Freddie’s sleep training
So, I finally took the plunge after a year of resisting and booked in a sleep consultant. I think I put it off for so long because I thought it would just fix itself over time, but after a year of no sleep for anyone and continuously getting up and down all night for that duration, Josh and I look at each other at 4am one morning and said, “We need help”.
For me, I could not take Freddie to a sleep school as Josh works so much, I wouldn’t be able to have help with getting the other kids to school and kinder and of course, do everything I do, so I needed someone to come to me and sleep over.
I did have several sleep consultants offer to assist me in return for feature, but I just wanted to do my own research and find my own consultant, as I didn’t want to feel the pressure of posting or if I wasn’t happy, to then have to explain that I wasn’t going to recommend them to my audience etc etc.
Just to give you an insight into Freddie, he never slept well and I co-slept with him for a very long time just so he could sleep. In one year, he grew 16 teeth (all except his two-year-old molars) which might be a good explanation to his night waking? And as the youngest of three, he was always in and out of the car when it should have been his nap times.
Just before he turned one, we had two weeks of hysterical screaming at night, this would go on and on and there would be nothing I could do to stop him. All this time we hardly slept and I was rocking him to sleep and then as soon as I put him into his bed, he would cry as though his bed was larva!
As it turned out, his ear was infected and when it cleared, we had a few good nights with sleep stints from 7am-5am (like magic) and by this stage, I was already booked in with the sleep consultant and although he was sleeping better, I had already paid her and didn’t want to cancel.
Richelle, from Sleep Right Tonight, came for her overnight stay at 6pm on a Tuesday night. On the day before, we had a phone consultation so she knew a little bit more about Freddie and our family so she could arrive with a plan in hand tailored to us.
She watched me put Freddie to bed and do his nightime routine and he went straight to sleep (as he had previously the few days before). When the big boys were asleep, Josh and I sat down with Richelle and went through the plan she had prepared for us. She asked us three questions:
- Do you want to keep the dummy? YES
- Do you want to do the ‘leave the room method’ or ‘stay in room method’? UNSURE YET BUT MOST LIKELY STAY IN.
- What is the earliest time you are happy to wake up in the morning? 6AM
In her plan, she told us techniques to teach Freddie to self-settle himself for his day naps and his big night sleep. This included the two methods above in which we could select the best suited one for us. She explained in length each of them so when it came to us implementing it, we had it written out for us in our notes to also refer to.
Richelle also explained that for Freddie’s age, he should not nap in the day for more than 3 hours (e.g.: one nap of 2hrs and another of 1hr) and his awake time between his naps is between 3-3.5 hours. I didn’t know all of this.
She also told us the importance of a bed time routine, bath, pjs, quite time, book, bed to be the same each night. I currently did this.
Freddie’s room let in light at 5am and she indicated that he might be waking at 5am due to the light entering the room.
So, Josh and I went off to bed and Richelle was ready to tackle Freddie if he woke during the night. We had the option to get up and watch her settle him or us do it if we wanted to, but we chose to let her do it and get some rest.
Freddie slept until 5am. She really didn’t need to do anything apart from try to re-settle him from 5am until 6am (the time we agreed we were happy to wake up for the day).
Richelle left at 6am and we were left feeling pretty happy that all we had to do was re-settle him from 5am when he wakes until 6am so he could learn to wake at 6am and onwards.
That day, Freddie was off, he got a high temp and was irritable all day and at night. Yikes! It was back to screaming! Why wasn’t Richelle here now?!!!
It was a sleepless night for all of us and I took him to the doctors early the next day. Another ear infection!
Richelle advised me to forget any self-setting/plan/routine and just comfort him any way we have to until he is back to himself. This took almost 8 days of no day sleeps, crying, co-sleeping and early wakes all over again, I knew that when we had to sleep train him again when he was better, that we will be starting from scratch. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it without Richelle and that I might have to pay her fee again to have her sleep over.
When he was better, I stuck to her plan, day by day, I would see small goals reached. Even when he wouldn’t settle for me or missed a nap, I stayed strong and persisted and when he knew I wasn’t going to crack and pick him up out of the cot etc, he started to get it!
So, here is the progress Freddie made to eventually end up doing two great day naps and a great night sleep without waking.
The first day, I would put him in the cot and he would try to stand up again. I would say ‘shhh time for sleep, where’s your wawa (dummy) and your doggy (sleep toy)” and every single time he would go into the cot, I would say this. I would slightly push him down (not forcing) or pat his mattress and he would eventually lay down. I would rub his back and say “shhhh, shhhh” and when he was calm, I would slowly raise my hand off him, just hovering above him ready to go back onto him if he sat straight up (which he did) and then again, I would rub his back.
When I thought he was almost asleep, I would ninja-like leave the room. The first few times of getting him to sleep in his cot, he would sit back up as soon as I reached the bedroom door or my darn knee would crack and he would sit up like a meercat. In this case, I would let him have a little cry, just to see if it is just a sooky cry and to give him a chance to go back down and get himself to sleep. If it seemed like he wouldn’t stop, then I would go back in and say the “shhhhh time for sleep etc” and rub his back. I did all this over and over until eventually he stayed asleep.
With each nap, he knew what to expect and eventually his day naps were easy. I did find it hard to calculate when his next sleep should be or how long he should be awake, if he only had a short nap or if I had been trying to settle him for an hour. Richelle said that you count it from the moment he leaves the cot. She also said that when you are settling him, if he is really upset, of course you can give him a cuddle. I also knew that I could time his crying to a maximum of 10minutes (it is common for them to settle at the 6/7min mark), but until I was 100% comfortable that he was only crying just in protest (which was a few days into the training) I would only give him around 5mins of crying, saying this, I think you know your baby the best and what type of cry they are doing.
Also, you should give them a change to re-settle themselves, so giving them the 6minutes, might mean they cry a little and get themselves to sleep. Again, you know your baby.
First few days of training:
Wake through night every 3-4 hours. I went into his room and sat next to his cot. Patted the mattress and said “shhhh lay down time for sleep” and rubbed his back until he was calm. I would leave the room and hope he stayed down (as I said above). The first two nights, I just made a bed on the floor next to him and held his hand. I just wanted him to learn to sleep in his cot again and not expect me to pick him up. This was annoying for me to be sleeping on the floor, but it worked a treat. He knew that he wasn’t getting picked up and that he also felt safe in his bed knowing that I was there.
After two days, I wriggled further away from the cot for two nights and when he would sit up, I would tell him I was still there and to go to sleep. Eventually, he trusted me knowing I was still in there but not next to him and then I would get further until I was out the door.
As the nights got better, I was able to leave his room and do the ‘let him cry a little’ method.
10:15am nap (8min cry put self to sleep)
Woke 11:30/12 then two more times
Nap 2:30 (20 min)
Went out for dinner
Woke 11pm/2am hard to re-settle but went in and held his hand (in the room method)
Bed just after 7 but he woke up not long after and cried for a little bit, I had to re-settle him. He went back to sleep at 7:40 and I think he needed to be put to bed just before 7pm as he seemed over tired.
Wake 4:30 re settle slept
This was the first week of training and you can see the progress he made. I was able to text Richelle any questions I had and she would call me too.
The keys to remember-
- To know how long your baby should maximum nap for in the day as per his age.
- To know how long your baby should be awake for between naps for his age.
- To have good sleep associations (read a book, say the same phrases)
- Allow them to self-settle (let them cry but to a timed amount of time you feel comfortable with).
- Do what you feel comfortable to allow them to self-settle, as I said, in the first few days, I had a bed on the floor in his room at night so he knew I was in there with him, but night by night, I would move further and further away from his cot until I was out of the room all together and he was fine with it.
Now, Freddie has two good naps in the day and a minimum of 12 hours sleep at night. I still wake up to check him because I am crazy! And because I am just not used to this sleep business yet!!!
Please note: your baby is different to mine, might be a different age etc and each child is different. If you are looking for sleep help for your baby, reach out to Richelle or any sleep consultant. I can give you my examples but best to direct questions to them xx
You can find Richelle HERE and @sleeprighttonight