Happy New Year to everyone who stumbles across this site. We hope our monthly blogs about baby/child sleep are both practical and informative. We thought we would share some of our top sleep tips to pave the way for a sleep filled 2013!

By the time parents reach us many sleep problems are entrenched. Parents are exhausted and even unhappy. Their child is clingy, prone to emotional outbursts and generally has a poor appetite (or even worse is overeating!).

Our first task is to get parents singing from the same hymn sheet, turn over a new leaf on how to tackle their LO’s poor sleep. We cannot change the past only learn from it (for the next one). What’s past is past but we can determine the future.

Our most important message is a CONSISTENT approach from both parents. Even small children are canny enough to spot the flaws in our parenting. Being CONSISTENT gives CLEAR guidelines for little minds who easily become confused with fluctuating routines and guidelines.

Nowadays all parents know about the importance of BEDTIME ROUTINE. But did you know that many bedtime routines are far too long. So long, their LO is almost overstimulated by the whole process. Bath, PJ’s, story and bed is often puntuated by a few cartoons, playtime and more drinks or snacks. The whole bedtime routine should last NO LONGER THAN 45 MINUTES. And please take LO STRAIGHT INTO THEIR BEDROOM after PJ’s and bath. Coming into the main living area again is a sure fire way to re-active little minds.

WIND DOWN TIME is often forgotten with older children and is so IMPORTANT. That means no telly or active play for at least 30 minutes before the bedtime routine starts. Wind down is quiet play with low lights, talking with mum or dad about the day and a nice, cosy cuddle up with a story or two (nothing scary!)

Parents are all to aware of BEDTIME – but what about WAKETIME. THE TIME WE WAKE UP SCHEDULES THE BODY CLOCK FOR THE WHOLE DAY/NIGHT CYCLE. It is, oh so tempting to let LO lie in at weekends BUT do so at your own peril and only if you want to muck up their whole daily routine. A regular wake up time – even in small babies from 3 – 4 months old – will etablish a consistent internal 24 hour body schedule for your LO.

And, it is oh so tempting to bring LO into your bed if they are having a bad night. There again we say NEVER bring LO into your bed unless you intend to continue doing this forever and a day. If LO is unwell or just having a bad night (we all do at times) much better to camp out in their room on a mattress or blow up bed so that you can keep an eye on them.

Another BIG SLEEP TIP is always WAIT BEFORE YOU RESPOND TO NIGHT WAKING. We’re not talking tiny babies here but you can start to delay any night time intervention when baby is 3- 4 months old. This is because many babies and LO’s will naturally fuss and move around in between normal sleep cycles. Leaving them to settle on their own is much kinder. This self taught, self settling skill is key to a good night’s sleep.

Remember – the LESS YOU INTERVENE AT NIGHT – the quicker baby will learn to self settle. You can start this right from the beginning when night feeds are essential for growth. Keeping everything low key at night such as not changing nappy unless essential, low lighting and no talking will prevent baby from being overstimulated. Even a smile from you is huge stimulation for a baby!

NIPPING SLEEP PROBLEMS IN THE BUD is so much kinder to LO and better for you. We all know that many things can disrupt LO’s sleep from teething to illness to separation anxiety to growth/developmental spurts. Any changes such as mum going back to work or starting nursery or moving house – may all disrupt sleep. AS SOON AS THINGS ARE BACK TO NORMAL ie; LO is well again, start SETTING BOUNDARIES around sleep routines. Yes – that may mean saying “no” but giving clear guidance is far less confusing for LO even if they protest with a few tears.

Teaching positive sleep routines is not rocket science! In fact – it’s rather boring and monotonous. It demands our patience and time as parents. However, you can be sure it will be time well invested for both now and the future.

Here’s to a SLEEP FILLED and most importantly ENJOYABLE 2013 for you and your LO.