Getting in contact with Lauryn and getting her to help me with my 9 month old was one of the best decisions I have ever made as a parent. My baby is now 15 months and I know he is still getting the sleep that he needs (something that he definitely was not getting between 3 and 9 months!)
I went through 9 months of exhaustion, disconnection from my baby and to be honest, just sheer hell before something had to give. I could not function anymore – I was not myself. I did not want to do anything, I didn’t want to go out, I found playing and spending time with my baby something I had to really force myself to do and worst of all I resented him.
Sleep training really intimidated me. I had no idea where to start (despite reading hundreds of articles on the internet). I was also very aware of some mummy bloggers who had told me I would damage my baby by sleep training. I needed guidance, support and a plan – and that is exactly what Lauryn gave me. I connected with Lauryn straight away – she is a mum of two boys and she has been through exactly what I was going through at the time so it felt really good knowing that she understood all the emotions that came with going through change (for the better).
Lauryn recommended some changes that we could make to my son’s nursery and to his routine. She can us an incredibly detailed (21 page long) sleep plan that contained everything we needed to do and some sleep training techniques that would suit us a family. We got to choose which technique we were comfortable with, which was amazing! Taking ownership of what we were doing was such an important part of the process for me. Lauryn also gave me some great resources, such as a nutrition guide and access to an online sleep log so that she could see what was happening and suggest changes or give us feedback and tips.
BEFORE I MY BABY I HAD NO IDEA ABOUT SLEEP DEPRIVATION
I’m not really a person who swears a lot but lack of sleep f&*king sucks! And I don’t just mean one night with no sleep…I went through 9 months of it!!
Sleep training let me give my son the gift of good, healthy sleep habits that would last through childhood and hopefully a lifetime.
When my hubby and I decide to have another child, I know that I will be asking Lauryn for help again and this time it will be a lot sooner than 9 months. One thing I learnt when working with Lauryn was that I did not have to go it alone – her support and her genuine care was fundamental for me
MY TOP TIP FOR NEW PARENTS
You are not alone – there is help out there if you need it. Sleep training does not make you a bad parent and it will not damage your baby. Everything Lauryn does is backed by scientific research (she even sent me some articles on sleep training when I told her what I had read on mummy blogs).
I am so grateful to Lauryn for her help and support. Waking up refreshed every morning to my son’s beautiful face is such a gift in itself. We are all rested, happy and ready to face our day of activities and playdates! Oh…and I get a two hour siesta in the middle of the day when he sleeps! It is AMAZING!!
So you’ve hit what seems like the 4-month sleep regression. Your beautiful baby was sleeping so wonderfully and is now waking up all night and catnapping in the day. Suddenly you find yourself not knowing what to do next! Cue…Google at 2am!
Sleep associations are a massive part of the way your baby goes to sleep and in fact learns to go to sleep. Sleep associations can both help and hinder sleep.
WHAT IS A SLEEP ASSOCIATION?
A sleep association is something that a child associates with falling asleep. A sleep association is something that your child requires to get to sleep and something that they cannot sleep without.
Anything can be a sleep association if your baby needs it to fall asleep, such as:
· Bottle Feeding
· Driving or Walking in the Pram - Motion
· Comfort Toy/Lovey
· Baby Carrier
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE BABY SLEEP ASSOCIATION Sleep associations only become negative when they get in the way of great sleep. An easier way to know if a sleep association exists is if your baby can’t “stay” asleep after going to sleep in a certain way.
For example: If your baby is rocked to sleep and wakes up 20 minutes later needing you to rock them back to sleep – rocking is a sleep association.
OR – If your baby is dependent on a dummy and wakes up every 2 hours needing that dummy to be replaced by you each and every time – that’s a negative sleep association.
On the other hand, if your baby uses a dummy to fall asleep but can sleep through the night, that’s grand. The dummy in this example is a positive sleep association. You are using the dummy as a sleep prop but it is not getting in the way of a good night’s sleep – both for you and for bub.
WHAT ABOUT NEWBORNS? Newborns are so fragile and they need you to comfort them, feed on demand and get them to sleep! Newborns do not have the developmental capacity to self-settle and most will require some form of help to get to sleep. So don’t think you are going to form “bad” habits in the first two to three months! Enjoy those beautiful cuddles!
Just because you nurse, rock or hold your newborn to sleep does not mean that you will be doing this for the next year of their life! Ultimately we don’t want to be doing this at 4 months so between 3 and 4 months is the perfect time to start getting your baby to gradually learn some self-settling skills.
YOU THINK YOU’VE GOT IT COVERED AND THEN….SLEEP ISSUES MAY START The 4 month regression….we have all heard it! This is when the sleep associations that you had been using during those newborn months suddenly stop working. Why? Because your baby’s sleep starts to consolidate, sleep cycles become more adult like and your baby’s awareness increases. You may start to experience frequent wakeups and catnaps. Your baby will wake up at the end of a sleep cycle looking for the prop or aid that got them to sleep in the first place. Teaching self-settling is the answer here.
And do you know what? You may be fine with frequent wakeups and catnaps and that’s cool. You just do what works until it doesn’t work anymore…
When you are frantic for long naps and longer stretches of sleep, you will need to take a look at your baby’s sleep associations to see what can be reduced or removed (negative associations) to help your baby consolidate their sleep.
EARLY SLEEP PROBLEMS CAN HAVE EFFECTS MUCH LATER ON LIFE
There are several long-range studies regarding childhood sleep habits and the effects of adolescence and adulthood. For example, one study in Montreal among 987 parents demonstrated that early sleep problems in 5 – 17 months continued for older children between 29-40 months. This study showed that certain habits such as mother present at sleep onset or giving food/drink after child awakens due to sleep difficulties led to disturbed sleep such as bad dreams, taking longer to fall asleep, and disrupted sleep.
PREVENTION IS ULTIMATELY BETTER THAN CURE
In case you don’t know much about me – I am a mum of two boys and I’ve had experience with many baby and toddler sleep challenges. My eldest son is the reason that I am a sleep consultant. This allows me to confidently say that I’ve been in your shoes and you will get through this!
The best way that I can describe the way I parent is that I am proactive rather than reactive. I don’t allow my kids to come into my bed and I don’t stay with them to fall asleep. But that doesn’t mean that I love them any less – I want them to have good sleep so that they can thrive and tackle each day feeling energised.
Dr. Elsie Taveras of Harvard Medical School found that long-term sleep related problems started as early as infancy and was quoted in a Times interview saying, "Parents and paediatricians should keep in mind that children have to develop the capacity to regulate their own sleep early in life and self-soothe themselves during the night."
If you’re reading this and have yet to have the issues start in the first place, go ahead and feel free to know that you’re doing a great job and to keep doing what you’re doing!
If you are starting to encounter issues, my warning is this: If your baby has any negative sleep associations it is a good idea to try and change these now. Yes it will be hard but ultimately it is going to save you months and months of broken, un-restorative sleep.
If you are not sure how change this or need some support in doing so then I can work with you to do this. Don’t think that you have to go it alone.
Simard V, Nielsen TA, Tremblay RE, Boivin M, Montplaisir JY., ‘Longitudinal study of preschool sleep disturbance: the predictive role of maladaptive parental behaviors, early sleep problems, and child/mother psychological factors.’ Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 Apr;162(4):360-7. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.162.4.360. Accessed from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18391145?fbclid=IwAR2Pr9fQs0d_i3CnIhZB0d8U5nseRptYVS7w7mRvhH2MOVoP6ae8ddcAYsA on 20th July 2019
Sharples, T., 2008, ‘How Not to Get Baby to Sleep.’ Time Magazine. Accessed from http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1728755,00.html on 20th July 2019
At the moment I cannot function. I dread putting my son to bed every single night because I just do not know what the night will bring. Usually I'm up with every 2 hours trying to resettle him. He feeds to sleep so I have no life - I cannot go out with my friends and I struggle to get out in the day because I am just so tired. I know this won't be forever but at the moment I am just tired and drained. It's starting to affect my mental health, my clarity and even my relationship with my husband. He tries to help me out but he doesn't have boobs....I actually feel quite alone in this motherhood journey so far.
My mums group are lovely but some of them have had their babies sleeping through the night since 8 weeks old! Some of them don't seem to feel the effects of sleep deprivation the way I do. Some co-sleep and just feed their babies all night. I'm not comfortable doing this...for me it's way too big of a risk and I wouldn't be able to sleep well anyway. I feel like if I talked to them about sleep training they would all judge me. Nobody even mentions those two words...I don't know what to do! I need help!
Why is it that we all have to judge each other? As mums we need support, love and encouragement. 1000 years ago mums had a tribe around them and they all helped out with the baby. Today our tribe is our mum's group, if we choose to join one.
The fact that you are not getting any sleep and it is affecting everything about your life means that you should be putting your needs first. How are you going to be that mum at the park running around with her toddler if you are not sleeping? You are not...you may get to the park but you will be sitting there thinking about when the next nap time is.
And do you know that by sleep training it means that your baby is also going to get the much needed sleep they require? Lack of sleep leads to grumpy babies and behaviour problems in toddlers. They just do not know how to handle their emotions because they are tired and running on empty.
Sleep is a gift that you can give you yourself and your baby.
The choice to sleep train your baby will never be an easy one to make but it's important to understand what it is and that it doesn't have to be scary. Sleep training does not mean leaving your baby to cry for hours and hours - the media portray the term "sleep training" in quite a negative light and therefore it is very misrepresented.
My sleep training philosophy is holistic meaning that the majority of parents experience much less crying than they ever imagined. Sleep training doesn't mean that you have to leave your baby alone! There are both gentle and cry based techniques and I offer both - the decision is up to you and what you are comfortable with.
Please do not judge mums who decide to sleep train. Maybe your baby sleeps and you have never felt the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation. Maybe your baby doesn't sleep but you are coping okay. You will never understand until you are in another mother's shoes. Be supportive. That's all there is to it.
In this video Kristen Bell (#momsplaining) explains the effects of sleep deprivation.
Lauryn Stanlake - Infant and Child Sleep Consultant