IT’S NAP TIME…
The bain of our lives. Naps…
For some reason your baby is cat napping...10-20 minutes at a time or they are napping for one sleep cycle of 30-40 minutes or perhaps you have a child that just won’t nap unless they are in the buggy, being held or only in their cot restricting you to staying home all day. Perhaps your child that simply does not nap at all is making them grumpy and intolerable and by dinner time a crazed animal, by bath time a scary crying monster and at bedtime where they just crash out in a few minutes..! Does this sound familiar to you?
These short naps will most likely be having an effect on your child’s night time sleep. They may be waking multiple times within the first hour or so after bed time, waking many times before midnight and then boom...its 5am and they are up and ready for breakfast…it seems your days and night are all just one long period of hazy time with no let up.
Some of the reasons for night waking’s and early starts are due to the sleep debt build up from the previous day, the short naps and long awake periods.
A child who is not linking sleep cycles will not be able to consolidate their learning skills, they lose the ability to concentrate, take in information and learning new skills is very hard for them. Why?
Well the first few hours of night sleep they will enter into a deep sleep phase a couple of times. During this phase, experiences and new skills they experienced during the day will be moved from the “short term” memory space to a “long term” memory box, the frontal cortex for those of you looking for the correct terminology! These memories are being stored on an extra hard drive if you like, easily accessible and where we get our memories from many moons ago!
When they start to do this they can learn and remember how to link sleep cycles together and self-settle back to sleep independently and therefore start to nap longer more appropriate times in the day.
Then when this starts to happen ideally you would look for one of your child's nap to be 2 hours or at least 1.5+ hours long. And when that happens amazing things start to happen inside their little body….
So all that said where do you go from here? How can you “fix” this napping issue you are trying to deal with? How do we get babies to sleep longer periods and achieve optimum nap lengths for their age and stage that they need for healthy growth and development?
If you need more help with nap times or information on how to resettle do get in touch with me and I can talk to you in more detail about this subject and what is most suitable and normal expectations for your child depending on their age and stage of development.
Did you know little over 80% of school aged children display signs of night terrors, sleep walking, nightmares or sleep talking? Typically in boys although girls are still prone to night terrors, and aged between 3 and 12 years of age.
Here I will discuss the night terror, it is not to be confused with nightmares as they both show individual signs and are very different from each other.
A night terror will typically occur in the first part of the night’s sleep, the deeper sleep (NREM). This is the Non Rapid Eye Movement.
This would be from bedtime until around midnight.
So how do you distinguish if your child is experiencing a night terror? Well, your child will “wake” very suddenly, almost like a shock to the system, sit bolt upright and wide eyed. You may think they are actually awake because they look very alert and of course their eyes are open. However they are still asleep and in a very deep state of sleep. Your child may scream and it could be a very loud ear piercing scream. The scream may even scare you, and my experience of night terrors it sure scared me. Then what may happen, well you child will probably get out of bed, start running around, start talking, almost in a fit of rage and seem like they are on a serious mission looking for something or perhaps nothing. They can be very forceful and if you are dealing with an older child here they can be very strong and physical, almost aggressive. They may be inconsolable cry loudly and look like they are terrified.
Your child is in a super deep state of sleep. They are completely unaware of what they are doing.
How long will each episode last?
Research tell us about 10 minutes or so.
How should you respond?
It is vital you keep calm yourself and do not wake your child. If you wake them you will only frighten them more. You must calmly and gently guide your child back to their bed. Don’t force them. Don’t wake them. Just offer you love, support and comfort.
What cause’s these night terrors?
Here I explain the reasons and some ways to prevent night terrors occurring,
The best way to do this for preventing night terrors would be to start taking a diary of the times your child is waking with a night terror. You may see a pattern, for example at 10pm every night. It will most probably be in the earlier part of the night. Then once you have noticed a pattern you can rouse your child about 30 minutes before this time. Do this for 7 consecutive night for a week. The following week do it for 6 consecutive nights. The following week do it for 5 consecutive nights and so on…until you get to one night and potentially they may have ceased.
Did you know your child has an 80-90% chance of experiencing night terrors if it runs in the family along with sleep talking and sleep walking?
Seek professional medical advice if you are in any way concerned, if your child is experiencing many night terrors on a regular basis and or several times a night.
Settling your child...
SETTLING YOUR CHILD
All babies respond differently to settling techniques and a lot of this comes down to the temperament of your child. Of course they have to be of an age and stage of development that they are ready for learning new skills of sleeping independently and we need to ensure we have set up the perfect environment for them to sleep in. Have they had the right naps today? Are they going down at appropriate times according to their awake windows, are they hungry, are they too hot or cold….there are a lot of variables to consider.
Of course when settling a child to sleep and indeed encouraging them back to sleep highly depends on what technique will suit them best. A technique that you may have used when they were 6 months old may very well not work when they are 2 years old and may not suit your friend’s child. Even the circumstances have an impact which method you choose to settle your child. Every child is different and we have to come up with a loving, caring plan that takes a holistic look into their world of sleep and their environment.
Up to the age of 12 weeks it is most common and very usual to use a hands on method such as rocking, feeding or motion to sleep. Sucking for young new-borns is also a great technique because that is what they can do best and it is super calming for them. Of course if you can settle them in their own sleep space and not on you or with motion this is amazing and will stand in great stead for future sleep.
When your baby nears 8-12 weeks you may find naps become shorter, maybe even cat napping starts or waking after one sleep cycle (30-40 minutes) or they may be waking every 2 hours in the night. There may be a few different reasons for this and it could be the settling technique or perhaps something different like over tiredness from the previous day is the culprit.
Don’t forget to introduce positive sleep associations for your baby during the New born stage (0-12 weeks)
New-borns may rely heavily on things such as sucking, rocking, and motion to sleep and at this age it is all about supporting to sleep so if you find yourself rocking your New born to sleep go for it. The aim in these early weeks is supporting sleep.
This age is a real game changer. Babies are so impressionable at this age and once through the 4 month sleep “progression” they are ready to learn new tricks and skills! This is particularly so if you are experiencing disturbed nights.
The technique you used when they were tiny may very well not work now. Perhaps they have a sleep crutch such as a dummy or feed to sleep. It may have worked previously but not now. They have outgrown that technique and need a different approach.
6 -12 MONTHS
Your Little One will be going through a lot of developmental changes and if sleep is an issue it is now time to seek solutions on how to help your Little One sleep independently. If you would like your baby to nap well during the day and settle themselves back to sleep in the night the sooner you tackle this the better chance at succeeding sooner rather than later. Of course babies over 12 months can and will absolutely learn how to sleep independently but they have stronger personalities and can push back more.
Children of all ages over 4 months are absolutely capable of sleeping 11-12 hours a night and not require a feed but that statement is very age and stage dependent. Many babies still need a feed until the age of 12 months.
Always bear in mind the temperament and age of your child when deciding what technique you would like to use when teaching your Little One to self-settle to sleep independently back into a peaceful slumber.
If you would like some help and advice with your Little Ones’ sleep do get in touch, your free 15 minute Discovery Call is there waiting for you! I take a loving, caring, in depth, holistic look into your child’s world of and will advise accordingly.
Just when you thought sleep was on track in your home BANG! A temperature rears its ugly head or you are changing bed sheets for the 5th time after they have been thrown up all over…and sleep has gone all out the window! Now what..?
How do we deal with sleep when our babies and children are ill? Here in this blog post I hope to answer that question and help you keep on the right track of great sleep...
You may have noticed your child is a little clingier, a little more whingy, a little off their food and a little less interested in playing and of course their sleep is disrupted.
What I can tell you is if you had a great independent sleeper before your child got sick, then that same great sleeper will return once they are fighting fit and healthy once more as long as you do not introduce any unwanted sleeping habits.
So how do we navigate our way through this illness with disrupted sleep…?
Research tell us and we know all too well from our mums drumming it into us that sleep helps us heal, helps us recover, sleep helps the body to recuperate and builds the immune system back up again and helps fight those bugs and infections coursing around the body. Sleep is a vital part of preventing illness and the healing process. Keep life simple for a few days, don’t overstimulate your child, give them time and space to recuperate. We would do the same right..?! We need to be there to offer more cuddles and kisses, to snuggle up on the sofa together and have a little extra snoozle or two! Keep their special teddy close to them for comfort and just slow down for a few days.
Stick to routine
If you had a great routine before your child fell ill try to stick to that routine as much as you can. Your child will most likely be sleepier and more lethargic and need more sleep during this period so pop them down a little earlier for their nap but try to wake them at their usual wake up time. It’s okay to let them sleep a little extra, after all the body is asking for it and needs it.
Make sure you keep their fluids and calories up
You don’t want them becoming dehydrated especially more so if they are ill with vomiting and diarrhoea. Offer more feeds and water in the day. They may also need it at night as well. If your child is old enough to understand they have a water beaker next to them at night leave it there for them so if they wake thirsty they can reach for a drink. Of course please be sensible about this and follow safe sleep guidelines, you do not want them to choke on water in the night.
Keep their sleep environment consistent
Of course when our child is sick we want to be close to them and especially at night, how those cheeky bugs know to disturb night sleep more is one of their talents…You may be tempted to bring your child to sleep in your bed for the night. Your great independent sleeper will now potentially start to get used to sleeping with you, old sleep habits may return and you will find yourself back in that sleep deprived state again… Equally they actually may not sleep any better in the bed with you. Certainly if they are used to sleeping in their own bed. All that hard work you put into achieving a great little sleeper has come undone.
It would be a better idea for you to move into their room for the short time they are ill. Set up a mattress on the floor or get that blow up bed from under the stairs and spend a few nights in your child’s room. Why? Well simple really, it will be easier for you to leave their room than it will be for you to get your child back into their own room and bed. You want to keep their sleep environment consistent, the same, so don’t disrupt it.
By keeping their sleep environment the same you will be keeping the consistency and familiarity of their bed and room. If you are in their room it may also be easier for you to help them settle back to sleep rather than fighting for a little bit of space in your bed, especially if your child has a high temperature, they don’t need to have extra body heat coming at them from both sides from your partner and yourself. Their bed has the space they need to sleep well.
Give pain relief. Seek professional medical advice and get the anti-biotics that may be needed. Most sniffles and temperatures are sorted with a few days on Calpol. Childhood medication is there to help fight those bugs. Always read the label and follow advice from your GP.
Get back on track
When all is well again and you are confident you have your healthy child back fighting fit, now is the time to return to usual sleep habits. That routine you had before should come back easily and you can slot back into it. Those sleep habits and practices you had before should and will just fall back into place. If you had a great independent sleeper before, they will return and I expect pretty quickly without too much sleep shaping help from you.
If perhaps it was more recently you did some sleep shaping and you are struggling to get back on track again, return using the same method you did previously. You know it won’t take long because they know this game and they know how to play it!
Hang in there. Rainbows will shine bright again soon….
So, do you really know how much sleep your baby really needs? Let’s explore this in this week’s blog.
New-borns, ohh don’t they smell just delicious! When your baby arrives you will see they sleep most of the day away, I remember the midwife coming to visit me and asking it was all going and my response was “this parenthood lark is a breeze, he sleeps all day…”!! Little did I know soon things were about to change and that was sleep! I had no idea how much sleep my baby needed or how fast those needs change. In the early months sleep needs change about every 2-4 weeks so just when you feel you have figured something out and sorted it, bang, and its changes again…!
Up to 12 – 16 weeks sleep will be very much all over the place and disorganised. Every day will be different and exciting, keep your diary flexible and no one will place any expectations on you least of all yourself. You don’t want to burn out before you have even started!
Your new-born baby will require 14-17 hours’ sleep in a 24 hour period. It is not uncommon to wake only for feeding and go right back to sleep shortly after a feed or most commonly during a feed. However, this all depends entirely on your child’s genetic make-up and temperament. Did you know new born sleep is 50% genetic and 50% environmental? As we all know and will never stop saying to each and every baby is different! You may find your baby will have awake times anything from 40 minutes to 1 hour and then sleep for a period of 4 hours straight. This is a good time for you to catch up on some rest yourself, eat and take a shower…or so we are told! Actually doing this is harder in real life right..?!
Many parents I have spoken with feel it is easier to follow awake windows more than counting how many hours they have actually slept or follow a routine and this works super well for them. Here I have made a simple easy to view awake window and sleep need chart below but remember this is just a guide, some babies need more and some need less…
AWAKE WINDOWS FOR NEWBORNS TO 12 WEEKS
0-12 weeks (new-born)
1 hour 25 – 1 hour 30
1 hour 30
1 hour 30 – 1 hour 45
APPROX HOURS OF SLEEP
HOURS OF SLEEP
14-17 hours in 24 hour period
12-15 hours in 24 hour period
11-14 hours in 24 hour period
10-13 hours in a 24 hour period
As you can see the awake windows in the early weeks are not very long and really don’t leave much time owing to relax once you have fed, changed, fed again and no doubt changed another nappy! Take it one day at a time and accept all the help that comes your way!
So, the dummy, the pacifier, what name does “it” have in your home?
Many babies have a dummy and many have had it from a very young age. Having lived and nannied abroad in different countries over a number of years I have seen some countries use it more than others, Spain for example it seems every child on every corner has one, and it’s just part of them. When my son started nursery a few years back now they asked if he had one and I said no, they looked shocked and a little bit confused, but truth be told it was not for want of trying, he just did not want it.
So does it really matter if your child has a dummy? Well, let’s explore its uses and then you can decide, it’s a family personal choice I feel.
First of all, the benefits of a dummy, what are they? Well, some research tells us that using a dummy when you pop your baby down to sleep reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) however it is advised to introduce it once breastfeeding has been established. No one has been really able to tell us exactly what it is about a dummy that may help reduce the risk we can only speculate and ask the researchers their thoughts.
Now it’s recommended to introduce the dummy once breastfeeding has been established as I mentioned and this is due to nipple confusion, although I have yet to meet a mum that has had a problem with this. And which one to use? Again the shelf is flooded with different brands all trying to use cunning words and pictures for us to part with our cash but recommendations say go with an orthopedic approved brand such as NUK or Tommee Tippee. Why? Well orthodontic dummies are designed to prevent tooth misalignment and possible orthodontic issues later in life, as baby teeth come in and eventually give way to adult teeth. And what is different about them to a “normal” dummy, well orthodontic dummies feature a nipple that is flattened on the bottom and rounded at the top.
Some are glow in the dark. My sons was and I remember in the night on the odd occasion I tried to introduce it looking for it was super easy. It shone and I could just grab, plug, go..! But it does not always happen like this, sometimes parents find themselves on the dummy run countless times throughout the night. This is when baby wakes and can’t self settle themselves back to sleep unless they have their dummy in their mouth. Some babies go to sleep with a whole bunch of them, one in two out, four at the bottom of the bed, just in case they need an extra one in the night!
And then it happens, parents become more attached to the dummy than the child and are too nervous to remove it for fear of upsetting their child and the unknown sleepless nights that may lie ahead. In all honesty with the many clients I have worked with who have decided to “ditch the dummy” it really has not been as bad as they had feared. It was easy, quick and painless. Of course it does come down to a few things such as how attached they are to it, temperament of the child and age. Smaller babies in my experience have found it easy to ditch their dummy than the older toddlers.
Do you need to use it or indeed offer it at all nap and sleep times? Do you need to use it when they are not going for a sleep? Well you may find your child is very attached to it and they ask for it or when they are just having a little grumble it’s the first thing we reach for, plug in and BOOM.. baby is calmer. Of course it may help with establishing a good sleep routine, so I guess it is the child’s cues we go with here if they indeed need it at nap and sleep times. Most babies do. Of course do not force them to use it, if it falls out or they spit it out leave it, there is no point forcing a “crutch” on to them if they choose they do not want it.
Now the negatives of a dummy, well it’s a sleep crutch, a sleep association that needs you the parent to give it to the child. And it becomes part of the child, as I mention above many children get very attached to their dummy and take it EVERYWHERE they go! And of course it can disrupt sleep, and that is when you find yourself on the “dummy run”!
There are a few dummy “keepers” as I like to call them out there, one of which is the jelly cat. It has a little clip on it that actually holds onto the dummy so in the night if your child has lost the dummy you can teach them to “seek and find” their jelly cat and in turn the dummy will be there. It’s a bigger item to find in the dark cot therefore easier than feeling about for a little dummy that may have fallen down between the cot bars.
So, how do we cease using a dummy? There are a few ways of course as with anything. Some parents like to slowly cut the end of gradually over the course of a few days, this will stop your child being able to suck it so easily and not be so much “fun” for them. Sometimes you can cut the usage down but this can be confusing for some children and really depends on the age and understanding. For toddlers and older children the dummy fairy may come one day and leave a little star dust and gift in place of the dummy which is super exciting and some parents like to just go cold turkey. Cold turkey is good for young small babies and really is not as bad as you may fear…
so....Is now the time to “ditch the dummy”…? You need to decide and work out why you want to ditch it and your end goal. Go for it…. You may be pleasantly surprised…and better slept for it….!
Good luck guys
How to cope with isolation…
This is a tricky one and to be honest I don’t know if I have the answer. This last week has been many things, tricky, busy, calm, noisy and full on to name a few emotions and feelings. There are many reasons we may find ourselves in isolation with children, not just this virus that is trying its hardest to take over the world. There are times when chicken pox takes over in your home or maybe the norovirus, whatever it is some days can be hard and others easier.
I won’t lie, yesterday was a hard day for me and the children. It seemed my son just wanted to shout and destroy everything in his path including his sister and all he wanted was to watch TV allllll day… but today is better. I don’t know why. It just is. We started off doing a mini exercise class on YouTube with the fab Joe Wicks, seriously love him! Then we did a yoga class with cosmic yoga kids. After that the children just wanted to be in the garden and who could blame them, its warm today and the sun is shining in our part of the world. I have set the garden up with a few different stations thanks to a great friend of mine with her ideas! Reading, Duplo, small world animal play, mud kitchen, water play, balls, tunnel and chalk drawing. And so far so good, I can even write this blog as they play. It’s actually a joy to watch them today, happy and calm and super sweet watching Chloe reading her books while Leo is washing the “corona virus bugs” off various parts of the garden with a fairy washing up liquid bottle. Good old fairy liquid! They just seem too happy to play on their own just now and not need me to guide them. And that’s great, we can’t be their entertainer all the time, its one thing I am concerned about, if I am constantly providing the entertainment for them will they get used to this and not be able to find their own fun and make believe..?
Who knows how long it will last but I am happy with the half hour I have had...
I’m also finding it super supporting to have friends in the same boat. We all are cheering each other on from my neighbours next door with their kids to my friends far and wide on what’s app. Modern technology has a lot to answer for these days and it has been so awesome to have sooooo many kids play activities online and live by so many awesome “play givers”! I guess that’s what is keeping us going!
Here are a few pictures of us today, playing with smiles…lets hold on to these moments….tomorrow could be a whole different ball game…!
Happy playing guys….
Congratulations on the birth of your new-born! You have waited a long time to meet your new edition and now they are suddenly here! Can you believe it?
I am sure many of you have bought many books, been to the classes and read many articles and joined mum groups and still feel slightly overwhelmed by this massive life changing event that has just happened.
Here I want to talk a bit about new-born sleep and some of what to expect and of course what not to expect! In my experience as a nanny and as a mum I have yet to see a class or group informing parents to be on sleep expectations so I for one felt like had been hit by a 10 ton truck and totally unprepared when the sleep deprivation hit me. Of course we all know a good night’s sleep will be a distant memory for a long time but no one really explained to me how to cope with it or anything about new-born sleep.
So how many times have we head the phase “I slept like a baby last night”..? Well, in reality babies don’t sleep all night and we find ourselves going round in circles feeding, changing, pacing the bedroom floor and feeding again to get this tiny bundle to settle back into a peaceful slumber. Honestly we just want to sleep like a log, uninterrupted! I remember well my husband used to say “you slept well, you slept 6 hours last night”, what he failed to understand that those 6 hours were broken up into 3 or 4 segments and that is the killer…broken sleep.
So when you arrive home from the hospital and start really bonding and getting to know your baby you will notice how much they do sleep. In the day for sure! This is because the maternal melatonin tank is full. Melatonin is the sleep hormone. It’s what helps us all sleep. And then as the days turn into weeks pass at a crazy speed you will notice your baby is awake longer periods. This is because the maternal melatonin is wearing off. And we need to help sleep along...
How can we start to top up those levels of melatonin in your baby body? Well, night time breast feeding for one has a higher content of this hormone so if breastfeeding is going well for you then feed away. Having a dark room with black out blinds help hugely. The dark triggers the melatonin to start working.
It’s a great idea to be aware of your baby’s awake windows so as they grow you know and can understand how long they are capable of staying awake.
Here is a guide for you but please remember this is just a guide and all babies are different. These awake times may vary 5 or 10 minutes either side from baby to baby.
New born 40-60 minutes
3 - 6 weeks old 1 hour 25 – 1 hour 30
6 - 9 weeks old 1 hour 30 minutes
9 - 12 weeks old 1 hour 30 – 1 hour 45 minutes
So I will leave you with a few of my top tips for new-born sleep….
And what not to expect, well don’t expect sleep to be an easy natural thing for your baby. Many don’t know or really believe that sleep is a learned skill. This skill is nurtured and taught over time, after your baby has made their way through the 4 month sleep regression or as I like to call it a 4 month sleep “progression” and can be easy for some and others have to work a little harder at it. Many days you may question why your baby is not sleeping, is it colic, is it wind, or are they hungry, do they have a sore tummy? Just breathe, go with it and it will all make sense…
Of course I could go on and on about this topic but for today we shall leave it here.
If you feel you would like some more information on new-born sleep don’t hesitate to drop me a message to find out….