Is sleep, or the lack of it, an issue in your child’s life? We’re delighted to be sharing this guest post by Sally and Chelsea from The Nanny Tree, which offers expert advice on how to tackle common sleep problems.
Sally and Chelsea are sisters, ex-nannies and child behavioural specialists. They launched The Nanny Tree in January 2011 when Sally was expecting her first child. The Nanny Tree is an agency that matches parents with fabulous nannies, maternity nurses, night-nannies and behavioural specialists in London and the South East. They also offer expert support and advice, either remotely or in person, to parents who are facing challenges with their little-ones behaviour or sleep.
SLEEP… Such a small but hugely important word for most parents! Life with a baby or young child is sometimes challenging, especially when sleep is in short supply!
So, If you’re functioning through the bleary eyes of sleep deprivation, this article will show you how to nurture your child into good sleeping habits so that you can ALL enjoy a good night’s sleep!
Let’s start at the beginning and look at the common causes of sleep problems:
- Feeding to sleep…
You bring your sleepy bundle of joy home and feed on demand because tiny babies need to feed little and often – including throughout the night. Just like us, babies have sleep cycles where they drift between light and deep sleep. But, as they grow and become able to sleep through the night (yes, it is possible!) there can be a thin line between a baby waking from hunger or because they’ve woken from a light sleep and can’t re-settle by themselves.
- Doing whatever it takes…
When you’re exhausted you might try anything to get your baby to sleep. Offering more milk or a dummy, a drive in the car, a walk in the pram, rocking, pacing the floor, sitting in their room until they nod off, letting them sleep in your bed (or on you)… All of these ‘props’ soon become necessary for your baby to re-settle when they awake. Therefore, your baby will get into the habit of relying on the ‘prop’ and won’t be able to settle themselves without it.
Whether you’re still in those early weeks with a newborn or the parent to a toddler who isn’t a good sleeper, don’t despair. There is always a way to nurture your little-one into good sleep habits.
1. Make sure they’re not overtired
Naps are important. If children get overtired, not only will this affect their moods it will also make it harder for them to fall into a deep sleep. (See our article on How Much Sleep does my child need? ). Spot their tired signs (maybe they rub their ears or eyes, get irritable or overexcited etc) and put them down for their nap straight away.
2. Follow a daily routine
You’ll probably find that their ‘tired signs’ will come in a regular pattern – say, every couple of hours for a 5/6mth old, because this is how often they will need to sleep. The bedtime routine is the most important because it becomes a familiar time to wind down… depending on your little-ones age, a good routine might be – bath, cuddles/story, bed. For young babies, a dream-feed just before you go to bed helps them sleep longer through the night.
3. Choose your approach
There are lots of ways in which you can help your baby sleep without the need for a ‘prop’. But, it is very important that you choose your approach and stick with it because it WILL take time, maybe a couple of weeks for your little-one to forget the old habits that they’ve been used to for many months!
At The Nanny Tree, we would recommend a gentle, reassuring approach. Something like ‘Pick-Up-Put-Down’ which is detailed in The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
It can be hard to choose and stick with an approach to encourage your little-one into good sleep habits, because we all question whether our actions are best for our child. Sleep deprivation doesn’t help. You can have expert help from a night-nanny (who will come to your home to help guide and give your moral support) or you can have remote support (by email or telephone) from a specialist sleep expert.
It’s a fact that babies and young children need more sleep than adults. A good night’s sleep AND daytime naps are not only crucial for your Childs growth and rejuvenation, but also for the physical and mental development which occurs in early childhood – (and of course daytime naps will give you the chance to catch up on chores, unwind or even take a powernap yourself).
You can get in touch with our Supernanny – Chelsea – for individual advice. Call 020 7193 5256 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might also like to visit our website www.TheNannyTree.co.uk