Every week I hear from Moms in need of help for their baby’s sleep. Today was no different, an 11 month old little chap, lets call him Nicholas who was not sleeping longer than 30 minutes at each sleep during the day and at night was waking hourly before 11pm and after 1am woke every 45 minutes. His poor mom is beyond tired and was justifiably desperate. She had heard that she had two options open to her, and was desperately hoping I would have another solution:
- Get in a sleep trainer who she had heard about, to sleep train her baby
- Live with the sleep deprivation until Nicholas was two when hopefully he would sleep through
I had a different plan. We started by ruling out the possible causes for night wakings:
- We made sure Nicholas was having three meals a day that included a good portion of protein. I added to this, two snacks with protein and a smoothie with an age appropriate superfood supplement or powder.
- To ensure Nicholas was healthy, I asked his mom to take him to the doctor to check his ears for Glue ear, which often goes undetected and can wreak havoc with sleep. In addition I put him on a Probiotic because he had gastro not too long ago.
- Nicholas is a busy boy and I recommended that his mom make sure he has at least 15 minutes of swinging in the late afternoon, so that he didn’t need to be rocked to sleep (which she was doing 15 times a night)
- At 11 months old, Nicholas is ready for a more rigid day sleep schedule and I recommended that he sleep at 9:30 in the morning and at 1pm, with half a bottle before the 1pm sleep.
- Nicholas needed to form an attachment to a ‘doodoo’ blanky of some sort and use his dummy (pacifier) independently at night. I advised his mom to focus on this for 4 days before starting any sleep training.
Having ruled out the possible issues with Nicholas, it came down to the bad habit of rocking him to sleep for every sleep and through the night. To teach Nicholas a new and more functional way of falling asleep, I told his mom about a gentle way to sleep coach – by sitting with Nicholas as he learns to use his ‘doodoo’ and dummy to settle to sleep independently.
Nothing is easy as a parent and sleep problems rank up there with the most stressful things you can go through. The key is to rule out the basic issues, to have a plan to sleep coach that allows you to be calm and consistent.