I just had to share this amazing case study of a family with a 14 month old toddler, Christian who was waking many times at night. Mum was so exhausted she’d lost her confidence and was co-sleeping and breastfeeding to sleep. Mum kept telling herself that his sleep would improve. Unfortunately it rarely if ever does unless you do something about it. Here is their story.
Kirste, Alan & Christian
When we first welcomed our beautiful boy Christian into the world, we naively thought that when you put a baby down to sleep, they simply just slept. We also thought that as he got older, his sleeps would become longer. Although I had read a little bit about babies’ sleep cycles, as first-time parents, we were definitely in the dark in relation to sleep.
In the first 6 months of Christian’s life, I probably took the term “demand feeding” literally and this was impacted further as we were living in an apartment at the time, so whenever he woke at night, I would feed him back to sleep.
Short day naps
As the months rolled on, I kept telling myself that his sleep would improve when we moved him to solids or when we moved him into a cot or into his own room or out of the apartment and into our house. However, with these transitions, the frequent night wakings and short naps throughout the day continued.
By the time Christian was 12 months old, we had been to a residential sleep program, had a sleep nurse visit our home, conducted an overnight sleep study in hospital and purchased countless toys, CD’s and booklets from the internet.
Waking 6-8 times at night
At 14 months of age, the night wakings had escalated and were as many as 6-8 times each night and I was so exhausted that I had started to bring him into our bed to co-sleep and breastfeed.
I had lost a lot of confidence in this aspect of my parenting and I really didn’t know how I was going to turn this around, but a chance catch-up with friends, resulted in a referral to Karen. They had brought Karen into their home some years before when their son was 2 years old as they were experiencing similar problems. Upon contacting Karen, the decision to bring her into our home was further reinforced by a recommendation from Lisa, Nurture Parenting’s Client Relationship Manager who had also utilised Karen’s expertise. I was convinced even further when I sent through a list of questions and Karen took the time to phone me personally and to answer every question in detail.
Learning skills and self-soothing
Karen is an angel and we will be forever grateful to her for teaching all of us the skills to ensure Christian sleeps through the night and has longer day naps. This is a key point – you will learn skills and your child will learn how to settle. This is especially important because when your child is sick and you divert from the sleep training methods, then you need to be able to get things back on track when your child is well again.
Karen’s philosophy blended perfectly with ours in that we did not want any form of controlled crying and we wanted to maintain the bond and trust we had built with our Son and to improve his sleep in the kindest and most respectful way. Karen did just that – she is firm but very kind.
Karen stayed for one night at our house and our world changed on the second night when Christian slept for 10.5 hours straight, without waking. Christian continued to sleep through every night. Even when we came across fevers and ear infections, and I diverted slightly from the sleep training methods, I was able to get him back on track within a week of him being well again.
Karen has also provided advice to us on weaning from the breast and toddler behaviour when she didn’t have to, but she kindly took the time to do so. She has an abundance of knowledge, insight and expertise in sleep but also in all areas that relate to babies and toddlers. She is highly qualified and experienced and she is honestly the only person I would recommend. If you are hesitating or thinking about using Karen, stop thinking and call her as it will be the best investment you will ever make and she will change your lives for the better.
We can’t thank you enough Karen!
Kirste, Alan and Christian xxx
Sleep Success with my son Brendan 16mths – 2.5 yrs old.
My son Brendan has always been a terrible sleeper. From the day we brought him home from the hospital we did what many new mums do with a first born baby, we rocked him to sleep, feed him to sleep, sang songs whilst rocking and swaying him to sleep, co-sleeping with him many nights cos we were too tired. This led to him being a terrible sleeper. He woke so many times a night for the first few months (4+ times) and each time I breastfed him back to sleep. We tried to get into Tresillian but the wait list was 4 months away. The sleepless nights went on for a long time…
At 12 months of age, we had enough of the sleepless nights as my husband and I were both working now so found a sleep consultant for some advise. She was highly trained, worked at Tresillian and Karitane. She told us we needed to put him in his own room because up till now he was in our bedroom, and no milk bottle at night. She advised we pat him on the bum and sing loudly over his cries till he fell asleep. We tried this for several weeks but not much changed.
The sleepless nights continued
… now he was about 15 months and the separation anxiety had kicked in. We needed to rock him to sleep each night, or he would jump and down in his cot. He was still waking up between 2-3 times each night and many nights we gave him water now instead of milk.
Now I was several months pregnant with my second child and the first trimester I already caught 2 colds and 2 rounds of gastritis probably due to my lack of sleep. and I could no long rock my toddler to sleep or hold him till he fell asleep, so I was desperate to get help again. We sought out another sleep consultant over the phone and she advised we walk in and out of the room every few minutes till he learnt to fall asleep on is own and it could take up to 2 weeks. We tried this method also and he was still waking at night. We just about gave up and thought we have a lost cause.
Then we heard about Karen from Nurture Parenting. We were referred by many mothers on Facebook and several of my clients had used her as they heard me complain about no sleep and saw how tired I was. Being pregnant, no sleep and working I was losing my mind.
We were sceptical of yet another sleep consultant
…especially my husband as he thought none of these methods work. But I knew Karen was different, she was holistic in her approach and I’m a holistic health practitioner myself. She looks at all different issues together regarding sleep; diet, clothing, room environment, behaviour. We were advised to give my now 16-month-old foods high in fat and tryptophan to help sleep, make sure he was dressed warmly at night, dark room and most importantly be consistent in the sleep training and she promised he would be sleeping through the night by end of the week. By now he had probably slept through the night maybe a few times since birth!
She taught us the Magic Presence method where we sat by his cot and ignored him till he fell asleep and repeat it if he woke up at night. The first night we did this he took just under an hour of crying before he fell asleep and woke several times but he managed to self-settle himself and slept through the night, the second night was much less crying maybe around 20 minutes, he woke few times but we also managed to resettle himself. One week later he was sleeping through without us needing to go into his room at night. We felt human again and I was finally getting some much-needed sleep before baby no 2 arrived.
Brendan was the perfect sleeper
…until the night his baby sister came home from the hospital! He was now 22 months old and had slept perfectly for the last 6 months after Karen’s sleep training. By now he was also scaling the cot and could jump out, so we decided to move him from the cot to a bed. We decided to put a mattress on his floor. Now Brendan’s sleep was starting to become undone again. He was getting fussy to put down due to his new found freedom in the room, he was dealing with a new sibling, mummy didn’t have time for him as much and he was starting to act out. We sat in his room until he fell asleep but he would muck around for up to 1 hour before bedtime and started waking up several times a night again sometimes awake for up to 2.5hrs. After calling Karen again, she told us we needed to put a security gate on his room door so he couldn’t open his door. This led to much banging in the middle of the night and waking up his poor sister many times and many nights. Each time he woke at night we rushed into his room straight away and daddy would pick him up, give him a cuddle, give him a sip of water and put him back to sleep on the mattress. Sometimes he would go back to sleep easily sometimes he would throw tantrums that lasted 1-2 hours. Most nights he woke between 2-4 times. This went on for many months, we thought that it was just a phase and he would eventually go back to the great sleeper we knew he was.
Now I was getting desperate again, with a newborn and feeding and my toddler waking up 2-5 times I barely got any sleep at night. So now we had to enlist Karen’s help again. She advised we needed to show Brendan some tough love to get him sleeping through the night again. She recommended another approach. By night 5 he was sleeping through again. He slept through for the next 5 nights and we also didn’t need to sit inside his room for up to an hour each night.
We can’t thank Karen enough for her help both times with Brendan’s sleep. Her techniques worked successfully both times and we feel human again. My husband and I are her biggest fans and we have our sleeping toddler back again! May the good sleep continue…
Toddler Sleep & Behaviour Help
When you’ve reached desperation
Parents don’t contact me when they are just a little bit tired. They contact me when they feel completely broken and have nothing left. These were not first-time parents either. Both mum and dad had children from their first marriages and neither had bad sleepers previously. This sleep deprivation came as a complete shock to both of them. Luckily Asker turned from terrible to terrific after my sleep training.
Choosing the right sleep training method
Making sure you choose the right sleep training method for the developmental age is crucial. Asher was 9 months and so had recently gone through the tricky 6-8 month wonder week and was struggling with separation anxiety. Sleep school had chosen a method similar to controlled crying, a checking method which would have made him feel insecure and abandoned. Boys struggle more with sleep training. Knowing this I decided Magic Presence, also known as a gradual withdrawal method and based on attachment psychology was the best method to use to help Asher.
Object permanence and separation anxiety
Sleep school had not helped Asher
Asher just turned 6 months when we asked Karen for help and it’s one of the best decisions we made as prior to that we had 4-night stay in one of Sydney’s sleep schools and Asher came out of it worse than he went in… he was petrified of his cot… If I could describe Asher’s sleep in 1 word prior to Karen coming into our life it was – terrible.
His sleep was terrible
He was waking up every couple of hours throughout the night. I was lucky to get a 3h block of sleep. Every night he also had a ‘party’ as he wasn’t sleeping for 2h blocks at a time which meant I wasn’t sleeping either and it was taking it’s tall on me.
With Karen’s help, I realised that crying is not as bad as it sounds. As it’s not only teaching Asher to self-settle but to control his emotions and to express himself. it will also help him to have control over his feelings when he is older.
Caroline and Levi 9 months
Levi was waking frequently at night and mum wasn’t just tired, she was totally exhausted. At 9 months Levi had been moved into his own room to try and break the cycle of sleep deprivation for mum. Mum was used to being outside on the move, now she was wanting to be at home. Levi was a small boy, did not eat well during the day and mum still thought he needed a bottle at night: Mums goal: sleep training and self-settling in his cot and solids advice.
Mum was settling Levi by a bottle or assisted settling, sometimes pram. At night it was a very long process, sometimes a bottle of milk, walk or roll. He was sleeping 1-3 hours in the day and then at night he would sleep the first half for 5 hours then wake every 3/4 hours afterwards and need re-settling.
My home consult
When I went to help Caroline and her husband with Levi I could just tell mum was ‘totally over-it’ and all enjoyment of looking after Levi had gone. The toll of sleep-deprivation does this and no matter how loving a mum is the capacity to care can go along with the lack of sleep. I look into their eyes and the sparkle has gone. These mums never wanted to be this sort of mum. It didn’t start out like this. A lot of families just like Caroline and her husband don’t have a ‘village’. This compounds the problem as it mainly falls onto mum shoulders to carry this and cope. Dad/partner are often working long hours and arrive home to a baby who is overtired and a mum who is at the end of her tether. Once the baby goes to bed parents are often sleeping in different beds and rooms just to get some sleep. Mum worries about her partner driving to work and holding down a job to pay the mortgage and as we all know those Sydney mortgages and rent are not cheap. It all adds up to a lot of stress, relationship stress and maternal mental health issues.
On the night
Levi had hardly eaten any solids, his appetite was practically non-existent and he was over-tired. He also had eczema which was probably exacerbated by his extreme tiredness. Sleep is essential for a healthy and functioning immune system. We bathed him and dressed him in a sleeping bag ready for bed. He was too overtired for a story so we went straight for his bottle of formula which he drank slowly.
After discussing the sleep training options with mum and dad we decided on using Magic Presence. This is a presence method but not an interaction method. It’s kind and gentle and based in attachment psychology. Cuddles are given if the baby needs it, based on the crying. I can look at a baby’s cry and reaction to sleep training and can easily judge when and how often to do a cuddle. This has taken me 19 years of helping and listening to babies cry with sleep training to intuitively know what that particular baby needs. It’s so important we don’t over service or under service with sleep training to ensure a normal psychological attachment of mum to baby. Within an hour Levi had learnt how to self-settle and was fast asleep.
We talked about the night bottle and we decided that Levi would most probably eat more food once he was sleeping through the night. By day 5 most babies after 6 months rapidly ramp up their food intake and have voracious appetites. This was the case for Levi. Food has more calories than formula or breastmilk have.
Within a week Levi was sleeping through the night, 11-12 hours of blissful uninterrupted sleep.
I have been meaning to write you to let you know the progress of Levi. I still recall that first meeting when you said to me that I will enjoy my baby so much more after sleep training. Since seeing you and following the sleep training, it has changed our lives. He is so much happier, not as cranky, increased appetite and naps are improving. The morning naps we can pretty much walk away and he self-settles immediately. It brings me so much joy seeing him eat. While we are still working on getting him to be more adventurous with food and lumpier food, he pretty much eats all 3 meals a day now! Oh, and dessert has been a huge hit. This is from a kid who hardly ate and always refused his bottle, it has been the biggest change for the better and certainly reduced our stress levels a lot. And not to mention, I am finally sleeping consecutive hours!!!!!!!
Karen, thank you so much for your help. I am so grateful we saw you and we will continue to work with Levi as he settles more. It really has changed our dynamics and I am enjoying him so much more. And more importantly, he seems to be much happier. I think the last thing for us is really the morning where he still wakes at 5 am demanding a bottle.
Wishing you all the best with your book release and your business. You are amazing Karen, I can only imagine how many families you help and change their lives too.
All the best
Baby not Sleeping and Waking a Lot at Night?
Babies need a high-fat diet for good sleep
King of the catnaps
Previously, I’d spoken to and helped Alisha over Facebook with her toddler and his behaviour. Now baby no 2 had arrived and she had a few different challenges on her hands.
The new baby has reflux and he didn’t want to sleep in his bassinet. Mum contacted me about my eBook, Help I’m a New Mum and asked it would teach her baby how to self settle in a cot? Have a read about how she got on. This is such a lovely, heartwarming story and I love this new baby is getting great sleep earthside now.
Help I’m a New Mum ~ Newborn Ebook
In the marital bed
When Travis contacted me he was desperate to get his little girl, Olivia 16 months out of co-sleeping with the parents in the marital bed. Olivia had migrated there at 6 months old when she had a bout of illness and teething. This is a really common situation. However, once she was well again she didn’t want to leave and move back to her cot. And you can understand, as a toddler why would you?
Dad (Travis) was working long hours, he’d come home, eat his dinnner and get into bed with Olivia. As a result he was spending zero alone time with his wife Olga. They’d built a lovely house out West and it has a lot of bedrooms and Travis and Olga want to fill all these bedrooms with children. Family, to them, are everything. With Olivia firmly esconced and not wanting to leave and becoming more determined by the day he had no idea how exactly they were going to do this. They had tried and tried again and got nowhere.
I was the last chance saloon, as is often the case. He really couldn’t see it happening but he had to try. It’s not always the mums who call or email for help, sometimes it’s a desperate dad or even a brother-in-law. More on that story another time.
Happy New Year!
I have been recommended to you by a friend of ours who you have previously helped (She has twins).
My wife (Olga) and I (Travis) have a 16 month old daughter Olivia, and we are currently co-sleeping with her, this has been happening since she was 6 months old. There are a few reasons for this, we had just finished building our house and Olivia was sleeping in our room where we were staying during construction also, she got sick and the only way she fell asleep was in my arms, since then she has been co-sleeping.
Once Olivia is asleep we try to transfer her to her own cot but she wakes and cries and does not settle so I end up just putting her back in bed so we can get some sleep as well, only now she kicks us both in the face during the night and pulls Olga’s hair! We are not really getting a good nights rest. She has also rolled off the bed twice so we have a moat of pillows around us also.
We would like to get Olivia in her own room and her own cot. I was really hoping to get some help. I have looked at your services online and feel that both Olga and I would feel the most comfortable with a home visit/Overnight stay. We are not sure how many nights it will take.
On the night
I drove over to help them and arrived at 5 pm and followed them through their bedtime routine. We talked about how we were going to implement the sleep training and dad decided he was going to be the one doing it with me. This is a great idea as he’d been the one doing the majority of putting Olivia to bed and co-sleeping. Having that parent say no to their child has more meaning.
Dad kept saying, ‘I still don’t believe it can be done!’
We used my go-to method, Magic Presence which involves staying in the room and helping her naviagte her emotions, giving support but wilth no positive reinforcements. Olivia was cross, as most babies and toddlers are when you say no to them. She cried for about an hour at bedtime and then lay down and was fast asleep, only waking at 12:30 am and again we re-settled her for another hour. Next thing we knew it was morning and we went to get her up at 7 am.
Olga’s update on day one and night two
Hi Karen, thank you so much for all of your help last night. To recap today Olivia didn’t eat very well as expected and has also lost her voice, again as expected. She went down for her afternoon nap within 15 mins and woke up at after 45mins then resettled herself a few times which was fantastic. Now at night, it took 20 mins and she’s been sound asleep since 7:15-7:30. The only problem is that Travis had to lay on the floor otherwise she would not lie down herself. Is this ok? I recall you saying that we wouldn’t have to lie down. The chair doesn’t seem to be working. Are we not allowing her to cry for long enough before we lie on the floor? Hope you have a good trip to NYC! Olga
This carried on and dad got back on the chair by the end of week one. Then I received an update one month down the line.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to contact you, I know our 4 weeks are
Firstly I just want to start off by saying that contacting you has
been the best thing we have ever done. We wish we had done it sooner.
Olivia is sleeping through the night in her own cot!! Now there’s
something I never thought I’d say!
Sleeping toddler = Happy Mum = Happy Dad and Happy Home <3 <3 <3