As a sleep consultant, one of the questions I get asked most is “When will my baby start sleeping through the night?” The fact is most young babies will not sleep through the night and it’s completely normal for them to wake needing a feed, extra comfort or help getting back to sleep.
With this being said, there are things that parents can implement from a young age to set their baby up for good sleeping habits. ‘Clean sleeping’ is really important and can be implemented from day 1. Clean sleeping is about setting your baby’s body up to have a really great sleep and includes the 2 ‘E’s’ which are environment, eating and emotions.
This is about ensuring things like the room temperature is correct for the baby to sleep- not too hot and not too cold. Light is another important factor and a baby’s room should be dark for sleeping. Noise is also important and an affect a baby’s sleep. If you have a baby who is easily disturbed, white noise can be a good option to muff out external noises.
Most young babies have a diet consisting of breast or cow’s milk. However, what the mother eats is absorbed into the baby’s bloodstream and can affect sleep. There are certain foods that can help increase the sleep inducing hormone called Melatonin and include turkey, nuts and dairy. When your baby is on solids, remember these Melatonin producing foods!
A baby’s emotional cry should never be ignored. Whilst crying is normal, it is also your baby’s way of communicating to you that there is a problem and that they need you. If your baby is crying an emotional cry, attend to them straight away and give them what they need which could be a feed, change of nappy or just a cuddle.
Around 70%-80% of babies will sleep through the night by 9 months of age if you set up the correct sleeping habits from a young age. If your baby is one that isn’t sleeping through night by this age, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily done something wrong, some baby’s are just fussier sleepers and it takes them longer to learn this skill.
Another thing we can do to set our babies as well as toddlers up for a good sleep is having in place a consistent bedtime routine. Young children strive off routine and consistency is the key. A good bedtime routine should start 20-30 minutes before bed and can include things like a feed, bath, bedtime story or a song and saying “goodnight” with a cuddle before leaving your room. If possible, let your child fall asleep by themselves. For young babies, this isn’t always easy, but putting a baby to bed drowsy but awake is a great way to set them up for good sleeping habits later on.
For toddlers and older children, there are more options available in terms of other products that can be used. Sleep training clocks are a great way to teach your child when it’s time for bed and when they can get out of bed in the morning. The sleep clock which I recommend is the Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock which is can be easily integrated into your child’s bedtime routine. The Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock used child friendly and calming images to teach your child the concept of time and when they should be asleep. It features a picture story book which an important aspect to any toddler’s bedtime routine. It also features a 15 minute countdown timer so you can prepare your toddler for sleep time.
There are lots of sleep training methods that can be used for babies over the age of 6 months and these range from crying it out (something I don’t personally recommend) to controlled crying to ‘camping out.’ They type of sleep training method to choose comes down to the child and to the family. What works for one family might not work with the best. The most important thing is to do what you feel comfortable with and that doesn’t create too much stress for yourself or the baby. A baby will read and respond to your stress levels and this can affect their sleep. And, always remember that consistency and persistency are the keys. Anything new you try is going to take time.
Children and sleeping is tricky and I think it’s really important to let mums and dads know that they’re doing a great job! Sleep deprivation is a hard thing to deal with and you need to also take care of yourself to be the best you can be for your little one.
Author: Emily Duffell
Sleep Expert Emily Duffell is the co-founder and managing director of Sleepy Starz Pty Ltd. After struggling with sleep deprivation as a result of their child’s poorly regulated sleep schedules during their toddlerhood, Emily and her husband Nat decided they wanted to help children (and parents) achieve better sleep. They came up with the idea of creating a clock that would help parents around the globe remember what a good night’s sleep feels like – and help their toddlers get acquainted with the notion of sleep too.
The result is the Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock, a revolutionary and patented device that is designed to regulate toddlers’ sleep cycles. It teaches them when it’s time for sleep and when it’s time to get out of bed in the morning. Featuring a child-friendly series of images, the Sleepy Starz Sleep Clock keeps toddlers engaged all whilst initiating them to the sleep process.
Emily is also a certified sleep consultant who practices gentle forms of sleep training with children aged 6 months plus as well as a published author. Her highly acclaimed new book is packed full of simple, practical and easy to follow techniques for the treatment of sleeping problems in children. Emily understands first-hand the difficulties associated with toddlers and sleep, as well as the impact this can have on a parent.
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