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Sleep Training Success Story From A High Needs Baby!

Sleep Training Success Story From A High Needs Baby!

Who doesn’t love a good sleep training success story? As a sleep consultant, I’ve been so fortunate to have worked with many amazing parents who have helped their children learn how to LOVE sleep with amazing results.

Through sleep training, I’ve helped parents teach their children to sleep independently and through the night, and to break nursing/swaddle/paci/bottle/anything-that-got-in-the-way-of-sleep addictions. I’m finishing up a two-week consultation with baby Liv, and her story is so amazing that I just had to share the success.

Email from Mom on March 10th (yes, that’s 2014)

Subject:  High Needs Baby

“I have an almost 8 month old little girl. I just had some questions regarding your consulting. We have obviously tried all other methods to help our little one get some sleep but everything has failed. She is up every 20 to 75 minutes all night long, with the occasional few hours thrown in here and there. I am just wondering if you have any experience with high needs babies? She is fussy 80-90 percent of the day and a very tense baby. All the methods seem to target typical babies which is why we need something for just our baby”.

“Whoa”, was my first reaction. 8 months old and only sleeping in 20-70 minute stretches at night?  I felt the exhaustion of the mom through the computer.  I knew this baby was chronically overtired leading to the fussiness and I knew that we had to help her get caught up on sleep! This mom wanted something personalized – something individualized, and she wanted to know that her baby could eventually learn how to go to sleep and stay asleep.  After a couple of back and forth emails, the parents booked a two week consultation with me and boy – are we both so happy they did!

After our consultation, where I was able to do a deep dive into Liv’s sleep history and family philosophy, I created a solid sleep plan that I knew the parents could execute.  Dad was leaving in a few weeks for new-job training and Mom had been passing out from exhaustion so it was now or never to get this girl sleeping!!!

Liv’s Sleep Habits (Before):

  • Poor baby had reflux and a lip tie that was corrected but the bad sleep habits stayed.
  • Took 2 or 3 short naps a day.
  • Only slept in a Rock N’ Play or in parents’ arms – NEVER laid flat to sleep.
  • Nursed to sleep always.
  • First half of the night Liv slept in the Rock N’ Play and the second half of the night Dad held Liv upright to sleep.  She was up A LOT and needed a lot of soothing (i.e. holding, rocking, walking) to fall asleep and was often up for hours in the middle of the night.

Components of the Sleep Training Plan:

  • Solid 2 nap schedule.
  • Eliminate all middle of the night feeds – Mom knew that Liv was nursing for comfort in the middle of the night, not food.
  • Liv will be be put in her crib awake so she will learn how to fall asleep independently.
  • Set a consistent soothing plan when Liv wakes up in the middle of the night.  This allowed Mom and Dad to feel comfortable leaving her while she learned how to fall asleep independently.
  • Darken the room. I told them about these great paper shades  that will help darken the room further along with their curtains (room was about a 5 during the day on a scale from 1-10).
  • Set expectations ridiculously low.  Mom and Dad knew this was going to be hard and I did my best to not sugar-coat what they were in for.

As part of the plan, we were changing 8 months of bad sleep habits.  We were going to celebrate each success – one at a time.  If Liv fell asleep independently, we were going to celebrate it! If she took a good nap, we were going to celebrate it! If she was going to wake up and go back to sleep, you got it, we were going to celebrate it! I could tell that the parents were ready for baby sleep training, albeit scared, but they had the confidence and the support they needed. The plan was about to begin!

How did it go?

I always start my plans at night and this was the e-mail I received the next morning:

“Liv did amazing! We are so surprised. She seems happier this morning and skipping the feeding was good, she ate well when we woke her up.”

I had the biggest sigh of relief from that e-mail!  I have all my clients use an electronic sleep tracker and they were right – Liv did awesome. She woke up twice briefly through the night but went right back to sleep.  I’m not sure that it could have gone better.  So night #1 was behind us and they had amazing progress!

Later on Day #1, I got another e-mail from Mom:

“I never EVER thought we would be asking this, but it there a max on her nap duration? She’s been sleeping for 2 hours!”

I almost choked when I read that.  A 2 hour nap on Day #1 when Liv has barely ever napped for over an hour?  Amazing!!!!

Every night and nap since then has been amazing – it’s just amazing how quickly it came together!  It just shows that Liv was looking for the opportunity to fall asleep independently.  She was just as ready as her parents!!!

Liv’s Sleep Habits (After):

  • Typical overnight sleep: about 7pm-7am.
  • Naps averaging 1 – 2 hours each.
  • All sleep is in the crib in her own room where she falls asleep independently.

So what are the results of the sleep training plan?

Here is the amazing part – Liv is in such a better mood.  Since implementing our plan, Liv has not had one meltdown!  And the best part: Mom and Dad said that Liv sleeps….wait for it…. 6 hours more each day!  I’ll say that again…  Liv sleeps 6 hours more each day!  That’s crazy!!!!  She actually sleeps about 15 hours each day, higher than the average daily sleep requirement for her age.  Can you imagine how much more well-rested you would feel if you slept just 2 hours more each day? In baby terms, 6 hours is huge and the success is clearly showing in her temperament.

I’m so proud for Liv’s parents, as they are the sweetest people and they needed sleep as well!  Sleep is good for the whole family!  I feel confident that sleep training Liv to learn how to sleep will be one of the best decisions they have ever made!  Does any of Liv’s story ring true for you and your child?  It’s not too late to help your child learn how to LOVE sleep.

Pick a sleep package that works best for you.  Maybe you will be the next success story that I share!

Susie Parker

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. This sounds so much like my son Kalix! He just turned 8 months and is a terrible sleeper! He wakes up so many times throughout the night and will only nap if I lay with him! I am so exhausted! How do I get him to fall asleep in his crib? If I lay him down before he falls asleep he will just scream! This has definitely taken a tole on my family and I just don’t know how to change it! Please Help!

  2. Thanks for sharing, but I am also confused so there was never a period where the baby woke up crying and the parents had to just ignore her? What exactly did they change that caused the baby to “do amazingly” that first night? It seemed as if there was no adjustment period and right after the consult the baby slept normally. If this was so, then just wondering, what would have been your instruction if the baby had woken up crying throughout the night? I ask because I am considering a sleep consult, however I would never let my baby cry alone for hours. Thanks!

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