As a sleep specialist working with parents of babies and toddlers, I meet new and different families almost every day. I am rarely surprised by anything anymore! This includes different approaches and the lengths many tired parents go to, in terms of catching some all important zzzz’s!
And while generally, I am invited into peoples’ homes with the idea that big changes are afoot , we often discover that making smaller rather than big adjustments can really help. Here are 10 small changes that can make a big difference.
- Darkness is a good idea. Sometimes mums and dads think that their young babies are afraid of the dark. While it can be true, it’s rarely a big problem. (In fact sometimes mum or dad are a little afraid themselves and so it can be a great excuse to have lights on!) I recommend dark rooms for little ones as it encourages the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone. The darker the better!
- Having a bedtime routine that’s the same each day (or at least similar) will stand to you in the long term. It teaches the little ones that there’s a sequence of events and they learn what’s coming next. It doesn’t have to be a complicated process (and doesn’t always have to include a bath). A simple body wash, nappy change, pyjamas, story, milk and bed is “routine” enough.
- Teaching little ones to fall asleep independently can lead to them being better able to settle themselves later on at night. The more you have to do to get them to fall asleep at bedtime, the more you’ll have to do later too!
- The best time to move your baby out of your room is when you are BOTH ready. I would strongly recommend that you wait to the recommended 6-12 month mark but it’s often a case of whatever suits your family – some go a little sooner and some never leave!
- When getting ready to move out of your room, offer daytime naps in the “new” room so that little ones get used to the space.
- If you are worried that your little one needs a feed overnight before they have started solids at 6 months – you are probably right, they do! But in order to help them not wake from hunger overnight, a dream feed is a great idea. It means you can be fairly confident that hunger isn’t waking them later on. You can drop this once they are established on solids. It won’t create a habit of waking for feeds as they are so sleepy when it happens.
- In terms of bedtime food, don’t overly stuff the little ones at tea time with a heavy meal. Give them their main meal at lunchtime and have a lighter tea. Chances are, they are following this meal with a large bottle/feed of milk and that can make for discomfort at bedtime.
- If your little one is struggling to get to sleep at night and stay asleep in the early part of the night, they are more than likely, overtired. It’s a good idea in these instances to have a look at naps during the day.
- If the naps are relatively good and of adequate length for your little ones age, sometimes having a look at the timing of these naps can be helpful. If their big nap is too early in the day, its then a long way from bedtime and again, you might see them struggle to get “into the zone” in the early part of the night.
- Once your little one shows signs of being ready to move from a cot to a toddler bed, then it’s a good idea to just do it! I suggest that once they get out of their cots once, its time to change things. Ideally they will stay there till they are around 2.5yrs (as they have a tiny bit more sense), but its not unusual for a 24 mth old to be in a toddler bed. Let them get involved in the process of picking out bedclothes etc so they feel like they are somewhat in control!
Would any of these small changes make for positive changes in your house? I can help. Visit my website for more information about the sleep bundles I offer