The Blog

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.

10 Top Tips to Help Improve your baby sleep Baby Sleep

Christmas countdown – 10 tips to improve baby sleep

Following on from the success of my Insta stories Christmas countdown here are the first “10 Top Tips” in my series of sleep tips to help improve baby sleep.

Number One – melatonin

Because your newborn baby will not start to produce melatonin until around 12 weeks of age there is no point in using black out blinds in the day. The goal at this age is to help regulate your baby’s body clock and using black out blinds will only make this harder.

Number Two – Naps

Naps are critical to prevent sleep debt as the day progresses. Too much sleep debt can cause frequent night wakings, changes to the sleep architecture and early risings. If you are worried your baby is waking too early from their nap set a timer 5 minutes before they wake and with your hand gently see if you can coax them through into another sleep cycle.

Number Three – Massage

Massage with lotion has been shown to optimise the time it takes for your baby to fall asleep – plus it also helps lengthen the duration of the sleep for babies and their mothers.

Number Four – Cot Play

To help improve night waking’s and to teach your child what to expect when they wake. Use the morning wake for cot play. Instead of getting them out of their cot, open the curtains turn on the lights and encourage them to play in their cot. This teaches them it is ok to wait and helps them to understand that you will not always immediately pick them up.

Number Five – Pink Noise

Does your baby wake frequently at night or very early in the morning? You might like to think about using pink noise which has been shown to deepen their sleep.

Number Six – Exercise

Allowing your child to have around half an hour of exercise in the afternoon between 4-5 PM can do wanders for sleep. For babies who can not yet walk, try swimming, singing, rolling supported standing or jumping.

Number Seven – Milk

To help your baby sleep better when they have a cold put a drop of fresh breastmilk in each nostril using a pipet. The immune cells and the antibodies in the milk are the only thing that fight a cold. If you are not nursing use a drop of sterile saline.

Number Eight – Gentle wake

Briefly waking your baby when you ease them into bed will bring you many hours of additional sleep and will help to prevent sleep problems later on

Number Nine – Tokens

To help limit the number of trips your little one makes out of the bedroom once lights are out – you might like to consider using bedtime tokens. Each time they get out of bed they have to give one to you and any they have left over they can swap for a small treat in the morning.

Number Ten – Gro Clock

Use your “Gro Clock” or something similar as part of your bedtime routine to help with the abstract notion of time. This is particularly helpful in the summer when the nights become lighter.

So there you have it; Part One of my Christmas Sleep Tips count down – tune in next month for Part Two.

Plus in the meantime don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @helpbabysleep where I will be bringing you daily 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.  Alternatively, I also offer a trouble-shooting call service. 

Find out more about my packages here.

 

 

 

how to help you children when the clocks change The Blog

Clocks Change: How to adjust sleep routines

The last Sunday of October brings joy for many adults.  This is due to the thought of an extra hour in bed when the clocks change back.

As a parent with young children, knowing the clocks are about to go back may be making you have the opposite feeling!  You could be concerned that your little one will now wake up at 5 AM instead of 6AM.

In reality, what can you do to help your children? My suggestions will help your children to adapt to the new time.  As a result it will enable them to wake up at the same time as the rest of the family.

What can  you do to help your children adjust when the clocks change back?

I have spoken to numerous parents, and trialled various methods over the years with my own children.  There is no doubt that the most sensible approach is to try and get our children gently used to the new time over a number of days.

“The best way to adjust your sleep cycle is to do it gradually” Stephanie Silberman, PHD, Clinical  Psychologist and Author of the Insomnia Workbook 

Our internal body clocks are pretty powerful.  It is more than likely on 28th October your child will wake up at their normal time. Try not to give in and start the day.  I suggest that over a period of mornings you try and increase the time they spend in bed by 15 minutes at a time.  This will help their body clocks to gradually reset so they are in line with the autumn clock change. I also suggest that if you haven’t done so already you invest in some good black out blinds as the mornings will now be lighter and the evenings darker.

Try adjusting mealtimes as well as waking times

As well as a slowly adapting their waking time, it will also be important to gently adapt mealtimes  throughout the day.  You might like for example to try having breakfast 15 minutes later than you would normally do, lunch 30 minutes later and supper 60 minutes later. By adjusting mealtimes in this way you are gradually helping your child’s internal clock to reset.

Tactics to help your child with the new bedtime

The final thing you will need to adjust is your child’s new bedtime. To help them last the extra hour you may like to think about employing the following tactics;

  1. Keep all your artificial lighting on for longer 
  2. Stretch out bathtime to use up some of the extra hour
  3. Read more books than normal and when you do finally put them bed read a book such “The Rabbit who wants to fall asleep” to help them feel sleepy
  4. Practice using breathing techniques to help them relax in the run up to bedtime without becoming overtired

You may find that they aren’t able to last the hour and fall asleep before you reach the desired bedtime. If so, you might like to move bedtime forward by a period of 15 minutes over a number of days.

Most importantly if things don’t work out immediately please don’t worry too much, disruption tends to be temporary. Normally it takes 3 days to a week for most children to get back on schedule.


If you can’t quite work out how to piece it all together and need a fresh set of eyes, please do get in touch for a 15 – minute sleep chat with me.