My baby wont sleep... send help! Don't worry, we've got your back Mumma.

As a parent to two young children, I am very familiar with all of the challenges that come with parenting. One of the biggest things that we all struggle with is getting our children to sleep (and keeping them asleep). Onto your second coffee before 7am? Keep reading Mumma...

We recently had a chat to Jen from Sleep.Thrive.Grow Consulting about all things sleep and wanted to share some of her beautiful tips with you. Read all about our chat below:

Hi Jen! We would love for you to introduce yourself and your biz. What does a Paediatric Sleep Coach do and how do you help to support parents with sleep?

Hi Wild Ivy Lane followers! I am Jen, the owner and founder of Sleep.Thrive.Grow Consulting (STG).

I am a mother of three, a practicing Registered Nurse for over 12 years and a certified Paediatric Sleep Specialist. I started this business because I have a deep rooted passion to continue to help and support others. I understand first-hand how tough being a parent can be and how much harder everything can feel when quality sleep just seems like a dream! I find when the sleep needs of a family are addressed, the improvements spill out into many other areas of life. This includes nutrition, elimination, recovery, learning ability, enjoyment, as well as in the general well-being and mood for both parent and child. The benefits are endless, which is why I prioritise sleep so highly.

My approach is solely focused around the individual needs of each unique family. There is no one size fits all and no time frame to be governed by. It involves a journey of change that is guided by my empathy and experience of mothering three children and is backed up with science. I wrap all this knowledge up into a family’s very own support bubble to create a safe space to receive non-judgemental guidance, during what can be a vulnerable time. This allows me to create a personal and holistic support system designed in a way that is relatable. My passion is to nurture a baby’s biological abilities alongside empowering confidence in parenting. I am a firm believer that confidence gained through knowledge and support together with an increased amount of quality sleep, truly allows a mother’s natural intuition to shine.

What is the cycle of overtiredness and how can you help to support parents with it?

The cycle of overtiredness is when a baby struggles to reach that deeper level of sleep time and time again. For whatever reason, their sleep needs are continuously not being met. This can create a crash and burn situation whereby baby is experiencing frequent overtiredness caused by a compound of short naps and broken night sleep over a long period of time, or it could be at the end of each day! This is usually followed by a long stretch of sleep experienced out of pure exhaustion, only to repeat the cycle the following day.

Some overtired cycles may be short lived due to things we cannot control. This can be when our baby suffers with sickness or they are experiencing some developmental changes and transitions or a change in sleep environment away from their normal comforts. In these occasions, time to work through the change and compensating with sleep as best as we can, would be the key. My 30-minute Sleep guidance call can help set parents on there right track and provide some tools and ideas if they are unsure how to support these changes. If this was the only problem, things will usually sort itself out reasonably quickly.

If overtiredness seems to be an ongoing problem, then it is really time to chat! I organise a full sleep assessment, which starts with the completion of STG’s sleep questionnaire. Possible causes are discussed and together we design a plan and approach that is aligned with your family and supportive of baby’s needs. Sometimes it is as simple as adjusting a routine and pattern to the day that has not been conductive to healthy sleep, or it may be more complex and require delving into the way baby has formed connections surrounding sleep itself. A personalised approach is then put in place in order to provide the support and guidance that is needed to promote a long-lasting change. 

What are you top three pieces of advice for parents struggling with frequent night waking?

1. Remember that day sleep supports night sleep. We need to be on top of roughly how much day sleep is required for our babies in order to understand their needs and help them to achieve it. A well-rested baby will sleep more restoratively overnight than a baby that has struggled to sleep all day.

 2. Figure out what the root cause may be. Find out if the number of wake ups are expected for their age range, or if there is something else that you feel that is contributing to the night waking.

3. Decide if there is a pattern related to the wake ups. Waking at different times of the night can be because of different reasons. This is due to the structure of our overnight sleep cycle or you may be experiencing frequent waking due to a sleep association. For example, wakes before midnight are often as a result of overtiredness and wakes every 2-4 hours throughout the night are likely due to a reduced level of re-settling ability without assistance.

Sorry I had to do one more!

4. If frequent night wakes are becoming too hard to deal with, know that there is help available. You are not a bad parent if you need some support or simply run out of the tools or ideas to improve on the situation. This was one of the reasons which lead me to create my essential sleep guides. I have split them up into age ranges in order to get specific on information that can guide and support you best and add to your ideas box of how to resolve a problem in your own time and space.

I feel that when a baby cries it needs to be held and comforted, especially during the first 12 months and I don’t personally believe in the cry it out method. What are your thoughts on this and how does your holistic approach to sleep support help families to go from surviving to thriving without ignoring their bub’s cry?

With a holistic approach to sleep I consider many factors that can relate to how well a baby will sleep. This includes age and development, environment, nutrition, associations, timing as well as parent views on sleep and the belief system surrounding their baby’s ability. I think it is important to really understand that just like us, babies have different personalities and temperament traits which govern their needs and preferences at different times throughout their life.

Comforting and soothing is something that we always need to provide our babies, and this does not go away when prioritising sleep. In fact, we can still have a great little sleeper that may need our presence and reassurance from time to time overnight. My methods are based on creating and maintaining a secure attachment for you and your baby by staging the process of change. This is guided by you and most importantly, your baby’s response. By using a gradual approach, I can be sensitive that I am meeting the needs of both parent and baby and help guide parents to nurture their baby’s confidence and natural ability to fall asleep. This allows for new pathways and connections to form in a baby’s maturing brain that supports lifelong healthy sleep.

Because of the way I have designed my support, the cry it out method does not align with my approach. The key is always to listen with intent and respond to your baby when needed. Once we understand the biology of sleep and a baby’s natural ability, we can truly make the best decision in how we respond. My methods are guided by a baby’s need for sleep and the level of sleeping ability they have based on their current experiences. To strengthen a baby’s skill in sleep, my view is that they always need to feel supported.

Ok, it’s time to mention those dreaded words: Sleep Regressions! Is there anything that truly helps or do you just need to wait it out knowing that it is a phase? Give us all of your best tips!

A sleep regression is when cognitive, physical or emotional development can disrupt a baby’s sleep.

It is important to understand that although it can result in some short-lived disruption to your baby’s normal sleeping patterns (which is the reason it is seen as a regression) it is really a huge progression for your baby! It is an exciting and tiring time for us and them!

My number one piece of advice is to not sit around waiting for it or anticipating a horrible experience! Your perception is powerful and through these natural changes your baby needs to know that they can rely on you more than ever!

This means that the less we change in response to a potential sleep regression, the better! Patience and consistency in how your baby normally would fall asleep is number 1! If we decide to take over that job because they are taking a little longer to settle that day, we are essentially reinforcing to our babies that there is something wrong. Pattern, routine and consistency surrounding sleep is so beneficial. Concentrate on a good wind down period prior to sleep to aid a smoother transition from awake time. Offer extra support where needed if baby is taking a long time to settle. If your baby is used to falling asleep without you, try to remain consistent with this. You will likely see the other side of a regression a lot quicker than if you introduce a new way of settling. 

Practicing new developments during the day (the ones you are aware of) can help reduce the want and need to practice them at sleep time! Focus on giving them less attention at sleeping times is a good tip (you may have to hide your smiles here!). A physical development like standing up for the first time is great one to focus on practicing the sitting down part! Your baby will not automatically know how to do this, especially in a sleeping bag! This can create muscle memory when they find they have woken up in the middle of the night! Sometimes you may need to leave them and their excited energy for a few minutes before supporting them again!

Consider taking them to bed earlier than usual for a short period of time if a new development is resulting in a lot of extra time to settle. This is so we reduce the likelihood of becoming really overtired from all the extra practicing!

Introducing a comforter at sleep times for babies 7 months + can help to support separation anxiety that often occurs within a period of regression.

Ultimately, as a parent we want to encourage and support their confidence that change is okay. Help them grow through the changes and allow some time to adapt. You will see a fair few of these before they hit two years of age!

Thanks so much for sharing with us Jen! How can we get in touch with you and learn more?

My absolute pleasure!

I hope that this information has given you some valuable insight into the world of sleep and how my holistic approach has been able to support so many families! Please come at visit me on my Instagram page @sleep_thrive_grow or check me out on Facebook Sleep.Thrive.Grow Consulting.

I am always sharing information about personal client journeys that may resonate with some of you out there as well as useful tips and tricks in supporting quality sleep for our babies and toddlers.

If you want to know more about my products and services, my website is www.sleepthrivegrow.com Feel free to organise a free 15-minute chat with me via the website if you would like to speak more in person about how I can help you.

I am so thankful to Jen for sharing so much of her knowledge with us, please reach out to her if you are struggling with sleep. Hang in there Mumma, you are doing an amazing job!

Ashlee xx

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