Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
We have two kids – a 5-year-old boy and a 16month old girl. I am currently off from full-time work as I took a one-year parental break, which also included taking the time off to finish my Masters’ degree and a post-grad in education. We live a rather simple life, we mostly enjoy spending time outdoors and we always seek places to spend time where both kids could run as freely and loudly as they can. Our elder shows a great interest and is engaged in various sports disciplines.
What were the sleep challenges you were facing with little Layla that made you decide to reach out to Becki?
Sleep challenges were various such as very early morning waking (5.30/6 am); very short naps and inconsistent nap times which made her tired, cranky and irritable during the day; only slept with rocking in the arms and then when placed in the crib she instantly awoke which led to a continuous cycle of rocking – placed in crib fully asleep – 5/10mins later realises she’s alone – starts crying – we rush to her – rocking starts again and the cycle continues! This obviously then led to horrible nights and lots of anxiety for both of us! We had hoped that after she turns 6months and is weaned on food, this lack of sleep would improve but it kept getting worse and worse because she couldn’t sleep at all unless she was in someone’s arms. These were the challenges that led us to contact Becki because we were tired, anxious, and we totally felt that we were neglecting our boy because of all the continuous attention to his new baby sister.
Was there anything you were worried or anxious about before getting started with sleep training?
Mainly that we wouldn’t have the stamina to hear her cry without rushing to her side, that we would have to leave her cry which would then disturb her brother’s sleep, that being faithful to a schedule would be tough to follow because well, life happens and things get in the way!
How old was your daughter when you worked with Becki? Did you see any changes in her overall well-being and/or mood after working together?
Yes, very positive changes. Once her naps and nights settled, she was much more settled in the sense that we learnt how to recognise the signs of tiredness, hunger, teething pain etc. For example, if she had an awake window of 2.5 hours, and her nap time wasn’t due yet but still she showed irritability, then we started to realise that she was actually hungry, not tired.
How has sleep training your little one benefitted your family?
For starters, we are all well-rested. We could also plan ahead, for example, I could plan an indoor activity e.g. crafts, with her brother because I know that between 10 am and 11.30 am she takes a nap every day without fail. We know when her next meal would be because we know exactly at what time she would sleep and wake up. I can plan to work in the early morning and know how much work I can get done because I know the time that she would wake up because now she is very predictable. We also know that if we are spending time outside and she would miss a nap, then we would prepare for an earlier bedtime or vice versa, if she missed a morning nap, then it is likely that she would nap longer in the afternoon, then we could plan a later bedtime. This is very different from how we raised her brother – his schedule was very unpredictable, and we had sort of went with the flow, but when there are siblings, one has to consider both of their needs, especially if there is an age gap which then creates very different needs!
What would you want other moms to know about working with a sleep consultant? How about sleep training, in general?
I would tell them to be completely honest with the consultant. To tell the consultant all about the baby’s temperament, the family’s lifestyle, and what they are willing to do or not do in order to successfully train the child. What hurdles there might be, for example, I was very worried about naps taken at grandma’s house and how the baby’s schedule would fit in with her brother’s new schedule because sleep training had coincided with him starting kinder 2 and so we all had to have time to adapt. But I discussed all this with Becki. I also confided in her that naps were also a struggle because her brother was very loud and since Layla is a very light sleeper, she would wake at the slightest sound, so for her second nap I had to move it to a time to coincide with his quiet-time. Becki is a mum of two herself, so she would immediately understand these daily life situations! I would advise parents to go into sleep training with an open mind and with the determination to succeed and to keep the end result in mind!
What is your best advice for new parents?
For new parents, not to be disheartened about the disrupted nights because they might resolve naturally, and if not, there is always help. As I see it, sleep is an important aspect of living, it is our right as human beings to rest our bodies and minds and this will reflect on our moods, emotions, lifestyle and relationships, regardless of whether we are still a baby or a grown adult. How can babies thrive if they are not well-rested? And how can an adult function normally if the nights are continuously being disrupted? Furthermore, in my opinion, teaching a baby how to self-soothe and sleep is an essential skill, that as parents we should be giving our babies, just as we teach them how to chew food, use their gross and fine motor skills etc.