Friday, 8 February 2013

Sleep Baby Sleep: some expert advice

I was so excited to hear a friend of mine was advertising as a baby sleep consultant. What a great topic to be an expert in. Isn't it the one thing we moms always talk about, ask about, stress about and brag about? Even people who don't have kids ask how the baby is sleeping.
Just to test her expertise, I used my two year old as an example.  There came a point where Bubblegum would be up until 10 pm if he had a nap but he clearly still needed to nap (trying to beat everyone in our household up at 2 pm).  After looking over our answers of her brief questionnaire, Michelle  determined that we were putting him to bed too late and that he was actually not settling because he was overtired.  She recommended that we put him to bed earlier.  It was hard to change our habits but....I am happy to say we have a two year old who naps again and is asleep by 8 pm (only 4 days later).  Thank you Michelle.
I hope this answers some of your questions and helps you out too. If is does, please let me know!

How early should my baby be able to sleep through the night?
Every child is a bit differentSome children can sleep 12 hours a night by 3 or 4 months but that is rare. By 6 months mosthealthy babies are able to go around 11 eleven hours at night without a feeding.
What can I do to help my baby sleep through the night?
A few key factors are (by 4 months) having regular eating, napping and bedtime schedules, 20-30 minute soothing pre-bed routines, and (right from newborn) being very careful not to let your child have too lengthy awake times.

Is rocking him to sleep really going to hurt me in the long run?
It’s fine when they are just a few months old. But the ability to fall asleep independently is a skill that children need to learn.Always rocking a child to sleep means they aren’t given that opportunityThe longer you keep doing it, the harder it will befor him to learn in the end. The best way to put children down is when they are drowsy but still awake. On the drowsiness scale, if ‘0’ is wide awake and ‘10’ is fast asleep, put them down when they are at about a ‘7’.

How do I get baby back on track after an illness?
When your child is sick you will want to give them lots of love and attention, and attend to their needs right away. But try not to fall back into any old sleep habits that have taken effort to break. If you’ve finally gotten him to sleep in his own bed, try notto resort back to bringing him into your bed – even if it means you need to sleep on a mattress in his room for 2-3 nights. As soon as he is feeling better be gentle but firm about getting back to regular nap and bedtime routines. If you’d rather take a gradual approach you could try sitting on a chair in their room, and every subsequent night move it closer to the door until you’re out in the hallway.
What about teething?

The same applies for teething. Although, teething affectschildren’s sleep far less than parents think. If your child is hernormal happy self during the day but fussy and difficult at night, it’s not likely that teething is the issue. But if your child is suddenly miserable around the clock then it may well be a painful tooth. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and do the best you can to not deviate too far from your regular routines.

My child stays up late but gets up late, is this okay?
  • Most children thrive on an early bedtime, between 7 and 8pm, or even earlier. However, if a late bedtime, and subsequent late morning wake-ups work for your family, then it is okayBy ‘works’ I mean your child is getting the right amount of total nighttime and daytime sleep, and that you and your partner are fine with it. One reason I encourage early bedtimes for children is that it is healthy for parents to have a few evening hours to recharge their batteries. Parents need to take care of themselves too.

What happens when napping in the day keeps them up until after 9 but they are horribly cranky without a nap? 
Two year olds, and most 3 year olds, still need a nap.Additionally, children under 3 usually need bedtime to be no more than 4-4.5 hours after waking from their last nap.
Any longer and they will most likely become over-tired and will actually get a ‘second wind’ which makes it very difficult to fall asleep, even though they are exhausted.  It is crucial to watch your child’s tired cues. If you see your child yawning or ‘staring into space’ in the evening, it’s time for bed. If they are already at the point of being cranky – they are over-tiredTry for a longer nap and/or earlier bedtime the next day.

Why is sleep so important?
In the same way that good nutrition is important for the development of a child’s body, sleep is crucial for the development of his brain. (Caring For Your Baby and Young Child, American Academy of Pediatrics)
Sleep expert, Dr. Marc Weissbluth, says, “Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm … Sleeping well increases your attention span and allows you to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time.”

Healthy sleep allows your child to be at his or her best!

Michelle Todd is a Child Sleep Consultant and mother of two, based in Alberta. Her passion is to empower parents with effective solutions for their children’s sleep issues and to help the whole family get the sleep they need! Find her on Facebook at or visit her website:

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