The Blog

picture of a little baby wearing a waist coat saying tick tock - spring clocks change Baby Sleep

Springing forward. Help your children cope with the clocks…

Would you believe it?  Despite the chill in the air and the brash winter wind, “Spring Time” is nearly here and with it, the clocks change!

Love it or hate this time of year can yet again play havoc with your little ones’ sleep schedules! Not to mention that this year some bright spark has decided to mess around with the clocks the same day as Mothers Day!

When the clocks change on the 31st March it means having to put your child to bed one hour earlier than they would normally go.

Falling asleep one hour earlier is an impossible task, as you are essentially asking them to go to sleep in the forbidden sleep zone. It’s like asking them to apply your makeup – it’s guaranteed to go badly!

Luckily here are 4 options you can take to avoid problems when the clocks change.

4 approaches to help reduce the impact of the clocks change

1. Do Nothing

Doing nothing essentially means you will have a winter and a summer schedule – this is principle is great if you don’t have any commitments to get out early in the morning but it might be a tad tricky if you have a job/school that starts at the same time every day and staying in bed one extra hour is just impossible!

2. Start Preparing in Advance

Four days before the clocks go back, start by moving your children’s schedule earlier by 15 minutes each day. This will mean if your current sleep schedule is 7.30-7.00,  start by putting your little one to bed at 7.15  PM and waking them up at 6.45 AM.  I know this might sound a little crazy as it will mean waking your child up in the morning, but trust me come Mother’s Day when you want them to wake up at your new target time and not the old time, this gradual approach works perfectly.

3.The Quick Approach

If you are after a quick approach then on Sunday 28th March you will want to wake them up 30 minutes earlier than you would normally get up, and then on Monday wake them up another 30 minutes earlier . It will also help to move your meals and bedtime earlier by 30 minutes each day too.

4.Harness the Power of Light

This approach involves dimming the lights in the hour prior to bedtime. This means no outdoor playtime and no exposure to bright screens or bright lights in the home.  Dim lights in your home will help your child’s hormonal regulatory system to produce more melatonin making them more sleepy.

Welcome Relief When the Clocks Change

For those of you whose children are currently waking at an uncivilised hour e.g. 4.00-5.00, spring daylight savings might be a welcome relief.  Essentially you will change the clocks but keep their schedule where it was.  Instead of sleeping from 7.00 PM to 5.00 AM they will now be sleeping from 8.00 PM to 6.00 AM.  This will not only mean longer in bed in the morning, but it will also give you an extra hour of cuddle time in the evening should you have been out at work all day long.

The key to this strategy will be ensuring your child’s room is dark in the morning. If you go into their room and can still see your hand in front of you with the door closed and the lights off then chances are the room is too light. Don’t forget light is a very powerful wakeup cue and even the smallest amount of sunlight will wake your child up.

So there you have, it a selection of approaches, all tried and tested to help you beat the clocks change in a couple of weeks time.

Do let me know how you get on and what works best for you? Most importantly, have the most wonderful Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

separation anxiety in infants blog post, teddy in basket Baby Sleep

Could separation anxiety be harming your baby’s sleep?

My challenge this month what with it being February the shortest month of the year was to bring you a blog that was essentially short and sweet but with advice that could really make a difference to you and your little one.

I decided that for inspiration I would look to my clients and identify a common theme that seems to appear time and time again!

And no, it isn’t negative sleep associations because firstly for those of you who know me and have spoken to me, I don’t believe that there is such a thing but secondly because there is something far more common than sleep associations and the impact they have on sleep and this is “Separation Anxiety!

Separation anxiety can be one of the biggest causes of night wakings

Yes, believe it or not, separation anxiety is one of the biggest causes of night waking’s in the first two years of your little one’s life and guess what, it is a completely natural part of infant development.

It occurs initially somewhere between 6-9 months once your little one becomes aware of object permanence and the idea that once you go you are gone. The problem is unlike older infants they are unable to picture you in the room next door or downstairs having supper and when you leave at night, they understandably get very upset because they think you have gone for ever!

From an anthropological perspective this is totally to be expected because in the wild the moment a baby was to become more mobile around 6 months, the need to keep their primary caregiver close would have increased as otherwise they may have run the risk of death.

So, what can you do to help with this common sleep issue?

1. Use bedtime and naptime to check in and out of their bedroom

Use bedtime and naptime to check in and out of their room whilst getting them ready for bed. This way they get used to being on their own while you quickly pop out to grab a glass of water or another bag of nappies. It is really important that when you leave the room you let them know where you are going and assure them that you will be back and equally it can really help to talk to them while you are out the room as it helps them to understand that that although they cant see you, you are still close by.

2. Make sure you have quality playtime during the day

Have a period of quality play time during the day during which you play games of peek a boo, which again emphasise the fact that when you go you will always return – make sure that when you do return you always have a big smile on your face so they associate positive feelings with your disappearances. You might also like to take one of their toys and hide it under a blanket only to have it then reappear.

3. Create a bedtime book using pictures of your toddler’s bedtime routine

As they get older and separation anxiety reappears between 12 and 18 months of age use the development in your baby’s cognitive ability to your advantage. A great way to help with anxious toddlers is to create a bedtime book – this way they will be able to see themselves at various stages of their bedtime routine, the penultimate picture is taken when they are in their bed at night and the final one when they wake up in the morning. It can also help to add in an extra picture of where you are when they go to sleep. Again, helping to cement the fact that when you leave their room at night you are still very close by.

As you know I love more than anything to help families with their individuals sleep problems so please do get in touch if you think a personalised sleep plan would help you and your little one to get a better night sleep.

Remember to follow me on Instagram @helpbabysleep where I provide regular sleep tips and updates.

There is no doubt that your baby’s sleep is highly individualised.  This is why sometimes it can be helpful to have a personalised sleep consultation.  I also offer a trouble-shooting call service. 

Find out more about my packages here.

 

Happy mum, happy baby blog post, strawberries, tea, chocolate spread on toast and tray Baby Sleep

Happy Mum, Happy Baby for better sleep for both…

Everybody is familiar with the phrase Happy Mum, Happy Baby.

The truth is however, when you are worn out and sleep deprived the last thing you feel like doing is putting on a happy face and mustering up a smile.

Self-care is just as important for new parents

Therefore, when it comes to helping your baby sleep; the focus must be on looking after yourself and your own emotional state because unfortunately stress is contagious and the more distressed you are the more distressed your baby will become.

There are also hundreds of books listing in detail how to care for your baby giving intricate details on feeding and napping routines but the one vital ingredient they are often missing is how to prioritise your own wellbeing and what you can do to relieve the stress and exhaustion you feel in those weeks even first years after having a new baby.

In fact, I massively believe that a parent’s wellbeing is so crucial to whether their baby can sleep or not that when working with my clients the first thing I do is to ensure that they are in the best place they possibly can be.

So now to share with you 8 of my top tips for helping and supporting new parents along their journey

Self-Compassion

Each day take a moment to offer yourself some mindful self-compassion. During our hectic family lives, it is so easy to ignore our own feelings. If you find that you mind is conjuring up scenarios that make you anxious or angry – address yourself with some reassuring words. A little self-compassion goes a long way to calm an agitated mind “May I be kind to myself in the difficult and tiring situation” is a great example of self-talk that is short and soothing.

Conqueror your tiredness with morning light

Despite how tired you may feel research has shown that by exposing yourself to the morning light around the same time every day will make a big difference to your mood and wellbeing. It can be particularly beneficial if you or your baby has a sleep issue has morning light helps to reprogram the body’s circadian clock. If you can’t bear the thought of forgoing your lie-ins then start your day off by setting and alarm clock, getting up, opening the curtains and then getting back int o bed to snooze before gently waking your baby. After a couple of days of letting the morning light in around the same time every morning it will become easier for you to get up and start your day

Dance

There is nothing better than dancing to boost your mood plus it is free, it increases all those lovely feel good endorphins plus you can do it anytime of day wearing whatever you want.

Blow Bubbles

Next time you find yourself in a situation that causes you to feel anxious and out of control ensure you have a bottle of bubbles in your bag. Blowing bubbles will help you to feel calm as well as the little people around you.

Ban all clocks at night

During a period of sleep deprivation try to stop thinking about how bad your sleep is and ban yourself from looking at all clocks during the night. Practising mindfulness and relaxation can really help to take the pressure off sleep. Rather than churning thoughts over in your mind imagine them on leaves floating past or moving in and out of your head like a breeze moving through the trees.

The 10-minute power nap

If you are tired but are not able to nap. Try lying down on the floor, knees bend hands out to the side and close your eyes. Then breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. The experts say if you do this for 10 minutes every day you are in fact reaping the same benefits as if you were to have an hour and half nap.  So much so it is a technique used by world leaders and CEO’s all over the world

Smile

I know at times it is the last thing you feel like doing but when you feel rubbish try smiling. Each time you smile you throw a little feel good party in your brain. A smile allows the notorious party animals endorphins dopamine and serotonin to start whooping it up. Plus, as a bonus these endorphins sever as a natural pain relieve and act as the body’s own opiate.

Take a 24-hour tech break

Try and have a break from the technology at least one day a week. A tech mini break can help reduce stress, social anxiety and give you more time to get things done and improve relationships.

Early to bed

Once or twice a week go to bed at the same time as your children. Even if you cant sleep keep on telling yourself that rest is just as important as sleep

Define your day

It is really important to define what a good day looks like. If this is getting out to a coffee shop, then the simple trick of learning to be ok with doing less will really help you to readjust to your life as a new mum. Even now my kids are that bit older I still must remind myself that that it really is ok to only make one trip out a day and not to beat myself up if we don’t do more things.

Use self-promotion

Using self-talk to help prepare your mindset particularly when it comes to tricky bedtime and night time waking’s can be beneficial. Try saying out loud or writing down on a piece of a paper. “I am a calm, gentle loving parent” or I am confident, capable and in charge. Doing this will help get you into a success mindset and will help you feel calm and in control.

And finally, a lovely idea to help new parents survive the disordered stage of parenthood from Pinky Mckay Author of the bestselling book “Parenting by Heart”

She suggests that you take a piece of string  tie knots along it to represent each decade of your life. When you realise what a small proportion of your life span is going to be involved with this intense stage of parenting you may find it easier to accept that although chaos reigns it is only for a short time in the overall scheme of things.

If you would like to book some time with me to discuss and sleep concerns you may have for your baby or toddler, please visit my consultations pages to find out more about what package might be best for your needs.

 

 

 

10 more tips to help improve baby sleep Baby Sleep

10 more tips to help improve baby sleep –…

Welcome to  the second part of my popular Instagram Christmas Count down. Here are another “10 Top Tips” to help improve baby sleep and ensure you also get a better night sleep in 2019.

Number One – Pink Noise

The word lullaby means to sing to sleep. For the best effect turn up the music at bedtime with pink noise softly in the background.  Turn the pink noise up and allow it to continue playing after the music ends.

Number Two – Increase Day Time Feeds

Babies over 3 months old can become very distracted during the day.  This often means they don’t feed a lot and then need to make up for it at night time. It can be helpful to wear a brightly coloured necklace while you feed them.  This will help them to focus on breastfeeding for a little longer.

Number Three – Overtiredness

Does your little one fall asleep very quickly during the day only to then awake several times during the night?  This could be a result of sleep deprivation. Ideally they should take between 15-20 minutes to fall asleep at bedtime.  Anything less and they could be overtired.  Working on preventing sleep debt throughout the day will make a big difference to night-time baby sleep.

Number Four – Create Bedtime Harmony

Help make bedtimes easier and boost cooperation from your toddler. Enable them to feel strong and smart by once or twice a day making yourself seem silly and weak. You might like to act scared if he growls like a lion or have a race and let her win.

Number Five – Comforters

Are you struggling to introduce your baby to comforter/transitional object? Try putting your T-shirt over the teddy so they are naturally drawn towards your scent.

Number Six – Morning Light

Controlling when your little one goes to sleep at night and when they nap in the day is easier said than done. The one thing you can control though is what time you start the day.  Use the morning light to help reset their body clock.  Try and start your day within the same half an hour window.  If you need to wake up gently, rather than using an alarm clock, try the bedtime feature on your iPhone, it definitely saved my mental wellbeing.

Number Seven – Sibling Bedtimes

Do your little ones share a room which often results in a manic bedtime? If one of your children is older perhaps put your younger child to bed 15-20 minutes earlier than your older one. This way your little one is able to fall asleep and you get to spend quality one on one time with your older child.  This is often crucial for ensuring a smooth bedtime.

Number Eight – Diminishing Nightmares

If you go away together, your little ones may end up in rooms that they find scary or unfamiliar. A trick that works really well is to turn off the lights, sit with them in the dark and visually turn all the nasty looking shadows into friendly cuddly creatures.

Number Nine – Bed-time Modelling

Using modelling and role play during the day can be really brilliant in helping your baby sleep and get over their fears of being alone at night. You can start when they are as little as 6 months and have them follow you around while you act out the bedtime routine with a teddy or a stuffed animal.

With older children you might like to alternate who plays the role of the parent.  The idea is that by acting out the bedtime routine they are gently reassured that all is well when they go to sleep.

Number Ten – Oxytocin – the wonder hormone

Increasing your own oxytocin levels can do wonders when dealing with stressful situations surrounding sleep.  It helps increase your feelings of calmness and contentment.  A simple but effective way to do this is by listening to soothing music for 30 minutes a day, even better if you can sing along!

So there you have it; Part Two of my Christmas count down! If you missed Part One you can find it here.

Remember to follow me on Instagram @helpbabysleep where I provide regular sleep tips and updates.

There is no doubt that your baby’s sleep is highly individualised.  This is why sometimes it can be helpful to have a personalised sleep consultation.  I also offer a trouble-shooting call service. 

Find out more about my packages here.

 

Positive mindset when it comes to sleep and new parents Baby Sleep

Positive sleep mindset for new parents

If there is one thing I have learned since becoming a mum its that positive sleep mindset is absolutely key when it comes to dealing with disturbed infant sleep, particularly in the middle of the night.

Positive sleep mindset for parents

Why? Ultimately, you are your baby’s mirror.  How you feel and behave when trying to calm and resettle them is going to affect how they  behave and feel.  If you go into your baby at night in a state of high alert and anxiety then they will  quickly pick up on your worry.  That could be from the way you are breathing, to the way you feel when you hold them and it will take a lot longer for them to calm them down and eventually fall back to sleep.

Pause before responding

So what can you do? The most important lesson I learnt when I my son was tiny and one that I now share with all the families I work with is to learn to PAUSE.  This is not the same as not responding when your baby cries out in the middle of the night, it simply means that you take a moment to gain composure and ground yourself before you go rushing in. It simply involves taking 4-5 deep breaths and thinking about what you are about to do in response to your baby’s cries and whether it is going to help or hinder sleep.

Remember too that often your baby may cry out in their sleep or as they transition from one sleep stage to the next. If you go to them too quickly you can sometimes unintentionally end up rousing your baby fully whereas if you had left them they might still be asleep.

Of course there are times when your baby wakes fully because they have needs be them physical or emotional that need fulfilling.  In these instances, the PAUSE approach will help you to think about your next move. Remember, a confident parent leads to a happier and a more confident baby who will be easier to settle.

Be in the moment

It is also really important that when you are settling your baby in the middle of the night you only focus on the moment in hand and don’t worry about what is going to happen in the next 5, 10,15 or even 30 minutes. Simply focus on your breathing and seeing to your baby’s needs in the best way possible.

Personalised Sleep Consultations

Having the confidence to know what works and what doesn’t for you baby is crucial. This is also why a personalised sleep consultation can often be really beneficial.  It takes into account you and your baby’s individual needs.  When it comes to sleep solutions there is not one size fits all. To find out more about how I work to support parents and their children, visit my services pages

Help with establishing nap times Baby Sleep

Help with establishing nap times

When it comes to setting great baby sleep routines, nap times can be one of the most notoriously tricky problems for parents to solve.  There are numerous debates about how long they should be and when they should happen.

Although there is a lot of literature about the importance of naps to prevent overtiredness – the number and timing of naps is less evidence based and very much based on the experience of the parent in relation to the individual baby or child.

Why is it important to maintain baby nap times?

Studies show that problems occur when babies miss their naps, or their awake windows are too long between their naps.  This leads to a build-up of cortisol which in turn can lead to frequent night wakings and early morning rising.  In addition it can impact on your child’s sleep architecture over the course of the night leading to more periods of REM- active sleep in which your baby is much more likely to wake up.

It can help when looking at naps to imagine your baby has a sleep tank.  When they wake in the morning this is full and as the day progresses it empties.  Naps are crucial in order to prevent the level of fuel in their tank becoming dangerously low and causing overtiredness.

What can you do to prevent the sleep tank from running dry?

Whist there are recommended guidelines according to age for how much sleep on average your baby needs in a 24-hour period, each baby is unique. This is very much the case when it comes to the amount of sleep that they need during the day.

Babies tend to fall in the following two categories – those who have frequent cat naps and those who have longer infrequent naps.

As for which type of nap is best for your baby, at present there is little evidence to suggest one way is better than the other.  For parents longer naps are easier as it means more predictability and the freedom to get on with things whilst your baby sleeps.

What is important however, is the distribution of your baby’s naps throughout the day which will enable them to fall asleep easily when it comes to their next nap and subsequently bedtime.

How do you know what the right awake time is for your baby between naps?

Again, this is very much age dependent and varies from one baby to the next.  If  your baby becomes overtired before their first nap of the day, it can then make it difficult to fall asleep and can also affect sleep duration.  This then has a knock-on effect on subsequent naps and bedtime.

Ideally the awake window between when your baby wakes up and their first nap wants to be the shortest of the day.  A 1 month old baby may have a window of around 45 minutes from waking.  This then tends to increase to around 2 hours by the time your baby is 6 months old and becomes increasing longer as they head towards their one year birthday.

As the day progresses your baby’s awake windows may increase slightly in length dependant on the duration and quality of their previous nap but the trick is to try as much as possible never to exceed the maximum age appropriate recommended awake time.

Recommended Awake Windows

1 month old.  1st Awake Window 45 mins max  Subsequent Awake Windows 1 hour max

2 months old. 1st Awake Window 45 mins -1 hour max Subsequent Awake Windows 1.5 hours max

3 months old. 1st Awake Window 45 mins -1 hour max Subsequent Awake Windows 1.5 hours max

4 months old. 1st Awake Window  1 -1.30 hour max Subsequent Awake Windows 2 hours max

5 months old.1st Awake Window  1 -2 hours max  Subsequent Awake Windows 2 hours max

6 months old. 1st Awake Window  2 hours max Subsequent Awake Windows 2 – 3 hours max

7 months old. 1st Awake Window  2 hours max Subsequent Awake Windows  3 hours max

8 months old. 1st Awake Window  2 – 2.5 hours max Subsequent Awake Windows  3 hours max

9 months old. 1st Awake Window  2 – 3 hours max Subsequent Awake Windows 3 – 3.5 hours max

10 months old. 1st Awake Window  2 – 3 hours max Subsequent Awake Windows 3-4 hours max

11 months old. 1st Awake Window  2 – 3 hours max Subsequent Awake Windows 3-4 hours max

12 months old. 1st Awake Window  2 – 3 hours max Subsequent Awake Windows 3-4 hours max

With older babies it can also be helpful to ensure that nap times, meal times and bedtimes happen around the same time every day to help reorganise your child’s body clock.  This helps to set a predictable routine when your baby’s body will come to recognise sleep time.

Nap time routine:Do you feel like you could use some extra support ?

There is no doubt that naps are highly personalised.  It can often lead to parents scratching their head as to when and for how long their baby should be sleeping.  This is why sometimes it can be helpful to have a personalised sleep consultation, alternatively I also offer a trouble-shooting call service.  Find out more about my packages here.