Catherine, owner of Dream Winks is a holistic sleep consultant who has a special interest in multiples.
How did you become a sleep consultant?
I have worked as a Sleep Consultant for 10 years now. I am a mum of 3 and my first gave us the hardest time when he was born. He was a terrible sleeper. He was catnapping, night-waking and a nightmare to settle.
I was soon offered a job and training by other consultants and I
How does a “science based holistic sleep consultant” differ from a “general sleep consultant”?
I have studied in detail the science behind sleep and why our babies sleep the way they do. This is key to knowing how to approach sleep issues and also to help parents understand how to best approach situations in the future. I feel the holistic part is what really sets me apart from your traditional consultant. I look at the really big picture. It really surprises parents just how many things can affect sleep and settling when we start working together. I have learned that every single aspect needs to be addressed and when it is, things come together, resulting in good sleep.
This includes the dietary aspect of foods that can cause sleep issues that I have researched through years of observation regarding their impact on sleep. It also includes environment, feeding, routine, sleep patterns, sleep aids and more. In the way I work, settling comes last after we have worked on many other areas. Because of this, we usually see great improvements even before settling and thus when we do work on settling, it is so much easier.
I find that when most people think about a sleep consultant they just think ‘settling’, but this is a small part. I also look at each child’s temperament and every parent’s parenting style. Everything including settling methods is tailored to these. My approach is extremely personalised with complete support to continue working together until we see the results we are after.
When should parents start seeking help? Right from when the babies are born or only when they have problems sleeping regularly?
Parents can set up good habits right from birth as well as setting up an environment that is conducive to good sleep. If a young, healthy baby is well fed, swaddled and warm and popped to bed they will fall asleep.
We as parents are the ones who introduce sleep aids such as feeding to sleep, rocking, holding, dummies etc. Often these are out of necessity if a child has reflux or because it is what we would prefer to do. It may be because you love the feeling of feeding your child to sleep or cuddling them and there is nothing wrong with this if it works.
If what you are doing doesn’t work anymore or becomes a problem for you then you should seek help. The point at which it becomes a problem is different for each family. Parents should seek help when things just aren’t working for them or they aren’t happy with the situation. I can
Is there a good night time routine that parents can follow to help with getting their multiples to bed and help with sleep at night?
An early bedtime is key.
Little ones need to go down between
Most often I work with a
What tips can you offer parents facing the four month sleep regression with multiple babies?
I really don’t like the label of ‘sleep regression’. I find they aren’t regressions at all. They are just periods of development which highlight underlying issues and changes in sleep needs.
What happens at roughly 4 months is a big developmental change in regards to sleep. Babies start sleeping in sleep cycles and this means they are much more sensitive to all the things that can affect sleep and
Juggling multiples and sleep can be really challenging. The best way to make this period pass more smoothly is to ensure
If you are able to help your little ones to learn to fall asleep early on, then it really does help
How can a parent ensure that their toddler multiples learn to stay in their bed overnight when they are sharing a room?
Room sharing can be a challenge with any child but more so with multiples. You are dealing with little ones who are the same age and at the same point of development and quite often have become partners in crime! This is a lot different to when you may have an older more mature sibling with a younger one. I find the best way to avoid issues with toddlers and multiples room sharing and in big beds is to have good sleep habits and sleep routines from a young age. This means they have a good understanding of what happens when they are put to bed regardless of cot or bed.
they are older you can set out clear expectations in a chart with images or a routine you follow each time they go to bed.
Do you have any advice on transitioning from cots to beds?
I recommend you wait until 2 ½ years for girls and 3 for boys before making the move to a bed. Unless you need to for safety reasons such as jumping out of the cot. This is because
Sleep and the expectations around it are also the biggest
I also recommend keeping toddlers in a safe sleeping bag for at least 6 months after the move to a big bed as this also helps keep them in bed. It makes it harder to get up and move around. And don’t forget that they naturally push the boundaries every 6 weeks or so. Stay consistent!
Are there any sleep aids (sound machines, swaddle sacks, black out blinds, etc.) that you swear by?
I really don’t like calling them
My new favourite product which I take everywhere is Instant Blackout Blinds. They go up with just static force, take seconds to put up, completely block light, need no adhesive and they don’t leave marks! They are also re-usable and come on a massive roll which makes them perfect. And I love supporting small local business
How does a skype consult work?
All my consultations have the same basic structure with just the initial consult varying – for example in-home, phone, email or skype. My skype consultations are roughly an hour or so, very similar to my phone consultations and are mainly for the convenience of overseas clients. All my consultations will start with the family receiving and filling in an intake form. This allows me to look at every aspect of sleep, settling and feeding as well as learn about your little one’s temperaments and your parenting style.
From there I form a sleep plan which is very detailed and I keep in touch during this process to gather or clarify any extra information I need. Families will receive this extensive, personalised plan along with a wide variety of guides on various topics. We will then have the consultation, for example a skype call, where I go step by step through all aspects of the plan and the recommendations and reasons behind them, as well as how to implement them. Families are able to ask and discuss anything and make a choice as to what settling method they are comfortable with.
Often all of this can be overwhelming, so everything is provided in