Today we are speaking with Katie one of the three sleep consultants that run the Infant Sleep Consultancy. Along with Helen and Annie the trio cover most of the south of England helping families with routines, family lifestyle and ultimately resolving sleeping issues.
For most parents, getting your child to sleep or the amount of sleep they have is something that is continually talked about, obsessed and compared. Wouldn’t it be great if your new baby also came with a manual! There is no magic behind sleep. It’s about getting the body into the right state to want/need it and when you understand how it works it doesn’t seem so hard. We all sleep in cycles. For a baby and young child these last about 30-45 minutes, so you will often find that your baby is a bit of a power napper in the day (and sometimes night too). This is your child going through a cycle and coming out again. Their sleep lengthens as they figure out how to link these cycles which can happen as early as 5 weeks. During the night your child naturally wakes about 10 times. They are going in and out of sleep cycles and having periods of deep sleep and dream sleep. As adults we also do this, but as we’ve learnt to knit them together we hardly notice it. If you are doing something to get your child to sleep then the chances are when they naturally wake you are going to have to go back to doing it. If you child is being held to sleep and then put down, when they wake it’s a bit like falling asleep in your bed and waking up on the kitchen floor. Although we can’t produce sleepy dust we can give you some sleep tips to help improve your child’s sleep and encourage good habits that can last a lifetime.
1. Discomfort – Is there any underlying reason why your child can’t settle. Are they in discomfort? The main causes are reflux, colic and intolerances. If this is a persistent problem go and see your GP as an uncomfortable child won’t settle
2. Routine – If all your child’s needs are met during the day you can feel more confident that they should be able to sleep well at night. Make sure they are having good spaced out meals and feeds and not having too much day time sleep. If they have a bad night and then sleep a lot during the day you are setting them up for another bad night.
3. Bedtime routine – It is important that the body has a chance to unwind so the release of melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) coincides with bedtime. The routine should start about an hour before you want your child in bed. Keep voices calm and encourage quiet play. Work towards having a bath, book and bed. The familiarity of a routine will help your child to settle as they always know what is coming next.
4. Props – Does your child need help to go to sleep? If you are rocking/patting/feeding to sleep then the chances are they will wake more frequently. You want your child to fall asleep in the same state that they wake on otherwise they struggle to resettle.
5. Tears – When making changes there is often some protest. If you child is always rocked to sleep and you decide to stop they will probably get upset. Change is unsettling and if you know they aren’t in any pain and all their needs have been met the tears are about changing a habit. Being a reassuring presence to your child but you don’t want to get actively involved in their settling. Things often feel they are getting worse before they get better so stay calm and consistent.
6. Don’t be disheartened if progress is slow. It takes time for habits to form and there will be ups and downs. It is normal to have bad days where nothing goes to plan. Draw a line under it and start afresh the next day.
There is help at hand. If you exhausted the friends and families and feel you need some professional help then get in touch at www.Infantsleepconsultant.co.uk we can help you find a solution to your child’s sleep problem with a tailor made plan and hands on support. Not only are we trained with a wealth of experience but we are all mum’s, we get it!