Heather, AKA The Lullaby Lady, is a paediatric sleep consultant accredited by the Family Sleep Institute and the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants. Here, Heather answers some questions from parents and offers useful tips to help baby sleep well.
Q: In baby’s first weeks/days, what is your top sleeping advice?
A: Ensure that your baby has plenty of sleep opportunities. Keep baby’s wake periods very short. This can mean that they are awake for as little as 45 minutes. An over tired baby will find it much harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Always remember you cannot spoil a new-born, so enjoy all the cuddles you want.
Q: Our baby is waking up a few times every night. What can we do to prevent this?
A: The approach you take here will depend on the root cause of the issue. The most important thing to do is find out why your baby is waking and then tackle that. It could be a feeding to sleep association, genuine hunger or a daytime sleep imbalance. If you believe that your child has a feeding to sleep association; make sure that feeding is not the last step of their nap or bedtime routine. If it’s hunger, ensure that they have a proper amount of milk or solids throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to follow an age-appropriate baby sleep schedule to keep night-time waking to a minimum.
Q: What are the average wake windows for newborn and older babies?
A: A new-born baby will have a wake period of 30-45 minutes until they reach 6 weeks. From 6 weeks onwards wake periods continue to increase. By 6 months that will increase to close to 3 hours and certain points of the day and by two years their wake period will be 5 hours. It is very important to remember that all babies tolerate wake periods differently and some will need shorter wake periods than the average. That’s ok so don’t feel you need to stretch them beyond what they are capable of doing.
Q: How can I get my baby to sleep longer at night?
A: Ensure that your child’s room is a good sleep environment. Think of the level of darkness, the temperature, if they are in comfortable clothes. Ensure that you have set age-appropriate expectations for how long they can sleep. Pay close attention to their milk intake and daytime sleep needs. Most importantly help them develop the skills to fall asleep independently. You may choose to teach them through sleep training, or it may come naturally to them. You need to decide as parents what sleep training method sits comfortably with your parenting style.
Q: It can take a long time to put my baby to sleep. What can we do to change this?
A: If it is taking too long for your baby to fall asleep it may be one of two things. They are over tired, in which case they will probably have many tears at bedtime, or under tired where they won’t necessarily be upset at bedtime but take too long (over 15 mins) to fall asleep. Ensure that the wake period between the last nap and bedtime is not too long or too short for their age.
Q: Does environment affect my baby’s sleep?
A: Yes absolutely. The first thing I would troubleshoot when a family comes to me for help is the sleep environment. Is the room dark enough? Is the room at a suitable temperature? Are there noises that could disrupt a baby’s sleep and how is the air quality? A great way to check the air quality in your baby’s nursery is by using the ClevaMama Air Purifier. It is so easy to use and gives such peace of mind for any parent.
Q: How can I improve the air quality in my nursery?
A: The best and most effective way to improve the air quality in your home is to invest in a ClevaMama Air Purifier. It removes 99.95% of harmful particles in the air, as small as 0.3 microns. This includes dust, pet dander, mould, bacteria, viruses and bad odours.
Q: Are there any benefits for my baby if I use an air purifier in the nursery?
A: Where to begin? There are so many benefits! You can be safe in the knowledge that you know that the air quality is clean in your baby’s nursery. It removes 99.95% of harmful particles in the air, as small as 0.3 microns. It helps eliminate odours such as smoke, fumes etc. The ClevaMama Air Purifier will indicate the quality of your air through cute different facial expressions and will adjust the fan speed automatically based on air quality (when in auto mode).
Q: What should I look for when buying an air purifier to be used with a baby at home?
A: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that people should not buy air purifiers that emit ozone. These can include UV air purifiers, electrostatic precipitators, ionizers and plasma air purifiers. The ClevaMama Air Purifier is ozone free so is safe for use in the home.
Q: My 2-year-old is waking between 5 and 5:30, please can you help?
A: The biggest cause of early rising is bedtime being too late. Ensure that bedtime is no more than 5 hours after a nap of 60-90 minutes at this age. If your child is waking at 5-5:30am and you are getting them up at that time they will continue to wake early. Do not start the day until at least 6am and re-set that sleep clock!
Q: My 13-month-old was napping 9:30-10:30 and 2:00-2:30 but is now only managing 2 half hour naps, is this normal?
A: This can be very common. You may need to look at transitioning to one nap. It is early to do so but placing the nap at a suitable time of midday (after a 6:30/7am wake time) may result in one longer more restorative nap.
Q: My 16-month-old sleeps well but wakes up at 4/5am and will hold my finger to soothe back to sleep. How can we fix this?
A: Gradually withdraw your support. Move to your hand on his leg, then to sitting beside the cot with no touch. Sitting away from the cot then gradually pull away the support. Ensure he is falling asleep independently at the start of the night.
Q: My 6-month-old is waking up 4-5 times a night. I use a soother and a white noise machine to get her back to sleep. How can I help her wake up less often?
A: It seems to me that the soother is often the issue. Now would be a good time to remove it. White noise also needs to be on continuously throughout the night.
Q: What are the average wake windows for a 12 month old?
You are moving away from wake windows at this age and towards biological nap times. So Nap 1 about 9/9:30am for 1 hour. Nap 2 1:30/2pm for 1.5 hours. Bedtime at 7pm.
Next article: Moving your baby from crib to cot
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