We were absolutely broken and wrecked until Karen completely turned our life, health and well being around – most importantly she changed our baby’s life too!!!
We enlisted Karen when our bub was 12 months old, my only regret is that we didn’t seek her help sooner.
He was a very fussy eater, cat napper during the day and got to the point of waking every hour most nights. I was breastfeeding him and ready to stop – Karen helped with that transition too. Karen’s wonderful EA Lisa was so kind and nurturing throughout the booking process, in fact, the detailed
questionnaire helped prompt me to make a few changes in the weeks leading up to Karen’s visit (we chose the overnight stay) so the impact on our baby was very positive.
Our baby was mostly happy – but became even happier after he started getting a full night’s sleep. All of a sudden, he didn’t fight to get in the car when it wasn’t sleep time, he was so content going for long walks in his pram (and would stay awake!!) and his gross motor skills became fine tuned soon after. The best thing about it all was that his appetite increased and Karen’s tips helped us introduce him to a variety of foods and food groups.
Everything Karen predicted came true!! We couldn’t believe it. She really is the baby whisperer. Karen has so much credibility from her extensive and passionate career, but we also just loved her and her energy. We were so comfortable having Karen in our home and will be enlisting her MUCH sooner with baby number 2.
Thank you Karen, we talk about you all the time and when people comment on what a wonderful sleeper our baby is – all credit rightly goes to you.
Lauren and baby Vincenzo
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
Lucy, Rachel and Tom’s Story
Just after the clock ticked over, on the first of January our little baby Lucy came into the world. She was a beautiful and determined little spirit, our first baby. We were enamoured by her and spent our early weeks in a sleep-deprived happy baby love bubble.
Like most new parents, we had heard the stories of those sleep-deprived early weeks. “Oh, it’s so hard! You just walk around in a daze. It’s a major achievement if you manage a shower each day”. And so it was. We happily muddled our way through revelling in the minutia of our baby’s development in the way that only parents can.
Sleep Deprivation wears you down
However, the sleep deprivation does wear you down. Those of you with challenging babies know this. This wearing down was a slow process: Lucy initially woke every two hours for a feed. Tom and I told ourselves that “it all gets better after week six”. And so we kept trudging along. I tried to bear the brunt of the wakeups, as Tom had to go to work each day.
Week six came and went and Lucy still woke up a lot. I mean A. Lot. In fact, it seemed she was getting worse as she was waking up during the night, and then she slept less and less during the day. Her periods of sleep during the day were traded in for crying. Looots of crying. I was visiting the Early Childhood Centre constantly for help, aware of the risk of postnatal depression in new mums. I developed a kind of RSI in my elbows from pushing the pram back and forth.
People kept promising
People kept promising things got better after certain milestones however these milestones came and went and Lucy still cried and cried and didn’t sleep. Six weeks, two months, three months, four months. Crying crying crying. They started to investigate medical reasons. We were sent off to sleep school and we were told she was very unsettled. I recall one particularly harrowing day at the sleep school trying to put Lucy to sleep with her screaming for two and a half hours and begging the nurses “could we just stop” because I was so exhausted and I needed to eat and have some water.
Another thing we noticed was that we were getting diminishing returns for the effort we were spending getting her to sleep. We would get a tidbit of advice from one of the many professionals we visited, like “you should just use a dummy”, or “sing her to sleep”. These tricks would work for a little while, but their effectiveness would eventually wear off, and then she would want all that, and more!
I became frustrated with the advice from others whose babies apparently slept badly (i.e. waking every two hours). To us, two hours sounded like bliss! Lucy was waking every sleep cycle and had to be fed back to sleep because nothing else worked. She slept on top of me while I went through the nightly torture of lying in a dark room trying not to move.
I also began to wonder why no one told you how awful parenting was: People told me “this will pass” but I have to say, that advice is only helpful when it is delivered after the storm has passed. It doesn’t help you when you’re losing the plot from sleep deprivation. I was a soppy neurotic sleep-deprived version of my former self.
I won’t bore you with all the details but you will have to trust me when I tell you we tried every possible thing a parent might try to get baby Lucy to sleep. I googled and googled and googled all day long. I felt like a broken person.
Exhausting all avenues
After exhausting all avenues, when Lucy was almost five months old we decided to get a sleep consultant. I had heard about Karen, but to be honest, we weren’t well off and baulked at the cost. And would it really work?
Karen’s help was honestly a turning point for us.
Karen came into our home and was so confident that she would get Lucy to sleep. I was sceptical, and I told her so. I had heard this confidence before from others. However, Tom and I were mobilised to do anything to get a few hours of zzzzz.
After meeting Lucy and comprehensively understanding her situation and personality, Karen set about suggesting numerous changes to Lucy’s routine, diet and our parenting approach. Karen stayed the night with us (we were too exhausted to do it alone by this stage).
That first night
That first night after starting the sleep training she slept from about 7.30pm to 2 am.
I was honestly shocked and kept waking up thinking “is she ok?”. She had never. Ever. Slept that long in one stretch.
It took some work and self-discipline to reformulate what we were doing but to be honest, it really wasn’t so hard. Nothing was as hard as what Tom and I had been suffering through.
Things improved for two weeks but then Lucy developed a cold. We were back to where we started. I was depressed that we had put in so much effort and were back at square one. But the difference was: this time we had Karen to call on. I could call her to ask her how to get back on track. Karen checked in regularly and offered additional suggestions and advice. And we worked our way back to Lucy’s blissful sleep. She woke three times a night, and absolute achievement compared to where we were.
Since then, Lucy has slowly but steadily improved. Three wakings at night, then two. Now one. Occasionally she gifts us with sleeping from 7 pm to 5 am. Her catnaps are slowly disappearing. She is able to self-settle.
Pleasure in parenting
I finally began to take pleasure in parenting, as did Tom. I understood now that parenting wasn’t something to be endured, and I could see why people enjoyed it. And Lucy’s personality changed from being a demanding, grumpy little thing into this peaceful baby with a lovely temperament.
Karen described to us during her visit that we would be giving Lucy a gift in teaching her to sleep. This was true, though it was of course also a gift for us. There were the immediate benefits to our sleep and sanity, however, there was something longer term that we carried with us about how to parent our child.
Tom and I have had many insights about what happened with Lucy in those first five months now. At the time we really needed someone to come and pull us out of the trenches that we were stuck in every day.
If you can relate to this story, I would really encourage you to call Karen. Your sanity is worth every penny.
Thanks, Karen <3
This is the Happy Ever After Picture of Lucy, Rachel and Tom
Coming very soon…
Nurture Sleep Program
Skull surgery and sleep training
Occasionally I come across a very complex medical case I’m asked to help sleep train. My job as a baby whisperer is most definitely not for the faint-hearted. After 29 years as a registered midwife and nurse, I’ve seen a lot of rare and complicated cases as well as the run of the mill to sleep train. I’m really grateful for my medical training as it helps me understand babies at a more complex and deeper level. For example, I’ve worked for many years in neonatal Intensive and special care looking after extremely premature, ventilated sick babies.
Medical cases I’ve helped
Tetralogy of Fallot
Some examples of complex medical cases I’ve helped include a 6-month baby, Tilly with a congenital heart defect – tetralogy of fallot. This comprises a VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect – hole in the heart) with Pulmonary Stenosis, with the Aorta “Overriding” (sitting ‘astride’) the VSD and with Right Ventricle ‘Hypertrophy’ (thickening of the muscle). These babies appear ‘blue’ or cyanosed and often require surgery in stages. Tilly had surgery not long after birth and then recently at 2-3 years old.
Reflux with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and CPAP
I’ve also helped a few babies with very complex reflux requiring ventilation via Continuous Positive Airways Pressure to help their obstructed sleep apnoea.
Being a mum instead of a paediatrician
What also sets this story apart is the mum is a consultant paediatrician. As I tell many parents, when emotion comes into parenting it affects your judgement to make decisions and to be able to sleep train. Many of you know I have helped many doctors, GP’s, and about 100 psychologists, including child psychologists with their babies and children’s sleep. At the end of the day, these are parents first and foremost. Parenting is the biggest leveller of life.
Craniosynostosis is a rare medical condition, where the skull bones fuse prematurely and usually requires surgery. In my career I’ve come across 6 cases of this condition, 4 I identified myself. If you’d like to read more about it here is a link.
Karen came to help us with our 6-month-old, little girl. She’d had major skull surgery at a very young age (traumatic for everyone) and had spent a significant amount of time in the hospital. She was waking at least hourly all night and the only way to settle her was to feed her. After what she’d been through we didn’t want her to suffer anymore and couldn’t see any other solution, but everyone was exhausted and we had a hyperactive 2-year-old at home as well.
Karen had helped us with our first, so tentatively we asked if there was anything she could do to aid the situation. Karen was very empathetic but was able to interpret Cara’s cry and reassure us that she wasn’t in pain. We never left her to cry, we sat with her whilst she settled, sung to her, did some hands-on soothing and amazingly the length of time she spent crying was actually far less than one of our ‘normal’ nights!
The first night she only woke twice (previously hourly!!) and within a week she was going to bed happy and sleeping through the night 7-7. She was much happier and so were we!
She had to start wearing a helmet shortly after, for 23 hours a day. I was dreading it and thought it would return her sleeping habits to old ways. Amazingly it didn’t affect her at all, she slept just as well in the helmet.
Had we not got Karen in prior to introducing this I think her sleep would have just become worse as we’d have interpreted every cry as discomfort. Having a baby with medical problems has a huge emotional impact on the family; sleep deprivation added to this only makes it harder. Seeing how much happier Cara was after learning to sleep made us wish we’d addressed it sooner. We also had the energy again for our toddler.
We are very grateful to Karen for restoring some normality to our family, thank you!
7 things you need to know about day naps and baby sleep
Baby not Sleeping and Waking a Lot at Night?
We have a gorgeous daughter Ava. Up until 5-6 months she was an ok sleeper, with a dummy or breastfeed generally able to soothe her back to sleep after waking up during the night…but all of a sudden something changed!
Ava was refusing the dummy and my fail safe solution (breastfeeding during the night) stopped working. Ava was waking nearly every 2 hours during the night and we just couldn’t get her back to sleep. At one point my husband and I were having to camp out in her bedroom taking turns lying next to her cot so she would go back to sleep.
The lack of sleep meant the whole family was cranky and exhausted. We knew that something had to change and we needed some help. My sister recommended Karen. We spent half a day with her and she talked us though Ava’s routine and teaching her how to get herself to sleep. I liked that she provided a holistic solution – looking at Maya’s diet, play and sleep routine. I must say it wasn’t easy and Ava was not happy with the initial change in approach!
There were many frantic phone calls to Karen seeking encouragement and feedback and she was always there to help and provide guidance and support. The hard work paid off – Ava now loves her sleep, is a much happier baby and mum and dad are getting some well earned rest – we can’t thank Karen enough and I would definitely recommend her.
When I was expecting Baby #3, I promised myself I would NOT fall into the rocking habit (as with baby #2) and end up, for a second time at Tresillian. (Who, for the record are wonderful and do wonderful work!)
But it didn’t take long for rocking Angus to sleep to become a quick and easy habit. To begin with it worked a treat and gave me time with the other two kids. But it didn’t take long before the nights to become very unsettled and soon Angus was waking every hour to be rocked back to sleep. Sometimes it took and hour to get him back to sleep.
I was utterly exhausted. I would cry all through the nights. The days, I just plodded through, dreading the night to come. While I was struggling alone, I thought I was hiding it pretty well. It wasn’t until during a bit of an argument with my partner he said that we were all suffering, kids included. I knew I had to do something and ask someone for help but I just couldn’t bring myself to do so. I’m not sure why.
I tried (and failed!) many different ‘tips’ and one was using white noise in the bedroom. I tuned into 2UE, little did I know what a saving grace that station choice would be! One fateful evening, in an attempt to rock Angus off sleep I heard Karen on the radio talking about her gentle approach to settle babies. It sounded great! So I sent my email off to Karen that week and it wasn’t long before we scheduled our phone call.
I was feeling like a total failure as a mum and I was actually really embarrassed that I had got myself into such sleep time mess with my third baby. But not once did Karen make me feel that way! She was kind, sympathetic and very understanding. Karen’s approach to getting Angus back on track felt so caring, I loved the fact I wasn’t required to leave him alone and was even encouraged to cuddle my little man! After our chat I finally felt I had a game plan! (After reading numerous methods online that I couldn’t bring myself to put into action.) I picked my starting date, and feeling that I had the support I needed, I said good bye to rocking Angus to sleep.
We had the odd set back with colds and coughs thrown in the mix but with the support I had from Karen it didn’t take long to get things back on track.
It was so amazing to watch Angus suddenly become this happy little baby boy, who loved his meals and slept! To have time once again in the evenings to spend with my other children and my partner is wonderful. My mummy guilt has definitely lifted! I can never thank Karen (and 2UE!) enough for her guidance and support.