Sleep Advice

Monday, 9 April 2012

Sleep Basics

Bedtime Routines or Rhythms
As adults we have our own little rituals and routines we go through before going to bed, so the same applies to our little Munchkins, its up to us as parents and caregivers to create these routines.

Routines will change with their age.  

With your newborn your family routine could look like this:
  1. Half Feed (one breast, or 100-120ml formula) so that his/her hunger is satisfied enough to get through bath time with causing a fuss
  2. A quiet and enjoyable bath.  Using a flannel to lay over the baby's chest to give them some security and warmth.  If your newborn REALLY cannot enjoy a bath, then look at using a warm cloth to clean around the neck and skin folds. Rosewater smells great and will also help to gently clean, put a little on your damp flannel.  Try baby massage.  Bathing and massaging should be enjoyable and calm.
  3. Second half feed.
  4. Swaddle or wrap your baby.
  5. Depending on which works best for you, you may like to cradle your baby and gently sing them to sleep in your arms before putting them in their cot/bassinet.  Or you may like them to be in their bed while you stay close to sing to them or gently rub their back or tummy.
You may also like to create other sleep associations.  
  • Our son had a dummy to settle him to sleep until 8 months old, then he replaced that with his stuffed toy donkey we all call "Horsey" which he has to have to this very day, 3 years and 4months old!  Munchkins have a great range of Nici and Lily and George products that are cute, cuddly and friendly "bed pals".
  • Other parents I know have successfully used a night light like our Giimmo Lights which can be charged and taken anywhere.  They softly glow different colours over and over again.
  • We also had a musical mobile.  Our son loved to watch his little friends circling around him, and more often than not by the time the set period of music was finished he was fast asleep.  Munchkins also stock a range of "Tiny Love" mobiles.

REMEMBER: Newborns need 16-20 hours of sleep every 24 hours.  They should sleep on their backs.

Other things may effect your baby's ability to settle to sleep such as sickness, teething, too much stimulation before bed, temperature, hunger, and wind.  If sleep seems like a distant goal, or a tiny speck of light way at the end of a tunnel, remind yourself this could be just a stage - it may feel like a lifetime but it really is only a few nights or a week tops.  Or its just those pesky teeth, or simply a hungry wee tummy. 

Bedtime Routines for 6 months + 

Keep creating a positive bedtime ritual.  You want your child to see that sleep is a pleasurable state to be in and that, there is a special time or activity that happens before sleep.

The most basic of routines would be

Whatever the pre-bedtime activity is, it needs to be calm, quiet and enjoyable.  It could be as simple as reviewing the day’s activities, and talking about tomorrow.  I love telling my son a story, I can see him creating all sorts of great images in his head, and he remembers them very clearly too.  We find all sorts of things to talk about.  Sometimes he needs me to stay in his room, so I sit at the end of his bed and have a cup of tea, read a book or knit.  Within 20 minutes he’s a goner.  Sometimes he tells me to “go and talk to Daddy on the couch” so I quickly take that cue and run!  Other times I tell him that I am going and will be back in 5 minutes to see him – I always follow through.  Often he is asleep before I get back, other times he needs several 5 minute visits.  And of course there are times when we have tears, tantrums and arguments!  He is three after all!

In my next post I’m going to review some of the behavior interventions that can work with toddlers, also how to implement a style of night time parenting that will work for you and your family.

I would love to hear what routines have worked well for you, and why you have chosen these routines, please leave your comment

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