No cry sleep training for a feed to sleep association

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When Alannah’s mum contacted me, Alannah was waking hourly at night, she couldn’t go to sleep without being breastfed and she was getting increasingly difficult to put to sleep even by being fed. Mum couldn’t even remember the last time that she had spent the whole night in her cot. She didn’t even realise how bad it had gotten until she filled out her intake form for me.

Mum decided on a home consult as this was the best way for me to be able to support mum and show her that we could settle Alannah without feeding to sleep. So one evening, I went to their home to help Mum learn how to settle Alannah without feeding her. We sat down together and discussed what we would do. Mum follows the Attachment Parenting philosophy, so we decided on a gentle sleep training technique. We slightly changed Alannah’s wind down routine so that she was being read a story after she had been fed for the night, and she was put into her cot after that, and mum began to use the gentle sleep training technique that she had chosen.

When she was in her cot, I stayed in the room, out of sight to support mum in implementing the sleep training method that she chose. Alannah took 40 minutes to go to sleep the first time mum used the method. Mum was ecstatic! She was surprised that there was hardly any crying. She told me that Alannah usually screams the house down, no matter what method they tried.

Alannah woke again 30 minutes later because she was very overtired. It took another 30 minutes to put Alannah back to sleep. Mum knew that she was going to have a very tiring night ahead of her, but she was determined to succeed. After 3 nights consistently using her chosen technique, Alannah was sleeping in 3-4 hour blocks. Mum was starting to feel that she was succeeding, and she was determined to keep going.

On the fourth night, Alannah was very unsettled. Mum knew this was likely, as I had told her that this is common after a few nights of sleep training. Mum remained consistent and didn’t feed Alannah to sleep, but she couldn’t settle Alannah, so she used her baby carrier to put Alannah to sleep instead.

A lot of mums fear this is when we as sleep consultants will growl you or be upset that you didn’t follow through, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We are all mum’s before we are sleep consultants, and we understand sleep deprivation, we get that you don’t like hearing your baby cry, and we understand sometimes we have little hiccups along the way! We are here to be your cheer leading team, not your sleep police!

After that very difficult night, I spoke to mum and reassured her that she was doing a fantastic job. Mum went back to the plan and followed it consistently. That night she slept in her cot all night and only woke once! Mum couldn’t believe it! Mum was so happy to only have to get up once in the night, and she told me that she noticed the difference in Alannah’s mood during the day too. She was happier than she’d ever been!

This is a classic comment we hear as sleep consultants. “I thought she was happy before, now she is such a happy baby!”. Mum was pleasantly surprised that although she was told her baby needed to wake and feed frequently at night by her peer group and coffee group friends, Alannah was in fact not hungry at all. She happily sleeps all night, and still breastfeeds well during the day, and eats 3 great meals.

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