The Best Baby Sleep Secrets You Need to Know

The Best Baby Sleep Secrets You Need to Know


Babies. Toddlers. Children. Adults. No matter how old we are, we all need sleep. And in recent times, as more research has been carried out, we have a deeper understanding of what happens when we sleep and therefore know the importance of it. Gone are the days we thought sleeping was a time we simply did nothing. Had a rest and that was that. Actually up to date science tells us we are very busy while we sleep! Now we know it’s how we restore and replenish. And no more so than for babies…
Babies do so much growing and learning in their first year, it’s incredible! Their brains will double in size in their first year! They are busy behind the scenes, making millions of neural pathways to support their learning and development. We also know babies have a shorter sleep cycle and sleep structure when they are first born. This matures as they grow (hello ‘sleep regressions’). And guess how much sleep a two-year-old will have had, on average, in their life? 13 months of sleeping. Wow! So let’s get learning about the best baby sleep secrets you need to know. The earlier you are able to put these into place, the more you’re on your way to a super sleeper and supporting all that lovely development your baby does while they sleep!
Please ensure you’ve ruled out any health concerns such as reflux, tongue tie or allergies. Symptoms may vary and present as include vomiting after a feed (sometimes there’s a clear pattern and sometimes not), constipation, diarrhoea, crying when laid down, difficulties with feeding, not gaining sufficient weight. Any advice below is based on the assumption you’re not concerned your baby has any health issues, Making any sleep changes will not work if there are underlying, unaddressed health issues. Please do see your GP if you have any worries. 

Timings over technique

In an ideal situation, your baby will be able to settle in their cot or sleeping space with minimal support from you. And while this is something to always aim for and try to begin each nap with by giving your little one the opportunity to settle themselves, it can also be challenging. For guidance of ways to encourage self-settling from new-born, have a read of my post about teaching your baby sleep skills…

5 Easy Steps to Teach your Baby Sleep Skills

So in reality, it’s a really common concern parents have to always need to rock or cuddle their baby to sleep. A lot of parents worry because their baby won’t nap unless they are in motion, be it being held in a sling, walked around the block in the buggy or even taken for a ride in the car. It certainly can feel endless and as though there is no other way, ever! Trust me, there is. Firstly, don’t worry if your little one has become rather accustomed to needing these ways to fall asleep. All is not lost! 
My advice here is to first focus on the timing and length of each nap, their bedtime and morning wake time. Once they are at about the 18-week mark, aim to balance their naps so the longest one is ideally in the middle of the day.  For example, if they are on three naps, their first and last nap should be 30-40 minutes and the middle one about 1.5 hours. Don’t be afraid to gently rouse them from naps to help create a daily routine. In the early weeks, waking for feed when they are in light sleep (you’ll see your baby move a bit) is advisable too. We want these naps to be consistent so do your best to stick to similar times each day to help establish healthy sleeping habits.  Even from newborn, keep a sleep diary for a week or two while you’re doing this. This creates a super helpful guide to see any developing feeding and sleeping patterns. Grab my FREE paper version here. There’s a ton of apps too. I love The Baby Tracker for its simplicity and the ability to share the data easily via email. Once they are settled into their sleep timings, let’s look at the EASY routine.

Establish an E.A.S.Y routine

Once their sleep timings are established, you can move to add another part to their day. I’m not a fan of by the minute schedules that tend to focus on the time of everything rather than the needs of your baby. In my experience, these types of schedules can feel quite restrictive and stressful. For me and all the babies I’ve cared for and supported, the E.A.S.Y routine is a way that works brilliantly. I do not know a single family this hasn’t worked for! The reason it is so good is that there is flexibility so it is what I like to call a gentle routine. This Eat Activity Sleep You routine is a simple concept that enables your baby to begin digesting their feed while having a little play (this can be a story, a bath, a nappy change, play with some toys) before going to sleep. Even if it is simply a nappy change after a feed. This can be enough stimulation to allow them to be awake enough to begin to learn to settle themselves to sleep in their cot. Remember, a routine is your friend! The E.A.S.Y routine can be especially helpful if a feed to sleep association has developed. And you don’t need to always remember timings and be watching the clock, just keep repeating the E.A.S.Y cycle all day long! These times can help you understand how much your baby can usually stay awake before needing sleep. These timings are guidelines only but offer a good place to start!
Birth – 6 weeks – 30 – 60 minutes
2 months – 1 hour
3 months – 1 – 1.5 hours
4 months – 2 hours
5 months – 2 hours
6 months – 2.5 – 3 hours
7 months – 2.5 – 3 hours
8 months – 2.5 – 3 hours
9 months – 3 – 3.5 hours
10 months – 3 – 3.5 hours
11 months – 3 – 3.5 hours
12 months – 3 – 4 hours



Bedtime routine

Starting a gentle bedtime routine should be an essential component of your baby’s day. Every. Single. Day. For example, give them a bath, dry them, massage, PJs, sing a lullaby, read a story, put on some pink or white noise before tucking them up for night time. Every evening they come to learn that sleep follows this comforting routine and helps establish good sleep habits. Even from newborn! Have a read of my ‘How to have the best baby routine for a calm nights sleep‘ for a more in-depth read of bedtime routines. And grab a FREE printable of  ‘Step by Step Golden Rules for a Fuss-free Bedtime Routine‘ I do also suggest offering their last feed before bed away from the bedroom and before bath-time. If your little one is under 6 months, you may want to split feed so a smaller one before and after bath-time. I don’t advise to wake your baby for a feed in the night (unless there is a medical reason to do so). If they are hungry, they will wake for it! Often young babies will naturally wake around 10-11pm for a ‘dream feed’ if they went down between 6.30-7.30pm. 

Focus on the way they fall asleep at night

Once you’ve got all the sleep and feed timings sorted with a lovely bedtime routine too, let’s look at the next really important step. For bedtime, the way your baby falls asleep is really indicative of how they might sleep for the rest of the night. The reason this isn’t as important to focus on for naps is that naps tend to be only one or two sleep cycles so the way they get to sleep doesn’t need to be such a priority. Obviously, in the long run, it’s great to have a baby who is happy to nap anywhere – cot, buggy or car but my advice is not to worry about that for now. 
There are several different strategies I work with to help get little ones settling in their own cots at night. It’s important to know there isn’t a gentle right or wrong way necessarily, it’s more about being consistent in whichever suitable way you decide to move forward. If you’re not quite ready to move ahead yet to help your baby sleep in their own cot, then I simply invite you to be mindful of thinking about the way they initially fall asleep. Whether it’s on the breast, bottle or in a different place to their cot, when they naturally wake from a sleep cycle, they most likely will seek that same way they initially fell asleep. If you do feel you need some extra support in helping get your baby sleeping more independently and for longer stretches then do book in a FREE discovery call to have a chat and see how working together can help.

Less is more. Keep their nursery simple

Keeping your babies nursery simple is a step I absolutely recommend. Trust me when I say that less is more. Bright noisy mobiles aren’t helpful. Nor are lots of bright colours and stimulating toys in the room. By all means, have some toys for playtime in the room but keep them inside a chest, drawer or cupboard. While your little one is going to sleep, especially for a nap when it might be a little bit brighter in their room, they can get really distracted with these things! Think calming and neutral. Ensure it is plenty dark enough, especially if their sleeping environment is east facing so gets the morning sun. Blackout blinds are a good option. Grobags are ideal to help keep them warm and cosy all night long too.

Don’t intervene too early!

Giving your baby the opportunity to settle or resettle is so important and something that is so important to allow your baby the chance to learn how to fall asleep. If you jump up at the first murmur, you might be missing a chance to allow baby to learn how to resettle themselves and possibly go back to sleep, helping them (and the family!) get better sleep. I do highly recommend a video monitor so you can hear and see your little one. The best one, in my opinion, is this model. It can be so easy to rush in at the first murmur but if you can also see them then often they are still asleep or trying to resettle so seeing them is super helpful, and reassuring!



To observe is to learn

It’s clear to me that to understand your baby, you need to really observe them. Catch their cue for a nap by that first yawn. Every baby is different – maybe yours pull their ears, or rubs their eyes, or gets the faraway stare that means you know they are tired. Catching their sleep window is really helpful in avoiding an overtired baby.
Also, listen out for your baby’s cries. It really is normal for your little one to cry while settling to sleep. This is usually a cry that tapers off after a few moments, some silence and then it comes again until after 5-10 minutes, they are asleep. This is called sleep latency; the time it takes to naturally fall to sleep.  It is very different from a distress cry which is simply very loud, consistent and distressing. I never advise leaving your baby alone through this type of cry. Always comfort them, whether that’s with a cuddle, some reassurance of patting through the cot or shushing. 

Background noise

White and pink noise can be incredibly helpful for your baby’s sleep. It can not only help minimise unhelpful noises such as doorbells, sirens, busy roads etc but helps them be soothed in the early weeks and continuing months. For babies over six months, pink noise is better. The frequency is different and results in a softer pitch of the noise. Research shows that pink noise can increase deep sleep and also dramatically improved memory in older adults too! Pink noise enhances brain activity that’s associated with deep phases of sleep. Have a listen to some here. It’s free and you might find it useful for you too! Have a listen to the pink, white and brown noise to understand the differences. Set it up to be on all night if you choose to use it. Place it three feet or more away and have it as loud as feels right, usually something similar to an idle car engine running shower.

Safe sleep

I can’t stress the importance of safe sleep enough. I always follow up to date research and encourage families to do the same. Check out this Lullaby Trust video who promote safe sleep using current guidelines. Always pop your baby at the foot of their cot with their feet touching the bottom for every sleep. And on their back. Once your little one is able to roll onto their side or tummy, you can leave them. Some parents panic that they must consistently sleep on their backs and go in to keep laying them back. The fact is, once they have found a more comfortable sleep position for themselves, constantly going in will be disruptive to their sleep.  Ensure the cot is clear of blankets and toys to minimise any risk. 

Conclusion

The Best Baby Sleep Secrets You Need to Know...including Timings over technique, Establish an E.A.S.Y routine, Bedtime routine, Focus on the way they fall asleep at night, Less is more; Keep their nursery simple, Don’t intervene too early! To observe is to learn, Background noise and Safe sleep. Written by a gentle holistic infant sleep coach. Together, let's get sleep sorted!

There’s no question that baby sleep, with all’s its different parts and changes, can feel challenging to optimise. I hope that by reading this post, you’ve gained an understanding of what’s helpful to focus on. If it feels really exhausting and overwhelming, break things down into manageable sleep goals, a step at a time. For example, establishing a daily routine. Then working on bedtime. Then working on naps.  If you do feel you need some extra guidance and would like some support in knowing where to begin with improving sleep struggles, then I welcome you to reach out for some help. You can take the step of booking your FREE discovery call with me.
Together, let’s get sleep sorted!
Caroline x
P.S. We always like to add in a couple of affiliate links to each post that we think might be of interest to you as a parent. If you choose to click a link and make a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) then it’s at NO EXTRA COST to you. We receive a small commission from the retailer and that helps us with the running costs of the website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! Love Caroline & Sharon xx



5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two)

5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two)

So last week, I began with 5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part One), so it’s no surprise that this week is all about part two! As I was writing last weeks post, more baby sleep myths kept popping into my head, hence the reason to split them into two posts. So without further ado, let’s crack on with 5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two). As always, any questions concerns or further info, just DM me here or email me here or arrange a FREE chat here. I’m all over the place! But always here when you need me! If you missed last weeks post, you can read it here…

5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part One)

Myth 1 “Minimising babies day sleep will help them sleep better at night”

This is such a classic myth that somehow, through misinformed (and often well-meaning!) advice and the internet era, creates all kinds of problems. Science tells us that babies and toddlers (as well as adults) need an optimum amount of sleep per 24 hours. This helps keep us healthy and allows babies to do all the behind the scenes developing that goes on for them. Did you know that a babies brain will double in size in their first year! (Why Love Matters, Sue Gerdhart). That’s a heck of a lot of growing and a reason why babies sleep so much. Growing is hard work!

Circadian rhythm

Our circadian rhythm, which isn’t present in newborns, is something that develops over the coming months, is regulated, among other things by the sun and the moon. Day and night. Light and dark. We have many hormones for many functions in our body that regulate our existence. Cortisol and melatonin are the key hormones that govern sleep.  So by minimising your babies sleep, often in the hope they will sleep better at night, is actually the opposite. As well as not giving your baby the chance to have all the healthy sleep they need for growth and development, it can cause overtiredness.

Overtired Baby

Yep, the dreaded overtired baby. Let’s talk about what happens. In normal healthy sleep, a young baby has two main types of sleep. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement). A baby up to four months old will spend 50% of their sleep in REM sleep, or ‘active sleep’ (it is about 20% for adults). This is the sleep stage of dreaming and rapid brain growth with constant neural connections being made which are essential to help babies develop normally. Young babies will fall into this sleep stage first. This means they can be easily awakened but usually, after about 20 minutes of falling asleep, they will go floppy and means they have moved into a different, deeper sleep stage (NREM) or ‘quiet sleep’ which is when cells in the body can grow and repair.
If your baby becomes overtired and misses their sleep window, to compensate for being awake, cortisol will flood their body in a bid to stay awake. This can then make it harder for them to settle when they do go to sleep and they will fall into the REM sleep, the lighter, dreaming sleep, which causes them to wake more frequently. This also means they miss the NREM sleep which is also important!
Being overtired can also mean one of two things. Either your baby will fall asleep super quickly and you think ‘woohoo, job done”. But chances are, if they were overtired, they’ll wake more often through the night. Secondly, they may suddenly seem alert and ready to play! Then settling them becomes even harder (and sometimes parents read this as they don’t need to sleep). Then extra sleep cues and support can be needed for them.
The moral of the story is to make sure your baby has well spaced, timely naps throughout the day. Ensure the same with their feeds. Make sure they are stimulated and have a little play after feeds and before sleep to help reduce feed to sleep associations.


Myth 2 “Leaving my baby to cry is ok if it’s controlled crying”

There’s lots of research out there nowadays that simply wasn’t around years ago. The scientific understanding of a developing baby’s brain is so much clearer. The growth and development of a baby, especially in the first year, is more than at any other time of their lives. We now know how important bonding to develop healthy attachments is. How holding, snuggling, cuddling and skin on skin naps with your baby are great (and lovely!) ways to help to bond and offers your baby ways to feel secure and safe.
I think it’s really important to be clear about the difference between your baby crying while you are present to help them be comforted and reassured to your baby crying and being left alone. I think it’s also important to establish a difference between giving your baby space to settle and sleep contentedly which may include some noises, gurgling and even some crying. But learning to understand your baby’s cries so you can recognise a distressed or hungry cry from a ‘just give me a few minutes to figure this sleeping thing out and I’ll really cry if I’m struggling’ type of cry. Often rushing in at the first noise, either when settling at night or night wakings, can actually interrupt their learning to put themselves back to sleep. There are lots of gentle, respectful ways to support your baby and child to sleep. Gentle sleep coaching is real. It gets results! If you’re struggling with your baby’s sleep, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
And always remember, as strange as it sounds, a baby is not born knowing how to sleep! It is a skill they must learn. They had a heck of a lot of help in the womb (it was very secure and loud and there was nearly always movement)! When your baby learns to walk or feed themselves, they take a tumble, drop the spoon, make a mess. And that’s ok. You’re there to guide them. And it’a the same for sleep. You wouldn’t leave your baby to cry alone in the day time so why should it be any different at night? If you establish good, healthy sleep habits from day one then you’ll be heading the right way to a super sleeper! Check out my other 2 posts about sleep shaping in the early months here…

 

5 Easy Steps to Teach your Baby Sleep Skills

Top Baby Sleep Tips

Myth 3 “Creating a routine for my baby is really restrictive and means we can’t go out”

I’d like to explain the difference between a gentle routine and a restrictive routine. Both very different!

Gentle Routine vs Restrictive Routine

A gentle routine involves working out your family lifestyle. Do you have older kids to get to school? Is your baby at nursery or other childcare? What is your parenting style? Once you have an idea about these kinds of things, you can work out a sensible time to aim for your baby being up every morning. Then you can work back to how much sleep they need per night and day. You can find this info in your FREE Ultimate Infant Sleep Guide. Grab it here…

 

Then you can look at their feeding times and plan the day accordingly. Add in a bedtime routine and already, you’re creating a flexible day for your baby that fits around their needs but always with wiggle room and the ability to plan outings, playdates and classes. If you’re not sure about the timings of their naps and feeds, keep a food and sleep diary for a few days to keep a track. Then you can build their routine around their existing pattern. It may be that you don’t need to do too much. Your baby might already have developed a natural one. If not, don’t worry. A little bit of tweaking and you can put one in place for them. I love creating routines for little ones so if you feel you need a helping hand with this, reach out and we can schedule in a sleep package that’s right for you and your family.
On the other hand, a restrictive routine means you schedule timings to the point where it’s on the dot and irrelevant of your babies needs. It may keep you on track in the short term with knowing what’s what but really not helpful in learning your babies natural hunger or sleep cues. By taking over and doing what you are told (by said restrive routine), it impacts your ability to be responsive and in tune with your baby. This option may work for some families and as the old saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ however, the truth is that often these types of intense, by the minute schedules cause stress and anxiety for parents and miss your baby’s true needs.
The motto here is simple. Be guided by your baby and add a dash of your own understanding of their feed and sleep needs will equal a more contented baby and more contented parents! A gentle routine isn’t restrictive or stressful, it’s simply about doing the same rituals in the same order each day.

Myth 4 “Giving my baby a dummy means I’m creating problems for later on”

Safe sleep guidelines by the Lullaby Trust suggest a dummy from when your baby has established feeding well (around 4 weeks) can reduce the risk of SIDS. While, of course, this is a great positive for a dummy, many parents worry they will cause problems later on.
This isn’t actually true. There are many tricks to help remove any stress (for you or your little one) with dummy removal. Often the problems kick in when your baby is now a toddler and still has a dummy. This can be a problem as they’ve become well attached and will most likely be using it as a sleep prop. If this is you, check out my My Stress-Free Way of How to Ditch the Dummy. Or there is the losing it in the night common scenario. You can get around this issue in several ways. Get a glow in the dark one. Have lots in their cot. Or remove their dummy as soon as they are asleep. If you do this from when they are small, you will likely find they not only need it less but come to not need it at all.
There are some schools of thought that want to avoid a dummy at all costs –  the idea being that if your baby is well fed, stimulated and rested, they won’t need a dummy. The truth is that all babies love something in their mouth. Be it a nipple, a dummy, a toy, a thumb, even your finger. It’s nature. Some babies don’t take to a dummy and some do. And it’s your choice as to whether you offer a dummy to your baby. Making an informed choice is your choice as a parent.
If you are considering a dummy, I highly recommend these. MAM has always been the best, in my years of experience.

Myth 5 “Sleep regressions are real and unavoidable”

Firstly, let’s be clear about one thing. The word regression is actually a progression. I know! It implies your baby is taking a step back when actually, their development is pushing forward and things are changing for them, hence the sleep disruptions. It niggles me they are named regressions as it feels negative when it’s really quite a positive thing (I know and I’m sorry if you’re a sleep-deprived parent but it’s true!). So while they do exist, it’s a developmental phase rather than a regression. And there are things you can do to help avoid them; right from the beginning.
Usually, the first one to hit is around the 4-month mark. At this age, your baby is likely to start to roll, laugh and become more active with their surroundings. Exhausting work for a baby! Behind the scenes, their sleep pattern is maturing. So rather than just REM and NREM sleep like we talked about earlier, they begin to have stages of NREM which go from light to deep. As they start to need more NREM sleep, they will be in lighter sleep more often for a while. This is what the new frequent waking is about.
If you encourage healthy sleep habits and sleep shaping from day one, then the chances are, these first (and future) sleep regressions will be minimised. This will be because a baby who has learnt to settle themselves and not associated feed to sleep needs will likely be able to resettle during these light sleep phases. A baby who has been helped to sleep with rocking, feeding, will often look for those same ways as they got to sleep at night.
These phases can vary greatly for each and every baby but rest assured, by maintaining a gentle routine and lots of healthy sleep habits, these ‘sleep progressions’ as I like to call them, can be dealt with more easily for everyone!

5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two) including sleep regressions, giving my baby a dummy, creating a routine for my baby, why you should avoid controlled crying, how to prevent an overtired Baby. Written by a gentle holistic sleep coach. Helping families everywhere have a calmer, more contented home. Together, let’s get sleep sorted.

Conclusion

So there we have it. 5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part Two). I hope you’ve found them useful and just to recap:
• Avoid overtiredness and sleep debt by ensuring your baby has all the sleep they need.
• Research and science tell us leaving a baby to cry is not good for bonding, attachment and their development. Focusing on gentle, respectful ways to help your baby sleep well instead.
• Creating a gentle routine around your baby’s needs can help with their sleep and ensure you both know what’s coming (rest and grown-up jobs can get done) and enable times for outings, classes and playdates!
• A dummy can be safely given and removed at the right ages. And it’s your choice as a parent.
• Sleep regressions are actually ‘progressions’ and by helping your baby develop healthy sleep habits, you can minimise their effects.
P.S. Just so you know, I always add in a couple of affiliate links with each post. This always includes a great offer that I think might be of interest to you as a parent. Clicking one of my links and making a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) is at NO EXTRA COST to you. I receive a small commission from the retailer.  That helps me with the running costs of my website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! xx


5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part One)

5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part One)

 

With so much information out there on babies and sleep, as a parent, it can be hard to work out what to do. Do you wake for a dream feed or let them sleep? Is it better to wean earlier to help them sleep? Will my baby sleep better on formula milk? So many questions! That’s why I’ve written this post ‘top baby sleep myths every parent should know (part one)’.
Before we get started, it’s really important to say this. Above all the advice and support I (or anyone else) may offer you, remember to ultimately be guided by you and your baby. If something feels right and it’s working for you all as a family, then please don’t get stressed with a feeling you need to change how you do something. As I often say to the families I work with, there is not always an exact ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with babies and sleep (and often parenting in general) but different paths to take. I use all my years of experience, science, up to date research and my training to guide me with all the families I work with and all the work I do within The Little Sleep Coach. My approach is all about being gentle, peaceful and holistic with each and every family.
Ok, let’s explore some baby sleep myths…

Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (part one) Sleep when your baby sleeps, you must dream feed, Formula-fed babies will sleep for longer stretches at night than breastfed babies, Weaning early helps babies sleep better, Babies will sleep better once they hit certain milestones like crawling or walking. All these baby sleep myths explained! Written by a gentle holistic infant sleep coach. Together, let's get sleep sorted!

Myth 1 “Sleep when your baby sleeps”

You might think this advice can potentially work well yet often it doesn’t and here’s why. Your baby, especially when very young, will tend to sleep little and often which is perfectly normal and natural. Yet, a nap for an adult, especially a postpartum exhausted mum, ideally would be at least a 90-minute sleep to be beneficial. Yet by the time you’ve settled your baby then get yourself off to sleep, your baby likely wakes up, especially in the early weeks. Super frustrating!
My suggestion here is to do whatever you like in your baby nap times. It could be a nap for you but just use your baby nap times for whatever you like. You could embrace some self-care by:
• Enjoying a podcast that will make you smile
• Simply rest and relax and put your feet up.
• Call a friend
• Listen to music
• Express some milk
• Doing some gentle yoga stretches
• Meditate
• Catch up on admin or tidying up (can feel therapeutic for some people!)
• Have a nice hot drink
What’s more important is to try to get to bed earlier in the evening. Sometimes I suggest going to bed at 7 pm when your baby does. I know you might miss out on some brilliant tv show or catching up on chores but sleep is so very important and even if you do this for some nights of the week, you may feel just that bit more human! This can be especially helpful if, on the same early night you’re planning, you arrange for your partner or a close family member or friend to do the first night feed (in the early months this will be before between 10 pm-midnight). This way you can aim to get a solid block of sleep in between 7 pm and the early hours!
Don’t forget to ask for the support you need. Ask your partner to take care of the baby to allow you a nap. Or invite friends and family over to allow you a nap while they take care of the baby for an hour or two.
Lastly, I do strongly advise to have skin on skin naps in the early weeks and months as this can encourage you to have a nap too. It’s wonderful to help to bond and also to stimulate your milk production.

 

Myth 2 “You must dream feed”

A dream feed is offering your baby a feed somewhere around 10-11pm to help your baby go back to sleep with a full tummy and allow you some sleep too.
The reality is that if your baby:
• Has had full, well-spaced feeds during the day
• Has no health-related issues such as allergies, reflux or tongue tie
• Is really well winded during and after each feed
Then between the hours of 7 pm to 7 am, count this as night time for your baby and allow them to wake up naturally for a feed.
If your baby has gone down around 7 pm then it is probable they will wake around dream feed time naturally anyway. I strongly suggest leaving your baby to sleep during those nighttime hours and feeding when they naturally wake. This can minimise creating any habitual waking as well as encouraging your baby to sleep more naturally rather than being woken and then needing to settle back to sleep again. As your baby grows, they will be able to sleep for longer stretches at night. You wouldn’t want to wake them at any other time of the night so be guided by when they need to wake themselves for a feed.

 

 

Myth 3 “Formula-fed babies will sleep for longer stretches at night than breastfed babies”

Formula milk can take longer to digest than breastmilk. Therefore the assumption is that by giving formula to your baby for night time will mean they sleep for longer stretches. I think it is important to understand the biology behind breastfeeding at night before deciding to offer formula if you are breastfeeding.
Your body produces more prolactin (the hormone that promotes milk production) when you breastfeed at night. The composition of your breast milk changes through the day and night to support your baby’s needs and this includes reducing the risk of SIDS (please let me make it clear – bottle feeding DOES NOT increase the risk of SIDS, simply breastfeeding reduces it), infections and building up antibodies and your baby’s immune system. Nature has been designed in a way which encourages your baby to wake frequently for night feeds to help support all the good stuff breastmilk does behind the scenes as I’ve mentioned.
Therefore, if you are breastfeeding well during the day, I advise to simply continue through the night. Offering a formula bottle may potentially allow your baby to sleep a little longer before needing another feed but stopping breastfeeding in the night isn’t good for your baby or your milk supply! Whether breast or bottle feeding, ensure they are well fed and winded during the day with some play and stimulation between feeds and sleeps to help support their nighttime sleep.

 

Myth 4 “Weaning early helps babies sleep better”

It is advised in the UK that weaning ‘should start when your baby is around 6 months old’ (NHS guidelines). There’s a lot of advice to also say that earlier is ok and especially a huge myth that weaning your baby onto solids will help them sleep better. Your GP may recommend earlier weaning for your baby (ie, if they have reflux). I suggest doing what feels right but hold the six-month mark in mind. Be guided by your baby but please don’t start weaning early to help with sleep. In fact, it could make your baby more hungry and impact on their nutritional intake and affect their growth and development. Many babies I’ve cared for have been at or nearly at the six-month mark. Bear in mind, before six months, your baby can be more prone to allergies as their gut and immune system are too immature to process some solids.
Before weaning starts, your baby needs to:
• be able to sit up unsupported
• be able to hold their head up
• have lost the ‘tongue thrust’ reflex
These things will usually have happened by 6 months. They are all connected with your baby being able to chew and swallow solids foods safely. Signs a baby could be ready might be chewing their fist, not seeming content after a feed and excessive dribbling.
In connection to sleep, it seems the myth believes that ‘solid’ food will be more sustaining for your baby, therefore, enabling them to sleep longer. This is simply not true!
There’s absolutely no doubt milk, be it breast or bottle, is the most nutrient-rich substance your baby will have in their first year. Any solids (whether offering purees or baby led weaning) you should think of as a supplement to support your baby in getting used to flavours and textures rather than actually being all the nutrients they need. This way of thinking will help you to take a more relaxed and stressfree approach to early weaning. Then you can prioritise milk feeds and ensure your baby gets all they need. Think ‘food for fun before one’!
Imagine if you pureed a carrot, a few spoonfuls of plain carrot puree is simply not as calorific as milk and fulfilling your baby’s dietary needs. I suggest being guided by when your baby is ready but remember to begin slowly and focus on milk feeds.
So if your little one isn’t sleeping well at night and they are younger than 6 months, look to other areas. How is their day time feeding? Is something in their sleeping environment hindering their sleep? What about the timings and length of their day time naps?

 

Myth 5 “Babies will sleep better once they hit certain milestones like crawling or walking”

It’s certainly true that your baby will have lots of milestones along their baby, toddler and childhood journey. Often parents believe once their baby starts being more mobile, either with crawling or walking, they will sleep better as they are more active. Similar to the point above, perhaps you have been told ‘once they are weaned they will sleep better’, but you reach that point, and sleeping is still the same. The truth is, a lot of families do wait for these milestones and become disappointed and frustrated when nothing changes or sleep gets worse. All babies are unique and some are more affected by these developmental milestones than others.
My advice here is simple. Don’t overthink or think ahead with what might change with your baby’s sleep. Take a day at a time and continue to establish healthy sleep habits and routines to encourage their ability to become a super sleeper. Check out some of my other blog posts for support with helping your little one sleep better:

5 Easy Steps to Teach your Baby Sleep Skills



Baby Sleep Trick



The Baby Sleep Advice Every Mama Should Read



Top Baby Sleep Tips



How To Help Your Newborn Sleep



How to have the best baby bedtime routine for a calm nights sleep

Conclusion

So there are 5 Top Baby Sleep Myths Every Parent Should Know (Part One) explained in a way I hope makes sense. I hope it helps to give you a clearer idea about how to move forward with your little one’s sleep. Remember that my goal for you is to feel empowered as a parent. To know that, as a parent, you have choices. My hope is that by providing lots of useful, important up to date information you can make an informed choice about what works for you as a family. So if you choose to dream feed, dream feed away! If you choose to let your baby wake up naturally for night feeds, super! I offer the choices and support whatever you choose. If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, you might find others I’ve written helpful too. And keep an eye out for Peaceful Parenting Solutions coming your way soon – online courses to support you even more through the early years.
P.S. Just so you know, I always add in a couple of affiliate links with each post. This always includes a great offer that I think might be of interest to you as a parent. Clicking one of my links and making a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) is at NO EXTRA COST to you. I receive a small commission from the retailer.  That helps me with the running costs of my website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! xx

 

Top Baby Sleep Tips

Top Baby Sleep Tips


It can be hard to know what to do or not do when you have a new baby, so here’s some top baby sleep tips to help guide you in those early weeks and months.  The truth is, it’s tough for little ones and they have so much to learn. For a moment, think about your baby in terms of their feeding and sleep needs in the early weeks and months; their digestive system is not mature like ours and they cannot wind themselves up until about 12 weeks. Ensuring they are well fed and well winded is so important. This can really help their sleep. Secondly, offering them a little stimulating playtime after a feed is really important. Then read through all the tips below see what might work for you and your baby and you’ll be on your way to better sleep!
If you’re finding things hard, I want to tell you that it’s ok to not feel ok too. Please don’t suffer alone. Reach out for support to help you and your baby. Whether that’s talking to your partner, family, friends, GP, midwife, health visitor, calling a helpline such as Pandas Foundation. And remember, I offer a complimentary 10 minute chat to talk through sleep struggles too so please do reach out for a discovery call if you think it’d be helpful. Whatever you’re going through, you are not alone. Here’s my top baby sleep tips for you. And remember, there are a lot of tips here, some will work for you and your baby, some may not. So be kind, gentle and patient on yourself and to your baby as you both figure out what works to help their sleep.

My top baby sleep tips including winding your sleepy baby, playtime, swaddle, sleep cues, start a bedtime routine, dream feed, white noise. By a gentle infant sleep coach. Together, let's get sleep sorted Mama!

 

Create a nest

Do not their cover head to avoid overheating. You can buy a nest or make one with rolled up towels. Always be sure you put the towels under a sheet in their cot, away from their head and begin the nest at the bottom of the cot, so their feet are at the bottom too. Imagine a rolled up sausage shape that curls around your baby but stops before their head.

Swaddle

This can be a helpful way to minimise the Moro reflex (the startle reflex that can cause your baby arms to jerk up and often disturb them and scratch themselves). If you decide to swaddle, ensure it’s a light stretchy material and not too tight to minimise overheating risk.

Sheepskin

Research has shown that sheepskin can help regulate body temperature so keeping baby warm in winter and cool in summer. Strange but true! Here’s gorgeous one for the car seat or buggy.

White noise

Good for up to six months. This can help minimise background noises that might disturb your baby. Don’t forget just how loud it was in your womb! Here’s a good option for a white noise machine. Remember that’s it’s most helpful to have it consistently on all night but do be guided by what seems to be working for your baby!

Multi-Sensory

Stroking down baby’s nose, patting, rocking, shushing can all help settle your baby, just remember to mix them up. By offering these multi-sensory reassurances, your baby is much less likely to become dependent on one.

Dress baby in cotton clothing

Always think layers rather than one or two thick layers.

Socks

Putting socks on your baby is a great way to regulate their body temperature.

 

Temperature

Ensure their room is not too warm. Ideally about 18 degrees. We all sleep better in a cooler environment and babies are no different! Try this great thermometer to ensure your baby’s room is at its optimal temperature.

Scent

Leave the essence of mum – I sometimes suggest mum wears her babies night-time clothes under her own clothes for a while to get her smell onto them for her baby.  It can be really reassuring for your baby. I don’t advise offering a comforter before the age of six months and even then make sure it’s something soft and breathable like a muslin cloth.

Warm their cot

Laying your baby into a lightly warmed cot can help them settle better in their own cot. If you have the struggle of getting them to settle in their cot or waking once you settle them there (both SO common!) trying to mimic all the things they need can help them settle better.

Have skin on skin naps

I recommend having a cuddly cosy skin on skin nap once a day for the first 8 weeks. This is great for bonding but also helps stimulate your milk supply. This can alsp help mum get a nap in too!

Elevate head end of the cot

This can especially help with digestion issues. Popping a towel for example, under the mattress can be all it needs.

Safe sleeping space

Always settle your baby where they are going to sleep. It’s really important to create a calm sleeping space for your baby and help them feel safe within it. It’s also really important to have an understanding of The Lullaby Trust’s Safe Sleep Guidelines too.

Don’t be silent

Don’t minimise household noise. Have a little radio, chatter, washing machine on. It’s ok!

Ensure baby’s feeds are effective

This means draining each breast if possible. This will help your baby feel full, sleep better and encourage more milk production for you. If possible, try to express after a feed if the breast isn’t fully emptied. This can be helpful in the night when your supply will be at its lowest. Also, if breastfeeding, look out for a wide open mouth and visible swallowing in your baby. It’s really useful to learn when they are simply sucking for comfort or not feeding well.

Let them sleep at night

I don’t suggest waking your baby for night feeds. Of course, feed them when they wake but allow them to sleep as they wish in the night. This is 7.00pm to 7.00am for babies.

Put them down once asleep

If rocked or fed to sleep (it’s ok sometimes!) put your baby down when asleep. Often this can feel like holding loaded dynamite that will go off the moment you lay them down! They may wake and cry. Just be aware of your responses and potential anxiety if this happens. Usually, if your baby does this once, you are less inclined to try it again then it becomes something you don’t try and you end up holding your baby for the whole nap. It’s ok for sometimes and when they are small but not something you might want to establish as a habit! Often they will wake as you move them as they are still in a light sleep. Either wait a bit longer (approx 20 minutes after faling asleep) until they are floppy, usually a good sign they have moved into a deeper sleep. Or, better still, encourage settling in their safe sleeping space using all of some of the tips in this post!

Sleep cue words

Creating some keywords that you say for all periods of sleep to help your baby learn it’s sleep time. Something like ‘sleepytime, time to sleep’. I used to sing it to all the babies I‘ve looked after and it always helps!

Sleep Cues

Put baby down at first sign of tiredness. This could be looking away, yawning, grizzling. Don’t wait!

Overlay sleep associations when trying to wean off one

To try to avoid your baby becoming attached to one way of falling asleep, add in other ways to help them and mix them up so it minimises their dependence on always being fed or rocked or cuddled to sleep.

Wean them off you

Place objects between yourself and your baby to wean them off you. Also, press under baby’s chin when removing breast/bottle/dummy. And putting gentle pressure on their tummy to wean off tummy sleeping or falling asleep on you can be helpful.

 

Start a bedtime routine

This can be simply a feed, bath, massage, nappy, dressed, top-up feed if needed, story, cuddle, bed. The same rituals in the same order is an important part.

Night and day

Day clothes in the day and pyjamas at night. They might not know but it helps establish the difference between day and night.

Allow them space

Do not rush in at the first sound baby makes. Allowing your baby a few minutes to gurgle and make noises can really help them learn to settle themselves. It might be that going in too soon actually rouses them from their sleep.

Frequent day feeding

Wake baby for frequent daytime feeds.

Don’t snooze feeding

Try not to let your baby fall asleep feeding – try a burp or a change.

The difference between day and night

Help your baby to learn day is bright and noisy, the night is dark & quiet.

Preparation is the key

For night time, get all the things you’ll need for feeding and changing close by. Nappies, muslins, bottles, etc. Going into a brightly lit room with your baby to prepare a night bottle can have a huge impact on them being able to get back to sleep.

Get outdoors

Expose to broad-spectrum daylight, get out and about for fresh air & walks. I know it can be a huge challenge in those early weeks to even leave the house so I’m not talking about a stressful social event where you have to be somewhere at a certain time, more a walk to the park, shops, friends for a cuppa. Good for you. Good for your baby.

Creating a routine

Think timings over technique as you establish a routine for them. If they have a snooze in the buggy, sling or car, that’s fine of course; it’s more about getting them to settle at the same times each day. This helps develop their circadian rhythm and become sleepy and ready for naps. Also, start and end their day at the same time every day.

Winding your baby

Ensure your baby is winded really well during a feed. Before 12 weeks old, ensure you burp your baby every 10 minutes of being on the breast or every half oz of formula. Good digestion really aids good sleep.

Winding your sleepy baby

If your baby is getting sleepy and falling asleep with feeding, it’s important to still wind them as it can affect their sleep. Sit them on your lap, support their chest and head as you cup and gently pat or rub their back with your other hand, avoiding their spine. This position tends to keep them awake more than over the shoulder which can send them to sleep!

Playtime

Encourage a little playtime after a feed and before sleep. This not only helps gives them a structure to their day and create the beginnings of a routine, but it also minimises the feed to sleep association which, for a super sleeper, we don’t want to create! Offering some tummy time, laying under their playmat, or sitting with them and enjoying a few toys for a little while can be all is needed.

Conclusion

So there you have it, 34 top baby sleep tips for you to consider. Remember that your baby is constantly developing and growing (usually, the first major growth is around 4 weeks) so just go with the flow in those early weeks. It’s never too early to use some of these tips I’ve outlined and see what works for you both. Good luck mamas and believe me when I say, you’re doing great!
Together, let’s get sleep sorted
Caroline x
P.S. In case you’re a newbie to my blog (in that case a very warm welcome!), I always add in a couple of affiliate links with a great offer to each post that I think might be of interest to you as a parent. If you choose to click a link and make a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) then it’s at NO EXTRA COST to you. I receive a small commission from the retailer and that helps me with the running costs of my website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! xx

 

5 Easy Steps to Teach your Baby Sleep Skills

5 Easy Steps to Teach your Baby Sleep Skills

What if you could take 5 easy steps to teach your baby sleep skills?

Would you love to know how to begin good sleep from the get-go with your baby?

I’ve outlined 5 easy steps to teach your baby sleep skills below for you to take, even from newborn.

This is not sleep training – simply guidance on how to help your baby get the best sleep possible, even in those early weeks and months. Let’s dive in…

Misconception

Here’s the thing – since babies sleep a lot, it’s a misconception they can do a great job of it as soon as they are born. The truth is babies aren’t born knowing how to fall asleep by themselves very well. When in utero, they get lots of help – a warm and secure environment, lots of swooshing and whooshing white noise to soothe them and the almost constant gentle motion of mum’s movements. So to be laid to sleep in a flat, motionless, quiet cot for sleep is a huge change for them.

From the early weeks, here’s how to easily create good sleep skills for young babies which you can implement from the get-go and will set healthy sleeping habits for life. 

Teach baby night and day differences

A newborn will spend about 16 hours out of every 24 sleeping, this will, at first, be spread across day and night and usually feeding every 2 hours. Your baby doesn’t know that they should sleep more at night and less during the day. To help them learn, begin by ensuring your baby has plenty of exposure to natural broad spectrum daylight as well as plenty of darkness within 24 hours as this helps mimic what our bodies naturally learn to do we grow; to be more awake with daylight and more sleepy during the night.

Take your baby out and about during the day for fresh air and daylight.

Keep daytime naps with some light so don’t close blinds or curtains.

Have some light noise and ensure night time is kept as dark and quiet as possible. This will help set their natural body clock.

The sleep hormone melatonin isn’t something they are born with, it takes several months to be produced so by about 12 weeks their sleep can start to feel a little more organised!

Don’t create a milk to sleep association

In the early weeks, baby falling asleep on the breast or bottle is quite likely to happen. This is ok! What I do suggest is to just be aware of it so it doesn’t become the only way they fall asleep. Gradually, as the weeks progress, try to have a little quiet time (perhaps giving them a cuddle & sing them a little lullaby) after the last feed and before bed. This can help with any digestion issues too.

Catch those sleep cues

An overtired baby will need a lot more help to settle to sleep so try to catch their sleep cues before it’s too late. Early signs can be:

Not responding to stimulation anymore, seeming quiet and still. This is a good time to get them to bed.

Rubbing eyes.

Yawning.

Crying. By this point, they may well be overtired so be aware of what your babies cues are and catch them when you can! Watch this great video for baby sleep cues.

Put them to bed sleepy not asleep

Be gentle and patient with this. Of course, it’s delightful to rock and cuddle baby to sleep when they are tiny. While I’m not saying don’t do this, I am suggesting being mindful to not do this every night. Try to encourage putting them to bed sleepy but not asleep. As they grow, the more they are able to self-soothe themselves to sleep, the more they can resettle in the night and wake for feeds rather than simply needing that rocking/cuddling to get back to sleep. By about 6 months, as long as they are in good health, they should be usually able to drop night feeds.

Bedtime Routine

Starting a bedtime routine is such a simple yet effective way of teaching baby that now it’s time for sleep. I recommend an evening bedtime routine should take no longer than 30 minutes. Include a little warm bath, low lights (dimmed if possible), a gentle massage and quietly change into bedtime clothes. Try, as much as possible, to repeat the same rituals in the same order each night. Having a sleep cue such as ‘it’s sleepy time’ for every sleep can help create a positive sleep association too.

Once you’ve gotten through their first 12 weeks, you might find it helpful to keep a sleep diary to see how much sleep they are now getting. You should see a pattern emerge of less daytime sleep and more nighttime sleep as they grow. And remember that I always suggest families follow the Lullaby Trust guidelines for safe sleep.

5 Easy Steps to Teach your Baby Sleep Skills Gentle Holistic Infant Sleep Coach Offering Support to Families with Babies & Toddlers to Promote Quality Sleep with Positive Sleep Solutions and Strategies

I hope you’ve found this ‘5 Easy Steps to Teach your Baby Sleep Skills‘ post helpful. Any questions or if you do need sleep support and guidance and feel a private consultation would be a good fit for you and your family, get in touch via my website The Little Sleep Coach I’d love to hear how I can help your family!

In this together

Caroline