Sleep for the first 4 years summarized - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

Sleep for the first 4 years summarized

Herewith, an easy to use table outlining your little one’s sleep for the first 4 years covering hours of sleep required, number of day sleeps, and common problems to rule out. “When will my baby sleep through the night?” “Why is he waking at night?” “When should she sleep during the day?” These are just a few of the very common questions I am asked each month. I have come to realize that possibly the one thing every parent wants is a guideline for what they can expect when it comes to sleep. Although every baby and mum is different, there are simple guidelines that can be generalized to most babies. Herewith, an easy to use table outlining your little one’s sleep for the first 4 years. By Meg Faure
Remedies for common toddler sleep concerns - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Toddler Talk>Sleep

Remedies for common toddler sleep concerns

Sr Ann Richardson answers the most common questions from mothers of toddlers and how to remedy their toddler sleep issues: My 17 month old daughter still sleeps in my bed This needn’t be a problem if you enjoy it, but if it is impacting on the quality of sleep that the family is getting, then I would suggest that you adopt some strategies to get her to sleep in her own bed. I am still breast feeding and I feel like I am losing the battle some days Perhaps this is a good time to wean her off the breast? My daughter doesn't sleep through the night and wakes up about 3 or 4 times a night to pacify herself with me, by feeding. When she was born she slept 8 I know it is my doing. She is definitely waking expecting a feed to go back to sleep – the night feeds must stop as they are clearly simply a bad habit at this age. She definitely does not need any nutritional support at night provided she is healthy. See strategies below to deal with stopping night time feeds. My husband wants to help me at night but has to leave a 6:30am to go to work. While you are sleep training, perhaps he could take a day or two off work to help you with solving her sleep problems? I have been told by some people that I should leave her with someone for a night or two until I stop producing milk. I would not suggest this, as it may traumatize her to be separated from you. You need to be there in a calm and loving way to help her get through this new shift. Remember as long as you offer milk, she will expect it, so it is simply a matter of not offering it to her anymore, and she will no longer wake up looking for it (see below). I don't want to traumatize my child, but I think I am to soft, and find it hard to know how long to let her scream and cry. It is important to set some boundaries and to stick to them – if you don’t, you will confuse your daughter and she will not be sure what it is you want her to do. Try the following: Encourage a sleep during the day (she may even need 2 naps during the course of the day) Keep to a strict bedtime routine, and keep stimulation around bedtime to an absolute minimum Early to bed (between 6pm and 7 pm) Put her into her bed, drowsy and calm, but not asleep in her own sleep zone (her bedroom) When she wakes in the night expecting a feed, stay with her in her sleep zone, hold her and rock her back to sleep (no matter how much she protests). Do this each time she wakes. Offer her sips of water in case she is thirsty. This may take a few nights, so don’t give up. When she is happy to be comforted without a feed, but still needs you to be there, you can move into more sleep training if you want. This would entail limiting the amount of time you spend rocking, holding or singing to her before sleep, then leaving her on her own for a short while to give her a chance to settle independently without any intervention from you. When she wakes in the night expecting to be rocked back to sleep, pick her up till she stops crying. As soon as she is calm and drowsy put her back into her cot and walk away. Wait for one minute before going back to reassure her (you can pick her up), next time stay away for two minutes before going back to comfort her. Each time, add two minutes of crying time before going back to reassure her. Keep going each time she wakes in the night, starting from one minute of separation at the start of each session. Within a few days, she will have learnt the art of putting herself to sleep as well as putting herself back to sleep unaided should she wake in the night. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about medication to dry up your milk. You may need to express small amounts of milk to feel comfortable (not till your breast is empty – this will make more milk!). Allow a good week to 10 days for your breasts to stop producing milk. I would also recommend that you put her on a good iron supplement to exclude anaemia – ask your pharmacist to recommend one for you. Remember, your daughter cannot do this herself, she needs you to do this for her. By Ann Richardson
Night feeds – from newborn to toddler - Babysense
Breast Feeding

Night feeds – from newborn to toddler

Night feeds are simply a part of early parenting. All babies need them in the early days and all babies outgrow them in time. What you should expect at different ages? Prem or sick babies sick and under weight babies If your baby is born with higher needs than most babies, for instance if your baby is born prem, is ill or failing to thrive, you will be advised to wake your baby at night. In these circumstances, you may be told to wake your baby three hourly at night or to wake your baby at specific times. This is the only circumstance when babies should be woken at night. Be sure to keep these night feeds very calm and subdued so that your little one settles back to sleep as soon as possible. As soon as she is on the track to gaining weight nicely, ask your health care provider when you can stop waking her. Newborns If your newborn is a healthy little one and is gaining weight, there is no need to wake her at night. Allow her to wake on her own and do not be tempted to follow advice to wake her for a ‘dream feed’. Dream feeds are not conducive to setting the stage for good sleep long term. You can expect your newborn to wake 4 hours after falling asleep for a feed and then three hours thereafter until morning. If your newborn does sleep for longer stretches, it is absolutely fine to leave her to wake on her own. Some babies sleep through as early as 6 weeks and this is fabulous and no need to worry that she is stretching so long without a feed. 2-4 months By two to three months most babies are stretching for 6 -8 hours before needing a night feed and then three hourly thereafter. If your baby wakes more than this, try to cluster feed in the evening before 8pm to top her up so she sleeps for longer. Two or three extra little snack feeds at this time can help. If she wakes consistently three hourly at night and yet is gaining good weight, you can start to stretch your little one with a dummy or a little water at the first night waking. Be sure to do all night feeds quietly and calmly and not to burp your little one for longer than 5 minutes. 4 -6 months Many babies regress in their night wakings as they approach 4 months. If your little one was stretching to the early hours before needing a feed and suddenly picks up the 11pm feed again and is generally hungry, it may be that she is not fully satisfied nutritionally. Initially reintroduce the feed she is waking for. If this night waking persists and your baby is hungrier during the day too, it may be time for solids. By now your baby will have stopped soiling her nappy at night and it is fine to leave a wet nappy on for the night, without a change, if your baby has not poo’ed and does not have a tendency for nappy rashes. By not changing the nappy and keeping night feeds quiet, you have more chance of your little one settling off to sleep immediately after the feed. 6 months – 18 months Soon after 6 months of age your baby should be sleeping through the night without needing nutrition – this means 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If your baby needs a feed at 4am, do so quietly in her room. If your baby over 6 months of age still wakes for feeds frequently at night: Introduce or increase the protein in her day meals Offer a cluster feed or top up feed after bath Pat and sooth her back to sleep if before 12am Use white noise such as the Baby Sense Womb to World CD or MP3 Offer an iron supplement if she is anaemic You may need to break the habit, if your little one wakes repeatedly to snack on the breast throughout the night. Toddlerhood No night feeds are needed before 6am. If your toddler feeds at night, she is likely to be a fussy solids eater during the day. It is time to explain that she doesn’t need milk or you can say: “The Kitchen is Closed”. Keep the reason concrete and consistent. By Meg Faure
My toddler won’t sleep alone - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Toddler Talk>Sleep

My toddler won’t sleep alone

Usually when a toddler is co-sleeping, one or both parents are not enamored with the situation. Let’s look at why toddlers don’t want to sleep alone and what can be done. Why does your toddler prefer to sleep in your bed There are three developmental reasons why toddlers are not content to sleep alone. Like many toddlers, your little one may go through a stage when he realises that he is separate from mommy or daddy and this means he can push boundaries and have his own opinion on things. This experience is as normal as it is healthy. As he learns he is a separate person, he will go through stages of not wanting to be alone. In addition to this, his development means that he can get in and out of bed on his own. No longer trapped in a cot, his bed becomes a boundary that he wants to push and so will climb out to come and seek proximity or closeness to you at night. Between 2 and 5 years old, imagination begins to develop in earnest. This means that fears, nightmares and magical thinking begins to emerge. Not able to separate imagination from reality, your toddler may be very unsettled and resist being alone at these times. Toddlers tend to want to be close and cling to those they love. This is particularly true in times of anxiety of uncertainty. Bedtime fears begin to develop and so it is natural to find toddlers needing comfort from those they are attached to. This need is even greater in those toddlers who are separated from their parents during the day. What can you do about it? Step one of managing a toddler is to ask yourself if you have a problem with co-sleeping. This is very important because if you like co-sleeping and you are happy with your toddler in your bed, you simply do not have a sleep problem and can go on co-sleeping until either you or your toddler want to sleep alone. When answering this question, be sure to carefully consider if your husband feels the same way you do. If either parent is unhappy with the situation, you should work a way to move your toddler into his own space. Step two entails deciding where you want your toddler to sleep. You have four options: If you are both comfortable with co-sleeping, let him sleep in your bed If you have decided that he must be in his own room and bed, be consistent and take him back each time he wanders If you want a sense-able middle ground, pull a thin mattress out from under your bed and make a ‘make-shift’ or ‘camping bed’ next to your bed for him. Another nice middle ground is to have your children share a bedroom. Kids love to sleep in the same room as others and a sibling may give great comfort. Step three is seeking to understand why your toddler wants to co-sleep: Is he battling with bad dreams? If he is, you need to be very sympathetic, ask him to tell you about the dream and tell him that you agree that it is scary. Empathize with him and give him lots of love before putting him back to bed, in the space you have decided on in step 2. Is his imagination playing tricks with his eyes? Put on a night light in his room or in the passage Is he waking for milk? Give him enough protein during the day and a barley green supplement in the afternoon. Do not feed him milk at night. Is he seeking close proximity to you? If your toddler is missing you, it could be a stage where he needs a little more access to you. Spend 15 minutes each evening on the floor playing with your toddler at his pace, this usually helps with separation issues and sleep. Is he coming through to you, simply because he can and is pushing boundaries? Choose where your toddler should sleep and explain this to him and consistently keep the boundary you have chosen. Toddler night wandering and co-sleeping can be an irritation. Choose your toddler’s sleep space, be empathetic to him and enforce the boundaries. By Meg Faure
Is separation anxiety affecting your baby’s sleep? - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>6-12 Months

Is separation anxiety affecting your baby’s sleep?

When looking for reasons why your baby is waking at night, you need to also rule out separation anxiety. Sleep is your very first separation from your baby and from day one, it creates anxiety for many mothers. For this reason, you may have chosen to have your baby in your room for the first few weeks, as hearing your little one’s fluttery breathes and new baby grunts reassured you that your baby was okay. If we as adults suffer anxiety over separating from our babies for sleep times, it is understandable that at some stage in the first few years, your baby or toddler too will suffer some anxiety when separating from the person she depends on so completely. Although normal separation anxiety starts from day one in parents, for babies, separation anxiety only raises its head after 6 months of age. The reason is that although your baby recognises you when she sees you from early on, she has no memory of you when you are not around. This is because the part of the brain that develops memory only develops later in the first year. Secondly your young baby has no concept of time and space, so whether you are gone for a second or a few hours, the separation is equally irrelevant for your newborn. All this blissful ignorance disappears at around 6 to 8 months of age, when your baby develops object permanence. This is the concept that something exists when you can’t see it. At 5 months old, when a toy drops from your baby’s line of vision she won’t pursue it or look for it as it literally ceases to exist in her little mind. However usually by 8 months old, your baby will start to look for something when it drops or moves out of her vision. At this point, she has worked out that the object exists even if she’s not holding it, i.e. she has developed object permanence. As this realisation dawns and memory develops, your baby will likewise begin to realise that when you leave her, you still exist. This does not please her as she by now has formed a strong attachment to you and may protest the separation and cry as you leave. Separation anxiety affects sleep in different ways at different ages: 6 – 12 months During this period, your baby may wake during light sleep states to be reassured that you will return to her. If you feel her wakings are due to separation anxiety; go to her and tell her gently to go back to sleep, give her a ‘doodoo’ blanky or a soft toy she is fond of and leave the room. You do not want to start a habit at this stage, such as feeding her to sleep or rocking her but you do want to respond to prove to her that you do return to her after a separation. During the day always say goodbye when you leave her, even just to have a shower and always greet her happily on your return, so that she learns that separations are accompanied by happy reunions. A sleep association toy or blanky is vital at this stage so that your baby transfers her need for comfort from you to a blanky such as the Baby Sense Taglet, which she can use independently when she wakes at night. Finally, manage this stage with lots of hugs and cuddles and bear with it - as with most challenges in the first year, this too will pass. 18 months - preschooler At this stage your toddler may become anxious as you put her to bed in the evening and may also come through to your room frequently at night due to fears of being alone. This stage emerges after 18 months, when your toddler has developed imagination and begins to suffer from nightmares and imagined ‘boogymen’. Every toddler is different and the degree to which yours will be affected may vary substantially from other babies you know. Have a night light on in the room or passage so that she can see at night if she wakes. Limit television completely for three hours before bed as this has been linked to fears and increased nightmares. If your toddler won’t stay in bed you may have to put firm boundaries in place to encourage her to stay in bed such as sitting with her until she is asleepif she stays in bed and weaning this down to returning every five minutes until she is asleep if she stays in bed. Put a radio on softly in the room for background noise Put a mattress under your bed for you to pull out for her to sleep on, on those nights she wakes from a really bad nightmare. Remember separation anxiety is real and must be dealt with by responding to your baby or toddler with empathy and care - it will pass in time. But while it lasts, to avoid long term bad habits developing, be firm about not falling into the trap of feeding, rocking or co-sleeping if these are habits you do not wish to encourage. By Meg Faure
How much sleep does my baby need? - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

How much sleep does my baby need?

The expectations of the pregnant woman: ‘My baby will sleep and be awake in equal amounts and we will play and feed and I will have time to do it all, no sweat.’ The mom of the newborn says: ‘Wow my baby sleeps all day and is so good yet I feel like I have got time for nothing – I barely get myself to make a cup of tea in a day.’ Which a few weeks later becomes: ‘Oh my word I can’t get my baby down – he is awake all day, and now I don’t even shower in a day never mind make a cup of tea!!’ So what is reasonable – what should we expect – how much should our babies sleep? Newborns sleep more than most people imagine. I believe this is a coping mechanism to deal with the busy world and in fact works very effectively. You will probably find that in the first two weeks your baby will sleep an enormous amount and may also be very calm. Your sleepy baby may sleep from one feed to the next and often fall asleep during a feed. This is good for your baby so do not follow any advice to wake your baby unless he is not gaining enough weight. The only other exception is if your sleepy baby is going to stretch more than four hours between day feeds. In this case, wake your baby to feed. The newborn needs to go back to sleep after only being awake for 40 – 50 minutes, which means your newborn may well sleep for more than 16 hours a day, being awake only for feeds. 2 weeks – 3 months is when day sleep frustrations raise their ugly heads. Your sleepy newborn may now start to fight going to sleep and may only cat nap when he does finally fall asleep. It is not uncommon for moms to report that their baby is awake most of the day, sleeping fitfully in short spells during the day. These babies classically feed very frequently, have colic in the evening and wake often at night. If you find yourself in this predicament, it is probably directly as a result of a young baby not getting enough day sleep. Your young baby needs to go to sleep after only 45 – 80 minutes of being awake. This will result in around 15 hours sleep a day. 3 – 6 months down the line, you will probably be craving some routine or pattern to your baby’s sleep and may well have a very alert baby who is fighting sleep. During this stage day sleeps are regular and essential and you can start guiding your baby in a little routine. Put your baby back to sleep every 90-150 minutes and your baby will probably start developing a routine of two or three naps plus one longer day sleep. Your baby should be having about 14 – 15 hours sleep in a 24 hour period. 6 months to a year is the time when a proper day sleep routine emerges and your baby should start to link the sleep cycles during one day sleep, resulting in a longer midday sleep. Encourage this sleep and the one or two other naps, as your baby needs to sleep to help his brain process all the exciting information he processes during his waking hours. Your baby sleeps for 14 hours a day, usually 11 hours at night and three hours during the day broken into sleeps and short naps. Toddlers and preschoolers really resist day sleeps and it’s tempting to just ‘let it go’ and let your frazzled two year old collapse at night without a day sleep. The truth is these busy beings really need sleep. The common problems overtired toddlers have are fighting sleep at bedtime, frequent night wakings and night terrors. If you are facing this, you should really focus on having your toddler maintain the good habit of a midday sleep. If your preschooler won’t sleep, just a rest at midday will do. Toddlers sleep 13 hours a day and preschoolers need about 12 hours a day. In summary it is clear that babies and toddlers need a lot of sleep to process the stimulation of the world. The myth abounds that your baby or toddler will sleep as much as he or she needs – it is important to understand that this is not the truth and many babies need a bit of help to make sure they get enough sleep to develop well and be happily awake. By Meg Faure
Getting your baby or toddler out of your bed - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

Getting your baby or toddler out of your bed

There’s nothing quite like that special feeling of snuggling up in bed with your baby. A whisper of soft breath, that special baby smell, and the utter bliss of a sleeping child. In many cultures it is the accepted norm for children to share their parents’ bed for many years. Many parents simply enjoy having their children close to them. But for many, the idea of sharing a bed, let alone a bedroom with their child is just not their scene. Ask anyone who has shared a bed with a restless baby or toddler. Not much sleep is had as baby tosses and turns all night long, often whimpering and moaning until finally settling in the middle of the bed, arms and legs splayed out (preferably touching one or both parents) whilst mom and dad crouch at each end of the bed, hanging on for dear life lest they fall out. It’s no wonder that parents find that the novelty of “all in the bed” soon wears off, and a good nights’ sleep for all becomes of paramount importance. Until your baby is able to sleep through the night without needing any nutritional support, it may be easier for you to have him in the same room as you, or even co-sleep with him. This way, night feeding can take place with a minimum of fuss. However, after the age of 6 months, babies should not require any nutritional support during the night, so as long as they are well and healthy, this is a good time to move them. It is very important that you have a plan of action to follow. This makes it much easier to focus on the long term, rather than getting caught up in the moment. If your baby has been co-sleeping with you, it will take him time to get used to sleeping alone. Young Baby Step One: For both day and night sleeps, and indeed when he wakes in the night expecting a feed, hold him close to you, rock him and soothe him until he is asleep, no matter how much he protests. When he is asleep place him in his cot. Should he wake, repeat the procedure. Bear in mind this may take a few days to perfect, so don’t give up. When he is used to the fact that he is no longer in bed with you, and is happy to fall asleep in your arms, move to the next step. Step Two: Hold him close to you until he is drowsy, then place him in his cot. Stay with him gently stroke his back and talk quietly to him (you may have to put your face close to his) until he goes to sleep. Step Three: Gradually decrease the amount of time he spends in your arms, until you are able to put him in his cot awake and happy. Older Babies If your baby is slightly older, and is able to roll over and sit or stand up in the cot, a slightly different approach is needed. The older baby is able to manipulate behaviour, so bear that in mind when you begin your plan of action! Controlled crying usually works well in this instance, but only if you are sure that your baby is well and healthy. Follow Step One as above. Step Two: Hold him in your arms until he is drowsy, and then place him in his cot, even if he starts to protest. Tell him ‘night night’, and leave the room for 2 minutes. Return to the room, pick him up and comfort him, (bear in mind this may take a while). When he is calm, put him in his cot, and leave the room, this time for 4 minutes. Continue as above, but extend the period of your separation by 2 minutes each time, until he falls asleep Toddlers Toddlers who are no longer in a cot present a different problem, as they are able to walk through to the parental bedroom and demand to be let into the bed! Step one: Explain to him at bedtime that he must stay in his bed for the night. Step two: This step, and step three have to be done at bedtime, and in the middle of the night when he wakes. If he demands the ‘big bed’, whether it be bedtime, or during the night, acknowledge his need, so say “I know you want to go to sleep in mommy’s bed”, then mirror the need by saying “I would like to let you sleep in my bed”, then give a reason why he can’t such as “it’s my bed, not yours”. Offer to sit with him in his room until he falls asleep, no matter how much he is protesting. When he is happy to fall asleep in his room as long as you are there, it is time to move onto the next step. Step three: Wait until he is drowsy, then explain to him that you have to quickly pop out the room (give a reason such as going to the loo), but that you will be back. Leave for a minute or two, and then go back and reassure him. Keep popping in and out, slowly extending the period of your absence. With time, he will be reassured that you are coming back as you say, and will no longer stay awake to ‘check’ up on you. The pre-school child needs special acknowledgement of his emotional needs. This is the time that many fears and anxieties occur. Star charts and reward systems work well – allow him to place his own star or sticker on the chart. Involve the teacher. Try changing the configuration of his room around, with his consultation and input. Often, a simple change of bed linen will encourage him to stay put. If he has fears of monsters (or anything else), fill a spray bottle with water and tell him that this is ‘monster spray’- allow him to spray his room before getting into bed. Place the spray close to him, so that he can use it again if he feels anxious. Encourage a “sleep time friend” such as a soft toy or special blanket. Follow the plan as laid out for toddlers (above). If your toddler is used to sleeping in your bed, it may be an idea to let him sleep on a mattress next to your bed to start, and then move him into his own room. Important Points: Should his bedroom be far away from yours, consider using a monitor, which will alert you when he cries. Encourage a sleep object such as an item of your clothing or a familiar soft toy to comfort him. Try and keep the position of the cot or bed in his room similar to that where it was in your room. Don’t be alarmed if he vomits as a ploy to get you back into the room (remember you are only doing this if your child is well, so it can’t be anything else!) Stick to the same routine for both day and night sleeps, and for night wakings. In the beginning, expect the periods of unsettledness to be longer than the periods of quietness. Beware of sending mixed messages to your child – it will confuse him. Walk your talk – do as you say you will – he will be secure in this knowledge. Beware of overtiredness and over stimulation – this creates a needy child at bedtime, and a restless sleeper. Have faith, with plenty of encouragement, lots of patience and a bit of luck, you will soon be enjoying a blissful nights sleep! By Meg Faure
“Crying it out” or not? - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

“Crying it out” or not?

When your baby wakes for the fifth time and sleep seems an unreachable ask, you may find yourself wondering if you should just shut the door and ignore your little one in an attempt to extinguish his cries and let him ‘learn’ to fall asleep independently. The debate on whether ‘crying it out’ and other similar methods should be used with babies, and whether these techniques are in anyway damaging emotionally for babies, rages on. As with almost every other contentious parenting issue, you will readily find an equal amount of research showing that ‘controlled crying’ does no harm as you will find research showing long term emotional damage. So when your baby is crying and won’t settle to sleep or cries repeatedly at night, how quickly should you respond? Is there a principle that can be applied to allow your baby to learn the skill of self-soothing at night? Donald Winnicott, who examined the question of attachment (a foundation for emotional development), has answered this question brilliantly. In the first few months it is essential a mother responds as quickly as possible to her baby’s cries as this teaches the little one that his ‘voice’ is important and that he is recognized and important in his mother’s world. At this time the baby sees himself as an extension of mum and needs to be soothed by her or helped significantly to settle. If your little baby cries at night, respond with love, cuddles and a feed if appropriate. In these early days, the night feeds and night wakings can feel interminable but they do come to an end. If your baby is waking and crying more than three hourly at night, try to find out the root cause for the wakings as this is unusual. After five months of age, babies need to develop the skill of self-soothing. This does not happen overnight and takes time and love and energy from you as a mum. Winnocott proposed that the skill of self soothing develops in the context of graduated failures, in other words – you begin to ‘fail’ your baby in tiny increments by not getting to him as quickly as when he was a newborn. In fact, you do this unconsciously and in tiny gradual steps. In this way your baby learns he is separate from you and how to sooth himself when you take a second or two longer than he expected. This is not ‘controlled crying’ it is simply an unconscious process whereby you and your baby begin natural, healthy separation. The principle should be – respond quickly and consistently to your young baby when he cries. Allow your five-month or older baby short periods in which he can learn to self sooth to sleep. But overall, go with your gut. If it feels wrong – it is. By Meg Faure
Your sleep training options - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

Your sleep training options

In a very funny episode of ‘Mad about you’ – a 90’s sitcom, Paul and Jamie have a ‘conversation’ about the merits of letting their baby, Mabel, cry it out. It is the funniest clip but all too real. When we are sleep deprived and at the end of our tether, we will try anything (well almost) to get a good night’s sleep. But the controversy around controlled crying can be overwhelming. Controlled crying entails leaving a young baby or toddler to cry until it falls asleep in an attempt to ‘extinguish’ night wakings. Those pro controlled crying say it is short lived pain for long term gain and that babies learn very quickly to settle themselves. Those on the other extreme talk about long term emotional damage as the baby enters a despair state and stops crying out of hopelessness. To say the least both are confusing messages, especially for a sleep deprived adult who is clutching at straws. There are three different levels of Sleep Training: Controlled crying (The Ferber Method) involves leaving your baby to cry for incrementally longer periods each time until she settles to sleep. While this method does work, it involves separations and personally I don’t think these separations when your baby is trying to learn a new skill are good for her or you. Sleep coaching (Sleep Sense Method) involves ruling out the basics first, then sitting with your baby while she unlearns a bad habit (e.g. rocking to sleep or feeding to sleep) and learns a new habit. While you may not necessarily hold her much during this process, your presence is a comfort (as long as you remain calm and confident) Controlled settling involves sitting with your baby and repeatedly settling her with contact and love but always putting her down awake so the final part of the process of falling asleep is down independently. When NOT to even think about controlled crying: There are very good reasons why babies may wake and these real reasons need to be attended to before one can even contemplate any form of sleep training (benign or extreme). Do not sleep train • Your baby under six months of age as little ones have nutritional needs at night that are very valid until on full solids. • A sick baby or a baby who has recently been hospitalized • Your baby close to the birth of a sibling • Just as you are about to return to work • At around 8 months when separation anxiety is a real issue • Your baby if he has not learnt to self-sooth on a comfort blanky – he needs a strategy that he can access in the middle of the night • If you and your partner are not in agreement • If you have PND • If you feel anxious or depressed enough to harm your baby Can controlled crying ever be a reasonable plan? When a parent’s ability to parent a little one and function is impacted negatively by sleep deprivation, there can be a time and place for sleep training. If you have gone through the steps outlined in the next section (How do you sleep train sense-ably?) you may be able to reasonably look at sleep training your baby. The key issue in terms of emotional considerations is: Ensure that your baby’s basic needs are met Increase the positive interactions and emotional availability during the day Do not leave your baby when she is distressed How do you sleep train sense-ably? If you have gone through the previous list; When NOT to even think about controlled crying, and feel your baby may be a candidate for sleep training, follow the 9 steps in Sleep Sense: Have reasonable expectations for your baby’s age Set up sensory input (during the day, bedtime and night) that is conducive to good sleep Set up a sleep zone that encourages sleep Check that your baby’s nutrition is adequate for a good night’s sleep Rule out medical causes of night wakings Set up a good day sleep routine Ensure your baby’s sleep soothers can be used independently once age appropriate Deal with emotional issues, such as separation anxiety Sleep coach calmly, consistency and collaboratively. By Meg Faure

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