*This post contains a gifted service from Little Sleep Stars*
A couple of months ago, Ryan and I decided to embark on the sleep training journey with Finley. We had been trying to get him into a much better sleep routine, but something wasn’t quite clicking into place and that’s where Lauren from Little Sleep Stars came in. I initially had a quick chat with her and we discussed Finley’s sleep, his routine, my labour and the complications I experienced afterwards and a few other bits and pieces. She explained a few different things to me that made me feel instantly at ease and that I wasn’t being a completely clueless parent when it came to sleep and routines.
After filling out a consultation form, Ryan and I then met with Lauren for an hour on an online video call. She was able to breakdown every aspect of Finley’s sleep for us. She explained everything in a way that was so easy to understand, completely logical and it was a huge lightbulb moment for us. Not only could she tell us why certain things were happening, but she could support it with evidence based research as well. For me this speaks volumes about the type of service she offers; she is fully invested and passionate about helping families.
After this conversation, it was obvious that there was a lot going on (type of birth, post-natal complications, reflux and so on), all of which were contributing to poor sleep. We tried implementing the advice she gave us and we made progress straight away. However, if I am completely honest, somewhere along the line I lost my way a bit. Looking back now I can see that I was exhausted, did not have the right mindset (due to being sleep deprived) and I needed some extra support to see it through. Lauren was an absolute saint and stuck with me till the end. She was patient and completely understanding of our situation. I then chatted with her again when Finley was nearly 7 months old.
So just to give you an idea as to what Lauren was working with (she definitely had her work cut out for her with us). We were a family that had co-slept from day one (for various reasons, none of which were planned). Even as a small baby Finley would scream if he was laid down in anything resembling his own sleep space, resulting in him always sleeping with me. As he got older things didn’t really improve, he slept better as a newborn baby than he did at 7 months old. I dealt with wake ups every 45 minutes to an hour most nights where he was normally quite upset. I was responsive feeding as this seemed to be the only way I could settle him. He wouldn’t nap well during the day – 30 minutes at most, again only on me or in the car/carrier. I would spend my days wandering through the house rocking him until he would drift off. By the time he was nearly 7 months old I was completely broken. Sleep deprivation is brutal and I could not carry on any longer. I wrote all about how I was feeling here. Luckily this fell around the time that Ryan had 2 weeks annual leave and it turned out to be the ideal time as it meant he was around and able to provide the support I needed to be able to see it through.
Lauren had given me a plan of what I needed to do, she had broken it down into small manageable pieces and advised me to go with what felt best and how I felt Finley was doing. This was something I really appreciated as it meant we could move at a pace that suited Finley and it wasn’t too stressful for him or me for that matter. One of the other things I loved the most about Lauren’s plan, was that it was personalised for us as a family and specifically for the problems Finley was having. After all, every baby is completely different when it comes to sleep and the issues that contribute to poor sleep. I would also like to point out that at no point did the plan involve ‘controlled crying’. It would not have been appropriate for Finley, his age or just us as a family. This is also not an approach that Lauren uses and therefore your sleep plan will never include this aspect regardless of age, sleep concerns or goals. The plan was a gentle method, which can take a little bit longer, but is much better for long term success.
We started the plan and within 3 nights we had seen huge improvements and after 6/7 nights he was sleeping through the night 7am to 7pm in his own cot, in his own room and he was also sleeping there for both naps during the day; both of which were longer than 30 minutes! Ryan and I were in utter shock. We couldn’t not believe the change in his sleep just from changing a few little things. The worst part was the first 3 nights. These were what I would call exhausting, only because it involved a lot of up and downs, multiple resettles, and it was tiring (the main reason it was better to have Ryan to help during the day).
We are now over 2 months down the line and he is still doing well. The real test was when I stayed at my mum and dads house at Christmas and Finley slept in a completely new environment, in a travel cot and he just carried on like normal. I am just amazed how well this has worked and continues to work. We do have the odd night where he wakes up once or twice and needs help resettling, but I can normally find a reason for this – like a new little tooth popping out the next morning, or being unwell, which I think is completely understandable. We find as long as we are consistent and stick with the routine as much as possible, he just falls back into the routine when he is feeling better.
When Lauren initially asked us what our goals were, I felt a bit silly telling her I wanted to go from a baby that didn’t really sleep and wouldn’t sleep anywhere other than with me to sleeping all night in his cot and having naps there too. I thought that it was completely unrealistic. Still to this day I am so shocked at how things have changed for us. Lauren has been with us every step of the way. She answered every single one of my questions (anyone who knows me, knows I ask a lot of questions). She replied to my emails so quickly allowing us to implement any tweaks almost immediately and most importantly she was always there to provide support and the motivation I needed to push through.
If you are currently thinking about doing sleep training or if you feel like you are a little bit lost with bedtime, naps or anything sleep related then I cannot urge you enough to reach out to Lauren. Her services are available to you if you are pregnant and want to get a head start, if you have a newborn and want to get the routine right from early on or even if your 6 year old is climbing into your bed and keeping up all night – she is there to help and guide you through. She even offers 15 minute consultations where she will help you if she can in that time for free! You can also pick her brains by asking her questions on her Instagram and Facebook lives too.
If I haven’t convinced you already that you need Lauren in your life or perhaps the above isn’t for you, maybe your sleep issues seem a lot simpler or you just want to know a little bit more about baby/children’s sleep then just go and have a little nosey at her website. It has a wealth of information on it. From how weaning affects sleep, how to help babies with colic, dealing with clock changes, early risers and so on. If I could have Lauren on speed dial I would, but this will do me nicely instead.
Lauren is also launching an online e-course for members called Everything You Need to Know About Sleep. For £15 you will receive 24/7 access to all the tools you need to help your little one sleep better in the form of sleep guide videos. When this launches there will be an introductory offer for the first 14 days and it will only be £9, so I will definitely be sharing that over on my Instagram account for anyone who may be interested. If you are as keen as I am, then you can also sign up to Lauren’s mailing list to get notified as soon as it’s ready!
I cannot begin to explain how much Lauren has changed our lives. I know that sounds dramatic, but it is completely true. Our family dynamics have changed completely and for the better. Finley is in such a better routine and we would not have got there the way we did without her. Don’t get me wrong, as I have said above it was exhausting at one point, but so worth it. I would do it all over again if I had to. I cannot recommend her enough. She is highly qualified, uses evidence based methods and has extensive experience as a sleep consultant, which is evident as soon as you talk to her. As you can see from the declaration above this service was gifted to me, however I want you to know that I have tried to give you the most accurate and honest review of our experience because at the end of the day a sleeping baby is no joke! I felt so comfortable putting Finley’s sleep routine in her hands and I would use her services again in a heart beat.
I would also like to just give you a little reminder that if your baby doesn’t sleep through the night that is OK! It is completely normal for them to wake throughout the night and it’s a biological feature that keeps them safe. You are doing an amazing job and please don’t ever think you are doing it all wrong. Also, if you feel like you are trying everything under the sun to get your baby in a routine, but are getting nowhere that is completely normal too! It’s so easy for everyone to rave about how their baby sleeps through the night and when you are exhausted, sleep deprived and low on all motivation it can be so frustrating especially if you are trying so hard, but just remember when you are awake for the 567th time that night, that there are lots of other mums and dads all over the country that are right there with you!