Expert Opinion

Talking sudden changes, self-soothing, and sleep worries with Lisa Dinnie

  1. I feel like I have tried absolutely everything, but my child wont sleep through the night. Should I look into a sleep consultant or sleep school? What are the benefits?

Often in a sleep-deprived state, parents feel like they have tried just about everything. But, sometimes, an outsider’s perspective on what is happening is beneficial – a sleep-deprived parent is likely not to be able to see the forest from the trees.

I have spoken to parents who have tried everything, but not in the right sequence. Or only one thing at a time. Sleep is like a puzzle – you have to have all the pieces in place before you see the full picture.

That is where a sleep consultant or sleep school comes in handy. A sleep consultant can work with a family in their own home, so there is no need to uproot the baby, and mum particularly if she has other children. A good consultant will get a very detailed history of what has been happening, and what the parent has tried, and along with their knowledge of sleep, can guide a parent on what to implement and how.

Similarly, that is how sleep school works. However, mum and baby would need to be admitted into the sleep unit, with sleep nurses on hand to assist with settling initially. For a lot of families, it is actually about having the support of someone who knows the baby sleeps inside out so they can assist with troubleshooting and finding alternative solutions when things aren’t working.

I must note that it is my strong recommendation that if things really aren’t working, before seeking assistance from anyone sleep-related, you get a full medical checkup. This will ensure that you rule out anything medical as being the cause of sleep issues.

  1. My child used to sleep really well. Now, all of a sudden, theyre waking at 4/5AM every day. Whats happening?

If your child has always been a good sleeper and all of sudden they are early rising, it may be time to review their day-to-day routine and adjust accordingly.

As babies get older, they require less sleep and, if they are getting too much daytime sleep, it can result in early rising.

There are other factors that can impact early rising, such as coldness, being overtired, hunger, too much exposure to blue/white light, and more. It’s important to look at how we, as parents, respond to that early wake.

If we get them up to start their day, and expose them to natural light, and let them eat – the early rising cycle will continue.

  1. Is co-sleeping with a baby okay or should I avoid it completely?

Co-sleeping is a very personal choice and I do believe that done safely, then it does work for a lot of families and allows everyone to get more sleep.

There are some important steps that you should follow, such as:

  • Having a baby sleeping on their back
  • No blankets or pillows used near baby
  • The mattress must be firm and flat
  • Ensure baby cannot get trapped between the bed and the wall
  • Make sure baby cannot fall out of the bed
  • Ensure you haven’t been drinking or smoking or are drug affected.

As with anything, if it isn’t getting you the desired outcome (why you started co-sleeping in the first place), then you can certainly make changes to get everyone sleeping back in their own beds. Nothing is a problem when done safely, and it’s working for you, as a parent.

  1. Some people allow their baby to cry it out, but this feels wrong to me. Is there a time and place for allowing your baby to self-soothe when it comes to sleeping?

To clarify: self-soothing and self-settling are two completely different things, and these are sometimes mistaken. Self-soothing is the ability to emotionally regulate from crying to not crying. While self-settling is the ability to put themselves to sleep.

In my business as a sleep consultant, I don’t use the CIO (cry it out) method, but I don’t feel there is a no-cry sleep solution. It is about putting your baby down at the right time, the right place, and being curious to see what they are capable of. If they are struggling and upset, then, respond and reassure them – that reassurance looks different for different families.

It is also about understanding that some babies have grizzle and whine before they fall asleep too – so, allow them that opportunity.  If your baby is crying and you are stressed and it is causing you to become angry or unable to cope, and you don’t have anyone to help, then sometimes just walking away for a few short moments, to get composure, to take some deep breaths can help both you and your baby.


  1. Im about to have my second child, and Im worried itll interrupt my firstborn’s sleepingAny tips for parents expecting their second?

Because newborn babies sleep is so unpredictable, when having a second baby, I would actually prioritise the older child’s routine over the newborn to start with.

Keeping the toddler in routine means, ideally, their little life stays the same, other than the introduction of a baby. So, I strongly suggest keeping them in their cot – if that’s where they sleep. Don’t kick them out of their bed for the baby – they will have enough change as it is. If they sleep well in the cot, and you are considering moving them, it may backfire and now, you’ll have a toddler who will be able to get up in the night and roam the house.

Keep things as much the same as possible for them – it’s also a good idea to have white noise playing overnight so they aren’t woken by the baby’s crying overnight. You may have your toddler experience some regression play – wanting to be a baby –  which is very normal.

Juggling two children, or even more than two, is of course hard work, so call on friends and offers of help where you can!

About the author

Lisa is the founder of Cherish Your Sleep, Co-Regional Director (Australia/Pacific) of The Association of Professional Sleep Consultants, an experienced certified baby/child sleep consultant and a mother to 3 young children.
She has always loved children and has worked in the industry for over 20 years as a qualified child care worker, working primarily with children aged 0 – 3yrs.
A successful outcome is not only good for the parents and children, but also giver Lisa a sense of satisfaction and happiness – there’s nothing better than hearing from a parent who finally got their first full night sleep since having a child.
Becoming a mum and meeting and seeing other mums struggle with their babies and children’s sleep made Lisa really want to reach out and help. She doesn’t see that there is a one size fits all to helping families – sleep is almost like a Puzzle – you need all the pieces in place to achieve the full picture and those pieces are what she shares with families.
Lisa uses a holistic approach to sleep, focusing on emotional wellbeing of families and ensuring the parent child connection in not only maintained, but enhanced. She knows how easy it is to become overwhelmed and frustrated, so it’s her passion to help find solutions that will work for you, your baby and the rest of your family.
Photo by Photo by cottonbro studio