shift that our sleep consultants help you with,register for a free chat and we’ll give you a call to see which of our packages would be the best fit for you and your family.
Wondering which approach to self settling would suit your baby or toddler best? Take our free quiz and work out your babies sleep temperament. Click the image below.
5-month-old Albie was still only cat napping during the day, relying on his “big sleep” at night, although “big sleep” is a rather charitable description.
Night times weren’t actually all that different: Albie might wake up anywhere between 6 to 12 times during the night. Each time, he’d expect to be fed, and his Mum couldn’t find any other way to put him back to sleep.
After his feed, Albie would fall asleep contently on his Mum’s chest. Which, while very cute, was nevertheless exhausting for his Mum. Of course she would try to put him down in his cot, but he’d immediately wake up again.
And since she wasn’t getting much sleep as it was, it didn’t seem worth the battle to keep Albie in his cot.
Having a sleepless infant left Albie’s Mum feeling like a prisoner. Doing even seemingly simple tasks became as daunting as climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.
Going to the doctor, for example?
Well that required taking a grumpy, sleep-deprived baby on a trip in the car, waiting around in a reception area behind a queue of people, having to distract Albie through the appointment, and then get in the car to drive back home again.
Everything revolved around Albie’s short naps and he was just draining. It was enough to make Mt Kilimanjaro look like an inconvenient hill.
Consultation teaches confidence
Even though Albie was still relatively young, his Mum knew she needed help now. She called Abby, a Baby Sleep Consultant, to come in for a home consultation.
Abby listened as Mum explained about her son’s naps, routines, and eating habits, and then together they worked on a plan to get Albie sleeping better.
“The first thing we did when looking at Albie’s room was to make it a bit darker,” explains Abby. Despite the curtains, a lot of nurseries still get a lot of light filtering in. Having a light sleep room for your baby is often one of the main factors contributing to your baby cat napping. “So we hung sheets up to block out as much light as we could, and then we swaddled Albie.”
The plan then was to use the “pick up, put down” method, which is gentle but effective.
Although Albie’s Mum had heard of this technique before, what made it really click this time around was having Abby there to help guide her through it.
In the past, Albie’s Mum had felt like she couldn’t put him down because when he’d cry, she wouldn’t know what to do.
Was that normal crying?
Or was she being a bad Mum? Did Albie need picking up and comforting? These were all (very normal!) questions and worries.
With Abby there, they were able to read the cries together and decipher them. “Having someone there to do that with you is a real comfort,” says Abby. “It’s better than reading a book because every baby is different and a book can’t tell you how you should respond in every given situation.”
There were times during the consultation when Albie would cry really hard, and Abby encouraged Mum to pick him up and comfort him.
His Mum quickly picked up on the different types of cries and became more confident to leave him when he wasn’t crying a lot. During the consultation, Albie became settled enough to have a really good snooze too! Good bye cat napping Albie…
Sleeping soundly now
With her new-found confidence, Albie’s Mum – and little Albie himself – took really quickly to the “pick up, put down” method. Albie started sleeping better, and less frequently, during the day so that he would then sleep more solidly come nighttime.
Within 10 days, Albie was accustomed to a set routine of “perfect daytime naps” and would only wake up once during the night, “which at 5 months is great!” says Abby.
While it’s fantastic that Mum is now getting more sleep too, the benefits of Albie’s new sleep routine have had a far wider-reaching impact. Mum is thrilled to bits that she can now take Albie out more successfully, by working around his nap times. Abby is happy that she could help another mother develop “those tools to look at the day holistically, and decide how to go about her day.”
Contact Abby for an obligation free chat on 0416 803 477
Clients rave about Abby
“Absolutely amazing! The support has been incredible and being a first-time mum it’s so wonderful to have someone there to listen and give advice in probably the most important area of a babies life – sleep! I can not tell you what a difference it has made both for me, to have a structured routine, and for CJ who I feel is a much happier baby because he’s starting to see some really patterns forming in his life, no more cat napping. Again I can not thank you enough. You’ve been my lifesaver!”
“It’s been amazing. To be honest when Abby suggested she was getting too much day sleep I didn’t believe her as I had read 4 sleep books and was doing what all 4 said. 2 1.5 hour sleeps for her age and the books had always worked, well until 7-8 months, Desperate I thought I need to try Abbys method It can’t make it worse, can it. Turns out she was right. She is back sleeping 12-13 hours at night with no wake ups, she is back to her happy self. I am not as stressed out and anxious mum all the time worrying when will she wake up. I was worried she would start cat napping, but she loves the new routine. Ricky and I have time again for each other to talk and catch up as we are not trying to fight her to settle and resettle. For an hour each night. I am able to catch up and be on top of things because I am getting sleep and can have me time again when she naps. I am refreshed and a new women. For only being one week in and having 6 of the 7 nights lydia back sleeping between 11.5 -13 hours all of those night with out us needing her to resettle or give a bottle ect is amazing. The experiment as been well worth the time, effort, hard work, crying and money. I don’t think we can put a price on good sleep for everyone. THANK YOU ABBY!!!”
Abby’s Cat Napping Check list
If you’re wanting to nip your babies cat napping in the butt, check out Abby’s quick check list
Sleep environment nice and dark
White noise turned up
Appropriate positive sleep associations
Enough awake time that baby is tired enough to not cat nap
Baby not over tired
Aim for naps to fall inside biological sleep windows
Baby isn’t hungry or in pain
Baby isn’t feeding to sleep or reliant on a dummy under 6 months old
Baby can easily self settle independently
I’m ready to commit to working on re-settling consistently
Download our FREE cat napping NO more work book and nap routines HERE
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Hearing your baby cry is heartbreaking, but what about when they scream relentlessly every time they are put down?
This was the unfortunate case for 3 month old Olive, and her Mum was struggling.
Olive was catnapping frequently throughout the day – often for only 20 minutes at a time – and managing only short periods of awake time in between (about half of what was usual for her age). Olive’s Mum couldn’t get her to sleep on her own amidst the screaming, so Olive’s naps tended to take place in the frontpack – however, Olive’s Mum knew this wasn’t sustainable.
Night-time sleeps were done with Olive’s Mum and her partner taking ‘shifts’ and some of the recommended ‘safe sleep’ practices were causing problems, so they knew that this was unsustainable too.
Olive’s Mum wasn’t sure whether it was too early to seek any sort of sleep support, but she knew she wanted to do something to help Olive, because seeing her so upset was distressing – not to mention the toll it was having on the rest of the household. She wasn’t sure what she was doing wrong…!
We’ve all heard our baby’s cry and had to work to decipher what it is that’s upsetting them – discomfort, hunger, overtiredness or a whole host of other possibilities. For first time mothers, it can be even more difficult to determine what to expect versus what is atypical. Abby’s outside perspective and experience enabled her to recognise that, much of the time, wee Olive was genuinely in pain.
Olive’s Mum had taken her to see the GP and checked in with a Lactation Consultant, both of whom suggested that Olive was likely to grow out of her current troubles by 12 weeks. Unfortunately, this hadn’t happened… So on Abby’s recommendation, Olive’s Mum booked an appointment with a pediatrician. Even knowing that they were seeking additional help was a comfort and, eventually, a diagnosis of silent reflux was given. Olive was started on some medication, which made her much more comfortable. Understanding the issues, Abby’s approach to Olive’s sleep had to fit alongside this treatment.
Supporting sleep and feeding – breaking the vicious cycle
For the first three or four days, while awaiting a diagnosis and treatment plan, the approach to Olive’s sleep was based around starting to get some structure into the day and mitigating the symptoms Olive appeared to be experiencing. Olive’s Mum persisted in offering a dummy for settling and Olive continued to do most of her naps on Mum to recover some of her sleep debt and begin the process of setting her body clock into an age-appropriate rhythm.
Olive had been in a vicious cycle of not enough consolidated or restorative sleep to last for decent awake times, which then meant she didn’t have a high enough drive to sleep when she did nod off again. Her feeds were also being affected and were relatively erratic, based on what her gastrointestinal tract could handle. Those early days were about finding the balance for feeding so that Olive had enough in her tummy to not get hungry while she was sleeping, but also wasn’t eating so close to sleep time that her symptoms were exacerbated.
Once Olive had responded well to the medication and was more comfortable, Abby discussed other options and methods for settling. Olive’s Mum found the prospect of lying Olive down to sleep daunting, when that had previously been the source of so much screaming. Abby helped her with the idea of tackling just one nap a day in her cot first.
Initially, Olive’s Mum mimicked the settling techniques with Olive upright, before Abby supported her through very gradual and hands-on settling techniques to help Olive fall asleep in her cot. As soon as Olive was more comfortable physically, and her Mum had a plan, things fell into place quickly. Olive was soon down to three naps a day and was self-settling for the morning and lunchtime one, which became consistently longer in duration too.
Getting into an age-appropriate structure around feeds and sleep meant that Olive was able to achieve the restorative rest that she needed to thrive again. Olive’s Mum had her happy and sparkly wee girl back and was so relieved that Olive was able to sleep on her own – and safely.
Abby is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, mother of two and passionate about helping families find a sleep solution that works.
Call 0416 803 477 email@example.com
“Working with families to find a solution to their sleep issues through empowering them with the relevant knowledge and tools is something I feel passionate about. I pride myself on offering an approach that focuses on listening to you before forming an approach that you feel comfortable with and that meshes well with your parenting style and philosophy.”
Adelaide sleep consultant Kelly tells us about her solution for baby Alex’s short naps and poor nights.
Alex was a restless little man. He would cat-nap throughout the day, and then be an alert night owl at bedtime. His parents could forget about a good night’s sleep; Alex wouldn’t sleep for any longer than one or perhaps two hour blocks if they were lucky.
It was an all-too familiar pattern for his parents, who had willed themselves through sleep deprivation with his older brother… but not again!
Having survived 14 months of sleepless nights with Alex’s older brother, they knew it would just be too much a second time around. Although Alex was only four months old, his parents wanted to nip it in the bud and get a good sleep routine down.
Kelly meets little Alex
Alex’s Mum decided to give Kelly (Adelaide sleep consultant) a call and have her come in for a two hour in-home consultation. Kelly got to meet little Alex and learn more about his eating and sleeping patterns, and how he fits in with the rest of the family.
It was pretty clear to Kelly from the beginning that Alex’s sleep environment just wasn’t working for him. Alex would sleep when he felt like it during the daytime and then find himself wide awake come nightfall. He would also snack on milk intermittently without really drinking enough to help lull him into a good, deep sleep.
A quick makeover for the nursery
Alex typically napped in the lounge, but he was getting overstimulated by the people around him. So Kelly took Alex to the nursery, where she made a few quick changes to transform it into a nice, dark space for him to relax in. Alex was also swaddled for extra comfort, since he was still so small and enjoyed the sensation.
Alex’s older brother was three years old and doing what any self-respecting three year old does – making lots of noise. Fortunately, that problem was easily solved by introducing plenty of white noise in the nursery.
Kelly also noticed that there was one pretty major difference between Alex and his older brother that his parents hadn’t picked up on yet. Many kids, including Alex’s brother, find dummies soothing.
But Alex found the dummy agitating, and every time it was put in his mouth he would get upset. Putting Alex to sleep without the dummy actually worked far better for him.
A sleep routine was then key to getting Alex’s body clock to shift. Kelly worked with Alex’s Mum to come up with a schedule that included an afternoon nap for both toddler and baby, but was also based around Alex not sleeping as frequently during the day as he was doing.
Within only a week or two, Alex was waking up only once a night for a feed, “which is a completely age appropriate amount,” says Kelly.
I’m not coming back!
During the home consultation, Alex’s Mum asked Kelly how often she’d have to come back to help Alex develop his sleep routine. Kelly likes to jokingly respond to this question by saying “I won’t need to come back a second time, hun!” But behind the joke, the sentiment is clear. Kelly doesn’t have to come back, and the four follow up calls she did with Alex’s Mum over the next week or so proved that Alex had progressed incredibly well. Alex was having steady naps during the day and letting his parents sleep well at night.
Alex’s Mum was absolutely thrilled to have his sleeping habits sorted by four months, as opposed to the 14 months it took with his older brother. She told Kelly that she felt like a huge weight have been lifted, and felt “more in control with two kids than I was with one!”
Alex’s Mum also said: “Thank you so much for your help with Alex; you have literally saved my life! I used to dread going to bed at night, and how many wake ups we were going to endure, and now my husband and I can put both kids to bed at a reasonable time and watch a movie together with a glass of wine. Honestly, we cannot thank you enough.”
The 4 month sleep regression gets a bad rep. It is blamed for most sleep difficulties after 4 months, while parents patiently wait for it it to pass.
Unfortunately the 4 month sleep regression isn’t so much a regression as it is a permanent change in your babies sleep patterns, and it doesn’t always start at 4 months.
To better understand the 4 month sleep regression, lets first go back to the beginning and look at newborn sleep development……Lots of newborn are born very sleepy, they have a lot of melatonin on board which has come from mum across the placenta. This means often in the first 3 weeks we can get away with feeding them, wrapping like a burrito and popping them down for a nap, and they sleep!
After this blissful 3 week stage most newborns start to gradually “wake up”, as they do this maternal melatonin has worn off, and their bodies don’t catch up and start producing it’s own sleep hormones for a few weeks or months.
At the same time your babies sleep cycles are starting to emerge and develop as their circadian rythym is slowly starting to mature.
These sleep cycles start to emerge anywhere from 8-16 weeks on average. That is your baby who used to nap for 1-2 hours might start to wake up after 45 minutes and seem wide awake.
This is perfectly normal and to be expected. This is your baby neurologically maturing, and their sleep isn’t broken. You might not notice this development for a few reasons.
Your baby can already self settle, and they simply re-settle themselves back to sleep and you are blissfully unaware that they are waking and going back to sleep.
They have been in a consistent routine for a few months before the progression starts. Often these babies continue to sleep well since their sleep is very much a habit already.
Your baby naps on you, or in a carrier, so you assist them to sleep, and back to sleep when they wake from a short nap.
So can the 4 month sleep regression occur early?
The word regression refers to something getting worse or going backwards. Parents use the term 4 month sleep regression to describe the results they see after this neurological development of sleep cycles.
4 month sleep regression observations
45 minute naps
30 minute naps
Difficulty re-settling baby
Frequent wake ups at night
Regression in night sleep
2 hourly wake ups at night
Loss of nap routine
Yes we start to see these signs as early as 8 weeks, or as late as 6 months!
A few of the signs are due to over tiredness which takes some time to occur as your baby gets progressively more and more tired as the weeks go by with these short naps. Sometimes it takes as long as 6 months for the result of over tiredness to show up (frequent night wake ups).
Each baby is different in how they respond to this change and development of sleep cycles which is why it appears like a regression which starts as early as 8 weeks for some people, or as late as 6 months for others.
Is there anything you can do to help?
Lots of people will tell you the 4 month sleep regression is a phase that will quickly pass. But I only observe this in babies with the classic “easy” temperament. Other babies who are a bit more tricky can spend months in this sleep pattern, and everyone is getting more and more tired!
Some practical suggestions to help
Avoid over tiredness by offering 4 naps if no long naps are achievable.
Early to bed to combat that rising sleep debt and protect night sleep.
Work on re-settling into a longer nap at least once a day.
Evaluate your sleep associations to see if they are helping or hindering your baby’s sleep.
Try a consistent nap routine to help with longer naps. View ours HERE.
Respect your baby’s need to sleep and watch those tired signs.
Reach out for help from your local certified sleep consultant. Book a free chat with the team HERE.
Deciding to Night Wean at any age can be emotional for both mum and baby.
That love/hate relationship with getting up at 3am to nurse or warm a bottle is something all mums can relate to. Dragging our exhausted bodies into the nursery, desperate for more sleep, but then that feeling off a warm baby snuggled in your arms, there is something kind of addictive about that!
There is no right or wrong way to night wean, and there is no perfect age to night wean. We know that babies under 6 months usually require a night feed, so we don’t encourage night weaning before 6 months.
But after 6 months it can be quite individual as to whether your baby is ready to night wean, and whether you as the parent is ready! As with all things parenting related, there is no point starting out on a journey of change if you are not ready for that change, as this leads to inconsistent reinforcement, which we try to avoid in all parenting situations.
Some signs your baby is ready to Night Wean
Your baby is over 6 months old
Your baby is thriving in their weight and growth
Your baby has 4-6 breast or formula feeds a day (7am-7pm)
Your baby is NOT hungry or interested in their first feed of the day
Your baby has started solids and is having 1-2 meals a day
Your baby has started on protein (meat)
Your baby can self settle to sleep, and re-settle back to sleep
This list isn’t conclusive, but a guide for you if you are thinking about night weaning. Some babies will simply start to sleep all night and naturally night wean, this is another good sign.
All babies are different and your baby might meet this criteria at 6.5 months, but your best friends baby not until 9 months old, or even 12 months for someone else.
Some times we need to work on the self settling and re-settling skills as we work on night weaning as parents can’t re-settle without feeding. This is where a sleep consultant can be hugely beneficial.
Try not to compare your baby to everyone else’s, and just look through the lists and have a think about your baby as an individual.
What about Mum, are you ready?
When you do decide to night wean, you lose the breast-feeding hormones overnight. These hormones are Prolactin and Oxytocin.
Prolactin is produced as you breastfeed, its production also brings a feeling of well-being, calmness and relation, (helping you get back to sleep after a night feed). You won’t have this hormone present when you try to get back to sleep after re-settling during night weaning.
Oxytocin is also released as you breastfeed day and night, and it is a hormone commonly referred to as the love hormone, the decrease in both the prolactin and oxytocin when you drop night feeds can negatively impact your mood for a few days or a week as your body adjusts.
Some mothers feel quite tearful, or struggle emotionally with this decrease in hormones, which in turn makes them question the thoughts around night weaning. If you “cold turkey”cut all night feeds, you will likely notice this change more than if you gradually cut the feeds down over a few days.
Dropping night feeds can also mean encouraging your baby to re-settle themselves if they have previously been relying on your breast or bottle to get back to sleep. This can be stressful or at the least difficult, especially at 1am when you are exhausted and just want to get back to sleep ASAP! This is why it is so important to be committed and completely ready to night wean when you decide to start.
Some other mum’s won’t feel ready to night wean even though their baby is “ready”, as they are back at work, and the night feeding allows them to continue that quiet bonding time. This is 100% ok and you will know when YOU are ready to drop those night feeds.
How do you Night Wean?
Depending on how old your baby is, and how many feeds a night they have, and whether its breast or bottle, you have a few choices.
You can gradually reduce down the number of breastfeeds you offer each night, re-settling at the wake ups where you don’t want to feed. This can be were a sleep consultant can be useful, as we can help you come up with a strategy to re-settle your baby as they are learning to go back to sleep without a feed. This doesn’t mean we leave them to cry it out.
If you are bottle feeding, you can reduce down the volume of each bottle you are offering, and then re-settle your baby if they continue to wake after the bottles have been reduced to less than 50ml. Again if you need help with the re-settling and teaching your baby to go back to sleep without a bottle, we can help with this.
If your baby is only having 1 feed a night whether its breast or bottle, you could consider cutting it cold turkey and re-settling your baby, and teaching them to go back to sleep without a feed.
Just be careful when ever you are working on re-settling without a feed, it can be tempting to try to get your baby back to sleep as quickly as possible, which can in turn create new sleep props which have to be changed. Examples of accidental sleep props I see after night weaning is rocking to sleep, holding to sleep, and offering bottles of water. Any re-settling needs to be done with the mindset of how you can progressively do less and less in order to encourage your baby to put them selves back to sleep on their own once they are ready.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We have helped thousands of parents night wean without cry it out, and we are all mums ourselves, we understand the emotional implications of night weaning.
The first thing to think about if you want to night wean your toddler is how they fall asleep at bed time. If they rely on the breast or bottle at bed time to go to sleep, this is the first place for us to work on change. There is huge physiological drive to sleep at bed time which makes this process successful quickly. I am not suggesting you cut this feed altogether, but that your toddler is awake after this feed, you could brush their teeth in their bedroom, or read a story after the feed, then settle your toddler to sleep without feeding. This creates a disassociation between feeding and sleeping, which in some cases means the toddlers quickly night wean with no more intervention from mum or dad.
But many toddlers will still wake for a feed through the night. Assuming your toddler is thriving and healthy we can choose to only offer nursing as comfort as we teach your toddler to settle in another way without a full feed, or we can have another parent settle your toddler back to sleep so nursing isn’t even an option.
The goals when night weaning a toddler is to be clear with them and verbally explain that there will be no more night feeds, only milk during the day, and that you will support them through this big change.
If you need help with the settling without feeding, click the link below and book a chat with our team, we have helped thousands of toddlers night wean without cry it out.
“I slowly weaned by only offered one side for one week at night – after trying to resettle, dummy, water first and making sure she was eating more during the day too by giving food and not offering boob, but if she wanted I would again only offer one side. She is now 18 months and has been sleeping 12 hour stretches. I never thought I would get more than 6 hours straight sleep in my life again. Persistence is key and remember, you are the boss.”
“Both of mine did it naturally by just dropping a night feed at a time. Oldest was about 7 weeks, youngest was 11 months, from about 7 or 8 months he was only waking for 1 feed a night then he just started not waking for it a few nights a week. He’s just turned 1 and he’s been consistently sleeping through since about 11 months.”
“Daughter was about a year before she stopped having a bottle in the night. My son stopped at 4 months. Occasionally he will need a bottle before midnight but that’s once in a blue moon.”
“After 7 months…I gave her a cuddle when she woke instead of a feed. If she woke again then I’d fed her. She rarely woke a second time once I started this. Now she’s (mostly) sleeping through at 10 months.”
“First 6 weeks on her own, second actively night weaned at 8 months”
“7 months for number one on her own and 9 months for number 2 actively reduced his feed overnight.”
“Mine slept through from 3 months and then she regressed around 6 months so we did sleep training and I didn’t feed her during the night after that as I was confident she didn’t need it as she was a very chubby baby.”
“My eldest I weaned his one feed around 7mths. no problem. my youngest is 14 months and will sleep through for about three days then wake for a feed. longest he’s gone us about two weeks of sleeping through. not pushing it cause he’s a little fella and just won’t settle without that feed usually. I try cuddles/water first.”
They say it takes a village to raise a child – but what if you don’t have access to one?
In a large state like Western Australia, this can often be the case, with new parents living in some of the smaller centres, or a long way from other family or services.
Despite having access to Mum’s groups, these aren’t always non-judgmental places that mums feel safe sharing, and the feeling of overwhelm can still linger… It’s in places like this that our phone consults really come into their own!
Lots going on for Lily
3 year old Lily had always been a relatively good sleeper, but some upheaval at home had caused some challenges. Not only had a new baby arrived on the scene, Lily’s mum’s pregnancy had been tough and she’d spent much of the last trimester in hospital in Perth (six hours away!)
While Lily was well taken care of by her dad and grandparents who came to help at home, and life should have been (relatively) back to normal with Mum and Lily’s little sibling now home, Lily was continuing to battle bedtime – sometimes for hours! She was also waking early, which although counter-intuitive, is also a result of taking a long time to settle at night.
Not only that, Lily was refusing her daytime nap. (get your free toddler nap routine HERE) Although she was probably ready to give up her daytime sleep altogether, her night sleep was not settled enough for this to be successful. Her mum had tried a really hands off, ‘cry it out’ method herself, but Lily was too strong-willed. Being well into her toddler years, and sleeping in a bed as opposed to a cot, she was getting up to far too much mischief when left in her room for the evening (opening the door, flicking the light on and off, even removing her PJs and nappy!)
How to teach a toddler new tricks
Lily’s parents engaged with Perth-based consultant Abby for a phone consult, which took place late one night so that both Mum and Dad could partake in it. It was quickly apparent that it wasn’t that Lily couldn’t settle or sleep; instead there had been a ‘perfect storm’ of upheaval that she needed help working through. The conversation quickly moved to what could be put in place to remedy things.
Leaving Lily to cry wasn’t working, so her parents wanted to explore other options. Because Dad was often away doing shift work, they had some concerns about the reality of a more hands-on approach to settling Lily for the evening, when they were also coping with a new baby – often with only one set of hands.
Because Lily’s sleep challenges stemmed from a need for security, Abby suggested an ‘in the room’ technique to start with. The sleep training was going to be more intensive at first – to get on top of her overtiredness – but that needn’t be the case for the long term. Lily’s parents picked a few days that Dad was going to be home and, after they got the baby down for the evening, started implementing Abby’s recommendations.
Consistency and clever techniques were key
Lily’s mum did the first two nights in the room with Lily, encouraging her – time and again – to stay in bed and to lie down, before Dad took over for a couple of days. That first night there was still a relatively long process involved in getting Lily to sleep. Toddlers are all about having fun, so there was a need for consistency in the approach and a few clever fixes like getting Lily a pair of drawstring PJ pants, which they put on backwards to dissuade Lily from removing them and her nappy.
Because of Lily’s age and cognition, there was lots that they could do throughout the day to instil expectations around how bedtime would go. They role-played and practiced with both Lily and her doll having a turn going to bed – and they talked about rules around bedtime, creating together a large poster that reinforced the agreed behaviours at bedtime.
Getting results: a toddler transformation
Lily’s parents stuck with it – ignoring the bad and rewarding or praising the good – and the results came quickly. After that first night, Lily still had her daytime sleep, but bedtime that night was still a battle so the next day, Lily’s parents pushed through the day and got Lily into bed much earlier. By the third night, the time it took to settle Lily to bed was just 45 minutes – a lot less than the more than two hours it had been taking initially.
For Lily, adjusting to her day without a nap took a couple of weeks, during which time she still seemed tired throughout the day. However, as her times to settle to bed at night continued to reduce and her early wake ups diminished, the eight or nine hours of sleep that Lily was getting overnight became closer to 12 hours of restorative sleep each night.
Abby continued to coach the family, providing phone and follow up support along the way and although it was a process (after all, one night of good sleep can’t erase accumulated sleep debt all at once!) the family are thrilled with the transformation in Lily’s sleep.
You can view and book your own phone consult HERE.