Silas, 5 months: Catnapping and waking every 2 hours overnight
Silas' sleep story...
When baby Silas was 5 months old, his mum Trish was preparing to return to work and was terrified about how she was going to manage. Silas was only napping for 20-30 mins at a time during the day and even then, he would only sleep on Trish, meaning she had NO time to herself.
Silas also waking every 2hrs at night, leaving both of them exhausted. His sleep had gradually been getting worse as he got older and it soon became clear to Trish that this wasn’t “just a phase”, as she had hoped.
Trish was feeling frustrated and exhausted and knew that something needed to change... and it needed to change quickly before she went back to work!
As a first time mom I was terrified about leaving him on his own but equally terrified about going back to work full time on little to no sleep. I'm a manager in an environment where there aren't many mums and I didn't want people to think less of me, that I couldn't do my job now that I was a parent.
Establishing a positive sleep environment can have a huge impact on both a baby’s settling and the length of their naps. In particular, a dark room helps with the release of melatonin - the sleep hormone that makes us drowsy and helps us to stay asleep. White noise can also be a very helpful tool for settling as it signals to your baby that it is time for sleep.
Next, Trish committed to following the nap schedule for Silas' age as closely as possible, to ensure quick results:
I cleared 4 weeks of my schedule before I went back to work and did nothing but focus on consistency and routine. I kept a notebook and wrote everything down, awake times, how long it took him to fall asleep, any changes so I could spot patterns and adjust accordingly.
As Silas settled into his new pattern for naps and feeds, Trish found it became easier to settle him to sleep in his bed and his naps stretched out a little longer to around 45 minutes each.
Previously, Silas had been waking from naps after just 20-30 minutes, which meant he wasn’t completing a full sleep cycle - there was something else contributing to the catnapping. By taking a holistic approach to her baby’s sleep, Trish was able to rule out other contributing factors like under or over tiredness and hunger.
Now, Silas was having more predictable naps during the day, but they were still shorter than Trish would have liked and he was still waking every 2 hours at night. This is because Silas was right in the middle of the infamous 4 month sleep regression!
This regression marks a permanent change in a baby's sleep patterns, where they start to wake fully in between sleep cycles - after roughly 45 minutes at naps and every 2 hours from midnight. Many parents assume this is “just a phase” and it will pass on it’s own but the key to getting through this regression is to guide your baby towards self-settling.
Trish started following our Quick Method for self-settling and was surprised at how quickly Silas learned to fall asleep on his own! Once he was self-settling consistently at the start of sleep, Trish found that he started to resettle himself in between sleep cycles too, leading to longer naps during the day and longer stretches of sleep overnight.
Making sure Silas’ awake times were appropriate for his age helped to make sure he was nice and ready for sleep at nap times, which made it much easier for him to learn to self-settle. When working on self-settling, we recommend focusing on the start of naps and bedtime to begin with and being really consistent in your approach - the more consistent you are, the quicker your baby will get the hang of it!
For baby Silas, it only took a week for him to learn how to self-settle and within a month he was resettling himself in between sleep cycles as well. By the time Trish was ready to return to work, Silas was nailing all his naps during the day and sleeping through the night - much to her relief!
Silas is now 18 months old and Trish is happy to report that he is still a wonderful sleeper:
I don’t think I understood the importance of sleep on child development until I started using this program. Because my baby sleeps well, he eats well so he is happy and he has the energy to play and learn. We rarely have tantrums or crying fits and if we do, I usually know what's caused it because I can rule out tiredness! Of course there have been tough times, especially at regressions or when sick, but he always manages to find his way back to good sleep within a week. And the fact that I can write any questions in the village and get expert feedback in 24 hours has also helped!
The 4 weeks that Trish dedicated to improving her baby’s sleep really paid off as she was able to return to work well-rested and confident that Silas would continue to nap well in her absence. The fact that everyone is getting a good night's sleep has also meant a happier family life all around:
I can't tell you how much this program has changed our lives and how grateful I am for it! For our family it's meant we all get a good night's sleep and so we have the energy to go to work and play with our son rather than be too cranky or cross to play. I cannot recommend it enough and my husband would agree!
Imagine what you could achieve if you dedicated 4 weeks to improving your little one's sleep? Everything you need is in our Little Ones App - customisable schedules, troubleshooting notes, gentle settling methods and support from expert sleep consultants. Start your journey to better sleep today!