For a lot of us as parents, all we want for Christmas is a full nights sleep! We would just love for our baby or toddler to sleep through the night but is this possible? Some of you may know that I am a trained sleep consultant and use my knowledge on this to support mums and babies at my Bibble & Bubble classes. As this is such a common problem, I wanted to write a post with some tips and tricks to try at home.
There are many theories on sleep, and with so many sources providing different information, it’s easy to get conflicting advice. Babies are so different and their sleeping ‘issues’ are all individual to them, making it difficult to apply blanket techniques. Because of this, I would like to share the following so you can really tailor techniques to your little one by getting to the root of the problem.
It’s important to look at reasons that babies and children could wake at night such as allergies, colic or reflux. I’ve noticed the disappointment that some parents feel when they hear that another person’s baby is already sleeping through the night but it’s also important to remember the fact that young babies are programmed to wake often to feed and this is an important part of their development. Support from other parents can give so much as we all need someone to listen and offer warmth and empathy. This is something I hope Bibble&Bubble classes can create for parents also.
The first year of a babies life is full of milestones and developmental stages such as teething, rolling, sitting and all the little brain pathways are making their connections for the future so it’s not surprising that you may encounter a few bumps with sleep on the journey. What we can do however is be reactive to these developments and establish a good routine to enable a good sleep eventually.
Daytime naps can be difficult to establish but are important as an over tired baby will often wake more in the night. To help encourage naps, fresh air will work wonders. Daytime walks will allow your baby to rise from their light sleep and then drift off again and once this is established you may find your baby is able to sleep for that bit longer during the day.
Over stimulation can lead to a baby becoming overwhelmed and very tearful which can often then lead to them thrashing around and arching their back. This can then lead to shorter naps than they need and night time waking because they are not fully relaxed. Try to look at particular triggers such as too much noise, perhaps a very energetic baby class, busy places etc. Some environments just prove too much for some babies, but it is also worth experimenting with the times of such events to better suit your baby.
Take time to consider the lighting in your room, your baby’s room and areas in the house you spend a lot of time in. Before naps and bedtime, think about creating a calm space with limited screens such as mobile phones and TV’s as they emit a blue light which contributes to over stimulation. It’s also a good idea to install a good black out blind or curtains to help baby’s settle themselves back to sleep when they do wake without distraction. A calm, relaxing space will also help you sleep too.
It’s so important not to let babies overheat but we must also be aware that their body temperature drops in the early hours of the morning so you may find this could also be causing those wake ups. This also applies to toddlers and children. I would often put socks on my five year old’s feet when I went to bed to make sure she was warm enough but again this is something you can monitor.
Establish a settled sleep routine from 12 weeks of age but keep the routine simple but different from daytime naps as it’s important your baby learns the difference between night and day. Begin with changing your baby and dimming the lights and be consistent in following the routine each night. Stay tuned to our next blog for all the elements of a winning bedtime routine and further sleep tips.
It’s important to remember that we are all different and all following a journey that works for us as individuals; so feel empowered to follow the one that works for you and never feel guilty for all those night time cuddles. We all need cuddles sometimes and that’s ok; the saying “you can never cuddle your baby too much” is definitely something I firmly believe!