A story of a very tired 10-month-old

I know that so many parents are exhausted and have children waking them every night and just accept that this is the way it has to be. I get it. When my son was little he did not sleep through the night until he was three. We tried everything and nothing seemed to work. Maybe that is why I am so passionate about helping parents get the help they need. I suffered alone and only wished I knew that there were sleep coaches that could help us. But 20 years ago, I don’t think they existed! 🙂

Many parents don’t want to admit that their children don’t sleep because they feel like it is their fault. So instead, they justify the child’s wakings by saying things like:

“I just breastfeed her and she goes right back to sleep, so I am ok with it.”

“I think they will just grow out of it.”

“It must be one of those leaps.”

“I think they are too little to sleep 11-12 hours at night.”

“I like the snuggle time at night.”

“They just like to sleep with me so my husband sleeps on the couch.”

“I don’t want the older child to wake up so it is just easier to feed the baby.”

Again – I understand all of these comments, but also want parents to know that they don’t have to accept frequent wakings as normal. Children need healthy, restorative sleep just as much as adults do, even more so because of the brain development that happens in the early years.

I would like to share a story with you of a family that was really struggling and how sleep coaching changed their lives!

Katie and Adam have two children. Their oldest daughter Samantha is two and a half and was an awesome sleeper since she was a baby. They never had to sleep train her and now she just asks to go to bed. Then came their second daughter, Blair who did not follow her sister’s sleep habits.

They thought they had a good sleeper until she was 3-4 months old when Blair began to wake regularly during the night, often only sleeping 3-3.5 hours at a time. Bedtime would not be until 10pm and the wakings were frequent. “She was incredibly challenging to get back to sleep, nursing, holding or change of space did not help. This lead to more irritable and clingy behavior during the day.”

When Blair was seven months old, Katie reached out for help but they were not ready to move forward with coaching. By the time Blair was 10 months old Blair was taking good naps that lasted four hours a day but nighttime sleep had gotten worse and they were spending many hours a night trying to console Blair only to have her crying so much she sometimes got hoarse. When they could not blame the lack of sleep on teething, growth spurts or anything else, they were ready for coaching.

We started the coaching process with a video conference with mom and dad at 8pm one evening. The hope was that Blair would be sleeping, but as she often did, she had slept from 7-8 only to wake up and not be able to go back to sleep so she joined the call! Katie and Adam were both so patient and wanting to help their baby but even holding, rocking and nursing did not help her.

During our conversation, we talked about what the typical daily schedule looks like with eating, nursing, and napping. Following that, we made a plan of how they were going to support Blair to learn how to fall asleep on her own and sleep through the night. Mom and Dad had hoped for 6 hours of straight sleep so that was our first goal, knowing that she could be sleeping 11-12 hours straight.

The plan involved having Dad put Blair to bed which is something he had not done in the past. Mom typically nursed her to sleep. We developed a routine that dad and Blair would enjoy, established when that would start and when she would be in her crib. We also had a plan of how dad would respond to Blair if she cried – they anticipated a great deal of protest from Blair so we talked about worst case scenarios and made a plan for them. Because this was going to be difficult for mom, they decided that the older sister would have a sleepover at grandmas and mom would get a good nights sleep at a hotel! Adam had a plan and he was ready!

When Adam and Katie decided the night they would begin, they let me know and I was available via text for Adam to have support. Adam was pleasantly surprised when Blair only cried for 20 minutes with him checking on her every five minutes and not nearly as hard as they anticipated. That night Blair had four times during the night where she fussed or cried for 5-10 minutes but was able to put herself to sleep. She fell asleep at 7:45pm and woke at 7:45am!

Needless to say, mom and dad were shocked and delighted! The next day I worked with mom around nap timing as Blair adjusted to sleeping all night. We continued to talk to make modifications to nap timing over the next few days so that they could get to a consistent bedtime for Blair. They have found that Blair will sleep from about 6:45pm to 7:30 am!

They have found that Blair is happier during the day and eating better now that she sleeps all night. She looks forward to going to bed and mom and dad have their evenings back that they can enjoy together and are getting full night’s sleep!

This is what Katie has to say about their experience:

“I was exhausted, struggling to even nurse her to sleep and often waking more than once per hour overnight. I knew she wasn’t getting the sleep she needed to be her best self and I certainly wasn’t either.

What held me back the most was feeling that my baby was going to think I didn’t love her or care about her, that I was abandoning her in favor of sleep. Kathy’s calm confidence in creating a plan to best suit the needs of our baby and our comfort level eased my apprehension. Through zoom calls, text and email we were able to communicate with Kathy and appreciated all of her support, suggestions, and guidance.

I expected my husband to have an intense first night full of crying as he took on disassociating nursing and sleep. I was literally flabbergasted when he told me she only cried off and on for under 20 minutes before falling asleep on her own. Within 3 or 4 days she was going down happy, sleeping 12 hours, and overall a less cranky, more predictable 10-month-old. Nearly 2 weeks later I am able to replicate the nighttime routine we established and put her to sleep without frustration and dependence on nursing!

My husband and I beyond thankful to have our evenings back and restful overnights for everyone!”

I want you to hear that you don’t have to suffer through more sleepless nights, feeling exhausted and short-tempered. Help is available so that you and your child can get the sleep you both need. I will help you feel confident in the process and your baby will say “thank you” if they could! They want to sleep just as much as you do!

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Download A Tired Parents Guide to Peaceful Sleep for more details.