The baby who was a rare exception

At one year old, an infant’s sleep issues must surely be improving, right?

Wrong.

Or at least not for Oliver’s poor exhausted Mum.

Her son’s naps during the day only ever lasted 20 or 30 minutes (and no, that’s not a typo!) These didn’t improve with time or age……can you imagine what it was like for her to get through every day for a whole year with such short breaks?

Increasingly bad days and nights

During the last 4 months, Oliver’s sleep habits had been getting progressively worse, not better. His daytime naps had regressed to only 30 minutes at the most. He wasn’t even sleeping a full sleep cycle, this level of sleep deprivation starts to become chronic after 12 months, and it was affecting his night sleep.

When we become sleep deprived, our bodies go into fight or flight mode and produce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, those hormones which give you a second burst of energy when you’re working the night shift. But these same hormones reek havoc on sleep, preventing deep sleep, causing more fragmented sleep, and less deep quality sleep.

Due to these stress hormones Oliver’s nighttime sleeping was even trickier to navigate than his naps. Oliver would take an especially long time to settle in the evening and couldn’t seem to settle unless he was being rocked or held by one of his parents.

He was waking more than 6-8 times a night, needing to be rocked and held back to sleep each time. His parents were dragging themselves up and down the hall way every hour or two. Physically and mentally exhausted, something had to change.

Oliver’s Mum was confused about why things were getting worse.

In the end, she decided that a bit of extra help would be welcome and called Sacha from Baby Sleep Consultant.

Sacha is a mother of 2, she has a degree in psychology, is a certified infant sleep consultant, has worked with Baby Sleep Consultant for over 7 years, helping thousands of parents just like Olivers mum.

A strange discovery

Sacha was happy to answer the call and went around for a home consultation during the day. Straight away Sacha noticed that Oliver’s parents “had done a great job providing a fabulous environment for Oliver to sleep in. They’d done lots of really good things, like putting him in a sleep bag.

Sacha and Oliver’s Mum worked on a plan to teach Oliver to put himself to sleep, and back to sleep. Because he was becoming accustomed to being rocked to sleep, Olivers mum needed to re-teach Oliver to go to sleep without the aid of being rocked.

If she continued to rock him, each time he woke up throughout the night, (remember some night wake ups are normal at the end of normal sleep cycles) he would be looking for that rocking to get back to sleep.

Oliver was a mini toddler at 1 year old, and had a very inquisitive nature which is why both Mum and Sacha agreed a technique without mum in the room would work best.

The sleep training worked wonders for Oliver, and after only a couple of nights, he was happy to fall asleep quickly by himself and stay asleep all night!

But here’s the catch – it only worked at night.

Oliver still wasn’t interested in sleeping for long during the day.

What worked at night just wasn’t working during the day.

Sacha has helped over thousands of parents with their babies, and she’d only seen that happen one other time.

After 12 months of short naps these naps were well and truly ingrained in Oliver’s circadian rhythm. No amount of space and consistency was going to change Oliver’s naps.

She was astounded to see it with Oliver!

Meanwhile Oliver’s Mum was stressed and upset that the sleep training – which was so effective at night – did zilch during daylight.

It was all very overwhelming.

If there is one thing we don’t want when we work with tired parents, that is stress and overwhelm! This is why working with experience and trained consultants and not tackling things alone is really worth its weight in gold.

Oliver had never slept longer than 30 minutes in the day, he needed to be physically taught and settled to sleep to show his wee body how to go back to sleep after a short sleep cycle.

Sacha suggested coming up with a new plan for daytime naps, which they worked on together over the next week. It was suggested that Oliver have a gentler, hands-on approach for just the daytime naps, teaching and physically aiding Oliver to get back to sleep for the first time in 12 months +!!!!

And then, if his Mum found that just wasn’t working, they’d bring his bedtime back an hour earlier (by which time he’d be fussy and keen on some sleep!)

How is Oliver doing now?

Armed with a new daytime nap method, his Mum started noticing improvement within two days!

Much to the relief of Oliver’s parents, the little guy is sleeping really well now, he just needed to be assisted for a couple of days while his body clock adjusted to get more sleep.

Remember if you are tackling habits after 12 months….. these are long term habits and an out of the box solution might be needed.

He’s pretty happy during the day. He was really cross and tearful by the night when his naps were short, but his mood has improved now, and he is a pleasure to be around.

What Sacha wants other Mums to understand from this is “don’t keep going if something isn’t working for you. This is a great example of how you can work around a problem. We hear from a lot of parents that they have attempted CIO or something similar for weeks with no results….. sometimes it just isn’t a good fit and you needed a trained professional to help you work out what will work with minimal stress.

And if you need a little extra help then don’t worry – there is absolutely is hope, even if your baby is that rare exception to the rule.

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