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