Update from Andrina….4 weeks in!

Hello world, it’s been a while….

I’ve been away from the ‘real world’ for a while now. Four weeks ago, we welcomed our second daughter, Zoë into the world. Since then, my world has consisted mainly of breastfeeding, nappies, toddler tantrums, Peppa Pig (to calm said tantrums – great parenting, I know) sushi runs and not much sleep. My hubby was supposed to take two weeks off work, but I soon realised that his idea of “being off work” was not the same as mine. He was sneaking away to take phone calls, answer emails and attend meetings. To be honest, it just pissed me off so I sent him back to work. Bring on having two under two, it can’t be as bad as I think – right?! Wrong.

I totally understand the notion of ‘Lying In’ now. With my first, I stayed home for six weeks purely for her. I was itching to get out all day, every day, but I stayed home to protect her from sticky fingers and unwanted advances from grannies in the supermarket. However, second time around I can’t bring myself to leave the house! Everything is a huge effort, not to mention packing nappy bag for two! So lying in sounds incredible to me right about now, pity the toddler doesn’t feel the same.

We’re now getting to the point that I can no longer claim ‘recovering’ as the reason I’m still home, basically I just feel lazy. I’m tired and hungry (which isn’t a good combination) and I just can’t be bothered. Yesterday we all went to the mall. It went well, thank goodness for our amazing new carrier (Beco Gemini – so comfy that I’m preferring it over the stretchy wrap, purely for comfort). It went well, everyone behaved and no one cried – winning!

My first child was such a bad sleeper, I spent hours and hours reading The Sleep Store articles in the middle of the night – this is what brought me to Sleep Coaching. I thought that surely I deserved an ‘easy baby’ second time around, unfortunately the universe didn’t agree. The first few days Zoë pretty much just fed and slept, as you would expect with a brand-new baby.  I couldn’t even complain about waking frequently overnight to feed, because I knew that was coming. However, once she had lulled me into a false sense of security, the hourly waking began, gas and just general grumpiness!

She’s been very gassy and struggling to pass it. We took her to a Cranio-Osteopath which has really helped but mostly we just had to wait for her digestive system to mature and this stage to pass. We’re not quite there but last night we got a four hour stretch of sleep! I feel like a new woman!

Things that have helped for us – a one arm up, one arm down swaddle – I don’t know why but she seems to love it. A baby hammock, as her digestive system was so immature and tight, she couldn’t handle lying flat on her back so the hammock has helped by cradling her and keeping her comfortable when she sleeps. Our Beco Gemini carrier – I can’t stress how handy a carrier is when you’re running after a toddler! White noise – Zoë loves the daytime noise so having white noise on at nighttime was a must for us. If the room was silent, she wakes pretty quickly.

Of course, she is just a typical newborn. Obsessed with boobs, doesn’t want to be put down, doesn’t give a lot back at this point etc. It feels like such hard work at the time but I’m realizing now that she’s already four weeks old, and that time has flown by. I’m going to enjoy these newborn snuggles just a little more today because before I know it she won’t be a newborn anymore.

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Resettle or feed during the night???

Resettling Techniques for Babies 3-6 months  – from the Sleep Advice for babies 3-6 months section on our website. 

http://www.thesleepstore.co.nz/sleep-information/babies-3-6-months

When your baby is a newborn, a feed is usually offered for every night waking as the first option.  Our midwives tell us or we read about how babies tummies are tiny and they need regular feeds. So any time our precious newborn squeaks, our first option is to feed, day or night!

However as your baby moves beyond the newborn stage, its well worth knowing that not every night waking automatically means your baby is hungry. There are many reasons babies are awake or unsettled in the night, a hungry tummy is just one of those reasons.

Yes your baby will always be happy to take the breast or bottle and for many parents they are happy to use feeding as their go to resettling technique. Babies often settle most quickly with a feed and everyone is back to sleep pretty quickly.

 

Is a feed what is most needed?

There are lots of reasons babies wake in the night, including the physiological changes that happen around 4-5 months when babies start to wake fully between every sleep cycle.

Have a read of our article on Why is My Baby Waking for some of the other reasons your baby may be awake in the night.

 

What if my baby is hungry?

A hungry baby is highly unlikely to go back to sleep unless they are fed. So read your baby’s cues and see if they are showing hungry signs.

And if you try a cuddle or another settling technique and baby still won’t go back to sleep, it’s likely they do need a feed.

This article is not suggesting you don’t feed your baby if they are hungry! It’s more about awareness for new parents that there are many reasons that babies wake. And that other reasons for waking can often be settled with techniques other than feeding!

 

I’m happy feeding my baby every time she wakes

Awesome! Babies need feeds in the night and it’s a quick way to get everyone back to sleep.

If you are want to feed your baby in the night as your first option for settling, that is absolutely fine and the choice of many parents to feed immediately rather than look at whether other resettling techniques may work.

 

Resettling techniques

As your baby gets older, you may feel maybe a feed isn’t needed for every wake up and you want to try resettling. Or your baby is waking every hour or two and you are quite confident that a feed isn’t needed every time!

So you might want to try one or some of these techniques before offering a feed to help baby back to sleep  – These are to be used if you think your baby isn’t hungry.

  • Roll baby onto their side and pat their bum.
  • Cuddle or rock baby until drowsy and put down to fall asleep in bed.
  • Stroke baby’s forehead upwards from between the nose
  • Crank up white noise volume until they go back to sleep then leave quietly on repeat.
  • Sit by the cot holding your baby’s hand
  • Rub baby’s tummy
  • Offer a dummy to satisfy sucking.
  • Offer a comforter to cuddle – choose a breathable, age appropriate option, such as a Cuski.
  • Use the Pick Up, Put Down method – pick up and cuddle until calm, then put baby back down into bed and give them some opportunity to settle before repeating.
  • Use some spaced soothing or Verbal Reassurance, with short periods of time out of the bedroom and saying a reassuring phrase repeatedly rather than picking baby up.  We generally recommend this from 6 months old but if you are suffering post natal depression or severe sleep deprivation, you may want to have a read and consider it from 4-6 months.

Starting Solids… When is the right time?

 By Andrina Wilson, Sleep Coach & Midwife

Health professionals and breastfeeding experts agree that breastmilk or formula is all your baby needs until six months of age. It is important that your baby is both developmentally and physiologically ready to eat solid foods. This is generally between the ages of 6-8 months.

Parents often decide to introduce solids earlier than recommended for a multitude of reasons. Often they are guided by what other parents are doing, their WellChild service has recommended it, they think it will help their baby sleep longer or, the most common reason I hear – “my baby stares at me when I’m eating”. Babies are inquisitive creatures, they learn by watching the world. Following your mouthful or grabbing food from your plate does not mean that their tiny, immature gut is ready for solids.

Below is a list of just a few of the organisations that recommend that all babies are exclusively breastfed (no cereals, juice or other foods) for the first six months of life:

  • World Health Organisation
  • UNICEF
  • Ministry of Health NZ
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Academy of Family Physicians and Research
  • Australian National Health and Medical Council

 

Immunity and Allergies

Babies are born with what is often referred to as an ‘open gut’. This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines are large enough for macromolecules including whole proteins and pathogens (disease causing cell) to pass directly into the blood stream. This is beneficial for breastfed babies as it allows antibodies to pass through and gives the baby passive immunity via the mother. However, if a baby is given solids before the gut closes, around six months of age, it can predispose the baby to allergies and allow large, disease causing pathogens to pass through.

Exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first three to four months of life reduces the risk of allergic disease, coeliac disease, Type 1 Diabetes, respiratory tract infections, ear infections and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI). The risk further decreases for babies exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Furthermore, introducing solids prior to six months of age is also associated with an increase in body fat in adolescents and adults.

Do I need to worry about my baby’s iron levels?

Healthy babies born at term (>37 weeks gestation) have enough iron stores to last at least six months. Breastmilk is rich in iron and is easily absorbed by babies gut. Approximately 50-70% of iron that is available in breastmilk will be absorbed (3-12% in formula), compared with only 4-10% of iron fortified cereals.

Babies born prematurely (<37 weeks gestation) may be at risk for iron deficiency anaemia, as a significant amount of babies iron stores are laid down in the last trimester of pregnancy. It is important that you discuss this with your pediatrician at birth. In New Zealand it is common for an iron fortifier to be added to expressed breastmilk and given to babies born prematurely. Prematurity is not an indication that your baby will need to start solids before six months.

 

Will solids help my baby sleep through the night?

This may not be what you want to hear, but giving your baby solids will not help them to sleep longer.

A 2010 study showed that babies who were given solids prior to four months of age slept, on average, half an hour less each day than babies who were not given solids. Babies wake in the night for many reasons, hunger often being way down the list. Around five months of age, babies sleep patterns change significantly. All babies will wake 4-6 times in the night and without knowing how to self-settle, they will need your assistance to get back to sleep. Click for more info.

 

But my baby keeps grabbing my lunch!

Babies explore the world by touch and taste. They will put almost anything they can get their tiny hands on to their mouth, but this doesn’t mean they necessarily want to eat it! Showing interest and/or grabbing the food on your plate doesn’t mean your baby is hungry or needs additional foods. It’s simply their way of exploring their environment and being a part of the fun!

Babies LOVE to be involved in meal times – have them sit with you at the table with some clean, baby friendly utensils like plastic spoons, bowls etc. and let them learn by watching. They may imitate your chewing actions which is fantastic for when they do start eating solid foods. You could also give baby a cup of expressed breast milk or “momsicle” (frozen expressed breastmilk) for something new to try.

 

At the end of the day, you as a parent know what is best for your baby. However, it is important to consider the reasons for starting solids – is your baby truly ready to start solids (both developmentally and physiologically) or are they just interested in what’s on your plate because it is colourful and smells different? Could they be waking in the night because they’re trying to master a new skill like sitting unaided or crawling, rather than being hungry? It is also important to consider the future implications on your baby’s health – the evidence that starting solids prior to six months increases the risk of allergies and infection is black and white.

It’s so cliché, but your children grow up so quickly. Blink and you’ll miss it! Sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy the present. When they start critiquing your culinary skills, you’ll look back fondly on the day when they nuzzled into your chest, staring into your eyes and that beautiful milk-drunk haze spreads across their face… savour that image, just a little bit longer.

 

References:

Cameron, S., Taylor, R., & Heath, A. (2013). Parent-led or baby-led? Associations between complementary feeding practices and health-related behaviours in a survey of New Zealand families. BMJ open, 3(12), e003946.

Kramer, M., Guo, T., Platt, R., Sevkovskaya, Z., Dzikovich, I., Collet, J., Shapiro, S., Chalmers, B., Hodnett, E., Vanilovich, I., Mezen, I., Ducruet, T., Shishko, G., & Bogdanovich, N.(2003). Infant growth and health outcomes associated with 3 compared with 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78(2):291-5.

Ministry of Health, NZ. (2015). Feeding your baby. Retrieved from http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/pregnancy-and-kids/first-year/6-12-months/feeding-your-baby

Nevarez, M., Rifas-Shiman, S., Kleinman, K., Gillman, M., & Taveras, E. (2010). Associations of early life risk factors with infant sleep duration. Academic Pediatrics, 10(3):187-93. doi:10.1016/j.acap.2010.01.007

World Health Organisation. (2011). Exclusive breastfeeding for six months best for babies everywhere. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2011/breastfeeding_20110115/en/

World Health Organisation. (2001). The optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding: A systematic review. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/WHO_NHD_01.08/en/

 

Should I give my breastfed baby formula at night/before bed?

By Andrina Wilson, Sleep Coach & Midwife.

Every sleep deprived parent is searching for the magic bullet that will help their baby to sleep through the night so they can get some much needed ZZZ’s. You’ve mentally prepared yourself for the lack of sleep that comes with having a newborn, but then the fourth trimester is over and you’re still a walking zombie!

One topic that pops up frequently on our Sleep Store Facebook group is giving a bottle before bed to help baby sleep through the night. Surely this must help, right?! If they’re full to the brim, they’ll sleep for longer, right?!

Will giving my baby formula keep them fuller for longer?

Short answer – yes and no.

Breastmilk and formula both contain carbohydrates, fats, protein and minerals which babies need for physical and mental growth and development. Aside from the obvious differences, breastmilk and formula contain differing types of these components which significantly sets them apart.

Protein is the molecule in milk which we consider to be important for satiety (feeling full). Breastmilk protein consists primarily of whey. Whey is easily absorbed by the baby’s immature gut and provides important nutritional factors which contribute to overall gut health. It also contains sleep inducing factors which actually encourage babies to sleep. However, because breastmilk is so easily digested, babies wake to feed more frequently. Formula protein consists primarily of casein which is harder for babies to digest and therefore, keeps them fuller for longer. However, formula increases the risk of an inflammatory response in the gut which can give babies excess wind, bloating and pain – all of this means no extra sleep for poor mum and dad.

Will giving my baby formula help them sleep longer?

Short answer – no.

As mentioned above, breastmilk is so easily digested that breastfed babies will wake frequently to feed in the early months. They are biologically programmed this way for their survival. However, it is possible to reduce the amount of night waking and eventually, help baby sleep through the night. All babies will need to feed during the night for the first few months. However, once babies are over five months old, their stomachs are larger and they are able to last longer stretches without milk. Also, sleep patterns change considerably and ALL babies will wake 4-6 times during the night. The key here is to teach baby to settle without needing to feed (and ideally without your help). For more information on teaching your baby to self settle, click here.  In fact, a recent Harvard University study has shown that babies who are breastfed but do not wake to feed during the night sleep significantly longer than breastfed babies who wake to feed during the night.

Giving formula as an alternative when breastmilk is available is no guarantee that your baby will sleep longer. In reality, you’re playing Russian roulette as it could potentially have unwanted side effects for your baby and cause them to wake even more frequently for comfort.

It’s also worth mentioning here that whether babies are breastfed or formula fed, night waking in the early months is a protective factor against Sudden Unexpected Death of an Infant (SUDI).

I’m confused, should I do it or not?

Short answer – if you feel it’s the right decision for you and your baby, go for it!

Only you know what is best for you and your baby, it is no one’s place to judge you for any decision you make. Now you have the information, you can make an informed choice.

References:

Ask Dr Sears. Comparison of human milk and formula. Retrieved from http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/breastfeeding/why-breast-is-best/comparison-human-milk-and-formula

Brown, A., & Harries, V. Breastfeeding Medicine. June 2015, 10(5): 246-252. doi:10.1089/bfm.2014.0153

Haig, D. Troubled Sleep: Night waking, breastfeeding and parent-offspring conflict. Evolution, Medicine and Public Health. March, 2014. doi: 10.1093/emph/eou005

McKenna, J. Night waking among breastfeeding mothers and infants: Conflict, congruence or both? Evolution, Medicine and Public Health. March, 2013. doi: 10.1093/emph/eou006

Travel Tips to Enjoy Family Time at the Airport

This blog was written by Anya Clowers, an independent nurse, travel expert, and mum, which originally appeared on the Ergobaby Blog.

Holiday Travel Days are here. Why not ENJOY them… no matter what?  Enjoy the Journey! Airport, airplane, car, hotel, train…any holiday moments are still family time. Holiday travel time is time spent together.  After circling the globe with my family, I have found the best itineraries are simple, flexible, and often formed as we go to capture unique last minute opportunities.  Here are my tips to enjoy the family time spent in airports:

 

Smile, laugh, giggle more. 

Snap memorable photos (posed, silly, casual, sleepy, etc.) of each other on airplanes and in airports. Adults included. Make your spouse, significant other, relative or friend laugh – it’s good for everyone.

 

Arrive early enough at the airport to “be the calm” in your child’s travel day.  

Extra time removes the stress from traffic, lines and interruptions. Smile often. Hug and appreciate little ones in this busy, unfamiliar, exciting, and often overstimulating and intimidating environment.

*Note even older children can unintentionally be overstimulating to infants and toddlers. All that energy sometimes ends up in a too tight squeeze or “in their face.” Help older kids direct their energy away from the infant. Be kind and understanding of this normal jazzed up feeling.

 

Acknowledge and enjoy a child’s perspective. 

Hand the camera or smartphone to a child- ask them to take a photo of something interesting to them, something green, or small or funny. Or as we did, ask for a toddler selfie of a smile without teeth showing, a serious face, an eye and teeth. *Great activity when standing in line!

 

Provide a calm “sanctuary” for infants. 

Drape a blanket over the stroller or use the baby carrier hood to minimize unfamiliar stimulation (sights, sounds, strangers). Comfort them with the soothing sound of your voice by holding them close in a carrier, or with soft touch.

 

Turn waiting and boring line time into a quiet fun time for the family.

Practice breathing slowly and deeply (have little kids show you their deepest breath with their eyes open and again when closed), have smile contests (no smile rule often results in giggles), play “I Spy” or count how many people walking by are wearing green or red.

Handle tantrums, crabbiness, and irritability (kids and adults) with love and understanding… don’t blame the lettuce.

If stuck at the airport, help those who work there enjoy their day.

And if things on travel day go wrong…

  • Challenge yourself to react well (kids are learning conflict management directly from you)
  • Be an example for the kids with an attitude of flexibility
  • Recognize it’s just time, money or holiday plans – not health or life
  • Put it in perspective (someday you may even laugh at it)
  • View the situation from a kid’s perspective – live in and enjoy the moment
  • Be creative, spontaneous, and make a new fun itinerary with the available options
  • Recognize some of the best memories are simple times spent enjoying one’s surroundings
  • Be on holiday no matter where you are- meet new people, try new food, observe life at the airport

For the rest of the tips, please click here and enjoy the ride!

Some thoughts on toddler bedtime battles with a new baby too.

Toddlers can drive parents crazy at bedtime. The slow, steady kind of crazy when you know every night is the same battle. A battle to get dressed, a battle to get into bed, a battle to lie down…..and then the never-ending battle to actually STAY IN BED and go to sleep.  And when this is combined with the exhaustion of having a newborn in the house…….it can feel like a very slippery slide.

Yes there are parents around the country already dreading the bedtime battle at lunch time. Thinking that maybe tonight will be easier, maybe tonight their toddler will go back to being a sweet, complacent baby who lay down and fell asleep. Maybe there is some miraculous way you can feed your newborn and have your toddler instantly fall asleep simultaneously.

Often toddler bedtime battles appear at the time you swap from a cot to a bed, and the new found freedom is just begging for some boundary pushing action. Why stay in bed when you can get up? Mum and Dad are fun to hang out with, and they always want to play that cool game where they take me back to bed then  spring up again!

But often the trigger for toddler battles at bedtime is a new arrival. Your toddler has been happy going to bed, the bedtime routine has been sorted for ages and you thought you had it all sussed in time for the new baby coming. Yeah right! It would make the perfect Tui billboard.

Aaarrrghhhh your toddler has different ideas! Your toddler may not instantly love and adore the new arrival, and they certainly don’t want to share you!  They don’t want to lie down quietly by themself and go to sleep, when they can see the new arrival getting 20 times as much attention, lovely cuddles, getting to stay up late, more milky feeds…..

The wonderful Dr Harvey Karp likens a new arrival to your husband bringing home another wife. He tells you that you’ll all be happy living together, you’ll love the new arrival. Really??? Imagine how it feels for a toddler, who has been your sole focus, your pride and joy, 100% just them.

So if you are faced with bedtime battles when a new arrival comes on the scene, or in the few months afterwards, put yourself in your toddlers’ shoes. Even though you will be shattered from the lack of sleep from a newborn and the huge juggle two or more children, this is not the time for any sort of tough love approach to bedtime battles. Your toddler’s world has been thrown upside down and they need a gentle, consistent approach to helping them get bedtime back on track.

Here’s some tips:

1. Stick to your toddlers normal bedtime or a bit earlier, to avoid the over-tired, second wind that results from a late bedtime. It is easy to under-estimae how much time is needed for a calm bedtime, or be tempted to rush. Bad idea. A rushed bedtime routine always bites you on the bum and takes much longer.

2. Organise things so bedtime is calm, one on one time. This might mean Dad always does the toddler bedtime. Or get Dad to carry the newborn in a wrap or sling while Mum does toddler bedtime. Often it’s the one on one Mum time that your toddler is desperate for. But ensure that where-ever possible, your toddler has a one on one bedtime they same as they had before baby arrived.

3. Do what makes life easier. This is not the time in your life or theirs for weaning off anything that makes life easier. Avoid swapping your toddler into a bed! Stick with the cot because it is their familiar cosy sleep space and also they can’t escape and run down the hallway every 5 minutes. Use a bassinet for baby or get another cot.  Buy lots more dummies if you need to, now is not the time to tackle that addiction. But also avoid introducing anything new like going back to bottles in the night!!!

4. Tools to make bedtime easier are your friend. A relaxation CD or music on repeat, a nightlight and something to cuddle can all help. Go with it.

5. Cosy clothes: If you have swapped to a bed earlier than about 3 years old, often toddlers can’t pull up their bedding or are wriggling all over the place. Or getting in and out bed all the time. Dress them warm enough they don’t need bedding if they are always getting out from it. Or carry on using a sleeping bag. A cold child will not settle at bedtime and will be shouting for you in the night. And getting up to multiple children every night is just not fun is it.

6. Your toddler is in charge. Not really, but giving them some control over bedtime can really help with feeling like they are fighting you on every single thing you ask. Let them choose the 3 stories they want. Let them choose between Thomas or Bob PJs. Le them choose if the bedroom door is open or closed.

7. Gentle techniques win every time. Dealing with a battling toddler and a newborn is possibly as tiring as running a marathon, every single night. Gently encouraging your toddler towards settling to sleep independently is going to take a little while but it will go smoothly. You will avoid the screaming tantrums and the chasing down the hallway. The super nanny approach of taking your child back to bed 1000times a night is a waste of time and energy, especially when you have little to spare. Have one of you sit or lie with your toddler until they settle or fall asleep if this helps. Have Dad camp in your toddlers room for a few nights if need be to get things back on track. Use quick pop-outs to give them small opportunities to fall asleep without you there.  See the link below for more info on these techniques and now these are easy to wean off in time as you feel you need to.

Read more here:

Gentle sleep techniques for toddlers: http://www.thesleepstore.co.nz/sleep-information/toddlers/gentle-toddler-sleep-information?forward=listall

Bedtime Battles:  http://www.thesleepstore.co.nz/sleep-information/toddlers/sleep-articles/my-toddler-won-t-settle-at-bedtime

And you are very welcome to join us on our Sleep Forum for personal advice to solve your bedtime battlesor adjusting to life with more than one child! https://www.facebook.com/SleepStore/app_202980683107053

The impact of sleep loss

We started The Sleep Store to help parents with their baby’s sleep, way back almost 9 years ago. As parents ourselves, we knew how desperately tired you could become with a baby or two. And how terribly stressful a crying baby could be, particularly for first time parents. We were, and still are, also driven by helping parents to get enough sleep to function well and stay healthy, both physically and mentally.

So it’s very interesting for me to read an article from Time Magazine this week on the serious impact of sleep loss and a potential link between sleep deprivation and brain damage. Mothers in particular have long talked about ‘baby brain’ or felt groggy and exhausted as a result of lack of sleep. I know of lots of mothers driving feeling very impaired from exhaustion and I recently read 5% of Americans have reported falling asleep while driving. But until now it has been assumed that most negative impacts of sleep deprivation quickly come right once you start sleeping well.

There are some people who believe being a mother means you sign away the right to a decent sleep, that needing sleep is selfish and you should happily try to survive on minimal sleep for years rather than encourage your children to sleep better. Others offer unhelpful advice such as ‘sleep when your baby sleeps’ or suggest you take the exhausting approach of just waiting till your child decides to sleep through, even if it means you are getting only a couple of hours sleep a night for years.

But this article brings something new to the discussion –  it discusses new research on a link between sleep loss and the loss of neurons, ie lack of sleep can cause brain damage. And this is important. You can’t fob off lost neurons as you don’t get them back.

“A new Penn Medicine study shows disturbing evidence that chronic sleep loss may be more serious than previously thought and may even lead to irreversible physical damage to and loss of brain cells”

“While more research will be needed to settle these questions, the present study provides another confirmation of a rapidly growing scientific consensus:  sleep is more important than was previously believed. In the past, Veasey observes, “No one really thought that the brain could be irreversibly injured from sleep loss.”  It’s now clear that it can be”.

So have a think about your situation:

  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • If not, is there anything you can do to help improve your sleep?

Some suggestions from me, as a mother myself, to you are:

1. Turn your phone, computer or ipad off at least 15 mins before you sleep, so your brain has a chance to wind down. Yes put that phone down! And don’t pick it up during the night, ever!

2. Have a pen & paper by your bed to record any last minute ideas or worries, so you can deal with them in the morning. It’s impossible to fall asleep when you are trying not to forget something! Big things, and little things, can play on your mind and make sleep illusive.

3. Invest in the right pillow and the right bed. If you are not comfortable or are waking in pain, something needs to change. Using a slightly higher pillow and a firmer bed made a massive difference after years of neck & lower back pain for me. Generally adults need to replace their mattress every 10 years.

4. Go to bed at a decent time! Who cares if your housework isn’t done, what posts you might miss on Facebook or who scored best this week on some reality show?? In the scheme of things, these are not important but your health is. Go to bed at a decent time, relax with a book and get an extra hour or two of sleep.

5. Help your children to sleep better. While we all know that a newborn needs frequent attention during the night, have a look at ALL your family and how often you are up to them during the night. How old are your children now and do they still need you many times a night, every night? Are there some changes you could make, however slowly and gently, to encourage everyone to sleep better? How much better would you all feel if you were well rested?

6. Never feel guilty about your own need for sleep. It’s essential for your own health, and for the future health of your brain!

If you need some help to improve your family’s sleep, we are here for you!  Often small changes to how you do things can make a huge difference to how well your children sleep. We can help you identify what you can change and a plan that works for your family.

And changes can be made slowly and gently, working towards the end goal of your whole family getting the sleep they need, including YOU. Better sleep doesn’t come at a cost, but there can be a cost of continuing on completely inadequate sleep.

Gentle sleep info for infants:  Click here:

Gentle sleep info for toddlers:  Click here:

Join us on our Sleep Forum:  Click here:

Email our team for personal sleep advice:    sleepcoach@thesleepstore.co.nz