At one year old, an infant’s sleep issues must surely be improving, right?
Or at least not for Ollie’s poor exhausted Mum.
At around 8 months of age, her son started waking every 15 mins throughout the night. (yep, you read that right).
Can you imagine what it was like for her to get through the days on so little sleep?
Let’s take a closer look at Ollie’s sleep “regression”.
Ollie’s Sleep Pattern
Baby Ollie wasn’t ever a great sleeper, but his mum, Tegan, felt like it wasn’t “too bad.” She and her husband managed for a while but at around eight months, Ollie’s sleep worsened. It was disastrous!
“His sleep got progressively worse at eight months. We thought it might be a short-lived regression,” Tegan recalls. “On some nights he wouldn’t settle until 11.00pm and then he would wake every 15 minutes until 6.00am.”
Exhausted and confused, Tegan turned to the internet for sleep advice, but this only added to her confusion. “I was completely overwhelmed by the mixed messaging and the information overload. I had a lot of anxiety around sleep training, and I turned to Google, which wasn’t helpful.”
Tegan tried lots of methods, which only confused Ollie further. “I wasn’t consistent with anything and I couldn’t seem to read his clues clearly.”
The best sleep Ollie had was from 6am-10am each morning. Those four hours were enough to sustain him, but for Tegan and her husband it was impossible.
“Nothing worked. I was at my wits end. My body physically hurt it was so tired.”
Teaching Ollie to Self-Settle
When I first spoke with Tegan over the phone, her distress was obvious. And with good reason. Often, if babies haven’t been sleeping well for a long time, sleep anxiety sets in. It can be very confusing if the sleep routine has been chaotic and inconsistent.
Sleep can easily become a stressful event for the baby and for the parents. Everyone’s anxiety around sleep increases. Poor Tegan felt like her baby was “just a bad sleeper” and nothing could be done. I reassured her that this wasn’t the case, and we could work together to establish a sleep confidence.
Establishing Sleep Confidence
A friend of mine referred me to Emma, and that referral was life changing,” says Tegan.
“We had a chat over the phone, and I clicked with her straight away. I didn’t want to let him cry it out and she assured me it would be a gentle approach. She also explained that it would be teaching him a life skill. Truthfully? I wasn’t convinced, but she was completely right.”
First, we started working on the nights, and slowly naps improved. Tegan learnt to implement a set routine for Ollie, which involved teaching Ollie to self-soothe.
We identified Ollie’s “sleep cues” and new “sleep associations.”
Comfort intervals were set, whereby Tegan would pat Ollie, leave the room and then return at regular intervals. Ollie learnt quickly that “Mum” would come back.
When you’re supporting a baby to learna new skill and you are there, any tears are struggle tears, frustrated tears… their confidence grows in their own ability to self-settle.
How is Ollie doing now?
Armed with a new night-time routine, his Mum started noticing improvement within two days!
“Emma worked with us and he started sleeping through the night within a week. It was a complete transformation.”
Much to the relief of Ollie’s parents, the little guy is sleeping really well now.
“Now we just sit him down in his cot and he waves us out. He lies himself down when he’s ready. He needed to be taught that. Now he knows that the word sleep means to lie down (and giggle!). He’s very proud of himself.”
How is Tegan doing now?
Tegan is so much happier and has more energy and less anxiety.
“Now I feel confident that we will sleep through the night. I am nowhere near as anxious. I remember the anxiety leading up to night-time was terrible. I would feel a tightening in the chest, and I would dread it. I think he felt my tension too.”
“If you had told me six months ago that this was possible, I would have laughed. I had almost accepted that my baby was a terrible sleeper and that was all.”
Any other benefits to sleeping better?
Not only is Ollie sleeping better but his eating has improved, too. “He has three solid meals and 2-3 snacks a day. It’s an unexpected side effect of sleeping better. Now he will look for food and ask to eat mine as well as his.”
Tegan’s only regret is not teaching Ollie to self-settle sooner. “I wish I hadn’t listened to all the “noise” out there (about sleep training) If anything, now Ollie trusts me even more. When I leave his room, he knows I am coming back.”
Ollie is now 14 months and Tegan describes him as “super chilled.”
“We couldn’t be more thankful or more grateful. Emma has changed our lives.”