Transition from cot to bed
There’s that underlying fear that your toddler will get out of bed a lot in the night and sleep will be disrupted for the whole family. It’s true that this might happen for the first few nights because it’s normal for a child to test the boundaries with their new found freedom.
First tip: A bed guard may stop your precious little person from falling out of bed. Perhaps put some sponge type matting on the floor beside the bed, giving a softer landing!
Second tip: Make a visual count down with your infant for 5 days previous to ‘big bed’ day.
Third tip: If you have enough room, put up the new bed about two days beforehand and allow your little one to have story time there. This helps to familiarize him/her with the size of the bed and slight change of sleep environment.
Fourth tip: Two days before the big night, go on a special outing with your little one to choose sheets etc. Allow your little one to choose what s/he likes. Lots of praise!
Fifth tip: Also get a small lamp, red bulb and a plug-in timer which you put out of reach and you can set to your ideal morning wake up time. Say clearly: “its still time to sleep, you can get out of bed when the red light comes on”.
Sixth tip: Consistency and a gentle ‘no negociation’ attitude after saying ‘goodnight’ are the keys to whether you will be disturbed for just a few nights or for several weeks to come.
If you need advice and support during this transition or your child is already constantly getting out of bed and waking you up I have several techniques to help you motivate him/her to stay in bed.
My breastfed baby refuses milk from a bottle . . .
How do I start setting strong sleep foundations?
First tip: Look for your infants very first tired signs before you notice that ‘scratchy’ tired cry. Some examples are, the first yawn, less and less eye focus on faces or toys and everyday objects. slowing down of arms and legs, less coordinated movement then eye rubbing etc.
Second tip: Slow everything down with less stimulation so that your baby learns to recognize when there is a change of pace and to adapt to it.
Third tip: A calm nappy change to create a ‘sleep association’.
Fourth tip: Take a deep breath and think ‘calm’ whilst giving lots of lovely cuddles and putting your little one into his usual sleeping place (cot/moses basket).
By setting good sleep foundations your infant will have:
- A greater memory and capacity to learn new things
- A more sociable attitude with others
- A better immune system against coughs, colds, and general childhood illnesses.
If you are worried that perhaps your infant is not getting enough sleep perhaps s/he is particularly ‘clingy’ or fussing a lot throughout the day, cat napping or getting repetitive colds and coughs, have a look at the online or in-home consultations and give me a call to talk through your concerns.
Is this the right time to start introducing solid food?
The NHS recommends weaning your baby onto solid food at 6 months.
What if your baby is ready to wean onto solid food before then? Here are just a few of the signs that your baby might be ready:
- Holding his or her head up and controlling head movements
- Sitting up well when supported
- Making chewing motions
- Being more curious about what you are eating and less interested in the bottle or breast
First tip: Offer simple food at the time of day when you are most relaxed.
Second tip: Don’t rush into it, instead allow your baby to really taste and explore.
Third tip: The easiest way for a baby to learn is by imitating the way you eat so sit and eat together and you can demonstrate by making it fun and sociable.
Fourth tip: Avoid the temptation to wipe up every mouthful. It will be messy because this is an important part of learning. Try not to clean up until the end of the meal so that you don’t distract your baby from enjoying the experience.
If you still have questions about how to get your infant started on a positive food journey we can help you get set up and give you a realistic schedule and some sensible menu plans.
What to do about early morning wakings...
Just when you get to the stage where your think you are in control of the sleep situation, your infant throws in a curve ball and starts waking super early and refuses to settle back to sleep.
First tip: The room needs to be as dark as it is when it’s the middle of the night. Cracks of light will encourage your infant to be awake and stay awake
Second tip: Is your infant waking early because he is being unintentionally ‘rewarded’ when he wakes by a cuddle in your bed? Toddlers, in particular, are notorious for this. If it has been less than 11 hours since your infant went to sleep then this has to be treated as a night time waking, encourage your little one to go back to sleep in their cot or bed.
Third tip: Could your infant be overtired? Contrary to what is often suggested by others, an earlier bedtime will usually help as one of the main causes of early morning waking is overtiredness. This is more often the case than an infant being ‘undertired’.
Fourth tip: What time are the daytime nap or naps? If not spaced correctly it may be that the sleep situation is perpetuated because the first nap is so early that your infant wakes, has breakfast and goes straight back to bed. It’s bit like if you wake up, have a midnight feast and go back to bed. The body clock is also regulated by food so your body expects the food and sleep at the same time and continues to request that sleep-feed-sleep pattern.
Is it a sleep 'regression'?
Firstly, don’t worry, if you handle it correctly, it won’t last! Strictly speaking it’s not a regression but I grant that it feels just like it. As parents you have every right to have flashbacks to those earlier months when sleep deprivation was a big part of your everyday life. That fear of sleep deprivation being a permanent fixture is so real. However, sleep regressions are actually a maturation of the brain and not really an actual regression. As a baby gets older, the brain starts to develop and the infant begins to develop more sleep associations. Although it worries parents that their infant is getting less sleep than before the ‘sleep regression’, it is really a positive progression because it means your baby’s brain is developing in the way that it should.
First tip: Try not to make lots of changes to your infants evening routine. For example, don’t put your infant to bed later thinking this might make him more tired and he will sleep better because it can make him overtired and this may make him wake up more often in the night or at least very early in the morning.
Second tip:When you are faced with night wakings, treat them as such and, however tempting it may be to try lots of different things to get your infant to go back to sleep, resist the temptation. Bringing your infant into your bed when he is not used to it can create another habit because it’s a bit like a reward for waking up.
Third tip: Check he is eating well in the daytime and pay attention that the evening meal is not too ‘heavy’ as you don’t want him waking up due to digestive issues.
Fourth tip: If you have to go in to check your infant at night, make sure you keep it low key and really rather boring!a month or so.
If you do find that your infants sleep is still disturbed after a month or so, don’t worry, I can get you back on track with a sensible and holistic sleep plan.
Interesting Facts And Figures Around Sleep
1 hours extra sleep in each 24 hour period affects intelligence by 2 years
There is a 94% significant improvement in an infant’s sleep disorder if it is a behavioural one, when a tried and tested sleep training technique is used correctly
75% of children have sleep issues in their lives and most of them are preventable
Sleep techniques can reduce infant sleep problems and associated maternal or paternal depression for up to 16 months (Anna Price and Armstrong 2012)
Humans should spend one third of their lives sleeping
Infant sleep problems can lead to poor maternal mental health and postnatal depression (Harriet Hiscock 2001 & 2017)
3% of infants have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) according to the British Lung Foundation, it is most commonly found in infants between 3 and 7 years old.
Flights with infants and a lot less tears
My first tip: When you are boarding the plane make a positive move to say a kind word to the people around you and ‘sniff out’ the kindest looking person. Why? Because you never know whether you might need their help during the flight! If you really don’t like asking for help there is more of a chance the kind person will offer to help if you have been friendly earlier.
My second tip: Keep reminding yourself that when travelling with a baby, after the flight, those people, you know, the ones with disapproving looks, you will probably never ever see again so if your baby cries, try not to stress too much for their sakes. If your baby gets really upset concentrate on cuddling your infant to sooth him because he is so much more important that the ‘disapprovers’! Perhaps walk along the aisles – it will be less of a problem for your baby and you, and other passengers.
My third tip: Tie your infants toys, spacing them out, along a length of ribbon or, even better, the plastic toy links you can buy so that if your infant drops a toy you can pull on the other end of the ribbon to get it back. It saves you trying fruitlessly to bend over like a contortionist, with your baby still on your knee, to pick up the toy. It’s also easier to gather the toys together when they are all on the same ribbon/links so that when you are tidying up before you land all the toys can be dropped neatly into the relevant bag.
My fourth tip: During landing and take-off, encourage your infant to have a drink, breastfeed, bottle feed or suck on a pacifier; swallowing relieves ear pressure at high altitudes.
When you get back from your holiday, if your infant struggles with jetlag, I can help you get right back on track!