Written by: Nicky Barker, Founder of Little Ones & Paediatric Sleep Specialist
*this is a case study from a real-life mum 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: 13 months
Room: unswaddled, co-sleeping, breastfeeding on demand all night, no white noise
Naps: just whenever she fell asleep on mum or after nursing. No set times or routine.
From birth Maddison slept in her bassinet however would wake constantly through the night, nursing back to sleep each time. Krystle struggled to get any type of day sleep routine in place and all Maddison's naps were on her mum or in a carrier typically after nursing. If Krystle tried to transfer her to her bed she would wake instantly and not go back to sleep. When she started outgrowing her bassinet Krystle tried to move Maddison into the cot but she refused to sleep in it, so Krystle co-slept so they could both get some sleep. Maddison continued to wake through the night and nurse back to sleep. When she started on solids she wouldn't have much to eat for breakfast as she would fill herself on breastmilk during the night.
At 13 months, Krystle got in touch with Little Ones because she was so exhausted from getting very little sleep herself. Having two older children, Krystle felt she didn't have enough energy to be more engaged with her kids in the way she wanted. Krystle wanted to get a better night's sleep for herself and for Maddison so she started using our Toddler Sleep Program to help Maddison learn to fall asleep on her own in her own bed. Krystle also made some changes to Maddison's sleep environment - a super dark room, Lulla Doll, baby sleeping bag and white noise.
The change Krystle noticed following the Program was instant. Maddison went straight down for her day sleep following the schedule on day 1. It took approximately 3 nights to break the co-sleeping and feed-to-sleep habit and Krystle was able to comfort her baby during the whole process - there was no "cry it out alone" element. After 3 nights, Maddison was sleeping through, in her own bed, with no wake ups. She would wake happy and with a really good appetite in the morning.
Maddison was in the habit of being fed to sleep all night long as a result of co-sleeping and this was the only way she knew how to go to sleep. Krystle was positive about making a change and consistent with her approach to helping her daughter. We started by making sure Maddison's day nap was at the right time and for the right length, which meant she was good and ready for sleep, making it a lot easier for her to settle in her own sleeping space. This also had a positive impact on her bedtime settling and night waking as she was given the chance to learn to put herself to sleep without needing to be breastfed each time.
Because co-sleeping and feeding to sleep are very strong sleep associations, we wanted to approach Maddison's sleep quite sensitively and Krystle helped her in stages, comforting her and nursing her when she was upset, to help transition her into her own bed and into falling asleep independently. Adding a few tools to her sleep environment - white noise and a Lulla Doll - really helped create the perfect space for sleep. Maddison clicked into her new routine so quickly!
She is still breastfed on demand during the day and as a mum Krystle now enjoys being able to spend quality time with her elder children while Maddison has her daytime sleep in her cot.
"I feel like a better mum as I have more energy to keep up with my 3 kids under 4 after a full nights sleep too!"
To get your baby sleeping better, our Sleep Programs are the best place to start.