The dummy has been a life saver for us when it comes to Amelia’s silent reflux. It was such a comfort to her when the acid crept back up her throat. However, now that we are starting to get the reflux under control with early weaning, meds and specific feeding patterns, it’s come to my attention that the dummy is causing us far too many sleepless nights and she may not need it as much as I first thought.
The main issue is that Amelia has mastered taking the dummy out – and usually does it whilst looking directly at the monitor and throws it away with a little smile – but she cannot put it back in. It doesn’t matter if it’s attached to one of those lanyards or if we put multiple dummies in the cot, she simply can’t put it back in. And then, when she realises it has come out, she is inconsolable until we put it back in. Given we have now put her in her own room, this means me making numerous trips up the corridor to her room in the dark.
One night it got so bad I was in and out every 30 minutes. I nearly slept on the floor by her cot I was so shattered. The next day I went out to Costa with a velcro roller stuck to my bobble hat – enough said!
That was it… we had to ditch the dummy at night.
I read up on getting rid of the dummy and how to deal with controlled crying, but every time I tried to initiate a sleep plan, I simply couldn’t bring myself to let her cry for longer than a few minutes. How could I know what sort of crying she was doing, whether she really needed me or whether to let her cry it out? As soon as she cried, all I could think of doing was reaching for the dummy…
…I needed help.
I saw a Facebook post from a lady called Jenna McKee, the daily nanny, and dropped her a line. She was fantastic and chatted to me for almost 40 minutes about Amelia, getting every possible detail about her sleeping and feeding habits. She gave me some great tips about how to deal with ditching the dummy, such as starting the night without the dummy (you can’t miss what you never had) and also starting sleep coaching in the morning at her first nap, rather than at night when she was really tired. She also advised me on what to look out for when it came to controlled crying. Some cries for example are just her settling down (crying down) and don’t need me to run in. Likewise she said I can, in fact, do more damage if I go in and try to calm her down if she is in this state (she likened it to me turning to my husband just as he was going off to sleep and asking him a question) I was ultimately in danger of disturbing her.
To many people I’m sure the above recommendations are obvious, but they weren’t to me, and to a sleep deprived mother ‘captain obvious’ doesn’t always show his face all too often. For so long James and I have been so worried about Amelia crying when we put her down to bed that we don’t even wait for her to whimper, we just put the dummy right in. Turns out the dummy is more our security blanket, than it is hers!
Jenna was calm, reassuring and gave me the confidence to give sleep coaching a go. The first night when I put her down I didn’t reach for the dummy. I just put her down awake and left the room. To my absolute amazement she went to sleep sans dum dums. I couldn’t believe it. The next night was similar….and so on. We have now been without the dummy at night for a week and whilst it still feels too early to celebrate as we did have to resort to the dummy the other night, I do feel that we are making some headway. She’s still not sleeping through yet, but if she wakes I don’t grab the dummy, rather we try to let her settle and only go in when the crying is constant (and for set periods of time). Unfortunately it is the daytime naps we struggle with in terms of going completely dummy free, but we are achieving some naps without the dummy too. Jenna said it is also perfectly normal to have a few good days and then a bad one whilst they are getting used to the change. It just takes time and a lot of perseverance I guess. Ultimately we still have a long way to go, but I am feeling altogether more confident about it all.
Jenna offers different packages, either a virtual nanny or she can come to your home and help you in person. She will write a bespoke plan for you and be on call for a week to help with any issues and to offer advice or even just be on the end of the phone if you need a good cry or to rant. Her prices vary, but a plan is approximately £50. Ultimately she will tailor her package to your situation which is ideal.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the next few weeks go and hearing more of Jenna’s tips. Just having her at the end of the phone is so reassuring.
If you want more information on her check out her Instagram @thedailynanny or email her on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenna has also been kind enough to offer all my readers a 10% discount on her sleep plans or home visits. Just contact her and reference your email PITSLEEP to see if she can help you.