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Night wakings 5 tips to address them The Blog

Night Wakings: 5 Ways to address them

As a new parent it is only a matter of weeks of night wakings before you start looking forward to the moment when your new baby will start sleeping through the night.

More than often your wish becomes a realisation around the 6-month mark  but for many parents’ months can go by and your little one is still waking in the night.

If this sounds familiar then you might want to read on to discover my 5 Key reasons as to why the night wakes may be happening.

Hopefully once you have identified the reason or reasons behind their night waking it will enable you to make the necessary changes and before long you will all be enjoying a night of peaceful sleep and restoration.

5 tips to address night wakings?

The first reason why your baby may be waking at night or early in the morning is because their awake windows during the day are too long. Awake windows are crucial when it comes to our little one’s sleep. These windows of wakefulness essentially dictate how much sleep our babies will have throughout a 24-hour period. If you leave your baby too long before putting them down for a nap – cortisol will override the sleep pressure and rather than dropping of they will struggle to fall and stay asleep.

Ensure your baby is having adequate sleep over a 24 hour period

The second thing you need to look at if your baby is waking regularly in the night is the overall amount of sleep that they are having in a 24-hour period.  Although this differs hugely between babies if they are getting either too little or too much over and above the recommended guidelines it can dramatically increase night awakening and early risings.

Night feeds can also be a cause of constant night waking’s although it is important to remember that babies especially new born babies sleep lightly and wake often for a reason. It is crucial that they can wake for their night feeds and only when they are physically able to sleep for between 10 -12 hours without needing a feed should you consider trying to remove them altogether. It is important to remember however, that if you are still feeding your baby at night it shouldn’t have to mean no sleep. It is perfectly possible to still have one feed during the night and have good sleep. In fact, is can be beneficial for many breast-feeding mothers to keep up with one feed a night during the first year of their baby’s life as it helps keep up their supply.

Manage your expectations it is perfectly normal for babies to wake fully once or twice during the night in the first 2 years of their lives

It is important to manage your expectations when it comes to night waking’s and your baby’s sleep particularly around the time of major developmental milestones.  During a developmental leap your baby will spend a huge proportion of their night in light sleep.  It is during these stages of light sleep that they take the information from the day and put it in to their long-term memory. It is therefore not surprising that around the time of major developmental milestones that their sleep is lighter as it is this sleep which allows them to process the new motor or mental skills that they have learnt.  When your baby is in  light sleep they are much more likely to wake and therefore during these periods of major development expect them to fully arouse more than normal.  The key is to be patient with them and on yourself, and not set unrealistic expectations when it comes to their sleep at night.  Help them at night waking’s and don’t expect them to self soothe overnight. More than often once they have learnt their new skill/skills they will start to sleep through again.

Sleep Associations are often the cause of night waking’s

Finally, the last thing you need to be aware of when it comes to understanding why you baby may be waking at night are sleep associations.  Whatever you are doing at bedtime be it feeding them to sleep, rocking, patting, holding them in your arms it may well be that when they wake during their nightly sleep cycles they will require you to do the same again for them to fall asleep. This is not a problem as long as you are able to sustain it but there may come a point when feeding your baby to sleep every two hours is not working for you or your family. If this is the case, then you may like to think about trading one association for another that doesn’t directly involve you.

 

If you would like any more sleep tips and suggestions, please do get in touch for your free initial 15 – minute chat with me.


What kind of sleep issue does your child have quiz! 

 

 

Baby awake - early morning wakeups Baby Sleep

Early Morning Wake-ups: 5 Tips to manage them

How to manage your little ones early morning wake-ups is a topic I get asked about more than anything else.

If for no other reason, than between the hours of 4 AM and 6 AM there is no other place than we as parents would rather be than in our beds fast asleep and more than often our little ones have very different ideas.

The first thing to remember when addressing early morning wake-ups is that you need to be aware of the time that you can realistically expect your little one to sleep for at night.

For example, if you are regularly putting your 1 year old to bed at 6.30 then you can reasonably expect them to be able to sleep for between 10-12 hours. This means they are likely to wake anywhere between 4.30 AM and 6.30 AM – depending on their individual sleep requirements and you may find you have an early wakeup around 5AM simply because they have actually fulfilled their sleep needs.

Top 5 Tips on how to help you manage these early morning wake-ups

TOP TIP NUMBER ONE: Keep the bedroom dark

It is important to ensure that your little ones bedroom is as dark as possible. If the blue early morning light is coming through the window and hitting the back of your child’s eyes it will wake them despite their eyes being closed. Try and make their sleeping zone as dark as possible with the use of black out blinds and heavy curtains. Once you child has woken, it is crucial that you keep them in their darkened room even if it means holding them as darkness will help reset their circadian rhythm and encourage them to wake up later over a period of 5 to 10 days.

TOP TIP NUMBER TWO: Ensure there are no unusual early morning noises

Try and ensure that the noise in your child’s room is constant. Any abnormal noise particularly at 5 AM in the morning when they are coming out of light sleep will potentially cause them to wake. Think about investing in a white noise machine that you can keep on all night and that will block out external noise such as planes and the central heating kicking in.

TOP TIP NUMBER THREE: Check the room temperature in the early morning

Make sure that your little one is not waking early because they are either too hot or too cold. Our body temperature needs to drop around 5 AM to help us stay asleep and if your child is over-bundled this will not be able to happen and they may well wake. Equally, if they are too cold this will cause them to wake as well. In the winter months you might like to think about warming their bed with a wheaten bag before removing it and popping them back in it.

TOP TIP NUMBER FOUR: Check out the gap between nap-time and bed-time

Ensuring that your child is having the correct sleep dispersal throughout the day is also key to preventing early morning wakeups. Often if your little one is having too much afternoon sleep too close to bedtime it can lead to an early wakeup. It is also important to ensure that your child is having the correct awake-times for their age to allow sleep pressure to build and to curtail the rise of too much cortisol which can subsequently lead to issues with night waking’s.

TOP TIP NUMBER FIVE: Establish good sleep habits

Another cause of early morning waking’s can be habitual. If your little one is used to waking at 4.30 AM and they are coming out of their bedroom and  interacting with you, then it is going to be important to set limits. You might like to invest in an a morning wake up sound clock or a gro -clock which uses light and pictures to alert your little one that is time to get up. You might also like to create a reward chart which allows them to win a small prize for staying in their room until the time that you agree they can get up.


If you have considered all the above and your baby is still waking then it might be time to look at an appropriate gentle sleep intervention which fits in with you and your family’s philosophy to help them sleep.

It is worth bearing in mind that morning interventions can take a lot longer than bedtime interventions because you simply don’t have science on your side at this time in the morning.


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 an SOS sleep consultation.

 

 

 

 

 

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My 5 Top Tips on how to get your…

My 5 Top Tips on How to get your little ones to sleep without the Bedtime Battle

You more than likely know the feeling – it comes to bedtime and no matter what you do you cannot get your child to fall asleep.

In your mind they should be tired!  They have been awake for several hours and you have led them through a well signposted bedtime routine full of gentle and effective sleep cues.

The problem is, the closer it gets to your baby’s bedtime the more awake they seem to become. So what can you do to overcome this issue.

1.One of the first and most simple things you can do is to identify the time your baby actually becomes tired even if it is much later than your preferred bedtime and use this as a starting point.

2.It is important that your baby associates their bedtime routine with feeling drowsy so even if you have to wait a few hours before you begin it is much better than trying to sign post bedtime when they are still wide awake. Because your baby is naturally drowsy at this time they will quickly fall asleep and you can spend the 20 -30 minutes leading up to it, taking them through a gentle routine of calm and pleasant bedtime activities.

3.As your baby learns to associate their bedtime routine with falling asleep you can then gradually move your baby’s bedtime making it 10 -15 minutes earlier until you have reached your desired bedtime hour.


4.The other thing you can do is  to stay with your child while they fall asleep and over a period of nights your pay progressively less attention to them.

For instance, over a few days you might touch your baby less often and instead of lying on their bed your might sit on a chair next to their bed. The next step would be to move the chair into the middle of the room and the step after that would be to move the chair to the door.

By making these gradual changes your baby is weaned off having to go through an extensive parental soothing routine in order to sleep. After a few days you might start leaving the room and returning when your baby begins to cry. This helps your baby learn that you can be trusted to return after an absence but you will always remain in their presence while they fall asleep.

5.If your baby wakes in the middle of the night you can try the same approach but as your baby gets used to you not being in the room you might be able to wait for slightly longer before returning.

Which ever approach you choose your once fractious bedtimes should seem a thing of the past!

It is important to remember though with all these things how you behave around your baby is crucial in setting the scene for a calm and stress free night time routine. If you are stressed and anxious about what is going to happen they your baby will pick up on this and will mirror your behaviour.

One of the best ways to ensure both you and your baby are relaxed before attempting to put them to bed is to use the gentle practice of massage. It is lovely to include essential oils as well in this night time ritual so your baby learns to associate the smell with sleep or alternatively you can buy an aroma fan which will allow the smell to be present in their room.

If you would like any more sleep tips and suggestions, please do get in touch for your free 15 – minute chat with me.


What kind of sleep issue does your child have quiz!


 

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Returning to work after Maternity Leave

The End of Maternity Leave and a Pain Free Return to Work

For the majority of  mums returning to work after maternity brings about mixed feelings. On the one hand –  feelings of anticipation and potential excitement about what lies ahead but on the other hand feelings of guilt and worry about what will happen to the little person that you are leaving behind.

For many, including myself it can be a very traumatic time and one that often leads us to questioning our motives as to why we went back in the first place. Undoubtedly, we all have our reasons, for me it was a combination of financial pressures and a want to return to the life that I had led prior to having my son.

The first few months…….

When I look back now at those first few months of being back at work, I realise that the real reason I found it so difficult was the fact that I was severely sleep deprived. My now 6-month-old son had not slept well since he was born and the recent changes to his daily routine had only helped to compound the situation. Not only did this make it harder to leave my very young baby at nursery everyday but it also made the job that I had once found so enjoyable almost unbearable. I could no longer remember anything that had happened the day before and as for learning new concepts or understanding new office systems, it was virtually impossible. This left me feeling inadequate and totally demoralised.

In truth, I felt like I could no longer look after my baby doing the job that I had spent the last 6 months doing and I also wasn’t able to carry out the role that I had once excelled at.

The option of resting during the day whilst I made up for lost sleep the night before was no longer possible and this vicious cycle began to play havoc not only with my physical health but also with my mental health and self -esteem.

My Moment of Realisation

It was at my lowest ebb a couple of months in to my return that I realised that there was another way.

If I was able to educate myself as to what was going on with my little boy’s sleep and the reasons as to why he was waking up this would massively improve my mental outlook.

For rather than spending my days worrying about what if and why – I was able to appreciate all the developmental and biological changes that he was going through and how these in some way were impacting on his sleep.

I also developed an approach to helping him self settle that not only was gentle on him but also on myself. I think that when you are in a sleep deprived state however, much people tell you it is ok to leave your child to cry the answer is it just isn’t.

All children like us want to feel safe and secure and they need to have the reassurance that when they wake during the night (which they will) everything is going to be the same as it was when they went to sleep.

For this reason, I concentrated all my efforts of ensuring my son felt happy and comfortable in his cot so that he knew when I went out the door at night he was going to be ok and that I would always return.

Empowering Mums

That was nearly 5 years ago and now I have a happy little boy who sleeps through the night and for the most part loves going to school every morning with few complaints.

This experience also brought home to me just how difficult it is for so many mums like myself returning to work, however much you want to go back it is just never the same.

This realisation was one of the main reasons why I decided to set up Help Baby Sleep and to help empower and give all Mums the confidence and the tools to deal with their baby’s sleep or lack of. No one should have to go without sleep – there is a reason why they use it as a method of torture because it is.

As Katy Brand said recently on BBC Radio 4’s, The Infinite Monkey Cage “, I go crazy when I don’t have enough sleep. The impact of two or three nights of badly disrupted sleep is enough to a have massive impact on my general outlook. I am no longer able to see things in a positive light, everything becomes a catastrophe, I can’t cope with anything and everything makes me sit down and have a cry on the kitchen floor.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself it becomes impossible to cope with anything let alone the demands of a job without it.

So what advice would I give to my mummy friends returning to work.

  1. Firstly, don’t be too hard on yourself – set realistic expectations and if you don’t fulfil them there is always tomorrow/ next week.
  2. Be gentle on yourself and your children, remember they are still tiny and everyday something is happening within their bodies and brains that may well have an impact on their behaviour and sleep.
  3. Take time for yourself – even it is just for 10 minutes when you can close the door and go lie down on the floor, knees bent hands out to the side, breathing in and out slowly through your nose and out through your mouth. This is a technique practised by CEO’s and World leaders that equates to having 1.5 hours of sleep.
  4. If everything gets too much – don’t be afraid to ask for help, however hard it might seem at the time, I promise you it is a lot easier than not doing anything about at all.

Remember returning to work is a highly admirable achievement and just because you are not spending all day, every day with your children you have given birth fed and nurtured them and you will never stop being their mother.

You should feel immensely proud of yourself and never let anyone else tell you otherwise.

If you have any concerns about your child’s sleep and how it may be affecting you, please do get in touch for your free 15-minute consultation.

Newborn sleep The Blog

Newborn Sleep: The Secret Behind it

All you need to know about  Newborn Sleep

There is nothing more incredible than the moment you are handed your newborn baby even though your are aware that your know very little about them let alone what to expect when it comes to newborn sleep, it is a moment of pure joy, of pure intoxicating love.

This little person who you have been carrying round in your womb for the last 9 months is finally here.

Discover my top 7 tips when it comes to Newborn Sleep

You may have spent the last forty weeks trying to discover as much as you can about how to care for your newborn but, however much you try and learn, nothing can really prepare you for that moment. Suddenly you have a little person who is totally and utterly dependant on you in every possible way. For many Mums this can be totally overwhelming and can often leave you feeling quite anxious at times. Not only are you left trying to work out how on earth to feed your new bundle of joy but how to comfort them and settle them to sleep.

 

 

Sleep and the First Few Weeks

In the very early days it may seem like your new baby has their days and nights muddled up and this is more than often because they do! While they are in the womb they borrow their mother’s circadian rhythm but once they are born they don’t have one of their own.

Setting their  24-hour clock so it becomes more like yours will enable them to distinguish the difference between day and night.  A good way to do this is by exposing them to plenty of sunlight during the day  and  at night time ensure that the lights are dimmed and noise is kept to a minimum.

In the first weeks and months of your new baby’s life they will spend most of their time asleep unless they are being fed, winded or changed. As a gentle guideline, I always suggest to parents that their new baby is awake for no longer than 45 minutes to an hour at a time.  Your baby really doesn’t need to be stimulated by anything other than the cuddles and gentle interaction that they already enjoy with you.

It is also important, not to have any expectations of your newborn when it comes to their sleep. Anatomically babies have very small tummies, only allowing them to  feed little and often so will sleep in small two to three hour stints with slightly longer periods at night .As they grow and become stronger towards the end of the first six to eight weeks you will notice that the time they are able to sleep overnight increases. This is  primarily  down to the fact they now have bigger stomachs and can now produce enough melatonin to enable them to sleep for longer periods of time at night.

 

Your Sleep during the early weeks

Sleep deprivation is unfortunately inevitable when your new baby arrives.  As much as you might feel like you need to get household chores done when your new baby sleeps, don’t!  You must try to sleep during the day when your baby sleeps.  These small cat naps will increase your power and energy to do your daily activities.  ( Martyrdom doesn’t quite help in these situations , so don’ t try and be the perfect wife and mother so soon!) If you have a partner who can give baby their feeds, it is helpful for them to give the first night feed, allowing you to have a longer rest before the next feed.

If for some reason you are unable to sleep during the day, then you can try this exercise which is used by world leaders and CEO’s. The effect is said to feel like the equivalent of having one and a half hours sleep!

Lie down on your back, knees bent, arms out to the side and breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth remain in this position for 10 minutes.

What To do If your Newborn is not Sleeping 

(My Top 7 Tips to Help Them Sleep)

If you baby is feeding well at the beginning and is not unwell or suffering from other health issues, then they should be able to fall asleep and stay asleep for several hours. If, however they aren’t  and are only sleeping for 15 minutes stints then are several things that you can do to try and improve the situation.

1.Firstly, it is important to ensure that your baby is getting adequate milk. It does take roughly 6 weeks to establish your supply of breastmilk.  Eating a well balanced diet is crucial for a good supply of milk, so it is important to look after yourself during this period.

There are various remedies to help  if you think your milk supply is low. One commonly used one is  the Alfafa complex tincture. This can be purchased  from any  Organic Pharmacy although it is important to speak to your doctor before taking any herbal remedies. If you are bottle feeing your baby and you think that they are not getting enough food, you may want to consider switching them onto another more filling formula.

2. As well as ensuring your baby is full after every feed so that they are able to fall asleep, it is also important to ensure the environment in which your baby sleeps is conducive to sleep. Sensory overload and over stimulation during the day and at night will prevent your baby from falling asleep.  This inability to sleep because of the overload  is often mistaken for colic.

3.One of the best things you can do to help to calm your new born baby it is to swaddle them as this helps to recreates the cosy space that they had in the womb. Swaddling also helps prevent the startle reflex which is often the reason why they wake up suddenly after 15 minutes.

4.During the first three months touch is also a very powerful calming tool.  Holding and touching our babies and recreating the skin to skin contact that they had at birth , or allowing them to touch/ suck themselves at night time we help to stimulate the release of oxytocin hormones which has a calming effect and puts them in a good mood. It also  helps to build up tolerance to stressful situations.

I recommend touching more firmly or patting  as a hand on a fractious baby who seems to be fighting sleep. is often successful as it helps to make them feel contained. You may also like to cup their face with your hand and you can also put your check against their face too.

5.Sound is another powerful settling tool as your baby can hear even before they are born, and they are used to hearing the swishing sound of the blood running through your arteries. This noise is the equivalent to pink noise and there are lots of amazing apps and gadgets which you can use to recreate this noise to help your baby settle.

My favourite is the Whisbear ,which not only mimics the sounds they would have heard whilst in your womb but it also has a cry sensor that comes on every time you baby cries effectively helping him transition to the next sleep stage. Your voice is also equally powerful as they would have a heard this while they were inside your womb  along with any soothing music that you may have been listening to whilst pregnant.

One thing is certain though your baby prefers the human voice over all sounds and most of all yours. So, when your newborn is struggling to settle it can be very effective to sing to them or talk to them in a calm and understanding way.

6.Your smell is also very effective when it comes to soothing them and inducing sleep. I often used to place a small amount of breastmilk on a muslin and place it in my babies’ cots. If you aren’t breastfeeding, then you can transfer your own smell by sleeping with a muslin in your bed for a few days or wearing it next to your skin under your top.

Did you know that your newborn baby can recognise your face an hour after birth? This  means that they are able to see your facial expressions from day one. With this in mind, it is important to remember that you are your babies mirror, so you need to be demonstrating to them that you are calm and happy as opposed to distressed and anxious. If at any time when calming your newborn, you feel these emotions either hand them to someone else or leave them safely in their cot and take a moment to go out the room – pause breathe and gain your composure before coming back into comfort them.

7.Movement is also a wonderful calming tool and can be used to help your newborn sleep. During the day it is a good idea to take your baby out for a stroll in their pram or in the baby carrier.  If your baby is fighting sleep in their cot, one way to try and calm them is to pick them up with one hand under their bottom and gently rock them from side to side.

 

And finally, …

Remember each day will be different as you get to know your baby. Don’t hold back on touching and holding them close during the first months of their life.  It is important that you demonstrate to them that they are loved and are safe.  All babies are born with the ability to self soothe so if you do see them reaching for the fingers or thumb to use before settling to sleep try and encourage it as it will only help you later.  Most importantly ensure that you don’t overstimulate your baby, feeding, and sleeping are really the most important thing for them to be doing during the first weeks of their lives.

Enjoy this special and magical time and please try to relax as much as you possibly can. You deserve it after all your have been through!

If you would like any more baby sleep tips and suggestions, please do get in touch for your free 15-minute chat with me.

 

 

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The Top 10 Golden Rules to Tackle an Early…

The Top 10 Goldent Rules to Tackle an Early Riser

Do you have an early riser?

Waking early is a clear sign that your little ones sleep cycle is set to wake and that they think that this is an acceptable time for them to start the day.

Unless you are a particularly early riser yourself it is likely that you will have other ideas!

So what can you do if your child is waking at 5 am everyday.

The good news is that you can reset their cycle and that they can be restful for an hour or two more.

Here are my 10 golden rules to tackle an early riser.

1.Do not what ever you do start your day at 5AM.

2Do not leave your child to cry for a long period as this will teach him that to begin the day he will need to cry but rather go in and quietly and calmly see to their needs be it to change their nappy give them
a drink or if they are still having a feed, feed them.

3.Match your level of response to their level of response but try to avoid picking them up as they will only become more distressed when you place them back in their cot instead use your presence, voice and touch and deep breathing  to soothe them.

4.Your first aim is to get your child to be happy in their space not for them to go straight back to sleep – this is often a time of day your child’s body temp will have dropped so you want to ensure they are warm too.

5.Pick a time of day you want to start the day and stick to it.

6.Once your child is calm and happy it will be much easier for them to go back to sleep as there are no other cues or stimulants

7.Try not to engage with them verbally

8.Start by leaving them for 10 -15 minutes once they are calm and gradually increase this time over several days ( with children under 12 months you might prefer to stay with them and lie down so they can mirror your actions)

9.Place pictures of you and your family in their line of vision so they feel like you are still in the room with them.

10.Try putting them to bed by 15 -30 minutes earlier for a week. This might sound crazy but more sleep actually promotes sleep!

So there you have it my top ten golden rules to helping your child to gently reset their cycle allowing you and them a more restful morning.

If you would like any more suggestions and tips please do get in touch for your free 15 minute chat with me.