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My journey through 3 children and 2 different parenting styles

Different Settling Methods

A few months ago I did a post on is your news feed killing your parenting confidence. I wrote on my social media this post after visiting a mum who was battling with self-doubt and guilt after filling her news feeds with gentle parenting sites. She was a mother of 3 and had two wonderful sleepers but somehow got lost along the way with her third child. After this consultation, I felt sad frustrated and angry about how these particular posts are like wolves dressed in sheep clothing and the damage social media can do to our lives. here is the link to this post, and after months of now good sleep a better routine and some confidence in her own parenting

again this mum has shared her story here in the hope of helping other mums in her situation.

Elaine’s help with my first and second child when they were both around six months old. Her practical and gentle techniques worked amazingly, and now at 3 and 5 years old, they are both still fantastic sleepers.

Baby number 3 – I had a Koala baby who wanted to be attached at all times. He woke every 1.5-2hrs for feeds through the night, so I was co-sleeping to cope with the frequency of waking, and he would also only sleep on me during the day. I loved it, who doesn’t want to cuddle a squishy newborn all day? I also loved watching him fall asleep on the boob, so happy and content. After about six months, I struggled from the lack of sleep and knew it was time to start getting him into a bit of a sleep routine.

I felt I didn’t have the strength to do it on my own as I was beyond exhausted.  It was during the first COVID lockdown and Elaine was not doing at home consults so off I went to sleep school at the hospital he was born at… Sleep school was basically just crying it out. Which was pretty horrible but I was desperate for sleep at that point, so we committed and stayed there for three nights. When we got home, there was still a lot of crying, but he was sleeping bigger blocks. It didn’t feel right in my gut; it didn’t work wonders like I had heard it did for others, and it felt so much harsher than when I had worked with Elaine and my older two. I was stressed, he was stressed, it just wasn’t right for us, so I gave up and reverted back to feeding to sleep.

At around this time, I also started to follow a few ‘gentle parenting’ pages on social media. This led me down a bottomless rabbit hole of self-doubt and self-judgment. All the post I was reading was about how sleep training can damage our children’s developing brain and how as a mother you have to meet all our children’s emotional needs, responding to all cries if we want them to grow up confident and emotionally strong.


Whether it was my emotionally fragile state, my total exhaustion from lack of sleep, or a totally different baby to my other 2, I believed EVERY WORD. I felt so guilty, everything I read made sense. Of course, we need to meet their emotional needs! The thought of hearing my son cry literally broke me at that point, especially when I hadn’t slept in months and I had a baby that seems to cry A LOT. I couldn’t help but think it was my fault he was like this now because of sleep training, So the attachment parenting style was my answer to everything! I was doing the right thing, I was being a good mum and I just needed to keep going. So I went against everything I knew and did for my other 2 children regarding sleep and routine and adapted my new found way of gentle parenting and meeting everyone’s emotional needs that will apparently ensure that I stay connected to my children. I responded to every cry fed on demand, read researched and tried to meet everyone’s needs at the demises of my own health and wellbeing. ‘It will get better’, ‘Keep going you’re doing amazing’ All of these baby-led sleeping accounts that I followed would post. And so I did.


So whilst I felt good that I was raising my children to be emotionally strong and connected, my life, in reality, was slowly falling apart. I had not slept more than a 2hr block in over a year. I was trying to work from home with a baby in the carrier attached to my boob and care for a 3 and 5-year-old. I was cranky. I had a constant headache and felt nauseous all the time. I was snappy with my husband and other 2 children, I had no energy to take them to parks or fun outings as I was just SO exhausted. Meeting every single need of this one child was sapping all of my energy and attention away from the rest of my family, and whilst the baby was happily sleeping attached to me, he spent his awake time cranky and over-tired and emotional. He showed no interest in playing with his siblings or toys and just would not leave my side. He was late meeting his milestones (rolling, sitting, standing) as he never really had any time detached from to experiment and I would pick him up every time he cried. He hated when either of his siblings needed any of my attention they were missing out on their mum, my husband missed his wife and I was literally swimming in a fog of exhaustion that I couldn’t think about anything except just getting through each day. He was certainly not thriving, and neither was I or the rest of the family. By the time he was 15 months old, I had realised this was not working for us. I had also realised that I had lost all my confidence in my own parenting and stopped believing in myself as a parent.

These ‘Gentle Parenting’ blogs and posts were not making me feel confident; they were damaging and making me feel that I wasn’t good enough, strong enough attached enough. Yes, they made sense and of course we would all love to be able to parent that way 24/7 but at what cost? Our health? Our Marriages? Our children’s development? What about these needs? This style of parenting might work for some families and that’s great! but it most certainly wasn’t working for mine!


So I contacted Elaine again and thank goodness she was able to come out for a home visit. I knew all the things I needed to do sleep-wise, but when she came in it was like a breath of fresh air, and that day I finally felt my confidence come back. She explained the importance of self-regulation and how learning to self regulate is not just for sleep. It plays such a vital role developmentally and emotionally. My other 2 children were testament to this, they are great sleepers (both routines guided by Elaine) and are both emotionally confident, thriving well-adjusted children. After a long talk and a new plan with Elaine, we implemented our new routine from that day everything changed for our family. Within three nights, our son was sleeping through the night in his own cot, the crying had stopped and he now has a 2-3hr day nap every day. Elaine’s approach again was gentle, and I felt comfortable with her methods. After a few days, I even messaged Elaine with a photo of our son playing in the mud with his siblings, this was a big deal as it was a first for him. In 15 months, he had never ventured away from my side previously, and now he was happily and confidently exploring with his sibling. That afternoon he even ran away from me when I went to bring them inside as he wanted to continue playing and exploring outside. I couldn’t help but recognise the irony in this from all I had read over the last few months. Within a few weeks, I had a different baby. A happy baby that is exploring and trying new things for the first time! I was a happier mum; the headaches were gone; my mind was clearer, the irrational thoughts had stopped, my husband was relieved to have his wife back, my older children had their mum back and are also getting to enjoy their little brother too. But best of all the more I let go of the attached gentle parenting style I had clung to the more I felt more connected to all of my children, I felt better as a mother and I can honestly say that I can see how much more confident, happy and connected all of my children are as a result. I realise that parenting our children is about guiding them, supporting them and sometimes helping them push through uncomfortable learning so that they can grow and build confidence and resilience and that it is important to do this in a loving environment so that as they grow they will have the confidence to push themselves and make decisions for themselves when I’m not there to do everything for them.

I realise now how I and how many new and not so new mums are vulnerable to social media’s power and how easy it is to be swayed into the trap of guilt regarding our parenting and our desire to do right by our children. I’ve realised how important it is to guide, teach and support our children in their learning, that they are resilient and eager to grow, to be independent and learn and that you can love your child with all your heart and still have a routine and teach them how to sleep and self regulate. My child and my family are better for it, so I wanted to share my story to express social media’s power and the damage it can cause. Especially to vulnerable hormonal mothers that are up at all hours through the night feeding and scrolling through their phones looking for answers. We are perfect prey to be influenced. I don’t know what the answer is for you and your family but I know that if this story feels relatable to you I hope you can turn your phone off and take some time to figure out what is right for you and your family.


Elaine- Thank you for everything. I will forever be grateful that I had you to turn to.

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