Carly from Kent

My daughter has never really slept well despite us implementing a regular routine from 6 weeks old. We have a regular bedtime routine, starting with a bath at 6pm, followed by a little massage, clean nappy, pyjamas and breast feed and then put down to bed by 7pm. Initially she goes to sleep, but will wake anything from 10mins to an hour later and is usually settled with a dummy, which takes a few goes. She then seems to wake a couple of times before her 10:30pm bottle feed (until recently this wasn’t the case) but will then sleep till around 2am. This is her longest stretch of sleep. She will then be awake on and off or completely awake till 3;30-4am – I don’t think she is hungry. Often she just wants to play – even though its completely dark and we never talk to her at night and don’t pick her up except to be fed. I give her a breastfeed at 3 or 4 am when I think she’s hungry, but she will then not go back to sleep till 5 or 6am.

I then get her up at 6;30-7am to start the day as she is on a 3 hour feeding routine, roughly during the day with breastfeeds at 7am, 10am, 1pm (bottle of formula, 6oz), 4pm then around 6:30pm before bed, and night feeds as outlined above. She is even worse at napping during the day – the most we get out of her is 45mins. Sometimes it takes me an hour to get her to sleep for only 20mins. She goes down in her cot for naps, same as nighttime. I try to get her sleepy before I go upstairs with her, by giving her a cuddle and playing quietly with a soft toy or singing and rocking. But when I put her down she instantly wakes up. I leave her with a kiss and try and let her settle herself and whinge, but when she cries I go in and give her a dummy and if this doesn’t work. I ssh pat her to sleep – like the baby whisperer. This is how I try and settle her at night too.

“I thought I should send a quick e-mail to let you know how much Mel has helped me with my daughter’s sleep problems. By the time she was three months old I was exhausted and stressed. She was waking up to 8 times during the night and it would take me anything from twenty minutes to over an hour to get her to sleep each time she woke. I was using the ‘baby whisperer’ technique of shh-patting her to sleep as she couldn’t seem to get to sleep on her own. Even with my husbands help it was really getting me down. Also she would not get very much sleep during the day. She was quite resistant to naps and would kick and scream as I tried to settle her for a daytime sleep which was both frustrating and upsetting for me. It would often take me over an hour to get her to nap for just ten or twenty minutes.

On numerous visits to my health visitor, I was told I was ‘doing all the right things’ and to ‘just persevere – it will get better’. As a new mum, I found this lack of advice alarming! My main reason for seeking help was that I knew the lack of sleep was not good for my young daughter and I wasn’t enjoying motherhood as I should because I was so tired and fighting a losing battle everyday trying to get her to sleep.

Mel instructed me on adjusting her daytime routine and gave me tips to help her with her naps. She also gave me a new technique to settle her to sleep at night, which didn’t involve me assisting her so much to get to sleep, and so allowing her to learn to self-settle. She also advised us on how to remove her dummy – we had used one reluctantly on the advice of our health visitor, but it resulted in us spending most of our time running up and downstairs to put her dummy back in, as she often woke when it fell out. After removing the dummy, within a few days she had managed to soothe herself by sucking her fingers – no need for parental assistance! The result is that she now has three naps a day – two 45 minute naps and a one hour nap and there is no kicking and screaming involved. When she is put down in her cot or pram for her nap she normally gets herself to sleep within 5 minutes, which is amazing considering how bad she was before.

It generally only takes a few minutes now to get her back to sleep – so much easier than before! We are confident now that she is getting enough sleep, unlike before, which makes her a much happier baby during the day. I can now enjoy motherhood as I should!

It’s worth mentioning that she is 4 months old now and in our last conversation Mel gave me some useful advice about tweaking her routine as she gets older and some great tips for weaning. If I have any problems I wont hesitate to call for advice!

Many thanks to sleepnannies for all their help”