My sleeping angel turned into an early morning waker.Yes, I was one of those annoying mums at mother’s group who said her baby slept through the night and had decent sleeps during the day. I was incredibly lucky and thought this would continue. On the odd occasion where my dear miss Rosalie would wake up at some strange hour or have a fussy day there was always a good reason – a wonder week or illness like bronchiolitis. A few weeks ago my sleeping angel turned into an early morning waker.
Settling baby at bedtimeIt started with Rosalie falling asleep between 7 and 8 pm, which we thought was terrific. What wasn’t so thrilling was the random 3, 4 or 5 am wake up calls. The dream feeds I could just about manage, but more and more these sessions were turning into 1-2 hour playtimes in the wee hours. so we tried all manner of things. Increasing her intake of solids. A later bedtime. Keeping her daytime naps for 2 hours or less. None of these worked.
When visiting Karen at Basger’s Pharmacy for a weigh and measure she suggested perhaps it was time for sleep training. Rosalie must have understood what Karen was saying because she started to sleep through again for the next fortnight, with the odd night here and there where she still woke up for a feed. I thought she had simply reset her body clock during another wonder week development stage. However just as I started to feel relaxed the nightly wake-ups returned. Sleep training was on. Rosalie and Karen are good friends. Rosalie was quite the show off during my Friday night friendly chat with Karen. Jumping about, chatting and smiley. This was in complete contrast to the next evening of sleep training.
The most important part of Karen’s visit I feel was discussing what had been happening in our household during recent weeks.
Something came up that would never have come to my attention reading any baby sleeping book.My beloved cat had been in residence at the veterinarian's for treatment for several weeks. So the daily practice was to put Rosalie to sleep in the stroller during the day so I could visit our cat for cuddles and feeding while he was in recovery. Karen pointed out that it was a strong possibility that Rosalie’s waking was connected to her building a sleep association with the stroller and its gentle rocking movement. She recommended that we no longer allow Rosalie to sleep in the stroller except for the rare exception.
Saturday evening Karen came over as Rosalie had had her final bottle feed for the day and was starting to show tired signs of rubbing her eyes, yawning and grizzling.
Sleep pattern and cortisolKaren explained how it was going to work in terms of when and how we were going to respond to Rosalie as the night progressed. She also pointed out Rosalie would be experiencing higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, from not getting the right kind of sleep and nothing close to what she would from the gentle guidance of resetting her sleep pattern. She also explained that what we were going to do was NOT the commonly known controlled crying. I found this extremely reassuring.She also spoke directly to Rosalie who must have known that a big change was in store because she was responding to Karen with quite a serious and thoughtful expression.
Weaning off the baby swaddleKaren suggested we also take this opportunity to wean Rosalie from her attachment and association to being swaddled/wrapped for sleeping.
We put Rosalie down to sleep and following Karen’s instructions and guidance she was properly asleep within 15 minutes. Karen stayed for about an hour afterwards and then left us for the evening. I can happily report that Rosalie slept through that night, and the next, and so on. Karen did forewarn us that there could be a bit of a rebellion on Rosalie’s part about day 4 or 5 after her visit but we were lucky in that it never happened. Should it have occurred however we felt confident and prepared with Karen’s advice on how we might have managed this.
A baby to set the clock bySo a week or so down the road what can we report? We have a baby by whom we can almost set the clock by, does not need to be wrapped or fed to sleep, and who not only wakes and sleeps according to her own internal clock but on a predictable schedule. She is asleep within 1 to 3 minutes of being put down to bed without special assistance or ceremony.
My partner and I want to thank Karen. She has given us a huge gift! While I know that any baby requires flexibility from their parents, with proper rest this has given us both the energy to better enjoy and play with her during the day. It’s also given myself as a mum some predictable windows where I know I can get other things done for me. I’m now able to also able to schedule appointments with some confidence. Karen has a sixth sense for what babies need and how what is happening at home is connected. We think she is wonderful. Thank you!
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