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  • Unswaddling your baby. When, why and how to approach the transition from swaddling to sleeping bag

    Would you know if it was time to transition your baby from swaddle to arms free?

    Knowing when to unswaddle and why it’s necessary for your baby to no longer sleep swaddled is important.

    Unswaddling may be met with a bit of apprehension, especially if your baby is used to being swaddled and is currently sleeping really well….  If you’ve been onto a good thing it can feel risky to mess with your baby’s sleep but unswaddling is a necessary step for safety reasons as we approach new developmental milestones.

    This blog will teach you how to unswaddle your baby in a way that makes you feel more in control of the transition (well as much as we can control a little baby). I assure you that your baby is a quick learner and before you know it, having your baby unswaddled will feel normal for you and your little one.

    When is the best time to transition from swaddle (arms in) to an arms-free sleeping bag?

    Between 4-6 months is the optimal time to unswaddle, but it’s important to know you MUST make the transition as soon as your little one rolls from BACK to TUMMY (even if this means between 3-4 months) hello keen roller.

    With a roller on your hands, it’s now a safety concern to stay swaddled. The reason for this is should your little one roll onto their tummy, they will need access to their hands to push up and clear their airways/move into a safer position. This can often coincide with new development and the first sleep regression – hello 4 month sleep regression (we have a helpful blog for the 4 month sleep regression too). Read it here

    It should also be noted that regardless of rolling, we need to unswaddle no later than 6 months of age.

    Unswaddling is key to our little one’s having access to their hands so they can learn the process of self-soothing. (Something that can be achieved with gentle guidance and supported from around 4-6 months of age).

    They will begin to use their hands to self-soothe by playing with their hair/touching their face, picking up a comforter or to eventually learn to find and replace their dummy independently.

    So how do you teach your baby to sleep unswaddled?

    Here are two options that can work for you and your little one.

    Cold Turkey

    Cold Turkey means you simply stop using your current swaddle and move straight to an arms free sleeping bag. My personal favourite is Ergopouch. They come in a variety of TOG ratings depending on your current room season. I recommend a minimum of 2.5 TOG for most of the year around.

    To implement the “cold turkey” method, begin with bedtime/overnight and roll the method into your baby’s naps the next day. This works best when bub is already rolling (and you are short on time to make the transition for safety reasons) or closer to 5/6 months of age (when they need to transition shortly after).

    I always recommend starting this process at bedtime. This works with our body’s strongest physiological drive of melatonin which is from 6:00pm to midnight making sleep easier to achieve with longer and deeper stretches of sleep.

    Expert Tip: At this time, I also recommend transitioning from bassinet to cot (if you haven’t already). It’s important for babies to have extra room to move and settle without banging into the sides. You can continue to room share as desired noting that Red Nose Guidelines recommend room sharing for the reduction of SIDS to between 6-12 months.

    Slow and Steady

    The Slow and Steady approach focuses on going arms free one arm at a time and allows you to transition gradually over a short period of time. This being said, it’s recommended the transition be completed within 5-7 days regardless of using the Cold Turkey Method or Slow and Steady approach as otherwise you can just be delaying the inevitable few days of unsettledness.

    How does the Slow and Steady unswaddling approach work?

    Like the Cold Turkey approach, you begin the process at bedtime but leave only one arm out. After a feed during the night you can swap arms or if they are particularly unsettled you can pop both arms back in for the remainder of the night and try again the following night for a little longer.

    On day 2 stick with one arm out for nap 1 and for nap 2 swap to the other arm. This gives your little one an opportunity to become familiar with having one arm out at a time without favouring one arm. This process takes a little longer but is a great method for babies who are continuing to startle with their moro reflex and need a slower approach to learn to relax through the motions of their parasympathetic nervous system.

    You can continue this process until both arms are out overnight, then both arms out for all naps over the 5-7 day timeframe. If you are still having troubles after 7 days, use the Cold Turkey method regardless of where you are at as you are often prolonging the inevitable (speaking from personal experience with my first daughter, I think it took two weeks and I still wasn’t “happy” with the transition!)

    Expert Tip: If your little one is used to sucking on the material of the swaddle, use the hand cover from their onesie for a few days to cover their little hand. This means they will have the comfort of material as they get used to the extra arm freedom.

    If you don’t already have one, you might want to take a look at purchasing a transitional swaddle. There are a number of transitional swaddles available on the market and brands like Ergopouch have swaddles with arm-poppers so that you can convert to arms-free without needing to purchase a new sleeping bag. Love to Dream also have a transitional swaddle allowing you to take off one “wing” at a time.

    What can you expect during the unswaddling transition?

    Always expect 3-5 days of extra unsettledness as your baby’s little body learns to relax through their parasympathetic nervous system. (It can be a little overwhelming for babies when they first experience their limbs moving around unexpectedly).  This reflex will naturally integrate and relax around 4-5 months of age, so although your little one may startle from time to time, they will learn to relax through this motion.

    You can absolutely offer a little extra hands-on assistance as needed during this transition time. Even if your little one was previously self-settling, they may be extra unsettled or even playful initially when they go into the cot and then become frustrated/overtired from the excitement.

    If this happens, hang in there! Don’t rush or be tempted to “speed up” the process by overplaying the role of settling and taking over with extra external assistance as this can make the process harder/longer in duration.

    That’s a wrap on unswaddling your baby and I hope you feel informed and educated on the how, when and why we need to transition from swaddle to arms-free.

    Want some extra help?

    Even if sleep takes a temporary step backwards or has always been a struggle for your little one, we can work towards healthy sleep foundations. The Baby Sleep Foundations course teaches you how to optimise your little one’s sleeping patterns including:

    • Setting up a conducive sleep environment
    • Optimal awake times/Nap routines
    • Sleep associations
    • Night waking/early rising
    • Milk and solids feeding
    • Age-appropriate settling techniques

    All designed to never compromise on your parenting style and meet your baby where they are at developmentally. Join Now 

    Need to learn more about age-appropriate awake times? Download my comprehensive Nap Routine Guide with 35 pages ranging from 6 weeks through to 4 years providing individual, monthly summaries of sleep requirements and two different nap patterns to find the right approach for your individual baby and what works best for your family. 

    With Love,

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  • The difference between nightmares and night terrors. Supporting your child when they’re scared.

    How do you know if your little one is experiencing nightmares or night terrors? Learn the signs to look for to help you recognise and identify what your child may be going through (as well as ways to reduce them occurring in the future).

    In this blog you’ll learn all about the reality of your little one’s night time troubles and become informed and educated on how to manage/reduce the chances of these episodes occurring regularly.

    What’s the difference between a nightmare and a night terror?

    Let’s break it down and learn exactly what a nightmare is and what a night terror is.

    Although on the surface they look very similar (or even the same), there are quick and easy ways to distinguish the difference.

    Let’s start with nightmares. What is a nightmare?

    Nightmares

    • Characteristically occur from 2.5+ years of age. The most common contributors to nightmares include your child’s ever-growing imagination and trying to process their busy day-to-day lives. This being said, they can also coincide with dropping naps and have also been linked to becoming overtired.
    • They occur more commonly in REM (rapid eye movement) lighter phases of sleep and typically occur in the second half of the night (midnight through to 6:00/7:00am.
    • Children who experience a nightmare will wake upset, scared or afraid. The key word here is wake. A nightmare will in most cases wake your child from their sleep. They will be able to communicate what has scared them such as “monsters under my bed”.
    • Typically, a child will remember a nightmare occurring the next day. It could be either vaguely recalled or vividly recollected. They’re able to communicate what has happened in the nightmare or relay the nature of the storyline/ what they saw and understandably will usually need extra support to re-settle to sleep.

    How to help

    • Do your best to keep them comfortable in their own bed rather than bringing them into your bed.
    • During the day talk through and validate their feelings to help alleviate any worries or fears.
    • Chat about any potential triggering events that may give rise to nightmares.

    Expert Insight: You are your little one’s safe place and you would know from your own experience a nightmare feels extremely real. Your little one needs reassurance that:

    1. it was a bad dream
    2. it wasn’t real
    3. it’s over now
    4. they’re safe.

     What is a night terror?

     Night terrors

    • Occur from 2.5+ years and are more common in NREM sleep (that’s sleep prior to midnight).
    • Your little one may wake suddenly and be frightened but appear non-responsive.
    • They may be sitting up, thrashing around and inconsolable but they’re not actually awake.
    • Night terrors can last from 15 up to 30 minutes and tend to happen more frequently when toddlers are overtired or an illness is approaching (also more common with high temps).

    Expert Insight: Night terrors can be extremely disturbing for parents to witness but your toddler will have no recollection of the event and when it finishes, they pretty much “snap” out of it, lay down and return to sleep almost like nothing has happened.

    How to help

    • Your role as a parent is to ensure your little one is safe throughout the course of the night terror i.e. that they don’t hurt themselves by falling out of bed or get stuck between cot railings.
    • Always ensure the bedroom and cot/bed environment is safe.
    • Do not try to wake them or stop the process as this will frighten them more – remember they’re not actually awake.

    Most children grow out of night terrors however if they’re becoming regular or you are concerned, consult your trusted healthcare professional.

    So what’s the best and easiest way to tell if your little one’s experiencing a nightmare or a night terror?

    The main difference between nightmares and night terrors is nightmares will usually wake your child, they’re able to recall the nightmare and talk about it right away or the next morning.

    With a night terror your child doesn’t remember what happened and although they may be displaying signs of being awake (sitting up and talking) they don’t wake up. If it’s a night terror remember to resist trying to rouse your child from the episode.

    How do you handle nightmares and night terrors?

    The best way to handle them is to try and avoid them altogether. (Easier said than done I know) and the brain is an incredible organ that still isn’t completely understood by even those who study it. Some things are simply out of our control.

    Best ways to stop and prevent nightmares and night terrors occurring:

    1. Stick to a regular bedtime routine and age-appropriate bedtimes (this will reduce the chances of becoming overtired initially).
    2. Talk to your child to see if anything is bothering them.
    3. Limit screen time usage – especially in the lead 3-4 hours prior to bedtime. Excited and hyperactive minds often struggle to wind down/switch off in the evening.
    4. Offer verbal and physical reassurance in their cot/bed.

    Next time you hear the tell-tale screams of fright coming from your little one’s room, head into the room feeling confident you can assess the situation, identify the type of episode it is as well as provide the support your little one needs in that moment.

    Want some extra help?

    Find more toddler sleep tips here or your can Download my FREE Toddler Bedtime Routine Sleep Chart here.

    More one-on-one sleep help is always available for you as you navigate this wild ride called parenthood. Book a discovery call to find out how we can work one-on-one together to begin creating healthy sleep habits for your family.

    With Love,

    Don’t have a toddler just yet? Why don’t you check out my Baby Sleep Foundations Course designed from 4 months to 2 years.

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  • Guest blog from Mandy, Raise Toddlers – Toddler Hitting

    Gosh if you have a toddler who IMPULSIVELY hits, whether it be during excited playfulness, when you set a boundary or at playdates it can be so tough…you are NOT alone. Toddler hitting is so common

    I’m sure you are asking…
    Why do they keep doing it?

    AND

    How do I make them stop?

    Of course we want our toddlers to be gentle, kind & considerate and to know that hitting is not an appropriate behaviour and that it does hurt. However going about it the logical, reasonable way is not actually that helpful (for either of you) and here’s why –

    The Toddler Brain

    The toddler brain is still ‘under construction’ and the parts that control reason, logic and impulse control are basically non-operational.

    Toddler language skills

    Language plays a large role in toddler behaviour. Toddlers who don’t yet have the language abilities to comprehend the situation or to problem solve a situation will show behaviours such as hitting.

    Even if your child has strong language skills, they might not yet have the language to cope with many situations, e.g.not having the language to cope when another child takes a toy or to tell you that they feel like their new baby brother is getting all the attention

    Given these aspects of your toddlers development means you will most likely be trying to read books about ‘hands aren’t for hitting’ and giving long winded lessons in the hope that the behaviours will stop and when they don’t you might find yourself losing your cool (which unfortunately also won’t help but could in fact fuel the hitting).

    So what can we do?

    Perspective & Mantra

    When we understand the reason they are hitting is not because you are a bad parent or they are a bad kid. It is because they are struggling to contain their impulses or communicate something to you.

    The best phrase you can have running through your head is…

    ‘They need my help!’

    Before the hit

    Get curious

    Start to take note of when hitting seems to be happening for your toddler
    Look for patterns and possible underlying messages. Perhaps it’s every time they need to leave somewhere or when there are lots of other children around. When you narrow down what might be underneath the hitting you can be ready to support them in these scenarios.

    In the moment

    Move in close and be ready to block the hit if it is between your child and another child or gently take their hands in yours when they go to hit you. Simply let them know

    ‘You are sad we have to leave now.’
    ‘I can’t let you hit! It hurts. I will help you stop!’

    This sends them two powerful messages-
    1. ‘My parent has my back, understands my experience, is on my team and will always help me!’
    2. ‘Hitting isn’t allowed. It hurts.’

    After a hit

    As much as we want our toddler to be truly sorry and make up for hitting us or their friend with a heartfelt apology…it isn’t that realistic at this stage. It absolutely doesn’t mean that we can’t model and instil manners but it will most likely look something like:

    If they hit another child
    You can apologise on your child’s behalf to both the child and the parent of the other child. It may sound like.

    ‘Timmy was feeling very frustrated and hit you. I’m sorry he hit you. Are you OK?’

    In certain scenarios following a hit you may like to take suitable next steps e.g.
    If they are hitting at a playgroup where there are lots of children, you may take your child outside for a walk or break from your group. This is less about punishment and much more about supporting them as there is always a reason they are hitting and in large groups of children it may well be the sensory input and stimulation.

    The goal is to continue to work with your child and model the skills they will need to communicate their feelings and needs in more acceptable ways as they mature. These skills are built when we verbally empathise with them while physically helping them to stop!

    Meet Mandy

    Hi I’m Mandy, I am the face behind Raise Toddlers. I am the proud Mum to three gorgeous girls and I (along with my amazing hubby) have survived toddlerhood twice now.

    I am a child development and early parenting specialist. I have my Bachelor of Education, Masters in Child & Family Studies and am currently completing my PhD In Respectful Parenting Methods. I have worked with families and toddlers for over a decade across a wide range of settings.

    Check out more about Mandy here

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  • Catnapping King or Queen

    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.

    The fourth month sleep regression is also a permanent neurological change that can be a large contributor to catnapping and this is explained in more detail via the Inside the Four Month Sleep regression blog.

    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 40-50 minutes or less. 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 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 little one’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 little one, 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:

    • Dark sleep space – can you read a book in there?
    • Temperature – a little Goldilocks, around 18-20 degrees over winter and 20-20 degrees in summer;
    • White noise, a simple and effective addition to your little ones sleep routine.

    To find out more about optimal sleep environment set up check out my Top 5 Sleep Success Tips here

    When we are trying to change your little one’s cat napping pattern, our aim is to have your little one 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:

    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 Nap Routines from 6 weeks to 4 years which includes 35 pages of information and guidance from awake times, to sleep structure and overnight guidence.

    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 little one! 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 cat napping stage!

    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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  • Guest Blog Anna from Nourish Little Lives – Iron for Starting Solids

    Iron is an essential dietary nutrient and is especially important in infants for brain development and a healthy immune and circulatory system.

    Full term infants are born with a reserve supply of iron from placental transfer during pregnancy, they also receive iron from breast milk or formula to meet any additional iron needs. But at around 6 months of age these iron reserves deplete and additional dietary sources of iron are required to meet a baby’s demanding growth requirements. The recommended daily intake (RDI) for iron from 7-12 months of age is 11mg/day (the RDI for a grown male is 8mg/day). This is because a child’s iron requirements are highest during periods of rapid growth.

    Breast milk or formula will remain the main source of nutrition for a baby during the first 12 months of life. Breast milk contains a small amount of iron (0.03g /100ml) but it is very bioavailable, infant formula contains 0.8g/100ml (synthetic iron less bioavailable). From 6 months of age breast milk or formula alone cannot meet the increased needs of iron for growth and development.  The current Australian recommendations are from 6 months of age when solids are started dietary iron should be introduced as a priority before or with iron foods.

    Iron from food comes in 2 forms, Haem and Non haem; haem iron from meat is more easily absorbed and used by the body, but it is still important to include a wide variety of iron sources from both groups. To achieve close to the RDI for babies, iron rich foods need to be included at all meals.

    Haem iron is found in animal foods and it is well absorbed by our bodies:

    • Beef, lamb,
    • Chicken liver or lamb liver (liver can be given once a week as is an excellent source of easily absorbed iron)
    • Pork, chicken, turkey
    • Fish

    Non-haem iron is found mainly in plant foods. It is not absorbed as easily by our bodies. It is still an important source of iron.

    • Iron-fortified cereals and breads; Kids Weetbix is iron fortified
    • Chia seeds
    • Legumes (baked beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, white beans)
    • Eggs
    • Green leafy vegetables
    • Peanut paste and other nut pastes
    • Dried fruit
    • Tahini

    Non-haem iron is better absorbed if eaten with meat or foods high in Vitamin C. Some good sources of Vitamin C include:

    • Fruits like strawberries, oranges, lemons, kiwi, blue berries
    • Vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale

    High Iron Recipe for Starting Solids:

    Beef, silverbeet and pumpkin puree

    Ingredients: 100g of beef mince, 100 g of pumpkin, 2 x silverbeet leaves

    Method: cook 100g of beef mince in a pan with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, steam 100g of pumpkin and 2 silverbeet leaves.

    Combine ingredients and blitz to desired consistency (a dash of water can be added if required)

    I’m Anna paediatric dietitian (APD, BND) and creator of Nourish Little Lives. My goal is to provide parents with evidenced based nutrition information, and practical strategies for nourishing their families.  With over 12 years experience as a Dietitian, I have worked with thousands of families. I help families with reflux, starting solids, baby led weaning, gut health, functional gut disorders in infants, allergies, intolerances, fussy eating and growth or development feeding issues.

    You can book to work with me via my website, or just follow along on Instagram for helpful tips and information.

    https://www.instagram.com/nourishlittlelives/

    http://www.nourishlittlelives.com.au

    https://www.facebook.com/nourishlittlelives/

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  • Helping your baby sleep when winter sicknesses and cold and flu show up. Three ways to keep their healthy sleep habits.

    How do you help your baby sleep when they’re unwell with the dreaded winter illnesses like cold and flu? It can be a tough time for bub and mum especially when sleep habits are disrupted whilst your baby is unwell.

    Let’s be honest. Winter sucks!

    Whether it’s your baby’s first cold or their 100th, it’s hard to see our babies uncomfortable (especially with winter illnesses such as blocked noses that they can’t blow themselves to clear).  

    Did you know that children get between 2-12 colds each year as their little immune systems develops and strengthens?

    As humans, we are obligate nose breathers, this means that we are designed to breath through our nose.  This is important for so many processes to occur including optimal air filtration, warming of the air prior to entering the lungs. The drawback, this makes breathing so much harder when our babies are congested.

    Cue Snotty Noses to the rescue!  With their TGA approved nasal aspirator “AKA snot sucker” we can help our babies to safely clear their noses and allow them to breathe, feed and optimally sleep just a little easier.

    It is common for sleep to become a little more difficult/ broken than usual, so if you’re worried about how illness will impact your baby’s sleep, I want to reassure you not everything needs to be forgotten when illness strikes.

    There are ways to maintain healthy sleep habits whilst still being a little more flexible.

    You know your baby best and understand how they handle sickness so responding to their symptoms and treating their discomfort should be the first priority before sticking to a strict sleep routine.

    Once you are managing the symptoms you can turn your focus to supporting their recovery to rest, repair and rebuild through sleep.

    In this blog we’ll cover off 3 ways to help manage sleep when sickness takes hold in your home.

    How do you help your baby sleep when they are sick?

    1.  Maintain regular bedtime and nap routines where possible

    This means trying to keep to your baby’s regular sleep cues and routines for familiarity and consistency.

    Day naps may be slightly longer and research shows that the best way for our immune system to improve or recover is to get adequate rest.

    Where possible allow your baby to sleep off their winter germs for a quicker recovery time and ensure that you keep track of their hydration/ calorie intake and overall sleep length.

    Expert Insight: Too much day sleep can equal night time parties. Generally speaking, cap extra sleep time at 15-30 minutes to each nap if needed.  This mostly relates to coughs and colds, temperatures and the more extreme illnesses, we wouldn’t cap.  If you need extra nap guidance, these can be downloaded here.

    1. Go to your baby rather than them coming to you

    If you’ve already established healthy sleep habits, but know that your little one would benefit from extra support when unwell (or you want to keep a closer eye on them too), rather than bringing them into bed with you, consider bringing a mattress into their room to sleep on the floor.

    This allows your baby to stay in their safe sleep space, but also allows you to monitor their symptoms and provide extra reassurance as needed. As they get better It’s also much easier to back off and reduce with returning to your own room rather than transitioning your baby back to their own room/bed.

    1. Offer extra support

    You know your baby best. If you feel they’ll benefit from a little extra hands-on assistance during this time then offer it. You won’t create a new bad habit. (If you’ve been following me for a while you would know that I don’t believe in “bad or wrong”).

    We can always wean out any extra support once we are comfortable that they’re over the worst of their sickness.

    This goes for night feeds too. Even if your little one has previously been night weaned, if their hydration is low with any sickness (especially gastro) then we will need to replenish fluids more regularly where we can.

    Transitioning back to normal sleep and bedtime patterns

    Once your baby is given the all clear from their doctor it’s as simple as going back to basics.

    It’s a bit like a bicycle. We may be a little wobbly initially but we can get back on track quickly with the right approach and support.

    Be confident with your settling and re-settling approach and re-establishing a predictable nap pattern, wind down routines and seizing opportunities to reinstate your baby’s independent self-settling skills.

    Next time you find yourself with a baby who’s caught the cold that’s ‘going around’, you can feel comfortable and confident in tending to your baby throughout the sickness as well as give yourself permission to throw rules out the window.

    After a short time of flexibility, I know you can get back on track with the golden rule of consistency.

    Want some extra help?

    Need extra support to implement or get back on track with healthy sleep habits, get in touch to discuss how we can work one-on-one together. You can reach out to me anytime here

    For more healthy sleep hints and tips Follow me on Instagram 

    With Love,

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  • Adding a new sibling to the family. How to encourage, include and reassure your little one during the transition.

    Is your little one about to be promoted to big sister or big brother?

    Although change always has some hurdles, throughout your pregnancy and after the birth of your new addition you can maintain your connection by including your child and coaching them with what to expect during this time.

    No doubt It’s a big transition for everyone to wrap their heads around, (especially going from 1-2 children). As a mum of 3, I definitely found this the more challenging compared to going from 2-3! 

    Where our whole world has revolved around our first born (and them only) now we’ll need to recalibrate to a new normal whilst taking into account where your current child(ren) is at developmentally.

    It’s natural for a regression in both behaviour and sleep to occur as your family adjusts, but before we dive into the key focus areas of this blog, I want to encourage you to be patient with yourself and your child as you prepare for the arrival of a new sibling.

    This time of transition is different for every family and some factors that may play an influencing role include:

    • Your little one’s current age
    • General day to day temperament of your child
    • The age gap with the new baby
    • Whether this is the second, third, fourth child and so on

    1. How do you prepare your baby for the arrival of their new sibling?Include your child in the process right from the moment you tell them you’re expecting.

    You can do this by:

    • Talking openly and regularly about the upcoming changes
    • Grabbing some books about becoming a big sibling
    • Taking them with you to appointments
    • Including them in decorating the nursery by letting them choose something special to be part of their new sibling’s room.

    Expert tip: Don’t feel pressure to transition to a big bed too early. If your little one is going to be less than 2.5-3 years when bub is born, consider buying a second cot. If you are looking to make the transition, then ideally do this at least 3-4 months before or after the baby is born. This allows plenty of transition time. I’ve written a blog specifically for transitioning to a big bed which will help identify signs of readiness in your toddler and prepare them for a smooth transition. Read it here.

    2. Do some role play.

    This can be really helpful as children naturally learn from watching us and what happens around us. K-mart have some great “real life” dolls you can purchase to demonstrate to your baby/toddler what you’ll be spending a lot of time doing.

    Communicate and demonstrate with the doll that there will be lots of feeding, changing nappies and settling to start with. Once they understand this, explain that as the baby gets older, they’ll be lots of fun to play with, but as a newborn they can be a bit boring.

    Expert Tip: Show them pictures of themselves as a baby so they can understand the concept of a newborn (this is a great time for bonding too as you can share memories about what they were like as a newborn).

    Kelly’s Personal Insight: I think the arrival of my second daughter was a bit of a “let down” to my first daughter. Everyone, (especially me) had hyped up how exciting it was going to be to get a new baby sister to play with and then she got this “blob” that just ate, slept, fed, cried and took up all mummy’s attention. It was such a big shift in everyone’s emotions and something I didn’t feel prepared for. #Mumguilt.

    3. Implement positive encouragement and reinforcement for desirable behaviour.

    It’s common for behaviour to regress in older siblings as they lash out with the shift in attention. Allow plenty of one-on-one time with your older child/children to fill up their emotional cup and love tank.

    This doesn’t need to involve complex planning or creative thinking (you’re already mentally stretched enough) so even 10 minute intervals of one-on-one focus time can work wonders. The aim during this time is to focus solely on them and it can be as simple as doing an activity they enjoy doing with you. Ensure someone else holds the baby for this time and that there are no other distractions such as mobile phones.

    Expert Tip: If your child does lash out, take them aside to name the emotion they’re feeling and let them know it’s not appropriate.

     “I can see you’re frustrated, but I can’t let you hit your baby sister….show me your gentle hands and we can play a game together”.

    Children love attention and they especially want the attention back on them (just like it used to be before the new arrival came into the world).

    At times your child may feel that some attention, even if gained through unacceptable behaviour is better than no attention. We want to steer the attention away from the negative behaviour and hype up the positives.

    Expert Tip: Try to watch for opportunities to commend and appreciate when your little one is doing something that you like and want to see more of. This will encourage this behaviour moving forward as they thrive on the praise.

    There are also lots of great books that talk about emotions and teach children to understand the concepts of “happy, sad, angry, jealous,”. These concepts take years to fully understand so will require patience over weeks, months and even years, but exploring this with your child now will help to build an emotionally intelligent and responsible little human being.

    I highly recommend checking out Tracey Moroney’s “The Feelings Series. These books are a wonderful resource that help distinguish and identify different emotions and provide prompts for you to create discussion with your little one about what they may be feeling. 

    4. Keep regular routines

    Maintaining consistency is really important for children in their day-to-day routine. They don’t really like change (a bit like us) so if you’re going to need to share the bedtime load and daddy doesn’t currently put toddler to bed, get in practice early by alternating nights.

    Expect some push back and boundary testing, remember we don’t like change so it’s natural.

    There will be setbacks, good days and bad days, (we’re only human and doing the best we can), all whilst recovering from growing a baby and giving birth so be confident, acknowledge those feelings and follow through on that boundary to build a safe and secure response.

    Expert Tip: Allow time for adjustment, but try not to introduce old sleep props/ or props that were not there to start with.

    Even if they’re young, children understand more than we give them credit for. Being open and honest about the impending changes to the family dynamic will build a strong foundation for your child’s understanding.

    Although every child is different, using the key steps in this blog is a solid way to remind them they’re a valued member of the family. Staying connected through little pockets of time (either allocated or spontaneously) throughout the day will help to reassure your little one.

    Want some extra help?

    For extra tips on separation anxiety read the blog How to ease separation anxiety and the impact it can have on your sleep.

    Follow me on Instagram for more hints and tips on introducing a new sibling plus other common sleep questions.

    With Love,

     

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  • Guest Blog from Kathryn Warr – Ivoryrose Physiotherapy. You’ve had a baby – What you need to know about your pelvic floor.

    Kat from Ivory Rose opened her Physiotherapy practice to provide the highest quality care in physiotherapy for women. To spark the unleashed conversations and get women feeling confident through the good, the bad, and (not so) lovely bits of womanhood.

    So what do we need to know about your pelvic floor after having a baby? I’m so excited to have Kat join us on our blog to share all we need to know about our pelvic floor after giving birth.


    You’ve had a baby – What you need to know about your pelvic floor.

    The first few months of motherhood are a wonderful blur of pure love and heady exhaustion but taking care of yourself throughout this season is vital, not only to your well-being but to the well-being of all those around you including your (sometimes loud, but adorable) new baby.

    Pregnancy and the changes our bodies endure are truly magic (and let’s be honest, sometimes downright uncomfortable!). In just nine short months, a woman’s body will undergo incredible physical and hormonal changes to prepare her body to expand and grow life from a tiny bunch of cells into a fully-fledged (albeit small) human. In addition to becoming a walking incubator, we then do the most amazing thing known as childbirth. 

    As our body softens and expands, our abdominal muscles lengthen, digestive and pelvic organs compress and descend to make room for our baby. We know that these changes cause stress on the body, in particular the back, pelvis and the ever-elusive pelvic floor.

    There are many women who will admit to having not ever really paid attention to their pelvic floor and that prior to pregnancy, their relationship with these muscles was somewhat lacking. Unfortunately, childbirth can take an immense toll on a woman’s body, often leaving us feeling a little more vulnerable when it comes to returning to things we previously loved like exercise, laughing and sex. We try to find comfort in our new “norm”, whilst still healing, and trying to navigate a world of feeding, burping, nappy changing and slowly losing our mind as we play baby shark on Spotify on repeat. 

    So what do we, Women’s Health Physiotherapists, want you to know?

    Women’s physiotherapy is proven to be highly effective in managing and treating all kinds of female health concerns. It’s our jam. It’s what gets us out of bed, because we know that the right treatment can be life changing. BUT how do you know WHEN you need help? To assist you to answer this question for yourself, we have listed our top 10 pelvic floor symptoms which we KNOW can be improved or cured with pelvic floor physiotherapy.

    1.    Leaking urine with cough, sneeze, laugh, jump, exercise

    2.    Leaking urine after you empty your bladder (post void dribble)

    3.    Leaking urine on the way to the toilet

    4.    Feelings of vaginal heaviness, dragging or bulge sensation

    5.    Feelings of urgency when needing to open your bowels

    6.    Difficulty holding in wind

    7.    Vaginal pain with intercourse, Pap smears or tampons

    8.    Pain when opening your bowels or immediately after opening your bowels

    9.    Feelings of incomplete emptying when opening your bowels

    10. Difficulty reaching climax during sexual activity.

    If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or are just curious to touch base regarding your postpartum recovery then please contact us at Ivoryrose Physiotherapy today on 0401569209 to make an appointment. We will listen and work with you to regain your confidence and get back in control of your body. 

    We know that talking about these issues can sometimes be a little overwhelming but by seeking help from a trained Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, you can rest easy knowing you are in a safe and open space, with empathetic professionals who treat women with the same concerns, every day.

    Kathryn Warr

    Physiotherapist, Founder and Director of Ivoryrose Physiotherapy


    You can find our more about the services they offer at Ivoryrose Physiotherapy on their website or connect via Instagram.

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  • Inside the four month sleep regression. Your baby’s developmental change and what you can do to promote healthy sleep habits.

    Have you heard about it? The four month sleep regression? Do you want to know what it’s really like as well as better understand what your baby is experiencing during this time?

    Despite the rumours you may have heard about the four month sleep regression, there are ways to embrace it and ease into this next developmental step you and your baby will make together.

    In this blog we’ll cover off what the four month sleep regression actually is and how to prepare (or recover if you’ve just been through it and haven’t recovered yet)…. The keyword here being ‘yet’.

    You’ll also learn hints and tips for managing the four month sleep regression with confidence and learn skills that are key in developing healthy sleep habits.

    Let’s start with, ‘what is the 4 month sleep regression?’.

    It’s a permanent, neurological change in our baby’s sleeping pattern and is actually a progression rather than a regression. Yes, you read right, it’s a progression of our baby’s development as they discover newfound awareness of the world we live in.

    Included in these neurological changes are the maturation of sleep cycles.  These sleep cycles become shorter in frequency and often means the emergence of the dreaded catnapping along with more frequent night waking (2-4 hourly). It’s these disruptions to your baby’s sleep that sees the term ‘regression’ used so often.

    My first piece of advice is to not see this time as going backwards, but rather the healthy development required for your baby who is moving forward and progressing.

    It’s also a pivotal time as your baby moves further away from newborn behaviour to a baby who will begin to reach more and more exciting milestones in the weeks and months ahead.

    Expert Tip: Now is a great time to look at the role of any external sleep associations (what your baby associates with falling asleep) think rocking, feeding, holding or using a dummy to go off to sleep.

    Whilst these are all useful tools (even God sends) during the newborn stage, now that bub is emerging from the newborn bubble, you can take the time to decide whether you want to continue using these sleep associations long-term, or remove them from your baby’s wind down sleep routine and way of settling to sleep.  This can be achieved gently and gradually over a period of time. 

    Remember there is no “bad” or “wrong” approach when it comes to settling your baby, but we are aiming to give them more than one tool in their tool belt for sleep and settling.

    Before we go any further let’s set the scene….

    Your baby has been fed or rocked to sleep in your arms (this is called external support). The last thing they remember is being with you and in your arms or at the breast/bottle.

    Once they are asleep you pop them into their bassinet or cot for them to continue sleeping. It sounds bliss doesn’t it?  But when they wake, they’re no longer in your arms or the place they remember falling asleep. HELP please Mum!

    For an adult, this is the equivalent of falling asleep in your bed and waking in your neighbour’s bed an hour later….

    Would you:Roll over and go back to sleep – it’s a bed I will take it.

    A) Freak out and want to go back to your own bed where you initially fell asleep.

    B) Light bulb moment, this is how it must feel for my baby!

    Once your baby’s sleep cycles mature at this 4-6 month age, they are now transitioning between sleep cycles more frequently and neurologically adjusting to the same ‘adult’ sleep cycles we encounter when we sleep.

    We don’t even realise it, but throughout the night we too experience sleep cycles occurring 2-4 hourly and this is what your baby is beginning to experience too. We just simply change positions and re-settle quickly with a soft ebb and flow due to our ability to independently fall asleep at the beginning of our sleep cycles.

    Expert tip:

    Did you know that around 80% of babies who are ONLY settled with external sleep support will look to recreate this same set of circumstances between sleep cycles both during the day and overnight? This means they’ll look to be rocked, fed, or given a dummy each time they wake in order to go back to sleep between sleep cycles.

    Just 20% will be ‘easy’ and can be fed, rocked or patted to sleep initially and then transition to their next sleep cycle fluently and without need for any external support from you.

    Now that we know this information, how can we improve our baby’s ability to transition between sleep cycles and maximise their opportunity to learn the ability to self-settle- the foundation for healthy sleep habits.

    Before we even consider how to approach re-settling between sleep cycles, we want to focus on two important things:

    1. How does your baby fall asleep initially?

    For a baby to learn to fall asleep without an external sleep prop, they need to be comfortable and familiar with their cot. This can take time and patience.

    It will still require our hands-on assistance initially, but the goal is to avoid swapping the prop (for example replacing the dummy with rocking) and having an exit strategy to leave the room over a period of time as you gradually reduce your intervention and your baby takes over.

    At any step along the way, you can reassess and potentially wean out any external sleep props that are no longer serving you or our little one’s sleep cycle transitions.

    For some babies the dummy in particular can play a significant role for their sleep and I encourage you to check out my dummy blog. If you feel it’s impacting your little one’s sleep negatively it might help you decide whether it’s time to say goodbye to the dummy.

    We want to implement a settling technique that gives both us and our baby confidence and predictability when it comes to sleep.  This is something that I can teach you how to do using techniques that do not compromise your parenting style with my one-on-one consultation or joining my Baby Sleep Foundations course!

    2. Has your baby had the right amount of awake time?

    Take a look at your baby’s awake windows and ensure they’re not too long or too short.

    As a guide I recommend:

    Birth to 3 Weeks: 40-60 minutes

    6-9 Weeks: 60-75 minutes

    9-12 Weeks: 1.25 up to 1.5 hours

    3 Months: 1.5 up to 1.75 hours

    4 Months: 1.75 up to 2 hours

    5 Months: 2 up to 2.25 hours

    6 Months: 2.5 up to 3 hours

    7-15 Months: 2.5 up to 4 hours

    15/18 months Plus: 4.5- up to 5 hours

    I encourage a feed/play/sleep pattern but if they happen to catnap don’t automatically jump back into feeding again. Try to keep at least 2.5-3 hours between feeds and be purposeful with each step of feed /play/ sleep to encourage a full feed, active awake time and appropriate pressure for sleep.

    If their awake times are significantly less than the average recommendations for their age (natural variance +/- 15 minutes) then this may need fine tuning. Check out my catnapping blog for more insight and guidance on this topic.

    You can grab your copy of my Infant & child sleep routine guide here. It includes a month by month summary of the age groups, two different nap routines , as well as suggested feed times to guide you on your journey.

    Preparation and Consistency

    Don’t be ‘scared’ of the four month sleep regression. If your baby has a solid sleep foundation, it may be a minor blip in the road for a few days to a week or you mightn’t even notice it at all.

    If your little one is hit hard, know that this is not the beginning of the end but it is a great time to seek out further support and education so you can feel empowered and confident with your baby’s sleep moving forward; knowing you have laid a solid foundation of knowledge for healthy sleep habits. 

    Waiting it out is like the age old question “how long is a piece of string”.  Yes, technically it will pass and your little one will learn to link sleep cycles independently, but I can’t give you an exact age that this will occur.

    Also know that you do not have to go it alone, there is no badge of honour in motherhood for long-term sleep deprivation and there is no shame in asking for assistance in something that you cannot be expected to know everything about- motherhood is a training ground like no other where we are constantly challenged with ever changing expectation.

    What do you do if your baby continues to have unsettled sleep?

    If things don’t settle back down around the 2 week mark, or they’ve never been easy from the get go, then it is most likely your baby has developed a pattern of expectation for settling and re-settling between sleep cycles.

    Little ones, just like adults are creatures of habit. This means if we keep doing the same things over and over to settle and re-settle, they will naturally believe this is the ONLY way to settle.

    There are no “bad or wrong” ways to settle your baby, but we do want our baby to have more than one tool in their tool kit to help them fall asleep and more importantly stay asleep for consolidated periods overnight to give their body the opportunity to rest, repair and rebuild for the days, weeks and months ahead of busy growth and development.

    Above all, consistency is key to making change and achieving long-term success with establishing healthy sleep habits.

    Want some extra help?

    Whilst you support your baby through this time, I’m here to support you. Do you need more support? Check out how we can work one-on-one together to achieve your goals of healthy sleep habits or join me in the Baby Sleep Foundations course where you can work at your own pace to develop healthy sleep habits.

    For more insight into healthy sleep habits including hints and tips Follow me on Instagram

    With Love,

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  • Tips to help your little one sleep when the clocks are turned back for daylight savings and how to prevent early rising during the transition

    The biannual calendar event of daylight savings affects families across several Australian states; when those without children celebrate the extra hours sleep, but for those of us with little ones, we question the conspiracy of the world to mess with our sleep routines!

    In this blog we’ll look at how to help your little one transition during daylight savings and provide tips to help your baby sleep when the clocks turn back 1 hour.

    The date to mark in your diary as the end of daylight savings is Sunday, 4 April, 2021 (QLD, WA and NT this won’t affect you) and don’t worry if you forget, your phone will automatically update the time.

    For those worried about early rising, I want to reassure you that early rising doesn’t have to become the new ‘norm’ in your household and daylight savings transitions don’t have to impact the family long-term.

    There are ways to achieve a smooth transition.

    This being said, due to our body’s lower drive to sleep in the morning, early rising is one of the trickier sleep hurdles. Sometimes it simply takes time to restore the sleep pressure and shift the body’s “wake up time” to a more appropriate time (generally between 6:00-7:00am on a ‘standard’ 7:00am-7:00pm schedule.

    For most parents, there will not be a ‘bonus sleep in’ come daylight savings, but this clock change doesn’t have to mean the beginning of months on end of early rising.  If anything, we can take this opportunity to finally work on early rising once and for all with an extra hour to persist with re-settling – the goal isn’t necessarily returning to sleep…at least initially.

    For now, the best thing you can do to ready yourself for the transition is to have a plan, either proactive or reactive (we’ll talk about this more) and as always, consistency is key to guiding your little one through this time.

    How do you help your little one transition during daylight savings?

    1. Firstly, we need to understand how our circadian rhythms work.

    The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal biological sleep clock and it is set by food, light and social interaction. These external factors are like data being provided to the body, which is sending clear messages to signal when it is awake time and when it is sleep time.

    It should also be noted that serotonin (happy hormone) is produced during the day and converts to melatonin (sleepy hormone) at night.

    The body clock can be shifted simply by moving, adding or omitting the elements of food, light and social interaction. This is where your little one’s routine comes into play and can be used to transition their circadian rhythm.

    Which leads me to the next point

    2. Have a plan – There are two common approaches to making the

    clock work in your favour. These approaches are called Proactive and Reactive.

    Proactive – This is where, in the 5-7 days prior to the time change, you progressively shift your routine by 15-20 minutes; meaning every step in your routine happens just that little bit later.

    For example: if you usually run your little one’s day between the hours of 7:00am – 7:00pm, in the week leading up to daylight savings you’ll be aiming to progressively move towards an 8:00am – 8:00pm routine by the end of the week.

    By progressively shifting to the 8:00am – 8:00pm routine, by the time the clocks wind back on Sunday morning you’ll have already transitioned your little one’s sleep routine and they’ll now be back on a 7:00am – 7:00pm routine.

    Expert Tip: Remember everything is moving to a slightly later time. Always start at the beginning of the day and push out meals and snacks consecutively to achieve the later bedtime.

     Days 1-2Days 3-4Days 5-6Days 7-8
    Start of the day7:15am7:30am7:45am8:00am
    All Naps15 minutes later30 minutes later45 minutes later1 hour later
    All Meals15 minutes later30 minutes later45 minutes later1 hour later
    Bedtime7:15pm7:30pm7:45pm8:00pm

    This will then “switch” you back to a 7:00am-7:00pm routine come Sunday morning.  Don’t worry if you start late or only get half way by the Sunday.  It’s a guideline to work towards not a deadline.

    Reactive: The alternative to a proactive approach is a reactive approach which is the same method as the proactive approach only it’s implemented after daylight savings ends i.e. after the time change.

    If we use the example of having a 7:00am – 7:00pm routine, once the clocks go back this will now be a 6:00am – 6:00pm routine and the idea is to get your little one back to 7:00am – 7:00pm.

    How’s it done? Over a few days you’ll move your routine 15-20 minutes later which progressively retrains your little one’s body clock to adjust to a 7:00am – 7:00pm routine on the new time.

    As with the proactive approach, always start the process at the beginning of the day and push out meals, snacks and naps consecutively to progressively shuffle to a later time.

     Days 1-2Days 3-4Days 5-6Days 7-8
    Start of the day6:15am6:30am6:45am7:00am
    All Naps15 minutes later30 minutes later45 minutes later1 hour later
    All Meals15 minutes later30 minutes later45 minutes later1 hour later
    Bedtime6:15pm6:30pm6:45pm7:00pm

    3. Consistency – When it comes to our little one’s sleep habits

    consistency will always be important. The daylight savings clock change is the time to be consistent and is not the time to change your approach with settling and re-settling. During this time be especially cautious to ensure you don’t add any new sleep props that you don’t wish to retain long-term.

    Expert Insight: Younger babies (4-12 months old) will be more sensitive to this change whereas with your newborn-3-month-old you can simply follow awake times and add/drop a nap to get them back on track.

    Older babies/toddlers you can gently adjust by pushing towards their “regular” day to day nap schedule and bedtime and their bodies will catch up over 5-7 days.

    Remember- No matter what happens, the best thing you can do is allow your bub the opportunity to transition and the above suggestions will help to do just this.

    Expert Tip: Once the change happens avoid thinking “old time vs new time” and just go with the actual time, pushing forward with where you want to get to as you’ll constantly confuse yourself going back and forth. One hour is not hugely significant, especially for older children and thankfully we are not crossing significant time zones.

    Any changes from daylight savings are commonly sorted within 5-7 days.

    Early rising can be a kicker but don’t let it stress you out. I encourage you to view this time through the lens of opportunity and a chance to work on minimising early rising in your little one (especially if early rising was already a common occurrence). Having the extra hour to work on re-settling before starting the day is in your favour mumma.

    Try to remember that as a parent, it is not our job to “force” sleep, rather offer the opportunity and if they are awake earlier than ideal, we don’t automatically need to get them up and start the day, rather try to keep them in their sleep environment (with as little interaction as possible) to “bore” them back to sleep rather than be too hands on with our approach. 

    Expert Tip: Early rising can take 2-3 weeks to resolve, hence the need to be patient and consistent.

    Want some extra help?

    Check out the early rising blog for extra hints and tips to beat the early wake up calls from your little one.

    For more healthy sleep hints and tips Follow me on Instagram

    With Love,

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