This week I was called by a very tired mother of a 5 month old baby who was breastfeeding every 3 hours day and night and only napping for a maximum of half an hour in the day and waking for long periods every 2-3 hours from 7pm until 7am.
The mother understandably was shattered and her baby was grizzly throughout the day as he was so tired. I asked the mother to keep a detailed sleep and feeding diary for 3 days before I was able to go and see her. I saw from the diary that the mother was mis-reading her babies crying and was often feeding when really he was just tired or vice versa. I also noticed a few improvements mum could make to his sleeping environment to induce better sleep. It was clear that the baby wasn’t having a chance to try and self soothe as the mum was going in very quickly as soon he made a noise.
When I arrived for the consultation baby x was asleep and had been for 10 minutes, he started to stir after me being there for a few minutes, mum straightaway wanted to go and get him. I could tell it wasn’t a painful cry , a more like I have just woken up , but would rather be asleep. So I suggested she waited, before we knew it he had gone back to sleep by himself , a first! and he slept for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Longest he had ever slept at the morning nap.
I worked with the mum and devised a very easy to follow feed and sleep routine and we talked about comforters as sleep aids.
The feeding schedule fell into place very quickly , baby x took really well to having his feeds stretched out to 4 hours , this encouraged him to take bigger feeds, rather than small snacks. Mum loved the freedom it gave her, she could arrange her day around feeds , with the reassurance of knowing when her babies activity times would be. The day naps also quickly became longer as he was nice and full and tired from a good play.
For night times, I introduced a slightly later bed time, due to mum being exhausted and baby not getting much sleep in the day , his bedtime was quite early at 6-6:30pm. We put a nice bedtime routine in place and managed to delay bedtime to nearer 7pm. With a consistent dreamfeed in place. We had to get the constant waking and re-settling throughout the night sorted. I discussed with the mother various methods of sleep training all which work but with varying time results and found a way that the parents were happy to work with . Consistency is key here, so it is important to put a method in place that the parents are happy with .
Six days later and baby x has stopped all nighttime feeds after 10pm and is self soothing himself to sleep when he wakes throughout the night. A happy mum and a happy baby.