Ellie's sleep story...
Ellie's mom, Katie, felt like she was failing. She knew Ellie wasn't getting the sleep she needed, but she didn't know how to improve their situation.
Baby Ellie (5 months) was a poor napper during the day. There was no consistency to her naps, they were just whenever she happened to fall asleep on mom or dad, or in the buggy. The same held true for their nights, where Ellie was only sleeping for 2 hours at a time, on one of her parents, who were both beyond exhaustion.
Mom Katie knew that this wasn't sustainable and also, that it wasn't safe for Ellie to be sleeping on her or her partner overnight, when they too were exhausted. She had previously tried to get Ellie sleeping in her cot using a cry-based sleep training method, but it hadn't worked.
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.
On a friend's recommendation, Katie found Little Ones and purchased our Baby Sleep Program. She quickly realised her daughter was overtired, due to her unpredictable naps during the day and fractured sleep overnight.
Katie could see that Ellie was being kept awake for far too long between naps and was napping poorly as a result. She was then ending the day very overtired, which was severely impacting her night settling and sleep. Shortening her awake windows to be in line with our recommendations for Ellie's age made a BIG difference:
When I started putting Ellie down for the naps as scheduled I didn't think she would sleep as she didn't seem tired, but she did and she definitely needed them. It was hard work at first, changing nap times and our day to day routine, but it has definitely paid off.
Ellie has also developed a strong sleep association where she would only sleep on mom or dad, something that the family had resorted to in a desperate attempt to get a very unsettled, overtired baby to sleep. And because of that over tiredness, Ellie also needed active settling in between sleep cycles, in order to stay asleep overnight. This wasn't sustainable for anyone!
Katie felt that it was time to guide Ellie towards self-settling but before doing so, she introduced some white noise as a new, positive sleep association for Ellie's naps and overnight sleep. She also established a consistent nap and bedtime routine to help Ellie wind down for sleep.
From there, allowing baby Ellie to fall asleep in her crib, or "self-settle" was not a cry-based affair. Because she was perfectly ready for sleep and not loaded full of the overtired hormone cortisol, independent sleep was a lot easier to achieve. Katie was able to continue using the very hands-on settling methods Ellie was used to, whilst gently guiding her towards self-settling and sleeping in her cot - with no tears at all!
Katie also made some changes to how she responded to Ellie during her night wakes. Previously, Katie and her partner had been taking it in turns to go downstairs and watch TV while Ellie slept on them. They didn't realise that the lights and sounds from the TV are very stimulating for young babies and can make it a lot harder for them to settle back to sleep. Katie found that staying in Ellie's dark room, and keeping the white noise playing, made it quicker and easier to settle her back to sleep.
Within two weeks Katie and her husband saw some big changes:
It's incredible how much of a difference us all getting a good night's sleep makes. 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!
Ellie is an amazing sleeper now. Around a month after starting the programme she started sleeping through the night, something I had started to think would never happen. Thank you so much for this programme, it sounds drastic but it really changed our lives and I've recommended it to so many people already!
If you're struggling with your little one's sleep, let us help you in a gentle, responsive way like we did for Katie and Ellie. Take a look at the comprehensive, evidence-based Sleep Programs within our Little Ones App, which can tailored to suit your family's situation.