Help My Baby Won’t Sleep - Importance of Self Soothing

Happy Christmas

“My baby won’t sleep” is a typical comment from lots of parents. However, all babies are different and sometimes the unintentional behaviour of parents can make it difficult for babies to learn self soothing techniques. As babies get older they begin to self soothe at night – that is, they settle back to sleep on their own. In this article we’ll look at the importance of self soothing and offer some tips to help your baby learn to self soothe, giving you all a better night’s sleep.

The Importance of Self Soothing

For newborn babies the world is a scary place and our job is to reassure and comfort them. Tiny babies often fall asleep during a feed but when they wake they can be distressed and we soothe them back to sleep, perhaps by singing, cuddling or rocking them.

Around the age of three to six months many babies begin to self soothe. They still wake at night, perhaps several times, but they realise they are in familiar surroundings and settle quickly. It’s been found that self soothing babies generally sleep longer each night, and get longer unbroken periods of sleep too, so helping your baby to self soothe is really important when it comes to regulating baby sleep patterns.

However, when a baby cries at night and is immediately picked up and cuddled, they don’t get the chance to learn to self soothe, and this results in endless broken nights for parents.

Tips for self soothing

Self soothing isn’t something you can teach your baby but you can help them learn this important skill.

Regular bedtime routine

A regular bedtime routine is really important when trying to establish good baby sleep patterns. Be consistent with bedtime, and include three or four soothing activities, such as a bath, a feed, a cuddle and a story or song. Keep the lights in the bedroom low and place a special toy or comfort blanket in the cot at night. This will create a unique atmosphere that your baby will soon associate with bedtime.

Don’t rock your baby to sleep

Many parents enjoy the closeness of a cuddle and feed at bedtime, but if you always put your baby to bed once they are asleep they’ll never learn how to self soothe. Try putting baby to bed when they are still awake, being aware of their surroundings will help them to self soothe when they wake at night. Many babies grizzle when you put them to bed – don’t immediately lift them from the cot, but give them a few minutes to settle on their own.

Waking at night

If you know your baby is not hungry or distressed leave them for a few minutes to see if they will settle themselves. If you need to comfort them, trying patting them or stroking them rather than lifting them from the cot. If they learn to settle without being cuddled they will find it much easier to self soothe in future.

What to do if your baby won’t self soothe

Sometimes babies are overtired at bedtime and they find it impossible to settle on their own, so it’s worth bringing bedtime forward by half an hour to see if this makes a difference. But ultimately self soothing is just another stage of a baby’s development. Just as babies learn to crawl and walk at different ages, they learn to self soothe at different times too. If your baby is not able to self soothe now stop and try again in a week or even a month’s time.

As this is the last post before Christmas, I hope you, your family and friends have an enjoyable and festive day.

regards

Judy

When and how much napping should infants, toddlers & preschoolers have?

Everyone knows that the older a child gets, the fewer naps he or she needs. Yet, few really are aware of just how much sleep a child needs. Additionally, as parents we aim to have our children sleep to our own schedule, which may or may not fit your child’s. Here is some guidance for parents on napping and sleep requirements for children of various ages.

Newborn Sleep (1-2 months)

Newborns seem to sleep more than they are awake. And it seems they like to wake in the middle of the night. This is because unlike adults and older children, a newborn’s sleep cycle operates not on daylight, but on their own internal needs: feeding, changing and love. Newborns actually sleep between 10 ½ and 18 hours per day. They wake for short periods of 1-3 hours only. As parents, we can begin to hope for a more regular sleep routine by exposing our newborns to light, activity and noise during the daytime, and then providing a dimmer, quieter environment during the evenings. However, don’t get your hopes up that they will be sleeping through the night by the end of two months.

Infant Sleep (3-11 months)

Infants sleep between 9 and 12 hours at night and take two naps during the day lasting around and hour to two hours. This is an exciting time for parents, as they finally get some much deserved sleep!

But don’t enable bad infant sleeping habits. A baby needs to learn how to fall asleep on their own, so put them to bed awake. This reduces the incidents of crying at night, as they learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own. It is also important that you develop and adhere to consistent sleeping and napping schedules over this period of time, especially at bedtime. Whether it’s a warm lavender bath or music before bed, you want to develop triggers that cue baby to sleep.

Toddler Sleep (1-3 years)

Just when you thought you had the whole sleep issue conquered, suddenly your infant becomes a toddler and the schedule starts breaking down. Toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep per day, but their nap times will decrease from 2 nap periods to one at around 18 months. This is the time when children begin to develop a resistance to going to bed or taking naps. Nightmares and night terrors may also develop during this time.

Again, consistency and routine are key. As a parent, you will have to set behavioural limits and enforce them. Communication is important, as toddlers develop these skills quickly at this age. Reassure your child without giving into their insecurities. A blanket or a stuffed animal can help them feel secure when you’re not in the room.

Preschooler Sleep (3-5 years)

By this time, children need much less sleep: 11-13 hours each night and no naps after they reach five years old. Preschoolers have many of the same problems as toddlers: resistance to sleeping, nightmares and may even develop sleepwalking habits. Keep a regular preschool sleep routine, especially as they approach school age. Keep in mind they may need to get up earlier and experience a need to nap again if they enter preschool. A return to naps should be temporary and many preschools incorporate ‘quiet time’ into the daily schedule.

Bed sharing with your baby the risks - Baby Winkz Blog

Bed Sharing or Co-sleeping with your Baby ?

Many experts and parenting authorities have come out against parents sharing their bed with their infants, citing safety concerns. On the other side, organisations that promote attachment parenting or breast feeding believe the benefits outweigh the risks.

Bed-sharing and co-sleeping are closely related: bed-sharing involves the infant sharing the same bed as one or more parent, and co-sleeping involves the infant sleeping close to, but on a different surface than, the parent(s). Here, we will mostly address bed-sharing with your newborn or infant. Let’s look at both sides of the debate in detail.

The Risks of Bed-Sharing

Experts cite studies showing an increase in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation amongst newborns and infants who engage in bed-sharing. The increased risk comes from soft mattresses, loose sheets and blankets, pillows and other impediments to infant breathing. There is also an increased risk of a parent rolling over onto the child, crushing or suffocating it. Opponents also point to the risk of death and injury from falling off the bed or becoming wedged between the wall and the mattress.

Beyond the physical risk, opponents claim that bed-sharing or co-sleeping create stress for a child once they are expected to sleep alone. Another claim is an unhealthy dependence of the child upon the mother or father. Finally, co-sleep may interfere with a healthy relationship between the mother and father, as it reduces sexual intimacy and communication at bedtime.

The Advantages of Bed-sharing

One of the most cited arguments for bed-sharing is that sleeping outside the parental bed is a relatively recent phenomenon – it had its onset in Europe and America in the 19th century. Bed-sharing then had another peak in the 1990’s. Beginning in 1992, a global SIDS awareness campaign effectively cut the rate of SIDS deaths by over 50%. Whilst there are studies showing a decrease in bed-sharing, many researchers believe bed-sharing is underreported due to social stigmas involved. The current reported rates in various studies range from 12-45% of parents engaging in the practice of bed-sharing with infants and young children, from routine to occasional. Yet despite this rate, the incidence of SIDS has continued to decrease.

Proponents of attachment parenting cite scientific studies showing reduced levels of stress hormones (especially cortisol) in both mothers and babies who co-sleep, and others that show a more stable physiology in co-sleeping babies, including more stable temperatures, fewer long pauses in breathing and more regular heart rhythms. Additionally, psychological and emotional health has been shown by numerous studies to be higher in co-sleeping children. This includes increased happiness and self-esteem, less anxiety and fear about sleep, fewer behavioural problems and more independence as adults.

Finally, co-sleeping and bed-sharing help mothers get more sleep, especially when breastfeeding. Older infants and toddlers are able to breastfeed without waking the mother.

Balancing Risks and Benefits

Much of the risk specifically applies to bed-sharing. Co-sleeping using specialty products can help reduce the risk of proximity between parent and child while promoting the benefits. Parents can purchase bedside bassinets that attach to the bed and are open on the parent’s side, bed-top sharing surfaces that keep baby from rolling off the bed and are raised enough that the risk of parents rolling over is reduced, and infant enclosures that are placed on the bed and prevent rollover, suffocation and wedging.

Remember that you can have the advantage of proximity through a co-sleeping arrangement as opposed to a bed-sharing arrangement.

Fantasy and Reality Children Can Not Tell the Difference

Halloween will be celebrated very soon, October 31. During this time of year it’s up to parents, caregivers, friends and family to keep Bogeyman / Boogieman at bay from young children.

Not many people know why we dress up every Halloween and terrify each other. Let me explain, Halloween originates from pagan festivals held annually around the end of October in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Many people believed that during this time, the spirits of the dead would come ‘alive’ and walk among the living. They thought in order to avoid being harmed, it was important to dress up in costumes to “blend in” with the spirits or mimic them.

If your child under 7 years of age is afraid of people wandering the streets dressed as ghosts and goblins.  Do not worry, you are not alone. Up until this age, their brains can not distinguish between fantasy and reality. They have not yet developed Cognitive Developmental reasoning; therefore they can not grasp concrete logic or mentally manipulate information. So if they see a person in costume dressed as a monster, they see a monster not the person.

When your child has experienced Halloween and the outcome of it was frightening and scary for them. The likely result at bedtime will be a nightmare, which are unpleasant and terrifying dreams. Nightmares occur during the second half of a night’s sleep, when REM intervals are longer. (REM known as Rapid Eye Movement because the eyes are rapidly moving beneath closed eyelids.) As soon as your child wakes they can remember and describe the dream, so it is understandable for them to call out for comfort, want to sleep in your room or need an object of affection which makes them feel safe.

 

How do I handle my child’s nightmare?

From personal experience, last year Halloween (October 2011), my husband answered the door to trick or treat children who were dressed up as ghosts and scary monsters. Unfortunately our Daughter was behind him and saw them, she was very frightened and witnessed this just before her bedtime. So you imagine what her night was like! Everyday for the remainder of the week she would run away and hide every time the door bell rang.

 

Nightmares are scary and are very uncomfortable for children, but they preventable. After a nightmare your child may or may not go back to sleep easily depending on their age and how scary the dream was. To help them relax and associate bedtime with safety and comfort, please follow the advice I used for my own daughter:

 

  • 2 Hours before bedtime – Do not let your child watch, read, listen or participate in activities which will disturb them or get them over excited, as this will form the basis for their night’s sleep.
  • Preparation for bed – Ensure your child is comfortable and relaxed, not highly stimulated. Talk about pleasurable and happy topics such as holidays or things they like to do. As part of my bedtime routine with my daughter, I twirl like a fairy and sprinkle magic fairy dust all over her. This reassures her and lets her feel protected against her nightmares.
  • After a nightmare – Listen to what your child has to say when they explain the dream and tell you about the monsters. Acknowledge their fears let them know you believe and trust them. Console and comfort your child, make them feel safe by telling them something like “the monsters have gone away now, they are on holiday.” If necessary check the wardrobe and under the bed, let them know their room is clear and harmless to sleep in.

 

Night Terrors

Night Terrors are very different from Nightmares.  Every child’s experience of a night terror differs, but usually they can not be woken from sleep, they may scream, thrash about, sit bolt up right in bed, sweat, act upset and may not recognise you when trying to comfort them. Do not fret or worry, so long as your child is in a physically safe environment they are not in any danger or harm and will not have any memory of their behaviour the next morning. It is far more frightening to witness, as the parent or care provider, you are unable to help or stop what seems like torment for your child.

Night terrors occur when a child’s sleep transitions from the deepest phase of (non-REM) sleep to lighter (REM) sleep, a phase where dreams occur. Between sleep cycles your child wake’s briefly, then usually self settles and goes back to sleep. The night terror is when their mind is trying to go back to sleep, but part of their mind is trying to wake up, both trying to win.

The reasons or triggers for night terrors can be due to:

  • Over tired
  • Fatigued
  • Illness
  • Reaction to new medication
  • Excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping in a new environment or away from home

How do I handle my child’s night terror?

  • Prior to bed time – Same as the nightmare preparations, ensure your child is relaxed and stress reduced to minimum.
  • Bedtime – Your child should not be over tired, fatigued or have stayed up to late.
  • During/After the night terror – Do not try and wake your child, as it can be distressing for you when they remain in the same state. If you are able to awaken your child, they are likely to be disoriented and confused, therefore taking longer to settle down and go back to sleep.
  • Repetitive night terror – If the night terrors occur frequently and at the same time every night, you may find that waking your child breaks the cycle. This can disrupt their sleep pattern enough to stop the attacks without affecting sleep quality.

For most children, nightmares and night terrors happen only now and then so there is no cause for concern. If you need further help, I encourage you to download my comprehensive guide “The Five Steps To Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night!” You can also contact me.

Early Morning Wakes

It’s that time of the year when early morning wakes seem to be an issue for most parents

I’m not an early morning person!

And for a person who enjoys their lie ins on the weekends, and add a baby who wants to
wake up for the day at 5 a.m, the two don’t match and sets everyone off to a bad start of the day!

That’s why I wanted to give you some tips on eliminating and dealing with early morning wakes:

Here they are:

1.)   Make sure your child is not too hot or too cold and is wearing the appropriate clothes dependent on what the temperature is. Getting too hot or too cold will wake cause discomfort and result in a child waking.

2.)  Get black out blinds and ensure the room is dark, even a little ray of light could cause a child to wake early

3.)   Decide on a realistic time for you to start your day,
keeping in mind that 90% of babies will probably wake up
sometime between 6 and 7 a.m. (I personally decided that 6:30
a.m. was the earliest I could stand to get up.)

4.)   If your child wakes up BEFORE you’re ready to start your
day treat it is a night wake.