Baby sleep

Getting your baby to sleep shouldn’t be a nightmare. Image: Pixabay

Getting no rest? Solutions to baby and toddler sleep woes

Getting your baby to sleep shouldn’t be a nightmare. There are wonderful tips and tricks to make sure you and baby get a good night’s rest.

Baby sleep

Getting your baby to sleep shouldn’t be a nightmare. Image: Pixabay

Few issues vex the parents of babies and toddlers more than their child’s struggles to sleep well.  It’s debilitating for the whole family, and tightly stretches the emotional resources of parents, who are battling the consequences of their own sleep deprivation.  Sleep time is the body’s time not just for much-needed rest, but also for healing and regeneration. 

Not getting enough of it, depletes moms, dads, and kids – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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Here’s how to get you and your baby some shut-eye

It’s not surprising then that there are reams and reams of sources of advice for how parents can get their babies to sleep better.  It’s hard to know where to turn, and whose advice to trust.  Michele Carelse, a Clinical Psychologist and the Director of online health store, Feelgood Health says, “A baby’s sleep patterns go through various changes as they grow and develop, which can leave parents feeling at a loss because what seemed to be working over the past week is suddenly upended.  It can feel like a rough rollercoaster ride.  What’s important is to understand the basics of baby sleep and have strategies in place to help you manage family sleep time as best as possible. 

“Fortunately, there are options, so if something is not working for you and your baby, you can try alternatives.  It’s important for parents to prioritise good sleeping patterns for the whole family and feel determined to find solutions so that they persevere when times are tough.”

On Wednesday, 27 July 2022, from 8:15pm to 9pm, Feelgood Health, one of South Africa’s pioneering online healthy lifestyle stores, will be hosting a free parent’s webinar on how to get your baby or toddler sleeping peacefully.  The session will include a Q&A chat so that parents can talk through their concerns with Michele and also learn from other parents’ experiences.

Michele says, “All babies are unique and develop at their own pace.  It’s better to know the general expectations of how babies’ sleep patterns develop than to consider these ‘milestones’ that your child must reach by a certain time.  Just like us, all sorts of things can disrupt a baby’s sleep.  For instance, teething often brings discomfort, and this is commonly a time when a baby or toddler may struggle to fall asleep, or get back to sleep on their own if they have woken up because they are uncomfortable or sore.”

baby toddler sleep
There are ways to ensure your baby/toddler sleeps well. Image: Pexels/Pixaby

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For a newborn baby, up to around 2 months, feeding takes priority over sleeping. There’s no getting around that you will be waking every two hours or so for feeding over these first precious weeks of life.  Around 3 to 6 months, your baby may be able to sleep for up to 6-hour stretches, much to the relief and delight of their new parents.  However, it is a common experience that between 6 to 9 months of age, things can go seemingly awry. 

Michele says, “There is major brain development going on at this stage, as well as physical developments such as teething which can disrupt the sleep pattern.  Your baby may well begin to realise that sleeping means being left alone, and they may start crying at bedtime in the hope of keeping you close to them.  This is when you need strategies to manage the situation, to both soothe them when they need it, such as using a natural remedy to ease teething discomfort – and also to give them gentle opportunities to learn to self-soothe.”

How to help baby have a good sleep

There can be many reasons why a baby is struggling to fall asleep or fall back to sleep if they have woken up, including hunger, illness, pain, the need for comfort and bad dreams.  It’s important to go through a process of elimination so that you have some understanding of what is causing the sleep disruption. 

Many parents expect that at around 1 year old their baby would have established a healthy sleeping pattern that better suits the whole family’s sleep routine.  However, this is not a rule or a set milestone, and it’s perfectly natural for some children to need ongoing parental structure and intervention in order for them to sleep easily and peacefully.

Helpful strategies to enable your baby to sleep more peacefully, include:

·         Facilitating plenty of stimulating day-time activity

·         Setting up a sleep-conducive bedroom environment for your baby or toddler

·         Establishing and maintaining a relaxing, consistent night-time routine

·         Making sure your child’s hunger is sufficiently satiated before bedtime

·         Winding down to bedtime

·         Using natural remedies for calming, relaxing and relief of discomforts

·         Implementing gentle sleep training

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