“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
You need sleep too
Baby’s sleep time can be problematic, even more so when the mornings get lighter! Babies tend to be regulated by the daylight – so they’re tired when it’s dark and awake when it’s light – which is no consolation when the sun rises at 5am and baby wants to play! Here are 6 tips to help you deal with early morning waking in summer. Read more
Ready to start tnap transition?
Young babies sleep when they need to but as they grow up they’ll tend to fall into a pattern of two daytime naps, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. However, between 12 and 24 months most babies will drop one of their naps. Read on to find out how to determine if your baby is ready to take the nap transition from two naps to one, and how to make it as easy as possible. Read more
Preparing toddler for new baby
A new baby is always a time of joy for the parents and extended family – but it can also be a time of confusion for your toddler. They keep hearing they’ve got a new baby brother or sister but they don’t really understand what that means – and the tiny baby in the crib isn’t much fun either! In the worst cases toddlers can become jealous of the new baby and this can lead to behavioural problems such as bed wetting or bad dreams, or your toddler may even try to hurt the baby. In this article we’ll look at some sleep methods that you can do to help prepare your toddler for the new arrival so they adjust quickly. Read more
Baby and Toddler Sleep Pattern
It’s spring again, which means the clocks go forward an hour. In some ways that’s lovely, because it means summer is on the way and the nights will get lighter. But if you have a child who you’ve just got into a good bedtime routine, you might find that the changing of the clocks affects their sleep. Bear in mind that your baby or toddler doesn’t actually know the time – they use their own inner clock – use that to your advantage. The secret is to be prepared, and with just a little bit of effort you’ll find their sleep routine gets back to normal really quickly. Here are some tips to help you prepare your little one for time changes.
Toddler Sleep Issues
As a mother of two toddlers and from working with families, I completely understand the challenges that toddlers place on us when it comes to bedtime! The stalling tactics, tantrums, over excitement and tears!
The toddler stage is a time when your child starts to understand what they can and can’t control – and while this is an important developmental process, it can bring with it problems such as toddler bedtime battles. There are other reasons why bedtime may become difficult too – perhaps your child is scared of being left alone, fearful of the dark, overtired or just doesn’t want to miss anything going on in the house! Whatever the reason for your toddler bedtime battles, here are some tips to help. Read more
No Cry Sleep Method
For many parents the idea of letting their baby cry themselves to sleep is unthinkable, and many sleep method experts agree. Dr William Sears developed the first No Tears / No Cry sleep method of establishing a good baby sleep pattern, and there are now many different No Cry sleep methods for parents to try. In this article we’ll take a look at the work of Dr Sears as well as some of the other No Tears / No Cry sleep method experts.
Dr William Sears
Dr Sears is best known for advocating attachment parenting, where the goal is the development of a strong and secure bond between parent and child. In Sears’ No Cry method you rock or nurse your baby to sleep and put them down, still asleep, in your bed. As soon as baby wakes you soothe, rock or feed them back to sleep again, giving both you and your baby the best chance of a good night’s sleep.
In 1999 a study by the Consumer Products Safety Commission warned against babies sleeping in the same bed as parents, as they felt there was a high risk of infant suffocation. The study was criticised for not taking all the factors into account, but Dr Sears has since advised that babies sleep either in a cot alongside the parents’ bed, or in a co-sleeper bassinet which can be attached to the bed, giving parents and baby their own sleeping areas but keeping them close to each other.
Elizabeth Pantley is the mother of four children and she developed her own No Cry method after being frustrated by the “all or nothing” choices of Cry It Out or attachment parenting. Her “No Cry Sleep Solution” is a gentle ten step programme that includes working out your baby’s sleep barriers and keeping a log to discover your baby’s natural sleep pattern. Pantley recommends you never leave your baby to cry, instead returning to their room and picking them up every time the tears begin.
American paediatrician Harvey Karp says most baby sleep problems occur because of a difficult transition from the womb to the world. He has a No Cry method suitable for young babies that encourages good sleep patterns through the Five S’s: Swaddling, Side or stomach position, Sshhhing, Swinging and Sucking (nursing/dummy). By replicating the atmosphere of the womb he believes babies will be more calm, more content and thus more able to settle into a good sleep pattern.
Tracy Hogg was known as “the baby whisperer” and she advocated a structured routine of feeding, activity and sleeping, known as EASY. Her “pick up – put down” method starts with a consistent bedtime routine that includes a period of quiet time, perhaps in a rocking chair. Baby is put to bed awake but picked up straight away upon crying and then held and patted on the back while the parent makes a loud Shhh sound. Once the baby is calm you place them back in the bed, and repeat if they cry again until they are asleep.
Many parents prefer No Cry sleep method instead of Cry It Out techniques as it is less stressful, both for parent and child. However, you need to be consistent with whichever method you try, as your baby will become confused and more unsettled if you switch methods frequently.
Cry It Out Method
Although it can be heart-wrenching to listen to your baby cry, some parents find the most effective way to establish a healthy sleep pattern with their baby is to try one of the Cry It Out methods. These methods work on the theory that babies need to learn how to soothe themselves to sleep, and if parents immediately rush in when they cry they will take longer to develop this skill. There are many sleep method experts who advocate versions of Cry It Out, and we’ll explore some of their ideas in this article.
Perhaps the most well known Cry it Out sleep method expert is Dr Richard Ferber, who first wrote about it in his 1985 book “Solve Your Child’s Sleep problems” – though he has never actually called it “Cry It Out”. Ferber Method nicknamed “Ferberizing”, this method aims to encourage babies to learn how to settle themselves both at bedtime and if they wake in the night. Ferber recommends his sleep method for babies aged six months and over.
“Ferberizing” starts with an established routine – bath, story and cuddle, for example – with baby placed in the cot while still awake. If the baby cries, on the first night the parent should wait five minutes before returning to the room for no more than 2-3 minutes to talk to the baby and stroke or pat them. The baby should not be lifted from the cot, rocked, cuddled, fed or given any kind of soother. If the baby continues to cry the parent should then wait 10 minutes before returning, then every 15 minutes until the baby is asleep. On the second night the gap between visits should be lengthened by 5 minutes to 10, 15 and 20 minutes, and so on.
During night time wakefulness Ferber originally recommended the same routine, but now suggests parents wait five minutes to see if the baby settles on their own, but then uses rocking, feeding etc to send baby off to sleep. This ensures both baby and parents get some sleep at night, and should not affect the overall development of a good sleep pattern if Ferber’s method is stuck to consistently at bedtime.
Dr Marcus Weissbluth, author of “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”, believes that many sleep problems occur because babies are overtired. Weissbluth’s Cry It Out method aims for parents to put in place a fixed pattern of regular naps and consistently early bedtime to prevent overtiredness, which can lead a baby to be unable to sleep. He suggests that from a young age babies should be put down for a nap after two hours of wakefulness, and left to cry for between 5-20 minutes. Between 4 and 12 months he says babies need no more than two proper naps a day (in their cot – never in the car or pushchair) followed by an early bedtime. They should be left to cry for an hour at naptime, but at bedtime parents should not return to a crying baby at all as they need to learn that it is now “down time”. This “extinction” method can be very hard on parents.
Whether you prefer Weissbluth’s hardline attitude to baby sleep patterns or Ferber’s more gentle approach, Cry It Out methods are not easy. As with everything though, every baby develops at their own pace.
When it comes to baby sleep patterns it can be confusing knowing which to try, because there are so many methods of sleep training and many of them seem to conflict. Every baby is different and you need to find a method that works for you, your baby and your family. The biggest decision you need to make is whether to try the Cry It Out method or the No Cry Sleep method.
The Cry It Out Method
The Cry it Out method works on the principle that babies learn that crying gets attention, so you can retrain them to understand that sleep time is different and crying won’t get the same response.
The Cry It Out Method involves putting your baby to bed awake and leaving them to cry for specific, short periods of time, with a parent going in to check and comfort (but not cuddle) the baby in between. The idea is that the baby comes to realise you are there and they will learn to settle themselves rather than relying on feeding, rocking or cuddling.
Parents who try the Cry It Out method find it can be an effective and quick way of establishing good baby sleep patterns. It can be very difficult to stick with though, as no parent likes to hear their baby cry. Some experts suggest that letting babies cry can result in long lasting anxiety and negative associations with sleep throughout childhood and beyond, but there is no scientific evidence to back this up.
The No Cry Method
Many experts and parents feel the Cry It Out Method is unkind and unnatural and prefer to use No Cry Methods. There are many ways you can help develop baby sleep patterns without tears; for example:
Co-sleeping, where the baby sleeps in or next to your bed
Nursing or rocking your child to sleep
Responding immediately to your child’s cries at bedtime
One of the most popular No Cry Methods was developed by Elizabeth Pantley, who suggests you return to your baby every time they cry and pick them up and cuddle them before returning them to the cot. You could find yourself picking up your baby dozens of times every night but eventually they will feel secure enough to sleep on their own.
Generally it takes much longer to establish regular baby sleep patterns using No Cry Methods but many parents find it less traumatic for themselves and their babies than the Cry It Out Method.
The key to establishing good baby sleep patterns is to be consistent. Whether you choose a Cry it Out or No Cry method you need to persevere with it for at least a fortnight, to give your baby a chance to get used to the new regime. You’ll also be much more successful if you put baby to bed before they are too tired and have a regular bedtime routine that includes soothing activities and a comfortable sleeping environment.
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!
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