The most important must know’s about sleep!
1) Watch for tired signs! – These are vital to get your baby to bed BEFORE its too late! If you miss these signs, your baby can then get really overtired and very difficult to settle, and often wake again shortly after being asleep. If your baby (over 4months) has been awake for more than 2- 2.5 hours, there is a good chance she is ready for a nap. Having a good day time routine can help ensure that you keep to a good schedule where you know you won’t be putting baby down too late.
2) After 3-4 months your baby has developed their sleep cycles, and you will see them waking a lot more regularly, both overnight and during the day. This is a permanent change in their sleep, and not just a phase they grow out of. Until they are able to settle independently, their sleep is unlikely to improve.
3) Consider their sleep associations- as per previous point, consider what means your child is requiring to fall asleep, because whatever these means are, your child will need these to fall back to sleep mid nap and overnight (if not due a feed). If they need to have a dummy to fall asleep, when they wake after a 45min sleep cycle during their lunch nap, they will need you to replace the dummy for them. When they are waking 2hourly overnight, they need YOU to replace their dummy. So unless you want to be doing dummy runs until they are 7/8months of age when they eventually learn to replace it themselves, then consider ditching the dummy by 3/4months. Or does your child need to be fed to sleep or rocked to sleep? If yes, consider if you want to be feeding or rocking to sleep every 2hours overnight for the next year or more? If not, then instead you need to wean off this and instead be putting your baby to bed calm but awake and teaching some self settling.
4) A good ritual is key- before every nap and bedtime, you should have a consistent routine that suggests to your baby that bedtime is near. This may be taking them into the room, changing the nappy, into a sleep suit and reading a book. This same sequence becomes a form of trust for your child and they know what is going to happen.
5) Are you over responding to your baby? If your baby is over 4 months, consider waiting a few minutes of crying before attending to your child. At this age they do not need to be fed 2-3hrly overnight, and may simply just need to have a few minutes to resettle and go back to sleep. Stop responding immediately and determine what your child's cry really means.
6) Are you happy with your child's sleep? If you are happy with how your child sleeps, and your baby is thriving, then no need to change anything! Don’t let others tell you there is a problem. On the flipside, if you are exhausted and need your baby/toddler to sleep better, then don’t hesitate to seek advice. Don’t let others make you believe that sleep deprivation is your rite of passage as a mother, there is no badge of honour for this. There is a fix, all sleep problems can be managed.
Dream Sleepers can help anyone with any baby or toddler, meet all of the above "musts" for better sleep. Whether its creating a routine, teaching self settling, reducing overnight wakes, getting a toddler to stay in bed- Ive got it covered!