ShutEye

How much sleep does my baby need?

When we're embarking on our adventure that is parenthood, we have no idea what we're doing and are constantly referring to books or to Google to give the answers and instructions. After the weeks and months roll by and we begin to find our groove, we also realise that our babies are all very different and their needs differ too. That said, one of the questions that I get asked all the time is "How much sleep does my baby actually need?"

It's great to know that so many of you are mindful about how much or how little sleep your child is getting and keeping in mind that our babies are unique little individuals, I'm sharing with you my recommendations from birth to 12 months in the table below.

Before you look at the table, an important point here is that we always work with an Adjusted Age based on the Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) rather than the actual birth date. This is because the developmental changes that happen each week over the first few months of life are huge so we need to make our expectations and recommendations age appropriate.

E.g. As at today’s date (30/11/15)

  • EDD was 30th Nov
  • Baby born early on 9th Nov
  • Adjusted age: Newborn

or

  • EDD was 1st Nov
  • Baby born late 13th Nov
  • Adjusted age: almost 4 weeks 

 

Recommended sleep for babies aged 0 - 52 weeks

Recommended sleep for babies aged 0 - 52 weeks

Personally, averages annoy me. They  just either make you feel rubbish i.e. your baby sleeps waaaaay less than the ‘average’ or you convince yourself that your baby is fine because for there to be an average in the first place, there’s got to be some babies in the research that are running on empty day after day and your little one is probably just like them!

Either way, we just need to be aware of the averages and not get hung up on them. We’re dealing with real-life little people here remember, not robots.

These little folk are pretty clever too. As they can’t verbally communicate with us just yet, they have some other ingenious ways to tell us that they might have been burning the candle at both ends and need a bit more shut-eye.

Any of these sound familiar?

  • Fights sleep - wriggles and writhes keeping themselves awake
  • Lots of tears at naptime or bedtime
  • Has a meltdown at the end of the day
  • Dinner time is a battle
  • Fussy with food
  • Screams in the bath
  • Gets ‘hyper’ before bedtime

or

  • You find yourself telling everyone people that your baby just hates sleep

If any these ring true for you then your baby might need a few more zzz’s.

You could argue that all of these overtired signs are just normal, trying baby behaviour and you’d be right. So to understand the difference, the question you need to ask yourself is:

“How frequently does this happen?” Is this typical, every day behaviour or something that tends to happen after a busy, active weekend?

If you’re experiencing these symptoms for 50% of the week or more then you can call it every-day behaviour. Any less than this and it’s something that you want to keep an eye on. A great idea is to start keeping track of your babies sleep using a sleep log (you can download mine for free here) or use an App on your phone. When you’re paying attention to your child’s sleep you will begin to see patterns emerge and the overtired behaviour becomes more obvious.

With my daughter, I used to talk about the end of the day as the FOG setting in: Five O’ Clock Grumps

Rookie Mummy didn’t realise that her baby was in fact exhausted and would be asleep by 5.30pm given half a chance. Instead bedtime was 7.00pm preceded by a fat dose of crying because the book said bedtime should be 7.00pm. Doh!

Yes, it’s really important to know roughly how much sleep your baby should be getting but this isn’t a competition where you win a prize because your baby sleeps the average amount.

The prize is a happy, healthy, contented baby and parenting is about creating that holy trinity.

There are no right ways or wrong ways but there can be better ways.

Are you struggling with an overtired baby or think you might be? Book in a free 15 minute informal chat (no obligation), tell me what’s going on and I’ll tell you whether we can fix it.

Let me obsess about your babies sleep so you don’t have to and share with other tired friends, family and parents of the world 🙂

Sleep Blog

How to survive a mini break with the kids

I’m just back from a fantastic holibob with my other half, some great mates and our little ones to a well known family-focused, forested resort in the UK. I dipped my toe into this new, alien world with some trepidation for a long weekend recently and was totally converted. They pretty much think of everything and then some. Just what you need to give you the best chance of having a relaxing family break…well, as relaxing as a family break can be.

You can lock your locker and pay for a beer by one of the many pools with your plastic wristband, genius! There’s tonnes to do (adults and children) come rain or shine and there’s free baby food in all of the restaurants.

But there was one thing where I felt that they’d missed a trick. Back in our contemporary lodge, the curtains in the bedroom were as thin as a wafer with no blackout lining. For parents with children who love nothing more than waking up at the crack of dawn when a mere centimetre of light enters their room, this is a massive pain in the proverbial and an oversight for a company whose mission is clearly to make your families holiday with them as easy as possible.

My little girl is SUPER sensitive to light so I had a Plan B to fall back on and it got me thinking about how stressful holidays and nights away can be for parents of children who have trouble sleeping and those that are sensitive to change and routine busters.

So I put together a few suggestion that can make a night away from home less stressful for you and your family. Some conventional and some not so:

Strange, new environment – Get the bedroom/sleeping room as dark as possible.
A travel or temporary blackout blind are AMAZING. I personally use the Gro Anywhere Blind. If you don’t have one or forget, aluminium foil or black bin liners stuck up with masking tape make an quick and inexpensive fix.

Recreate their space – As far as possible, make the sleeping environment as similar as their bedroom.
Pack their favourite toys as well as their favourite books to read at bedtime. Take your own cot sheets or bedding if possible so there is a recognisable scent.

Routine and familiarity makes your child feel safe and secure and a secure child will sleep adapt to his new environment quicker and easier.

White noise – whether you use white noise at home or not, introducing it for a holiday can be really beneficial in masking noises from a strange new environment, or where siblings/family members are now sharing a room. The sound of a fan or the whirr of the Air Con are great. Make sure the fan isn’t too near the sleeping area and there isn’t a direct breeze on to the cot. If these aren’t available and you can spare a smartphone or iPad then download a white noise app to play. I can recommend Sound Sleeper using the fan noise option.

Take a little more time on the bedtime routine – Help ease any ‘strange place’ anxiety your child might have by not rushing the bedtime routine. Take a little more time with the bedtime stories and a few extra cuddles will help to relax them.

Make the bedtime routine exactly the same as at home – Same time in bed & same routine. Bath…books…bed etc.

Lower your expectations – Letting your child stay up late on holiday whilst you hit the Prosecco might seem like a treat but remember that it’s lost sleep that your child won’t make up. I’m not saying that you can’t do it, just expect an early morning wake up or a grumpy kid the next day.

Plan ahead and make sure it’s your other halves turn to get up with them in the morning 🙂 Cheers

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