With their baby waking up hourly, Jessie Hewitson and her husband were at their wits' end. Could a visit from a 'baby whisperer' get them an undisturbed night?
The reason for my sleep starvation was textbook: I had a young baby. Ellis was a total delight by day; by night, however, he turned into an erratic human alarm clock with an aversion to well-rested parents. A combination of growth spurts, dummy-spitting and a fondness for midnight feasts meant that, at worst, we could be waking up every hour to get him back to sleep.
I lasted for nine months before I cracked – I was going back to work soon and had no idea how I'd function trapped in this fog of weariness. It felt lonely, too, not having the energy to see friends in the evening and I was squabbling with my husband more than ever.
And so I got in touch with Vanessa Ramirez, who agreed to help me. She ran me through the programme for our meeting: she would stay the night, find out where we were going wrong and formulate a sleep plan.
Basically, my solution to Ellis' nocturnal waking had been to hit the bottle. We had created a strong association between milk and sleep, as whenever he did awake at night we would feed him until he was snoring again. The milk, Vanessa explained, was a prop (dummies and rocking to sleep are, too), and Ellis didn't know how to sleep without it.
Vanessa explained that babies often do wake in the night – their usual sleep cycle is just 45 minutes long – but the good sleepers will be able to re-settle themselves rather than screaming for you to do it for them.
She also pointed out that the daytime naps were of vital importance to him sleeping well at night, too. We didn't have any routine and Vanessa suggested we should start keeping to the same nap times each day, ideally one morning nap of an hour-and-a-half and an afternoon nap lasting the same amount of time, too.