Have you got to a place in your life where your toddler is still waking at night?
Or perhaps your toddler was sleeping well but now it's the opposite?
I know that I expected sleep disruptions when my boys were newborns and I am thankful that they are both good sleepers now but there are so many parents of toddlers out there who are dealing with nightly wake ups and struggles. Studies have shown that "10% of 12 month old children do not sleep through the night, five percent of toddlers have more than sporadic night terrors or sleepwalking....[and] early narcolepsy can deceptively present as hyperactivity, poor school performance or depression." 
If you dream of your child staying in bed ALL night, check out my explanation that covers why your little person may be waking up and how you can encourage better sleep for all.
REASONS WHY YOUR TODDLER MAY BE WAKING IN THE NIGHT
1. THEY ARE OVERTIRED
Mood swings are a classic sign of overtiredness. Your child was happy and looking at a picture book one minute and the next is screaming because you said no to something they wanted to eat. Overtired toddlers have a sufficient amount of sleep debt, which leads to cortisol (stress hormone) levels rising and this stops them being able to fall into a deep sleep.
2. LACK OF BEDTIME STRUCTURE AND ROUTINE
Does your child have a structured bedtime routine such as dinner, bath, teeth, stories and bed? Do they have a set bedtime such as 6:30pm or 7pm or do you just put them to bed when you feel like it or you think they are tired? Some toddlers will fall asleep on the couch when they are tired, which is great! Most however will continue to play and jump around and need to be told that it is bedtime. Toddlers who are overtired go into an almost hyperactive state so they may not look tired but they definitely are. If you want your toddler asleep by 7pm, I suggest starting the bedtime routine at 6:30pm - it's always going to take longer than you think.
3. NO BOUNDARIES OR LIMITED CHOICES
"I want another bottle of milk", "I want another story...no not that one...I want to choose another one", "I need to do a wee"....sound familiar? Your toddler would ask you a million questions at bedtime if you let them...simply because they do not want to go to bed. Who is in control at bedtime? Is it you or your toddler? If it is your toddler then you need to think about this and start implementing some changes right away.
Janet Landsbury, a childhood expert explains that "children need lots of opportunities to be autonomous and have their choices respected. At the same time, they also need to know they are not in charge, and we demonstrate that through our confident, decisive, gentle leadership."
Give your toddler choices. For example:
"Would you like to wear your red or green pyjamas tonight?"
"Would you like to choose two books to read tonight?"
If your toddler starts mucking around, either choose two books for them or tell them there will be no stories tonight. They will learn very very fast.
4. TOO MUCH STIMULATION BEFORE BEDTIME
As adults we seem to be able to transition from watching a movie to going to bed quite easily but children really struggle to do this. Children, especially toddlers can get overstimulated very easily. They find it hard to simply shut their brains off and go to sleep. Think of how you feel when you have a big event the following day or are nervous about a job interview - we find it really hard to fall asleep (and often to stay asleep too).
Toddlers will really struggle to go from high energy activity and play straight to bed. It is important that you have a good amount of winding down time in the evening, screens off after 4pm and quiet activities such as puzzles, books or colouring just before bed.
5. LETTING SOMETHING SLIDE ONCE HAS NOW BECOME A BIGGER ISSUE
So your little person asked you if they could fall asleep on the couch next to you "just this once" and because they are so cute you gave in and said yes. Now that said toddler or child will not budge and insists on falling asleep on the couch every night.
Or your toddler begged with you to lie down with them to go to sleep at the beginning of the night and now expects that every single night and every time they wake throughout the night.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
1. IS YOUR CHILD GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP OR EVEN TOO MUCH SLEEP?
Too little sleep and your toddler will be overtired by bedtime. Too much sleep and they will be undertired and wake throughout the night.
A 2 year old requires 11.5 to 12.5 hours of sleep overnight and a maximum of 2 hours in the day. As they move closer to 3 years, their daytime sleep requirement reduces and as they mature and their body requires most of their sleep at night. So by 3 years if you are not looking at dropping that day nap, which I encourage you to do so, your little one should be sleeping for 30 to 40 minutes maximum in the day!
2. GET ONTOP OF OVERTIREDNESS PRONTO!
Come up with a simple strategy to get your toddler more sleep. Do they need a nap every other day to simply catch up? If your toddler is refusing to nap they may need to go to bed earlier to make up for that lost sleep at night. Look at how much sleep your toddler is currently having and how much he or she needs.
3. SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES
Set up these boundaries in the bedtime routine as explained earlier in this article. Give your toddler limited choices. Routine is very healthy for children and provides them with stability. It will also help you to avoid those bedtime battles and the stress that comes along with it.
If you start noticing that you are giving in more and more to your toddler, take a step back. As long as you are aware of the problem you can address it. For example, if you have been lying in bed with your toddler while they fall asleep and now they expect that when they wake in the middle of the night then stop lying down with them initially to go to sleep.
Think of it in terms of a "treat" food during the day. If your toddler demands chocolate for breakfast you are not going to give it to them right? They are probably going to act out because they are trying to get you to give in. It is the same at bedtime and overnight. When you are establishing change there will be resistance but you need to stick with it and be strong.
Janet Landsbury again explains that, "a toddler acting out is not shameful, nor is it behaviour that needs punishing. It's a cry for attention, a shout-out for sleep, or a call to acting for firmer, more consistent limits. It is the push-pull of our toddler testing his burgeoning independence. He has the overwhelming impulse to step out of bounds, while also desperately needing to know he is securely reined in. There is no question that children need discipline."
4. IGNORE, IGNORE, IGNORE
Do not engage with your toddler if they start acting out at bedtime or during the night. Simply take them back to bed and that is the end of it. There is no bribing, no chatting, no negotiating. Your toddler does not care if you give them negative or positive attention - the fact that you are engaging and talking to them means that they are getting what they want.
5. STICK IT OUT - IT WILL GET BETTER!
Being consistent is very hard especially if you are tired. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of any strategy. Just because it isn't working after two or three night doesn't mean you should stop. It takes 3 weeks to completely change a habit but you will start seeing improvements before then.
 Solve your child's sleep problems
Brown, Lawrence W.
The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 107, Issue 3, 412
 Short Sleep Duration in the First Years of Life and Obesity/Overweight at Age 4 Years: A Birth Cohort Study
Halal, Camila S.E. et al.
The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 168, 99 - 103.e3
So you’ve hit what seems like the 4-month sleep regression. Your beautiful baby was sleeping so wonderfully and is now waking up all night and catnapping in the day. Suddenly you find yourself not knowing what to do next! Cue…Google at 2am!
Sleep associations are a massive part of the way your baby goes to sleep and in fact learns to go to sleep. Sleep associations can both help and hinder sleep.
WHAT IS A SLEEP ASSOCIATION?
A sleep association is something that a child associates with falling asleep. A sleep association is something that your child requires to get to sleep and something that they cannot sleep without.
Anything can be a sleep association if your baby needs it to fall asleep, such as:
· Bottle Feeding
· Driving or Walking in the Pram - Motion
· Comfort Toy/Lovey
· Baby Carrier
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE BABY SLEEP ASSOCIATION Sleep associations only become negative when they get in the way of great sleep. An easier way to know if a sleep association exists is if your baby can’t “stay” asleep after going to sleep in a certain way.
For example: If your baby is rocked to sleep and wakes up 20 minutes later needing you to rock them back to sleep – rocking is a sleep association.
OR – If your baby is dependent on a dummy and wakes up every 2 hours needing that dummy to be replaced by you each and every time – that’s a negative sleep association.
On the other hand, if your baby uses a dummy to fall asleep but can sleep through the night, that’s grand. The dummy in this example is a positive sleep association. You are using the dummy as a sleep prop but it is not getting in the way of a good night’s sleep – both for you and for bub.
WHAT ABOUT NEWBORNS? Newborns are so fragile and they need you to comfort them, feed on demand and get them to sleep! Newborns do not have the developmental capacity to self-settle and most will require some form of help to get to sleep. So don’t think you are going to form “bad” habits in the first two to three months! Enjoy those beautiful cuddles!
Just because you nurse, rock or hold your newborn to sleep does not mean that you will be doing this for the next year of their life! Ultimately we don’t want to be doing this at 4 months so between 3 and 4 months is the perfect time to start getting your baby to gradually learn some self-settling skills.
YOU THINK YOU’VE GOT IT COVERED AND THEN….SLEEP ISSUES MAY START The 4 month regression….we have all heard it! This is when the sleep associations that you had been using during those newborn months suddenly stop working. Why? Because your baby’s sleep starts to consolidate, sleep cycles become more adult like and your baby’s awareness increases. You may start to experience frequent wakeups and catnaps. Your baby will wake up at the end of a sleep cycle looking for the prop or aid that got them to sleep in the first place. Teaching self-settling is the answer here.
And do you know what? You may be fine with frequent wakeups and catnaps and that’s cool. You just do what works until it doesn’t work anymore…
When you are frantic for long naps and longer stretches of sleep, you will need to take a look at your baby’s sleep associations to see what can be reduced or removed (negative associations) to help your baby consolidate their sleep.
EARLY SLEEP PROBLEMS CAN HAVE EFFECTS MUCH LATER ON LIFE
There are several long-range studies regarding childhood sleep habits and the effects of adolescence and adulthood. For example, one study in Montreal among 987 parents demonstrated that early sleep problems in 5 – 17 months continued for older children between 29-40 months. This study showed that certain habits such as mother present at sleep onset or giving food/drink after child awakens due to sleep difficulties led to disturbed sleep such as bad dreams, taking longer to fall asleep, and disrupted sleep.
PREVENTION IS ULTIMATELY BETTER THAN CURE
In case you don’t know much about me – I am a mum of two boys and I’ve had experience with many baby and toddler sleep challenges. My eldest son is the reason that I am a sleep consultant. This allows me to confidently say that I’ve been in your shoes and you will get through this!
The best way that I can describe the way I parent is that I am proactive rather than reactive. I don’t allow my kids to come into my bed and I don’t stay with them to fall asleep. But that doesn’t mean that I love them any less – I want them to have good sleep so that they can thrive and tackle each day feeling energised.
Dr. Elsie Taveras of Harvard Medical School found that long-term sleep related problems started as early as infancy and was quoted in a Times interview saying, "Parents and paediatricians should keep in mind that children have to develop the capacity to regulate their own sleep early in life and self-soothe themselves during the night."
If you’re reading this and have yet to have the issues start in the first place, go ahead and feel free to know that you’re doing a great job and to keep doing what you’re doing!
If you are starting to encounter issues, my warning is this: If your baby has any negative sleep associations it is a good idea to try and change these now. Yes it will be hard but ultimately it is going to save you months and months of broken, un-restorative sleep.
If you are not sure how change this or need some support in doing so then I can work with you to do this. Don’t think that you have to go it alone.
Simard V, Nielsen TA, Tremblay RE, Boivin M, Montplaisir JY., ‘Longitudinal study of preschool sleep disturbance: the predictive role of maladaptive parental behaviors, early sleep problems, and child/mother psychological factors.’ Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 Apr;162(4):360-7. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.162.4.360. Accessed from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18391145?fbclid=IwAR2Pr9fQs0d_i3CnIhZB0d8U5nseRptYVS7w7mRvhH2MOVoP6ae8ddcAYsA on 20th July 2019
Sharples, T., 2008, ‘How Not to Get Baby to Sleep.’ Time Magazine. Accessed from http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1728755,00.html on 20th July 2019
WHAT CAUSES NIGHTMARES?
One important thing to know about nightmares is that they can happen for no reason. Better Health Victoria reveals that "The cause of nightmares isn't known, but it is thought to be the ordinary stresses and strains of growing up. Children who have experienced a traumatic event, for example, tend to have frequent nightmares for the next six months or so."
Professor Harriet Hiscock further explains that "During nightmares...children will usually wake up completely from their bad dream and be scared. They welcome a hug and can remember what happened in the morning."
Children who have an overactive imagination are more prone to nightmares as are children who are sick with a fever. Nightmares can also happen because a child is not getting enough sleep or going to bed too late at night.
AT WHAT AGE DO NIGHTMARES BEGIN?
Your child can start having scary dreams at two years of age. Nightmares will reach a peak between the ages of 3 and 6 years.
Often if a child is under five years, they will not be able to tell the difference between a nightmare and reality. That’s why most of the kids within that range wake up terrified after a nightmare and remain scared for a while before going back to sleep.
NIGHTMARES VS NIGHT TERRORS
Sometimes nightmares get confused with night terrors. Night terrors (also known as sleep terrors) are "dramatic events that present a partial arousal state from deep sleep," and are characterised by, "facial expressions of fear, shouting, screaming, gasps, moans, uncontrollable shouting and agitation." 
After a nightmare, the person wakes up may remember details but a person who has experienced a night terror remains asleep and does not remember anything in the morning, although they may be able to recall aspects of the sleep terror immediately following the episode. Night terrors generally occur in the first third to first half of the night, and rarely during naps. Sleep terrors and sleepwalking are part of a group of parasomnias (undesirable movements and behaviours that occur during sleep) and are linked.
So if your child is experiencing a night terror, they may seem wide awake but they are actually not. Their eyes may be open but they will not realise that you are in the same room. It is best not to try and calm your child if they are experiencing a night terror as you could make the situation worse. Your child will calm down themselves and go back to sleep once the night terror is over.
Though the cause of night terrors is still unknown, it seems to be hereditary. This is because children who experience such sleep-distractions come from families with a history of night terrors, sleep talking, or sleepwalking.
Night terrors affect almost 40 percent of children and a much smaller percentage of adults. However frightening, night terrors aren't usually a cause for concern. Most children outgrow night terrors by their teenage years.
HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR CHILD DEAL WITH NIGHTMARES?
If your young one tends to experience nightmares more often, there are several things you can do to minimise or brush off the bad dreams. Such things include:
1. Keeping on top of your child’s sleep and ensuring that they get enough sleep in every 24 hour period.
Your child’s sleep needs to be quality sleep –Is their sleep environment encouraging restful sleep? Are they getting enough sleep? Maybe their bedtime needs to be earlier?
2. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine.
Do you have a good bedtime routine that starts two hours before bedtime and lets their brain and body wind down from what went on in the day? Are the books you are reading before bed conducive to restful sleep? i.e. No dragons or monsters or vampires in the stories? TV should be off by 4pm as it is just so stimulating and often as parents we are often not even aware of what our children are watching or what the episodes contain.
3. Discussing the nightmare with your child if there is a reoccurring theme.
If your child is experiencing nightmares with common themes or the same nightmare over and over it would be a good idea to have a chat as it might be something that is in fact bothering your child. Things like starting a new school, the introduction of a younger sibling or even moving house can be enough stress for a young child to start having nightmares. Talk to your child about dreams and explain that everyone has dreams and lots of people have nightmares.
4. Reassuring your child - Don't ignore them!
Give your child a comfort toy so that during the night if they wake up they can give that toy a cuddle and use it as a form of support. Use a night light that is pink, red or yellow as blue or white light actually prohibits the production of melatonin (our sleep hormone). You can also keep their bedroom door open. Get your child to draw our their fears on a piece of paper an hour before bedtime and then put it next to your bed so that you can “keep the fears away” and “keep them safe”. We would never use tactics such as “monster spray” as this showing your child that there is something to be scared of. We want them to know that there is nothing to be afraid of in the first place.
5. Not letting your child sleep with you!
When you're exhausted and at the end of your tether it is really tempting to bring your child into bed with you so you can get some much needed rest. This often backfires with nightmares and it suggests to you child that sleeping in their own bed is causing the nightmare. They may then become scared of sleeping in their own bed and want to sleep with you every night.
 Sleep Terrors in Childhood
Mason, Thornton B.A. et al.
The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 147, Issue 3, 388 - 392
FIND OUT MORE
Mums who seek advice through Facebook groups and forums are vulnerable and ready to listen to anything.
“1 years old and co-sleeping is perfectly normal. She obviously still needs you close by and when she is ready then she will be able to sleep on her own. My 3 year old is still co-sleeping and I am used to feet in my face now. I think its better you co-sleep rather then letting her be scared and alone whilst letting her "cry it out."
“My 10 month old gets up 6 times a night. I'm happy she's getting extra nutrients at night. If you're struggling with having to get up and feed, could you consider safe co-sleeping? I only have to roll over to feed bub back to sleep. Soooo much easier than getting up.”
Some mums and very mislead by what the term “sleep training” means. Sleep training does not mean “cry it out”. These mums believe that they must not let their baby cry at all, or they won’t develop empathy or will be “emotionally damaged”.
These kind of statements place an idealistic and unfair pressure on parents, especially first time parents. Sleep deprivation is a contributing factor to post-natal depression and post-natal anxiety.
Sleep deprivation and post-natal depression
It has been proven over and over that sleep deprivation is a huge contributing factor for post-natal depression . Getting up 6 times a night is not normal and is asking mums to survive for the first year on 2-3 hours of consolidated sleep a night. Suggesting that co-sleeping is the answer is not at all supportive as if the child is still feeding 6 times a night that mother will still be getting broken sleep. A full night of broken sleep equates to only getting a few hours of sleep in total. Fragmented sleep is almost as bad as not sleeping at all.
Babies can go through the night on one feed until they are between 6-9 months. Feeding 6 times a night is excessive and not needed.
A study done by Medic, Wille and Hemels in 2017 showed that, “sleep disruptions have substantial adverse short- and long-term health consequences…Sleep disruption is associated with increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, metabolic effects, changes in circadian rhythms, and proinflammatory responses. In otherwise healthy adults, short-term consequences of sleep disruption include increased stress responsivity, somatic pain, reduced quality of life, emotional distress and mood disorders, and cognitive, memory, and performance deficits.” 
Dr. Avi Sadeh completed a study in 2014 where participants were assessed after both a normal (control) night's sleep and after a night during which sleep was either restricted to four hours or interrupted four times over the course of eight hours in bed. What he found was that fragmented night sleep is as bad for your mental and physical health as only sleeping 4 hours a night. Mums getting up 2-3 times will be lucky to get 4 hours consolidated sleep a night.
“These night wakings could be relatively short — only five to ten minutes — but they disrupt the natural sleep rhythm. The impact of such night wakings on an individual’s daytime alertness, mood, and cognitive abilities had never been studied. Our study is the first to demonstrate seriously deleterious cognitive and emotional effects.” 
Five to ten minutes is the time it would take to get up and breastfeed your baby back to sleep. Doing this for 2 to 3 times a night or more results in diminished daytime alertness, mood and cognitive ability.
The scary thing…Dr. Sadeh’s study was done on ONE night. Imagine the effects after months of broken sleep?
Parents of 2019 are bombarded with so much information and there are hundreds of bloggers out there giving their opinion on sleep training, none of which are backed by science and research. All this does is terrifies parents.
Blanket statements like the above let parents believe that if their baby cries in the first year they won’t develop compassion.
People often use the example of the children who are abandoned in Romanian orphanages to back up their point about empathy. They often tell the story of these children who are raised in an orphanage, never given any attention and are left to cry for hours, days and even weeks. Due to the severe neglect for a few months and years on end they actually end up not developing any empathy.
“Infants and young children expect an environment in which they are going to interact and receive nurturance, not only food, but psychological nurturance, from adult caregivers.” 
How can we relate behavior sleep training to abandoning a child in an orphanage for a couple of years? There just is no comparison.
The Center on the Developing Children at Harvard University has indeed studied the adult brains of these babies who were abandoned in Romania for years, and there are definite negative correlations between abandonment and brain development, including empathy. But there is no mention of this being applicable to the situation of sleep training. 
None what so ever.
So get rid of that mum guilt and unrealistic pressure. Do what is right for you and your family, whether that be sleep training or not. There is no judgement here, just the fact that I want to help achieve good restorative sleep for mums, dads and babies.
 Dørheim, S. K., Bondevik, G. T., Eberhard-Gran, M., & Bjorvatn, B. (2009). Sleep and Depression in Postpartum Women: A Population-Based Study. Sleep, 32(7), 847–855.
 Medic, G., Wille, M. and Hemels, M., Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption, Nature and Science of Sleep. 2017; 9: 151–161.
 Michal Kahn, Shimrit Fridenson, Reut Lerer, Yair Bar-Haim, Avi Sadeh. Effects of one night of induced night-wakings versus sleep restriction on sustained attention and mood: a pilot study. Sleep Medicine, 2014; 15 (7): 825 DOI: 10.1016/j.sleep.2014.03.016
 Pappas, S., “Early Neglect Alters Kids Brains”, https://www.livescience.com/21778-early-neglect-alters-kids-brains.html
(Accessed, 19 June 2019)
 Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2012). The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain: Working Paper No. 12
Babies under 9 months (particularly if they are small) may wake from being genuinely hungry. Giving your baby one to two feeds is quite normal up until this age, especially if you are breastfeeding. Newborns may wake up to three times a night to feed and this is completely normal in the early weeks. Making the feeds dark and boring is essential for getting your baby resettled and back to sleep as quickly as possible. Formula fed babies can generally sleep through the night without a feed from 7 months - this is because their daytime feeds and diets are routinely structured.
Making sure your little person is not too hot or too cold is essential. An appropriate tog rated sleeping bag is essential. The core body temperature drops between 3am to 4am so if you find that your little one is waking then, they may be too cold.
Teething pain is a real annoyance to babies - their cry would be more of a grizzle than outright screaming. If teething is the cause of waking pain relief will help. If your baby has been happy during the day then teething is probably not the cause of night waking.
4. Wet Nappy
Nobody likes to sleep in cold, wet clothing do they? The same applies for your baby. If your baby has wet through their nappy and into their clothing, they will more than likely wake up and need a nappy and clothing change. If you find your baby is wetting through often, you can consider going up a size just for nights, or putting the bigger size over the smaller size to catch any "escaping" fluid. Tight onesies very commonly lead to leaking as they put pressure on the nappy.
5. Sleep Regressions
Sleep regressions happen quite frequently in the first 12 months of your baby's life (and often again at 18 and 24 months). Sleep regressions are not related to hunger or teething as they are developmental. Your baby may have learnt a new skill or has gone/is about to go through a developmental milestone. Your baby's sleep needs may have changed or they way their sleep is structured may have changed. Babies with healthy sleep habits from birth will experience less regressions than those who are overtired or rely heavily on sleep associations to get to sleep.
6. Sleep Associations
A sleep association is a prop that your baby needs in order to get to sleep. After 4 months, if your baby requires you to get to sleep they then may wake at the end of a partial or full sleep cycle (every 2 to 4 hours) looking for you to get them back to sleep. I can help you if you need help changing your baby's sleep association/s.
A baby who is overtired will find it very difficult to fall into a deep sleep. This is because the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in their body is elevated and preventing them from deep sleep. This is often due to catnapping during the day.
A baby who has had too much sleep during the day is genuinely just not tired enough to sleep. This leads to periods of wakefulness overnight. Check that your child is getting the correct amount of sleep for their age and the night waking should stop (and yes - this may mean that you need to wake them from naps!)
Often if your baby has had a cold and is finding it difficult to feed, they may wake more often as they are hungry. A gastro bug will mean that your baby is feeling very unwell and will find it very hard to sleep. I always suggest you go to their room when they are sick rather than bringing them into your bed – put a mattress on the floor, it is easier to slowly leave then than deal with an association formed by reactive co-sleeping.
10. Medical Conditions (E.g. Reflux)
Nights will be heavily broken if your baby is in pain. It is important that you help your baby get to sleep, so they are not overtired. Overtired babies cannot tolerate as much pain or discomfort as a baby who has had rest. If your baby has reflux and is medicated always ask your Dr about possible side effects. Some reflux medications can cause restlessness due to gut and wind pains – it is good to know this and prepare yourself!
So should you do a dream feed?
The aim of a dream feed is for you to feed your baby and then for them to consolidate the rest of their night sleep and not wake until morning (once they are age appropriate to go onto one feed a night). The dream feed will teach your baby to have their night feed before midnight, as opposed to after midnight so that you as a parent can go to bed and get a decent chunk of sleep after the dream feed.
When can I start a dream feed?
Very early on in the newborn weeks, you will find that your baby may be cluster feeding in the early evening and then do a big chunk of sleep after that. If your baby is not cluster feeding then they may wake at 9pm or 10pm naturally for a feed. Therefore, dream feeding is not encouraged in those early weeks.
At around 6-12 weeks, you can introduce an "awake feed" at 10pm. Wake your baby up fully, give a half feed, have a kick on the mat and then give them the other half and back to bed. This awake time should be around 30 to 45 minutes. If your baby then sleeps for a good three to five hours (depending on age and size), then this shows that the awake feed is working and you should only have to get up once more before morning!
Once they are 12 weeks you can start turning this into more of a dream feed and keep them asleep, rather than waking them up.
My baby still wakes after the dream feed!
If your baby is waking around 1am or 2am after you have given them the dreamfeed then this is a sign that it is not working. I would simply skip the dream feed, allow them to wake naturally for that one feed and then go back to sleep for the remainder of the night.
If you are doing a dream feed and your baby is not taking in a decent amount of milk, they are essentially having a "snack" and this then sets them up to do this for the remainder of the night. It is better to skip the dream feed and let them wake up when they will be genuinely hungry and ready to take a bigger feed.
You should be getting 5-6 hours of good sleep after a dream feed once your baby is 12 weeks old.
When should I drop the dream feed?
Drop the dream feed if it not working - i.e. You are not getting 5-6 hours of good, consolidated sleep after 12 weeks of age.
Between 5 to 6 months is a good time to start looking at dropping the dream feed as it will start to interrupt night time sleep cycles. Interrupting night time sleep cycles leads to further nighttime wakes. It is best to just let your baby wake naturally for a feed after this age and not schedule feeds overnight.
By the time your baby is on two solid meals a day of (around one quarter to one half of a cup each) you can look at dropping night feeds altogether. This usually happens at around 6.5 months.
What time is best for the dream feed?
You want to attempt a dream feed in your baby's deepest stage of sleep over night. This runs from 6pm or 7pm through to 11pm. Therefore the ideal window to dream feed is between 10pm to 11pm, before that stage of sleep ends. If it is after 11pm, leave your baby to wake naturally for their feed. It is also important to note that dream feeding prior to 10pm only encourages that last bedtime feed to not be as full/complete as it could be, as your baby’s digestive system learns they get another feed in a couple of hours, so there is no need to have a full feed at bed time.
Dream feeds will only work 50% of the time. If your night sleep is already very fragmented and your baby is over 16 weeks, very rarely does introducing a dream feed help. You should rather work on teaching your baby some self-settling skills so that they can consolidate their night sleep.
As winter approaches and the coughs, sniffles and sneezes begin it's hard to know whether to hold off of sleep training or to continue on.
RUNNY NOSE/SLIGHT COLD
If your child is fine during the day and just has a runny nose or a slight cold and cough then it is absolutely fine to continue with sleep training. It could also be worthwhile chatting to your GP about whether you need to give medicine to help them feel better, and keeping an eye on things to ensure that they don’t start to feel worse.
FLO Baby Nasal Spray is amazing for runny noses, combined with the Nosefrida Nasal Aspirator to get all the gunk out (more details about these products at the end of this e-mail).
SERIOUS CONGESTION COMBINED WITH FEVER OR ILLNESS
If your child is really unhappy and has a fever, is very congested or has any vomiting or diarrhoea it is best to put a hold on sleep training until they are better. Your child will need you to be there to comfort them through the illness. There is nothing better than cuddles with mum when your child feels unwell. See your GP so that they can recommend what to do to make your child feel better and get through the illness as quickly as possible.
Sometimes children can become very lethargic when they are sick. In this situation it is best to pop them down earlier for their nap so that their body can do the important healing while they are sick but wake them up at the usual time so that you can keep the day on track.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY GET BETTER?
Children who have really good sleep habits tend to go back to good sleeping again relatively quickly when their sickness is over. If you are finding your child continues to wake and needs assistance to get back to sleep when they are well again then get in touch and we can work together to get them sleeping well again.
Why not invite me along to one of your mum's group gatherings so I can answer all of your burning questions? I will come along and speak to your group for 1.5 hours at a location of your choice - the beauty of this being that you get to ask questions that are unique to your child and your situation. I can even do this after hours if you want to get your questions answered without the kids in tow! Whether it be at your home, at the park or an after hours potluck dinner - you will leave feeling empowered, knowledgeable and confident. You will know exactly what to do moving forward to ensure you and your family get the sleep you all need.
Cost - $20 per person with a minimum group of 6 required
(If you don’t have a mum's group I encourage you to join one or form your own! Reach out to the Mums you know or to other mums through social media, and make a regular happening date where you all get to have a bit of well-earned down time!)
Play contributes towards a child’s cognitive, physical, social, emotional, creative and communicative development – it’s one of the most important (and fun!) ways that your baby or toddler reaches those crucial developmental milestones. Play encourages babies to explore, experiment, discover and problem solve; it’s one of the earliest and most instinctive learning methods. From building their most basic senses to formulating their social skills, play is at the heart of their development from the get-go.
6 main types of play that follow a child’s developmental trajectory were identified by sociologist Mildred Parten Newhall, which is why they’re also known as ‘Parten’s stages of play.’
The 6 stages of play are as follows:
When buying toys for your baby, it’s important to choose something that’s just right for their skill level. Pick a toy that’s too simple and your tot will get bored; get one that’s too advanced, and they’ll only get frustrated. An age-appropriate toy, however, will provide your baby or toddler with hours of education, exploration and enjoyment.
Ever get tired of all the plastic out there? In a world where plastic rules our lives and most of our children’s toys are made of plastic it was so nice to stumble across this amazing lady, Sophie Parry and her business “Scribble & Sew”. Sophie's creativity and passion for art led to an interest in fabrics, sewing and textiles.
If you like something it should stir in you a passion, a raw emotion, a reminder of the past or a feeling in the present, but a sensation nonetheless.
Scribble & Sew’s Taggie Collection has many more benefits than being just a warm and cuddly comforter. Following the first months of exploring with their mouths, babies begin to explore with their hands. Fingers and hands are full or touch receptors that need to be engaged in order for the child to build a brain map for this area. If these are not used then the part of the brain allocated for this is not developed.
This brain map created through touch receptors is later used for fine motor skills such as handwriting, dressing and eating. Exposing a child to a variety of textures at a young age lays the foundations for these all-important fine motor skills.
As well as benefits to fine motor skills, exposure to different textures allows children to get used to and feel calm around them. This reduces the likelihood of them developing tactile defensive behaviours as they grow and lays the foundations for them remaining calm and enjoying exploring new textures rather than being afraid or stressed. This is particularly important when it comes to trying new foods, going to new places such as the sand at the beach and wearing textured clothing.
Taggie blankets allow children to use their mouth OR their hands to explore and develop in a safe way allowing for healthy tactile sensory development to occur.
You can even get one custom made for your little person - take a look here!
There is so much more to explore at Scribble & Sew - www.scribbleandsew.com.au
As the winter months are fast approaching and many of you are probably wondering how to dress your baby or toddler so that they are toasty and warm and comfortable overnight.
Ideally we want the room temperature between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. If you can control the temperature in the room with reverse cycle/split system airconditioning or a small heater with a thermostat then that is great. If you are going to use a small stand alone heater, buy a timer plug and set the heater to come on at 2am and then turn off at 7am. That way you are making sure you are only using the heater when it is the coldest part of the night and saving on your electricity bill. For split systems and reverse cycle you can just set these on auto and they will come on and off as needed to keep the room at the same temperature the entire night.
Do not have your child’s bassinet, cot or bed under any windows. Glass can get very cold during the cooler, winter nights and this can make the area next to the window quite cold. Cold draughts can also come in through the cracks in the window (If your windows don’t seal properly and the room gets particularly draughty you can buy foam tape from hardware stores like Bunnings that will help to prevent any draughts coming in).
WHAT SHOULD MY BABY OR TODDLER WEAR?
As soon as your baby is unswaddled, I recommend switching to an appropriate TOG-rated sleeping bag. This ensures that your child will be comfortable all night no matter what the temperature. A TOG rating measures the thermal warmth of a product – the higher the TOG rating, the higher the thermal warmth (i.e. The thicker the sleeping bag).
The beauty of a sleeping bag is that you just layer clothing underneath it. Your baby or toddler will not understand how to pull a blanket up if they are cold until they are around 3 years of age – they just will not have the developmental capacity to do so. I recommend keeping your child in a sleeping bag until 3 to 4 years of age. Blankets under 12 months of age are also a huge SIDS risk.
Download your FREE temperature guide here – Use this guide to ensure you are dressing your baby or toddler correctly in both warm and cooler weather.
If the room is going to get very cold and you have no way of heating it, I would recommend putting socks on before bedtime. Buying some pyjamas made out of merino wool would also really help as merino is really good at regulating body temperature.
In winter I would highly recommend the ergoPouch Sleep Suit (available in sizes from 2 months through to 6 years of age) - www.ergopouch.com.au
Lauryn Stanlake - Infant and Child Sleep Consultant