How I Taught My Baby To Self Settle

I worked with Slumbertots on a gifted basis…but I don’t think I have ever felt so strongly about recommending anything to you guys, EVER!

Surviving five months on very little sleep is tough going. Although, as I write that, I realise it was actually easier than you would imagine. Somehow, you just keep going. The nights are a blur, and morning creeps in quicker than you realise, but somehow you just get on and do it. I rarely actually felt like I’d been awake every hour, but when I fell asleep at 8:30pm on the sofa without fail, there was your proof.

Teddy and I hit rock bottom with sleep at around 3.5 months. After a night of him waking every 10-40 minutes, and crying every time I tried to put him down, I resigned myself to the fact that I had one of those horrendous children that simply do not like sleep. AGHHHH.

It seems that once you get to that place in your mind, everyone around you has a perfect baby that sleeps 12 hours and bounces between play dates and easy naps, loving life. I found out through Instagram that this definitely isn’t the case and HI HELLO there are hundreds of us in the “wide awake club”.

Anyway, I had resigned myself to the fact that Teddy wasn’t going to sleep through the night until he was about 14 years old, and I was waiting for the dreaded 4 month sleep regression to hit. Honestly, I was DREADING it, and wondering what the F Teddy would have up his sleeve at that point, because I couldn’t imagine it getting any worse.

Thankfully, it didn’t get worse. It didn’t get better either, but I realised that actually he had hit his sleep regression early. WOOP DE FUCKING DOO, we had survived it without even realising! So if anyone reading this is also suffering with a 3.5 month old, don’t worry it might not be about to get any worse.

After that dreaded night of 10-40 minute sleeps, I was pointed in the direction of Slumbertots. At that point, I was dubious that anything would ever help Teddy sleep, but I delved into Katy’s testimonials and knew that I had to get in touch. A few emails later and ta daaa Katy was floating towards me like some sort of sleep superhero, promising that she could help Teddy and I get some more sleep.

Katy is a certified children’s sleep consultant, whose journey began as she became a first time mum to her little boy. With that sleep deprived desperation that we all know so well, she turned to a sleep consultant herself, and once she saw how life changing the results were, she decided to train to be a consultant herself. With the addition of a baby girl, she now runs the incredibly successful Slumbertots whilst being a mum to her two little ones.

Katy offers private consultations and bespoke sleep plans, as well as her Newborn Sleep Kit and Early Wake Guide (affiliate links). She also has a whole host of helpful posts on her blog, and runs a weekly Instagram Q&A every Wednesday, alongside regular tips and advice. I honestly cannot recommend her services more!

I trusted Katy from the outset, but I was still nervous as to whether anything would help Teddy. After a few emails, Katy suggested we get started on tackling Teddy’s sleep at 5 months. Based on her experience, she has seen it to be the best age to start making changes, as things often click into place fairly quickly and easily.

We worked with Katy on her standard package, which we did via email and telephone. After an initial questionnaire followed by our consultation call, we talked through Teddy’s habits and discussed a 10 day plan which should result in Teddy napping for longer during the day, going down without a fight, and sleeping from around 7pm-7am each night with 1 night feed.

As a bit of background on Teddy’s sleep, for most of his life, I had found the only way I could get him to sleep would be to feed him, and put him down fully asleep. This was ultimately our problem, as he would stir in the night looking for the one thing that had got him to sleep, and that was being in my arms with a boob in his face. Not ideal when you fancy getting some shut eye yourself! So, Katy’s plan aimed to gently break this association and comfort him in his cot until he learnt that he could put himself to sleep.

Over the course of the 10 days, our plan involved going cold turkey on any sleep props that Teddy currently had, and putting him down awake in his cot for every sleep. As Katy will tell you on repeat, how a baby sleeps through the night is ultimately down to how they fell asleep in the first place. If they fell asleep comfortable in their own cot, when they stir in the night, they will remember how they fell asleep to begin with, and be more likely to go back to sleep.

I practised this as much as possible for naptime and bedtime in the lead up to officially starting the plan, without placing any pressure on us if things didn’t go as hoped. The two elements I was nervous about though, was waking him fully for his night feed, and not feeding him more than once. Before starting the plan, he would wake anywhere from 10pm onwards (9pm on a bad night) and the only way I could settle him back to sleep would be to feed him. From 1am onwards it was anyones guess how many times I would feed him, sometimes just for minutes, for him to go back to sleep. Once we hit 4am, he was guaranteed to want to be up for the day.

If you’re interested in working with Katy, I will let her fill you in on the details as to how your plan will work, but effectively it’s a phased approach. Offering more support and comfort to your baby in the early stages of the plan, leading up to a simple goodnight as you leave the room after putting the baby in their cot on the final night. I know, to some, that will honestly sound ridiculously impossible.

But here’s the thing, on night one, he fed at around 1am, in a well lit room after a nappy change. Within 30 minutes we were both back in bed and asleep. Yep, he went down wide awake in the middle of the night and settled himself back to sleep. 3:45am hit, and this was the bit I had really been dreading, as we set into 2 hours of comforting Teddy in his cot whilst he learnt to put himself back to sleep. But HE DID IT! He put himself back to sleep, and he slept until 7:30AM!!!!

On night two, I prepared myself for a similar scenario, but after feeding at a similar time and self settling around 6am, he slept until 7:15am. Night three came around and he had a bit of a blip, I had another couple of hours settling him from around 4:45am, but then he slept again, until 7:20am!

The real shocker came on night 4, 5 and 6 though, when I actually had to wake him up at 7:30am. Who is this baby and when did he get swapped? LOL.

Wake the baby, you say? Are you MAD?! Well, to me 7:30am is a lie in at the moment, and it’s not worth screwing up the whole nap schedule for an extra lie in unfortunately.

To be honest, there isn’t much more to report from the rest of our 10 day plan, in the best way possible. He had no further blips, and aside from a few early morning chats to himself before he puts himself back to sleep for a while longer, we now have a baby that  falls asleep by himself, usually around 7-7:30pm, and wakes somewhere between 6:30-7am. We don’t have a battle at naptime or bedtime, and each time he goes down, we simply repeat the exact same routine, say goodnight, and walk out of the room.

Our bedtime routine is feed, bath, pyjamas and sleep bag, top up feed (sometimes, and always wide awake), song and bed. Naptimes are exactly the same, without the bath. We also have a fan on in the room (though not pointed towards the cot) for white noise, and we have blackout blinds which make the room completely pitch black. I went a long way to ensure that not a chink of light is let in!

So, did Katy sprinkle magic sleeping dust on Teddy? No, she simply taught me how to teach him to settle himself. Honestly, all it took was that first tough night of settling him for two hours, to break his feed to sleep association, and teach him that his cot was for sleeping. The other key things are his sleep cues, which is the routine I mentioned above, and his wake windows. Wake windows are absolutely key, once the baby gets overtired, going down for a nap feels almost impossible, as they get themselves far too worked up.

Why work with a sleep consultant though? There’s loads of articles, books, blog posts etc on sleep, why not just pick one that seems to suit you and roll with it? Well, that was the problem for me, there is so much that you can read, it all seemed a bit much, and I honestly didn’t know where to start. With Katy coaching me through the whole experience, I felt confident that I was working on something that suited Teddy, and was right for us all as a family. I can honestly say that if I didn’t have Katy to hold me accountable for each change we made, I don’t think I would have achieved what we have now, and I definitely would have doubted myself.

And how has it changed things for us as a family? This might sound dramatic, but I can’t even count the ways it has helped us as a family. First and foremost, Teddy is so much happier since his sleep has improved. He barely ever grizzles now, and often laughs himself to sleep…I know, that sounds ridiculous doesn’t it!

It has also meant that I can finally share a bed with my husband again! There was no way he could survive the working day with Teddy’s shenanigans, but now he’s rarely disturbed and it’s so lovely to be back together.

We can also actually plan things around Teddy now, instead of it being anyone’s guess when and where he might nap. We usually count on the first nap of the day being in the cot, and if we need to get out and about, we can do one or both of his naps that day on the go. Most days he usually has two naps at home though, and will now do all three in his cot if we’re home. This has meant we get more quality time as a family together. Ross can walk Bear whilst Teddy sleeps, or we can all head out when he wakes up for example. Honestly, it has been life changing.

I can’t say enough thanks to Katy for all of her support. As mentioned at the start of this post, Katy worked with me on a complimentary basis in return for this review alongside social media coverage. 

The sleep bag that Teddy is wearing in this image is a gift from Slumbersac.

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