Common questions relating to sleep

by Maryanne Sayers

I wanted to share some common questions that parents ask in relation to their baby or toddler’s sleep issues, and my responses to these.

  1. If we move our toddler into a big bed, will this solve the sleep issues?
  2. Moving a young toddler into a big bed simply transfers the sleep issues from a contained cot environment to an uncontained bed environment. In addition to the original sleep issues, you now have a toddler who is able to get up and roam the house at night. All too often I am seeing young toddlers (and even babies) being moved into a bed far too early. My message to parents everywhere is to please leave your baby/toddler in their cot for as long as possible. The cue to move them out of the cot is as follows (whichever happens first):

When they start climbing out of the cot, as this then becomes a safety issue

or;

When they have grown too big to comfortably fit in the cot. When lying straight, they should have a bit of clearance between head and cot and also between feet and cot.

Once sleep issues are resolved, babies develop a really strong, positive sleep association with their cot. Provided they don’t climb out, I recommend not moving them to a bed until their 3rd birthday (or a bit before). That way, the move into the big bed becomes an exciting transition which you can actually discuss with them and prepare them for.

  1. If we move our baby’s bedtime later, will that stop him/her from waking really early in the morning – e.g 4.00am/5.00am?
  2. In general, no it won’t. In fact all it does is make them even more overtired when going to bed and is a contributor to frequent overnight wakings including the early morning 4am/5am waking. There would be other reasons behind the early morning waking and these need to be identified and addressed. A later bedtime is not the answer, and simply adds to the problems
  3. We got a blockout blind to make the room really dark, will this help our baby sleep better during the day?

AI always discourage families from using blockout blinds or similar for day sleeps. It’s really important that babies can tell the difference between night and day. As young babies, their circadian rhythms are still developing. Circadian rhythms are part of our biological clock and regulate our sleep and wake cycles. In simple terms, in adults and older children – circadian rhythms sets our internal 24 hour clock and programs us to sleep at night when it’s dark and be awake during the day when it’s light. For babies, in order for their circadian rhythms to develop and have their sleep and wake cycles where they need to be – it is important to have some filtered daylight in the bedroom during the day. The day sleep cycle is very different to the night sleep cycle. Certainly we don’t want beaming bright light coming in, but just a filtered dim natural light. To give you an idea, if your baby’s room has vertical blinds or venetian blinds having them fully closed will achieve a good level of light for day sleeps. Another way to explain it – you still should be able to see items in the room, rather than it being so pitch black and completely dark that you can’t see a thing.

  1. Our baby cries a lot and is really unsettled, we think he has colic or reflux, what should we do?
  2. Firstly ask yourself if your baby has good sleep habits and associations and are they in a consistent routine each day.

I am not saying that reflux, colic or wind do not exist – they certainly do exist – but these conditions in their true form exist in a much, MUCH smaller percentage of babies than what we are led to believe. Many health professionals will tell you your baby has one of these conditions – because there is seemingly no other explanation for a crying, unsettled baby and day after day they have exasperated and exhausted parents coming in asking “what is wrong with my baby?” When unable to find a cause – it inevitably falls back to wind/colic/reflux. It becomes an easy reason to explain an unsettled baby. Parents then start on the well-worn path of trying different medications or therapies for the colic/reflux/wind which can go on for months.

Many, many of the clients I have seen over the years have been convinced that the reason (or one of the reasons) for their baby’s unsettledness is due to wind, reflux or colic. Some even have their babies on medication to treat any (or sometimes all) of these conditions. However, once I spend time with them and we address the sleeping issues, the symptoms (that they thought were related to reflux, colic or wind) had suddenly disappeared. This is because their baby never had these conditions in the first place. The reason behind the symptoms of crying and unsettledness was because their baby was overtired to the point of exhaustion – day in, day out – due to not getting anywhere near enough sleep in a 24 hour period

Phone 0417 068 545. Or contact Maryanne via www.mysleepingbaby.com.au or via her facebook page

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