Sleep training is very much a hot topic. There is one side of the fence for it and the other side of the fence against it.
So in this blog I am going to discuss this and help you understand more about sleep training and you will see why I am obviously on the side of the fence for it asides for having a passion to help families around the world be well rested and sleep productively!.
Sleep shaping as I like to call it, is effectively training.
You will be the one teaching your child a new skill, just like riding a bike, learning to swim or drive a car, you are teaching them a new life long skill. Learning to fall asleep independently is a learned skill and many do not know or even believe this.
WHAT SLEEP SHAPING IS NOT?
Sleep shaping is not leaving your child to cry endless hours until they fall asleep. It is not depriving them of love, comfort and care from you. It is not cruel or unkind.
In fact…it is one of the most awesome lifelong skills you will teach your child to do and one you and the rest of your family will also benefit from immensely.
It is in no way traumatic to sleep train, it is kind, responsive and I always take a loving approach where your child will never be left to cry all night long and you can still achieve those sleep goals you dream of and need.
SO, WHAT DOES SLEEP SHAPING LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
Perhaps being stuck in your house endless hours consoling a crying baby, fighting with your toddler to just go to bed after 3 hours of to and fro, perhaps it is disagreeing with your husband on how to approach the night waking’s and what your child needs.
All these things a sleep consultant can help you with. We give you advice and guidance on sleep expectations appropriate to your child’s age and stage of development. We can give you the tools to implement within your family lifestyle to achieve your sleep goals. We walk you through it all and are there every step of the way as per your sleep package you choose to support and keep you on the right track and focused! That is not nonsense...is it? I don't think so!
Maybe you do have a unicorn baby or toddler that does sleep the moment their head touches the mattress, perhaps you have to wake them up for nursery every morning or they will sleep till lunch time and you feel sleep shaping is just a load or rubbish. That’s OK. You are absolutely are entitled to think this, however if you are reading this you may feel differently, are thinking about getting some help in or indeed are sitting on the fence...
Some people do not buy into the concept of sleep shaping because they feel it is cruel and unkind, they feel their child’s needs are not going to be met. But what if I told you that for the benefit of your child’s health, cognitive development, learning abilities, your mental and emotional health your personal relationship and social interactions can all benefit greatly for being able to have a child that sleeps well day and night, AND your child’s needs are still being met and nurtured?
REMEMBER SLEEP IS A BIOLOGICAL NECESSITY, NOT A LUXURY.
3 REASONS WHY SLEEP SHAPING A GREAT POSITIVE THING TO DO
SO WHY NOT?
Think of it this way, if you are ill you would go to the doctor, if you want to loose weight you would go to the gym, perhaps even hire a personal trainer, if you wanted to learn a new language you would hire a language tutor. All these things you seek and bring in help for.
So in conclusion sleep shaping is not nonsense, not cruel, in fact I certainly feel it is a wonderful opportunity for your families health and well being..
If you want your family to sleep better and you are and not sure how to go about it then why would you not hire in a sleep coach?
A professional that has the experience, the education and the advice and the ability to support you through this amazing journey of teaching your child the lifelong skill to sleep independently?
If you would like to know more about sleep shaping, how I would work with you in this journey just drop me a message and let’s chat. I am here to help you get the rest your child needs as well as you and your family to thrive!
P.S Do share this blog with a friend you know who may be sitting on the fence about sleep training…it may just shed some light for them…
Take care Mamas and Papas,
Paediatric Sleep Consultant
You’re expecting, it is your 1st and you have no idea what you need to do in preparation for the upcoming arrival of your little one. It is a daunting world of products and advice out there and no doubt you have been given a heap of advice from family and friends and are just now confused on what to have and what you actually need..?
Well don't fear, here in this week’s blog I will help you understand what is needed with my 5 top tips for the 4th trimester!
I have also invited some great advice from Rachel from Barefoot Birthing. We recently did a live on IGTV to discuss these topics pulling from personal and professional experiences. If you would like to watch this session jump over to www.instagram.com/barefoot_birthing/ on Instagram and it is there in the IGTV.
So let’s get into it…
Perhaps you are expecting your first baby and feeling slightly overwhelmed with what is to come. Many friends and family have given their two pence worth of advice and some of it is all very conflicting and you are just not sure what to do.
Or perhaps this is baby number two or three coming along and you want to be better prepared, because the first one almost put you in that grey place of exhaustion and you just don’t want to go down that path again.
So what is really needed in the first few weeks?
Rachel’s first golden nugget of advice is to have a postnatal plan!
This is such great advice which I wish I had when I had Leo. She recommends to how you want those first few days and weeks to look and feel like. How/when will you rest, what household jobs are you willing to let go, what are you not prepared to leave, who is helping you?
Stock up the freezer with easy meals, perhaps even book a supermarket delivery, and finally and perhaps most importantly set expectations. This is a huge one because when your Father In Law pops over and you need to feed the baby you may not feel comfortable doing so in front of him on the sofa just quite yet.
Rachel’s second golden nugget of advice is to know your port of call, where to get advice from, breastfeeding, sleep, postnatal advice.
When you have that baby in your arms and you are struggling with feeding you want to know you have, in your little black book, that phone number to call right away to get the help in ASAP.
There is no point persevering with something you are struggling with when you know there is professional help out there to help you in your moments of woe!
Parenthood is trial and error, and when you are trying something new out, stick with it for a good few days, be committed and patient. I always say you need to try something at least 7 -10 days before you see any changes so give your self-time to see if it really does work.
And we can both tell you as Mum of two ourselves, when you have just worked it out, it is very likely to change again because babies grow and change daily!
#1 IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE A SWADDLE!
I cannot express how important I feel a swaddle is for the first few months of life. Imagine, you are wrapped up cosy in a dark and warm place for 9 months.
And BOOM…out you come and it’s bright, and you are laid down on a flat surface and it’s hard! Harder than what you know anyway! So a swaddle will help with this transition. It also stops the fight or flight reflex, The Moro Reflex. This is when a baby’s arms suddenly jerk and this wakes your baby. You don’t want that to happen especially if you have just spent an hour trying to get baby to sleep!
Many parents tell me their baby simply does not like their swaddle, and 99% of the time it is because the swaddle has not wrapped correctly or it is the wrong size or shape for your little bundle and they wriggle out of it super easily.
If done correctly it will keep your baby snug as a bug in a rug! There are many swaddles on the market but my favourite would be the Miracle Blanket or just a plain large sized muslin square. If you are confident in wrapping then Aden and Anais have some beautiful prints and the size is just perfect for your new born.
I must stress though, PLEASE wrap your baby with caution, not too tight, you should be able to pop one or two fingers comfortably in the wrap at the front under neck / chest. And just as important ensure your baby has their legs in the “froggy” position. This will keep their hips healthy. For more information on this please go to the hip dysplasia website. hipdysplasia.org/
The Love to Dream swaddle I prefer for later in the 4th trimester. And this is because the baby’s arms are up above their head. I find this is something to transition to and works better for babies around 12 weeks plus.
ALWAYS TRANSITION OUT OF THE SWADDLE AS SOON AS YOU SEE SIGNS OF YOUR BABY ROLLING OVER.
There are ways to do this slowly by taking one arm out for naps and the first part of the night for a few days and then the second arm and then introduce both arms for all naps and nights and then you can transition into a sleep bag.
If your baby has rolled over you need to go cold turkey and remove swaddle and go straight into the Gro bag.
#2 SUPPORT THE SLEEP
Until around the age of 16-18 weeks your days will be erratic and no schedule at all. You may get into a rhythm as Rachel discussed on our Live, but don’t expect a routine. Your rhythm may look like feed, activity, sleep on a continuous loop all day and that is totally normal and expected. Go with it.
Your new born baby needs to sleep a lot. Around 14 – 17 hours in 24. You may find sling wearing very helpful especially if you have multiples or older children running around to tend to or if you are doing some shopping.
Rock, cuddle and even a motion nap in the pram are all healthy ways to support your baby to sleep in this 4th trimester. There are no bad habits here.
The aim is to have baby sleeping and if they need to be on the sofa all warm and cosy with you to do so, then go with it and enjoy it. You do not want an over tired baby on your hands!
#3 WHITE NOISE
This is a great tool to help mask external noises from the bedroom or even out in the pram. White, brown or pink noise are all used. Pink becoming the more popular choice these days. I always advise parents to have this noise on consistently with every nap and night sleep and also for the whole duration of the sleep. Many parents report to me that baby woke up as soon as the white noise switched off.
How loud should white noise be? Some say as loud as a hoover, (70Db) but I always say if it’s too loud for you to even think then it’s too loud for baby. However do make sure it is up enough to drown out the noises outside the bedroom or even the sibling in the crib next door…
There are many products on the market, we all know and love Ewan the Dream Sheep, but he is not so easy to take out and about with you all the time. The Marpac Hushh Portable is a great small size to fit in your nappy bag, small and lightweight.
The AVENTEK sound machine has 20 different sounds and different noise levels and can play on loop for hours! Both product worth checking out.
#4 FOLLOW AWAKE WINDOWS
Not a routine! New born babies sleep a lot in the early weeks. It is very common for babies to sleep 3 hours straight wake to feed then off they go again to sleep. Enjoy it! Rest as much as you can, take a shower, eat and relax if you can.
I know from my personal experience there is so much we feel we need to do but really is there? Don’t push yourself so much you burn out.
So what are those awake windows? Let’s take a look…
0-3 WEEKS 40 – 60 MINUTES
3 -6 WEEKS 1 HOUR 25 – 30 MINUTES
6 – 9 WEEKS 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES
9 – 12 WEEKS 1 HOUR 30 – 45 MINUTES
#5 A GENTLE LOVING METHOD TO HELP YOUR BABY FALL ALSEEP
Now when it comes to helping you new born fall asleep this is a wonderful hands on loving way to do so. It is called The Side Settle. Many babies who are struggling to fall asleep find the rhythmic patting of this very comforting and soothing and also you can lay your baby in their own sleep space which frees you up to go do something else like take that shower.. Or have a cup of tea!
How to do it...
So there we have it, some golden information for you in the early weeks of parenthood!
If you know a friend who is about to embark on this journey or indeed is on this journey please share this blog with them and of course if you are looking for a hypnobirthing teacher Rachel is your girl!
Classes available online in group or in-person privately. To get in touch with Rachel, contact her at email@example.com or visit her website www.barefootbirthing.com/
Happy parenting everyone,
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant
The bain of our lives right! Naps…!
Here in this week’s blog I will explain to you the importance of naps, why the lunch time nap is best to be the longest and how to achieve appropriate nap lengths and what to do when a nap goes pear shaped!
So, who has a cat napper out there? 10-20 minutes at a time or perhaps your little papoose is napping for one sleep cycle of 30-40 minutes only or maybe you have a child that just won’t nap unless they are in the buggy, being held, fed to sleep or will only sleep in their cot restricting you not going out on a day trip because you know on the way home in the car your baby will fall asleep and boom…bedtime is a nightmare.
This is very normal and developmentally appropriate for very young babies under the age of 5-6 months or so. Some young babies at this age are still grabbing 4 short naps a day.
But, what if your baby is older than 5 months, perhaps 10 months or even 16 months? Let’s find out…
Some babies wake early from a nap and are super fine with this and if you can carry on your day with no effects or repercussions, then great! No need to change anything. It works for you!
But, if you are not that lucky and your child simply does not nap or wakes early from a nap, the lack of sleep will make them grumpy and intolerable and by dinner time a crazed animal, by bath time a scary crying monster and at bedtime they just crash out in a few minutes only to wake lots during the night or at 5 am in the morning ready for breakfast and acrobatics around the living room..!. I bet this sounds familiar to you?
Possible reasons for a short nap…
Effects of poor naps…
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. Also the immune system is compromised, hence very sleep deprived children do get ill often and seem to catch any colds and bugs going around.
Also you have a grumpy overtired child who may fall asleep late in day and put bedtime off track.
Achieving the age appropriate nap time and nap lengths during the day will help with overtiredness.
Ideally we want our babies to start sleeping longer periods of time at naps and at night time for sure. The rule of thumb for naps is SHORT – LONG – SHORT.
And to do this they need to learn how to connect their sleep cycles together. This can be hard to teach but with a little love, consistency and perseverance it can and will happen. If you would like help and support in how to do this get in touch via email or phone and we can discuss the best way to do this for your family in a loving, responsive way.
So how do you do it?
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?
Make sure you have set up the perfect sleep environment for your baby with a pitch dark room, white noise, optimum temperature (18.c-20.c) and correct clothing for room temp. And do be aware of your baby’s awake windows. Put them down too soon and they won’t be tired and will resist the nap, too late and overtired baby will find it hard to settle and fall asleep unaided.
If they rely on you to help them go to sleep or get back to sleep when they wake this skill will take longer. Your help may be you feeding them to sleep, doing the dummy/pacifier run, rocking, held, or pushed in a pram... A parent led sleep association. If you remove this sleep association your baby will soon learn to self-settle independently and connect their sleep cycles together easier.
Babies will be ready to learn this new skill of connecting sleep cycles together once they have come through the 4 month sleep regression but many of you know I call regressions “progressions”!
This milestone, the “4 month sleep progression” is when their brain has matured, not regressed, and ready to learn new skills and has matured in a way of more adult like sleep. This is usually around the 18-20 week mark. Some babies may be ready a little later
What to do when baby wakes early from a nap…
You may wonder what to do, do you get them up, leave them a few minutes to see if they fall asleep again, feed them, just go in and check they don’t need a nappy change... there are a few possible options that may cross your mind!
1. If you are following a schedule say 7-7 and your baby has woken early doors at 5am, you can offer them a “rescue nap” This would be a short 10 minute nap around 7.30/8am. And it may need to be an assisted nap, in sling or a cuddle perhaps. This will help get on track for the rest of the days nap times. It works best with babies around 5 - 10 months.
Then when these naps start to be on track a little more, ideally you would look for your child to nap 2 hours or at least 1.5+ hours during the lunch time nap.
This again reduces the level of cortisol in the body, reduces that sleep debt and your child will be more rested for the afternoon after a longer nap than just a short 30-60 minute nap.
And when that happens - amazing things happen inside their little body….
If you would like 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.
Don’t forget to share this blog with a friend you think may find it helpful!
Take care, and happy napping!
Teething gets blamed for a lot of things and mostly sleep. Whilst teething can and does cause a lot of pain I am going to discuss the ins and outs of it and what it really means in terms of sleep disruption and what we can do to ease it.
FUN FACT…1% of babies are born with a tooth!
At about 6 weeks after conception the cells in your baby’s gums start to form, when your baby is born those cells have hardened and will have taken shape as a tooth just under the gums, they will become the sharp pearly whites on a day in the not too distant future.
Did you know, a research paper released by The University of Leeds found that did back in the 1800’s teething was listed as a cause for death! 4% of infant deaths in 1142 were attributed to teething. And it was still listed as a cause of death up until as recent as 1979 in England. That is only 41 years ago, very recent.
This as we know is just ridiculous but what we do know is that teething is the cause for pain, disrupted sleep and a few days of unsettledness, usually around 3-8 days. It is one thing that always comes up with my clients that teething has been disrupting sleep, should we wait a while before starting any sleep shaping?
Now while teething may be absolute a cause for disruption in the night it is not usually the whole cause for night waking’s. Of course there are some babies out there that do suffer badly from teething and you may see a spot of blood on the sheets or in their drool.
Here I will help you understand more about your child’s pearly white issues...
Signs of teething,
Let’s take a closer look into each of these.
The Excessive Drooling
Saliva Glands start to kick in around the same time the antibodies are working overtime. Why? Around 6 months your baby’s body is getting ready for solids, and in its very clever way starts to produce more saliva to break down the food. You baby’s body needs certain enzymes to break down the food and digest it.
THE RED BUM/RASH
If we look at research and the science behind it is most likely (but not gospel) caused by something else other than teething. How do we know this?
This is more likely to be a virus or something else other than teeth but may come from the PH levels in the saliva and extra saliva being produced.
Of course when those pearly whites are ready to pop through the will be putting some pressure on the gums underneath. The body releases a chemical that cause the gums to become softer, less dense and so the tooth can pop up. The red gums will turn whitish in colour so be on the lookout for a white nub under the gum, this will be the final stage before you see that tooth pop through or even feel a tiny little prick as you pass your finger over your baby’s gums.
During the night our body is relaxed, and blood pressure is lower. Therefore any pain felt will be less due to the lower blood pressure.
Ear Pulling and Cheek Rubbing
Did you know gums have the same nerve pathways as cheeks and ears, so this can lead to discomfort in areas of the face, hence why you may see your baby pull at her ears or rub her cheeks? Her cheeks my look a little redder or even feel a little flushed.
Now of course many babies don’t even shed a tiny sign that they have a tooth on the way and you may just ride thought this transition with ease and not notice anything until you feel a little nip on the morning feed or on your finger as you have a root around!
Teething is not always nocturnal so look out for an unusually distressed baby during the day, clingy and irritable, inspect those gums, can you see swollen gums, a white nub about to piece through, won’t let you touch them?
Teething begins around the time of lower immune function. This is because your baby is moving from what is known as “passive” to “active” immunity. Your baby’s antibodies that she received from you are now reducing and they are having to work hard by making themselves!
This happens right around the time your baby starts to move a lot more, rolling around, playing with more toys, picking things up and putting then in her mouth… she is exploring and learning and that is what babies do, everything goes in the mouth right!
Some props you can offer that will help ease and numb the pain
Time line of tooth appearances
Now don’t take all this as gospel as we know every child is different but generally speaking we can see a pattern of teeth making an appearance in this order…
By the time your baby is around 2 years old they will probably have all 20 teeth, Now that said, every baby is different and some as my best friend from school found with her son, his first tooth popped up at the age of 2 years and my other great friends daughter had her lateral incisors at 9 months but no central teeth, we do have a little giggle as she does resemble a little mini vampire!
Now your little one has a tooth you will need to take care of it. Many parents wonder what they can use to brush those pearly whites and many babies HATE that toothbrush and toothpaste coming anyway near them. There are many products on the high street shelves, so look for a very soft bristle brush with a starter toothpaste. Some babies many even prefer you to use your finger with a finger brush.
Certainly my daughter was one for not wanting anyone to come near her so often when we were out in the buggy going for a walk I would give her toothbrush with a little toothpaste on it for her to chew on and suck. 1 nil to Mum!
If in any doubt on what is best ask your dentist or local pharmacist for advice. This information is not to be substituted with a professional dentist or doctor.
Don’t forget to share this article with a friend you know who may find it of some use, teething chat for the next coffee morning you see each other!
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant
The dreaded 5am wake up…not again you sigh. When is this going to stop and how do I make it stop? HELP ME!
Early waking in children is more common than you think and this week’s blog I will be talking about the reasons why your child may be ready for the day at 5am even if you are not.. and what you can do to change them to a later more acceptable time…
There are a few reasons why this may be happening and it could be a tricky one to work out. Here is a list of the possible reasons...
The levels of melatonin (Sleep Hormone) in your child’s body decreases throughout the night and from 4am onwards the lighter stage of sleep is nigh. I always say anything before 6am is night time and should be treated so. Awake after 6am and you are winning!
So how do we work it out?
Let’s take a closer look at the points above.
Was your baby super tired when he went to bed last night? How could this be possible? Perhaps his naps he had were not quite at the optimum time for his age and stage of development, or that lunch time nap was only 30 minutes. Because of these short naps sleep debt will be accumulated and therefore cause overtiredness and boom…5 am wake up.
Of course he may not have seemed tired he they went to bed last night, he may have seemed full of beans and in fact put on a little energetic performance and seemed like he were auditioning for the circus. I know this is what my eldest Leo does, he thinks he is some sort of racing car as soon as he gets out the bath..!
What is actually happening here is the sleep debt causing levels of cortisol to rise. This hormone is like an adrenaline, a shot of red bull, that pumps around the body when children are overtired and displays it’s-self in a hyper child and in no way seems tired.
It’s worth keeping an eye on awake windows and checking the awake window from last nap of day till bed time. Here is a guide…
Of course this seems obvious but if your child went to sleep easily last night you may not have thought he was under tired at all. However if he had too much sleep the previous day it all adds up and boom...5 am and it’s party time...again! You may need to push bedtime forward a little bit or indeed tweak your child’s naps in the day. Be careful adjusting any tweaks and do so in 15 minute increments every 3 days so not to confuse your child’s circadian rhythm too much.
3. NAP 1 WAS TOO EARLY
Sounds strange right and of course if your child is waking early surely their first nap of the day is gong to have to be earlier or they will be overtired... BUT...
If your child has a nap soon after waking at 5am and they sleep a long time at nap 1 their body gets used to this and tells itself that it is OK to wake early because I know I am going to get a long nap very soon. Especially if this is a reoccurring event their circadian rhythm will be set to this and this needs to be changed by you.
Instead of having a full nap try offering a little “rescue” nap of about 10 minutes and no more around 7/7.30am. This works best with 10 month olds and under. This will get you on track for their first nap to be at 9.30am and sets you up for the rest of the day and also you will be resetting their circadian rhythm to not have that long early morning nap!
If your child is older or the rescue nap won’t work you may need to stretch the awake windows ever so slightly over a period of time until you get to more appropriate nap times.
4. TEMPERATURE CHANGE
Around 4 am your child’s body temp tends to drop slightly in preparation for waking. Check the swaddle, gro bag or duvet is correctly fitted and tucked in where appropriate. Check he is dressed appropriately for sleep. Cotton breathable clothing only, no hats, gloves or even socks. Optimum room temperature is 18-20.c
During the spring and summer months light creeping in through the curtains can be a cause of early waking’s. Even a street light outside will cause a wake up or light from the hall way. When his eyes open and sees even a glimmer of light it is something to focus on.
It reduces the levels of melatonin in the body and once those eyes open they will be focusing on that strip of light popping through because it looks interesting. Also artificial light from a night light or light from under the door will also impact on levels of cortisol.
Always use a RED if you wish to have a night light in your child’s room. This does not affect the melatonin levels at all. Put black out blinds up and have you ever thought of rolling up a blanket or sheet and resting it on top of the curtain rail to stop that strip of light entering..? Try it and see how much light it really can block out.
Many children have their last meal around 4.30/5pm especially those who attend nursery as many offer dinner around 4.30pm. This would make breakfast a long way away for them to hang on till. You may find it helps by offering them a wholemeal bagel or toast with a nut butter as a snack pre bedtime that will keep hunger at bay.
Perhaps it’s time to drop the mid-day bottle and swap for a solid dairy snack and then this can push dinner time a little later and this will in turn have a positive knock on effect to the hunger hormones being released in the early hours.
Ensure your child is getting enough meat protein during the day and before 10 months of age offer at lunch time as their little tummy’s are not quite ready to digest meat proteins at night time and they can also cause waking’s.
Offer lots of leafy green vegetables and brown carbohydrates at dinner time. The slow release of the carbs will help keep hunger at bay. If your baby is still having night feeds it may be they have not fed for 4 hours or longer so this could be genuine hunger. Ensure bedroom is kept dark, little interaction and pop down right after feed.
Of course if this has been happening for a while now your child’s circadian rhythm will be set for waking at 5am for the day! Try implementing that rescues nap if 10 months and under and having a shorter morning nap to set the circadian rhythm. And as with any habit they take consistency and practice to be created so you will need to be extremely consistent and preserver with implementing changes to change the habit.
For the older toddlers try using a trainer clock such as ZaZu Sheep! This is my favorite because unlike the Gro Company trainer clock, that has a blue light face and disrupts the levels of melatonin, ZaZu has a red face. And remember red light does not interfere with the levels of melatonin.
Here is a link.
Teething...gahhh, it gets the blame for a lot of waking’s and quite rightly so, however, if these early wakes are happening more than 3 -4 mornings in a row usually the teething pain has subsided by now.
At night blood pressure is a lot lower so any pain tends be less than day time. If your child is not showing pain discomfort during the day it is unlikely to be bothering them at night so much. Do offer pain relief, check gums before bedtime for those little white nubs.
If your child is having a day time nap ensure they are up by 3pm and bedtime no later than 7pm. This of course has to be age and stage of development appropriate. If your child is down to 2 naps a day and having a lunch nap of only 30 minutes and is awake by 2pm then they will need to go to bed at 6pm.
Now once you have managed to address the possible causes and you are consistent and still no results you may need to implement a comforting method to help your child back to sleep independently of you for them to understand it’s not breakfast time just yet and to help set their circadian rhythm.
These methods are very individual to each family situation and child’s temperament. If you would like guidance with this do drop me a message and we can talk about it.
So with that said, you can now try a little trouble shooting with your early morning rises and for more help and advice do get in touch and we can work together to restore sleep in your home!
Don’t forget to share this with a friend who may be experiencing the early morning rising just as much as you!
Paediatric Sleep Consultant
Boom! Here we go again…another hurdle in the world of sleep. Just as you may have felt your nights were getting on track suddenly they are being disturbed again and you may be wondering “what now”?
Well, this is possibly the 18 month sleep regression. Or as we all know I like to call a “progression” because your baby is maturing, not regressing...even though you may feel the sleep is somewhat..!
So here today I explain the WHEN, WHY and the HOW to navigate through your way through this sleep hurdle with hopefully not much disturbance for all the family.
So the WHEN,
This sleep “progression” is typically around 18 months but can be a little earlier or later. Most commonly around 18 months because it co – insides with a transition of 2 naps down to 1 which happens around this time.
During this delicate time your toddler will be coming out of the baby zone and entering into toddler hood and toddler sleep comes with it as a package!
Your child's physical and cognitive development is maturing and they are learning yet more skills, wanting to explore more and test us more for sure! They are figuring out limits and testing the boundaries. Your toddler may be in a big bed with no sides (my advice it to keep them in their cot for as long and close to 3 years of age as possible due to the lack of impulse control they have before 3 years)
That impulse control couples with the “mummy, can I have one more kiss, I neeeed some more milk, maybe I can climb out of my crib, oooh, maybe I can go sleep in mummy’s bed…”
These are the boundaries your child maybe testing. Sound familiar to you?
They enter a second bout of separation anxiety (the first being around 9 months when object permanence is realised) but this separation anxiety may be a little more momentous in the way they have a little more fear and curiosity. For example they may see you leave the room but then they may wonder, what if Mummy does not come back, what it I cry and she does not hear me, I can hear a dog bark, is it near me, what is that shadow over there…?
Naturally children and adults will wake 3-6 times a night when shifting from one sleep cycle to another, falling back to sleep independently is the art and skill we need to teach our children and if they have not learnt this skill they may struggle more at these waking’s, need our assistance and of course with this sleep “progression” their sleep may be more disturbed with their new thoughts going on in their maturing mind and need more comforting.
Your toddlers language skills are not fully developed yet and they can not always express themselves so we may be wondering what on earth they are trying to convey. Especially in the night when it is dark and we are all tired and a little bit dazed from perhaps being up already 5 times... You may wonder are they hungry, perhaps I should offer milk, do they need a nappy change or perhaps they are cold/hot, no it must be teething... yes, a feed will help get them back to sleep…
I am sure you have come up with a number of endless possibilities your toddler is waking for.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Of course if you are moving house or a new sibling is arriving soon, talk to your toddler about this, use books to help, perhaps a visit to the library to see what book they have on the topics. If moving try have your toddlers room marked as a priority, have the same bed, same bedding, same pictures and teddy around. Mimic the old familiar sleep space. Park the Pinterest decor you had…just for a few months anyway! It will come!
2. Be Consistent. I talk about consistency ALL THE TIME, and certainly those of you who have worked closely with me know I bang on about this a lot, but it is vital. Being consistent for your toddler at this time will help with their anxiety and expectations. If you give in to the “one more story, one more drink” demands intermittently they will cotton on to this FAST. And know they can get what they want if they go on and on enough..! Giving into your child is effectively rewarding them and at this young tender age they see it as a win.
2. To help with consistency you may like to use a picture time chart, this helps your toddler know what comes next. You can make it with them, cut out a pictures form magazines, a family eating dinner, a bath, a story, a cup of milk… they could even get the picture to pop in a “sleep box” at each “event” to sleep with your toddle on their shelf.
3. ROUTINE. Again this co insides with consistency and boundaries. Your toddler’s circadian rhythm is set to wake, eat and sleep at the same times every day. Don’t mess with that. You will rock the boat and then you have an over tired or even under tired toddler on your hand.
4. Your toddler is growing up mentally and physically, so treat them this way. Start to give them a little option or 2 , what top would you like to wear today, this blue one or this green one, what story shall we read first, the Gruffalo or Mog. Of course this goes within the boundaries and age appropriate. Things they can control will help the situation and helps in them feeling important and independent.
If you find your toddler is taking time to fall asleep and is happy in their sleep space, then leave them to it. Eventually they will fall asleep and grow out of this awake time. Of course if they are upset and you feel they need some assistance in some way of course lovingly go to your toddler and respond appropriately. Remember to be consistent in the approaches.
You may need to do frequent check ins, or sit in the room until your toddler falls asleep. But again I say it…be consistent at every wake up!
If your toddler is starting to kick up a stink and you are not sure how to respond do take this opportunity to reach out to me and I can help and offer advice and guide you through this period.
It is very normal to experience this sleep “progression” so hang in there as it may take a week or so to pass. Your anxious toddler may take some more persuading and comforting and that is perfectly normal and expected. Support them through this time.
Of course if you would like any more help and advice on this sleep “progression” don’t hesitate to get in touch, I am here to help you make this shift as easy as possible for you and your family.
Don’t forget to share this with a friend you know who may find this helpful also.
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant
Or as I like to call a regression, a “progression”… due to the fact your baby is reaching milestones and not going backwards!
In this blog I will explain what exactly this 8 month “progression” is, the signs and how to deal with it.
So let’s get into it..!
WHAT IS THE 8 MONTH SLEEP “REGRESSION”?
Around 8-10 months your baby will be going through a major and massive neurological and physiological development change
Your baby is now beginning to be more mobile, learning to crawl, stand possibly walk and finding their own voice and practicing it more! This “progression” is your baby’s brains way of catching up with the day’s activities and processing it all. The result of this milestone is loss of sleep for all the family…
Around this time your baby will also be dropping from 3 naps down to 2 and this is a big developmental leap for them. They will be showing signs they are ready to drop this nap (see nap transitions blog for more on this )nap-transitions.html
Teething will be continuing and separation anxiety may also be starting to show. Your baby will be more aware of their surroundings, who is in the room, when you walk out the room, they may even cry a little when you walk out of the room.
They have now started to develop the skill of OBJECT PERMANCE, which is when they know something still exists when they cannot see, hear, smell or touch it.
A great game to play often to help them feel confident and comfortable in the room without you there is to play peek–boo, hide behind your hands then perhaps the sofa, then the room…!
HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?
Typically around 4 – 14 days. It may occur anywhere in the age range of 8 – 10 months. If your baby has mastered the art of self-settling and as long as you do not introduce any new negative sleep habits you should ride through this regression with ease.
You will see a shift in your little ones sleeping patterns such as
HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS “PROGRESSION”…
A sleep association will develop if it is mimicked at every sleep opportunity. If your baby has learned the skill and art of self-settling to sleep it is important not to re-introduce any previous sleep associations or start any new ones that may require your assistance such as feed or rock to sleep. Of course you can absolutely go to your baby, offer them the love, cuddles and support they need and you want to give.
So to conclude, if you have all worked hard on sleep shaping and got to your sleep goals, know that is does work and can still work, know that it is kind to teach your child to learn the skill of falling asleep independently. Don’t let a “progression” undo all that hard work you put in!
Being awake all night is not good for anyone.
Stick to your routine, encourage independent sleep skills and all will be OK!
If you find you have been dealing with this for longer than you feel is “normal” then do drop me a message and we can have a chat about how to get back on track!
Don’t forget to share this with a friend who has a baby or may be going through this transition. It may just shed some light on the matter..!
Sleep well happy families,
Here is your Ultimate Guide To Daylight Savings,
The Winter Issue
In this week’s blog I explain how you can navigate your way through the clock change going back 1 hour. I suggest 3 different options for you with detailed schedules below.
The dark nights are drawing in closer, the colder mornings are upon us and Jack Frost is waiting in the wings to frost up our windows and paths...
But what does all this mean for your Little Ones’ daily routine and morning wake ups? Does this mean your 5am wake up will now be 4am? Does this mean they will be ready for bed at 5pm instead of 7pm…? There goes your evenings with more wake ups and “lazy” weekend mornings I hear you say…
I say, “NOPE, Not at all”!
Falling back into winter can actually be a positive and give you one more extra hour on the clock to work on teaching your baby independent sleep skills and they get more time to “study and learn” these new skills! It’s all going to be fine…you will see. And it is EASY!
There are some adjustments you can do in preparation of the new Winter Time. Below I explain 3 different options you may like depending on what you feel suits your child best.
Read on to find out how this can work for you and see some example schedules…
Remember, our bodies are regulated by 3 things...
So, if we alter the timings of these 3 activities during the day, slowly your baby should fall into the new time change quite easily and without too much bother. It can take 1 – 2 weeks for your child to fully adjust to the new time so do be patient and be consistent. Every. Single. Day. And of course it does help if your child has the super skill of settling themselves and falling asleep independently of you.
Remember exposure to light be it natural or artificial will aid your child’s circadian rhythm to adjust so get outside for a walk, even a walk around the block will help , and if it is raining, adorn those welly’s and go splash in the muddy puddles…last time I check puddles were a lot of fun!
Below are some sample schedules to help guide you and your family into the new clock change.
Essentially you will be moving your child’s schedule 15 minutes later every 2 days, including feeds and solids. This will give time for your child’s body to readjust slowly without sending their circadian rhythm into shock!
Do remember that if your child is under 18 weeks your days may already be very unpredictable and you may not have a schedule in place. Therefor you just need to maintain your baby’s awake windows appropriate to their age. If you are not sure what their awake windows are, do see my blog on appropriate awake windows for different age groups. https://www.rachaelwilsonsleepconsultant.com/blog/how-much-sleep
Now, here’s the good bit…
Going Back 1 hour BEFORE time change
Start this 1 week BEFORE the clocks change.
Of course not all of us have the “luxury” to be able to wake our child up later because they are already an early riser. In this instance it may be more beneficial for you to adjust their schedule AFTER the clocks have changed. See example schedule below.
GOING BACK 1 HOUR (After time change) 7-7 routine
Another option to navigate through this is to extend your child’s awake windows by 5 – 15 minutes the weekend of the clock change. Now this has to be treated with caution as you do not want to send your child into a frenzy of overtiredness, this just merely extends their circadian rhythm a little longer to get to the end of the day and adjust before the new time actually arrive.
Then Monday morning you are back on track with your usual timings.
Example schedule below for a baby with a 2.5 hour awake window on 2 naps a day
By extending the awake window gradually this will help your baby fall back into the new time on Sunday when it arrives.
REMEMBER…This is just guide and if your child shows sleepy signs you must pop them down to sleep. If you do not then you will risk running into overtired territory and then you will have a new ball game to play with!
Don’t forget to share this with a friend you know out there who is wondering how on earth she is going to cope with the clock change and potentially 4am wake ups….!
If you feel you would like some more guidance on this adjustment do get in touch, drop me an email and I can help guide you through this!
Take care guys, and sleep well...
From the day you bring your baby home we see them sleeping, napping and not always at the times that is conducive to our sleep and daily schedule! Very soon your baby will spend more time awake, your days are constantly changing and just when you figured out some sort of routine, boom, something changes and you need to figure it all out again!
So how do you know when it is time to drop a nap? Here I explain the signs to look for that your baby will show when that times comes. Remember this is just a guide and every child differs from the next. Some babies hang on to their naps until the bitter end and some are quite happy to drop a nap as soon as they can!
Here are 5 top signs to look for…
4 - 5 months drop from 4 naps to 3 naps
7 - 9 months drop 3 naps to 2 naps
15 - 18 months drop 2 naps to 1 nap
2. When transition from 3 to 2 naps it is the last nap of the day that goes at this point. You will know this is needing to happen because your baby may be fighting this nap. Putting up a little protest or even waking early from it. This nap may also be interfering with bedtime. If you see these signs…it’s time to drop it!
3. Your baby may not be falling asleep quite so easily at any nap as they did before. Perhaps they are looking for some assistance, protesting verbally a little or just lying in their sleep space taking their time to fall asleep, more time than previously.
4. Suddenly you have a night wake up and for a long period of time or an early morning wake up when you did not before…this is a sign of possibly too much day time sleep.
5. Your baby may wake early from a nap when they did not before and you see a pattern of this behavior over a number of days.
How do you transition these naps…
Depending on how sensitive your baby is with sleep, dropping naps may need to be done gently and slowly. If you suddenly drop a nap this may have fall backs on night sleep and early waking’s and you may also have a very cranky grumpy child on your hands and that’s no fun!
Here are my top 5 tips how to drop naps…
1. GO SLOW. Reduce the nap length by 10 minutes every 3 days until you get to the desired nap length or it has gone.
2. When you feel the morning nap is ready to go you can also choose to extend the awake window by 10/15 minutes every 3 days with the help of distraction and natural daylight. Natural day light stops the sleep hormone melatonin being released but of course don’t push too much or you will have an overtired child on your hands. Then eventually the timing of this nap becomes the lunch time nap
3. Bring bedtime forward to compensate that last nap of the day being dropped and to bridge the gap from end of lunch nap to bedtime. Again, you don’t want an overtired child on your hands or then bedtime may turn into a meltdown with tears and tantrums and an early 5am wake up may occur!
4. Be conscious of your child’s sleep needs and follow their sleep cues
5. Be consistent. Every day the same. Consistency is KEY.
When a nap has been dropped, especially the last nap of the day and then the lunch time nap goes it may still be worth having some quite time, just for a week or so, so your child’s body has time to adjust to less sleep in the day. Perhaps read some stories, do a puzzle or some drawing.
For more help and guidance on Nap Transitions get in touch with me, I’m here to help your family become more rested!
It’s part of parenthood right, to be up in the night, changing nappies, feeding, pacing the floorboards, rocking back to sleep, “enjoying” those moments while the rest of the world out there sleeps!
I remember when my daughter, Chloe was born my friend had her son at the same time, we would always send each other a few texts in the night during these waking hours to see if we were up at the same time and what feed they were on..1 or 10! The following morning I would tell my husband a few stories and he would always ask me where I got all this information from as it was only 6am in the morning and it was basically night time…he had no idea that while he sleeps there is a whole other world out there awake…and surviving…mostly feeding parents and breastfeeding mum's who are awake…chatting away to help each other through the night…..!
So here in this blog I wanted to explain how you can maybe determine what is “normal” when it comes to night waking. Help you find some reasons and solutions as to why your Little One is waking.
Let me start off by saying, just like us adults all and every child wakes in the night. It is normal for a child to wake between 3 and 6 times a night. Even if it is just to turn over and re settle themselves, kick and flail about or to ask for a feed. But when and how do we know when to respond to these waking’s….and what is “normal”?
The New born stage. The biggest change in your life has just happened and for many of us we are under prepared for what exactly has just happened and about to happen…we arrive home from the hospital, sit down (if at all we can still sit without being in so much pain we feel our lower body has just been ripped to shreds!) and we say..Ok...now what..? A lot of us actually have no idea how to navigate our way through each day or really what to expect, every day is so different.
At this young new born stage your baby will feed, poop, sleep and repeat. A lot. It’s a turntable of the same most days, like a carousel that just won’t stop! It’s wonderful but it is exhausting and that is “normal”.
Your baby will be feeding every 2-3 hours or so. Don’t forget breastmilk is digested much faster than formula milk so you may find your baby feeds more often in the night than your friends who is formula feeding. This is normal and whichever way your feed your baby they are being nourished and loved and you are meeting their needs. Fed is BEST!
At this young age it is also way too early to start any sort of sleep shaping with any methods as such however what you can do is introduce positive sleep associations that will stand you in good stead for the future.
Change and feed during the night in a dark room, use a red light instead of the usual bedside lamp you have as the red light wont interfere with the levels of melatonin in your baby’s body. Stay in the same room as to avoid temperature changes which can wake a baby up. Minimal stimulation. It’s not party time it is feed and sleep time! Keep your nights calm and consistent. Make sure your baby is winded before you lay back down in their sleep space.
If you are experiencing multiple waking’s say every 1-2 hours through the night there may be something else that is hindering longer periods of peaceful slumber between feeds such as tummy pains from over feeding or overtiredness. It is worth exploring these other possibilities and if you feel you would like some help in solving this I am very happy to have a chat with you and put you at ease.
This age is a very impressionable age. Your little one will be changing a lot during this time, cat naps may start to occur, solids will be introduced and play time becomes more fun! And sleep changes.
Your baby’s sleep cycles at this age change and during the night become longer, 2 hours long so you may experience waking’s every 2 hours. It is very unlikely your baby needs fed every 2 hours at this age so it is worth exploring why this is happening.
You may find the issue is a self-settling problem, or perhaps your Little One is over tired from minimal sleep the previous day. It is impossible for me to say exactly what the problem is without having more in depth knowledge about your child’s world of sleep.
Around 4 months, the sleep “progression” will occur, you’re Little Ones’s brain is progressing and developing and their sleep cycles become like an adults.
When this “progression” has passed it will be the perfect time to start any sort of sleep shaping, be it form a schedule in the day or try to teach your Little One to sleep independently. You can really start to work on those naps and sleep associations.
You may even be getting 1-2 feeds a night with around 11-12 hours sleep!
Imagine that! Continue with the positive sleep associations you have been using and for every sleep. You may start to see a pattern in your days and find a routine that suits your family. This age is the perfect age to start with a gentle routine and this will help consolidate your baby’s night time sleep.
Your baby will be really establishing solids now, go slow and steady. It is advisable to introduce a new food every 2-3 days and at lunch time then if there is any reactions you will have the day to notice and know exactly what food it was. I would also recommend to introduce meat proteins at lunch time only until the age or about 10 months, Meat proteins are hard to digest and can cause waking’s in the night.
Night waking’s should be minimal at this age and if you are experiencing many wake ups and your little one is finding it hard to re settle or they are awake long periods in the night something is not on the right track here. Perhaps day time naps are off track, too much day time sleep can also hinder night sleep. Perhaps your baby has a sleep association and needs you there to help them back to sleep… all the time…
Do a bit of trouble shooting, look at their awake windows during the day, are they getting enough sleep and at the right time of the day? How did they fall asleep? Are they feeding more in the night than in the day, this is called “reverse cycling”. You will need to adjust naps and feeds during the day to adjust the nights. It’s about teaching your Little One the difference between night and day.
Many babies still require a feed up to the age of 12 months. It is not uncommon and it is also not uncommon for many babies to sleep through the night in this age bracket. Babies are very capable of mastering this awesome skill. If you Little One is still waking many times, again trouble shoot, think about the previous day…
There is a lot it could be. A lot happens at this age and stage of development. They are crawling, learning to pull up and maybe even start walking. Their diet is becoming more established.
If you would like some help in working out the cause of your Little Ones waking’s do get in touch. Sometimes it just takes someone out the box to work out the issue and help you solve the puzzle!
Your FREE 15 minute discovery call to assess your sleep problems is waiting for you and we can see where to go from there and find a sleep solution for you!