Just like a house, when building healthy sleep habits, we need strong foundations.
Without proper foundations, a house will fall. It may not fall immediately, however, over time cracks will start to appear and eventually things will start to crumble.
I often hear from parents when they start to notice the cracks in their baby’s sleep. Lucky for us, it’s easy to go back to basics and fix the foundations of sleep.
There are four important factors that form the foundations of sleep. If you’re finding sleep is a little bit “wobbly” or all over the place, check your foundations first.
There are many underlying health concerns which can have a negative impact on sleep. This could be reflux, eczema, food allergies/intolerances, recurring ear infections, obstructed sleep apnoea etc. If you’re unsure, talking to your GP or paediatrician will give you peace of mind or can help uncover any medical issues if they are present. Once under management and given the all clear by your doctor you’ll then be able to work on improving sleep.
SAFE AND SLEEP CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT
Just like us, our babies need a nice consistent, calming, quiet and dark place to sleep.
Think about it, we sleep best in our own bedroom. If we sleep on the lounge or at someone else’s house without all our usual comforts we don’t sleep as well.
Our baby’s sleep space needs to be safe. Remove any unnecessary distractions and make sure the room is nice and dark and at a comfortable temperature.
Learn more about the Perfect Sleep Environment.
A hungry baby won’t sleep well. For newborns, often sleeping issues are related to feeding. Seeking advice from a lactation consultant or your paediatrician will help resolve any feeding issues early on.
The same can be said for toddlers who might eat a lot but lack the nutrients to form a well-balanced diet. Nutrition plays an important role in promoting healthy sleep. Offer meals with a variety of protein, low GI carbs, healthy fats, foods rich in iron, zinc, magnesium and tryptophan and limit processed food.
Read more on Nutrition and Sleep here.
An overtired baby will be running on stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin in order to function. These hormones make it very difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Simply by following age appropriate awake times and a loose routine you’ll know when it’s the best time to settle your baby to sleep.
Once your foundations are in place settling your little one to sleep will become a lot easier and with a little gentle sleep training, your baby or toddler will be well on their way to independent sleep.