This past Thursday Michael, Marlow and I met with a child sleep Psychologist to help us get a better understanding of what is going on with our daughter and her sleep behaviour – or lack there of.
I remember night time wake ups with Layton, but they were nothing like I am experiencing with Marlow.
SHE NEVER SLEEPS.
I don’t know when it started, but she has been waking up between every 30 minutes to 2 hours every night. It has gotten to the point where I had her in bed with me, and Michael was sleeping out on the couch.
Days were not much better for us, she would go down for a 20-minute power nap once, maybe twice a day if I was lucky.
We were both so tired that functioning daily was becoming more and more difficult, so we had to reach out for help.
What Is A Sleep Psychologist?
Now, you have probably heard of baby sleep consultants before, or maybe you haven’t and you are just starting your research.
Did you know there are two routes you can go down when looking for help?
A sleep consultant is usually a fellow mama with a background in nursing, working as a doula or midwife, or a clinical counsellor that has taken a course on baby and child sleep and shares their personal knowledge and what they have learned in courses with you.
They will offer in person meetings, phone meetings, set out a plan and routine for you and baby, as well as offer check ins for a certain amount of time. Some will even come to your house to hold you accountable while you are trying to implement some healthy sleep habits with your baby.
You pay for this service out-of-pocket, and can range anywhere from $400-$700 and more depending on who you choose, and where you are located.
The other option, which I just found out about myself in my late night google searches frantically looking for help was a Child Sleep Psychologist. The one good thing for us about going this route is that our benefits cover the cost of the Psychologist, so we do not have to pay out-of-pocket as they aren’t cheap.
I had quite a hard time actually finding a Psychologist who could help us, and ended up calling nine offices before I finally found someone that dealt with infant sleep. Make sure there is someone who is qualified in your city or town to help you before you decide to go down this route.
Prepping For The First Appointment
After I booked our first appointment with our new Psychologist’s office, she called me directly that very same day to do a check in and make sure we were a good fit before moving forward.
I could tell right away that this was going to be a great match, and felt comfortable talking with her right off the get go.
She asked me to keep a journal of Marlow’s eating and sleeping habits for the next week up to our appointment so that she could get a good idea of what our lives look like.
Seeing the madness on paper was pretty eye-opening.
Waking up 13 times in one night.
That was a bad one.
What was I doing during those 13 wake ups because I couldn’t calm her down any other way?
Nursing her, and putting her in bed beside me, because at about wake up number 5 my brain turned to scrambled eggs.
The following 6 days looked very much the same.
The First Appointment
I really wasn’t sure what to expect walking in to this appointment, the concept of taking a seven-month old to a Registered Psychologist just seems weird to me, but I knew I would accept any help we could get at this point.
Of all the places that I called, the one that I found is actually just a couple blocks from our house, so we walked there of course while the sunshine was still out.
The room that we were in for our appointment was painted in eye-catching colours and filled with tons of toys and games to keep her occupied.
The doctor took a history of my pregnancy, and history, as well as basic intake questions.
Where we live
Marlow’s general health
She also went over my seven day feeding and sleeping journal and had very very wide eyes, and let me know that it doesn’t have to be this way forever and we will get to a point where we all are getting some sleep. As long as I stick to the plan…
Some parents prefer to do the cry it out method, and baby gets the hang of it within just a couple of days.
Being that we live in an apartment building with neighbours (some of them cranky) I didn’t feel comfortable going that route so we decided to break it up in to small manageable increments.
- Bedtime at 7:00pm
- No nursing before bed – break it up with reading stories or bath time
- Dream feed at 11:00pm – this is where you feed baby while she is still sleeping to top her up without waking her
- NO feeding until 7:00am – use soother or any other methods to get her back to sleep
- Keep her in her own bed – no more sleeping in mom and dad’s bed
- Don’t acknowledge it is morning until at least 6:30am
- 3 naps per day – last nap waking no later than 4:30pm
- No sleeping on mom or dad
- No nurse to sleep
Our end goal is to have her fall asleep on her own without any help, and put herself back to sleep without feeding or any other measures.
We are going to meet every week to take something else away – and next is her soother. I will let you know how that one goes.
Do you think that sounds pretty doable, or would you have a difficult time making that work?
I figured it would be easy peasy – boy was I wrong. So so wrong.
Our First Week
I failed. I failed big time. I really have only made it without feeding her two nights so far.
Part of this has to do with Michael being switched on to night shifts for work so he is gone from 5:30pm-4:00am now and I don’t have an extra set of hands to help me through the evening and night time right now.
Yeah, that is totally an excuse, but I am going with it.
She is actually sleeping on me as I am writing this right now. (Refer back to number 8) That is a big no no.
I like to think that I am making some progress, and I think I am, but it is really hard to change everything I have been doing for the past seven months in one week.
The Coming Weeks
I wonder to myself sometimes if this is our fault.
Did we spoil her too much these past months by cuddling her all the time?
Could we have introduced better sleep routines right away?
I really can’t answer those.
I was talking with my uncle on the weekend and he told me that my cousin would be up from 6:00am until 1:00am every day and did not nap at all. They were exhausted as parents, but she just didn’t sleep.
Our Psychologist says that it is normal. Some babies need help learning to feed properly, and some need help learning to put themselves to sleep. It is nothing to be worried about.
I have to remind myself during the wee hours when I am asking myself “Why won’t my baby sleep?” that she is just learning, and as long as we are consistent she will pick it up in no time.
Our Next Appointment
We have an appointment in a couple of days, and I have to be honest with the Psychologist and tell her that we haven’t exactly succeeded with our first step. She might give us more time to master the no feeding through the night, or she may lay it all on us and just go for it.
We have two weeks at home before we have to head out of town again so I am going to make a schedule and stick to it each night, even if I have to wear earplugs for part of the night.
I am confident that we will get some sleep at some point of our parenting journey, but like I mentioned earlier…
Consistency is KEY!
Babies love routine, babies need routine. Babies thrive when they have routine present in their lives.
If anyone has used either a sleep consultant, or a sleep Psychologist I would love to hear your experience – OR – if you have any super awesome sleep tips for me please drop them below in the comments!
Check back in the coming weeks to see how we are managing, as I share our sleepy journey!