I’m a child sleep guru and this is why ‘wake windows’ might be your secret weapon
GETTING your child to go to sleep and into a good routine is a real win.
Not only does it help them hugely, it will make you feel much better than those nights where you got maybe two hours kip.
There are a few tried and tested tricks, but also some that you may not be aware of.
Gemma Coe, a certified baby and child sleep specialist, revealed a few extra tactics to the Sun Online.
From using magical sounding "wake windows" to utilising your partner, there are a number of ways to get into a good rhythm.
And perhaps you will soon feel human again, after catching up on the much missed hours in bed.
Below, we've listed eight tips to try and send your little one off into a peaceful slumber…
Gemma suggests using white noise to keep your baby asleep.
It won't send them off, but it will help keep them in a good snooze.
She said: "It will mask all those household noises and help prevent the little one from being disturbed in the lighter phases of sleep.
"Radio static is perfect and make sure it’s on for the whole duration of the nap or night-time, not just the beginning."
Keep it dark
Although babies are able to fall asleep anywhere they want regardless of light, as they get older it's helpful to keep the bedroom dark.
Gemma said: "It helps to minimise distractions and induce boredom.
"Darkness also helps the body produce melatonin, this is the hormone that sends signals to your body saying it’s time to sleep.
"Blackout blinds are perfect and generally it should be dark enough in the bedroom that you couldn’t read a book in there.
"It also helps keep the room cool, especially in the summer months – 16-20C is a perfect room temperature for a good night’s sleep."
Know the signs
It is especially useful to know the signs of your baby becoming tired – which can happen very fast.
But if you catch them as they power down and get them ready for a nap, you will ovoid the overtired stage.
Gemma said: "Rubbing eyes, yawning, and crying are quite late tired signs. If they’ve been awake for a little while, then keep an eye on what they’re doing. If they start staring into space or their activity levels start to slow then act on this and start a 10-minute wind down before nap time.
"Sometimes this may be a little earlier than usual, but it helps save them from going into the overtired zone – to be avoided at all costs!"
Gemma says this is the parental skill that needs a bit of practice and often doesn't work straight off.
She added: "If they always fall asleep in your arms, then that’s what they’ll associate with sleeping.
"Whilst these lovely cuddles are great in the newborn stages it can become a bind a little later down the line.
"Pop them down when you see those early tired signs, perhaps just have a hand on their little tummy for reassurance.
"Every opportunity you give them to fall asleep in their own sleep space makes them more familiar with that environment."
Working out when your little one's wake windows are can be so helpful.
It will ensure you get into a routine and mean they aren't getting under or overtired.
Gemma said: "Sometimes it feels as if you can’t win, but even if you don’t see yourself as a routine person, keeping an eye on wake windows will really help.
"Settling them for a nap or bedtime at the end of a wake window will be much easier for both of you.
"If they’re 3-6 weeks old then we’re looking at tiny awake periods, with a nap window between 1hr15-1hr30 from their last wake time.
"For 6–12-week-olds we’re looking at 1hr 30mins -1hr 45, and at 12-16 weeks – 1hr 45-2 hours.
"When they get to 5 months, they can stretch to 2hr 15 minute windows and 6-12 month old’s can push that to 2 hours and 30 minutes."
Relax about noise
Babies make different noises as they sleep.
Try not to intervene if they are just grunting, squirming or whining – lots of the strange noises are normal.
Gemma said: "At 4 am when they start making noises, we can be so worried they’ll wake that we jump in to resettle them at the slightest squeak.
"At this point they can still be asleep! The result is we wake them completely.
"Then they see their favourite person ever and hey presto, those eyes ping open and it’s play time!
"Less is definitely more here, give them some time before intervening at night to see if they can settle themselves back down first."
Routines are something that if set up early on in their life, can be part of your baby's childhood.
Gemma said: "We’re looking for about 10 minutes of calm down at nap time and 15 mins post bath at bedtime.
"It helps remove distractions and stimulation, calm them down and helps provide a nice predictable environment where they know what’s coming next. No curve balls."
Split the night
Sharing the job with your partner will of course make it much easier for you to feel as rested as possible.
Even if mum is breastfeeding, their partner can still comfort and do tasks like nappy changing so you can get the jobs done quickly and all head back to sleep.
Gemma said: "If you’re able to, try and split the night with a partner. One taking the first part of the night (from 8pm onwards if you like) and the other taking the second.
"Go to bed early and try to get a 3-4 hour stretch in.
"The first stages of night sleep are the deepest and we can feel so much better when we’ve slept a solid block at the beginning of the night rather than being woken in the first few hours after falling asleep."
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