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Sweet dreams – helping your baby sleep better

All parents will struggle with baby sleep at some point, but it doesn’t have to be a constant battle. If you’re finding it difficult to get your baby to settle, sleep well during the day, or sleep through the night, we can help.

Dorothy Waide is our baby sleep consultant. She has been a post-partum care provider and ‘baby whisperer’ since 1990, and worked as a Karitane nurse for almost 20 years before that. She supports parents dealing with sleep problems through her company Baby Help, and offers advice to Dimples’ customers as well.

When you’re struggling with your baby, it can be helpful to hear from other parents dealing with similar issues. Read through our case studies to hear from other parents dealing with a range of sleep problems – and to find out what helped them.

 

 

Question:

I am at my wits end with my third son. He is three months old today, and his sleep is a disaster. His problems are twofold:

1) He will only sleep for 45 minute stretches, meaning for naptime he won’t nap more than 45 minutes. (If he actually goes a full 45 minutes, that is actually good. He often will only stay asleep for 20 minutes or even less.) He must be put in his crib completely asleep–he will not settle down to sleep himself. He will generally take 2-3 of these catnaps during the day and that’s it.

2) For bedtime he must be rocked/nursed to sleep and won’t sleep past 45 minutes. Then it is a struggle to get him to go back to sleep. I used to take him out and rock him back to sleep and attempt to do that over and over again until he would stay asleep. For the last 4-6 weeks I have tried to do it without removing him from his crib, since I know I was promoting an awful habit by rocking him to sleep. I will shush him, pat him, etc until he quiets down but then I’ll leave the room and he starts the screaming all over again. This usually goes on for an hour.

Due to my desperation I have tried both ways of putting him to sleep: putting him in completely asleep after being rocked, jiggled, etc, and/or putting him in awake but very drowsy so he gets used to falling asleep on his own. Needless to say, neither one works. If I put him in asleep he wakes up after 45 minutes, and if he falls asleep on his own which he has done maybe two or three times, he still wakes up after 45 minutes.

He doesn’t take a pacifier (I’ve tried them all); he does suck on his hands during the day, so I’ve tried swaddling him with his arms out so he has access to his hands, but he won’t try to use them to self-soothe in his crib.

I breastfeed with supplementation, so I’ve tried cluster-feeding prior to bedtime, and I’ve tried giving him both the bottle and breast at bedtime to top him off. Neither seems to make a difference.

Since he was six weeks old I’ve implemented a consistent bedtime routine to try to “send him a message”. It seems to work–he’ll fall asleep with no problem–he just won’t stay asleep and won’t put himself back to sleep.

People have suggested that perhaps he has silent reflux (I highly doubt it–maalox after feedings didn’t make any difference to his sleep). When he is well-rested he is very happy and agreeable. His only problem is that he has 45 minute sleep cycles that have taken over our lives in the most negative way!!


Answer:

Its hard when you have a baby that only cat naps. I would suggest that you check out some of my videos and see the movement I suggest for helping a baby to find their sleep.

What we must remember is that babies do not have the tools within themselves to self soothe (self settle) or resettle until between the ages of 12 to 16 weeks so what we are trying to do in the first weeks of a babies life is to help teach them to find their sleep and to stay asleep. This means that if our baby doesn’t fall asleep then we need to intervene to help them. My main advice is never to do something in arms that you cannot replicate in a cot. For you I would suggest that you do ten days of nurturing within arms and then once you understand your sons sleeping patterns then you can start to do it in the cot. As he is your third baby and you are in the states I am not sure whether you have support within the home with helpers, if you don’t then you will probably find that you need to do at least one or two naps as concrete (these can be in arms) and the other naps can be moving naps either in a buggy or the baby worn on you.

It will take TACT – time, acceptance, consistency and touch. It takes a minimum of ten days to see a dim light at the end of the tunnel and the first 3 to 4 days are the hardest.

At 12 weeks ideally his wake times are around 1 hour and he is having naps of a minimum of 1 hour. IF he wake before this then you need to resettle.
His wake time routine will be that he feeds, plays and then top up 15 minutes before going down for a nap. The reason why I suggest this is for a couple of reasons it will help with increasing your milk supply (unless you do the top up with bottles) and also ensures he has a full tummy before going to have a nap. The gastic emptying of a breast-fed baby after 120 minutes is 16% to 18%, so when you are trying to put her down for naps he may be hungry. This will not cause a feed/sleep association as long as you feed, then swaddle/sleeping bag, then into his bed. Also, you need to be aware that he doesn’t fall asleep while feeding unless you choose to do this.
Also some babies cat nap or find it hard to fall asleep as they are light sensitive

Have a look at your baby’s room – is it dark or is there lots of light? To see if your baby is light sensitive, black out the windows and all the little lights on all the electrical equipment in their room and see if this helps. It does not mean your baby will not sleep elsewhere as at this stage it is about encouraging your baby to go to sleep and stay asleep.

Settling and resettling notes over 12 weeks
Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food. It is healthy for a baby to cry/grizzle before going to sleep. When you go to bed you read a book, meditate, watch TV, or chat with your partner a baby can only do one thing and that is cry. You are not leaving him there to cry it out; you are leaving him there to give him the ability to find his own sleep. In my experience it takes approximately 20 minutes for a baby to fall asleep, however you are not going to leave your baby to do this on their own. Ideally, you will put your baby in their cot awake, close the curtains and leave the room. You will leave your baby for an appropriate time and then intervene with reassurance – I tend to do this in 5 minute intervals so the settling routine will look like this. It also depends on the age of the baby. For babies under 12 weeks, I tend to do the settling in arms. IF doing in arms I never do any movement that cannot be replicated in a cot. into bed, leave for up to 5 minutes (at your baby’s age you will probably only leave for a minute. Also check the crying/grizzling and whether it is off or on)
comfort – reassure (this is normally less than the grizzling time)
this can be repeated for up to 20 minutes with reassurance up to every five minutes (however it will be approximately the same length of time as the first time you left him or shorter NOT longer). You then need to stay in the room and help your baby find their sleep – if you already haven’t. Sometimes babies will not be able to go to sleep if they are light sensitive. I would suggest that you look at your baby’s room and if they are unable to fall asleep then try making the room darker.
It is not about leaving your baby to cry it out, but it is about allowing your baby the right and ability to find their sleep. If they cannot do this in an appropriate time then intervene and help them to find their sleep.

Resettling
Teaches babies how to progress from light to heavy sleep. This is essential to avoid the pitfalls of frequent waking and catnapping. In a sense, resettling is the second stage of teaching baby how to find sleep and does demand more time and patience than settling (TACT).
Most babies stir or wake when progressing from light to heavy sleep and this occurs anywhere between 20-45 minutes. In the beginning the idea is not to let your baby wake fully during this transition; a sleepy baby is easier to resettle than a wide-awake, crying baby.
Resettling is not about calming them down or staying until they just start to drift off, it is about staying with your baby until they go into a deep sleep.

Kind Regards
Dorothy

If you feel you need additional support I am available to provide you with the support you need, pricing is available on my Services page and a range of different packages to suit your needs

Question:

I’m wondering if you can give me some advice. My baby is 14 months old and waking frequently through the night. She has slept right through the night maybe 5 times in her entire life. On a good night she will wake twice on a bad night she will wake every two hours. Each time she wakes I get her up, breast feed her and then she goes straight back to bed. She’s up for about 15-20 mins each time. I’m pregnant and feeling exhausted and wondering if there is anything I can do to encourage her to sleep all night? I would really rather not leave her to cry and I am hoping you have some advice for me on how to get her to settle herself back to sleep.

Answer:

Its hard to answer this question as I am not sure when she feeds or what she eats. So I will give you a general guideline to work with. I am not sure whether you breast when she first wakes or she has breakfast first. I would suggest that she has breakfast then breast. Also she has a very early nap and again I would move this over the next few weeks by 15 minute stretches until she is having lunch then nap. Until you take the time to resettle over night then you cant expect her to stop feeding. It is healthy for a baby to cry, however it is not healthy to leave them crying for long periods of time and also not to intervene and help them find their sleep. You can replace the feeding with slight movement like cupping which can be done in arms or in the cot

Her routine will look similar to this
7.00am Breakfast solids then breast
10.00am Morning tea – you can either offer a small healthy snack with water OR full breast feed
12.00pm Lunch age appropriate meal with water in sippy cup
12.30pm Nap after lunch – can have breast before nap if you like
Nap ideally is a minimum of 1 1/2 hours can be longer optional to offer afternoon tea when she wakes – again should be a healthy snack and small and ideally no later than 3.00pm
5.00pm Dinner solids
evening routine milk, bath, milk
7.00pm bed for the night
Night waking resettle resettle.

SETTLING AND RESETTLING NOTES
Settling and resettling take TACT – time, acceptance, consistency and tranquility
Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food.
It takes a minimum of ten days to see any changes and the change at the end of the light is just a dim light. The first 3 to 4 days is always the hardest and to change their circadian sleep cycles it takes a minimum of six weeks

Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food. It is healthy for a baby to cry/grizzle before going to sleep. When you go to bed you read a book, meditate, watch TV, or chat with your partner – a baby can only do one thing and that is cry. You are not leaving him there to cry it out; you are leaving him there to give him the ability to find his own sleep. In my experience it takes approximately 20 minutes for a baby to fall asleep, however you are not going to leave your baby to do this on their own. Ideally you will put your baby in their cot awake, close the curtains and leave the room. You will leave your baby for an appropriate time and then intervene with reassurance – I tend to do this in 5 minute intervals so the settling routine will look like this – and it also depends on the age of the baby. For babies under 12 weeks, I tend to do the settling in arms. IF doing in arms I never do any movement that cannot be replicated in a cot.

Into bed, leave for up to 5 minutes (at your baby’s age you will probably only leave for a minute and its also about the crying/grizzling and whether it is off or on)
comfort – reassure (this is normally less that the grizzling time)
this can be repeated for up to 20 minutes with reassurance every five minutes and then you need to stay in the room and help your baby find their sleep – if you already haven’t. Sometimes babies will not be able to go to sleep if they are light sensitive. I would suggest that you look at your baby’s room and if they are unable to fall asleep then try making the room darker.

It is not about leaving your baby to cry it out, but it is about allowing your baby the right and ability to find their sleep and if they cannot do this in an appropriate time then intervening and helping them to find their sleep.

RESETTLING
teaches babies how to progress from light to heavy sleep. This is essential to avoid the pitfalls of frequent waking and catnapping. In a sense, resettling is the second stage of teaching baby how to find sleep and does demand more time and patience than settling (TACT).

Most babies stir or wake when progressing from light to heavy sleep and this occurs anywhere between 20-45 minutes. In the beginning the idea is not to let your baby wake fully during this transition; a sleepy baby is easier to resettle than a wide-awake, crying baby.

Resettling is not about calming them down or staying until they just start to drift off, it is about staying with your baby until they go into a deep sleep.
Thank you so much for your question I hope this helps, just remember you are doing an amazing job and being a Mother is the hardest job in the world.
Kind Regards
Dorothy

If you feel you need additional support I am available to provide you with the support you need, pricing is available on my Services page and a range of different packages to suit your needs

Question:

My little one is 17 weeks and I guess my first issue is that she loves nursing to sleep. I’m okay with her doing it for the last feed at night, but it would be great if during the day she was able to sleep on her own, because I usually find that once she falls asleep I cannot move her to her bed, so her days naps are usually lasting only a half hour because I just can’t sit there for that long and eventually have to put her down, thus waking her up. And I haven’t been consistent in swaddling her during the day, as we use the love to dream swaddles at night, but I wrap her every now and then.

I’ve tried to ‘put out’ by not nursing her, I know she’s not hungry but comfort nursing. She won’t take the dummy and there’s no one to pass her to during the day, so I just give in! And I get really sore nipples because she seems to constantly on them. It just seems easier to give her what she wants cause I’m usually tired and in need of a nap as well!

Her “routine” kind of goes like this:

At night, we usually do start winding down around 6pm, so i give her a feed, then it’s bath time then quiet time and back on the boob to go to bed. She’s been going down really well once I get her off the boob, but lately she’s been waking up at 11pm, so I feed her and pop her back in bed, then it’s up at 1-2am and then at 5.30 or so and I can usually get her back down until 7.30. When she wakes up at night, I feed her and she falls asleep and we don’t chat or move her from the bedroom or anything. I was thinking of doing a dream feed at 10.30 or so? to carry her through to 2am. Oh and we are using the love to dream swaddles at night.

Once we’re up for the day, it’s a feed and then play and then when I know she’s tired, I’ll try to put her to sleep by swaying and ssshhing and patting before eventually nursing. so another sleep mid morning, then midday and then around 3-4pm.

With her baths we are not bathing daily, every second day – should I incorporate this every day as part of her nighttime routine? And should I set a daytime routine up so she knows it’s sleep time?

my partner tends to try and put her to sleep in the lounge so the TVs going and I think that’s overstimulating her, when she was younger we could do that cause she would fall asleep easily, but now I know she needs the quiet to go to sleep.

Okay so in summary:

How do I get her to sleep better and settle her down easier during the day without comfort nursing?

How do we get her to sleep a decent stretch at night? – Do we need to have a dream feed?

How can I put her down without waking her??

Thanks in advance for your help!!


Answer:

To teach her to self settle and to resettle then you would need to stop feeding to sleep. However instead of feeding to sleep you can teach her how to self settle and resettle in arms.

Yes, I bath my baby’s every day as this creates consistency in the evening routine

Bedrooms are for sleeping, however if you are struggling to put her to sleep in her cot and your partner is happy to do it in the lounge, I tend to cover the baby with a muslin and help close her down this way

Dream feeds do not create or encourage babies to sleep longer at night. IN my experience they can actually increase the night wakings so I would stay away from introducing a dream feed.

I tend to put a baby awake in their cots and then start self settling from there. If I need to pick them up and settle in arms I do, however they slowly learn that they go into their cots to sleep.

At 17 weeks her wake times will be approx 2 hours stretching to 3 hours by the time she is six months old

She will be having naps of a minimum of 1 1/2 hours and resettling if she wakes before this.

Her wake time will look like this

wakes, feeds, plays, top up, then daytime sleep.

DREAM FEEDS
In my experience dream feeds are controversial and need to be carefully considered before incorporating them into a feeding schedule.

They differ from night feeds in that they are parent-led – the choice of the parent and not the baby.

Dream feeds are given between 10pm and midnight and involve feeding a sleeping baby as opposed to one that wakes naturally. They are supposed to lengthen a baby’s sleep cycle to give a tired parent a reprieve. However, there is no evidence to indicate that dream feeds guarantee parents’ extended sleep.

Research shows that dream feeds are thought to interfere with a baby’s most precious and deepest phase of sleep that occurs between 9pm and midnight.

Make sure you are well informed before making your own decision, as once in place dream feeds can be difficult and disruptive to eliminate from your baby’s routine. If you do decide to include them, ideally aim to drop them by the age of six months.

Neuroscientists believe that deliberately feeding a sleeping baby meddles with digestion, growth and development and can disrupt long-term sleeping patterns.

GASTRIC EMPTYING
The gastric emptying of a breast fed baby after 120 minutes is 16 to 18% so when you are trying to put her down for naps she may be hungry. This will not cause a feed/sleep association as long as you feed, then swaddle/sleeping bag then into her bed. Also you need to be aware that she doesn’t fall asleep while feeding unless you choose to do this.

SETTLING AND RESETTLING NOTES
Settling and resettling take TACT – time, acceptance, consistency and tranquility

Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food.

It takes a minimum of ten days to see any changes and the change at the end of the light is just a dim light. The first 3 to 4 days is always the hardest and to change their circadian sleep cycles it takes a minimum of six weeks

Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food. It is healthy for a baby to cry/grizzle before going to sleep. When you go to bed you read a book, meditate, watch TV, or chat with your partner – a baby can only do one thing and that is cry. You are not leaving him there to cry it out; you are leaving him there to give him the ability to find his own sleep. In my experience it takes approximately 20 minutes for a baby to fall asleep, however you are not going to leave your baby to do this on their own. Ideally you will put your baby in their cot awake, close the curtains and leave the room. YOu will leave your baby for an appropriate time and then intervene with reassurance – I tend to do this in 5 minute intervals so the settling routine will look like this – and it also depends on the age of the baby. For babies under 12 weeks, I tend to do the settling in arms. IF doing in arms I never do any movement that cannot be replicated in a cot.
into bed, leave for up to 5 minutes (at her age you will probably only leave for a minute and its also about the crying/grizzling and whether it is off or on)
comfort – reassure (this is normally less that the grizzling time)
this can be repeated for up to 20 minutes and then you need to stay in the room and help your baby find their sleep – if you already haven’t. SOmetimes babies will not be able to go to sleep if they are light sensitive. I would suggest that you look at your baby’s room and if they are unable to fall asleep then try making the room darker.

FEEDING TO SLEEP
To avoid him feeding to sleep then I would suggest taking small steps.

To teach your baby to self settle and resettle then you need to be able to give them the tools to do this. I would suggest that you do this in stages so that you are pushing the boundaries a little but no so far that it is not feasible.
Step 1
Feed to nearly asleep, then remove nipple from mouth and press upwards under their chin with your finger or thumb – they will actually keep sucking using their tongue. Once your baby is asleep then transfer
Step 2
Feed to drowsy repeat above and then hold to sleep – no rocking or movement that cannot be done in a cot
Step 3
Feed, sleeping bag and hold to sleep
Step 4
Feed, sleeping bag and hold to drowsy and then into cot and stay with your baby until they are asleep.
With each of the above steps I would be working on a minimum of 10 days, but depending on how they respond.
You are going to be basically replacing the feeding with holding, cupping or a form of movement that can be replicated in the cot.
Thank you so much for your question I hope this helps, just remember you are doing an amazing job and being a Mother is the hardest job in the world.

Kind Regards
Dorothy

If you feel you need additional support I am available to provide you with the support you need, pricing is available on my Services page and a range of different packages to suit your needs

Question:

I was wondering if you would be able to help me with bringing my daughters bedtime forward please

She wakes between 9-10am most days. And will go back to sleep around 11am and will sleep for 1.5-2hrs and then back down for another nap at around 3pm and usually wakes around 4:30-5pm. I then feed her, dinner, bath and to bed by about 8pm but she will wake at about 9 and be wide awake and won’t settle again until about 10:30-11pm

She then wakes at 1am and then 6-7am and I try keep her up then but she wants to go back to sleep

She is 7 months old and I don’t have any problem with how she settles to sleep.


Answer:

The way to change her night time routine is to adjust her waking time in the mornings. Although she wakes between 6 and 7.00am you are putting her back to sleep, so you can either encourage her to stay awake or give her a quick band aid nap and wake by 7.30am in the morning. I have written a guideline for you to try and as she is 7 months i have written it for 8 months so you can either change the food/milk around or leave as it. If you change it around then you need to change when she turns 8 months.

Wakes and feeds and has a quick bandaid nap no longer than 30 minutes

7.00am Wakes

7.30 am Breakfast – cereal, toast, slice of fruit and sippy cup milk

Offer remainder of milk when she leaves the highchair

10.00am Morning tea – offer full milk feed

10.45am Nap – minimum 1 1/2 hours resettle if she wakes before this

12.15pm Wakes

12.45pm Lunch – vegetables and carb – offer finger food to teach texture, taste and smell – ideally the finger food is what is in the puree or mash

OFfer water in sippy cup

3.15pm Afternoon tea offer full milk feed

3.30pm Nap as above

5.00pm Wakes

5.30pm Dinner vegetables and good carb plus finger food (this meal ideally is different to her lunchtime one). Offer milk in sippy cup and remainder when she leaves the highchair

Evening routine, bath, milk, clean teeth,

8.00pm Bed for the night

Night waking, resettle resettle, if feeding ensure you are feeding for hunger and not comfort

SETTLING AND RESETTLING NOTES
Settling and resettling take TACT – time, acceptance, consistency and tranquility

Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food.

It takes a minimum of ten days to see any changes and the change at the end of the light is just a dim light. The first 3 to 4 days is always the hardest and to change their circadian sleep cycles it takes a minimum of six weeks

Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food. It is healthy for a baby to cry/grizzle before going to sleep. When you go to bed you read a book, meditate, watch TV, or chat with your partner – a baby can only do one thing and that is cry. You are not leaving him there to cry it out; you are leaving him there to give him the ability to find his own sleep. In my experience it takes approximately 20 minutes for a baby to fall asleep, however you are not going to leave your baby to do this on their own. Ideally you will put your baby in their cot awake, close the curtains and leave the room. You will leave your baby for an appropriate time and then intervene with reassurance – I tend to do this in 5 minute intervals so the settling routine will look like this – and it also depends on the age of the baby. For babies under 12 weeks, I tend to do the settling in arms. If doing in arms I never do any movement that cannot be replicated in a cot.
into bed, leave for up to 5 minutes (at her age you will probably only leave for a minute and its also about the crying/grizzling and whether it is off or on)
comfort – reassure (this is normally less that the grizzling time)
this can be repeated for up to 20 minutes and then you need to stay in the room and help your baby find their sleep – if you already haven’t. Sometimes babies will not be able to go to sleep if they are light sensitive. I would suggest that you look at your baby’s room and if they are unable to fall asleep then try making the room darker.

Thank you so much for your question I hope this helps, just remember you are doing an amazing job and being a Mother is the hardest job in the world.

Kind Regards
Dorothy

If you feel you need additional support I am available to provide you with the support you need, pricing is available on my Services page and a range of different packages to suit your needs

Question:

I have a 4.5 month old boy, who is a chronic catnapper!

I can set my watch and he will wake up exactly 42 minutes after he’s gone down during the day! Which as I’m sure you’ve heard before is quite frustrating!

We have quite a good Eat/play/sleep routine but it really gets out of whack when the sleeping isn’t for longer than 45minutes. He is EBF and has 6 feeds a day (dreamfeed at 10:30pm) and he will usually wake once in the night ranging from 3:30-6:00am. He’s slept through to 7am twice and that was just last week.

We attempt naps at 9, 1 and 4 – but it’s a bit of challenge as we live rurally so to go anywhere is at least a 20 minute drive and sometimes it just doesn’t fit with what we have on that day.

He was born at 3.12kg and when I popped him on the scales last week he was over 7.5kg with clothes on. So no issues there!

We used to use a miracle blanket, but transitioned to a merino sleeping bag for day and night sleeps and it didn’t change anything, as the catnapping has been around for a while… He used to take a dummy and would sometimes resettle with that, but now he spits it out or pulls it out with his hand (and laughs)! So we haven’t tried that for a month or so.

We have white noise going and a good nap time routine, nappy change, sleeping bag, story and cuddle – he self settles usually in a few minutes and has been self soothing by thumb sucking.

When he wakes up at the 42min mark, on the odd occasion (once or twice a week) he will self sooth and go another sleep cycle, but it’s not that often.

Wondering what else we can do to get the day sleeps more consistent.

He is usually in bed asleep by 6:30pm and will wake up between 7-7:45am. With one wake up if half an hour for feed and resettle.

He usually wakes up at the 42min mark grunting and grizzling and cries out, I usually wait at least 10
minutes before I go in, but as soon as he sees me then he’s happy as and doesn’t seem tired after his quick nap.


Answer:

Ideally his wake times for a 4.5 month are around 2 to 2 1/4 stretching out to 3 hours by the time he is six months old. Nap times he will be having around 3 naps a day with a minimum 1 1/2 hours OR he will be having 2 naps with a minimum of 1 1/2 hours and 1 band aid nap of less than 30 minutes to get through to the evening routine .

His wake time routine will be he wakes, feeds, plays, gets offered a top up feed, then sleeping bag and then down for a nap.

GASTRIC EMPTYING
The gastric emptying of a breast fed baby after 120 minutes is 16 to 18% so when you are trying to put him down for naps he may be hungry. This will not cause a feed/sleep association as long as you feed, then swaddle/sleeping bag then into his bed. Also you need to be aware that he doesn’t fall asleep while feeding unless you choose to do this.

SETTLING AND RESETTLING NOTES
Settling and resettling take TACT – time, acceptance, consistency and tranquility
Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food.
It takes a minimum of ten days to see any changes and the change at the end of the light is just a dim light. The first 3 to 4 days is always the hardest and to change their circadian sleep cycles it takes a minimum of six weeks.

When you go to bed you read a book, meditate, watch TV, or chat with your partner – a baby can only do one thing and that is cry. There is nothing unhealthy about a baby crying before going to sleep. As a parent, it can be difficult to listen to but as long your baby is happy and contented generally, crying is just part of life. Remember you are not leaving him there to cry it out; you are leaving him there to give him the ability to find his own sleep.

You will not get anywhere by leaving your baby to cry for hours. You will succeed quicker by giving him space and then helping him find his sleep.

Dream feeds
In my experience dream feeds are controversial and need to be carefully considered before incorporating them into a feeding schedule.

Dream feeds are given between 10pm and midnight and involve feeding a sleeping baby as opposed to one that wakes naturally. They are supposed to lengthen a baby’s sleep cycle to give a tired parent a reprieve. However, there is no evidence to indicate that dream feeds guarantee parents’ extended sleep.

Research shows that dream feeds are thought to interfere with a baby’s most precious and deepest phase of sleep that occurs between 9pm and midnight.

Make sure you are well informed before making your own decision, as once in place dream feeds can be difficult and disruptive to eliminate from your baby’s routine. If you do decide to include them, ideally aim to drop them by the age of six months.

Neuroscientists believe that deliberately feeding a sleeping baby meddles with digestion, growth and development and can disrupt long-term sleeping patterns.

These include white noise, music, movement, night-lights and dummies.

In my experience, props will tend to interfere with your baby’s ability to self-settle and re settle

It is very difficult to sleep train a baby that uses props for going to sleep. My advice is to take away all the props and start afresh. So, that means no rocking, no dummies (not in the first instance but certainly later if your baby is struggling to settle) and no white noise (unless you and your partner have white noise to sleep with).

The more props that you introduce into your baby’s routine the more complicated you are making your life as your baby grows.

The best way to get a fast-forward idea of how restricted life may become is to imagine that you are travelling with your baby . Visualize that when you are in the middle of a plane, train or bus and it is your baby’s nap or sleep time that you need to provide him with all his props to help him sleep. Whilst you may be able to provide some of the props other are not so easy – you cannot replace a baby’s white noise with a substitute, as they will be looking for their ‘white’ noise.

Thank you so much for your question I hope this helps, just remember you are doing an amazing job and being a Mother is the hardest job in the world.

Kind Regards
Dorothy

If you feel you need additional support I am available to provide you with the support you need, pricing is available on my Services page and a range of different packages to suit your needs

Question:

My four month old has a great routine –
7.00am wake
7.00am bottle (formula)
8.00am solids (farex, apple puree etc)
9.00-11.00am Sleep
11.00am bottle
12.00pm solids
1.00-3.00pm sleep
3.00pm bottle
4.30-5.15pm nap
5.20pm solids
5.45pm bath
6.00-6.30pm bottle
7pm bed
10.30pm dream feed

Generally my baby wakes once per night for a feed (last night was 5.30am) and put my baby back to bed where she slept until 7.30am when she woke.

My challenge is her waking when her falls out dummy when she hits the 45 minute sleep cycle.
She crys out and is moving her head / mouth looking for her dummy. How do I get rid of the dummy or make the dummy work better for her?
During the night, she can self settle, it is mostly during the day that she gets frustrated.


Answer:

With regard to her dummy it is about not using it as a prop but as a settling tool. This means that when she goes to bed she goes down without her dummy and you allow her an appropriate time to settle and then if she doesn’t settle then intervene with your settling tools to help her find her sleep. I have also adjusted her routine for you.

7.00am Wake
7.15am Bottle and Solids

Offer milk feed before naptime
9.00 -11.00 am sleep

11.15am Solids plus water in Sippy cup
12.45pm Milk feed
1.00pm Nap
3.00pm Wakes
3.15pm Milk feed

In between here I would suggest you do a band-aid nap so work backwards from her going to bedtime and keep her wake time the same. So at this stage I would suggest the band-aid nap be 5 to 5.30pm and then bed by 7.30pm. If you cant do the band aid nap then stretch her wake times out to 2 hours 15 minutes and then her bed time would be around the time you want.

5.00pm Band-aid nap no longer than 30 minutes
5.30pm Wakes
5.15pm Solids and milk
Evening routine bath, milk

7.30 bed
If feeding during the night ensure you are feeding for hunger and not comfort.

Dummies are a useful tool to help settle your baby if they need help to find their sleep. However if you ‘plug’ your baby with the dummy as soon as they go to bed then, I believe, that you are taking away their chance and ability to try and settle by themselves.
Giving a dummy to your baby straight away can in fact cause more crying than if you let them grizzle/cry first before allowing, and then if needed, use as part of your settling tools. .

Dummies are designed to comfort newborn babies. Around six months most babies no longer need to ‘suck’ to gain comfort and so the use of a dummy should diminish.

However, if your baby continues to use the dummy as a comforter it is important to keep it for their cot, for settling and re-settling. It should not be given so that your baby has it in their mouth the whole time. I often see this latter approach when mums are out and about and I understand in this circumstance that the object of the dummy in an older child’s mouth is to keep them quiet. However, doing this regularly can affect their speech development.

BAND AID NAPS
Now between this feed and going to bedtime you either need to decide whether to put her to bed for the night at 5.00pm or do a band aid nap. If you choose to do a Band-Aid nap then work backwards from 7.30pm so that she is waking from the Band-Aid no later than 5.00pm so the Band-Aid nap will be between 5.00pm and 5.30pm

SETTLING AND RESETTLING NOTES
Settling and resettling take TACT – time, acceptance, consistency and tranquility

Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food.

It takes a minimum of ten days to see any changes and the change at the end of the light is just a dim light. The first 3 to 4 days is always the hardest and to change their circadian sleep cycles it takes a minimum of six weeks

Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food. It is healthy for a baby to cry/grizzle before going to sleep. When you go to bed you read a book, meditate, watch TV, or chat with your partner – a baby can only do one thing and that is cry. You are not leaving him there to cry it out; you are leaving him there to give him the ability to find his own sleep. In my experience it takes approximately 20 minutes for a baby to fall asleep, however you are not going to leave your baby to do this on their own. Ideally you will put your baby in their cot awake, close the curtains and leave the room. You will leave your baby for an appropriate time and then intervene with reassurance – I tend to do this in 5-minute intervals so the settling routine will look like this – and it also depends on the age of the baby. For babies under 12 weeks, I tend to do the settling in arms. IF doing in arms I never do any movement that cannot be replicated in a cot.

Into bed, leave for up to 5 minutes (at your baby’s age you will probably only leave for a minute and its also about the crying/grizzling and whether it is off or on)

Comfort – reassure (this is normally less that the grizzling time)

This can be repeated for up to 20 minutes with reassurance every five minutes and then you need to stay in the room and help your baby find their sleep – if you already haven’t. Sometimes babies will not be able to go to sleep if they are light sensitive. I would suggest that you look at your baby’s room and if they are unable to fall asleep then try making the room darker.

It is not about leaving your baby to cry it out, but it is about allowing your baby the right and ability to find their sleep and if they cannot do this in an appropriate time then intervening and helping them to find their sleep.

RESETTLING
Teaches babies how to progress from light to heavy sleep. This is essential to avoid the pitfalls of frequent waking and catnapping. In a sense, resettling is the second stage of teaching baby how to find sleep and does demand more time and patience than settling (TACT).

Most babies stir or wake when progressing from light to heavy sleep and this occurs anywhere between 20-45 minutes.
In the beginning the idea is not to let your baby wake fully during this transition; a sleepy baby is easier to resettle than a wide-awake, crying baby.

Resettling is not about calming them down or staying until they just start to drift off, it is about staying with your baby until they go into a deep sleep.

DREAM FEEDS
Dream feeds

In my experience dream feeds are controversial and need to be carefully considered before incorporating them into a feeding schedule.

They differ from night feeds in that they are parent-led – the choice of the parent and not the baby.
Dream feeds are given between 10pm and midnight and involve feeding a sleeping baby as opposed to one that wakes naturally. They are supposed to lengthen a baby’s sleep cycle to give a tired parent a reprieve. However, there is no evidence to indicate that dream feeds guarantee parents’ extended sleep.
Research shows that dream feeds are thought to interfere with a baby’s most precious and deepest phase of sleep that occurs between 9pm and midnight.

Make sure you are well informed before making your own decision, as once in place dream feeds can be difficult and disruptive to eliminate from your baby’s routine. If you do decide to include them, ideally aim to drop them by the age of six months.

Neuroscientists believe that deliberately feeding a sleeping baby meddles with digestion, growth and development and can disrupt long-term sleeping patterns.

Thank you so much for your question I hope this helps, just remember you are doing an amazing job and being a Mother is the hardest job in the world.

Kind Regards
Dorothy

If you feel you need additional support I am available to provide you with the support you need, pricing is available on my Services page and a range of different packages to suit your needs

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Dorothy Waide is Dimples’ official Baby Sleep consultant.

Dorothy has been working with parents and babies for over three decades. Through her business – Baby Help – she guides and supports parents as they work through sleep problems.

Individual solutions for individual families

Working with parents and babies for three decades means Dorothy has seen sleep theories and techniques come and go. Since she began her work as a Karitane nurse and post-partum care provider, Dorothy says her personal philosophy has changed from a focus on rigid routines and cry it out, to a more nurturing approach. She now uses a flexible system, helping each baby find their own sleep rhythm and intervening when appropriate.

As Dorothy explains: “I take the best from both sides of parenting and find a flexible and nurturing middle ground that works for mum, baby and family.”

Because no baby is the same, Dorothy tailors her approach to suit individual babies and families. She uses her knowledge of current scientific and medical theory, along with her vast experience of real-life babies, to create sleep solutions that really work.

Dorothy Waide and Dimples

Dorothy is working with Dimples to offer support for parents and their babies.

She is also setting up a series of Sleep Help parenting classes to provide parents with the tools, confidence and knowledge they need to nurture and care for their baby in the first 12 weeks. The series will cover sleep and settling, feeding, burping, bathing, and how to set up a nursery.

For advice or support get in touch now.

Meet Dorothy Waide