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