Jenny's story: lovingly tackling catnapping and frequent night waking
by Jenny and Heidi

Jenny with her two kiddies

I’m thrilled this week to welcome Jenny, sweet mom of 2 as she tells us a little bit about their sleep story. Catnapping and frequent night waking were the main struggles, but she’s rocking it! Hard times, happy times and everything in between … and always full of the warmest love. Here comes Jenny’s story!

Hi I’m Jenny, 39, mum of 2 – Kalani 3 years old and Oceana 8 months old.

I had been blessed with 2 great pregnancies and short labours … but shocking sleepers! However, Kalani seems to have passed his sleep issues and is sleeping solid 12 hours. He used to catnap, frequent night wake and be awake for long periods at night but started sleeping through from 8 months of age.  

At 8 months of age Oceana has never slept through the night, not even once! She wakes on average 4-6 times a night.

Oceana’s sleep started to take a dive around the typical 4-month mark. She was only waking once in the night and having good day sleeps to then waking up every 20 -40 mins day naps and at night and also at night being wakeful for 2-3 hours. She also started to develop anxiety towards her cot and would scream when we would place her sleepsuit on and put her in her cot.

After following Heidi’s advice and plan from Overcome Frequent Waking – we had so many sleep issues it was overwhelming but we decided to take piece by piece.

Our plan had the following:

  • Self-settling
  • Cot anxiety 
  • Catnapping
  • Wean of feeding to sleep
  • Night wakings
  • Long night wakes

We decided our first thing was to scrap any form of sleep training which would inevitably include crying and work on making Oceana comfortable again. 

Baby girls at playground

We would play games – click for Heidi’s Play2Sleep games – in her room, in her cot, and put the sleepsuit on straight after a bath. Within 2-3 weeks she was over this hurdle.

Catnapping was the next step, but the quickest one for us to solve. I remembered the Catch before waking technique and applied this to Kalani with results in 2-3 days. I applied the same method for Oceana and it also worked in 2-3 days.

I would take note of the time she woke up- always around 40 minutes. Around 30 minutes I would go in and gently touch her hand / arm enough for a flinch and leave the room and within days the catnapping queen went back to 2-hour lunch naps.

Our next stage was feeding to sleep. We started working on day naps first. Gradually reducing the time of the feeds. We started with one sleep at a time and after 2 months we now no longer feed to sleep at all day naps and before bed.This was quite a process and we went back and forth with times for a while. We would progress and regress upon her needs until eventually we got to a point where she is going down without her feed. 

We have currently started the same for night wakings. Our nights until a month ago were exhausting. I was up almost every 1-2 hours feeding to sleep and some Nights were 12+ wake ups for months . This wasn’t helping my relationship with my husband or son.. so the decision was made to start night weaning. 

We started on one feed a night.. picking up Oceana each wake up and walking around the house or outside ( it’s been summer and hot ) some wake ups took 2 hours to resettle her back to sleep without milk, it was long and exhausting and met with protesting. However within a month of persistence we have gone from 12+ wake ups and feeds down to 3 wake ups and 1 feed. Each wake up use to take me 1-2 hours to settle and now each wake up takes around 15/20 mins and no crying.

We are still working on our night wakings and we still have some long periods of wakefulness but hopefully, we can keep going in this forward direction.

We are also still working on self-settling … this is a skill she is still yet to master.

Our progress has been gentle, slow and steady but it’s showing that persistence is the key. We always readjusted our physical comfort especially in times of solids and teething/ sickness and this would alter almost on a daily basis.

Heidi’s thoughts: Jenny, I think you did amazing by being patient yet determined to keep making progress. You rock!! And I know you’ll keep progressing with the self-settling too!

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