CASE STUDY: Self-Settling Saves the Day!
*this is a case study from a real-life mother who reached out for help. We share our case studies in the hope it may help other mums who are in the same, or similar, situations. Not everyone parents in the same way, so please do not judge, criticize or demean these mothers and the parenting choices they have made in the best interests of their babies and their families.
Age: 5 Months
Naps: Sporadic short naps
Nights: Slept in 2 hour chunks
“Before starting Little Ones, my 5 month old daughter Ellie would only ever nap on myself or my husband at sporadic times of the day and her naps would never last very long.
Again at night-time she would only ever fall asleep on us and would sleep for 2 hour chunks. I was exhausted and left feeling like I was failing as a parent; we really couldn't keep going as we were.
I felt like I had tried everything and had reached breaking point. My friend recommended trying the Little Ones Sleep Program and I figured we had nothing to lose! Reading it, I quickly realised that my little one was overtired and that she needed to be able to fall asleep independently in order to nap better and sleep better overnight.
From that point everything changed. We started using white noise and introduced a routine for nap times and bedtime. We started towards self-settling for naps and overnight.
One of the biggest things we learnt was to cut down on our interaction with Ellie at night-time, so not talking/playing with her and not taking her downstairs and putting the TV on, which was actually making her more stimulated. After being on the Program for two weeks I could see vast improvements in Ellie’s naps and night sleep.
Around a month or two after starting the Program she started sleeping through the night, something I had started to think would never happen!
It was hard work at first, changing nap times and our day to day routine, but it has definitely paid off; Ellie is an amazing sleeper now. I can now be more flexible with her naps and she'll just go with the flow because she's familiar with the routine and all the sleep cues we've given her (e.g music, sleeping bag, comforter toy).
It's incredible how much of a difference there is with us all getting a good night's sleep. We are all less grouchy and don't dread night time anymore. I have my evenings back now so can actually sit down and eat a meal with my husband. It has made me feel more human again!
Thank you so much for this Program! It sounds dramatic, but it really has changed our lives."
Little Ellie, being 5 months old, was in the midst of the big sleep development that occurs at this age where babies’ sleep patterns are permanently changed. Commonly called the 4 month sleep regression, what happens is that babies now begin to sleep in very differentiated sleep cycles - 45 minutes in the day and 2 hours overnight. If a baby is relying on being actively settled to sleep, be rocking, feeding or being held, they will need this same action replicated when they wake between sleep cycles in the day and overnight. For some people, this is sustainable. For Katie’s family it wasn’t, as they were all left feeling exhausted and clearly baby Ellie wasn’t getting enough sleep and was in an overtired cycle.
Implementing changes around this sleep situation doesn’t have to be complicated or involve harsh cry-based “sleep training” methods. If a baby is waking more frequently as a result of this sleep regression, it signals that they are also ready to start moving into new sleep habits and are capable of learning the skill of independent sleep. The first thing Katie needed to work on was making sure Ellie was being offered naps at the right times for her age and sticking to really age appropriate awake windows so Ellie didn’t get overtired. It was also important to make sure Ellie’s sleep environment was sleep-inducing, and this meant introducing some calming white noise and keeping the room very very dark. From there, Katie helped her daughter realise she could fall asleep unassisted using the gentle methods in our Sleep Program, which involved giving Ellie the chance to self-settle at bedtime, then comforting her with rocking if she was struggling, then when calm, giving her the chance to self-settle again. Ellie, being perfectly ready for sleep, picked up this new sleep skill really quickly and it meant her naps consolidated and her night wakes reduced dramatically!
When looking at a baby’s settling skills it is important to look at the whole picture and factor in awake times and sleep environment too. We understand this totally holistic approach to sleep and that is why our Sleep Programs are trusted around the world!
For more information about sleep at this age, please read: