Are you struggling with your baby’s sleep, and considering hiring a sleep consultant?
Perhaps your baby is waking frequently through the night and you are just desperate for some longer stretches or maybe your baby wakes for a party at 2am or bedtime feels like such a battle most days.
Whatever you are struggling with, please know that you are not alone. You have not created bad habits. You are not getting it all wrong. However, there are always things that you can change to improve sleep and help your family start getting a settled night’s sleep.
If you are looking for sleep support that does not involve leaving your baby to cry alone, cry-it-out or controlled crying, you are in the right place. My approach to sleep is always gentle and responsive and I never ask you to do something that you don’t want to do.
Having an experienced hand to guide you through a plan that is tailored to your family’s situation and your baby’s unique sleep needs can be invaluable and transformative. But before working with any sleep coach, I encourage you to work through the ten steps below.
So here are 10 things to try before seeking out professional sleep support:
1. Have you ruled out any sleep red flags?
If you feel your little one is in any pain or discomfort, or they snore or frequently breathe through their mouth, I suggest checking in with a medical professional. It is always best to rule out any red flags or medical issues first otherwise working on improving sleep will be futile and a waste of time.
As well as underlying health conditions; developmental leaps, growth spurts, teething, and illness can all affect how your baby sleeps, and during times like this, it is best to avoid making any big changes to sleep.
2. Is their sleep environment dark and conducive to sleep?
Dim light helps to increase the production of melatonin (our natural sleep hormone) and bright light or blue light will prevent melatonin release. So dimming the lights and avoiding all blue light and screens for 2 hours before bedtime can help your little one settle to sleep and stay asleep.
3. Are they too hot or too cold?
The ideal room temperature for sleep is 16-20C which is slightly cooler than you might think. Adjust their pyjamas and sleeping bag tog according to the season and the temperature of the room. Remember to check their chest or the back of their neck to see if it’s warm, sweaty or cold and adjust what they are wearing accordingly. Ensure they are not waking because they are too hot in the evening or too cold in the early hours. Core body temperature drops in the early hours and this can be enough to wake your little one up.
4. Could noise be disturbing them?
If your little one is sensitive to noise, a background sound such as white noise can help to cancel out the noise from neighbours, dogs barking, busy roads or other children. Babies find white noise comforting as it reminds them of the sounds of the womb. So having this on in the background for naps and throughout the night can provide that familiarity as well as drowning out other sounds which might otherwise keep them awake. White noise can also help babies to stitch their sleep cycles together more easily.
5. Are their naps working for them?
If your little one sleeps too much or too little during the day, it can have a HUGE knock-on effect to their night sleep. Every baby is different and having the right amount of daytime sleep for them will mean that they are at their optimal level of tiredness for a good night’s sleep come bedtime.
6. Is their bedtime at the right time for them?
The timing of bedtime will vary for different families, cultures. what time you get up and age of the child. Bear in mind that the average amount of night sleep is 10-11 hours and making sure it’s not too early or too late can be a game changer for some.
7. Have you got a predictable bedtime routine?
Having a simple bedtime routine that you repeat each day will help you little one understand that if ‘this’ happens, then ‘this’ happens next. Children thrive on routine and having a consistent and predictable bedtime routine will help them feel safe and secure as well as knowing that sleep time is coming.
8. Is their bedtime routine calm with plenty of time together to connect?
Night time is a long time of separation from you and it’s really important that your little one goes to bed feeling loved and connected to you. Ensure your child’s love tank is full by spending some focused one-to-one time with your child especially in the couple of hours leading up to bedtime. Also having a bedtime routine that is calming with lots of time together will help your little one feel relaxed and topped up with love and connection with you, making falling asleep easier and less likely to be craving connection through the night.
9. Are they getting plenty of fresh air, natural daylight, activity and exercise every day?
Fresh air and natural light are both great at regulating your baby’s circadian rhythm or body clock. By getting out and exposing your baby to natural light during the day as well as making sure they have appropriate exercise, activity and stimulation will help them learn the difference between night and day as well as ensuring they are ready for sleep when it’s bedtime.
10. Is how they go to sleep as simple as possible?
This is always the last thing to look at. There is nothing wrong with feeding/rocking/holding or bouncing your baby to sleep. If this is working for you, great carry on! However, if you’ve tried everything else and are finding that you are having to do ‘all the things’ frequently through the night, it might be time to simplify how your baby is falling asleep and back to sleep. I cover this in The Good Night Sleep System if you would like some support with gently changing how your little one falls asleep.
And yes, I understand that many of these tips may seem rather basic. But this is really the best place to start when working on improving sleep. When you have the best sleep foundations in place, you can then start working on the areas of sleep which are not working for you. For some families, changing a SMALL thing can have a BIG affect on improving sleep. Even if it does not solve ALL your sleep issues overnight, it may mean that sleep is now more manageable and you can start coping with life again allowing you to continue to work on other areas of sleep. If you have tried these things and still have a baby who wakes frequently through the night, please get in touch, I would love to speak to you.