“We weren’t sure we could sustain the current sleep approach for another few years.”

“We weren’t sure we could sustain the current sleep approach for another few years.”

At her wits end, mother of three Breanne Chohan enlisted Dr. Natalie Barnett to help get her baby on a successful sleep path. Here’s what happened.
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Breanne and Dhiren Chohan joined the Nanit Community in 2019, and three children and three Nanits later, they haven’t looked back. As active participants on the Nanit community forums as well as across social media and at Nanit’s “Parent Like a Pro” summits, the couple is fully versed in the Nanit universe. 

“We really love the data it affords in terms of sleep patterns, trends and tips as well as the memories, which we still at times go back and look at,” says Breanne.

However, when it came time to help their third son, Vincent, sleep more successfully, no message board or social post could help their cause. Like his siblings, Vincent was the type of baby who would only sleep if he was held or worn in the baby carrier. Even awake, he needed to be in his mom or dad’s arms. 

“We had come to believe that we weren’t ‘blessed’ with sleepy babies, as they never fell asleep in a car seat, swing or the like and needed to be held 24/7,” says Breanne. “They were true ‘Velcro babies.’

Getting Vincent down each night was a literal song and dance. Breanne and Dhiren would put their older kids to bed, then Breanne would breastfeed him until he fell asleep, transfer him back to dad to get some rest, and at midnight she’d get up to take him for another feeding. Occasionally he could be coaxed into a baby lounger, but the entire night was a desperate series of breastfeeding, rocking, shh-ing and dancing to get him back to sleep without waking the older two. Unfortunately daytime proved to be as exhausting as the nights. 

The couple weren’t the only ones affected. Vincent’s sleep routine proved unfair to Breanne and Dhiren’s older kids, who were starting to resent their baby brother after constantly being shushed in order to get Vincent to sleep. All in all, something had to give. 

“We were exhausted, miserable and cranky,” says Breanne. “We were not taking care of ourselves. We were getting fragmented sleep while trying to work and run the household and support the two older kids. We weren’t eating properly, communication was terse and disjointed, household tasks weren’t done well and always under duress. As excited as we were to have welcomed our third baby, when Vincent wasn’t sleeping, we admittedly had pangs of regret, as we had just achieved sleep independence with the older two. We weren’t sure we could sustain the current sleep approach for another few years.”

That’s when Breanne discovered the work of Dr. Natalie Barnett, pediatric expert and vice president of clinical research at Nanit. In a true moment of fate, she happened to have won a Nanit community giveaway featuring sleep support by Natalie, herself. She came on to help alleviate Breanne and Dhiren’s suffering by establishing strategies that could ultimately lead to Vincent’s sleep success. 

First, Natalie assessed Vincent’s physical sleep space. Breanne sent her nursery photos so that she could provide recommendations to promote better sleep, including guidelines on room darkness and volume levels for white noise. She then gave the couple a nighttime sleep schedule, including parameters on when to intervene and how intervention would look. 

“She provided reassurance on the developmental readiness of our baby to learn to fall asleep, and fall back asleep,” says Breanne. “She also helped tailor our nighttime routine to incorporate special time with mom for the older two, which had been lost, and was pivotal in their wellbeing and happiness.” 

Natalie created a daytime schedule focusing on frequent feeds to ensure adequate calories were consumed during the day (rather than at night), as well as wake windows and independent naps in the crib. She urged them to try the bottle, advising on the type of nipples that could prove successful. They’d exchanged screen shots of the sleep stats from the Nanit Insights Plan with frequent check-ins, and Natalie helped troubleshoot instances when the routine had to be adjusted. 

“We had our reservations, but on night one Vincent fell asleep with only some initial fussing and slept the entire night with no intervention on our part,” says Breanne. “This continued, night after night. Not only was he sleeping through the night, he was also napping three times independently during the day, affording mom the ability to eat, rest, accomplish household tasks and also spend time with the older kids. He also happily accepted a bottle each night. We were dumbfounded. Natalie had completely changed our lives.”

Breanne and Dhiren’s Sleeptime Gamechangers:

  • Feed at wake-up rather than before sleep
  • Disassociate the breast with sleep (give a bottle before bed rather than breast)
  • Create wake windows (and activity during these windows)
  • Create routine consistency with allowable deviation for “real life”
  • Trust that your baby can self-soothe
  • Crying is OK (she taught us the different kinds of crying)
  • Sleeping through the night for 12 hours is POSSIBLE!
  • The process did not involve long periods of crying nor a super rigid schedule
  • 4 months old is a great age to start with independent sleep
  • Being a parent of a baby does not have to mean you are sleep deprived, miserable and isolated 
  • It’s OK to enlist the help of a professional sleep expert – not only are they magic, but baby sleep is complex and having support and reassurance is key to success.

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Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.