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  • Baby sleep and the festive season. Five tips to handle the most wonderful time of the year with little ones.

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year for so many reasons, most of which involve family, going out and socialising. No-one wants to remember the festive season as a woeful time so consider this blog your ‘how to’ guide for little one’s sleep during the festive season. 

    You’ll learn 5 easy sleep tips to equip you with flexibility and freedom so you can enjoy the fun times and have merry and memorable moments, (After all the silly season leaves as quickly as it arrives so let’s make the most of it.

    But how do we stay on track with healthy sleep habits for our little ones without becoming the ‘party poopers’ or ‘no shows’ at all the upcoming festivities? 

    This blog is a great start. You’ll realise there are stress-free ways to make this time a balance between sleep and fun and you’ll even learn that it’s possible to sometimes break the rules without losing your great sleeper long-term. 

    Let’s set the scene

    You have a week of driving from here, there and everywhere. There’ll be lots of family, lots of excitement, some unfamiliar environments for your children, extended days and of course yummy food at every celebration.

    Amongst all the excitement what are you going to do about sleep for your little one? You could wing it which works for a day or too (not my recommended option here), or you could show up to the silly season prepared with ways to put your little one down anywhere

    The aim is to get some sleep, not necessarily the normal sleep your little one would have.

    Festive Season Sleep Tips

    1 . Plan For Sleep

    Before the day begins, think about where you need to be and at what times, then work out how you can try to accommodate sleep. This is where having a predictable nap routine can be helpful. 

    You can access my suggested nap routines from 6 weeks through to 4 years here.

    Sleep opportunities look like:

    • Leaving at nap time- If you take into account your days on the road and how you can best protect day sleeps, you can try and time your day so you leave right on cue for sleep. 
    • Taking a porta cot- If you’re going to your Aunty’s house take the porta cot along and let your little one have a sleep in a quiet place.
    • Go for a walk- Take the pram to achieve their regular nap timing, even if the length is much shorter. Remember the aim is to get some sleep.

    2. Communicate Your Expectations

    Make a plan with your co-pilot (think hubby, partner-in-crime) so you can work as a team to enable sleep to occur. You’ll likely be playing a more hands-on role with settling due to being in unfamiliar environments so the best support you can have is your partner there to reinforce your plan. 

    This might mean taking older kids out for a while or be as simple as your partner helping to remember to bring the porta cot. Being on the same page will make it less stressful for everyone – especially if unwanted advice is offered about, “let them stay up late, they will sleep in tomorrow”, *facepalm*.

    3. Bring Comforts From Home

    This could be your little one’s regular sleep associations ie sleeping bag, white noise machine, block out blinds, dummy, comforter. Each of these items help to continue the regular wind down routine despite being somewhere different.

    4. Maintain Boundaries

    This one is for toddlers especially. Often the “laid back approach” over the festive season can give rise to inconsistency which can then result in toddlers losing their sense of boundary. The flow on effect of this sees your little one begin to act out. Also consider food and screen times as these impact our kids’ temperaments throughout the silly season too.

    You can access my FREE Toddler Bedtime routine chart HERE.

    5. Use Earlier Bedtimes

    Where needed, don’t be afraid to begin bedtime routines earlier than normal. If you’ve spent the whole day out and your little one is struggling to stay awake, give them the rest they need.

    I also want to myth bust a common belief which is ‘early to bed, early to rise’. Early bedtimes don’t automatically = earlier risers.

    Early rising is most common in overtired babies who have excess adrenaline in their system. This excess adrenaline sees them wake fully in the lighter phases of sleep in the early hours of the morning. 

    One final thought

    As you step into the festive season, I want to leave you with one final thought which is, ‘some sleep is better than no sleep’. Try to keep this in mind especially when you are out and about on a busy day.

    Enjoy your holiday period and as always be respectful of your little one’s need for sleep just as much as any other point in time. They are little and need quality, consolidated sleep for growth and development.

    Want some extra help?

    Book your 15 minute discovery call  if you’re ready to work one-on-one for your little one’s sleep.

    With Love,

    Related Resources

    Longer summer days and hot nights are here so we’ve got your summer sleep tips sorted. Get the 5 summer sleep tips HERE.

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  • Guest blog from Tiny Hearts – Choking or Gagging?

    The wonderful Nikki from Tiny Hearts Education has joined us on our blog to share all about Choking or Gagging and most importantly what to do if your child is choking.

    By Tiny Hearts Education

    Have you ever watched your child shove a whole bunch of food in their mouth, only to spit it out five seconds later? You’re not alone. Most parents believe this is their child choking and coughing it back up, but most of the time, your child is actually gagging. This reflex action helps to prevent choking! 

    SO, WHAT IS GAGGING?

    The gag reflex is a contraction of the back of the throat triggered by an object touching the roof of the mouth, the back of the tongue or the back of the throat. In babies, this is often triggered by fingers, food, spoons or even toys touching the back of the mouth. 

    When the reflex is activated, it thrusts objects forward towards the opening of the mouth, expelling any substances that the brain has deemed harmful – cool, huh? 

    A child’s gag reflex often diminishes at around six months of age, which is generally when most babies are learning to eat solid food. Allowing your child to feed independently and explore their hands and toys with their mouths will also help to dwindle the reflex. Some little ones are a bit more sensitive though and have what is known as a ‘hypersensitive’ gag reflex and as a result, will gag more easily. 

    Gagging is super common amongst infants – especially when they are making the transition from smooth to lumpy foods, or when learning to chew. Because gagging is a crucial part of oral motor skill development, please don’t overact when your child gags. Positive reinforcement is key so that gagging can become a learnt behaviour. If your child gags, just move the item of food out of the way and cuddle them (no panic party!) 

    If you haven’t caught on already, gagging is not the same as choking. 

    Choking is caused by an object that blocks the airway and prevents breathing. When this happens, it’s often silent compared to gagging where children will make retching noises. To learn more about choking click here to download a free PDF fact sheet.

    While gagging is part of a bub’s development, choking can be life-threatening, which is why you need to supervise your children at all times – especially during meal and play times. If your child does ever choke, make sure you administer first aid as soon as possible. 

    CHOKING FIRST AID

    PARTIAL OBSTRUCTION: 

    If your child has an effective cough, use gravity and lean them forward. Encourage them to keep coughing. If the obstruction cannot be cleared you must call 000. If they lose their forceful cough use the next technique for a complete obstruction. 

    COMPLETE OBSTRUCTION: If your child does not have an effective cough you should: 

    • DRSABCD 
    • Call 000 
    • Place your child in a head down position – infant (under 1 year old) across your lap and child (1 – 8 years old) sitting or standing up 
    • Give up to five back blows using the heel of one hand, in between the shoulder blades. Short and sharp. Check the airway between each back blow to see if the obstruction has cleared. 

    IF YOUR CHILD IS STILL CHOKING: 

    Give up to five chest thrusts using two fingers (one hand for a child), in the middle of the chest between the nipples. Short and sharp. Check the airway between each chest thrust to see if the obstruction has cleared.

    IF YOUR CHILD IS STILL CHOKING: 

    Alternate between five back blows and five chest thrusts until the obstruction is cleared (checking the airway to see if it has cleared in between each back blow or chest thrust), paramedics arrive, or until they render unconscious. If they render unconscious you must start CPR.

    Note: The obstruction may clear during CPR compressions. If this occurs roll your child on their side and clear the mouth of the foreign object. 

    While the above is super helpful and will help in a choking emergency, it is no comparison to learning these skills in real life. The Tiny Hearts First Aid course guides parents through choking first aid and gives you ample time to practise your skills on manikins. To view dates or to book, click here.

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  • Summer nights and your baby’s sleep routine. Five helpful tips that will see you confidently manage your baby’s sleep throughout the longer summer days.

    Longer summer days are here, which inevitably means more hours of daylight. The good news is your summer plans don’t have to throw your little one’s sleep routine out the window.

    This blog covers off five helpful tips that will see you confidently manage your child’s sleep throughout summer. 

    With the festive season and sun-soaked days seeing you out and about more (and invariably out longer), there are ways to ensure you step into the season feeling more organised for how to handle your little one’s sleep routine.  

    Yes, sleep might look a little different in summer but that’s ok. I encourage you to still visit family and friends and enjoy the delight of late sunsets and extra hours of play following my 80/20 rule for routine and predictability without completely derailing your little one’s healthy sleep habits you have worked so hard to achieve.

    This blog will reassure you that you can be flexible with your little one’s sleep routine and still maintain healthy sleep habits.

    What does this look like?

    Mostly it’s a balance of respecting both your little one’s need for sleep and the need to get out of the house.

    Summer Sleep Success Tips – Practical tips to navigate sleep routines on longer summer days:

    1. Keep It Cool – Babies struggle to self-regulate their body temperature, this coupled with their inability to add or remove blankets means it’s up to you to control the external temperature as much as possible. 

    Expert Tip: There’s no perfect room temperature recommendation from Red Nose Guidelines as they encourage you to dress your baby appropriately for the temperature of the room.  In my experience, around 20-22 degrees Celsius is considered ‘comfortable’ for summer; keeping in mind your location needs to be taken into account as elements like humidity can also be an influencing factor.

    2. Strip Down- Check the TOG rating of your swaddle or sleeping bag for your little one. Remember to only use cotton or bamboo-based materials for sleeping as these are breathable (this includes baby’s bedding too). 

    My Choice: Ergopouch is my go-to for breathable baby sleepwear and sleepsuits. 

    3. Block It Out- If you’re at home, block out blinds are your best friend throughout the longer summer days/nights as they encourage the mind to think it’s dark outside. Remember our circadian rhythm (body’s internal biological sleep clock) is influenced by food, light and social interaction.

    My recommendation: Easy Night Baby Black out Blinds available through Sleep Tight Babies

    4. Don’t Be Tempted To Miss Naps- This always leads to an overtired and grumpy baby or toddler. Naps may be shorter on the go, but try your best to accommodate their regular nap routine and buffer with an extra nap or earlier bedtime to compensate for lost day sleep from the day.  This will equal a happier baby and allow them to get back on track sooner rather than later. 

    Expert Tip: Avoid planning too many days out in a row as we need to respect our little one’s need for sleep – even if it is a little inconvenient.

    5. Keep Your Regular Wind Down Routine- Although tempting when everyone’s had a big day (including mum and dad), don’t try to skip or rush the bedtime routine, especially if your little one has had a big day socialising, interacting and being more physically active. 

    Expert Tip: Remember to “turn down” the house in the hour prior to bedtime to signify to your little one’s body that night sleep is approaching.

    Approaching this season with a balance of equal parts calm and commitment to your baby’s sleep routine is a fantastic way to enjoy the best of both worlds throughout the warmer months. 

    Want some extra help?

    Looking to learn more about making a routine work for your baby? Take a look at my package options to find the level of support that works for you and your family.

    Enjoy your summer. 

    With Love,

    If you have any questions about summer sleep, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more hints and tips.

     

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