Taking a holistic approach to your baby’s sleep can support long term improvements without the stress and effort! I don’t know about you but having as many ducks lined up in a row to make my parenting journey as easy and enjoyable as possible is where I am at! Check out my three tips below that can do wonders in optimising sleep for you and your baby.
One of the biggest but easily resolved contributors to poor sleeping patterns is the sleep environment. Now this doesn’t mean never napping on the go, personally I LOVE to have options that doesn’t always mean being in the house. But at the same time, the outside world will continue to become a lot more interesting as your baby grows. If we can focus in on some environmental cues that it’s time for sleep (our littles ones have no idea what the time is), we may just have solved half the battle. You may have started to notice that your baby is taking longer to switch off and relax, struggling to fall asleep, or becoming easily distracted or simply struggling to stay asleep for as long as they did before.
Somewhere between 3-6 weeks of age is when I recommend providing a darker space for your baby to sleep during the day and night. Darkness during the day acts like more of a sleep cue, darkness at night is required to produce melatonin, the sleepy hormone that supports our bodies to relax and drift off to sleep. Light does the opposite. This acts as a communication signal to our brains to wake up! Even if the nap space is a little lighter, it’s a good idea if your baby is in a cat napping cycle, to create a consistent dark sleep space. This may just be enough for some babies to support a natural sleep cycle transition, getting those well needed zzz’s and restorative stretches of sleep.
Your baby will need your help with regulating their body temperature until about 18 months old +. I am a huge fan of swaddles and sleeping bags (depending on your baby’s age) as they are fantastic in supporting a consistent temperature. Dressing your baby for the coolest part of the night is recommended ergo pouch have a great guide on the clothing layers and TOG ratings needed for a specific temperature. The optimal temperature for sleeping is between 18-22 degrees for humans but remember, we have a little more body fat and a 3.5 TOG doona to pull on and off as we choose!
White noise, pink noise, brown noise! Whatever your colour preference is they are all fantastic in switching on your babies calming reflex and blocking out external and internal daytime noises (especially in those busy homes) that can disrupt your baby’s slumber. Unlike a lullaby, white noise has no change it it’s pitches or tones, which means it is non stimulating on the brain. It is a great addition for babies struggling with settling or resettling to sleep or experiencing a sleep disruption such as a sleep regression. Once sleep has improved your can chose to keep it around or gradually wean it off my reducing the volume each day until it is gone.
Sleep Pressure is the biological response that promotes the natural feeling of wanting to drift off to sleep. This pressure increases throughout the day to prepare our bodies for the longer stretch of sleep that will happen overnight. Day naps for your baby will help to reduce some of this sleep pressure, so that they can enjoy time quality awake without feeling exhausted all day long. The science of sleep has helped us to predict the amount of awake time our little people can tolerate and how many naps they need throughout the day based on their current ages. You can download your free guide here Your baby will also show you signs that they are tired, and you can begin to recognise these as their cues for sleep. Every baby is individual and will have variable sleep needs based on their day.
If your baby has been awake longer than they can tolerate, overtiredness will be the result. Instead of helping your baby to sleep longer because they are exhausted, overtiredness results in the opposite effect! Your baby will experience sleep pressure has become too high for your baby to settle to sleep easily, stay asleep or to even achieve any sleep at all! A chemical response to overtiredness is produced which includes the release of cortisol and adrenaline. These are long- and short-term stress responses that keep our babies awake, restless and irritable and unable to reach a deep level of sleep.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is under tiredness! This generally isn’t as stressful to the body, but it still can cause disruptions at sleep time. Your baby may take a long time to fall asleep, object to going into their cot or only sleep for a shorter length of time. For more information on supporting an optimal balance of day sleep with recommended routines my downloadable daytime sleep guide is available to purchase here.
Your baby is a fantastic little calorie regulator! If they are not getting the calories, they require during the daytime hours they will look to replace those missed calories overnight. This can result in more frequent overnight wake ups than is necessary. Nutrition and sleep do go hand in hand so we can ensure our babies are given ample opportunity for regular milk feeds throughout the day to satisfy their needs. You may choose to do this through demand feeding or feeding every 3-4 hours. Offering full feeds rather than snack feeding can keep them fuller for longer and mean that they are less likely to wake up as frequently or after a short period. A top up feed before the second sleep of the day is a tool I like to recommend especially if a baby is a lover of cat naps or is more prone to snack feeding and aged 6 months or less.
If you have started to notice more frequent wake ups or shorter periods of sleep at around 6 months of age, it may be that your baby is ready for solids. Once they are established on solids and they are consuming plenty of low GI carbohydrates and protein, reducing the amount overnight feeding if it hasn’t happened naturally can be supported.
Need some support and guidance?
This is what I do best! My packages are designed to do all the troubleshooting for you and make sleep for your baby non stressful. I will design you your very own sleep tool kit full of information, strategies, tips, and ideas on how to improve sleep and offer support in the areas you need it most. Book in your free intro call with me today to talk about what sleep could look like for your family.