By Jennifer Anne Robinson @happysleepcoach
Jennifer is a qualified sleep consultant for 0-7 years.
I love sleep!! …. Seriously I love sleep…..That feeling as you climb into bed knowing you’ve got 8 hours+ before you have to get up. As parents we rarely get that feeling now. The night time dread hits us as the evening sets in. How many times are the little ones going to wake tonight? What is the best thing to do if they wake? Will I ever sleep through the night again? And even when they are quiet and asleep you constantly check the baby monitor or lie awake thinking, “they’ll wake soon.........”
As parents we don’t have to accept the anxiety and worry that they aren’t going to get a full night’s sleep because it simply doesn’t need to be that way.
Sleep is a learned skill so we need to teach our infants how to self-settle without us always doing the hard work for them by rocking, feeding, stroking etc. For some babies this comes naturally, however for others it’s a little trickier to teach.
Here are my top tips to help get your little ones settling easier and sleeping longer:
Creating an environment that helps to promote sleep is really important. Temperature, noise and light can all play a huge part in night-time waking and early rising.
Make sure your little ones are dressed appropriately for the temperature in the room. Room thermometers, or baby monitors that also do temperature are a great purchase so you can accurately gauge room temperature. The ideal room temperature for a baby’s bedroom is between 16-20 degrees.
Removing all noise is the ideal situation but sometimes this is not possible. If noise cannot be avoided then you can consider playing white noise to help drown out any sudden noise disturbances. The white noise needs to be constant and played all night. You can buy machines that play white noise or put it on a loop on an ipad or CD player.
Light can be a problem especially during those summer months when the sun rises early and doesn’t set until 9 or 10pm at night. The room should be as dark as possible! Light is a huge stimulant and can be a cause of both early rising and not settling at bedtime. I really recommend stick on black out blinds to completely cover your windows.
Babies under the age of 3 do not develop a fear of the dark so you do not need to leave nightlights on/hall lights on. If you feel it is necessary then a red/amber light is best as blue light is a stimulant for infants and adults alike.
Children thrive on routine, they learn through repetition which is why a bedtime routine is so important and beneficial when it comes to sleep.
Having a routine, doing the same things in the same order each night means that your little ones know what’s coming and nap time/bedtime doesn’t come as a surprise. It sets clear boundaries of what is and isn’t appropriate at that time and helps them to feel secure.
You can start a routine right from birth, keeping this nice and short. Then as they get a little older the routine should be about 30 – 40minutes long. Keeping a calm environment with low lighting really helps to build up melatonin (the sleepy hormone) which will aid sleep onset.
From very early on practice putting your baby down in their cot for naps. At first put your little one down almost asleep and then gradually start to put them down more awake. This will help them to learn how to self-settle from an early age.
Sleep encourages sleep! A day of good naps will mean a better night’s sleep. Make sure you know how much sleep your little one should be getting for their age and make sure their ‘wake windows’ (how long they are awake between naps) aren’t too long.
The main cause of night waking and early rising is over tiredness. If your little one is doing either of these then make sure they are getting enough day time sleep for their age and at the right times of the day. If naps are short or they are awake for too long in the afternoon then consider bringing bedtime forward as early as 6pm. This will not affect the time they wake up in the morning.
I hope these tips help. For more regular helpful information please follow me on social media @happysleepcoach
For information on my bespoke sleep plans please visit www.happysleepcoach.co.uk