Little Abby was 14 months old, but still struggling with her sleep.
Not only was she very attached to her Mum, she was always either fed or rocked to sleep. Her two daytime naps were often done in the pram and her Mum would sometimes walk up to 12 kilometres a day, pushing her, in order for these to happen.
Not only that, Abby was waking 8 to 10 times a night; her parents (and Abby herself!) were exhausted!
A gentle approach
Abby’s Mum was very anxious about sleep training; she had already had the controlled crying method suggested to them, which she had tried and not had any success with. She was feeling a bit scarred by that experience and while she knew she wanted to get more help, she had reservations about what that might entail.
Melbourne-based sleep consultant Miriam did a 6pm to midnight consult with Abby’s family, which began with a big discussion with both parents. After talking through their options with Miriam, Abby’s parents decided that a gentle, ‘put down, put down’ approach was their preferred course of action. At Abby’s age, it was virtually impossible to guarantee a ‘no tears’ approach, but Abby’s parents felt better knowing this sleep approach meant that they could be in the room with her and physically supporting her to learn better sleep habits.
In there for the long haul
Because Abby was old enough to stand up in her cot, the first part of her sleep training approach was about getting her to lie down – and stay there. Miriam supported Abby’s Mum to do this in Abby’s room for over an hour that first night, using words to try to get Abby to lie herself back down, or physically putting her back down on the mattress each time she stood. As well as that, Abby’s Mum tried patting, singing, shushing – whatever worked to get Abby to go to sleep by herself in her cot.
This hard work and persistence paid off and eventually Abby fell asleep. Although she woke an hour later, it took only ten minutes of the same technique to support her back to sleep at that point. Another hour later, Abby settled herself.
Persistence pays off
It didn’t take long before Abby was consolidating her night-time sleep and, within five days of starting sleep training, Abby was sleeping right through the night! Her parents couldn’t believe such a “life-changing miracle” had occurred and were thrilled to have actually enjoyed dinner and a glass of wine together in an evening; a far cry from Abby’s Mum being stuck in the bedroom for hours trying to get Abby to settle for the night.
Having tackled Abby’s night sleeps – and achieving far more rest herself – Abby’s Mum is now applying the same techniques to Abby’s day-time naps, as well as moving these to better fit with the timing of a baby’s biological nap windows, as per Miriam’s plan. The impact on this family has been huge – and just goes to show that a gentle approach, that doesn’t compromise one’s personal parenting style, can still achieve incredibly positive results!