Welcome to another Fluffy Bottom Babies blog! We bring you our Live Thursday topic of Infant Sleep Tips - part 2 of a 3 part series with our returning special guest, Stephanie Covey from Goodnight Sleep Site Nova Scotia!
Don't fret if you missed us this morning, click here to watch it!
So welcome to Part 2 of our series on sleep! This week we look at what happens starting at about 4 months and why this starts to be the ideal time to really focus more on schedule and routine. This is the time we will begin “sleep training”.
Safety and prevention of SIDS remains top priority in our sleep considerations so remember these key points:
- If they cannot roll and even when they can, place them in the crib on their Back to sleep, be sure the area is free of anything that may obstruct breathing such as heavy blankets, stuffies and bumper pads
- Use a onesie or my personal favorite, the sleep sac. These are fantastic and come in so many materials for all different times of the year. (There is a wonderful selection here at FBB!)
- Also a consistent sleeping place that is their own is highly recommended as is motionless sleep from here on in.
** Remember, optimal sleep requires a very dark room (we suggest the Gro Blind - portable blackout blind), a consistent temperature between 18-20C and ZERO distractions or things in the sleeping area – think lights, the crib aquariums, mobiles, etc.
Why are we starting at 4 months?
- At 3-4 months, babies transition from unorganized sleep to more organized sleep because of the development of melatonin and circadian rhythms.
- They respond better to being on a schedule for naps and an earlier bedtime.
- The sleep environment, routine and cues for sleep play a larger role at this stage.
This is also when many parents report issues with their previously well-sleeping babies or even not great sleepers become worse! This is due to the fact that there are better biological times for naps.
We recommend they follow what we call a “sleep wave” so there are times of the day when sleep is more restorative and there should be much more of a schedule as opposed to the whenever, wherever approach of the first few months.
- It is best to now offer naps in the crib where night sleep takes place and avoid sleep in motion as it is not as restorative. This means we really need to get away from the sleeping in swings, strollers, the car etc.
- Follow the general rule that ideal wake time is 6-7am, Nap1 anywhere from 1.5-2.5 hours after waking, Nap2 1.5-2.5 after they wake from the first nap and a third cat nap later in the afternoon (3 ish) ****(Always keep in mind this is very broad and specific nap times are developed between the family and Stepahnie based on the child, every case is slightly different). These times will vary!
- Aim for a 1-1.5h duration for the first two and a 45 min cat nap for as long as they take that nap.
- It is important that the nap routine is just a shorter (15 min) version of bedtime routine.
- Bedtime should now be about the same time every night and the biggest mistake parents make is putting their little ones to bed too late thinking this will make them sleep longer in the morning. The opposite is actually true, the earlier they get to bed, the more restorative their sleep will be.
- I recommend bedtime of 6-6:30 and even earlier if naps have been sub-optimal during the day. I know this can be hard but even just 15-20 mins can make a difference.
- A too late bedtime can contribute to early wakes.
- The other big thing to consider is that sleep drive just is not as strong in the early morning as it is in the first part of the night. Making sure the room is super dark and conducive to sleep can also help with this. The same applies to nap times.
- We often will also recommend to parents as part of the sleep training process to set a time as wake time say 6 or 6:30am and to not go to them until this time even if they wake earlier and fuss a bit.
Remember – the gro-anywhere blind is super useful in keeping the room nice and dark – when melatonin production decreases in the brain with light, the body begins to wake up! Even as adults we enjoy sleeping in near-to-total darkness!
Another great product that was mentioned in the video was the Gro Hush - because darkness and quiet are so important for healthy sleep habits, the Gro Hush is great for travelling or at home - providing soothing sounds for baby so outside noise can be blocked out. Gro Hush provides three different sounds including, heart-beat, ocean waves or rain falling on a tin roof, each are set at a safe volume for baby's delicate ears. ***P.S. - This is the item that we will be giving away in next weeks live (Thursday, June 1st, 2017).
Sleep Crutches and Associations
One of the most common impediments to babies and older children falling asleep on their own is that they have developed a sleep association. This is very common and one of the main reasons Stephanie says she works with clients.
But what is a sleep association?
- Anything that gets a child to sleep or that a child requires to get to sleep that is an external thing such as rocking to sleep, nursing to sleep, taking a car ride, having someone lie with them. Something that they will require when they next wake in order to get back to sleep.
- Since they have not learned to get to sleep on their own, they “need” this as it is all they know. It is absolutely easier to break these habits at a younger age but it is never too late!
Breaking these habits is something that is specific to each child and family and there is no one size fits all answer here. This is where Stephanie comes in and has families complete a detailed questionnaire, decide on a plan and she will work together with your family to help the little ones break the associations and sleep on their own.
Milestones and Regressions
- Milestones are times in development when so much is happening that sleep may be disrupted in some way. This is a much healthier way to view them instead of a “regression”.
- These happen at times when our little ones are learning one or many new physical skills such as crawling or standing or when their little brains are going through some major developments such as with language and increasing social awareness. This can be frustrating but it is a phase and it will pass.
- The best thing to do is to stay consistent in your routine, and know that “this too shall pass”.
The first transition involves dropping that third end of day catnap and this happens at about 7-8 months.
How do you know they are ready?
- They are fighting it and consistently staying awake through it
- Other naps are getting longer (finally!)
- Bedtime is getting either compromised or confusing.
The second transition involves dropping the morning nap and happens between 15-18 months.
When are they ready?
- At 12 months it is a matter of tweaking times or capping naps as very few are ready to drop the nap yet.
- You may need to cap the morning nap to an hour (no less).
- If they have played through the morning nap consistently for two full weeks, they are often ready to move to one nap.
- If their mood is good and they seem to be able to handle being up then they are also likely ready.
During any nap transition, it is recommended that bedtime be moved earlier (even as early as 5-5:30) to let them get used to the new schedule and then move it back to what it was when they get used to the new schedule.
The final transition of 1 to none I will leave for the next session as it happens in the toddler years.
As Stephanie mentioned, plans are very specific to families which is why she spends so much time finding out information to tailor plans to each family she works with. If you have more questions or you would like to work with Stephanie please do not hesitate to contact her - you can check out her Facebook page here or go directly to the website here!
Here is another useful link that talks about the "wave"!
Thanks for tuning in!
The FBB Team