Simply Parenting – Sleep Patterns

‘Is he sleeping through the night yet?’; ‘I need coffee, I was up half the night’; ’sleep deprivation is the worst!‘

When it comes to parenting, one of the biggest features of rearing our children is sleep. How much should they get? How do we settle them? Should they share the bed with us? Should they share a room? When should we transfer them to their own cot? How often should they nap? Why won’t they sleep??

Nope - not sleepy!

Nope – not sleepy!

Then we compare ourselves to other parents. ’I would never let my child in the bed with me, she is mad.’’ I would never let my child cry for a minute, let alone cry themselves to sleep. Self-soothing is a form of torture‘! The blame game continues on and on.

So let’s get back to basics. No matter what your own personal outlook is, the fact is that children really need sleep. They need a lot of sleep. Sleep is crucial to their growth, brain development, physical development and general well-being. Often when our children are not sleeping well, it is because they are over-tired or are caught up in the running around that is part of everyday life, and so we need to stop making excuses and start parenting up!

'Then she said, see you in the morning' 'Too funny!'

‘Then she said, see you in the morning’ ‘Too funny!’

Every child is different!

However, when a baby starts on solid food (usually at around six months), they no longer need feeding during the night. I know that we like to think that the baby should decide when they want to stop night feeds and this is true up to a point.  Still, once they are eating solids and getting their nutrition during the day, night time is when they need the chance for precious sleep not milk. It falls to us to help our babies learn how to sleep through the night. Bringing them in for a quick comfort feed just because you missed them during the day, or because it is too tiring trying to settle them in their cot when you are getting up to a full day’s work the next day, suits us parents but is not the best practise for the sleep deprived baby.


They can catch up on sleep during the day!

I have often said as I watched each of my babies nap peacefully during the day, after I have been up pacing the floors all night ‘ isn’t it grand for you, you can sleep whenever you want’. Again, napping is crucial to our babies’ development but it does not replace the valuable sleep that they need during the night. Letting your baby ‘catch up’ by napping for longer during the day will not help them sleep at night. Another thing we do is reduce their nap times  to ‘tire them out’ in the vain hope that they will fall into a deep restful  12 hour sleep  – then we pull our hair out wondering why they will not sleep. An over-tired baby finds it very hard to get to sleep.

My child is a bad sleeper – I’ve left it too late!

Not true at all and there is a wealth of advice out there to help you encourage your child to develop healthy sleep patterns. There are volumes of books on getting children to sleep and a myriad of methods out there. I recommend the recently published Irish sleep expert Niamh O’Reilly – ‘No Fuss Baby &Toddler Sleep’,(available on Amazon) as she talks a lot of sense! Choose a method that fits in with your lifestyle and parenting beliefs, and then be consistent.

The key things to remember are:-

  • Do not make excuses
  • Change sleep patterns if they need changing
  • It is never too late to start
Encourage them to do this so...

Encourage them to do this so…

Knowing that a large chunk of our children’s happiness and well-being is based on them having a good night’s sleep is reason enough to put in a little hard work to encourage them to develop healthy sleep patterns.

..they will have  interest in doing things like this, and...

..they will have interest in doing things like this, and…



I am taking a few weeks holidays but will be continuing this series when I get back with the topic of ‘Screen Time’.

All comments and feedback very welcome.

Thanks for reading



Babies and Sleep

Your baby has reached the wonderful three month mark, and you are finally getting into the swing of family life. But when, oh, when are you going to get some sleep?? In my opinion, twelve weeks onwards is the optimum time to start introducing a routine into your baby’s life.

Lets start with wonderful and elusive sleep! Sleep training requires discipline from you as a parent. If you are happy to go with the flow of erratic sleep patterns, that is absolutely your perogative and of course your child will eventually get into a sleep pattern anyway. However, if you want a degree of certainty around your baby’s sleep, then now is the time to knuckle down and put in a bit of graft!

The results speak for themselves, but achieving these results is tough going, no doubt about it. With this in mind, be sure that you and your partner take it in turns to settle your baby – it should not be the same parent every time. I suggest a four-step approach – create independence; apply consistency; invent sleep signals and finally the 15-minute rule.

1. Create Independence:
Self-soothing is a desirable building block for bringing up an independent and self-led little one. Up until now, you have probably had your baby sleeping in a crib or buggy in the living room during the day. It is now time to move them into a bedroom for daytime naps. Continue to cuddle your baby but put them into their crib before they fall asleep. Then leave them to it!

2. Apply Consistency:
For at least the first three weeks of sleep training, you have to have consistency in the time you are putting your baby to bed – don’t make plans to do things during chosen nap times other than putting baby to sleep. They are doing a lot more kicking and playing these days and are therefore tiring themselves out physically; they’re going to require proper, timed naps. My rule-of-thumb at this age is they should be ready for a sleep around two to two-and-a-half hours after they last woke.

3. Invent Sleep Signals:
Prepare your baby the same way every time you are putting them to bed, be it for the night or just a nap. The choice is yours – it could be a story, a few songs, or a quiet cuddle. Whatever you do, do it the same way each time. Tell them they are going for a nap/sleep every time you put them down. By doing these few things you are creating sleep signals and your baby will learn these, and begin to subconciously prepare themselves for sleep.

4. The 15 Minute Rule:
Transfer them slowly from your arms to crib, do not rush it – tuck them in, make sure they are cosy, have their favourite teddy or soother ready, say goodnight/have a nice nap/see you later, and leave the room. Your baby may gripe or cry a little but they are only giving out – leave them be for 15 minutes; you are not being cruel. If they are still unsettled after 15 minutes, pick them up and cuddle them, reassure them in soft tones, and then put them back down. If they are still unsettled after a second fifteen minutes, restart the entire process. Pick them up, leave the room, bring them back to your living area and start the four step approach again.

As I said earlier, consistency is key. If you maintain and keep up the four-step approach over the course of three weeks, you will have success, and you will also have helped your baby on the first step to being confident and self-led individuals! When you succeed in a good nap routine, peaceful nights’ sleep soon follow; the more settled your baby is during the day, the more settled they will become at night!

Thanks for reading

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

Newborns and sleep!

20120511_175328Remember when you were pregnant? Every second person you spoke to told you to get as much sleep as you could, whilst you still could? You smiled politely and thought ‘It can’t be that bad!’.

Then you gave birth. Suddenly, nearly every waking moment (and there are lots) is taken up with questions of sleep!

When should they sleep? Why won’t they sleep? How do I get them to sleep? How long should they sleep for? They have finally fallen asleep but are due a feed, do I wake them??

So, the good news: healthy babies need lots of sleep, and they generally can’t sleep too much!

The bad news: up until roughly six weeks, they’ll sleep to their own rhythm, not necessarily the one we as parents desire, mores the pity!

The Dos:

  • Let them fall asleep in your arms
  • Cuddle them and walk around the room with a gentle rocking, bouncing motion
  • When they fall asleep, transfer them into the moses basket, slowly and gently, maintaining contact until you know they are settled (hint: pre-warming the moses basket with a hot water bottle can help ease the transfer but REMOVE bottle before you put baby in!!)
  • Encourage background noise – they are used to it, and find it soothing
  • When your newborn falls asleep, leave them to it they often stir but settle again.

The Don’ts:

  • Do not wake them during the day, so that they will sleep better at night, they are too young for tricks like that!
  • Resist the urge to feed them again, unless you have been trying to get them to sleep for more than two hours
  • Do not pick them up the minute they stir – leave them a while to see if they will settle again
  • Do not tip-toe around the house for fear of disturbing them
  • Do not wake them for a feed, sleep is just as nourishing.

So you have fed them, changed their nappy, sang lullabies galore and they are STILL not asleep; what then? They are either not tired or are over-tired. Change your tactics. Give them a little floor / lap play-time for about ten minutes until you see the signs of tiredness, and then try cuddling them to sleep.

Not saying it is easy, but hopefully this will help in the early days!

Thanks for reading : )

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.


PS: I will be posting about getting older babies and toddlers to sleep in due course, baby steps!!


When our toddlers drop their nap!

20130715_145938Argghh! It comes to us all that day when our hour-plus ‘get things done, time is gone! Forever!!

Once you get used to the change in routine, spending all the live long day with your tot is actually quite nice, and not having to plan your life around naps anymore gives you the sweet taste of life to come. 😉

But, in the meantime, when our over-tired toddler decides to tantrum, wreck the place and generally turn into a little monster right when you need to do laundry/make dinner/sit down with a cuppa, it can be nightmarish. There is light at the end of the tunnel but boy can it seem a long tunnel. I have a few tips that have worked for me, and which might work for you.

During the day, 15-20 minutes after the usual nap time, sit or lie down cosily with a snack and drink! Read a few books/look through a photo album/watch television or have a chat, whatever works for you. Let it last as long as it can. If your toddler drops off, all well and good; if not, never mind.

To avoid the over-tired / refusing to eat / falling asleep face-down-in-plate stage, bring meal times forward half an hour – this is not forever, but it makes for a much more pleasant dining experience all round!

Follow suit by bringing bed time forward half an hour too – don’t worry that they will wake earlier.. they won’t! I know that we are loathe to do this as it is nice to have a bit of time in the evenings but remember – this is temporary!

In a couple of weeks you can gradually reinstate original meal and bedtimes, but keep up the chill during the day… I don’t think any of us grow out of that! 😀

Hope this is helpful!!

Thanks for reading


I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

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