The Lullaby Blog.
8/11/2019 0 Comments
I saw an article recently that was discussing the difference between research on infant stress and cortisol levels particularly in regards to sleep training.
I understand some people think the words ‘sleep training’ can sound quite unnatural and regimented. To some degree, I would agree. However, despite a lot of different interpretations, in my eyes it generally just means a baby is learning the skill of falling asleep independently when they are developmentally ready to.
Studies reveal that babies respond to different forms of stress and not all crying leads to a rise in cortisol levels. Also, research has shown not all cortisol elevations are necessarily bad or sustained.
A newborn baby having a bath, or having their nappy changed or receiving immunisations can experience a rise in cortisol due to it being a new experience or an unexpected experience. We are not going to stop bathing or changing our babies because it can elevate their cortisol levels??
What happens is after a few days, babies stop reacting to the bath with a stress response because they have simply learnt from the experience and the stress response has moved to a positive response.
Throughout all these changes and new experiences in your child or baby’s life you will be there offering comfort to them throughout the change.
So, during a period of change with your baby’s sleep habits, yes there can be some crying, even with the gentlest methods that I offer, and of course they are going to protest any change. Not because they are traumatised, but just because they are tired, want to sleep but now the situation for sleep is unexpected.
Protesting change is part of being human
So, I hope this helps reassure those out there who are contemplating or feeling uncomfortable ‘sleep training’. Working gradually towards better sleep is how I work with families, working together with every parent to ensure they are comfortable with whichever method I choose.
Remember: Improving your little ones sleep will, in fact, mean over a course of time your little one will be producing less cortisol overall than a baby who continues to be overtired or sleep deprived.
If you need any support with some gradual sleep methods then please feel free to contact me or take a look at my website to see how I work.
There are many well known and sometimes bizarre aspects to a child’s sleep behaviour that is worth knowing about. So, what causes these behaviours and what can we do about them??
The most common ones I have explained below:
when do they occur?
What causes these?
There is no exact cause for nightmares, but there are certain situations that may make a toddler or child more prone to nightmares:
Keep the following in mind:
These are commonly mistaken for nightmares but in fact very different.
When do they occur?
Recommendations on how to deal with Night terrors
So, I hope these few pointers help to reassure you that these sleep behaviours are very common and easily managed.
If you would like further support or advice on your little one’s sleep then please feel free to contact me through www.lullabyoftheblue.co.uk or on my Fcebook page @lullabyoftheblue
TODDLER SLEEP – PART 2
COT TO BED TRANSITION
There are a lot of transitions and milestones in the first 3 years of life. One of the transition that can make you realise that your baby is no longer a baby is the transition from cot to bed. We can try to make this transition easy and pain – free (for the whole family) if we think about some key areas that we need to keep in mind. This blog can help you with that decision.
· Sometimes the reason that this transition can end in disaster is that some parents are making the switch too early. Ideally you want to keep your toddler in the cot to as close to 3 years as possible.
· WHY – children before 2.5-3 years are simply too young to understand the ‘imaginary’ boundaries of a bed. When you remove the bars you remove these boundaries. Even if your toddler can understand they have to stay in bed before this age they lack the impulse control to actually follow this through.
· You may get a few nights/weeks/sometimes months that are blissful. However, it takes just one time when your toddler realises he/she can get out of bed and free to roam….this can lead to them getting in and out of bed everytime you leave the room - EXHAUSTING!!
· If your toddler is starting to climb out of the cot early, there are some tricks you can try before actually making that move due to safety issues.
-A gro bag – if they are in one, don’t stop now! It makes it that bit harder to climb out the cot
- Turning the cot – If you have a cot that has sides that are taller on one side, simply flip the cot so the shorter end is against the wall
-Lower the crib mattress and remove anything that could give leverage
-or if it is at it’s lowest take the bottom part away so the mattress is pretty much on the floor if the cot is designed to do this.
· If your toddler is happy in the cot then keep them in there until they ask for it 😊 As soon as they are able to ask for it, then they are able to understand why and what is happening.
· Some parents decide to move their toddler to a bed in the hopes of correcting poor sleep habits. The transition should be a reward for good behaviour, not a solution for poor behaviour
· An 18month old can’t get excited about picking new sheets, or understanding the rules of a bed, but a 3 year old can.
· Parents with a new arrival of a sibling sometimes feel this is a reason to transition. However, this needs to be done with caution as it is common for older siblings to ‘regress’ in certain ways (sleep being one)
· If there is no choice and it is impossible to get another cot for the new baby, then make the transition after the baby is born. This will avoid the older child feeling ‘pushed out’ by the baby.
· Start by removing a side of the cot to get them used to sleeping without the bars making it a smoother transtion
· Involve your child in the process of picking out the bed and the accessories. It will help them understand what is happening.
· Toddler proof the bedroom
· Sit down and explain to your child what is happening and why and what the rules of the new bed are. They need to know exactly what is expected of them and what the consequences are.
· Have a game plan if things don’t go to plan – if your child starts to get out of bed and roam, take them silently back with little or no emotions. Making it unrewarding to leave the bed is the key. Even negative attention is still attention.
· CONSISTENCY – Toddlers love to test boundaries but it is our job as parents to set those boundaries and stick to them as much as possible.
Stay tuned for the next part of toddler sleep.
I am also offering a discount to any parents who have children attending Mount Carmel Kindergarten. Please feel free to take a look at the ‘parents offers’ page at
I felt that the last couple of posts have been about baby sleep and I have had quite a lot of people struggling with toddler sleep coming to me for support. So, I thought I would address our older kids’ needs.
Many parents might feel that when babies have trouble sleeping, they can ‘wait it out’ and it will disappear once they are a bit older. Whilst this may be the case with some children, for many this is not often the case.
I hope the next couple of blogs help you to get your big kids’ sleep back on track because I am a believer that it is NEVER too late to instil healthy sleep habits.
COMMON TODDLER SLEEP ISSUES
These can be very similar to some of the issues that we see with babies:
I consider an ‘early waking’ to be anything before 6am. Some of the most common reasons a toddler may be waking early are:
· Is bedtime too late? Do not believe the myth that a late bedtime will = a later waking. Sleep is not logical, it’s biological. You may get fed up of me talking about overtiredness but this can be one of the most likely factors to early waking. Find the ideal bedtime for your toddler and try putting them to bed earlier.
· Parental inconsistency in the early morning hours. We need to be consistent in the way we respond to our children. If your child woke at 2.00am it is unlikely you would get them up and start the day, as we shouldn’t if they wake up at 4.30 or 5.30am. Treat these wakings just as we would any other night wakings.
Nap transitions can be a tricky time for everyone. The key to a successful nap transition is preparation, consistency and patience. You need to have a plan of attack!!
· Don’t rush the transition. Transitioning too early will almost always lead to a toddler who becomes overtired and therefore may begin taking short naps and/or waking in the night. Signs that your child is ready for transition to drop from 2-1 nap or 1-0.
- Refusing the nap
- The afternoon nap is occurring too late in the day and then pushing bedtime too late
- Night wakings that are otherwise unexplained
- Early wakings that are otherwise unexplained
- The child doesn’t suffer any negative side effects when a nap is skipped. For example, if your child skips the nap and then is an absolute nightmare in the evening (My eldest!!!) then this may indicate they’re not quite ready to drop a nap.
Have a plan of attack. If a nap is dropped without doing this slowly (especially from 2-1 naps) then this could lead to them becoming overtired (there’s that word again!!). Making sure the awake windows from waking in the morning to nap and from nap to bedtime is appropriate for their age.
Have patience. As I have mentioned nap transitions can be a tricky time. There’s likely to be some short naps, some frustration, and maybe some night wakings or sleep-cries, but stay consistent and trust the process, it will all come together.
Often, once parents don’t see immediate results it is easy to want to switch things up and try something else, but with toddlers and babies, consistency is the key. It can take weeks for a toddler or baby to be well established on a new schedule.
Stay tuned for PART TWO of 'Toddler sleep' where I will be talking about transitioning to a big kid bed, bedtime/naptime battles and nightwakings due to nightmares, night terrors, sleep associations or other reasons. If you continue to struggle with any toddler or baby sleep issues please feel free to contact me for further support:
I hear it all the time. Babies who wake after being asleep for 2 hours. All…night….long!
It is very common for this to happen after the dreaded ‘4 month regression’ that so many people hear about. I am referring to those babies who used to sleep for long stretches overnight and then suddenly start to wake every 2 hours. The purpose of this blog isn’t to discourage feeding or to force your baby to sleep ALL night, as babies, children and even us adults don’t sleep ALL night long. I simply want to share some information on the reasons WHY babies suddenly develop this ‘regression’ and how we can get around it.
Somewhere around 4 months…….
At this age your baby’s night time sleep cycles mature and shorten to just 2 hours in length. This is when you may hear your baby do a noisy re settle, or if something is really bothering them, or they need help to re settle back to sleep they will fully waken. EVERY 2 HOURS!!!!
Once your baby’s sleep cycle matures, this is when sleep associations really can start to affect full awakenings. This means if your baby has learnt to go back to sleep when they reach the lighter stage of sleep by being actively settled, by an action or a prop ie, by being rocked or fed to sleep or by using a dummy (that they are unable to replace themselves) they then need this to help them settle back into another sleep cycle again. It is the only way they know how to get back to sleep again. However, many babies this age can LEARN sleep cues to help them fall back to sleep without actively needing to be resettled; such as white noise, a dark room, a good daytime nap structure. When all the conditions are right and put into place, they can happily re settle themselves back into another sleep cycle day and night.
So….What can you do??
The first thing you can do to improve the 2 hour waking it to make sure your baby is having the correct daytime naps, awake times and structure in the day appropriate to their age. These factors can cause an unsettle baby between the sleep cycles.
Find out what your baby is needing to settle back to sleep and to encourage your baby to self settle for their naps as well as at bedtime – then the night time wake ups will reduce shortly after.
If you require further support my sleep packages are able to tackle this very situation using gentle strategies and I don’t use any harsh ‘crying it out’ methods. Helping you and your baby towards a good night sleep is only a phone call away and well within your reach.
For more information please check out my webpage, facebook or Instagram page.
Fb: @lullabyoftheblue Instragram: www.instragram.com/lullabyoftheblue
We all know that babies need naps, however sometimes it can be really hard to get decent naps out of your little one. You might not even be aware of what to be aiming for, nap-wise, for your baby’s age!
Unfortunately, babies who don’t nap, or cat nap in 45 minutes or less chunks all day can become overtired and unhappy. Tired, or overtired babies cry more, are fussy when feeding, resist settling and usually have an extended unsettled period in the early evening that can last for hours at a time.
Why isn't my baby napping?
If your baby is only sleeping for one sleep cycle (or less) there may be a whole host of reasons why this is happening:
· Your baby isn’t tired enough to sleep for longer
· Your baby is overtired
· Your baby is hungry
· They are relying heavily on a parent-controlled sleep association such as rocking or feeding and need this repeated when they come out of their first sleep cycle, in order to go back to sleep
· Their conditions for sleep aren’t quite right
So, how can you help your baby nap for longer? My top tips to help your baby extend their naps:
· Have a dark room with no nightlight – this helps babies drift more easily between sleep cycles
· Use some white noise for the duration of your baby’s nap
· Make sure your baby’s awake times between naps are spot on for their age so they are not over or under tired
· Ensure they are able to self-soothe (for babies over 4 months)
· Re settle your baby if they wake after one sleep cycle so they learn to sleep for longer
It can be really tricky to get your baby’s napping right. I have the answers and information you need to get your baby’s naps and their development on track and it’s just a phone call away. Please feel free to get in touch if further support is needed.