as you may know, if you’ve been following me on Instagram, I have been working with a sleep consultant for the past few weeks! My boys were waking every couple of hours and I was replacing dummies, bringing one boy into our bed so he wouldn’t wake the other, moving to the spare bed or couch from around 1 am in order to sleep with both boys all as a method of survival.
When Rachel reached out and offered to help me I knew that I needed to take the opportunity and I wanted to be able to share some of the insights that I had learnt to help you, yes you reading this!
Rachel at SleepBabyAU has helped me more than any generic sleep plan or all of the Pinterest searches I had done at 3 am and I want you be able to learn a thing or two from her also!
I asked her if she could answer some questions for me that I had before working with her because I feel that they are questions that we have all had!
I hope this helps you or you are able to share this information with someone you know who is struggling like I was.
If you are wanting to contact Rachel to organise your own sleep plan you can contact her via her Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/sleepbabyau or you can email email@example.com
I will be sharing a bit more about our personal experience working with Rachel and the ups and downs in a separate blog post!
Should a baby have a ‘sleep prop’ like a riff-raff or blankey etc that they have to know it’s sleep time? If so when should it be introduced?
Sleep Props are a great way to let your baby prepare for sleep time and then comfort themselves throughout the night if they wake up. You can introduce a comforter as early as you like but
SIDS guidelines suggest that you should have nothing in the cot until 7 months old. At around this age is also when a baby starts to form an emotional attachment to something so before 7 months it will not really have many benefits anyway.
I personally love the Riff Raff comforters, they have white noise and a nice lullaby that you can turn on as a positive sleep association during your wind-down routine. They also have Velcro on the hands so you can hang then on the outside of the bassinet or cot before the baby is 7 months old.
Is a bedtime routine, doing the same thing every night, worth the effort?
Absolutely! Babies, toddlers and young children thrive on consistency and routine. It is a great way to help them wind down and prepare themselves for sleep.
Bath, bottle and bed are what I suggest for all babies every night.
What is the 4 months sleep regression? How do we survive it?
The 4-month sleep regression is where a baby’s sleep cycle changes from 4 hourly to 2 hourly (the same as an adult).
During the newborn days, babies generally wake up every 4 hours for a feed and that falls perfectly into their sleep cycle, so when it changes to every 2 hours that can be a huge shock to the system…. For both baby AND parents!
I prefer to look at it as more of a “progression” It means that your baby is developing neurologically and taking the next step, plus it’s nice to put a positive spin on something that people dread because it really doesn’t have to be that bad.
Getting your baby into a solid routine before they reach 4 months and teaching them how to self settle will really help with the 4-month progression.
What is sleep training? When do you start sleep training?
Sleep training is getting your baby/toddler into a solid routine that works alongside their biological body clock and teaching them to self settle so that they can happily fall asleep and resettle without your assistance.
You can start getting your baby into good habits right from birth by implementing routine and following their cues and age-appropriate awake windows, but I don’t recommend doing proper sleep training until around 3-4 months. You also only need to sleep train if there is something happening that you’re not happy with!
If you are happy with how things are going and you enjoy rocking or feeding your baby to sleep every time they wake, then keep it up Mumma!
When can I stop feeding my baby overnight and what can I do to stop them waking for a feed because they’re used to it?
Most babies will need at least one feed overnight (7 pm-7 am) until they are around 10 months old and well established on solids. Some babies will stop the overnight feed earlier than 10 months on their own and others will continue to wake for it. This is usually different for all babies so just follow your baby’s lead. If they are waking and only having a small feed then it is
possibly out of habit and you can either slowly reduce this feed or you can use a settling technique to settle them back to sleep without it.
Another sign they are ready to drop their night feed is if they are uninterested or only taking a small feed when they wake up in the morning.
Do I have to let my baby ‘cry it out’?
Absolutely not! All the settling techniques that I recommend allow you to still tend to your baby and support them through learning how to self settle.
It is important to understand that all methods of sleep training will include some crying, however, these are not tears of abandonment or distress, they are tears of frustration and sometimes a little confusion while your baby learns the new skill.
Sleep training has been given a bit of a bad stigma by people saying that it is damaging to your baby which I can assure you it is not, especially if you use gentler methods rather than cry it out. If it is something you are worried about I recommend you have a look at the blog “science of Mom” she has done multiple scientific studies to prove that sleep training and short term crying is not at all detrimental to a child’s brain or development emotionally or physically.
The detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on babies and their development, as well as on mums and their mental health far outweigh the short term stress that may be caused by sleep training, and these are all based on “cry it out” also known as “extinction” methods, so my gentle techniques are nothing to worry about 😉
How does teething affect sleep and what can we do about it?
Panadol…Nurofen…Panadol! Teething is something that we really can’t avoid, it’s cruel and it really can upset some babies more than others.
Teething shouldn’t bother babies too much while they are asleep, you’ll probably find that your baby will actually cut their new teeth overnight! But in saying this it does make babies irritable, fussy, cranky, and harder to get to sleep resulting in them being overtired.
Give them some extra love and comfort and each new tooth should only bother them for a day or two then you can get back on track.
When should you find a Sleep Consultant and what will they help you with?
If you’re happy with your routine and how your baby sleeps then there is no need for you to reach out to a Sleep Consultant, however, if you are wanting to make some changes to your routine or the way your baby sleeps then we can help you!
I can create age-appropriate routines, teach settling techniques, advice on feeding and establishing solids, basic nutrition, behaviour management and parenting support.
What should my baby wear to sleep? What should be in their bed?
Up until your baby is showing signs of rolling then I suggest that they are swaddled nice and tight with their arms down by their side. This creates the feeling of them being held and also stops them from flailing their arms around and waking themselves up. From 0-10 weeks’ babies don’t even know that their arms are attached to their bodies and have no control so you can imagine how frightening it is for them when they suddenly hit themselves in the face!
While the baby is still swaddled it is safe to have a warm blanket over them as long as it is ticked in nice and firmly and put their feet at the bottom end of the bed so they can’t wriggle down under the blanket. No toys or comforters in the cot until 7 months.
Once you remove the swaddle or when the baby is starting to roll, pop them in a TOG rated sleeping bag and remove all blankets and bedding. You can find more information about safe sleeping on the Red Nose website.
My baby is a great sleeper and I’ve never done anything special, should I just keep doing what I’m doing?
You’re one of the lucky ones! Keep up the good work…and try not to mention this too often at your mum’s groups haha!
How can I remove a dummy (or other items) they’re attached to for sleep?
Babies form an emotional attachment to their sleep props at around 8-9 months so if you are wanting to get rid of the dummy or other type of sleep prop then it is best to do it by 6 months. However… I am a big fan of dummies and comforters. The only reason I feel they should ever be removed is if they are becoming a negative association like if the baby is relying on you to come in and replace their dummy 10 times a night then they either need to be taught how to find and replace (which they can learn from about 6 months) or they need to be completely removed.
If you do want to remove, then I suggest doing it cold turkey and that is usually the quickest and least confusing approach.
How many naps should my baby be having?
Can my baby sleep too much?
I believe that sleep promotes sleep, but if you are finding that your baby is becoming hard to settle for bed and waking through the night or early in the morning (before 6:30 am) then they may either be having too much sleep or need their nap times and lengths adjusted to fit their biological body clock.
Thank you so much, Rachel, for taking the time to answer these questions for me! I will be sharing my personal experiences including more in-depth information about what was required from us as a family and the process before, during and after Rachel tailored a sleep plan for Jude and Leo and letting you know the good, the bad and the ugly and why even though it wasn’t perfect from day 1 why I would still recommend a sleep consultant over a generic sleep program/book!