Evie, 6 weeks: From colic and purple crying, to a happy and settled baby overnight!
Evie’s sleep story…
Before giving birth, Evie’s mum, Sascha, was told that newborns would simply feed and sleep when they needed to, all she had to do was follow her baby’s cues. So it was a bit of a shock when she brought little Evie home and they struggled with both feeding and sleep.
Breastfeeding proved to be very difficult for Sascha due to insufficient milk supply and Evie seemed constantly stressed and uncomfortable. She was soon diagnosed with both colic and a dairy intolerance.Despite this, Sascha did her best to follow Evie’s cues, feeding her when she seemed hungry and rocking her to sleep as soon as she showed any tired signs.
Once Evie went down for a nap, Sacha would then let her sleep for as long as she wanted because as the saying goes, “you should never wake a sleeping baby!”. As a result, Evie’s feeds and naps were very unpredictable, changing from one day to the next.
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But there was one thing that was constant. From 4pm to 11pm every night, Evie would have a period of “purple crying”. This is a prolonged period of crying where a baby is inconsolable and absolutely nothing works to soothe them. These crying sessions understandably left Sascha feeling exhausted and defeated:
I felt as though I had made the wrong choice to become a parent, that my husband and baby would be better off if I simply left. I missed my old identity and struggled to connect with my baby as I didn't feel I was able to meet her needs.
Luckily, when Evie was around six weeks old, a friend noticed that Sascha was struggling and pointed her in our direction. Initially, Sascha was too exhausted to even make sense of our Newborn Sleep Program but her friend helped her through the first few days, guiding her with nap and feed times.
Sascha quickly realised that Evie’s “tired signs” were actually not tired signs at all - she was just bored and needed some more stimulation. Once she started to follow the age-appropriate awake times in our sleep schedules, rather than relying on Evie’s tired signs, Sascha found that she didn’t even need to rock her to sleep anymore.
Many new parents are advised to follow their baby’s sleep cues. This can work well for some newborns but for others, those cues are not the most reliable! Most newborn babies will have a natural dip in energy after around 1 hour of awake time where they can show tired signs but aren’t actually ready for sleep yet. Some other babies don’t show any tired signs at all until it is too late and they are already overtired!
What Sascha thought were tired signs, were actually signs that Evie needed more interaction and stimulation. When she tried to put Evie down for a nap instead, it took a lot of rocking to get her to sleep because she simply wasn’t tired enough yet. Stretching out Evie’s awake times so that they were more age-appropriate meant she was perfectly ready for sleep at nap times, so no longer needed active settling.
I would simply swaddle her, put her in a dark room with white noise (and her dummy initially as it had already become one of her sleep cues), lay her down and walk away. I know a lot of mums enjoy this bonding time, but I also had tendonitis in both wrists, so rocking her was causing me pain. Being able to simply lay her down and leave helped my mental and physical health immensely, and it also helped me to bond better with my daughter.
Sascha also began to wake Evie from her naps at the scheduled times, instead of letting her sleep as long as she wanted. This gave them more consistency and predictability during the day and immediately improved their overnight sleep too.
I realised how much the correct day nap structure impacts the night - rather than simply letting her sleep as long as she felt in the day, waking her up from naps and ensuring she didn't over-sleep during the day, gave us much better nights. It also became evident that starting and ending our day at the same times every day helped her daily rhythm and meant that because she could predict her day, she was far more settled and easier to get to sleep in the evenings.
Colic is often diagnosed in babies who have frequent and prolonged periods of intense crying - particularly in the early evening. In some cases, this crying can be because a baby is in pain or discomfort - especially when there are other underlying issues like tongue tie, reflux or a food allergy/intolerance. Since Evie had also been diagnosed with a dairy intolerance, Sascha assumed this was the underlying cause of her colic and purple crying in the evenings.
Much to Sascha’s surprise though, Evie’s colic improved almost immediately after starting on the program. It turned out that Evie’s purple crying from 4pm to 11pm was not because she was in pain or discomfort, but simply because she was overtired.
I saw her going from a baby with colic and poor sleep, with constipation and constant stress, to a baby who slept perfectly for every nap, was happy and content and started to thrive. I seriously have not had a bad sleep day with her since starting the program, and the effect was instant. I believe this is because we started so young, but it also left me without a doubt that her colic and other issues were routine and sleep related and nothing more.
Adjusting Evie’s awake times and nap lengths helped to make sure she was getting the right balance of awake time and sleep throughout the day, in order to settle and sleep well at night. Having more consistency with nap times also meant that Sascha knew what to expect each day and could take some time out for herself while Evie was sleeping.
Baby Evie is now 9 months old and continues to thrive! Sascha has been able to return to work, feeling confident that Evie can settle and sleep well without her help.
I get frustrated when people tell me I'm lucky my baby sleeps - it's not luck, and she's not a unicorn - it's the Little Ones program. I saw firsthand the difference it made, I had a baby who was a "bad sleeper" become a "good sleeper" overnight - once her awake windows were age appropriate and she had enough stimulation during her awake time - and a correct sleep-environment.This helped my confidence as a mother and also allowed me to empower my partner to be a more hands-on dad. We were able to begin to have our evenings together, as our baby was in bed by 7pm each night without fail. This helped our relationship, as we could bond over being new parents, but also still have time for us.
Sascha was lucky enough to see noticeable improvements in Evie’s behaviour, sleep and settling after just one day but it’s important to note that our sleep solutions are not designed to be an overnight fix. Changing your baby’s current sleep patterns or sleep habits can take some time, especially for older babies.
If you’re ready to get started on improving your baby’s sleep, check out our Little Ones App. You’ll get instant access to age-appropriate sleep and feed schedules, detailed troubleshooting notes for when things don’t go to plan, gentle settling methods and much more. Within our app, you can also reach out to our certified sleep consultants for more personalised guidance and support.