Wishing you a very happy new year If you feel like you are not getting enough sleep right now, I have put together some considerations that might help you get on track this year.
- How old is your child?
Your child’s age has implications on their sleep profile. Beyond 6 months we understand that longer night and daytime sleep is achievable – before this age we work towards creating a foundation with sleep shaping.
- Have medical issues been identified, ruled out or are they appropriately managed?
It’s always important to know what is causing what-sometimes there is an overlap and once we consider the medial issues managed or resolved, then we can seek permission to address sleep issues.
- Do you observe an age-appropriate feeding and sleeping daytime?
Sleep responds well to regularity – a predictable bed, wake and nap time that happens before overtiredness is relevant and one that helps to create a well-balanced sleep distribution.
- Is your child getting enough to eat and drink for their age?
This is an important consideration- well placed, healthy, balanced meals, hydrated and enough milk during the day and food offered at regular, key times to help ensure feeling full. Consider whether you are drip feeding or over-compensating on milk for lack of solids or offering calories at night that are then refused by day as a result.
- Are they getting enough natural light, outside activity and exercise?
Sleep can be promoted by outside time and light exposure. Do you allow your child to move lots? Can they do so freely and safely, do they burn energy in between sleeps, get light in their face and is this balanced with an opportunity to relax.
- What’s the sleep environment like?
Is it sleep friendly? Dark, regulated temperature, familiar and safe? Do you spend non sleep time in the bedroom with your child, are you fostering a positive relationship with the room and the cot. Lay on the floor in the dark room and imagine it from their perspective.
- Do you provide a bedtime and nap time routine?
Bed and nap time routines create the bridge for sleep to happen. Ideally, they may be at least 20m and 10m respectively and happen in the bedroom that your child will sleep in and include steps that promote getting ready and relaxed for sleep.
- Can your child put themselves to sleep?
This is an age-related question (6m+) understanding that if input is required to get to sleep in any form-rocking, patting, feeds, drinks, music or white noise, this may interrupt your child’s ability to cycle through sleep, both overnight and by day. For under 6m we work towards this with the percentage of wakefulness approach and with the staged-based stay and support method from 6m onwards.
- What do they need from you to get back to sleep?
As your child’s sleep matures, sometimes how you get them back to sleep becomes the reason why they wake-a feedback loop- of waking, responding a certain way, ingraining waking. Deciding on an overnight plan is a big part of reducing night waking; this might include weaning, or regulating overnight milk/sips of water, using stay and support instead of picking up immediately, and not changing where your child sleeps for the entire night.
- Where do you want your baby to sleep?
Does your baby know this- is it apparent to them based on your responses? It is only by showing them will they know where they are meant to sleep, which may mean being awake going into the cot and supported back to sleep in the cot through the night.
- Are you looking after you?
What are you doing to mind and be kind to yourself at this demanding time in your parenting career. Connection within yourself is equally important as connection and one to one time with your child. It can feel impossible to find that space, but it’s important to be able to hold yourself in order to emotionally hold your child.
- When you would like to make changes?
Is this the right time, can you ring-fence some time to make changes, do you have a clear plan for the changes? Are you able to get support, is your child well, are you going to travel soon, are you in the right mindset, does it feel right, is your child showing that they would like things to change, what is their sleep resistance/waking/challenges trying to tell you?