When I met Oliver he was just 4 months old and had never been swaddled. Someone had told his mum that swaddling would damage him and so she never tried it.
He was a healthy 7kg and still exclusively breastfed, thriving in all aspects of his life, except sleep.
Oliver was a serial cat napper. As a newborn, these 45 minute sleeps hadn’t bothered his mum too much as she knew he was not ready to link his sleep cycles together. However, his naps were becoming progressively shorter and sometimes he would sleep for as little as 25-35 minutes at a time.
These short naps were beginning to cause his mum some stress, as Oliver was also waking more frequently at night. He had gone from managing a 4-7 hour stretch of sleep to just 1 or 2 hours, and often 45 minutes was all he would do until 11pm!
Because Oliver had never been a great sleeper, he was now in the habit of being rocked to sleep and it was taking longer and longer at each nap, and becoming more difficult as he got bigger and heavier.
As he was struggling to settle at his usual 8.30pm bed time, his mum and dad where not eating dinner until after 9pm at night, and they felt their relationship was being strained and their older daughter Eve (aged 4) was suffering from having two very tired parents.
It became apparent to me that Oliver had a severe case over tiredness, and this sleep debt from being over tired was accumulating day in and day out, making his sleep cycles shorter and his bedtime later.
We discussed Oliver’s cat napping and talked about the possibility of using a swaddle. His mum was reluctant at first, but after seeing for herself how much Oliver was startling himself she agreed to try the ergoCocoon swaddle I had in my kit.
I didn’t think a tight swaddle would suit Oliver’s temperament as he was already showing signs he wanted his hands in his mouth. This made the stretchy ergoCocoon swaddle the best option. Oliver’s dad was never any good at swaddling their older daughter Eve when she was a baby, so he was impressed at how easy the ergoCocoon was to use, and the fact that Oliver could easily be weaned off it by freeing one arm in a months’ time.
We also looked at Oliver’s sleep environment, and hung some black-out blinds to see if a darker room would mean less distraction for Oliver and help him feel drowsy enough to self-settle and sleep for longer periods. We also decided to use some white noise as Oliver’s sister Eve had a distinct shriek which would wake him frequently from his sleeps.
We set up a soothing pre-nap routine - Oliver went into his room, the black-out curtains were shut, white noise switched on and he was placed in his ergoCocoon for a cuddle with mum as she sang him her favourite nursery rhyme.
Oliver quickly adjusted to his new nap routine. A week later, he was self-settling for 2 out of 3 sleeps, with the third nap often happening in the car on the way home from the shops or pre-school. His mum was really surprised at how little Oliver cried, and even though she had prepared herself for 3 tough days, he settled really quickly. She is now able to spend more time with Eve, and Oliver’s dad is confident that he too can settle Oliver as the changes where simple and the swaddle uncomplicated.
If you think you could use some help from a baby sleep consultant, check out www.babysleepconsultant.com.au - you can book a free 15 minute chat to see if it could work for you.