Have you ever heard the story of Catherine O’Leary’s Cow?

Back in 1871, the Chicago Tribune reported that the cause of the great Chicago Fire was a cow, Catherine O’Leary’s cow to be precise, kicking over a lantern in the barn while it was being milked.

Unfortunately, the Tribune admitted later on that it had completely fabricated the story, but that didn’t stop people from blaming Catherine and her cow from being widely blamed for one of the greatest disasters in US history.

What’s this got to do with teething, you ask?

Nothing really, except that they’re both victims of some unnecessary scapegoating.

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One of the most aggravating situations I see parents running into when they’re sleep training is the sudden onset of a minor illness when they’re finally seeing some progress.

After months of sleep issues, they finally decide to take the initiative and get serious about getting their baby onto a schedule, baby starts getting the hang of it, the whole family is starting to see longer periods of consolidated sleep, and everyone’s getting ready to break out the champagne…

And then BAM! Baby gets a cold, or an ear infection, or a bout of diarrhoea, or one of the other seven thousand illnesses that babies are prone to, and the whole thing goes off the rails.

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It’s taken you a few weeks to get your baby into a good schedule and sleeping well. Now that you’ve put in the time, effort, and energy to make this big change in your family’s life, that trip you have planned for next month is starting to stress you out! If you’re like most parents, your biggest fear is that a trip is going to derail all the progress you and your baby have made and cause you to start this process all over again. Sometimes the mere thought of it frightens parents so much that they cancel all summer trips and just vow to stay home until the child leaves for college. That is how important your baby’s new sleeping regime has become to everyone.

The good news is that you do not have to cancel all travel plans this summer and confine yourself to the house for the rest of your child’s life. It is possible to have children who travel really well, if you keep a few things in mind:

Don’t over-schedule

The biggest mistake parents make is that they over-schedule themselves. They try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might normally have had back in their “child-free” days, forgetting an important fact: They have a child now.

A nap in the car isn’t the end of the world

An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime probably isn’t going to do too much harm, but if your baby spends a couple of days taking car seat naps here and there and having late bedtimes, she may become so overtired that by the time bedtime rolls around on day two, she has a complete meltdown and seems to “forget” all her sleep skills and just cries the house down.

You may start to give into this pressure and bend your expectations for your baby’s sleep. It’s easy to see how you could revert back to your own familiar ways in no time if you gave into this pressure and fear.

Keep to your routine as much as possible

It’s very normal for babies and toddlers to test the boundaries around sleep when they are somewhere new. Just because the rule is the rule at home, that does not necessarily mean the rule is the same at Grandma’s house. This may mean that your baby cries for some time at bedtime or has a night waking or two. The best way to handle it is to not do too much different than you would if the regression happened at home. You can go in every five minutes or so to offer a bit of reassurance, but other than that, don’t bend your rules. If you hang on tight to your consistency, within the first night or two, your child will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again.

Familiar items are always handy

Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket!

Bed sharing is probably the worst idea

Another big mistake parents make is to bed share with their baby or toddler while traveling. Bed sharing is a big no-no! Even it’s it is only for a few nights, if your baby decides this is her new preferred location, you could find yourself starting all over again when you get home. Most hotels have a cot you can use or rent or take your pack and play along and use that as a cot.

Try and put your baby in another room if possible

If your child is eight months or older, my advice is to try to make some sort of a private space for your baby to sleep. This could be the bathroom (if it’s big enough) or the closet. Anywhere that you can build some sort of a partition between you and your baby, so that if she has a wake up in the middle of the night she is not so excited to see her two favourite people that she ends up wide awake thinking it’s play time! Of course, getting an extra bedroom for your child is great if that’s an option for you.

Hot nights and sweaty sheets are no fun for little babies trying to get to sleep. While you can get up, strip off and reposition a fan to cool down, your baby can’t manage her temperature so easily.

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All parents need to know how to prepare baby for the clock change

On the 25th March 2018, clocks spring forward an hour which means it’s the start of Daylight Savings Time, which also means one hour less sleep for you (boo!) I think daylight savings wreaks havoc on our sleep schedules and can increase sleep debt in both children and adults. It can be kind of like the baby has jet lag. They may be harder to put down at bedtime or awake when they’re not supposed to be. We are already a sleep-deprived nation, so losing that extra hour only makes it worse (and more dangerous). Having a fussy infant on your hands is never any fun, but thankfully there are a few tricks to helping your little one adjust to the time change.

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At the risk of generalising here, it’s been my experience that there’s usually one parent who handles the bulk of the night time responsibilities.  And that parent, in a man/woman relationship, is almost always Mum. Now, before you go accusing me of sexism of stereotyping, I’d just like to point out that there’s a reason this happens.

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“With all of the information that’s readily available online and the resources you have at your disposal in the form of friends and family who have managed to get their kids to sleep, why would you want to invite a baby sleep consultant into your home to get your child sleeping through the night?”

I don’t often hear this question phrased exactly that way, but I know it’s a concern that a lot of parents have when they’re thinking about getting some professional help with their little ones’ sleep habits.

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Chances are, if you’re considering hiring a sleep consultant, you’ve done a little bit of reading about sleep training.

Alright, truth be told, you’ve probably looked at about three hundred different websites trying to find out how to get your little one to sleep through the night.

And somewhere in all of that surfing, you’ve undoubtedly seen people raving about how their baby started going 11-12 hours a night without so much a peep, within a couple of nights.

So you followed the advice, did everything that you were supposed to do, but here it is a week and a half later, and your baby is still howling for you five or six times a night and things don’t go as planned.

So what are you doing wrong?

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Babywinkz sleep seminar Kenya

 

Sleep Seminar for Kenyan Parents

I work with many families in Kenya and all over the world helping them teach their child the wonderful skill of sleep so they sleep through the night and take their much needed naps. Read more

How Much Sleep Does A Baby Need Daily?This week’s question comes from Tracey and she writes:

“What is a normal amount of time to have a baby awake during the day so that they sleep better at night? My baby is two months old.”

Thanks Tracey! It’s a common misconception really, that if you keep the baby awake longer throughout the day, they’ll sleep better at night; the exact opposite is true. Read more