On Sunday 26 October, 02:00am, clocks go backwards by 1 hour, so we get an extra hours sleep, therefore an end to daylight savings time. Changing the clocks twice a year, has an affect on us all and can increase our sleep debt. It it especially noticeable in babies, toddlers and young children as they tend to have a structured sleep pattern, going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Read more
Now this is a difficult one. It would be interesting to do a survey of children’s bedrooms up and down the country to see how many are stuffed from floor to ceiling with playthings, personal things and discarded clothing. I bet it is difficult to identify what furniture there is in some rooms because everything will be hidden under the detritus of day-to-day kids’ existence. While it can be hard to prevent this kind of situation, unless a parent is in there tidying up on an hourly basis, it is not a good thing at all. Let’s look into Bedroom vs Playroom. Read more
As a parent it is heart breaking to see your child unwell, every winter I experience it first hand as my now, 3 year old suffers from Croup! She has had it every year since she was born. It breaks my heart to hear her cough through the night, sometimes lasting hours on end. A few days ago, I decided to time how long she had been coughing…one episode lasted 37 seconds. This experience was traumatic for me and my daughter. I am sure other parents have gone through the same thing, which is why I decided to blog about it. Read more
Everyone knows that most children don’t need much excuse to get excited. This can obviously disrupt sleep patterns around the festive period. However, it doesn’t matter if you are receiving guests for the festive period or you are visiting friends or relatives at this time – the children still need their sleep. They might disagree with you, given the many distractions and stimulations all around them, but they have to be overruled if you want a peaceful Christmas. Read more
“Congratulations, you’re having twins!” While twins are great news, you might also be panicking. Extra nappies, extra feeds, two slippery bodies to manage at bath time – how on earth will you cope with two babies?! While having twins is hard work it’s also incredibly rewarding, and you’ll soon work out routines and methods to help make life easier. Read more
Healthy Sleep Habits = Happy Child
Whatever the age of your baby or child, they need plenty of sleep to help them be healthy and happy. Parents need their sleep too, so establishing a regular bedtime routine is really important. Young babies tend to sleep when they need it, and as they get older they should develop their own regular sleep pattern, but problems can occur if your baby won’t sleep. Here are 5 tips for healthy sleep habits and a happy child – and they are equally relevant for younger babies and toddlers too.
1. Know when your child is tired
Often your baby or child won’t sleep simply because they have become overtired. Learn the signs that your child is beginning to tire – such as grumpiness, drowsiness or a lack of interest in people and toys. If your child regularly experiences difficulty getting to sleep try bringing bedtime forward as they may be too tired to settle.
2. Introduce a bedtime routine
By introducing a routine when your baby is quite small you can help them develop healthy sleep habits and learn when it’s bedtime and what to expect. Start with activities such as a bath, change of clothes, feed and cuddle. Some people find baby massage is a useful thing to try at bedtime, as it relaxes your baby and helps them to settle. As your child gets older keep the routine but add extra activities, such as brushing their teeth, reading a story or singing a song. Wherever possible be consistent with the routine and the time your child goes to bed.
3. Create a relaxing environment
If you child or baby won’t sleep it could be because they are not comfortable. Keep the bedroom temperature cool (but not cold), close the curtains and turn off the lights – or use a dimmer switch or night light if your child doesn’t like the dark. In contrast, in the morning open the curtains to let plenty of light in, and keep the house warm and bright – this will help your baby learn the difference between night and day.
4. Make some noise!
Babies and children can sleep through noise, so don’t feel that your house needs to be silent at bedtime. Remember that your baby spent nine months in the womb hearing everything that was going on around them. You may even find that being able to hear the sounds of people moving around, the hoover or the TV can be reassuring as your child knows you are nearby if they need you. “Womb music”, lullabies or white noise can also help a baby to settle, while an older child may like to listen to nursery rhymes or a story before they sleep.
5. Be consistent – and realistic
There are as many different sleep methods as there are baby experts, be consistent and stick with it for at least a couple of weeks. Your baby needs to know what to expect from bedtime and if you chop and change their routine they are more likely to become unsettled, which will cause even greater issues with sleeping. Above all else, be realistic. All babies are different, so don’t measure your baby against another, and if something doesn’t seem to be working as well as you expected, don’t give up hope – your baby will settle into a good sleep pattern in their own time.
Follow these tips and you’ll help your child develop healthy sleep habits and be a happy child!
Baby Won’t Sleep Cause of Sickness?
As parents, we want to see our children healthy and happy. There is nothing that grieves you more than when your child is in pain and you can not do much to help. My daughter Chloe suffers from Asthma and has done since she was born, she has a constant cough and in the winter a continuous cough, which carries on throughout the night. The nights I have had to tend to her and give her medication, she takes it and always goes back to her cot with rarely any fuss. But it is upsetting to see her this way.
When your baby is ill, they are often fussy, uncomfortable, and have difficulty sleeping. The regular nighttime routine will be flipped upside down and previous soothing techniques will not work. For example, your baby who has started sleeping through the night may suddenly start waking up several times or a baby who loves the car may scream all the way home.
Colds, diarrhoea, and fever are just a couple of illnesses that can be caused by harmless viruses and tend to go away on their own. Babies are born with some of their mother’s immunity to illness, further enhanced by breastfeeding; they are not immune to ever-changing viruses. If you are unsure or worried about your baby’s health do not hesitate to check with your physician.
When a child is sick, sleep is a key ingredient for their recovery. When you have visited your physician/doctor when ill, after prescribing medication they always advise you to get plenty of rest and sleep, this same principle applies to children.
Here are some useful tips to help you deal and prepare with your infant during illness
To understand when your baby is sick, you have to understand what they are like when well and that is what a parent knows best. Nobody understands their child more than the parent or primary child’s career. To understand if your child is ill or if they are recovering, monitor daily their temperature, behavior, temperament, intake of food and liquids, interactions with others, and sleep patterns. These indicators are the best tell-tell signs.
Depending upon the age of your infant, there are only a few over-the-counter medicines allowed, consult your physician and /or pharmacist to ensure you are prepared and fully stocked. Some parents prefer the “Ole Wife’s Tale” style of medicine which is the use of only natural products such as a teaspoon of honey. Do your research and consult a medical professional first, as these could be harmful if an incorrect dosage is administered or the child is not the correct age to be consuming the ingredients.
There are various locations where the temperature of a child can be taken and internet research can give lots of different answers all citing to be the correct “average” temperature of your baby. As a general rule, a temperature of over 37.5 (99.5F) is a fever. The word “fever” can scare and petrify the hearts of any parent. It means “an elevation of body temperature above the normal and is a sign of illness,” such as viral, bacterial, or other types of infection. A fever is not an illness on its own.
There are now various thermometers available on the market and can be very baffling.
- Digital Thermometers – Digital thermometers are quick to use, accurate, and can be used under the armpit, mouth, or rectum.
- Ear (or tympanic) Thermometers – They are put in the child’s ear and can be very annoying and unpleasant for the child.
- Digital Pacifier/Dummy – This is less irritating than an ear or rectal thermometer, it is fast, convenient, and non-invasive. It can also be pleasant if the child is used to a dummy.
- Strip-type Thermometers – Strip-type thermometers, which you hold on your child’s forehead, are not an accurate way of taking their temperature. They show the temperature of the skin, not the body.
- Infrared Thermometer – No contact thermometers. The laser is pointed at the child’s forehead and provides an accurate reading on a digital screen. It is quick, accurate, and can be used on a fidgeting child.
- Mercury-in-glass Thermometers – Mercury-in-glass thermometers haven’t been used for some years. They can break, releasing small shards of glass and highly poisonous mercury.
4. Room Temperature
The ideal room temperature is 16-20ºC. 18ºC (65ºF) is perfect. An infant sleeping in a room that is too hot has an increased risk of Cot Death and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It can be very difficult to estimate the room temperature, so using a room thermometer in the rooms where the baby sleeps and plays is best. To help cool a room, open a window and close the curtains or use a fan, but do not place it directly onto your baby.
Use sleepwear for babies and not t-shirts or other daytime clothing, as baby sleepwear should be fire-retardant. They should never be sweating or hot to the touch, especially in the hands. If you use blankets, loose or soft bedding, tuck it snugly along the sides of the mattress. But not any higher than chest level and a baby’s face should never be covered during sleep. Be sure that you do not tuck blankets so tightly that the baby cannot move. The most appropriate coverage is a “Baby Sleep Bag,” are wearable blanket with armholes and neck openings. They help the baby stay at the right temperature through the night without the problem of traditional blankets and sheets being kicked off or getting tangled up. There are various sizes according to your child’s age, weight, and length. Available in various designs and Tog ratings (describes the level of warmth in a product) and can be worn throughout the year.
5. Food and Drink
A child may not have much of an appetite when sick, so increase their fluid intake to prevent dehydration and constipation. Avoid undiluted sugary drinks such as juice and carbonated drinks, as these can worsen digestive illnesses. Keeping your baby hydrated is very important as dehydration can cause complications and may result in hospitalisation. Monitor for a decrease in urine production, lack of tears, dryness in the mouth and sunken eyes as these are indicators of dehydration.
Once your child has started to recover returning to the bedtime sleep routine, is a benefit for the whole family. Continue to monitor your child, give them medication as and when needed and watch their temperature. Every child needs consistency, rules, and expectations to live by, so they know what is expected of them on a daily basis. They will grow up learning responsibility and understand consequences, therefore less likely to push boundaries.
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.
I am passionate about helping families get the sleep they need to be happy and healthy. I am now a proud mum of two girls exactly a year apart in age.
– Judy Clark