So, you’ve got some sleep issues with your little one that you’d like to sort out, but where do you start? I’ll lay it all out for you here, and you can find all the information you need to improve your sleep issues in the Member’s area of the website, and in the Members Facebook group, I’m there to help you when you need it.
Step 1: Sleep environment – we need to make sure that the space where your child sleeps is safe (and this will look different depending on the age of your child, we go from newborn sleep spaces needing to be free of blankets and other obstructions and a firm surface to sleep on, to toddler rooms needing to be free of furniture that could be pulled over to potentially cause injury. Find the information that is relevant to your child), warm not hot, 16-20 degrees is ideal, and dark. This will provide the best environment for your child to be able to sleep well.
Step 2: Timing – making sure that you get the timing of sleep right is a huge part of the process of setting up healthy sleep habits for your child. We want to make sure that if they’re napping, they are napping at the right times, that awake time between naps is age-appropriate and they are not getting over or under-tired between naps. Equally, we want to make sure that nap length is age-appropriate too, a child who is sleeping for too long during the day is going to struggle to sleep well overnight, so getting this balance right is vital in the journey to great sleep. I suggest you download the routine that is most age-appropriate for your child and aim for roughly that, remembering that timings can be tweaked a little to suit your child and family commitments.
Step 3: Nutrition – another important piece of the puzzle. Making sure your child is getting enough of the foods they need to support healthy sleep (whether that is breastmilk, formula or solids or a mixture) is another step along the journey towards great sleep. A hungry child isn’t going to sleep well and may struggle to fall asleep in the first place. We want to make sure that they are getting enough food, the right kind of food, and not too much of the wrong food!
Step 4: Settling ability – if your child can’t put themselves to sleep and they rely on you for rocking, holding, feeding, walking, bouncing them to sleep etc every time, you are both going to be losing out on a fair bit of sleep over time. Often babies with these sleep associations need the same actions to be able to go back to sleep whenever they wake between sleep cycles (waking between sleep cycles is of course totally normal, but we have learned just to roll over and go back to sleep when we have these partial wakings between cycles, which is what we want to teach our babies to do too so we can all get the sleep we need). To help our child to do this we need to use a settling technique (the exception is with newborn babies who have no settling ability and need a lot of assistance to be able to fall asleep to begin with). I offer a range of settling techniques for different ages and temperaments, as well as your parenting style. There are different techniques that work better for different ages, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s important to make the right choice for your child and you, and to stick to that technique consistently. We will discuss settling techniques in detail in the Facebook group, as I want to make sure we get this right for you.
So, to start I suggest you download the relevant information for your child, you will need to make sure their sleep environment, nutrition and routine are all on point. Then decide which settling technique is right for your child’s age, and that you are happy to use, I will help you with this if you need me to. Make sure you understand all of this information, ask questions in the group if you need to. Then decide how you want to approach your sleep training journey – you can use a phased approach when you work on aspects of your child’s sleep individually, improve the sleep environment, then tackle routine, work on nutrition before finally implementing a settling technique. This can be a great way to go about it. Or you can just go for it and do everything together like I do when I work with clients. It’s up to you how you do it. But I do strongly suggest that once you decide you’re going to implement your settling technique that you are consistent, don’t do it one day and not the next, or start but ‘give in’, this will only confuse your child, and make everything harder and take longer for everyone. Don’t start implementing your technique and working on self-settling until you are ready and can put in the time it will take (up to a couple of weeks depending on the technique you use).
I look forward to helping you along the journey to better sleep for you and your family!