If you are not here for a long read on our sleep story, to cut a long story short, if you are having trouble with your baby or toddler sleeping or napping then get in touch with Rachael.
Now, for the long (hopefully not too long) story. I first contacted Rachael in May when Elsie was coming up to 6 months old.
I needed advise on how to get her out of the swaddle (new post re swaddling coming soon). I actually messaged a few sleep consultants because you actually never know who is going to reply. Rachael got back to me via Instagram message in less than an hour and offered some advice and then asked if we wanted a FREE 15 minute consultation with her to see if any of the other sleep problems we were having, she could help with.
Rachael called me the next day and I spoke in depth (probably longer than the 15 minutes) about our routine and what our problems were. Rachael offered her advice and never once pushed her further services onto us. We managed to get Elsie out of the swaddle, a few weeks later I think and everything (to do with sleep) was more or less perfect.
We seemed to "sail" through the 8 month sleep regression, if you can actually sail through them and other than changing her wake up time from her afternoon nap from 1500 hours to 1400 hours again everything seemed perfect.
Just before Elsie was 11 months I reached out to Rachael again as we were having split nights. Elsie was waking for around 1.5-2.5 hours in the night and was having to be fed back to sleep. I was exhausted - it was like being back in the newborn stage.
During this time, my friend Laura had reached out to Rachael for help with her babies sleep, Olivia had hit the 4 month sleep regression and to be honest, never really came out of it. Laura had gotten Rachael’s name from me and decided, again after a FREE 15 minute consultation to go ahead and sleep train.
Every morning me and Laura send the same text "good night?" her reply would always be "yeah Olivia was as good as gold", mine would always be "awful". Or something along those lines.
When I contacted Rachael for the second time, she again gave FREE advice on what we could do to help stop these split nights. We tried what she suggested and within a few days Elsie was not waking for long periods in the night.
BUT, we were still cuddling Elsie to sleep for both day time naps and for bed time, if she did wake in the night, we had to cuddle her back to sleep. If she woke early from her nap, or if I felt that she hadn’t slept long enough I would have to cuddle her back to sleep. Most afternoons I would be sat in her room cuddling her back to sleep after one sleep cycle.
I was at my wits end, I had spoken to my other mum friends and my own mum who had their doubts about sleep training and sleep consultants, but I always had Laura and Olivia in my head and was obviously jealous of the sleep that they had!
I spoke to my partner and we decided to go with sleep training with Rachael. We filled in a questionnaire and arranged a time to have the consultation via Zoom. Rachael explained infant sleep to me, all about sleep pressure, sleep science and how we were going to help Elsie become a champion sleeper.
I was sceptical, I'll be honest Elsie had been cuddled to sleep for her life, how was someone who was on the other end of the phone going to stop this? If Elsie gets too worked up then she’s sick, so to be honest sleep training didn’t really seem like an option for us because we were going to have to pick her up anyway after she was sick.
Our main issues with sleep was that Elsie was waking throughout the night and needed cuddling back to sleep - she couldn’t seem to link the sleep cycles together. We were also still dream feeding, every night at 2200 hours Elsie would take 7oz of formula. She ALWAYS took it.
Elsie also has a dummy, she’s had one since she was a newborn suffering with reflux and its a comfort for her - she can find it in the night and put it back in, so I didn’t have to do many dummy runs.
Rachael advised that we get rid of the dummy (we didn’t, we thought it would be too much for Elsie in too short a time and we still have it now, so yes you can sleep train with a dummy, if the dummy isn’t your issue) and that we stop the dream feed and reduce the cuddling. We spoke about Elsie’s temperament and decided on a plan .
After the first night, I felt optimistic, no 2200 hour feed and Elsie slept from 1830 hours until 0430 hours when I offered milk. I was like yes result.
Then the first nap time came, I was nervous because Rachael had explained about sleep pressure and how day time naps tend to be the hardest to crack. I thought instantly about how when were tired in the day and get into bed to nap but can’t, despite being tired (pre baby life obviously)
Now, naps are hard. I won’t lie, and were still working on them, but they are 100% easier than before. Elsie has a short nap in the morning and a longer nap in the afternoon and depending on what time she goes down, how long she sleeps and what our activities for the day are, depends on her bedtime.
Elsie now sleeps through the night with no dream feed, after I give her her milk, I put her down in her cot and walk out. 99% of the time I don’t have to go back in until the morning, if I do have to go back in, its within 5 minutes of putting her down - I sshh her and rub her back for less than 2 minutes and leave again. It’s a world away from having to sit with her and wait for her to fall asleep for around 40 minutes.
Yesterday afternoon I watched Elsie on the monitor stand up in her cot twice and then she obviously thought to herself that she was still tired and settled herself back to sleep.
Basically, (if you’re still reading then thank you) sleep training with Rachael is the best money we have ever spent. No its not cheap (although she is cheaper than most of the others) and yes it is hard work and no she can’t offer any guarantees, but if you put the work in and you want your baby or toddler to sleep better than get in touch with her.
I’m forever thankful for Rachael for not only helping us all sleep better but for being so supportive throughout and for helping Elsie be a happier baby.