SLEEP CON­SUL­TANT

It can be hard enough mas­ter­ing sleep rou­tines for one child – what hap­pens when your tribe ex­pands? Baby Sleep Con­sul­tant EMMA PURDUE has some ad­vice for get­ting through

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS -

Emma Purdue’s tips on sleep so­lu­tions for a grow­ing brood

ONCE YOU MOVE ON TO BABY num­ber two, three, four or more, hav­ing just one child’s sleep needs to deal with seems a dis­tant mem­ory. You prob­a­bly had the lux­ury of stick­ing to your first baby’s nap rou­tine no mat­ter what, and you could sched­ule your life to en­sure that baby and their sleep needs were a top pri­or­ity. Move on a few years and you’re strug­gling to man­age the school drop-off, the kindy drop-off, and the gro­ceries – all while be­ing aware your baby needs a morn­ing nap, and in the­ory they should be in their bed, right? Wrong! When jug­gling fam­ily and sleep, you quickly learn that a nap in the car seat, stroller or front pack while you do the shop­ping is still a nap! You have to be prag­matic about what you need to achieve with all these lit­tle peo­ple to look after.

TIP

Reg­u­larly of­fer naps in the buggy or front pack to teach your baby to nap on the go. The con­sis­tency will make it easy when it is nec­es­sary. Ba­bies, es­pe­cially those un­der nine months, don’t cope with skip­ping naps com­pletely, but they do cope with hap­haz­ard days and short naps on the go if they’re given the chance to catch up at some stage.

TIP

Try sched­ul­ing a qui­eter day at home after a cou­ple of busy days. The most ef­fec­tive way to al­low your baby to catch up on sleep after a busy pe­riod rac­ing around with your fam­ily is their mid­day nap, or head­ing to bed early in the evening. These two times are the most restora­tive of the day for your baby to sleep. Even if your morn­ing nap and late af­ter­noon naps are still on the go with school and pre-school, your baby will do well with a big catch-up nap at mid­day when their cir­ca­dian rhythm has its nat­u­ral dip in en­ergy and their lit­tle body craves sleep the most. En­ter­tain­ing tod­dlers while try­ing to set­tle a new­born is a com­mon prob­lem par­ents ask me about. Your new baby is too young to self­set­tle while your tod­dler needs at­ten­tion and su­per­vi­sion. Try not to com­pletely ex­clude your tod­dler from your baby’s set­tling rou­tine; in­stead, al­low them to come into the room where your baby sleeps, but be pre­pared with a small box of toys and books that you know your tod­dler will like. Play some back­ground white noise for your baby so your tod­dler’s loud re­quests don’t star­tle them and your tod­dler doesn’t feel like they are al­ways be­ing told to be quiet! Once your tod­dler re­alises set­tling the baby to sleep is bor­ing, they’re likely to wan­der off to play. But a shut door and tod­dler ex­clu­sion is likely to re­sult in tantrums and cry­ing and no one sleep­ing! Big fam­i­lies of­ten have chaotic evening rou­tines with dif­fer­ent de­mands to be met all in the lead-up to sleep. A re­al­ity for many fam­i­lies is Mum jug­gling this on her own while Dad is still at work, and the task of get­ting a herd of small chil­dren into bed at a sim­i­lar time can feel im­pos­si­ble.

TIP

Get ev­ery­one’s py­ja­mas or­gan­ised and bath ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing the baby, at the same time after an early din­ner. This way no one is un­su­per­vised in the bath and ev­ery­one is ready for bed on time. Try read­ing to your older chil­dren as you breast or bot­tle­feed your baby if you are on your own in the evening. You can still dim the lights to pre­pare ev­ery­one for sleep, then give your older chil­dren some books to look at while you fin­ish set­tling your baby to sleep, with the prom­ise of an­other story as soon as you’re fin­ished. This al­lows you to stag­ger bed­times but not feel over­whelmed with hav­ing to set­tle mul­ti­ple chil­dren in­di­vid­u­ally. If you have si­b­lings who share a room, you might find a stag­gered bed­time works best so that one child doesn’t keep the other awake with bed­time an­tics! Kylie, mum of four un­der 10, says, “When Molly and Emily were younger I would wait un­til Molly was in a deep sleep, so about 45 min­utes after she went down for the night I would put Emily to bed. This meant they both went straight to sleep.” Louise, mum of three, ad­vises, “Pick your bat­tles. Chil­dren who room-share in­evitably play up and play tricks on each other. Re­mem­ber, they’re just chil­dren, and the less you re­act the faster they will fall asleep.” Sara, mum of four, says that when her younger two were shar­ing, Max was three and Jules was eight months. Her big­gest is­sue was teach­ing Max not to climb into Jules’ cot! “I found Max in there the first morn­ing they shared, it gave me a huge fright, so I had a big talk to Max about how Jules needed to have her cot to her­self and he must let her sleep.” Kate, mother of three, says that once her four-year-old son and one-year-old daugh­ter were shar­ing, the dif­fi­culty was that her son needed a night light, while her daugh­ter slept

bet­ter in the dark. “I got him a small por­ta­ble tur­tle toy that lit up when he squeezed it, only for a few min­utes. This was enough that he felt se­cure and would go back to sleep, and it was only tem­po­rary, so a con­tin­u­ous light didn’t wake my daugh­ter.” Hav­ing a big fam­ily can of­ten mean a big age gap be­tween your youngest and your old­est. Deal­ing with teenagers who have evening sports train­ing and a baby who needs an evening rou­tine can be tricky once they leave the new­born stage when they could sleep any­where. Re­nee, a mum-of-three, sug­gests team­ing up with the par­ents of your older chil­dren’s friends so you can share the load around evening sports train­ings. She found of­fer­ing to do the pick-up later in the evening once she had set­tled her baby and her hus­band was home, was eas­ier than a drop-off when it was bath and feed time.

TIP

If you don’t have help at bed­time and your baby can’t fit into the clas­sic 7pm rou­tine, try of­fer­ing a longer late nap to help with a planned late bed­time. Or even a quick evening nap, which will help your baby get to bed not quite so over-tired. Me­lanie, mother of four aged two – 14 years, re­mem­bers tak­ing Mila Rose to her first rugby game when she was just five days old. “She had no rou­tine, and with such a busy fam­ily she was forced to go with the flow. Luck­ily she coped re­ally well and adapted to naps on the go. On busy days we tried to en­sure she had her evening rou­tine of bath, feed and bed by 7pm. It re­ally helped on the days when it was achiev­able.” Big fam­i­lies can also mean that baby might stay in your room for longer. This can present dif­fi­cul­ties if you feel you’re keep­ing them awake, or they’re wak­ing you with their noises. Try some back­ground white noise for a con­sis­tent sound and bet­ter sleep. Long-term room shar­ing with your baby can come with pos­i­tives too. “I shared with all my ba­bies un­til 18 months,” says Kylie. “It was eas­ier to set­tle them back to sleep at night with­out wor­ry­ing they were wak­ing their si­b­lings. When I was re­ally tired my hus­band could get up and change them; all I had to do was feed them, and he would set­tle them back to sleep. It saved me walk­ing to and from their rooms at night, and meant I didn’t need a mon­i­tor.” Dif­fer­ent ages and stages can mean com­pli­cated sleep needs and jug­gling tod­dler and baby sleep may seem over­whelm­ing and im­pos­si­ble, but with a bit of flex­i­bil­ity and for­ward-plan­ning ev­ery­one can be well rested and get the sleep they need.

‘They’re just chil­dren, and the less you re­act the faster they will fall asleep’

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