Top 8 Sleeping Tips

Firstly I would like to congratulate you for making the step toward improving your baby’s/toddler’s sleep. I know you’re exhausted, but I also understand that all you want is what’s best for your baby/toddler.

You know something needs to change. So many parents are feeling frustrated. Overwhelmed and exhausted, but are too scared to take that first step towards better sleeping.

You’ve probably been struggling through months –if not years- of interrupted sleep caused by a baby/toddler who, for whatever reason, has never really learned how to fall and stay asleep on his/her own.

And, like most clients I’ve worked with, you’re probably getting close to the end of your rope. When you ask your own mother how to get your little one to sleep through the night, you get one kind of answer. When you ask other parents, you hear another suggestion.

You may have even asked your baby’s/toddler’s paediatrician how to help him/her stay asleep, only to be told that it’s only a stage, and he/she will eventually grow out of it.

Not only are you sleep deprived, you’re also being presented with a hundred different opinions on how to solve your problem.

So you pick one idea, try it for a couple of nights, and then give up in frustration. A week later, you decide to try another approach, only to abandon it after a few more nights, again disappointed. Perhaps this has been going on for just a short time, or maybe you’ve been suffering through years of sleepless nights.

No matter how long it’s been going on for, I’m certain I’ll be able to help you make a positive change in your baby’s sleep.  If you are happy to stay committed in my recommendations, you will definitely improve your baby’s sleep. This guide will share with you the Eight primary ways you can improve your baby/toddlers sleep or help him/her start sleeping through the night. Here are just a few reasons to improve your baby/toddler’s sleep.

  1. Learning & Memory:

Children who gets enough sleep, learns more rapidly than those who are tired.  Have you ever tried to learn something new when you are tired?  It’s hard!

  1. Mood:

This is a big one for a lot of people.  While some children won’t get too cranky, some get downright monstrous.  Behaviour problems have been linked to sleep deprivation.

  1. Illness:

Your body’s immune system has more trouble fighting off illnesses when it hasn’t gotten enough rest.

  1. Obesity:

A Harvard study concluded that too little sleep in babies and toddlers might be linked to obesity.  Our bodies release hormones Leptin and Ghrelin to signal to our body when we are full and hungry, respectively.  When we don’t sleep enough, Leptin levels go down and you get a spike of Ghrelin. You will get hungry and most likely eat when you should be sleeping.

  1. Depression:

Studies are now finding that it was once thought that sleep problems were a symptom of depression, but now they are considering that sleep problems may precede depression.  We can see that first hand with Post Natal Depression (PND).  Depression is the most common form of mental health problem and it is now considered as just as common in children as it is in adults.  Each year 17 million people suffer from depression and as many as 1 in 33 children may have depression.

Now that we know that our children need a lot of good quality sleep, and why it’s important, let’s get started!

Tip 1: Don’t be afraid of the dark

We humans (babies and toddlers included) sleep better in the dark. Try making your baby’s/toddler’s room as dark as possible. I recommend using blackout blinds, taping cardboard over the windows or whatever it takes to make the room as dark as possible.

In many cases even the glow from a nightlight clock can be enough to disrupt your baby’s/toddler’s sleep cycle!

Try to keep your child’s room as dark as possible during daytime naps, too.

This can often make a big difference in how long your child will nap during the day!

Tip 2: Consistency

Whatever is happening at one sleep situation needs to be happening at all sleep situations to send a clear message about what is expected – SLEEP!

Remembering that our children love predictability, it’s a good idea to have your baby/toddler sleep in the same place-at the same time-every day. This means naptime should happen in the same place as night-time sleep-rather than in car seats, prams, your lap at the coffee shop, etc.

When you are putting your baby/toddler to sleep for the night, it’s a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep.

Tip 3: Bedtime Routine

Babies and toddlers love predictable routines.

And a predictable bedtime routine (lasting no longer than 30 minutes) is a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming.

A typical bedtime routine might look something like this:

  • 6:30 pm – Bath
  • Dress in Pyjamas
  • Milk feed + Story

Keep your baby awake

  • Swaddle or Sleeping bag
  • 7:00 pm – Bedtime

Your baby must be fully awake when you lay him/her down!

Make sure that this routine is the same every single time. Remember, you want bedtime to be as predictable as possible for your child! After your bedtime routine is complete, be boring. Lots of children will try to “drag out” bedtime by playing games, throwing toys out of the cot, standing up, etc. Don’t participate! If your child has thrown their blanket or favourite stuffed toy out of the cot, calmly return the item without saying a word.

Be boring, and the games shouldn’t last too long.

Remember:

That your baby’s/toddler’s bedtime routine should be somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes in length, and that the steps should be repeated in EXACTLY the same order each and every night.

Also remember that at no point in the routine should your baby/toddler be falling asleep.

Tip 4: Shorter awake times during the day

One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep – especially for babies and toddlers – is overtiredness. And many parents are surprised to learn just how soon their children get overtired! If you make sure that your baby/toddler is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you’ll find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime… AND that they are more relaxed, too! Here’s a quick guide to how long your baby/toddler should be awake between naps during the day:

  • Newborn – 10 weeks: 45 minutes to 1 Hour
  • 11 Weeks – 3.5 Months: 1.5 Hours
  • 5 Months – 5 Months: 2 Hours
  • 6 Months – 7 Months: 2.5 Hours to 3 Hours
  • 8 Months – 13 Months: 3 Hours to 4 Hours
  • 14 Months – 3 Years: 5 Hours to 6 Hours

 

Tip 5: Try the “1,2,3” System

When your baby/toddler wakes up during the night or during a nap-and starts crying or fussing, try to wait a specific length of time before going in to check on him/her.

The first day try to wait 10 min before going in to check on him/her. If it’s too difficult for you to wait 10 min, try the 1,2,3 system. The first day you wait for 1 min before you go in to check on your baby/toddler.

On the second day, wait two minutes. Three minutes on the third day and so on. (Max 10min)

Why? Well, everyone (babies and toddlers included) will wake up briefly at the end of each 45 minute “sleep cycle”. Most adults wake so briefly that we don’t even remember it in the morning. But children who haven’t learned to fall asleep independently need a little longer.

This “1,2,3” System gives your baby/toddler the opportunity to get themselves back to sleep-without your help. And once your baby/toddler has learned this skill, you’re home free!

Tip 6:  Put your baby down AWAKE

Put your baby down for naps/bedtime AWAKE in his/her cot. Not drowsy, AWAKE.  It is very important (Especially at night with your bedtime routine) not to feed your baby to sleep.  If he/she tries to fall asleep, tickle the feet, read a story or take him/her of the breast or bottle.

Tip 7:  Fall asleep in Cot

It’s very important for your baby NOT to fall asleep in your arms. He/She has to fall asleep where he is going to wake up à in his cot.

Tip 8: Sleep Associations

Sleep associations are the number 1 reason why babies don’t sleep well.  Sleep associations are external strategies your baby needs in order to fall asleep.  The falling and staying asleep skill is not internalised.

  • Remove Dummy
  • No rocking
  • No Patting
  • No Feeding to sleep
  • No Co-sleeping

Conclusion:

I hope that you have found this information helpful and that your baby is on a good path to healthy sleeping.  If your little one is still struggling to sleep well, you might need more personal help and support from me or there might be a medical reason (like reflux or eczema).  Please see your GP if you are not sure.  Happy Sleepers’ services are not Medical Advice.  The advice you receive from me is for informational purposes only and is intended for use with common early childhood sleep issues that are wholly unrelated to medical conditions.

Happy Sleepers is here to help you.  We have a wide range of packages available to suite your needs.  From video training (Do-it-yourself) to Full night stay where you have all my attention and support.  Sometimes you are just too tired or too close to your situation to solve your issue on your own.  I’m here to help you in your journey towards better sleep.  My motto is:  Sound Sleep for EVERYONE!

About Me

Hi, my name is Christine Scheepers.
I am an ICU Nurse, Midwife, Qualified Sleep Sense Consultant and Founder of Happy Sleepers.

I am a mother of 4 year old twins, Anthony and Emma and they are the reason why I started my Happy Sleepers business. As babies, they made me realise how important sleep is and how the lack thereof, made us a very dysfunctional family.

We were very tired and really didn’t enjoy our little twins the way we wanted to.

We were desperate for sleep!!!  Because I was so sleep deprived for such a long time, it became my mission to help other mums and families with their sleep challenges.

I have undergone a comprehensive training and mentoring program with Dana Obleman, founder of the Sleep Sense program in the US (www.sleepsense.net), which equipped me with the best tools and knowledge available to change sleep problems into healthy sleep habits.

I am very passionate about my business.

I really think I can make a positive difference in your life.

 

DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR BABY’S SLEEP NOW?

GET YOUR 14 DAY STEP-BY-STEP SLEEPING PLAN AND DAILY COACHING VIDEOS TODAY

I’m Christine, the founder of Happy Sleepers. I am an ICU nurse, Midwife, Qualified Sleep Consultant and I’m a mum of twins.  I’ve helped 100’s of babies and parents in the past and now I’m here to help YOU! 🙂

How to get my baby to sleep?

This question can be divided into 3 sections:

  1. How to initially get my baby to sleep when he doesn’t want to fall asleep
  2. How to get my baby to sleep for longer?
  3. How to get my baby to sleep through the night?

1.  How to initially get my baby to sleep when he doesn’t want to  fall     asleep

One of the biggest reasons why baby’s don’t fall asleep is over tiredness.  When a baby is overtired, they work themselves UP instead of DOWN and then it is very difficult to get your baby to fall asleep (for a nap/bedtime).  Then you have a baby who arches backwards and just keeps crying.  Maximum awake times between naps are very important.  If your baby’s maximum awake time is 2 hours, put him down at 2 hours, even if he doesn’t look tired.  A lot of babies don’t show tired signs, but when they start showing signs, it’s already too late.  See table below for the maximum awake time between naps for your baby’s age.

 

 

Here is a few things you can do to improve “falling asleep”

  • Don’t make your your baby overtired
  • When you are at home, always have his sleeps in his cot, in his room
  • Your baby’s room must be dark (day and night)
  • Have a nap routine:
    • Tell your baby it’s nap time
    • Walk him to his room
    • Change the nappy
    • Sleeping bag/swaddle
    • In cot AWAKE

AND

  • Bedtime routine
    • Bath
    • PJ’s (In baby’s room)
    • Milk feed + Story
    • Sleeping bag/Swaddle
    • In cot AWAKE
  • Consistency – Have the same routine (Eat, Play, Sleep) everyday.  If you have the same routine everyday, you baby will get familiar with the routine, he will start to recognition the signals and signs and he will know what is expected from him –> SLEEP

2.  How to get my baby to sleep for longer:

The one big reason why your baby don’t sleep for long periods is because he is unable to resettle back to sleep.  We all have a sleep cycle.  When we sleep, we go in and out of sleep and even wake up a few times, but because we can resettle back to sleep, we don’t remember waking up in the first place.  An adult’s sleep cycle is 90 minutes and a baby’s cycle is 45 minutes.  When a baby only sleeps for 45 minutes and is unable to go back to sleep, he catnaps.

Here is a few things you can do to improve “sleeping for longer”

  • Get rid of sleep associations like dummies, rocking to sleep, patting to sleep, feeding to sleep and co-sleeping. When babies rely on sleep association in order to go to sleep, they will need it to resettle back to sleep which will always involve YOU.  that’s what you want to change.
  •  Make your baby’s room very dark during the day.  When he wakes between sleep cycles and there is nothing to focus on because it’s too dark, he has a better chance to resettle and go back to sleep.  The dark room will also increase Melatonin levels in the body which will definitely improve sleep.
  • Your baby must fall asleep in his cot, NOT in your arms
  • Your baby must be AWAKE in his cot when going to sleep, NOT drowsy.

3.  How to get my baby to sleep through the night?

One of the biggest reasons why babies don’t sleep through the night is because of sleep associations. Sleep associations are external strategies (like dummies, rocking to sleep, patting to sleep, feeding to sleep, co-sleeping) your baby relies on in order to go to sleep and/or resettle back to sleep in the middle of the night.  When they rely on external strategies to go to sleep and resettle back to sleep, they don’t have an internalised skill.  Once you remove the external strategies (sleep associations) and teach your baby an internalised skill (via sleep training), your baby will start sleeping through the night.

Along with the removal of sleep associations, you also need to look at your baby’s day and night routine and sleep environment like discussed before.  When you fix all 3 aspects (sleep associations, sleep environment and routine), you will have a baby who will start sleeping through the night within 7 days.

 

DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR BABY’S SLEEP NOW?

GET YOUR 14 DAY STEP-BY-STEP SLEEPING PLAN AND DAILY COACHING VIDEOS TODAY

I’m Christine, the founder of Happy Sleepers. I am an ICU nurse, Midwife, Qualified Sleep Consultant and I’m a mum of twins.  I’ve helped 100’s of babies and parents in the past and now I’m here to help YOU! 🙂

Case Study 2

AMAZING!!! ANOTHER HAPPY SLEEPER!

She has made my family so much happier, and we are all getting the rest we need!

I first turned to happy sleepers when my son was 4 months old, i spoke to Christine on the phone and decided to not go ahead with the program because i thought my baby was to young, i contacted her again at 5 months and still didn’t go ahead, it was more so the fact that I wasn’t ready, i didn’t think id be able to do it being so sleep deprived!
But when it came to my son being 8 months, waking up every 40 mins through the night, and NOTHING was working getting him back to sleep i knew it was time to contact Christine and do the program.
I was sooo excited to start the program, and i seen results on night one. He only woke twice! Then he went back to 1 night waking for about a week!
Now he is sleeping through the night. It was hard work i wont lie, but christine was so supporting and encouraging, i didnt want to give up! I knew this would be best for both of us in the end.
And we are both so so much happier for having the sleep we need.
We had been to 2 sleep schools, we had seen doctors osteopaths, chriopractors, natropaths because i literally thought my baby had something waking him up!
But hes healthy as ever, just didnt know how to put himself to sleep! Now i just pop him in his cot and he goes to sleep without any help. Even with him getting his 2 front teeth!
I could not recommend christine enough!
She has made my family so much happier, and we are all getting the rest we need!
Thank you so much for you help Christine.

 

 

Tegan contacted me when Ella was about 5 months old. They initially went to a day Sleep School and introduced a routine and settling practices which were working initially but didn’t last very long.  Ella was waking multiple times overnight and had to be rocked or fed back to sleep.  Ella also had a dummy.

 

More Happy Sleepers 🙂

 

 

DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR BABY’S SLEEP NOW?

GET YOUR 14 DAY STEP-BY-STEP SLEEPING PLAN AND DAILY COACHING VIDEOS TODAY

I’m Christine, the founder of Happy Sleepers. I am an ICU nurse, Midwife, Qualified Sleep Consultant and I’m a mum of twins.  I’ve helped 100’s of babies and parents in the past and now I’m here to help YOU! 🙂

Case Study 1

UNBELIEVABLE!!

Danica contacted me when she was completely exhausted. Her little Calvin, who was 9 months old at the time, was a very bad sleeper.  He was unable to self settle which meant that Danica constantly had to rock and feed him to sleep and he had a dummy.  He would wake up every 45 minutes overnight and then ended up co-sleeping.  She was so tired during the day that he partner sometimes needed to come home from work to give her some time to sleep which had a big impact on their finances.  She was desperate for sleep and change!

This is what Danica had to say after completing the Happy Sleepers Program:

Never in my wildest dreams did i actually think my 10 month old son would fall asleep for longer than 30 minutes and without me rocking him; from anywhere up until 40 minutes! I would get to the point of putting a movie on and just staying up all night because he was waking so frequently anyway!! How did I survive? NO IDEA!!
Thanks to Christine and her 14 day ring-a-Rosie plan, as I’m from Adelaide, my handsome little man now sleeps 12 hours a night!!!!! I’m a different person! I can chase him around and keep up with him! He no longer has permanent purple bags under his eyes which I was sooo embarrassed about! He’s so much happier and throws big smiles daily which was so rare before! His social anxiety/shyness/clingy behaviour has completely subsided and he loves going places with me now! He is happier in the car to just watch or fall asleep if he is tired instead of screaming. OMG the list of things could go on!!!
I honestly can’t thank Christine enough!! She also has a great payment plan that worked so well for me during this busy end of year!! The technique was gentle and allowed me to be with my son while he needed me! I would recommend it 1000x over!!!! Xx

 

The next mum is Veronica:

 

More Happy Sleepers 🙂

DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR BABY’S SLEEP NOW?

GET YOUR 14 DAY STEP-BY-STEP SLEEPING PLAN AND DAILY COACHING VIDEOS TODAY

I’m Christine, the founder of Happy Sleepers. I am an ICU nurse, Midwife, Qualified Sleep Consultant and I’m a mum of twins.  I’ve helped 100’s of babies and parents in the past and now I’m here to help YOU! 🙂

Straight talk about crying

The single biggest issue I encounter as a child sleep consultant is the question of crying. Is it okay to let your child “cry it out?” If so, how much crying should you put up with? How long will a child cry for before he falls asleep? Is it healthy? Won’t your baby resent you if you just let him cry all by himself?

Now, before you start to worry that I’m an advocate of the “cry it out” school of sleep training, please don’t panic! I would never advise you to leave your baby crying in his cot alone even for a minute if that’s something you’re not comfortable doing. (Believe me, that’s the way most of my clients feel.)

So please keep reading… In the chapters ahead, I’ll offer you a number of different solutions to try with your baby – and I’m confident you’ll find the one that works best for you and your family.

 

I remember when my husband and I finally decided that we’d had enough of the sleepless nights, and started the process of teaching our little twins to sleep through the night. The idea of listening to them crying alone – for who knows how long – was absolutely terrifying. In fact, it was this fear that had prevented us from taking this step on a number of previous occasions.

To combat our fear, we decided to take a good hard look at our situation. As a couple, we had begun to feel the strains of all our sleepless nights. We were staying up until midnight, only getting a few hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time, having very little time alone, and not connecting the same way we used to. We could see that if things continued this way much longer, we would begin to drift apart and our relationship would pay the price. And that was something we refused to let happen.

We also looked at how we were functioning as parents. I was tired, worried, and depressed about my nursing skills, and feeling resentment toward my husband – and even worse, my babies! And since neither my husband nor I had enjoyed a decent night’s sleep in months, we were both grouchy a lot of the time.

We decided to make a list of the pros and cons involved in teaching our son to sleep through the night. On the “pro” side, we would no longer have any of the problems I just described, and – much more important – our son would be happier and healthier because sleep is so important to the emotional and physical wellbeing of infants and toddlers.

We also knew that our friends, parents, and family would be greatly relieved to know that we would finally be getting some sleep and would have the energy to spend some quality time with them, instead of turning down their invitations to dinners, parties, and all the other get-togethers that we were always too tired or too grouchy to attend.

The list was getting pretty long on the “pros” side, so we decided to move on to the “cons.” Try as we might, we were only able to come up with one reason why we didn’t want to go ahead with teaching our twins how to sleep through the night. And that one reason was that he might cry.

The key word there is “might.” We had no idea if they actually would cry, but the very idea had been enough to hold us back from even trying to teach them to sleep through the night. As we sat there and looked at our long list of “pros,” and then looked at the

only thing we were able to identify as a con, we knew that we had made our decision.

Looking back, there wasn’t really much to be afraid of. We did have to put up with a bit of crying for the first little while, but it certainly wasn’t very much. And the end result was that everyone – especially our twins – was actually much happier now that we were all getting some sleep.

So I’m going to recommend that you now take a moment to make your own list of the pros and cons of teaching your little one to sleep through the night. But before you get started on that list, I want to provide you with some straight talk about crying and what it means for infants and toddlers.

As hard as it is to listen to your child cry, it is important to remember that infants and toddlers only have a couple of ways to communicate with us. When they are pleased, they smile, coo, giggle, and laugh. When they are angry, upset, hungry, uncomfortable, irritated, frustrated, tired, or grouchy, they cry.

Now, just as the smallest things can cause your little one to start laughing hysterically, so too can any minor annoyance launch her into a fit of crying. Have you ever let your eight-month-old play with a set of your keys, and then had to take them away because you needed to get the car started and drive somewhere? Many children will cry their lungs out if we take something away from them! But if you happen to need whatever it is they’re playing with, or if they’re playing with something dangerous, you have no choice in the matter. You’ve got to act in their best interest, even if it results in tears.

Just the other day, my son had his own juice cup and the juice cup of another toddler in his hands, and was happily running around with both of them. It wasn’t until the owner of the second juice cup toddled over to ask for his drink back that the problem began. Anthony absolutely did not want to give the other boy his juice. Of course, I tried to reason with him, explaining that he really didn’t need two juice cups and that one did, in fact, belong to the other child, but nothing would convince him.

When I finally had to take the cup from Anthony, he had a complete meltdown. He cried, kicked, and threw himself around on the floor for at least 15 minutes. Finally, I scooped him up, struggled to get him into the car, and took him home.

He cried madly for most of the ride home as well. Needless to say, it was a terrible ordeal for both of us. I was almost in tears just watching him, but I realised there was truly nothing I could do to help him. I could make sure he was safe and be there waiting with open arms when he stopped crying, but for as long as the tantrum lasted, I knew there was nothing I could do.

Now, if my son was a bit older and knew how to talk, I would have been able to reason with him, and he would have been able to explain to me why he was so upset and what he would like to do in order to make it better.

Unfortunately, infants and toddlers can’t hold rational conversations with us, so they communicate with us the only way they know how. They laugh and smile when they are happy, and they cry when they are upset.

It doesn’t get easier as they get older

I often meet with parents of two-and three-year-olds who are still having to wake up with their children a couple of times every night and help them fall back asleep (either by getting them a drink of water, reading them a story, taking their child to bed with them, etc.).When I ask these parents why on earth they have waited so long to call me, they almost always give me the same answer: “We thought he would grow out of it.”

The bad news is, children usually don’t grow out of it. Current research shows that infants who are having sleep difficulties continue to do so for three to five years. I can certainly vouch for this. At least half of the clients I have worked with over the years have had children over the age of two, so the idea that babies will grow out of it as they get older simply isn’t usually true. And unfortunately, as your child gets older, it gets harder, not easier, to see her cry

As a daughter, I can tell you that it still breaks my mother’s heart to see me cry. It’s something that never gets easier to bear. All parents hold their child’s happiness foremost in their mind. It doesn’t matter how old your child is, you are simply never going to enjoy seeing her upset.

The one thing that is critical for parents to remember is that crying isn’t going to cause any serious damage to your child. Children cry a lot. They cry for any reason. They cry for no reason. Sometimes they cry just to get our attention.

Crying at bedtime isn’t any different than crying during the day, but for some reason, it’s much harder for most parents to take.

 

 

 

You can’t please your child all the time

Sometimes the hardest thing to face when you are a parent is the fact that in some circumstances, the best thing you can do for your child is nothing at all. Remember the story I told you about my son throwing a tantrum because he couldn’t have two cups of juice? Well, I couldn’t give him back the cup, since that would be rewarding the tantrum, which would no doubt result in the same sort of situation happening over and over again. I couldn’t comfort him because he didn’t want me near him. And he was far too young to reason with. The only thing I could do was simply to let him be. He had to work out his distress all on his own. I could be there for him when he was finished his tantrum, and I could reassure him with my voice that everything was okay, but in the end it was up to him to calm himself down.

It’s important to remember this lesson if you find that your child cries during the first few nights she is learning to fall asleep on her own. The best thing you can do for your child is allow her the chance to work it out on her own. Children need to realize that they have control over their own bodies. They need to learn how to recognize what “tired” feels like, and how to alleviate those tired feelings without anyone’s help.

It is important for them to understand that sleep is not a scary place, or a bad thing, or a punishment, or a battle that has to be fought, but a nice, warm comfortable place to put tired feelings to rest so they can wake up in the morning feeling happy, refreshed, and ready for a new day.

Once my clients have finished my program, they often tell me that their children have actually started to ask to go to bed. Or they will ask for a bath and start walking to the bathroom, knowing that a bath is the first step of their bedtime routine. They will even point to their cribs and say “night-night” when they are feeling sleepy.

The first time your child exhibits this kind of behaviour will almost certainly be a very rewarding experience for you, because it will be clear to you that your child understands the reason for sleeping. He will recognize what “tired” feels like and will be happy to go to bed to make those tired feelings go away. He will look forward to his “alone time” in his room when he can have a chat with his favorite stuffed animal and tell him all about his day before finally falling asleep.

Is crying a necessary step?

Do you absolutely have to let your child cry to teach him to sleep through the night?

Probably.

I’m being honest with you. I’d love to tell you that I have discovered a way to teach infants and toddlers to sleep through the night that involves no protest on their part, but I haven’t. And despite the claims of people who will try to sell you a magic blanket or CD that’s supposed to put your child instantly to sleep, I don’t think that such a method exists. However, as I hope you understand by now, a little crying isn’t going to do any damage to you or your child.

The important thing to remember is that it’s not the crying that will help your little one fall asleep – it’s the self-soothing strategies that he will have an opportunity to develop in order to stop himself from crying. His crying comes from a change to the old routine. Putting your baby in his crib at night awake might be a completely new experience for him. He will be confused and upset by this new change, and yes, he’ll probably cry to express his displeasure.

But remember that your child wants to stop crying as much – if not more – than you want him to. He’ll cry for a while because he knows that this is the strategy that has worked for him in the past, but once he figures out that it’s up to him to get himself to sleep, he’ll likely figure out how to make that happen faster than you’d think!

The bottom line is, change of any kind is a difficult thing for everyone. How many times have you vowed to eat healthier, quit smoking, or exercise more? Making change happen is tough for us adults, so it is only fair to expect our children to find it difficult as well.

The good news is that infants and toddlers learn much more quickly than we do. And as you’ll soon discover for yourself, they figure out how to soothe themselves into a deep and restful sleep sooner than you’d imagine.

How much crying?

So just how much crying should you expect? It depends. Some children will cry for an hour or more for the first few nights before they fall asleep. Others will doze off after just a few minutes. Some children will get the hang of things in a couple of days; others will take a couple of weeks.

Here’s an example for you, drawn from an experience with a family I worked with:

Melissa and Steve were at their wits’ end by the time they gave me a call. Their little six-month-old boy, Michael, had never slept for more than two hours at a time. When Michael was two weeks old, his weight gain began to slow down. On the instruction of her doctor, Melissa began to wake Michael up every two hours through the night to increase her milk supply and to ensure that Michael was getting the calories he needed. This started a terrible cycle for both Melissa and Michael because Michael became used to waking up every two hours for a feed and Melissa had to get up with him each time and nurse him back to sleep.

When Melissa called me, she was in an awful state of mind. Michael’s weight gain was back on track, so he didn’t really need to be nursing every two hours, but it had become a habit. As a result, Melissa was so sleep-deprived that her marriage was starting to suffer. She felt no resentment toward her baby over her lack of sleep. Instead, she had been taking out all her frustrations on her husband.

When I met Steve, he was convinced that Michael was going to be their only child if things continued the way they were going. He also felt that his relationship with Melissa was going to be in serious trouble if things didn’t change soon.

After I met with Melissa and Steve and gave them all the same information I’m giving you here, they decided to give my plan a try. Melissa was positive that Michael would cry hysterically all night long if she didn’t nurse him, but she decided that she would at least see how long she could hold out before caving in to his cries.

When I spoke to Melissa the next morning, she was ecstatic! She said that they had followed their plan and had Michael in bed by 7:15 pm.. He was definitely confused by the change of events in his bedtime routine, but Melissa followed her plan and after 40 minutes, Michael was asleep. Melissa, who was utterly exhausted from months of sleep deprivation, soon went to bed herself, not sure what the rest of the night had in store for her.

You can imagine her surprise when she woke with a start at 3:00 a.m. and realized that she had been asleep for almost seven straight hours! She was convinced that something must have happened to Michael’s, and ran into his bedroom – only to find the little guy happily snoozing away. A few minutes later, Michael woke up and started to cry, but Melissa decided to leave him for a few minutes to see if he would go back to sleep on his own. And to her surprise, he was asleep again in 10 minutes – and slept until 6:00 a.m.!!

Melissa could not believe how well the night went. Though she knew every night might not go so well, she had the motivation she needed to keep going with her sleep plan. Well, it’s now nine months later and I’m happy to report that Michael is still doing very well. He goes to bed happily at 7:00 p.m. and sleeps until six or seven the next morning. He is also having two solid naps a day, and everyone is happier and healthier now that they are all sleeping through the night!

Admittedly, this is a best-case scenario. Michael learned self-soothing strategies very quickly and continued to do well night after night. Melissa and Steve were thrilled by the results. Steve later confided in me that the changes they had made to Michael’s sleep schedule had improved the quality of their relationship and also their happiness as parents. He was no longer against having more children, and was happy to have his wife back! When people ask me how long it usually takes for a child to learn how to sleep through the night, I hate to give them an answer, as it can be discouraging for them if their child takes longer than average.

That said, you have every right to ask this question, so here’s the answer: It takes an average of five nights, and the average child will cry for 45 – 90 minutes before falling asleep on her own. These numbers are based on my work with hundreds of families, but they are still just averages. It will happen more quickly for some children, more slowly for others.

Is this harmful?

I am sometimes asked by concerned parents whether I think that letting their infant or toddler cry at bedtime will lead to some kind of permanent psychological damage. The answer is most definitely NOT! I’m unaware of any credible evidence from a published medical study that mentions any link between letting a child cry at bedtime for a few nights and psychological problems later in life.

Now, I am not for a moment suggesting that you ignore the cries of your child – especially if they sound serious. If there is any possibility that your child might be crying because she is in danger, or because she is in pain, then of course you need to go and help her! What kind of a parent would you be otherwise? Even if you’re uncertain whether the cries of your child are serious or not, you still go in and check on her. Simply entering the room of your child and checking to see that she’s all right isn’t going to prevent her from learning how to sleep through the night.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some parents will find that their child will seem “needier” or “clingy” during the first week or two that they start implementing a sleep schedule. This is normal for many children, and it almost always resolves itself within a week or two.

Don’t feel guilty

Personally, I feel that one of the biggest dangers in any relationship – including the one you have with your children – is letting guilt get the best of you. Guilt is a funny thing. Like my grandmother used to say, “Guilt is like sitting in a rocking chair; it’ll give you something to do, but it will never get you anywhere!” Before you give in to those feelings of guilt, take a minute to think about what you are feeling guilty about. All you are doing is teaching your child an important and healthy lesson. The ability to sleep peacefully is a gift that you are giving to your child, a gift that she will be able to use for the rest of her life.

Now, I know that I feel a little guilty when my son cries because I won’t give him a second – or third or fourth – piece of my chocolate bar. Of course, not filling him with chocolate is the right thing to do, and not giving in to his whining actually makes me a better parent than if I did give him an entire chocolate bar to eat. Still, I can’t help but feel a bit sad for the little guy!

So why do we find it so easy to give into guilt?

The answer is simple: We want to please other people.

We especially want to please the people we love. And we really aren’t used to people crying in order to get what they want – especially if we’re first-time parents. (Can you imagine what you would do if your friends, co-workers, or family members started crying whenever they didn’t get what they wanted from you?)

When our children start to cry – our children who we love more than anyone else on the whole planet – then we naturally want to do whatever it takes to stop them from crying and make them happy. The problem is, giving in to that crying often means exchanging your child’s wellbeing for your own peace of mind. (“This chocolate bar may not be a healthy snack for my baby, but at least he’s happy now that I’ve given him some and I don’t have to feel like a monster for making him cry with all these people around us listening to him!”)

I know that everyone gives in to their child from time to time. If you’ve ever been stuck on a crowded airplane with a crying baby, you know that you’d do anything to get him or her to stop crying.

However, if you make a habit of always doing whatever it takes to stop your child from crying, then you’ll wind up with a real problem. Children – especially infants and toddlers – learn by observing what happens when they perform certain behaviours. When they get what they want as a result of a certain behaviour (getting to breastfeed whenever they cry, for example) then you can bet they’ll keep repeating that behaviour for as long as it is effective!

Putting it all together

So what are my feelings and recommendations about crying?

I think that it is tremendously important that children learn to sleep well. It is important for children to understand that they have the power to resolve their own sleep needs. It is important that children learn to understand what “tired” feels like and connect the fact that sleep is the only way to make those tired feelings go away. It is important for your child not to have anxiety or fear around going to bed. In order for your child to learn all these important things, some crying will usually be involved.

Like I said before, change is hard work. Changing your child’s sleep habits will most likely be met with some protest. The best, quickest, and most effective way to teach her how to sleep through the night is to let her figure it out on her own, and yes, this will probably involve some crying.

However, I also know firsthand (and through the stories of the hundreds of families I have helped) that letting a child cry alone in her room is more than some parents can bear. And I know that if you are overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and sadness – emotions that are often caused by letting a child cry alone in her room – you won’t be successful in teaching your child to sleep through the night. So here is my advice to those of you who are overwhelmed by the idea of leaving your child alone to cry in her cot:

Feel free to stay in your child’s room with her.

Of course, your child will probably still cry even though you are in the room with him. He will still want you to pick him up, play with him, feed him, nurse him, read him a story, and so on, but it is important that you not give in to these requests. The only reason you are there is to give occasional reassurance and comfort to your child.

Here’s an example of a strategy that Jim and Mary – clients of mine who were uncomfortable with the idea of leaving their daughter, Melissa, alone – successfully implemented:

First, Jim and Mary would give Melissa a bath, brush her teeth and hair, put her into her pajamas, and read a story with her. They then sang to her for a few minutes, gave her a bottle of milk, and then laid her down in her cot once she had finished her drink. After putting Melissa in her crib, they would turn the light off, and then sit themselves in a chair near her bed. As she fussed, they would reassure her, frequently repeating in a soft, soothing voice, “It’s okay baby, Mommy and Daddy are here. Don’t worry. But now it’s time for night-night. Go to sleep, honey.”

The first couple of nights they would also give their daughter a brief stroke on the face now and then to let her know they were still there. It took about 30 minutes of crying the first night for her to fall asleep, about 20 the following night, and about 10 the third. After the third night, they would leave the room after five minutes (while she was still crying). It took another few nights for her to get used to this system, but after a week or so, she was sleeping better and everyone was much happier at bedtime.

(Previously, she had taken about an hour to nurse herself to sleep. She would suckle for five minutes, doze for five minutes, then wake and suckle for five more minutes. This would continue for up to an hour and a half, until the mother was convinced that her daughter was in a deep enough sleep that she could lay her down in her cot without waking her.)

Final thoughts:

My goal for this chapter is that, after reading it, you will understand that a little crying is not the end of the world. In fact, by letting your child cry a bit and teaching him how to soothe himself to sleep, you are giving him an important gift that he will carry with him throughout his entire life.

By this point in the book, I also hope that you share my appreciation for how incredibly important sleep is, especially for infants and children. They desperately need their sleep in order for their minds to develop properly and so that they can start each day rested, refreshed, and ready to learn. Refusing to give the tools they need to develop healthy sleep habits will be far more harmful to your children than a few minutes of crying.

Finally, I want you to understand the difference between the strategies I am recommending and the idea of letting a baby “cry it out.” Letting a baby “cry it out” implies that you have done nothing to prepare your child for bedtime and are just going to put him into his crib, close the bedroom door, and walk away!

To me, this kind of treatment is totally unfair to your child. You need to prepare him for sleep by teaching him predictable cues that tell him bedtime is approaching, and you need to make sure he knows you are there to help him if he really needs you. What I recommend to my clients is a complete sleep time strategy that will probably involve some crying. Where many parents go wrong is that they decide to try the so-called “cry it out” approach – and then, without learning the importance of creating a bedtime routine, they just put their children into their cribs and abandon them!

That’s why it is so important for you to take the time to read through this book and educate yourself about how sleep works and why it is so critical to your child’s development. By understanding how sleep happens, and by giving your child the tools she needs to soothe herself to sleep, you can rest assured that you are doing the right thing.

 

Sound good? Then let’s get started!

 

For more information on sleep training, please check out my Happy Sleepers program.  I guarantee, you’ll be glad you did it!

 

DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR BABY’S SLEEP NOW?

GET YOUR 14 DAY STEP-BY-STEP SLEEPING PLAN AND DAILY COACHING VIDEOS TODAY

I’m Christine, the founder of Happy Sleepers. I am an ICU nurse, Midwife, Qualified Sleep Consultant and I’m a mum of twins.  I’ve helped 100’s of babies and parents in the past and now I’m here to help YOU! 🙂

Is sleep important?

With the Happy Sleepers Program, it’s all about teaching your infant or toddler how to sleep through the night. I’ve taught the following strategies to hundreds of families through group seminars and one-on-one consultations, and have watched as amazed parents suddenly find themselves getting a full night’s sleep after only a few nights of implementing my “Happy Sleepers” system.

One of the main reasons this system is so effective is that I always give my clients a brief lesson on exactly why sleep is so important – both for them and for their children.

Sleep is something we all spend a lot of time doing (though maybe not so much in our first few months as new parents). Yet most of us don’t understand what sleep really is, or why we seem to need so much of it. As a result, almost everyone takes sleep for granted – that is, until we start not getting enough of it!

Many of my clients offer clear examples of how damaging it can be to neglect your own sleep needs. More often than not, an exhausted mother breaks down in tears and frustration at some point during my meeting with her. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel as though they have lost all control over their lives after just a week or two of baby-induced sleep deprivation. They’ll also often confess to me that their relationship with their partner is beginning to suffer.

 

In many households, one parent has to go off to work early every morning, which can make night-time wakings a real bone of contention. On the one hand, Mom or Dad really does need sleep to deal with the demands of a day at the office, but it is also important for the other parent to get his or her sleep as well. After all, a day with the children is awfully demanding too!

The majority of the families I work with, the mother ends up fighting most of the night-time battles all by herself. Unfortunately, this can often lead to feelings of resentment toward her partner, or even toward her child.

A study in the June 2001 issue of Paediatrics related infant sleep problems to postnatal depression and showed that mothers of poor sleepers consistently have more depressive symptoms than mothers of good sleepers. This makes perfect sense; anyone’s mood is bound to turn sour after several days – or weeks, or even months – of continued sleep deprivation.

This lack of sleep can cause parents to become obsessed with the idea of sleep. I remember meeting with a mother named Wendy who told me an interesting story:

“I remember looking at other women on the streets or in grocery stores and instead of thinking, ‘Oh, I wish I had hair like hers,’ or ‘What a great figure she has,’ I started thinking, ‘Look how well‑rested she looks… I bet she sleeps through the night!’ Whenever I would meet with other mothers and discover that their children had always slept through the night, I would seethe with jealousy! They would try to offer helpful hints, or say things like, ‘He’ll grow out of it,’ but I was really beginning to doubt that he ever would! There were even nights I would go to bed and pray – to whoever was listening – that tonight be the night my son would finally sleep for more than three hours!”

The frustration of not getting enough sleep is by no means limited to mothers, however. A father at one of my seminars began the day by declaring that his daughter was the first and only child he was ever going to have. It was just too hard on both him and his wife to be getting up every two hours during the night. He felt his wife was taking out all her frustrations on him, and it was causing too much strain on their relationship. He swore that if things didn’t change quickly and dramatically, he was going to have a vasectomy! (Thankfully, his daughter’s sleep issues were soon under control, and he and his wife are now planning to have another baby very soon.)

Of course, if you are reading this book, you most likely already know how terrible it feels not to be getting enough sleep, so let’s move on to a brief discussion of why your child may be having difficulty sleeping.

 

How important is sleep?

“Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm. Every night and at every nap, sleep recharges the brain’s battery. Sleeping well increases brainpower just as weight lifting builds stronger muscles, because sleeping well increases your attention span and allows you to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time. Then you are at your personal best.”

– Dr. Marc Weissbluth, author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

When I am explaining the importance of sleep to my clients during a seminar, I like to make a comparison between sleeping and eating. Both are necessary for survival. When people eat an unhealthy diet, they become malnourished and their body suffers. In the same way, people who have unhealthy sleep habits become mentally malnourished. Lack of sleep starves them of the energy they need to be happy and well adjusted.

No sane parents would raise their children entirely on a diet of candy, because everyone knows that it would not only be terribly unhealthy for their children, but would also teach them bad eating habits – habits they would carry with them throughout their childhood and probably for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, our society isn’t nearly as well-educated about the importance of sleep as we are about the importance of eating a balanced and nutritious diet.

The good news is that doctors and the rest of the medical community have become more vocal about the importance of a healthy night’s sleep in the past few years. Dr. William Dement, founder of the Stanford University Sleep Research Centre, has conducted extensive research that suggests sleep is the single most important factor in predicting how long people will live – more influential than diet, exercise, or heredity.

Our society is especially ignorant of the importance of sleep for infants and toddlers. Current research shows that between 20 and 30 percent of all infants and toddlers will have some difficulty sleeping. And though many parents tell themselves, “They’ll row out of it,” the truth is that the majority of these cases persist for three to five years.

Infants or toddlers who aren’t getting enough sleep are easy to spot. They will frequently rub their eyes and faces throughout the day – even if they have only been awake for an hour – and they are more likely than well-rested children to suddenly “lose it.” We’ve all had experiences where our child starts throwing a tantrum in public; these breakdowns are far more common for children who are tired than for those who have been getting the sleep they need.

Many sleep-deprived children also start to develop behaviours that are usually called “overactive” or “hyperactive.” They may even be labelled as “attention deficit” children. Dr. Judith Owens, the director of the Paediatric Sleep Disorders Clinic and the Learning, Attention, and Behaviour Program at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, notes that there is a huge overlap between sleep deprivation and psychiatric disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The bottom line is this: Sleep is tremendously important. It is just as important for your child as a healthy diet or a loving home.

If your child is not getting enough sleep every day, he is being put at a disadvantage. He will not be able to deal with the pressures of the day as well as his peers, and he will probably have a more difficult time acquiring and retaining knowledge than a child who is getting the proper amount of sleep.

The importance of the “right kind” of sleep

Sleep experts agree that “consolidated” (uninterrupted) sleep is the most restful and healthy kind of sleep for both infants and adults. Sleep that is interrupted by one or more awakenings during the night usually leads to daytime sleepiness, a decrease in mental flexibility and attention, and mood impairments.

In other words, sleep that is broken up by several “night wakings” is not the same as sleeping through the night. So it’s important that adults and children get all the consolidated sleep they need. Even adults who have had just one night of fragmented sleep show a dramatic reduction in motivation and attention. They often feel overwhelmed by the tasks of the day and have difficulty making decisions. The effects on infants and children are even more harmful.

In order for both adults and children and adults to function at their peak performance, they must be getting adequate, consolidated sleep. Children who sleep 10 to 12 hours a night wake up well-rested, attentive, cheerful, and are best able to cope with and learn from their environment. Parents, too, will feel better equipped to perform the demanding tasks of work and family life.

Sleep is important for you, too!

I hope you’re starting to see how incredibly important sleep is for your child. Once you’ve implemented the system in this book and your little one is consistently sleeping through the night, I think you’ll be amazed at how much happier and more alert she will be during the day. But it is just as important that you understand how important sleep is for you and your partner as well! Sleep deprivation is a powerful thing, and if you’ve noticed a negative change in yourself and your spouse since your child arrived (or since her sleep difficulties began), there’s a good chance that this change has been caused by the fact that you’re simply not getting enough sleep.

For many new parents, the first few months of parenthood are the first time in their lives when they are prevented from getting as much sleep as they want. Gone are the days of lazing around in bed until 11:00 on a Saturday morning – because your new baby is now waking you up at 5:00 a.m.! And as if that wasn’t bad enough, you’re also getting up a number of times every night to nurse or soothe your child back to sleep.

Now, if this is your first child and he or she is less than a few months old, you might not notice the effects of this sleep deprivation. After all, you’ve got this wonderful new person to care for, and nothing else seems to matter very much. But believe me, after a few more months of not getting enough sleep, not even the joy of being a new parent will replace your need for a decent night’s sleep!

The National Sleep Foundation recently released a comprehensive study showing that parents of children with sleep difficulties get an average of 6.8 hours of sleep per night – considerably less than the eight hours adults typically need to feel rested and function optimally.

And as we all know, when we’re tired, we’re cranky.

And when we’re cranky, we tend to take it out on those closest to us. For most families, this means that your spouse is the one who receives the brunt of your grouchiness. The job of raising children is tough at times, and you need to be able to count on the love and support of your partner. That support can be hard to muster up at times if you’re always at each other’s throats because you’re both so darn tired all the time! In addition, tired parents are likely to suffer at work. Of course, employers are usually pretty forgiving of the forgetfulness and fatigue new parents experience during the first few months of their child’s life, but if you’ve been showing up for work utterly exhausted for the past year, then you can be pretty sure that the quality of your work has been suffering.

Problems with your spouse or poor work performance are frightening possible outcomes. However, the most serious consequence of sleep deprivation is that it can lead to dangerous feelings of disappointment, resentment, or even anger toward your child. Early childhood is when we learn a great deal about emotions, so if you are often grouchy with your child, your behaviour can have a strong negative impact on how your child interacts with others as she gets older.

Some of my clients have privately confessed to being so fed up with their child’s crying in the middle of the night that they have occasionally had thoughts about shaking their baby. Of course, they’ve never done it. But the thought itself can be terrifying for parents. And I’m sure that for every parent who has told me about these feelings, there are a dozen more who feel the same way but are too embarrassed to tell me.

So sleep is undeniably important – not just for your child, but for you and the rest of your family as well. If you have children who are already in school and are being awakened in the night by a crying baby, it can have a terrible effect on their emotional health and, of course, their schoolwork.

The good news is that there is an easy solution to all these problems. Once your child is sleeping through the night, most of these problems will start to melt away. You and your spouse will be able to start spending some quality time together again… You’ll feel ready to face the day when you wake up in the morning… Your friends and co-workers will start to notice a real change in your mood and the way you look.

 

Sound good? Then let’s get started!

 

For more information on sleep training, please check out my Happy Sleepers program.  I guarantee, you’ll be glad you did it!

Sleep Well

Christine

 

DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR BABY’S SLEEP NOW?

GET YOUR 14 DAY STEP-BY-STEP SLEEPING PLAN AND DAILY COACHING VIDEOS TODAY

I’m Christine, the founder of Happy Sleepers. I am an ICU nurse, Midwife, Qualified Sleep Consultant and I’m a mum of twins.  I’ve helped 100’s of babies and parents in the past and now I’m here to help YOU! 🙂

Can the dummy interfere with my baby’s sleeping?

I always say, if your baby is using a dummy or he is co-sleeping with you, or he’s been rocked / fed to sleep, but everyone is sleeping well, then there is no problem. Why change something if everyone is happy sleeping?

The problem is when one or all of the above is happening and because of that, baby and mum and/or dad are not sleeping. Mum needs to get up every 45 min / every 2-3 hours to help baby to go back to sleep because he is unable to do so himself.

You need to understand how sleep skills and sleep associations (or sleep props) works, to know if a dummy can interfere with your baby’s sleeping.

To fall asleep independently (with no sleep props) and resettle yourself back to sleep when you wake overnight (sleep cycle), is a skill you need to learn as a baby. Most adults (I hope so :-)) don’t need someone to pat their backs in order to go to sleep or to go back to sleep. We just do it automatically. When a baby or even a toddler, hasn’t learned how to fall asleep independently, they usually rely on external factors (sleep props/associations) to help them to go to sleep. They cry out for mum to bring back whatever they need to go back to sleep. When a baby has no sleep skills at all and is unable to resettle back to sleep, he can wake up every 45 min overnight!! That is very exhausting.

Typical sleep associations are:

  • Rocking to sleep
  • Patting to sleep
  • Co-sleeping (relies on the parents’ present)
  • Feeding to sleep and the most common one…
  • DUMMY

Most newborns when they start to cry in the beginning, they get a dummy in the mouth (if they want it or not) and then every time they want to go to sleep as well. In the newborn phase it’s ok to give your baby a dummy because they don’t adapt any habits. You can do whatever you want in the first 3 months. The problem though is, if you rock your baby to sleep/feed him to sleep/give a dummy to go to sleep in the first 3 months, when he reaches 4 months and he becomes more aware of his surroundings, he starts to adopt that habit. If you pat him to sleep, at 4 months he thinks:”Ok, mum pats me to sleep, I guess this is normal “, he starts to rely on the action to go to sleep. The same happens with feeding to sleep/rocking to sleep/ the dummy.

So what happens now?

Every time your baby wakes after a sleep cycle and he is going to cry out for you to bring back the DUMMY so he can go back to sleep. This process can happen every 45 min overnight. If your baby relies on a dummy to go back to sleep, it definitely interferes with his sleeping.

What can I do?

You need to remove the dummy 100 % (day + night) and/or other sleep associations (sleep props) and teach your baby sleep skills.

Once your baby doesn’t rely on an external factor (Like a dummy) to fall asleep and resettles back to sleep, he will start sleeping through the night.

If you need help with removal of a dummy and/or any other sleep props in order to teach your baby sleep skills, call Christine @ Happy Sleepers.

Why can’t my baby resettle himself back to sleep?

Here is what’s happening in the middle of the night, when your baby wakes up and starts crying: You jump up, as quickly as you can, and run to your baby’s room. You don’t want your baby to wake up too much, so as soon as you get there, you put the dummy in his mouth and start patting him back to sleep. Luckily it only takes him a few minutes to go back to sleep, but it’s happening 4-6 times at night. I’m exhausted!! Why can’t my baby resettle himself back to sleep?

There is 2 big reasons why:

1. Sleep associations
2. Resettle time

1. Sleep associations: Do you see what happened? Every time your baby wakes, he started crying, because he is unable to go back to sleep without your help. He needs something (dummy, patting, feeding) from you (external) to help him to go back to sleep. He is unable to self sooth. The only way he is going to learn how to self sooth is by identifying all the things (dummy, patting, feeding) he needs from you to go back to sleep, you need to say “good-bye” to it and then you need to teach your baby how to self sooth.

2. Resettle time:

​When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night and you go in your baby’s room straight away, when is your baby going to learn how to resettle himself? He never gets the chance (time) to learn. You’re always there. The resettling back to sleep is always assisted. You need to give your baby a chance to learn. The next time when your baby cries, wait 10 min before you go into his room (newborns 5 min). Give him some time to learn. Usually the first couple of nights you still need to go into your baby’s room after the 10 min, but then he starts to learn how to resettle within the 10 min time frame. If you do this together with the removal of your baby’s sleep association, your baby’s sleep will start improving ALOT!

Good luck
Sleep well

Christine

My 6 month old still wakes up at night. What can I do?

Your goal is to help your baby learn how to get himself back to sleep in the middle of the night. Some babies seem to instinctively know how to do this; others need a little coaching from their parents.
There are many things that can cause a child to wake up during the night. A big reason why babies wake up at night and cry out to their parents is:

  • sleep associations and the fact that they can’t settle themselves back to sleep. The association or sleep prop might be feeding to sleep, a dummy or rocking to sleep. Babies at the age of 6 months do not need to feed overnight unless parents were otherwise advised by a paediatrician. Stopping night feeds might stop the wakings.

The most valuable thing you can do for your child is to put him in his cot awake at bedtime and allow him to fall asleep independently without rocking feeding etc.
Other reasons for wake ups could be:

  • teething. Use some teething gel and the recommended dose of Baby Panadol or Nurofen before bedtime; that might help baby through one or two nights of teething. The pain shouldn’t last more than a few nights.
  • Check that he isn’t wet or cold or that he isn’t in discomfort because of a weird position he got himself into.

This is how you can help him learn to comfort himself and go back to sleep:

  • If your child needs a clean nappy or other care, provide what he needs with minimum disturbance: Keep the lights dim, speak softly and no more than you need to, change the nappy and place him right back in his cot (or change his nappy in the cot if you can), and quickly return to your bed, as at bedtime.
  • If your baby’s crying persists longer than 5 to 10 minutes after you’ve left, return to him without turning on the light, quietly tell him it’s time to sleep, then leave again. Repeat your visits at progressively longer intervals within the 5-to 10-minute range and be firm: no picking up. If you pick him up, your baby will expect a lengthy cuddle and will redouble his crying when you place him down again; sleepiness will be delayed even further. In most cases, this technique will take more than one night. It generally takes 3 to 5 nights for your baby to fall asleep and resettle himself back to sleep without too much fuss.

How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?

When I say: “My baby is sleeping through the night”, it doesn’t mean that your baby is never going to wake up.  All human beings wake up a few times during the night, but because we have sleep skills, we just “sooth” ourselves back to sleep and we don’t remember waking up in the first place. A baby also wakes a few times at night (Sleep cycle) but when they have the ability to resettle themselves back to sleep independently, then they sleep through the night.

There can be a few reasons why a baby doesn’t sleep through the night.  When a baby is between
0 – 6 months, we don’t push for them to sleep through the night.  Some babies can sleep through without any feeding overnight but some babies still need the feeds until they are 6 months.  From
6 months we can say with confidence that they don’t need overnight feeds, they need sleep.  When a baby is between 0 – 6 months you can teach them healthy sleep habits and teach them how to resettle independently.  When a baby has learned that skill, he will or start sleeping through the night by himself or he will feed once, but will go back to sleep independently with no fuss.

Once they’ve reach the 6 month mark, you can pull the feed overnight.  They don’t need it anymore.  When a baby is 6 months and older and not sleeping through the night, there can be a few reasons why:

  • Your baby’s room is not dark enough.  The darker your baby’s room, the better he sleeps (day and night)
  • Your baby’s room is too noisy:  Get white noise if your baby’s room is too noisy.  Trucks, dogs and birds can be very annoying 5 am and can easily wake your baby.
  • Your baby relies on sleep props to fall asleep and stay asleep:  Your baby can’t be put down in his cot and settle himself to sleep independently.  He needs a dummy/rocking/feeding in order to fall asleep and the same when he wakes in the middle of the night.
  • You attend to your baby to quickly:  When your baby wakes from a sleep, he needs to learn how to resettle himself back to sleep.  If you attend to him too quickly and help him to go back to sleep he will never learn how to do it on his own.
  • You’re not consistent:  If you decide on something, stick to it.  Don’t change your method every second day.  You’re confusing your baby and how is he supposed to learn something you’re not even sure about?
  • Your baby is already asleep or halfway asleep when you put him in his cot:   Your baby needs to be wide awake when you put him in his cot for a sleep.  He needs to fall asleep in his cot.