Khalia, 5 weeks: Catnapping and taking 3 hours to settle at bedtime
Khalia's sleep story...
As a first time mum, Jacinta was keen to establish some positive sleep habits with her baby from birth. She made sure that Khalia was swaddled and sleeping in a dark room with white noise playing, knowing that these are the ideal conditions for baby sleep.
Unfortunately, Khalia was still hard to settle for naps and catnapping throughout the day. The only way that Jacinta could get her baby to nap at all was to rock her to sleep and then let her nap on her chest.
Come bedtime, it was taking over 3 hours to settle Khalia to sleep! And after that, she continued to wake multiple times overnight.
It didn’t take long for Jacinta to realise that this was not going to be sustainable. By the time Khalia was 5 weeks old, Jacinta’s mental health was suffering:
I was so desperate for answers. Everyone kept telling me that it would get better and that it’s just a phase but I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t anything I could do to help my baby sleep better. On top of the fact that I, as a new mom, was falling apart mentally. I felt like I was failing because it wasn’t getting any better.
Jacinta went looking for answers and found Little Ones. She purchased our Newborn Program and started following the sleep schedule for Khalia's age. It took a few days for Khalia to adjust to her new sleep routine but soon, Jacinta was seeing major improvements in her baby's settling, nap lengths AND overnight sleep. She was even able to start settling Khalia to sleep in the bassinet, rather than in her arms or on her chest!
I learned SO much about sleep. Wake windows was the most important one for me and how finding the sweet spot on your babies wake window. My family always says that I shouldn’t have a schedule for my baby and that she will sleep when she’s tired and wake when she’s hungry. But I’m so happy I didn’t listen to them!
A newborn’s sleep needs change quite frequently and in particular, their awake windows tend to stretch out every 1-2 weeks. Quite often, parents are advised to put their newborn baby down for naps after just 1 hour of awake time but this doesn’t account for their changing sleep needs as they get older. The sleep needs of a 2 week old baby are going to be very different to those of a 12 week old!
In this case, little Khalia was being put down for naps after a short amount of awake time, before she was truly ready for sleep, making her harder to settle for naps. It also meant that she wasn’t tired enough to sleep for more than one cycle, causing her to catnap throughout the day.
Those shorter naps meant that Khalia was then getting overtired by bedtime - a common cause of the “witching hour” in the early evening, where babies can be unsettled and cry for hours. Over tiredness was also contributing to Khalia's frequent wakes at night.
Adjusting Khalia’s awake times so that they were more age-appropriate ensured that she was nice and ready for sleep at nap times, which made it easier for Jacinta to settle her in her bassinet. It also helped to get Khalia napping for longer periods and at the appropriate times throughout the day, preventing over tiredness at bedtime and improving her overall sleep.
In just 2-3 weeks, little Khalia was napping well during the day, settling quickly at bedtime and sleeping a full 12 hours through the night!
This gave Jacinta the sleep and confidence she needed to start giving baby Khalia a chance to self-settle to sleep. Now at 10 weeks old, Khalia happily drifts off to sleep on her own at the start of every nap and bedtime and Jacinta's partner is able to help out more with their bedtime routine:
I now start to change & settle her 15 minutes before naps/bedtime, some cuddles, dim the lights, white noise, swaddle her, lay her down in her bassinet and completely black room and leave the room, within 5-8 minutes she falls asleep on her own, it’s amazing. My partner is learning the techniques I use to put our baby girl to sleep and I’m confident he will learn and be able to help when needed.
Whilst it's absolutely fine to settle your baby all the way to sleep at this young age, many babies under 3 months old are capable of self-settling to sleep if everything is lined up for them. Jacinta was able to gently guide Khalia towards self-settling by making sure her sleep environment and awake times were spot on and by giving her the opportunity to settle herself to sleep at the start of each nap and bedtime - no "sleep training" required!
In the few weeks that it took for Khalia's sleep to transform, Jacinta also went through a transformation of her own - from sleep deprived and feeling like a failure, to a well-rested and confident mother again.
Finding Little Ones saved me. Saved my sanity and gave me confidence. I have so many friends around me who are going to begin the journey of motherhood and I suggest this app to them all the time. My life has changed because I feel like I can be a better mother to my baby when I am also well rested. Obviously some days/nights are not perfect but I’m confident knowing I have the support of the Little Ones team if I need help.
If you've had a rough start with your baby's sleep and want to get things back on track, our Sleep Programs have everything you need. Get instant access to our trusted sleep solutions, customisable schedules, comprehensive troubleshooting, gentle settling methods and more. Personalised guidance and support from certified sleep consultants is also available, day and night, in our Little Ones Village.