Learning how to go to sleep is a skill babies usually develop during the first year of life with help from their parents. Like most skills, it takes time and varies for each baby.
Tresillian is one of our key partners and are experts when it comes to helping parents and children through the early years of life. Tresillian is a non-for-profit organisation that help parents gain confidence in their new roles as mums and dads and teach new parents about routines in breastfeeding, sleep, settling and nutrition. If you want to learn more about the services they can provide to you and your baby visit their website.
At Explore & Develop we understand how important a child’s sleep is to their development and will work with parents to ensure each child gets the sleep that they need when in our care.
In this month’s newsletter we share some wonderful tips on settling your baby and toddlers.
Belinda Ludlow CEO
COMFORT SETTLING (OVER 6 MONTH OLD CHILD)
Comfort settling provides reassurance and support while also providing an opportunity for babies to discover their own way of going to sleep.
Talk quietly and cuddle your baby which makes baby calm.
Put your baby on their back in the cot awake [calm/drowsy].
Comfort your baby with gentle ‘ssshhh’ sounds, gentle rhythmic patting, rocking, or stroking until baby is calm or asleep.
As your baby calms, move away from the cot or leave the room.
If your baby starts to become distressed, return and comfort your baby using step 3 before moving away or leaving the room again.
You may have to repeat this several times before your baby is able to settle to sleep.
As your baby learns to settle, it will take less time to calm your baby.
Most babies will take time to settle and it is helpful if you use the same options every time when establishing a good sleep habit for your baby. This can be a difficult and exhausting time for parents, so ask for help from family, friends, your family health nurse, or your local doctor.
TODDLER RESPONSIVE SETTLING
Start with a familiar and soothing bedtime routine.
The routine needs to be consistent, easy and familiar both day and night.
Your toddler’s routine should take no longer than 30 to 40 minutes.
Avoid stimulating activities prior to sleep.
Avoid the use of smart phones, tablets, TV, game consoles and fluorescent lights as these are very stimulating and interfere with the onset of sleep.
If your toddler has never settled to sleep on their own you may like to start with modified responsive settling. This provides your toddler with reassurance and support while also providing an opportunity for your toddler to develop their own way of falling asleep.
Talk quietly and reassuringly as you take your toddler to their bed e.g. ‘good night it is time for sleep’.
Once in bed, depending on the age of your toddler, you can continue the bedtime routine with a story, or simply provide verbal reassurance in calm, soothing voice.
If your toddler starts to fuss or cry then cuddle, pat or stroke soothingly until he/she is calm. Try to keep your toddler in the cot or bed.
Once your toddler is calm and drowsy, move away from the cot/bed or leave the room.
If your toddler starts to fuss or cry go back and cuddle, pat or stroke soothingly until calm.
You may have to repeat this several times before your toddler is able to settle to sleep.
Some toddlers may need you to stay in the room until they fall asleep.
If your toddler wakes during the night and doesn’t manage to self-settle, follow steps 3-7 providing comfort/reassurance.
If your toddler is very distressed you will need to pick him/her up, cuddle soothe and calm. A distressed toddler needs your help.
TRANSITION FROM COT TO BED
Start by encouraging your toddler to climb into bed unaided.
Give your toddler verbal reassurances and calmly say “it’s bedtime now”.
Be positive, gentle and firm as you discourage your toddler from climbing out of bed saying “it’s time to go to sleep now”.
Keep a familiar blanket, toy that your toddler chooses from his/her cot to help them feel more secure in their new bed – nothing small that she/he can swallow or choke on. Make sure your toddler has a comforter (comfort object), to help him/her feel safe and secure. This is definitely not the time to get rid of “security objects”.
You may like to have your toddler help choose the bedding for their new bed to make this step a positive and fun experience.
Praise your toddler when he/she manages to stay in the “big bed”.
If your toddler does get out of the bed, gently walk him/her back to bed, tuck him/her back in and say good night. Sometimes you will have to do this several times and you will need to stay as calm as possible.
We hope that these settling tips will assist in developing your child’s sleep skills. If you want any further support or advice on this important topic, we recommend contacting Tresillian on their parent helpline number 1300 272 736.