Newborn

  • 3 top tips to surviving the 12-month sleep regression

    Are you pulling your hair out because your almost 1-year old has gone from being a great sleeper to refusing to go down for their nap? Or is your little one now waking up during the night when you thought all of that was behind you? Don’t worry – it’s a completely normal stage of your little one’s development!

    At around 11-12 months of age your little one is well on their way to becoming a toddler. They’re incredibly aware of their environment and, with boundless curiosity, they love nothing more than exploring their world and the role they play in it.

    They’re crawling, pulling themselves up to stand, and are even starting to take their first steps. They’re honing their gross and fine motor skills, and they’re learning how to communicate their wants and needs (very insistently, I might add!) to everyone around them. With so much happening in their growing brains, it’s not surprising another sleep regression comes along at this age.

    My top 3 tips for surviving the 12-month sleep regression

    1. Don’t drop that second nap!

    At around 12 months of age your little one might start refusing their second nap. This is the 12-month sleep regression. Often when this happens, parents take it as a sign that their child is ready to drop that second nap. Don’t do it!

    Most babies aren’t ready to drop their second nap until around 15-18 months. Push through their nap refusal by continuing to put your little one down for their nap just like you always have – at the same time of day, for the same length of time. They might not go to sleep, but keeping the routine is important because…

    2. Consistency is key

    Just like earlier sleep regressions, the 12-month sleep regression won’t last forever – I promise! Every baby is different but as a guide, you can expect your little one to work their way through the 12-month sleep regression in around 2-4 weeks – as long as you’re consistent with your regular settling approach.

    Toddlers thrive on routine and consistency. At this age, when so much is changing for them, one of the best things we can do for them is to try and keep the rest of their world as consistent as possible. If you start doing something different every time your little one wakes, the sleep regression will last longer, they’ll become more resistant to your efforts to return to sleep, and you’ll be in for a much more challenging time.

    If your little one hasn’t been rocked to sleep, had milk overnight (for a long time), or slept in your bed up until this point, now is not the time to start

    3. Remember – your little one is normal

    The last thing you need to do at this stage in your little one’s life is to start wondering if their sleep regression is normal. I can tell you – having worked with thousands of families and having gone through it three times myself – that it absolutely is! Some might feel it more intensely than others, but I promise you – every baby goes through these regressions.

    You’ve got this Mumma!

    Your little one (and you!) WILL get through the 12-month sleep regression stage. That adorable little sleeper you’ve had for the last few months WILL come back and they WILL return to their previously great sleeping habits. In the meantime, be consistent, be persistent, and be patient. You’ve got this Mumma.

    Want some extra help?

    If you’d like some extra help, you can book in for a one-to-one session. I can give you more great advice on how you can help your little one work through their 12-month sleep regression, tailored specifically for your family.

    Booking in is easy – just fill out the form on my contact page and I’ll be in touch!

    With love,

    Kelly Martin Sleep Consultant

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  • Everything you need to know about the 5 sleep regression stages

    Baby Sleeping On Rug
     
    In the first two years of your little one’s life, you can expect them to go through five different sleep regressions. They’ll all need a slightly different touch, they’ll all ask for you to practice consistency, patience, and persistence (and believe me – at times it feels like you’re getting a LOT of practice!), and – best of all – they’ll all pass after about 2-4 weeks if you’re consistent with your approach.

     

    Here’s everything you need to know about each sleep regression stage. 

    4-month sleep regression

    This will be the first sleep regression you and your little one will work through and oh boy, is it a big one!

     

    At around 4-6 months of age your little one goes through a permanent neurological change in sleeping patterns. They shift from ‘baby’ sleep cycles (up to 6-8 hours) to ‘adult’ sleep cycles (between 2-4 hours). This is why your previously well-rested little one may now begin to wake more frequently!

     

    This is the perfect time to start working on healthy sleep habits. At this age you can start to see how any long-term sleep associations might be coming into play and whether those associations are now helping or hindering your little one’s sleep. These associations could include their dummy falling out, making them unlikely to re-settle between sleep cycles without it, or waking between sleep cycles in a motionless cot when they’d fallen asleep being gently rocked. To put it in adult terms, it would be like us going to sleep in our bed and waking up somewhere else, like on our couch. We’d feel perplexed, frazzled, and unsettled too!

     

    During this time, it’s important to help your little one to develop healthy sleep associations that will empower them to resettle on their own. While it’s completely (and biologically) normal for babies to wake overnight, it’s not beneficial for either you or your little one if you need to get up multiple times through the night to help them resettle between sleep cycles.

     

    At this age, your little one can also start to build up sleep debt. With their circadian rhythm now functioning, they can no longer run on short cat naps throughout the day. They need at least one opportunity for a consolidated and restorative daytime sleep, which will help them to sleep better at night. Without it, the cortisol levels in their body will promote the release of adrenaline, and this will change their partial arousals to full wake ups overnight.

    9-month sleep regression

    Your little one’s second sleep regression will occur at around 8-10 months of age. If you haven’t already heard the term ‘separation anxiety’, it will become a popular phrase at this point.

     

    At this age your little one starts to realise that they are a separate person from you. They begin to understand that you – and the objects around them – can come and go, which can make sleep quite a challenge. As is the case with every sleep regression your little one will go through though, how you approach the separation anxiety stage will determine how quickly you progress back to regular sleeping patterns.

     

    Hint: Help your little one with the concept of object permanence by playing games of peek-a-boo. This will show them what is gone is not gone forever.

     

    Further disruption to sleep around this time can be linked to new physical milestones, like learning how to sit up, crawl, and pull themselves up to standing. I mean, why should they just lay there and sleep when they can move themselves around like this now?! Fortunately, this too should all pass within a short period of time, and with lots of practice during the day to help build muscle memory.

     

    Throughout this sleep regression remain consistent in your settling approach. Don’t introduce any new sleep props to your little one that you’re not wanting them to keep long-term.

    12-month sleep regression

    When they’re close to celebrating their first birthday, your little one will go through their 12-month sleep regression. This really isn’t surprising, because there’s quite a lot going on for them at this time, from crawling to taking their first steps, and learning how to communicate with those around them!

     

    Often the 12-month sleep regression presents itself as your little one refusing to go down for their second nap, but don’t be fooled! Most babies aren’t ready to drop their second nap until they’re around 15-18 months old, so you’ll need to push through this.

     

    If you’re dealing with a little one going through this sleep regression stage, check out my 3 top tips to surviving your child’s 12-month sleep regression – you’ll find my favourite gems in there on how to handle this stage.

     

    18-month and 2-year sleep regressions

    Your little one will experience additional sleep regressions at around 18 months and 2 years of age.

     

    Both stages are caused by rises in their cognitive development, which is exciting because it means they’re learning and absorbing so many new things in their world!

     

    As you’ve now learned through your little one’s previous sleep regression stages, these final stages are:

           something every child experiences

           completely normal

           best handled with consistency and patience.

     

    You’ve come this far Mumma – keep doing what you’ve been doing and be confident; your little one is just going through yet another change in their development and, just like you did every other time, you’ve got this.

     

    Want some extra help?

     

    If you’d like some extra help, you can book in for a one-to-one session. I can give you more great advice on how you can help your little one work through their sleep regression, tailored specifically for your family.

    Booking in is easy – just fill out the form on my contact page and I’ll be in touch!

    With love,

     

     

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    Kelly Martin Sleep Consultant

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  • 5 easy ways to calm your newborn

    Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful newborn baby! Enjoy this time and that glorious newborn smell. Seriously, there’s nothing better than holding your nose to your newborn baby’s head and breathing in deep – it’s heavenly!

    Now that you’ve got your little one home and are ready to begin the next chapter of your life, I have a little spoiler alert for you… Giving birth was the easy part! As wonderful as it is, having a newborn baby at home, it can also be a little overwhelming – especially in the first six weeks, a time commonly referred to as the fourth trimester when you and your baby are getting to know each other in the outside world.

    To help make the fourth trimester as calm and settled as possible, I want to share with you the 5 S’s – 5 quick and easy ways to calm your newborn, as pioneered by American paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp. These techniques will help you to calm and soothe your beautiful new babe by allowing you to engage their calming reflex – a skill you’ll find invaluable over the coming weeks and months.

    1. Swaddling

    Swaddling is the cornerstone of calming. It’s the first step to helping your little one focus on the 5 S’s and it’s this technique that engages their all-important ‘calming reflex’. Swaddling provides a newborn with the feeling of being back on the womb, where they were warm, snug, and completely safe.

    I recommend using a firm arms-down swaddle. Miracle Blanket and Ergococoon are two great arms-down swaddles, or you can use a flat 1x1m muslin wrap. The swaddle should be firmly wrapped around your little one’s torso, but loose enough over their hips to allow the movement of their hips and pelvis. This will help to protect their startle reflex, which often causes them to become upset and distracts them from your attempts to calm them.

    2. Side or stomach

    By holding your little one—either in your arms on their side or stomach or using your hand to support them to lay on their side in their cot—you will help turn on their ‘calming reflex’ and turn off their Moro reflex.

    The Moro reflex is a normal part of the development of your little one’s nervous system, but it can be unsettling for your newborn. It’s most likely to occur when your newborn is laying on their back (this is when they feel most out of control), so by putting them down in the side or stomach position, you’re helping sooth them and ease them into sleep.

    If you’re holding your little one as they go to sleep, try the reverse-breastfeeding hold, football hold, or over-the-shoulder hold. For more information on these holds, read Dr Harvey Karp’s blog on how to hold a baby.

    Remember though, while it’s safe to settle your baby on their side, once they’re asleep, ‘back to sleep’ is the only position approved by the Red Nose Foundation.

    3. Shushing

    The world your newborn has emerged from – your womb – is louder than a vacuum cleaner! So, when they first arrive into the world everything seems very strange and quiet to them. This can lead to them startling easily from noises.

    When you shush your baby, it helps engage their ‘calming reflex’ by creating some of that noise they were used to in the womb. Make sure your shushing matches the intensity of their crying – it needs to be loud at first to settle them and becomes quieter once they’ve calmed down.

    Playing a deep, rumbly white noise can also soothe a newborn and help them to sleep – as long as it’s played at the right pitch. 50-60dB is safe for your little one’s sleep on a continuous basis. Use white noise for all naps and overnight sleeps. If you then want to wean them off the white noise (preferably after their first year), you can turn the volume down progressively until your baby is used to sleeping without it. This will help them move through the various milestones of their first year.

    4. Swinging

    Rhythmic movement is deeply soothing to your newborn – it reminds them of the daily motion they experienced in your womb as you went about your day.

    Small movements side to side will also switch on the ‘calming reflex’ in a crying newborn. While you swing them, support their head and neck in a way that allows a small amount of ‘head wobble’. Your swinging should match the intensity of your little one’s cry – faster when they’re more upset (quick movements, one-inch side to side) and slowing as they calm.

    5. Sucking

    Newborns love sucking – it soothes and calms them and can provide a distraction if they’re in a busy or unfamiliar environment.

    Infants suck their hands when they’re in the womb but after birth, they lack the coordination. To help them, you can use a dummy once breastfeeding has been established, or from birth if your little one is bottle-fed. And don’t worry – it’s easy to wean your little one off the dummy if it becomes disruptive to their sleep, which can often occur around 3-4 months of age.

    Want some extra help?

    If you’d like some extra help with your little one, you can book in with me for a one-to-one session

    Booking in is easy – just fill out the form on my contact page and I’ll be in touch!

    With love,

    Kelly Martin Sleep Consultant

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  • The 4 most common reasons why your baby isn’t sleeping

    Are you struggling to get your little one to sleep? Do they go down easily some days but on others you feel like you need the skills of a magician and the patience of a saint to achieve the same thing?

    I feel you Mumma! I’ve been there too. For me, trying to get my second daughter to sleep—never mind stay asleep for any period of time—felt like a very sensitively tuned balancing act.

    I want to help you fast-track getting your little one back to sleep.

    Let’s take a look at 4 of the most common reasons why your little one might not be sleeping well.  Better yet, let’s see how we take these reasons and work them in your little one’s favour from a holistic perspective.

    Your little one is overtired

    If your baby has been awake for too long, their little body will start to have a chemical reaction caused by their lack of sleep. This means they start to produce excess cortisol (a stress hormone) that in turn converts to adrenaline. Now, imagine you were trying to fall asleep while you were in the middle of a ‘fight or flight’ mode experience. That’s exactly the state your little one gets into when they’re overtired, which is why overtired babies are incredibly difficult to get to sleep.

    To make matters worse, even when you do eventually get them to close their eyes, your little one will still wake shortly after their sleep cycle because their body has effectively been tipped over the edge and it will take some time and patience to get them back on track.

    The best way to deal with overtiredness is to avoid it in the first place. Get your little one into a healthy sleep routine with age appropriate awake times and stick with it as much as.

    Download my nap routines guide to help you develop a healthy sleep routine.

    Your little one is undertired

    Say what? Weren’t we just talking about how easily your little one can get overtired?

    Well, yes! But your little one being undertired is also a contributing factor to them being able to sleep – although it is the less likely of the two, especially in younger babies.

    Let’s talk sleep pressure. In order to sleep or nap, your little one needs to build up the right amount of sleep pressure. Sleep pressure is the brain’s desire for sleep, and it builds throughout the day. The longer your little one is awake, the more sleep pressure they’ll experience.

    If your little one is undertired (i.e. they haven’t built up enough sleep pressure), they are likely to take a while to settle. They may be smiling, rolling around, or just having a good old chat with you instead of falling asleep.  Or, they may settle easily for their nap but then wake again after only 40-45 minutes, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and almost impossible to re-settle.

    To make sure your little one is getting enough awake time to avoid being undertired, here’s what to aim for as they grow:

    Birth to 3 months

    At this age you can aim for your little to have around 3-5 naps each day, spaced around 1-1.5 hours apart. Your little one will nap for a total of approximately 4-5 hours during the day and 11-12 hours overnight (broken for feeds).

    3-6 months

    Your 3-6-month-old will need around 3 naps throughout the day, totalling around 3-3.5 hours.  Their awake times will be increasing towards 2-2.5 hours between each nap. They’ll continue to need 11-12 hours of sleep overnight (broken for feeds).

    6-12 months

    At this age your little one will drop towards having two naps (around 7-8 months) a day, and they’ll now need to be awake for anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours. The great news is, once you settle into this two-nap pattern, you’ll be able to stay there for a significant period of time (until they’re around 15-18 months of age).

    Are they hungry?

    Your little one won’t sleep well at all if they’re hungry. To rule hunger out from the equation, feed breast or bottle-fed babies on demand or at least every 3-4 hours during the day to make sure they’re getting enough calories during the day to sustain them for the longer stretches of sleep overnight. If your little one is established on solids (usually between 6-9 months of age), make sure they’re eating plenty of complex carbohydrates and protein. You can then expect your little one to reduce their night feeds or even wean off of them completely.

    Sleep environment – the trilogy

    There are three key considerations for your little one’s sleep environment – darkness, temperature, and white noise.

    Give your little one a dark sleep space

    I always recommend a nice dark sleep space for babies from three weeks of age.  By putting your little one down for their naps and longer sleeps in a dark space, you’ll be helping them to settle into healthy sleep cycles at an early age.

    When your little one’s in a dark sleep space, their body will release melatonin – the sleepy hormone.  If the room has too much light, it will trigger your little one’s body to wake up fully at the end of a sleep cycle, meaning they’re more likely to get up and play rather than re-settle into their next sleep cycle.

    Hint: Block out blinds or curtains will be your best friend, especially over the long summer months.

    Make sure the room temperature is just right

    Temperature can also play a role in your little one’s sleep.  Children under 18 months of age cannot self-regulate their body temperature and so they rely on us to dress them appropriately and keep the room at a steady temperature. I recommended keeping your little one’s room at 18-20ﹾ over winter and at 20-24ﹾ over summer.

    Use white noise

    The final piece of the sleep environment trilogy is white noise. White noise acts as an additional buffer for your little one from the outside world. Why do they need buffering when they’re trying to sleep? Well, perhaps you have a noisy neighbour hammering away in their backyard or roadworks going on down the street? Or maybe there’s an older sibling in the house who, with their impeccable timing, suddenly start making noise when you’re trying to settle the baby for their nap?

    White noise is non-addictive and can be played safely for all naps and overnight sleeps at around 50-60 decibels. When you’re ready to wean your little one off the white noise, just start turning it down and eventually off over the period of about one week.

    Want some extra help?

    If you’ve ticked off all these boxes but your little one’s still struggling with their sleep, you can book in with me for a free discovery chat.

    During our chat we can discuss how I could work together with you to achieve healthy sleep habits for your little one. After all – your gorgeous little bundle isn’t a robot, so it could well be that they need a tailored sleep solution just for them; one that takes into account their temperament, your parenting style, and your everyday family life commitments.

    Booking a discovery call is easy – just fill out the form on my contact page and I’ll be in touch!

    With love,

    Kelly Martin Sleep Consultant

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