I choose Niamh to be the Thoughts, Tots and Tea sleep specialist guest blogger because l use her tips Myself with Ned in real life! Furthermore when I went researching Irish sleep experts and spoke to my friends and followers I got really positive feedback from Mums who have used her full consult service to help with their big sleeping problems. Real life success stories is far more important to me than many other accreditations regularly banded about.
Niamh O’Reilly has been working professionally with babies and children for the past 18 years. She is a fully qualified and highly experienced Nursery Nurse and Sleep Consultant and is fully in tune to meeting the needs of parents and children/infants in order to create a home-life that works to individual family needs. Niamh delivers attentive, professional advice in a warm yet practical manner. Her calm and relaxed approach will immediately put you at ease and her techniques and tools can be easily tailored. Niamh is the best- selling author of “No Fuss Baby and Toddler Sleep” which is available to buy via her website and in all god bookstores. Niamh has appeared regularly on National TV and Radio and has made many contributions to some of Irelands national newspapers and leading Parenting Magazines. Niamh is also the Sleep Expert for HerFamily.ie and and the BabyDoc App.
Niamh’s Top Sleep Tips
I regularly hear people say to me “I plan to have a routine once the baby is home from hospital” or “I am never bringing baby into my bed” or “This baby will not change my life”. Well, I hope all these well laid plans fall into place! The reality is somewhat different – We all do what we gotta do to get by!
Please do not worry about getting too much structure in your life for the first 6-12 weeks. It is said that new parents and new babies need at least this amount of time to get to know each other and find out what seems to work for each family. At the 3 month mark or thereabouts, you can perhaps start to think about putting small patterns in place so that your baby starts to realise the difference between day and night. My advice though is to give yourselves at least 12 weeks before trying to put a real routine in place. Otherwise you may end up putting yourselves under too much pressure. Some babies fall into it naturally, but others need a little bit of guidance. These things take time and we all know Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Once little ones turn a corner and seem to have a sense of what’s happening next, (likely to happen around the 5-6 month mark), you could start making a few changes and having some more structure in their little lives. I know routine is not for everyone but most of us like to know what’s happening next at any given time. Mini-humans are no different.
As any new parent knows along with the joy of having a child comes a host of new worries and fears. Quite often parents return to the workforce exhausted and are trying to resume life from where they left off. If your child isn’t sleeping, this can be truly traumatic! Cultivating good habits in the early years and discovering techniques to change them can make life much easier. It is easy to feel alone and upset if your child is not sleeping and you find yourself pounding the floors late at night. You feel like you are the only person in the world with sleepless nights. Please be assured that this is not the case. Children who are not sleeping can often disrupt an entire household, leaving parents and siblings struggling to get through the day. But it’s also important to note that children NEED sleep to optimise their development. 5am wake ups every day for a week accumulates and becomes the loss of an entire nights sleep at the end of a week!
Note: These are not RULES though – simply ways to encourage good sleep habits for the future. And remember, I am not talking about newborns here. These tips are mostly related to babies from 6 months who are established on solid food i.e. three meals a day.
Encouraging Good Sleep Habits
There are very simple and effective ways of dealing with baby’s sleep routines, feeding habits and behavioural issues. If such things are depriving YOU of sleep, I have set out my top tips that might help the battle!
Top tips for getting baby to sleep
1. Always aim to get your child down into the cot when they are still awake and wind them properly so as to avoid any false starts! Use the time spent winding them to rouse your baby, even just a little, before you place them in the cot. They don’t have to be wide awake but just ‘awake enough to know where they are going’.
2. Ensure tea time and last bottles/feeds are good ones. Tea doesn’t necessarily have to be heavy but just plentiful!
3. Don’t fret if your baby grizzles a little going into cot. Grizzling noises are those “mooching” sounds baby makes just before they fall asleep! They are trying to create an environment for themselves with their own familiar sounds and blocking out other noises in order to soothe themselves. It’s a bit like their own personal white noise machine. It’s not exclusive to newborns; older babies do it too, sometimes in the form of real-life crying!
4. The dreaded soothers. I am not so much anti-soother as you might expect. Used properly, they should be given to child when settling to sleep. It allows the baby to suck on it until they are calm and their breathing steadies into a nice rhythm. It can become a strong sleep association tool. In between feeding and sleeping a soother should not be used, although I’m well aware that there are times when it’s your only saving grace!
5. Once a baby is weaned onto solids (ideally at the latter end of 5-6 months) they should start to be able to make it through the night without feeds; with the exception of little ones still having a dream feed (that late night feed where you simply lift them from slumber and feed them before you go to bed – a top-up of sorts).This would continue with a bottle fed baby on three solids up to around the 6-7 month mark. Another exception, but not always, would be breastfed babies who I suspect would still be feeding a couple of times overnight.
6. Check the temperature of the room at night. If it’s a little cold, it is better than it being a little hot. You can always add layers and/or extra vests. Ideal room temperature is within a range of 16-20 degrees celcius.
7. Have a Regular Bedtime Routine, it can be the anchor of your day. Allow up to an hour for a winding down period. This time can include baths and reading to your child as long as it is calm and relaxed. But don’t get too caught up in making this over-complicated. If baths are a pain to have to do daily, skip them. Do them in the morning or every few days. There’s nothing a baby wipe can’t fix/hide! And bedtime, whether with one child or with many, should be manageable by one person. Even dad!
8. Make sure that their room provides a peaceful environment for baby. Their bedroom should be exactly that – a BEDROOM. No toys, no fancy mobiles. It should be a place of sanctuary. Calm surroundings for happy (hopefully lengthy) sleep.
I Really hope you find these tips useful and remember Niamh is available for consult at www.thenursery.ie She also has a wonderful book that I’m currently getting my teeth into and will do a full review and giveaway on in the coming weeks! Most importantly Niamh has donated her time to questions and answers blog, I have been receiving and compiling questions from all my mums over the last week and will send them to her for her best advice so Stay tuned for answers because let’s face it with these little babies and toddlers every day is a school day! Having found the tips successful and being very lucky with Ned I hope to refresh myself with Niamh’s book “No Fuss Baby and Toddler sleep” and hopefully have the same success with baby number two in the new year.
Enjoy Dee x