baby sleep co sleep

Is Co-Sleeping A Bad Habit

Imagine your eight-month-old had always been a great day sleeper, (except when teething). She begins waking throughout the night and to fix the immediate problem you bring her into bed with you and co-sleep. Unfortunately because of the way the baby sleeps, it’s not a peaceful co-sleep and the undisturbed sleep is impacting both your mood and patience.  What can you do to keep her sleeping in her cot overnight? do you let her cry it out? To you continue to feed and let her self settle?

It is really hard to know how to tackle getting little ones to sleep better through the night. Because of course any kind of ruckus of crying or whatever is going to disturb other people. Your partner might be working a job where he doesn’t want to get disturbed through the night, or there may be other children who might get woken up and then have to go to school the next day, and obviously it is not great for you either.

Your worry is my worry

When I hear questions like “do I let her cry it out?” or “do I continue to feed and then let her self settle”, this is what I think. Asking, “Should I let her cry it out?” is kind of like saying to a personal trainer, “What is the best way for me to lose weight, should I start running marathons?”. If I was a personal trainer I would say, “that is a bit of an extreme approach, we don’t need to go that hardcore, there is certainly lots of things, like with exercise, between walking and marathons”. There are lots of things between co-sleeping and breastfeeding and doing cry it out. There is middle ground that can be found as opposed to just shutting the door and not going back, which is a little bit old school. People do it and that’s fine, if that is what suits you and what suits your family, go for it. But a lot of people are not ok with cry it out, and that is what we are here for, because we DON’T actually offer cry it out and we get lots of babies sleeping.

Feeding through the night

Whether a mother continues to feed is up to them. We generally say that a child is physiologically capable of sleeping through the night once they have reached the age of six months, but this comes with more personalised considerations like premature babies, underweight babies, poor feeders, health issues etc. BUT, as long as they are on track growth wise, on track development wise and have started to establish solids (not necessarily meat and three veg a day but started to establish solids) then she is probably fine to go through the night without feeding. However, of course, if you are in any doubt I would implore that you check with your doctor.

You have choices

Assuming that “crying it out” is the only option is one of the main obstacles stopping parents from seeking help. There are other things you can do.  There are more gentle approaches, approaches where you might leave the room for a bit then return to reassure her at intervals or there is responsive settling where you kind of gauge how upset she is and you return then. There are also techniques that you might have seen on shows like super nanny, where you kind of edge out of the room each night a little bit further away. We do offer these techniques within our Baby Sleep Project .

What we don’t like about the Cry It Out method.

The issue we have with cry it out, is that you are always going to have that element of doubt. Maybe she has done a poo, maybe her foot is caught in the cot, maybe she does have a fever, maybe she has vomited. And if you can’t go into that room, you don’t know any of those things, and ultimately that doubt kind of kicks in and you end up just going in. It means that it is a program that parents find very difficult to follow through with, for very good reason. Lots of heartache for no outcome.

 

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toddler sleep

Is there any hope for a three-year-old to stay in their own bed ALL night?”

3 year old bed hopping

There is definitely hope that we can get your little one sleeping in their bed, I’m going to say ‘she’ in her bed all night. The first thing I would be asking is what is happening?. Is she going to bed in her bed, but then coming into yours? is she yelling out from her bed and you have to come in to lie with her? what’s happening there?

First Steps

Whatever is happening, I would be looking at trying to lessen what you are doing. So if she is staying in her bed, but calling out to you to come in, maybe just come to the door or come to her,but not lay down, come to her and sit next to her instead.
Another thing I would be asking is is there a night light in her room, because sometimes around the age of two, kids can get really scared of the dark. So I would want to have a night light in the room and if there is a night light I would want it to be on either red or pink because those are the two colours that interfere with the secretion of melatonin the least. Melatonin is our sleepy hormone which helps us sleep. I recommend ALOKA sleepy lights and I’d be recommending one of those sleepy lights and putting it on to red or pink.

What not to do with a 3 year old who won’t sleep in their own bed

Now assuming you have got that, say she keeps coming out to your room and climbing into your bed. There is a sleep technique called ‘silent return’ which is where you just take them back to their bed as many times as it takes for them to stay there. I actually don’t like silent return as a technique because I feel like it starts out as silent return but pretty quickly it turns into screaming drag, and it is not going to be silent and you are going to get frustrated by the 50th time of taking them back, they are screaming and carrying on and it’s turning into you chasing them. This is all very high stimulation and whenever we are talking about sleep guidance what we are talking about is reducing the stimulation, so silent return to me just seems absurd.

A sleep technique for 3 year olds

As much as it might sound more Draconian I actually would prefer you put a baby gate on the door, I am not saying shut the door, I don’t feel like that is fair for a toddler. But I am saying you should put a baby gate on the door and whatever you do then, the expectation is that she stays in her room. So it is firm but fair, ‘it’s night time you should be in your room’. So, then say she wakes and she calls out to you, that would be when you choose what you do.

So are you going to come to the gate and reassure her, are you going to go into the room and pop her back into bed and then reassure her from within the room the whole time and never leave, that is totally up to you. But you need to make a solid plan during the day and then stick to it at night. Nothing is going to work in one night, especially with a three-year-old. Nothing is going to work in one night, you are going to have to see this through over maybe a week, and see if you’re making progress.

Plan and involve your 3 year old in the nighttime plan

You have got to make a plan during the day and stick to it, the other thing you can do especially with a three-year-old is, I want you to communicate about this with her during the day. It is not fair to just ‘boom’ surprise and do a different thing at night. Every time you are talking to her remind her. When she asks to watch something simply say something like ‘sure but don’t forget: you are going to sleep in your bed all by yourself tonight, and mummy’s going to be there, but you are going to sleep your bed tonight” so you are communicating constantly, and having her repeat it back to you and asking her questions about it such as “so where are you going to sleep?”
So that when it does happen she’s like ‘that’s right, Mum said this was going to happen and now here we are’. So we are following through, and being really consistent.

I know how hard it is. But you really just need to psych yourself up, gather your strength and see something through. Something that you decide you are going to do from now on. You’ve got to just see that through. I know how hard that is though, I have had three three-year-olds, not all at the same time, but I have had them.

baby awake while mum sleeping

Four Month Old Sleep Regression

Four Month Old Sleep Regression

In general, I find sleep regressions to be a little bit scary and a bit of a self-fulling prophecy. However, of all of them, and I do sometimes feel like there’s one for every day of the week, like the four-month sleep regression, the six-month sleep regression, the eighth month, ten month, fifteen month, eighteen month. Sometimes it seems to me as if there’s one for every second week. However, of all of them, the four-month sleep regression is the one that I believe genuinely causes the most consistent havoc.

Four months sleep regression has basically two things at play. The first thing is that your little one’s senses are much more switched on, so they can hear a lot more, they can see a lot more and they have all of sudden kinda realised they are part of this whole big world. So that’s one part of it and another part that that first part impacts, this is the time in your little one’s life where they are starting to develop distinct sleep cycles.

A quick lesson in sleep cycles

A baby’s sleep cycle lasts around forty-five minutes and they go from going to sleep then transition into a deep sleep and then come up to the top of the cycle where they are in more of a light sleep stage. Prior to this regression, your little one was actually sleeping mainly just in a deep sleep, they weren’t having that transition cycle. So this is actually an advance, however, it doesn’t feel like an advance when your little one’s sleep has gone to poo. Before the four month sleep regression you would have probably noticed that when you have a little one they can sleep anywhere, you could have your baby in one of those capsule car seats that you take out of the car, and pop them into the middle of an operating theatre with bright lights and people around them and they would still sleep. Newborns will just sleep anywhere, they can sleep in the living room while everyone’s having dinner, there’s no problem.

Four month old sensitivity

Around this age of four months, when their senses are switching back on, they are much more sensitive as they come through these sleep cycles. The first thing we need to do is start to make a really good, nice, quiet (but still with white noise, but no extra stuff happening) sleep environment. You want to make that room nice and dark, have the white noise going, you want to make it warm enough so that they are not cold, basic day spa conditions. You want to really focus on their sleep environment, that’s one thing we can do.

The other thing is to keep in mind their wake full periods, and by this age, you definitely notice that there are distinct wake full and sleepy periods, and I want you to be mindful of that and not let your little one get crazy overtired. I have published the wakeful periods on my page a few times, maybe someone can pop them in the comments, I know a lot of you have them saved in your phone. That is definitely something to keep in mind as well.

Why Sleep Guidance won’t work at four months

Here is something we don’t do at four months, we don’t do sleep guidance or any form of sleep training, it’s just simply too young.
This is, unfortunately, going to have to be something you help your little one through. You can try to do a little less at bedtime, when you are putting them down, maybe stop before they are a hundred percent asleep and just lightly pat them instead of full on patting. But honestly, this is not the time for sleep training. Please don’t be thinking “I should be doing control crying, I should be making my baby self-settle”.
Don’t do it for fourth months, it’s too young. It is simply just too young.

I hope that helps answer some questions about four-month sleep regressions.

fire safety, baby, warm

Fire Safety And Baby Sleep

Fire Safety and Baby Sleep

Fire Safety is a really important safety aspect of your little one’s nursery or child’s bedroom. Where ever you are in the world, come winter, lots of rooms have heaters in them, and that’s totally fine, its important to keep your family warm. However, it is really common with plug in heaters to shut the bedroom door to keep that heat in there. Something I would like you to consider if you have got a heater on in the bedroom and the door is shut, or even any electrical appliance because fires can start from any electrical appliance, is to have a smoke alarm in your child’s bedroom.

Where to put your smoke alarms

Please don’t just put smoke alarms out in the hallway like all of the recommendations suggest. If the door is shut, you need to have a smoke alarm in their bedroom, because if the worst happened and a fire did start in their bedroom and the door was shut, there would have to be a lot of smoke in that bedroom before it went underneath the door and up to the hallway where the smoke alarm is. Obviously, that could be too late.

Get professional fire safety advice

If you are unsure about where to place smoke alarms phone your local fire station and ask if they have a service where they will come out and inspect where you have your fire alarms. Depending on where you live there will be both recommendations but also laws in regards to having smoke alarms and how they are installed. If you rent your property, make sure your landlord is meeting the requirements. This is not something you want to look to do the least you can, if in doubt add another alarm. As a family it is an opportune time to make a fire safety plan and discuss what plan you have in case of an emergency.