Sleep for your baby, or the lack of it, is one of the biggest issues that new parents face. It is something covered in antenatal classes. It is what your well-meaning friends talk about, but can give no concrete advice on. You hear about this before your baby is born, but it is hard to comprehend until you experience it for yourself. But, here’s your reminder that it’s (exactly as we said) one of the most common issues for new parents.
“I definitely felt like the odd one out amongst friends/NCT group etc for still cuddling Lucy to sleep until she was almost 2! Most people wanted to get their babies self-settling much earlier, but Lucy wasn’t keen, and I knew sleep training wasn’t for us (plus I like cuddles) Around her second birthday she started toddling off happily to her cot when she was still awake, so it all turned out fine.”-Lisa K
If you’re experiencing sleep issues with your baby currently, you’re not alone. And it definitely doesn’t make you a bad parent. You’re doing the best you can, so first and foremost:
Remember To Be Kind To Yourself – Don’t Compare Yourself To Other Families
All babies and families are different, so although it is good to get advice from friends, what makes one baby sleep like an angel might leave another in frustrated tears. Being a new parent can be hard, so the most important thing is to be kind to yourself and look after your physical and mental health. This will enable you to be in a better place to tackle any rough patches your little one goes through with sleep.
We asked Team Happity for their advice when it comes to babies and sleeping, and they shared just a few stories & tips to help you get by. This is what works for them, but take it with a pinch of salt. Remember: there isn’t one solution to fit everyone. (And, in fact, we saw it within the team too! What worked wonders for some was a nightmare for others)!
“You just have to do and find what works for you and your family! Every baby responds to different things and so don’t be disheartened if something that works for one person does not work for you.”– Alex
“Try not to compare your situation to other people’s situations. I tried everything to get my son to sleep. Breastfeeding to sleep, rocking to sleep, cuddling to sleep, going out for walks/drives at 3am to sleep. If it works then just go with it!”– Gayle
1. Have A Regular Bedtime With A Consistent Routine
Although newborns have many naps throughout the day, by the time a baby is 6 months they will gradually get into a sleep routine with fewer naps and have a proper bedtime. Once you are ready to set a bedtime, have a routine of pyjamas, bedtime stories and gentle songs to get them into the right mood. Consistency is good and makes babies or toddlers aware of what is going to happen. Even if you need to break the routine occasionally, it is good to have a general structure to follow.
If you do not know where to start or feel you need extra advice, it can be a good idea to talk to a sleep consultant. Batelle is an online sleep school for children aged 6 months to 6 years. They will tailor sleep plans to each family, and can help you to regain control of bedtime.
“We have a 6am rule – anything before this is night time and we would try to get them back down. If they’re up and chatty after 6, the gig is up and time to start the day!”– Vince
2. Have Lights Down Low And Keep Things Calm
Read calm stories to get your little ones in a sleepy mood and sing gentle songs rather than noisy action songs. Do not play too boisterously just before bed, and ensure lighting is kept low. If you keep the room calm, eventually your baby or toddler will match this energy level.
“White noise was great and then when she was a few months older we used Brown noise (A deeper tone of white noise) and this helped a lot!”– Alex
3. Be Aware Of Any Additional Needs And Your Personal Circumstances
Every family is different and all children are different, so there’s never a one-size-fits-all when it comes to little ones and their sleep. Some children may have Special Educational Needs or behavioural problems that need to be considered when creating a sleep routine. Or if your little one shares a room with a sibling, that needs to be considered too. Maybe you have a grandparent or another relative that helps with bedtime sometimes and they need to know how your routine goes. This is where Battele’s sleep consultants can help, as they will take into consideration all factors that make your family unique. Their approach is all about building a connection with your child and building trust.
“ We never forced O on to it [sleep training], and it just fitted with him and worked like a dream! He slept through from 3 months… I, on the other hand, did not! I had insomnia from that point til he was 9 months due to PND!”-Emily
4. Find Your Baby’s Sweet Spot -The Best Time To Nap
Have you ever wondered what your child’s sleep sweet spot is? It’s the perfect time for them to nap, when they are tired but not too tired to have the best sleep. Huckleberry’s app will do just that. By logging your child’s age, nap times and bedtime, the app will remind you when it is time to get ready for nap time. If your child is transitioning between a number of naps, that is not a problem; you can log this too. If you find nap time is too long or too short, this can be adjusted so you get it just right for your little one.
5. Be Aware Of Adjustments As Your Baby Develops
Different things will affect your bedtime routine, such as dropping naps as your baby gets older or introducing solids or other big changes. This is where Huckleberry’s predictions can be a lifesaver. Like a parent, it is constantly adapting! Just when you have your routine sorted, it is time to change something. This is where your personalised advice from Huckleberry comes in. You can log these changes in the app and you will receive personalised advice based on your child’s sleep patterns.
“When it came to reducing naps, we followed Lyra’s lead. She dropped her second nap when she was ready, and now at two years old she sometimes skips her day time nap all together.” –Helen
6. Find A Sleep Plan That Works For You
There is so much information out there; it can be overwhelming. There are lots of online resources with varying levels of success. Sometimes a dedicated sleep consultant like Batelle or an app like Huckleberry is just what you need. Having the support you need can make you feel less alone. Sleep deprivation can be lonely. At 3 am you might feel like the only person in the world. Neither Batelle or Huckleberry use the “cry it out” method that worries many parents. Instead, they encourage connection with your baby, and different ways to encourage healthy sleep habits.
“Gentle sleep training was really helpful for us and I enjoyed a gentle approach with no cry it out involved.”– Alex
Help And Support Is Invaluable When You Are A Parent
Once you have the right advice and support, any task or problem seems so much easier. Knowing that all parents have had problems with sleep at one time or another can give you a feeling of solidarity. Just remember to give yourself a break sometimes. Having a sleep consultant like Batelle can take the weight off your shoulders. Although work is required on behalf of the parent, it will be well worth the investment and time needed to help coach your children into longer-term healthy sleeping habits that will benefit the whole family. And Huckleberry’s app is not just for sleep tracking. You can log your child’s feeding times, medication, growth, nappy changes and more. You can have everything in the same place to make it much easier to be organised!
Once you have found the right sleep expert to help you, nap time and bedtime does not have to be a battle anymore. And instead of a time to dread, it can be cherished. We all want to have happy times with our children, and bedtime stories are much easier to enjoy knowing you have support to get you through the night.
“My biggest tip is sleep begets sleep. When they are very little, if there are no sleep issues in general then just let them sleep as much as they need. We are dealing with unique people who are all so different and to sum up my advice it is to not get hung up on it and go with the flow. It is absolute torture when they don’t sleep but the key is to remember, as with all phases, it will pass. Nothing lasts forever in the baby world.”– Lisa T
Want to get out and about, have fun with your baby or toddler, and meet other parents?
Search Happity to find everything that’s happening for the under-5’s in your local area – from music and singing classes, to messy play, arts and crafts, baby massage, gymnastics and more. Simply enter your postcode and child’s age to search, and then book your spot in a few taps. Enjoy dedicated fun time with your little one, watch their skills develop, and make friends at the same time. Mums, dads, grandparents and carers will all find something to love!