LAND OF NOD

Baby sleep con­sul­tant Emma Pur­due on the dream of baby sleep­ing through the night

Little Treasures - - CON­TENTS -

Sleep­ing through the night can feel like the holy grail of sleep, some­thing we all think about at 3am when we’ve been up for hours, or get­ting in and out of bed like a yoyo. When con­sid­er­ing sleep­ing through the night for six- to 12-month olds, the first thing to do is de­fine what sleep­ing through the night means. Some peo­ple will tell you their baby has slept through since they were four weeks old, but once you ask them a few ques­tions, it turns out they feed the baby three times a night. In their eyes, how­ever, they sleep through! For the sake of this ar­ti­cle, let’s call sleep­ing through the night an 11- to 12-hour night with zero to one feed. Be­ing wo­ken over and over at night can be­gin to feel a bit like tor­ture for some peo­ple. Some par­ents can start to feel frus­trated, ex­hausted and over­whelmed, while oth­ers ap­pear to cope just fine.

Step by step

If you’re think­ing it’s time to tackle your baby’s night sleep, there are four steps you can take to try to im­prove things. 1 GOOD DAY­TIME FEEDS Hun­gry ba­bies don’t sleep! Make sure that your baby is get­ting four to five good breast or bot­tle feeds a day and try to make these fo­cused and undis­tracted. If your baby is eat­ing solids, make every spoon­ful count. En­sure you’re us­ing calo­rie-rich home­made foods, high in car­bo­hy­drate and pro­tein to en­sure your lit­tle one is get­ting the calo­ries they need in the day to sleep at night. These milk and solid vol­umes will in­crease as you re­duce night feeds. Be pre­pared for this so you don’t let your baby go hun­gry. 2 AVOID OVER-TIRED­NESS If you’re strug­gling with nights, your naps might also be less than ideal. While it can be over­whelm­ing to work on naps and night sleep at once, it’s im­por­tant to avoid over-tired­ness ru­in­ing your chances of good night sleeps. You have two ways to do this if your naps aren’t good: an as­sisted last nap of the day – go for a walk or drive, or feed to sleep, to en­sure a good nap oc­curs, or a super-early bed­time to com­pen­sate for lost day sleep. 3 TEACH YOUR BABY TO SELF-SET­TLE It’s nor­mal for chil­dren to wake twoto four-hourly overnight; this fact no one is dis­put­ing. But if your baby de­pends on you to get back to sleep, you might find your­self feed­ing back to sleep nu­mer­ous times each night. Al­ter­na­tively, you might be pop­ping a dummy back in, or rock­ing to sleep. All of these are great ways to get new­borns off to sleep, but can mean long term, no one is get­ting much sleep, and the so­lu­tion is to wean your baby off that as­so­ci­a­tion and teach them to self-set­tle. Par­ents of­ten think self-set­tling and ‘cry­ing it out’ are the same thing, but you can teach your baby to self-set­tle very gen­tly with­out any cry­ing. Us­ing your voice and prox­im­ity to your baby, lots of touch with­out as­sist­ing to sleep is a good place to start on your self­set­tling jour­ney. 4 POS­I­TIVE SLEEP AS­SO­CI­A­TIONS Once we start re­mov­ing as­so­ci­a­tions, such as feed­ing or rock­ing to sleep, it’s nice to in­tro­duce some re­ally pos­i­tive as­so­ci­a­tions to help pro­mote sleep with­out you hav­ing to do much at all. Try some back­ground white noise. In­tro­duce a cud­dly or lovie from six months, which can help pro­mote self-set­tling as your baby de­vel­ops at­tach­ment and be­gins to ex­pe­ri­ence self-sooth­ing. A sleep­ing bag helps en­cour­age sleep through a pos­i­tive and con­sis­tent sleep cue, which also pre­vents your baby wak­ing up cold.

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