If there’s one thing that is always the topic of conversation among parents of babies it is sleep. It dominates everything; a good night and you can take on the world a bad one and everything seems unmanageable, lots of bad ones and it starts to impact on your mental health.
I spoke to Jenny Edwards, a baby sleep and reflux expert, and a mum of two who works with children aged between four months to six years struggling with sleep.
She has given me her top tips for improving your chances of getting quality sleep for your baby and a bit of shut-eye for yourself.
Jenny recommends complete darkness for getting your little ones to sleep. Sounds obvious but it is very easy to have light shining in from outside, brightly coloured room thermometers or toys which act as a distraction.
Ideally get blackout blinds with a seal around so absolutely nothing can get through. The darker the better as this promotes melatonin the hormone needed for healthy sleep.
Along with no light, Jenny also suggests putting away toys and no mobiles to reduce distractions. White noise is also really helpful and there is no need to spend lots of money on fancy sleep noise toys.
“I just use an app on my iPad which is out of sight,’ She says. “There are toys you can buy that create white noise but they turn off after a certain amount of time, whereas an app can go all night.”
Day time naps
In an ideal world, day times nights should be done in the baby’s cot, as motion naps, ie ones out in the car or pram, do not provide quality sleep.
However, Jenny is keen to point out that you do need to be kind to yourself and if you are only getting motion naps that is better than nothing.
If you work on getting night time sleep first then have a go at sorting day time naps in their cot.
It is helpful to be aware of how your baby is during the time they are awake and to tune into what their signs are for being tired.
As parents we generally know our baby’s signs of tiredness but lesser-known signs include pulling their ears, rubbing their heads, not engaging and staring or being giddy.
It is so important to be tuned into this as becoming over-tired means they will produce more adrenaline and it is then harder for them to fall asleep.
‘Get them into a routine,’ it’s what everyone tells you isn’t it when you have a baby but it can be easier said than done.
Jenny suggests not having a complex, long-winded routine but just something that follows the same steps in the same order. And it doesn’t have to be long it can be 30 minutes.
For example bath, into a dark environment, last milk in their own room and then winding down.
“Creating positive sleep associations are key and all this helps to create confidence for them in their sleep environment.” She says.
So this is the dream, isn’t it? The day we can lay our baby down and off to sleep they go.
Jenny’s advice on self-settling is that it may be hard for some babies and it is not something that can be sorted quickly.
Use lots of positive sleep associations including comforters to create confidence for your baby with regards to sleep.
It may be that your baby needs micro-steps so maybe you have to be there for a while but then you can wean yourself away.
For more information on Jenny and the work she does visit her website https://www.jennythesleepnanny.com you can also find her on Instagram at @jennytherefluxsleepnanny