Tips from a Baby Sleep Consultant
A variety of tips and experiences on sleep for your baby, infant or toddler
This is where you will find the videos and tips that I frequently share on my Facebook Page (don't forget to like it over on Facebook) on a variety of topics. Overtired babies, sleep deprivation in parents, and my own experiences shared as I recall the feelings I had when struggling with settling a newborn baby and looking for support.
Click + to expand the transcripts below each video.
Early Morning Waking by Baby Sleep Consultant: Tara Mitchell
Hi Guys, I have had an influx on this particular question so I thought I would give you my take on it.
Don't go to bed overtired
Early morning waking, one of the most important things you can do is make sure your little one isn't going to bed overtired, that's really going to help when it comes to these early mornings. I would also shorten the awake time between last nap and bed time.
The next thing is making sure the room is really dark so using even Alfoil, Gro Blind, better block outs. The moment that sun is coming up, it's much more enticing for your little one wake early.
I would also use white noise so blocking out those environmental distractions can really help, things like cars, birds, people leaving for work, it doesn't take much to wake your little one at that time of the morning.
Enticement to wake up
And next, I would look at what is enticing them to wake. Are they waking and then able to get into your bed for example? Are they getting straight onto a breast feed or having their bottle? Able to lull in those periods? Those sorts of things can really encourage early morning waking so I would be mindful to give them some play time first before you offer them a feed.
And lastly, I would look at what prop they are using to get to sleep because that can be triggering their early mornings. So if they for example are being rocked to sleep or are using a dummy, come 4:30 in the morning, if they are looking for that prop, it's going to much harder to get them back off to sleep by the time that they have woken and are expecting it.
So keep these things in mind, I hope that helps. Thanks, bye.
Review on the Wonder Weeks App by Baby Sleep Consultant: Tara Mitchell
Hi, guys. I get asked all the time for my opinion on the Wonder Weeks app, so here goes.
The Verdict: neither here nor there
To be honest, I'm neither here nor there. I understand it. I think the principle and parts of it and the masterings and the leaps, and things like that, they absolutely exist, and it's great to be able to know more and learn more in those respects, but I think it's personality-based as well.
If you're somebody who can look at that sort of thing and then take it with a grain of salt and still enjoy your time, not let it change your demeanor and that sort of thing, great. For me, I think then a lot of parents start to feel filter for what we expect to see, right? It's like when somebody gets a new car and then suddenly you see that new car everywhere. If you're told that you're going to have six crap weeks, you're automatically going to go into this hole, your whole demeanor will change, or it will change, and then suddenly, you're only looking for those behaviors, the ones that you expect to see and the ones that you're anticipating. I think if that's the case, my personal opinion is, it's not worth it, but if you can look at it and just take it with a pinch of salt, then, yeah, there's definitely some benefits to it.
Getting on top of sleep issues for baby
In terms of getting on top of sleep, and sleep issues, I've never had a client come back to me and say, "You know what? We had six rainy weeks and now we're off sleep. Now we're stuck." I've never had a client say to me, "I'm in the three-week period of rain, so now's not a good time or now it's not possible." Good sleep is absolutely possible regardless of which period you're in, in the leaps and regressions and things like that.
I hope that helps. I think it's just about being able to look at it and say, "Am I going to let these dictate things? Am I only then look for these behaviors and have an even worse time because of it?" If not, then, yeah, why not?
Unsettled Newborns by Baby Sleep Consultant: Tara Mitchell
My experience with my unsettled newborn baby
Hey mamas. I just wanted to reach out to you guys, do a little post on I guess my experience, my experience with Scarlett as a newborn. Scarlett was just such an unsettled newborn. As soon as my milk came in, she had diarrhoea up to 17 times a day. She was completely bloated. She had a rash all over her body. She was just so unsettled. I remember just being in this absolute fog of crying, her crying, me unable to settle her. It didn't matter what I did, she was just an extremely unsettled newborn. I remember those feelings. That's why I'm reaching out to you guys at the moment, because I have no doubt there's people who are going through that at the moment. For the first three months of Scarlett's life, I really isolated myself. It was such a lonely time.
Survival mode, trying new things and not what I imagined motherhood to be
I remember just being in survival mode, and not wanting to see many people, and just trying to settle her, and trying to find the latest mix of ... Call it mix, or whether or not it was gripe water, or even something from America, baby massage, chiropractors. I really tried everything to help her tummy settle and to help her settle in with everything. That feeling was essentially at first, it was so taxing. It just felt relentless. I remember just either being on the fit board with her all the time or in the bath, just trying to settle her. I guess the biggest thing for me is that, and a lot of moms that I speak to now, is that for me it was about coming to terms with the fact that it was nothing that I imagined. I imagined having this newborn, and we'd have lovely, long newborn sleeps on me, walks in the park, and things like that, and café dates with friends. That initial period was just nothing that I had imagined.
I guess I'm reaching out to let you know that there are parts that made it much easier for me, to be able to get through that period. Those were savouring the good moments. When we did have a settled day, rather than looking forward and thinking, "Oh my gosh, we've had a good day today. Does that mean we're in for a dreadful night tonight?" Or, "If I get too excited, maybe this is when she's hit that 10 magic week mark or the 12-week mark, where everyone talks of it all getting so much better, and then the next day she might be unsettled again, and I'd be devil again." I guess savouring the moments and trying not to look too far forward, and just trying to get through the toughest settles, and the tougher days. When she would fall asleep, I'd stay and just watch her for a little bit longer. On the days that she was more settled, I just remember thinking that this is just a season, and it is going to pass.
Beyond the hard times
But at the time, it's really hard to see beyond there. I completely get that. I had many at times where I remember thinking like, "Oh my gosh, how much more can I handle an unsettled newborn, and this sleep deprivation, and things like that?" But you'll absolutely do it. I remember also thinking at the same time everything that I had imagined it wasn't, but at the same time the love was way more than I ever imagined. That protectiveness, that fierceness. Sometimes it was pure agony, because all you wanted to do was make them feel better, and that was really hard at that stage. Because it was a matter of time and the right ... We had a hydrolyzed formula that somewhat helped. But then at about four months, we got her sleep sorted. I'm not saying this because of the position I'm in now, but that was a game changer for us. Her tummy settled. She was able to digest better, less overstimulated, lots of different areas. It just helped dramatically.
From then on, I remember thinking every month was the best month of my life with her.
You're not alone
I guess this is just a place to say that you're not alone. There are so many people going through it. I take calls, a number of calls every day from moms in tears, just either not enjoying it, or not I guess losing ... That loss of what you imagined it to be. But just know that that will come, and there is support and things that you can do to try and help. But even if you do have a newborn who's unsettled, just know that time will help. It will pass, and things will be great in the long term. Hang in there mamas. I'm thinking of you.
Is Poor Baby Sleep a Part of Parenthood? by Tara Mitchell
Hey, guys. As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm going to be squashing some sleep myths over the next few days. This one is something that I see really commonly, and that is that poor sleep is just a part of parenthood, and something that you've just got to deal with. This actually really bugs me when I read it, because so many times I've seen parents truly reaching out for help, or a need to be sort of squashed, that it's just what they need to put up with, and, "Oh, my three year old still gets up in the night, that I'm there for them and it's just a part of being a mother", and so on and so forth. Poor sleep doesn't have to be a part of your parenthood journey, and what I would say is that's like saying that as a fundamental pillar of health, it's not important to get on top of.
Sleep should be a priority in your child's life?
Would you let your little one eat crap for the next three years? Well, no you wouldn't, you'd make sure they have a good balanced diet and that sort of thing. Should sleep be a priority in your life, and your child's life? For sure, because we know physically, mentally, emotionally, the importance that great sleep plays for not only us, but for our little ones as well, and relationally too. I just sort of say that when a little one has the ability to be able to drift between sleep cycles, you actually get to see how much sleep they not only need, but how well they do with sleep, and just the changes in them in lots of different ways.
Poor sleep isn't something that you have to put up with
Poor sleep isn't something that you have to put up with, not at all. Another reason that parents are under the impression that it should be happening is because children wake throughout the night, and babies are supposed to wake, and that sort of thing. We're not talking about newborns here, but you're right, babies, children and adults wake throughout the night, but once we have the ability to be able to drift and get back off to sleep time and time again, we don't rely on those external measures. As an adult, we all wake throughout the night, but most of us don't even realise it, or don't notice a lot of the transitions. Do we get up to have milk four times a night? No, we don't, and so this isn't about not being responsive if your little one does wake, but it's about changing what they associate to get off to sleep, so then they have the ability to be able to drift.
That for me is such a crucial part of their learning process. Just as we teach them and we guide them through learning to eat, and as we guide them through other parts, guiding them to good sleep is just as important. You don't have to put up with it, it's not something that you just have to wait until you finally get there with it. Thanks, guys.
Keeping Baby Awake During Feed Time by Baby Sleep Consultant: Tara Mitchell
Hi guys. Thank you so much for those of you who have written in. I've had a number of queries since I put out the last couple of video blogs, so I appreciate it. This one's for Steph, thanks for writing, Steph.
How do I keep my little one more awake on feeds?
Her question was, "How do I keep my little one more awake on feeds?" It's such a good question because it can be so problematic, especially if you're caught in this whole snack, feed, snack, sleep scenario. And that doesn't just happen during the day. For some people they're just getting up for five minutes, for example, to quickly feed and put their little one back off to sleep, or 30 minutes of a bottle just to put them back to sleep, time and time again. So keeping them really aware and really awake on feeds is actually quite important.
Shorten Awake Times
Firstly what I recommend, is basically that you shorten awake times. Make sure that your little one isn't too tired, it's a biggie. The way that I do this is go by a recommended awake time, which you can either find if you scroll down on my page, you'll find it ... What I'll do is I'll post it in comments, actually. And then what I recommend from there is that you keep an eye on your little one about 15 minutes before that recommended time. What you're looking for is them to either become not so engaged, or they might be zoning out, a bit quieter, those sorts of things. So you're not actually waiting until they're rubbing their eyes, crying, beside themselves. Because then you know they're too over tired at that point.
Feed, Play, Sleep Cycle
From there, the next thing that I recommend is that you run on a feed, play, and sleep. I'm a big believer in it and I know it can take some work to get to that point. But when your little one first gets up, wait 10 to 15 minutes so that you make sure that they're even more awake, which is another great tip. Then you keep them awake as much as you possibly can on that feed, then run a feed, play, and sleep.
So rather than doing the feed at the end of their awake period, when they are of course far more likely to fall asleep on it, you do it at the beginning of their awake period, because that can really help sometimes when you move it away from sleep time.
Keep them Engaged from the Beginning
Then the next thing is to keep them engaged from the beginning. Don't wait for them to show you tired signs, or signs that they're lolling, or that sort of thing. Go in from the beginning, talk to them, touch them, use a wet flannel. It doesn't have to be cold, we're not torturing. But use a wet flannel throughout, even on their arms and legs, and just have that engagement from start to finish. By the time that you wait for them to have their eyes rolling, eyes half shut, that sort of thing, and then try and wake them up, it's much harder. So talk to them from the start at the beginning.
So shorten those awake times. Wait 10 to 15 minutes after they wake before you offer them a feed. Move to a feed, play, sleep. Engage from the very beginning, all the way through to the feed, and hopefully that should help.
Is Baby Sleep a Developmental Milestone to Reach? by Baby Sleep Consultant: Tara Mitchell
Do I think that sleep is something that you should be waiting for your baby to develop mentally, become better at, or used to? Absolutely not.
Babies are born with the ability to be able to sleep. They've been sleeping long periods in utero. They've been able to sleep well and things like that in utero. What I believe happens is that when they come out, they become accustomed to us putting them to sleep in particular ways, and that then becomes what they associate with going off to sleep time and time again.
Hence, while you'll do those particular things and they'll work or you do it for a period of time and that's how they then get back off to sleep, it might be three times a night, four times a night, whatever it is. So, no, I don't believe learning to sleep is something developmentally that your baby might hit if you're lucky at seven weeks, if you're unlucky at three years. It doesn't work like that. Sorry, guys.
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