Max was a busy 10 month old baby boy when I went to stay the night. He had a Lulla doll, but was still being fed to sleep every 1-2 hours overnight. He would often end up in mums bed, Lulla doll abandoned in his cot.
Mum had purchased the Lulla doll when Max was 8 months old in the hopes that it would magically help Max to start sleeping through the night. Unfortunately although Max developed a healthy attachment to Lulla doll and enjoyed having her in his cot, he didn’t sleep any better. It appeared the Lulla doll was helping Max as a positive sleep association but not helping Max to sleep for any longer or self settle without being fed to sleep.
Max was having two short 45 minute naps a day, he woke up crying but quickly cheered up once he was out of bed, and his delightful manner returned. Unfortunately this did mean that his sleep debt was increasing each day, and this level of over tiredness can start to contribute to these frequent night wake ups we observe. This is due to increasing levels of stress hormones which prevent your baby from drifting into a deep sleep at night. We either need to increase nap length or move bed time super early to compensate, either way Max needed some more sleep!
Due to the close relationship between Mum and Max when it came to sleep, mum was more comfortable with gentle sleep training.
This was perfect as I was keen to incorporate the Lulla Doll into Max’s sleep plan, as Lulla often helps when there is this close relationship between Mum and Sleep. Lulla Doll plays 8 hours of breathing and heart beat, that when combined with a good sleep plan they can be a winning combination.
Our goal was to have Max settle on his own at bed time, and then have him self settle through the night. We also put in plan a place to wean his feeds gradually rather than cold turkey, as he needed to increase his solids intake to be able to drop those feeds. I really felt his 5 feeds each night where limiting his solids intake during the day, as he was quite picky and often only had one meal a day, largely playing with his other two meals.
Each time Max cried after he was in bed, Mum would first go into his room, and hand him back the Lulla Doll, she would then pull up her chair and sit by Max’s cot. Max was already attached to the Lulla Doll, so would hold her, but not usually stop crying. We would give Max a minute to two but the first settling episode, he would still not stop crying.
We would escalate the settling from here, offering boring cuddles, and even nursing to calm when needed. I guided Mum and together we managed to support Max in his self settling, and he was asleep in 35 minutes, Lulla doll in arm!
Max slept until after midnight for the first time in over 4 months! When Max woke after midnight I suggested Mum give him a full feed as we were wanting to gradually wean Max, and mum desperately needed to do a feed too! After his full feed, we made sure that Max was awake, he was super drowsy and calm, we gave him back his Lulla doll and tucked him back in bed. He settled easily as we would expect after a full feed at night, but he woke just over a hour later.
We started his settling process again, Mum on her chair to start with giving Max the chance to try to settle. We used a similar process to what we did at bed time, Mum offered a few boring cuddles, but Max self settled within 20 minutes and Mum was back in bed asleep shortly after.
This time Max slept until 6.30am!
Over the coming days we weaned Max off the cuddles from mum and onto cuddles with Lulla Doll!
We would re-set her before mum went to bed, so if Max woke in the early hours she was still going.
A successful sleep plan teaching Max to self settle, and a positive sleep association successfully incorporated (Lulla Doll).
Max now settles to sleep on his own and has even started to take a decent lunch time nap! Finally getting on top of his sleep debt!
Baby Sleep Consultant Melbourne
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