by Jen Cuttriss | Jen is a Certified Baby and Toddler Sleep Specialist, Registered Nurse and a mother of three. She started Sleep Thrive Grow Consulting to continue her passion of sleep and empower families through her knowledge and coaching services. She loves nothing more than to take away the overwhelm and any second guessing so that sleep can be nurtured and natural intuition can start to shine brighter. With each family she designs them their very own unique sleep tool kit. This tool kit is full of knowledge, support, guidance and confidence, tools, tips, and ideas in the areas a family may need it most. This tailored approach ensures that everyone in the family can achieve the quality sleep that they deserve.
“I don’t know about you, but having as many ducks lined up in a row to make the parenting journey as easy and enjoyable as possible, is where I am at! Supporting baby sleep is more than just deciding on a settling method. Taking a holistic approach and looking at the bigger picture can support long term improvements without the stress and effort attached! Check out my three tips below to support your baby’s sleep struggles. “
#1 Baby’s Sleep Environment
One of the biggest but easily resolved contributors to poor sleep is the environment. The outside world will continue to become a lot more interesting as your baby grows. You may have started to notice that your baby is taking longer to switch off and relax, struggling to fall asleep, are 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 dark area for your baby to sleep during the day and night. Darkness is required to produce melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that supports our bodies to relax and drift off.
Light does the opposite. It sends a signal to our brains to wake up. This is why I am obsessed with anything blackout! If your baby is in a cat napping cycle, a consistent dark space during nap times can aid and support a smoother sleep cycle transition. As a result, you will get those well needed long and restorative stretches of sleep.
Your baby will need 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, they are fantastic in supporting a consistent temperature. It is recommended to dress your baby for the coolest part of the night.
Ergo Pouch has 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 Celcius. If you want to learn more about this, click on this What to Wear Guide from Ergo Pouch.
Noise is also excellent to add to the baby’s sleep environment. White noise, pink noise, brown noise! Whatever your noise 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 in it’s pitches or tones. This means it is non-stimulating on the brain. That is why this is a great addition for babies struggling with settling or resettling or experiencing a disruption such as a sleep regression. When your baby’s sleep has improved, you can choose to continue or gradually wean the baby off by reducing the volume each day until it is gone.
#2 Baby’s Sleep Pressure
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 reduce some of this sleep pressure. This will allow them to enjoy quality time awake without feeling exhausted all day long.
The science of sleep has helped us to predict the amount of awake time our little one’s can tolerate. It has also helped map out the amount of naps they need throughout the day, based on their current ages.
When your baby grows tired, they will show you signs and you can begin to recognize these as their sleep cues. If your baby has been awake longer than they can tolerate, over-tiredness will be the result.
Instead of helping your baby’s sleep last longer when exhausted, over-tiredness results in the opposite effect! Your baby will experience sleep pressure. It can 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 over-tiredness 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 can still 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 short length of time.
Every baby is an individual and will have variable sleep needs based on their day. See if you are on the right track! Download your free Sleep Cheat E-Book Here for some easy-to-follow guidelines on your baby’s sleep requirements.
Your baby is a fantastic little calorie regulator! If your baby does not get the calories required during the day, they will try to replace those missed calories overnight. This can result in more frequent overnight wake ups than is necessary.
Nutrition and sleep go hand in hand. Our babies need ample opportunity for regular milk feeds throughout the day. You may choose to do this through demand feeding or feeding every 3-4 hours.
Offering full feeds rather than snack feeding will keep them fuller for longer. This means 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.
Have you 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 on solids and are consuming plenty of low GI carbohydrates and protein, reducing the amount of overnight feeding, if it hasn’t happened naturally, can be supported.
Need some support and guidance?
This is what I do best! I design packages to do all the troubleshooting for you and make sleep for your baby non–stressful. I will design your very own sleep tool kit. It is full of information, strategies, tips, and ideas on how to improve sleep and offer support in the areas you need it most. Head over to www.sleepthrivegrow.com and book in your free intro call with me today to talk about what sleep could look like for your family.
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