Newborn

  • The dummy dilemma. Learn the pros and cons about dummies and how to successfully say goodbye to the dummy when the time is right.

    Who would have thought back when you were longing to become a parent that you’d be weighing up the pros and cons of dummies!? There really are two sides to the dummy coin as they can be really great used as settling tools but can also cause a lot of sleep troubles too.

    Confusing right?

    But all the confusion can be simplified with answers to a few key questions. This blog is especially helpful for:

    ● Families with a newborn – how can a dummy assist
    ● Families of a baby less than 8 months – is it hindering or helping sleep
    ● Families of a toddler – when is a good time to remove and say goodbye

    If you have a little one who loves their dummy- I have stacks of advice for you and if you have a newborn and want to know which path to take keep reading also.

    It doesn’t take long to realise dummies are a very personal choice, however if we look at the pros and cons you can arrive at a decision feeling balanced and informed with your approach.

    Here’s the downlow on the most popular dummy questions:

    What are the pros and cons with dummies?

    From newborn to toddler, dummies can be a great settling tool, but let’s break the dummy concept down into 3 key stages to identify both the positives and negatives when it comes to dummies and sleep.

    The Newborn Stage – Babies are born with a strong sucking reflex . This is one of the key pillars of the 5’s to settle a newborn baby so dummies can be really helpful to soothe and calm a newborn under 3-4 months of age. (We can assess the dummy’s long-term role later) but for now, if it soothes your baby and achieves sleep, it prevents an overtired baby which makes it a positive.

    Expert tip: A dummy can be introduced from newborn, but only after breastfeeding is established (this is to prevent nipple confusion in the early days). Also ensure that you do not use a dummy to space out feeds to set times on a “routine”. Newborns need to be fed on demand as their tummies are tiny and they are working to establish your milk supply in the early days.

    The Toddler Stage – At 2.5 years plus we can chat to our toddler, who now has the cognitive understanding, and can be prepared and readied for when their dummy can be used and how to wean off its use when the time is right.

    Expert Tip: At this age, you can put a plan in place to limit the dummy to set times such as only naps and bedtime and put it somewhere special (like a cup by the bed) each time they wake.

    The Tricky Middle Stage – Between 4-8 months of age your little one may develop a strong like for their dummy (but won’t have mastered the art of finding and replacing it). This is where you need to make the decision to continue popping the dummy back in until they can learn to do it themselves or remove the dummy and teach the art of self-settling without reliance on an external sleep prop.

    Which leads me to the next regularly asked question….

    Why is the dummy considered a common culprit for sleep troubles?

    In short, it is an external sleep prop which means your baby is relying on something external to put them to sleep initially and they will need to physically learn to find and replace it between sleep cycles if they wish to use it successfully long-term.

    At this point you might be thinking, ‘my little one only uses the dummy for 2 minutes to fall asleep and then it drops out, so it doesn’t impact on their ability to stay asleep’ but when all things are considered, whether it’s 2 minutes or 20 minutes, if your little one needs a dummy to help them join their next sleep cycle, then your little one has a reliance on the dummy.

    Something to be conscious of is the skill to learn to find and replace the dummy independently doesn’t typically occur until around 7-8 months of age. Think about how tricky you find it in the middle of the night to locate and replace in the dark, I see you Mumma with the spares on the change table “just in case”. Now imagine being a baby and trying to do this independently between sleep cycles whilst still partially asleep and even potentially still swaddled under 4-6 months of age.

    Now if you do decide to keep the dummy long-term and your little one is under the age of 7-8 months, know that they are going to need to provide some extra help and this may mean multiple dummy runs throughout the day and night as they’ll struggle (just like you) to find it in the cot between sleep cycles which can be as frequently as 2-4 hourly overnight (that’s a blog for another day).

    The good news is, if your baby is over 7 months of age, in accordance with Red Nose Guidelines, you can introduce a comforter which can aid in the process of teaching your baby to find and replace their own dummy. Kippins is my brand of choice. Their comforters are made from lightweight, breathable organic cotton material and BONUS they can hold up to 4 dummies in the corner knots.

    How do we successfully say goodbye to the dummy?

    If your baby is under 7-8 months of age saying goodbye to the dummy is best done “cold turkey”. Often the prospect as a parent of removing the dummy is more daunting than the actual process of doing it. If you decide to remove the dummy, be confident to choose a settling approach that suits your little one’s temperament and your parenting style. This will ensure you don’t “swap the prop” ie don’t accidentally replace the dummy with something else like rocking in arms. We want to establish healthy sleep habits that are sustainable long-term.

    Do expect it to be a little rough for 2-3 days as your baby adjusts to learning to fall asleep without the sucking motion, but know that it will benefit their sleep long-term as they learn to internally reference how they fall asleep which makes going back to sleep quicker and easier.

    If your little one is over 2.5 years of age and you are ready to remove the dummy for good, then you can decide on a date you’re going to remove it and talk with your toddler about this upcoming event.

    Expert Tip: For the easiest transition possible, ensure you’ve already limited the dummy in the lead up to this occurring.

    Ideas for saying goodbye to dummy and making it a fun experience:

    ● Go on a ‘dummy hunt’ and pack up all dummies
    ● Leave them under the tree outside
    ● Drop them off at the post office
    ● Deliver them to the new babies at childcare
    ● Exchange the dummies for a small gift and a special note congratulating your toddler on this new milestone.

    After the dummy exchange, strap yourself in for 2-3 days as there may be some big emotions, which we want to acknowledge and help them to understand and regulate. Ensure that you are patient, supportive and understanding – knowing there is no going back. You’ve got this.

    I set out at the beginning of this blog to help parents know their options with both making a dummy work and saying goodbye to the dummy too. If you feel it’s too soon to remove the dummy or feel you’ve left it too late to send the dummies on their way, know that we can absolutely figure it out together with the right approach of consistency and support.

    Want some extra help?

    Think the dummy is playing a role in your little one’s sleep and want to put together an action plan moving forward. Register for a 15 minute discovery call to discuss our options for working one-on-one together.

    Follow me on Instagram for more sleep hints and tips or download my free nap routines to join the mailing list.

    With Love,

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  • Guest Blog from Penny – Sick Happens. The “Normal Newborn” One.

    I’m so excited to have Penny from Sick Happens joining us to chat about the crazy stuff newborns do, but no one talks about.

    Penny has been a Paediatric Registered Nurse for over ten years. She has a Masters of Nursing and is a Mum to two gorgeous little boys.

    Once becoming a parent, Penny found there was limited access to ongoing support, reassurance and education for parents around the everyday inevitable illnesses. Not to mention the confusion, anxiety, overwhelm and fear that surrounds these never-ending bouts of sickness.

    Penny delivers evidence-based, practical education with empathy & reassurance.

    Let’s chat about the crazy stuff newborns do, but no one talks about.

    URATE CRYSTALS

    Have you ever seen little streaks of pink, orange or red in your brand new babies nappy?

    Ever wondered what they are?

    Or have you ever thought it was blood?⁠

    Thankfully, it is most likely urate crystals. Oh sounds fancy right, but what is it?⁠

    URATE CRYSTALS — aka uric acid crystals, urates, “brick stains” are a bi-product of healthy metabolism.

    Babies are born with a high level of uric acid in their blood, and this is very normal. When they breast or bottle feed, their bodies breakdown this acid and it is excreted in their urine. It is excreted as a brick/orange/pink/terracotta coloured fluid.⁠

    This is very normal for the first few days of life.

    However, this breakdown ‘should’ stop after about 3ish days. If you see this colour in their nappy after about 3-7 days of life, it’s best to chat to your healthcare provider because it may need further investigating.⁠

    Sometimes it is linked to a baby not feeding properly, or becoming slightly dehydrated, but this is not always the case. Take a photo if you are worried, or keep the nappy to show your midwife at your next check-up, or mention it to your GP/CFHN.⁠⁠

    Have you seen these before, and did you have a little freak out thinking it was blood?

    GIRL TALK

    Now let’s get specific for the parents of little ladies.

    Little girls can be confusing and bewildering for parents, especially if it is your first girl in the family. Regardless, there are still quite a few things about girls that sometimes aren’t communicated to parents before birth.

    NAPPY WIPING/CLEANING – always remember to wipe from front to back (vulva to anus). And make sure to do a thorough job in between ALL the creases. Girls have a much higher risk of getting a urinary tract or bladder infection from insufficient cleaning techniques. However, some children are anatomically predisposed to urinary tract and bladder infections, so if your baby has recurrent UTIs it’s not always because of inadequate cleaning (so don’t stress)

    LABIA – sometimes your daughters labia will be very swollen immediately after birth. This usually subsides after about ten days post partum, but it’s not uncommon to think they look larger than ‘normal’

    DISCHARGE – during the first week of your daughters life, she will likely leak mucous/blood stained fluids from her vagina due to the surge of hormones when in utero. This should settle quickly, but if you are concerned at all, see your GP or CFHN.

    LEAKING BREASTS – this one I’m talking about your baby, not you. Say what? Yes, sometimes your newborn baby can leak ‘breastmilk’ from their nipples in the postpartum period. Boys can also do this too. Although uncommon, there is nothing wrong. It is just a response to hormones during the transition to life outside of the womb. Again, just mention it to your healthcare provider but please don’t panic. I’ve seen this a couple of times when I used to work in the NICU, and each time both Mum and baby were crying at the time. I wonder if this is linked in some way?

    Is there anything else I have missed? What else happened that you weren’t expecting with your little girl?

    BOY TALK

    If you have a son, here are a few things that might not be talked about because people find them awkward or embarrassing. So I’ll start the discussion for you – let’s get into the nitty gritty! These things might be especially confronting and bewildering for mums that grew up in a household of girls 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️ me.


    CLEANING – parents sometimes get conflicting advice about cleaning your son’s penis. You don’t need to retract the foreskin at all. In fact, doing this can cause damage as it is possible for the foreskin to become stuck, which leads to some serious problems. Once your son gains control of his hands, chances are they will dive straight to his penis. He will pull it around like he’s practicing some puppetry of the penis and sort out the stretching on his own terms. Keep an eye on any redness or discharge from the penis, and if so see your GP.


    NAPPIES – Point the penis down in his nappy. Unless you like changing clothes a million times, you’ll work this one out quickly.

    ERECTIONS – your son can get erections from birth. It’s completely normal, and not sexual in any way #stiffhappens 🤣 Please don’t shame your son, or create any negative associations with this. When your son is older (think toddler-ish) you can start to talk about private and public behaviours.

    TESTICLES – it’s not uncommon to have undescended testes (cryptorchidism) at birth. Health professionals will check to see if your son’s testicles have come down into the scrotum. Often it can take some time (months) for them to come down properly, but this can still be normal. They may require repositioning surgery if the testicles remain undescended by roughly 12 months of age – but this decision will be made by a specialist.

    PAIN – if your son has any pain in the groin area, particularly the testicles, this can be caused by a “testicular torsion”. This is when the testicles twist within the scrotum. This will require an emergency visit, because the testicle can die very quickly due to lack of blood supply, often requiring emergency surgery to rectify this. This is one NOT to waste time with.

    Penny has created a signature online course called “Normal or Not?” — because it’s exactly that! It teaches you how to troubleshoot your way through working out what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to inevitable sicknesses in kids.

    You can head to Penny’s website for all of the details and to find out when the doors will be opening next!

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  • The fourth trimester of motherhood. Navigating the first 12 weeks of life as mum and baby beyond the womb.

    Once your baby arrives you will experience a new way of living like no other. You will transition and begin navigating everything the best you can for you and your baby.

    This blog takes you into the world of mum and baby in the first 12 weeks beyond the womb (also known as the Fourth Trimester).

    After the initial rush of baby announcements and leaving the hospital you’ll find yourself settling in at home with the ‘newborn bubble’. This largely entails meeting the needs of the tiny bundle you’ve spent the last 9 months growing, waiting and dreaming about.

    There is no doubt there’ll be highs and lows, parenting wins and lots of learning curves, but the aim of this blog is to make the fourth trimester a better understood topic.

    I’m here to pull back the curtain on what it’s really like to be in the thick of postpartum and help you arrive at this stage feeling less like a deer in headlights and more like an empowered parent who is excited for the time ahead.

    Once you have an understanding of what you are going through and what your baby is going through, you’ll have the understanding needed for both you and your little one to flourish.

    What is the Fourth Trimester?

    The Fourth Trimester is a concept first coined by Dr Harvey Karp and is the first 12 weeks of your little one’s life as they transition from “womb life to room life”, along with everything adjusting to the outside world encompasses.

    There are four key areas that make a mum and baby’s world go round in the first three months after birth.

    They are:

    • Feeding
    • Awake Time
    • Sleeping
    • Healing (for mum)

    Let’s take a more in depth look at each of these areas:

    • Feeding

    Newborn feeding is frequent and normal. Baby’s on average feed every 2-3 hours or around 8-12 times in a 24-hour period.

    Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, ‘on demand’ is the best approach as their tummies are tiny and they’re building to establish your supply. Focus on steady weight gains and plenty of wet nappies to know that your baby is having enough milk for their optimal growth and development.

    Expert tip: Did you know a rule to guide you through the early days for wet nappies includes:

    Day 1: 1 wet nappy

    Day 2: 2 wet nappies

    Day 3: 3 wet nappies

    Day 4: 4 wet nappies

    Day 5 onwards: 5-6 wet nappies in a 24-hour period 

    • Awake Times

    Often very very short! Awake times for a newborn (birth to 4-6 weeks) is around 40-60 minutes including a feed and diaper change – it really is eat, sleep, poop repeat!

    Their days and nights may be a little mixed up but this usually self-corrects anywhere between 3-6 weeks of age when the maternal melatonin wears off and your little one starts to produce their own. Ensure to wake your baby regularly if they are sleeping A LOT during the day and turning into a party animal at night.

    Here is a handy guide for awake times:

    Birth to 3 weeks – 45 minutes

    3-6 weeks – 1 hour

    6-9 weeks – 1 hour and 15 minutes

    9-12 weeks – 1 hour and 30 minutes

    Expert Tip: You might be surprised to know you don’t need to focus on a sleep routine at this age. Babies are born without a functioning circadian rhythm and sleep is neurologically disorganised.

    Instead, focus on the awake times to guide your day- babies need around 15-16 hours sleep in a 24-hour period. This is not split equally as newborns often have a much later bedtime and are known for cluster feeding in the evenings.

    • Hands On Sleep Assistance

    Feeding, holding, cuddling and rocking your baby to sleep at this age is extremely normal. Newborns haven’t yet developed the ability to self-soothe and need our hands-on support to fall asleep and stay asleep.

    Their sleep cycles are immature and catnapping is developmental (albeit frustrating) and normal as their sleep may vary from as little as 20 minutes or up to 3 hours.

    Expert Tip: If you need to be a little more mobile and get a few things done inside or outside the house, babywearing can be a saving grace in this period. Your baby NEEDS YOU to be close – especially during the day.

    For more information about safely babywearing and to get the right fit for your baby, get in contact with Amber from The Infant Boutique who provides a personalised service for fitting your carrier.

    • Physical And Emotional Healing (For Mum)

    During this time it’s important to remind yourself it took 9 months to grow this tiny little human and it’s going to take some time to find YOUR new groove of parenthood. Physically and emotionally there is a huge shift.

    Whether you’re a first-time parent or adjusting to multiple children, you need to be gentle with yourself, ask for support and more importantly ACCEPT support when offered – Have a load of washing that needs doing? Please ask for help! Your new role isn’t so much to entertain multiple guests or give out your baby for cuddles. Your most important role is to rest and bond with your new little human.

    We can keep the Fourth Trimester really simple and have more realistic expectations when we keep these four key areas in mind. Mum’s everywhere deserve this simplicity so they can embrace postpartum freely and live in the moment with their newborn baby.

    Want some extra help?

    For extra advice on settling a newborn baby- Dr Harvey Karp pioneered the 5S’s to soothe a baby, check out my previous blog.

    With Love,

    Looking to set your baby up on a healthy sleep routine? Book a one-on-one discovery call and we’ll work out what package is just right for you.

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  • How and when to reduce nap times for your baby. What you need to know about successfully dropping day time sleep.

    Naptimes rock our little one’s world (and our world too) but how do you know when to say goodbye to a nap? How and when do you transition your baby to less day sleep?

    This blog is your guide to reducing daytime sleep from babyhood right through to preschoolers.

    We can often feel clueless about this topic, but it’s a common question that lots of parents ask, which is why knowing the signs will help you confidently navigate the right time for a nap transition for your little one.

    When should you reduce nap times?

    Check out the handy Baby to Preschooler nap time transition plan below. You will find it useful for dropping naps within an age-appropriate time frame.

    Baby to Preschooler nap time transition plan-

    4 naps → 3 naps: 3 to 5 months

    3 naps → 2 naps: 6 to 8 months

    2 naps → 1 nap: 15 to 18 months

    1 nap → 0 nap: 2.5-3.5 years

    Now that we have a plan to follow, you’re probably thinking what are the signs that it’s time to drop a nap?

    • Bedtime delay – baby used to settle quickly and easily but now rolls around and/or gets frustrated.
    • Taking a long time to settle at normal nap time.
    • Settling well but waking early from their regular nap.
    • Settling well at one nap but not tired/sleeping well at the next nap.
    • Settling/sleeping well at naps but taking a long time to go to sleep at bedtime in the evening.
    • Waking overnight multiple times or waking and staying awake for long periods.
    • Waking in the early morning (before 6:00 AM) and not resettling back to sleep.

    What can I do to help my child during the transitions?

    • Bring bedtime forward- Once you’ve dropped a nap, bringing bedtime forward a little will help to compensate as they adjust to the longer awake times being experienced with the changes.
    • Keep routine- As your little one gets used to the longer awake time, help them remain rested by not making any huge alterations to their schedule all at once.
    • Introduce quiet time- You can replace their nap with a period of ‘quiet time’ where your little one still has the chance to rest even if they’re not sleeping.

    To set yourself up for success it’s important to remember an appropriate sleep debt needs to be re-built between the last sleep of the day and going down for night sleep. Following this, it is important to note that we experience our deepest and most restorative sleep prior to midnight (which is a great motivator to ensure bedtime doesn’t drag out past around 7:00/7:30pm).

    Expert Tip: If you already have a good sleep routine in place, you’re more likely to notice any changes in your baby’s nap routine and can begin preparing for a successful transition in a short succession of time and with less doubt as they will show clear signs of readiness.

    What to keep in mind

    • I encourage you not to rush the process of transition and to ensure the guidelines you follow are age appropriate. Young babies’ sleep needs are very different to toddler needs.
    • Before you transition and drop a nap altogether, try stretching out the time between naps by 15 minutes. Dropping a nap entirely can be a big jump and often requires some back and forth for a couple of weeks.
    • If your baby is showing signs of dropping the last nap of the day, a great alternative prior to the transition is to provide an opportunity for a motion assisted nap – i.e. think pram, car or baby carrier as an extra resource when you are getting ready, but can’t quite make it through. This is especially important when reducing from 3 to 2 daytime naps.

    Want some extra help?

    Book a one-on-one discovery call and we’ll work out what package is just right for you. 

    With Love,

    For more hints and tips on transitioning to less naps follow me on Instagram.

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  • Is your baby waking up early? Here’s what to do about it.

    Is your baby waking up early? Here’s what to do about it.

    Fun fact: Our drive to sleep is at its lowest in the early hours of the morning! This applies throughout our lives – from infancy right through to old age. If your starting to find your little one is stirring more frequently and wanting to begin their day earlier than you would like, this could very well be why.

    Waking up early can be the last (and most difficult) aspect of your little one’s sleep to resolve, with many parents agreeing that after the pesky catnapping stage (read more here on how to handle catnapping), early morning waking is the second top pain point they experience.

    Early riser or rising early?

    Could your little one just be an early riser? How early is too early?

    Well, for a little one on a typical 7:00am to 7:00pm schedule, early waking is defined as any wake that occurs between 5:00am and 6:00am. If they’re close to the 6:00am mark, then this is actually an age-appropriate start to their day – so long as they’ve achieved 11-12 hours of sleep overnight. This is the optimal amount of consolidated sleep your healthy bubba will need.

    Why is my little one waking early?

    Just like you, your little one will cycle through a number of stages over the course of the night. When they first go to sleep, they’ll experience their deepest, most restorative sleep. With melatonin being a key driving force for them, that deep sleep stage will last from around 6:00pm through to midnight. After that, your little one will enter a lighter stage of sleep and, from about 4:00am, they’ll cycle through shorter and lighter sleep cycles until they wake, ready to begin their day.

    There are a number of reasons why your little one might be waking early, and how you correct this will depend on the reason why they’re waking in the first place. Here are the 4 most common reasons why your little one might not be sleeping, and steps to take to help correct them.

    Their hormones are out of balance (aka they’re overtired)

    When your little one gets overtired, their body releases cortisol (a stress hormone) into their system, which then converts to adrenalin. This wires their body for wake ups because it triggers their “fight or flight” response!

    TIP: For more information on how being overtired can impact your little one’s sleep, read my blog on the 4 most common reasons why your baby isn’t sleeping.

    If your little one is overtired, you’ll probably find that not only are they waking early, but bedtimes are also a battle, and they could be waking a few times throughout the night too.

    The best way to deal with overtiredness is to try and 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 possible.

    An external sleep association is missing

    After 4-6 months of age there may be some sneaky little sleep associations coming into play that can either help or hinder your little one’s sleep. These sleep associations could include falling asleep with a dummy that later falls out or being rocked to sleep only to find themselves motionless when they wake in their cot. Your little one may be waking early because, as their sleep lightens in the morning, they become aware of – and unsettled by – the fact that their sleep association is no longer present.

    If you think this is the case, help your little one to develop healthy sleep associations that will empower them to resettle Independently.

    Your little one is cold

    When it comes to temperature and your little one, there are two things you need to know:

    1. Just before sunrise is the coldest part of the day, typically between 3:00-5:00am.
    2. Children under 18 months of age can’t self-regulate their body temperature.

    Make sure you dress your little one appropriately and keep their room at a steady temperature throughout the night. I recommend keeping their room between 16-20ﹾ over winter and 20-24ﹾ over summer.

    Your little one is hungry

    If your little one is hungry, they’ll be much more inclined to wake between sleep cycles. To make sure they have enough calories to get them through the night, feed breast or bottle-fed babies on demand or at least every 3-4 hours during the day. 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 them completely.

    They’re being woken up by the sounds of morning

    If you think your little one is waking early because they’re starting to pick up on morning sounds, white noise could be your new best friend. It buffers them from the outside world and will help them ease through their sleep cycles instead of waking up suddenly if there’s a noise in their otherwise silent room.

    White noise is non-addictive and can be played safely for all naps and overnight sleeps at around 50-60 decibels.

    Their room gets a little too much light

    Having too much light in their room is a prompt for your little one to wake up.

    Your little one will achieve their best in a dark sleep space. The darkness helps their little body to release melatonin – the sleepy hormone. Light, on the other hand, triggers your little one’s body to wake up.

    If morning light is waking your little one too early, block out blinds or curtains will change your life! (Well, at least your mornings anyway!)

    My little one is still waking early – what do I do?

    If you’re still not sure why your little one is waking early, there are a couple more things you can do:

    1. When they wake early, try re-settling them using your usual sleep coaching technique for at least 30 minutes before you get them up.
    2. If your little one is under 6 months and wakes very early (5:00-5:45am) and you’re unable to re-settle them, you can try using a 10-minute bridging nap at the time you wanted them to wake for the day.
    3. If your little one is still waking before 6:00am, but only by about half an hour, just get them up for the day and make sure their first nap is as close to their normal nap time as possible. If you put them down earlier, you’ll only be encouraging the early morning wake ups further, and nobody wants that!

    What about oversleeping?

    If you manage to get your little one to stop waking early and stay asleep longer – great job Mumma! Just keep in mind that it’s all about balance. You don’t want to tip the scales in the other direction either – letting your little one sleep in too late can create the opposite effect and encourage long wakeful periods overnight. So, if your little one is still asleep at 7:00/7:30am, make sure you wake them up so their regular and predictable routine is maintained and their circadian rhythm is supported.

    Want some extra help?

    If you’d like some extra help (who doesn’t?!), you can book in for a one-to-one session with me. Together, we can get to the bottom of why your little one is waking early and make sure they (and you!) get back to a healthy sleeping pattern as quickly as possible.

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

    With love,

    Follow me on Instagram for more hints and tips for healthy sleep habits.

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  • What Is The Solution To Cat Napping?

    One of the most common questions I am asked as a sleep consultant is “Why is my baby cat napping” I want to start by saying cat napping is both very common and in fact biologically and developmentally normal until around 4-5 months of age!  Although this doesn’t make it any easier at the time of experiencing it.  I know this firsthand.

    As parents, there is often a lot of pressure for us to have our babies on a strict schedule from day one. This gives unrealistic expectations as some babies will naturally sleep longer than others. Some babies will have 2-3 hour naps, whilst some babies will have 20-60 minute naps. Some babies will even have a mix of both. All of it is normal and very common.

    Did you know that the first 3 months of your little one’s life is 50% nurture and 50% nature.  This means you can’t “control” whether your little one has a solid sleep foundation right from the beginning or whether you will need to gently work to guide it in the future.

    If your little one is catnapping, I’d love to help! Let’s answer some of your top asked questions together!

    What is a cat nap?

    A catnap is usually a nap that lasts for one sleep cycle – around 40-45 minutes. Often, catnapping babies are unable to join these cycles together for a deeper, more restful sleep.

    While catnapping is developmentally normal, it can be very frustrating for parents. This sleep pattern is incredibly light due to the fact that babies often remain in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep for 50% of time and have a difficult time transitioning between REM, light sleep and non-REM, deep sleep.

    What is the solution to catnapping?

    Unfortunately, there isn’t one simple solution to catnapping. There are MANY reasons that could be contributing to your baby’s short naps.

    To find the right solution for YOUR baby, we need to find out what exactly is causing their short naps first.

    These are just some of the questions you can ask yourself to help find the solution for your little one:

    1.    Have I provided a comfortable sleep environment for my baby?

    When creating a comfortable sleep environment for your baby, it is important to create a calm and relaxing space. Their sleep environment can dictate the quality and quantity of sleep that they experience. Some of the key factors that I recommend to ensure a comfortable sleep environment are:

    • A safe sleeping space, free from any blankets, pillows or teddies that could be obstructive to sleep.
    • Darkness, I mean real darkness! Sleep is additionally calmer and less disruptive when the room is nice and dark.
    • White noise, a simple and effective addition to your little ones sleep routine.

    When we are trying to change your baby’s cat napping pattern, our aim is to have your baby in their cot for at least 1-2 day naps each day. This will help to set up their nap timing and gain consistency with the consolidation of their day-time sleep.

    2.    Do you have a familiar wind-down routine?

    As adults, very rarely would we come straight home from work and fall asleep. Normally, you would have some “wind-down time” before going off to bed. Having a warm shower, reading a book and allowing your brain to switch off before trying to sleep.

    This is no different for babies! The routine can be verbal and non-verbal signals that should last under 10-20 minutes. It needs to be calming and soothing and most importantly unique to your little one. It may involve:

    • Having a nappy change
    • A milk feed
    • Putting on their swaddle or sleeping bag
    • Reading a story or singing a lullaby

    3.    Is my baby tired enough?

    Being aware of your baby’s awake times will help with knowing when to start looking for tired signs before they become overtired signs!

    A newborn can go from tired to overtired in an incredibly short time! As soon as you start to notice tired signs, you should start their wind-down routine.

    Not sure on your baby’s awake times for their age? You can download my FREE Nap Routines Guide here

    4.    Are you giving your little one the opportunity to resettle?

    Once your baby is over a 3/4 of months of age, I recommend that you give your little one the opportunity to resettle independently if they wake at the 20 or 45-minute mark.

    Ensure that you have chosen a settling technique at the beginning of a nap and work on initially self-settling. This may involve holding them as they cry or fuss or simply staying in their sleep space to soothe them with your presence.

    If your little one wakes early and they are not due a feed, carry on with your chosen settling technique for approximately 20-30 minutes to encourage your little one to return to sleep.  If they have not resettled in this time, abandon the nap with a dramatic wake-up and try again next nap. Trying to resettle after this amount of time it is likely a sign that your baby is ready to get up.

    It takes time!

    Day time naps are harder to achieve than night-time sleep, so if you wanting to extend your little one’s nap time, it could take up to 2-3 weeks to work. You may also experience some night sleep regression, as the day naps consolidate but with consistency and perseverance, the nap times will extend.

    When it isn’t working (and there will be days like this!) get out and about! Remove the pressure from yourself and your baby! Pop them in the pram, carrier or car and let them have that sleep they need. The fresh air will you do you both wonders!

    You will likely find that some tips do work overtime or as your baby grows, their sleep will change. Don’t stress! Just go with the flow in the meantime.

    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 catnapping stage!

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

    With love,

    dd0ed5b6-4aaf-4893-ac71-c5a1590b36a1-1

    Follow me on Instagram for more hints and tips for healthy sleep habits.

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  • 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,

    For more hints and tips on healthy sleep habits from a holistic approach follow me on Instagram

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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 baby 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 helping or hindering your little one’s sleep. These associations could include their dummy falling out, making them less likely 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 baby 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,

     

     

    dd0ed5b6-4aaf-4893-ac71-c5a1590b36a1-1

    For more hints and tips on healthy sleep habits from a holistic approach follow me on Instagram

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  • 5 Quick and 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 baby 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 baby – 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 baby’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 (anytime 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,

    For more hints and tips on healthy sleep habits from a holistic approach follow me on Instagram

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

    Are you struggling to get your baby 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 baby might not be sleeping well.  Better yet, let’s see how we take these reasons and work them in your baby’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 baby 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 baby can get overtired?

    Well, yes! But your baby or toddler 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 baby or toddler 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 baby or toddler is awake, the more sleep pressure they’ll experience.

    If your baby or toddler 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 baby or toddler 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 baby 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 throughout 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, totaling 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 baby or toddler 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 baby or toddler 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 baby to reduce their night feeds or even wean off of them completely around 6-9 months of age.

    Sleep environment – the trilogy

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

    Give your baby or toddler a dark sleep space

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

    When your baby is in a dark sleep space, their body will release melatonin – the sleepy hormone.  If the room has too much light, it will trigger your baby’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. I recommend Easy Night Block Out Blinds and these are available through Sleep Tight Babies

    Make sure the room temperature is just right

    Temperature can also play a role in your baby’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 16-20ﹾ 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 baby or toddler 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,

    For more hints and tips on healthy sleep habits from a holistic approach follow me on Instagram

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