Categories
Sleep

Argh the clocks are changing!

How do I prepare my kids for the clocks changing?

So it’s that time of year again where we are soon to lose an hour’s sleep thanks to Daylight Saving. Hmm thanks for that, as if we are not tired enough already!

Back in the day it used to mean that I had less time to get over my hangover, now it means my kid’s sleep can be affected and sometimes that feels even worse than a hangover haha!

When the clocks go forwards it means that what was a 7pm bedtime is now 8pm and that can have a knock on effect to the following week as you’re starting the week an hour in sleep deficit. Here are my tips to help you through.

What can we do to help our little ones transition smoothly to the new time?

Starting a week or so in advance, shift your routine forwards by 5-15 minutes depending on how sensitive your child is to changes. So move naps and meal times back by 15 minutes every couple of days until you have made up the hour by the 29th!

Some parents like to live life on the edge and just deal with what happens. What losing an hour is likely to mean is that children who are used to going to bed at 7.30pm might not be ready until 8.30pm. No problem at all other than if your little one will find it hard to get up on Monday 30th for nursery/school having had an hour’s less sleep. 

Some children will be absolutely fine with this and will just adjust over the next week or two.

If your little darling is usually up with the larks at 6 am or even earlier, this is a great opportunity to make use of the clocks change and do absolutely nothing meaning that naturally you have ‘fixed’ their early rising! (until October anyway haha)

Broad specutrum daylight is one of the best ways of regulating our circadian rhythm. Getting children out and about in the daylight will not only help with Vitamin D which is distinctly lacking in our bodies in Winter but will help to ensure their body clocks adjust to the new times. 

Exercise is also sleep’s friend, kids need loads of exercise to tire them out, having more time in the day and hopefully better weather is perfect for encouraging us all to get more mobile. 

As mentioned earlier adjusting meal times will help to adjust their internal body clocks. Go a step further by offering sleep inducing bedtime snacks like nut butters on whole grain bread, oats and banana or a cherry smoothie, all rich in tryptophan and natural melatonin.

I harp on about bedtime routines a LOT. I can’t emphasise enough how helpful it is to have a really consistent bedtime routine. Keep it to no more than 45 minutes in length (shorter for younger babies), make it loving and nurturing and calm and most of all the same every night. 

Where possible turn down the lights and keep things as dim as possible a couple of hours before bedtime to encourage that magic melatonin to start rising.

Kids are creatures of habit and love the predictability of a bedtime routine to help slow their minds and bodies down in preparation for bed.

sleeping baby

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Do you need more personalised advice?

If you’re worried about what will happen beyond the clocks changing, maybe sleep is completely out of the window already and you need some help. Take a look at my Sleep Coaching Packages for a range of affordable options to get some hands on support. You can book a FREE 15 minute consultation with me first, just click on the link below and book online.

Categories
Motherhood Sleep

What happens at my house?

I’m a sleep coach so my kids must sleep perfectly, right?

Last night Holly (6 months) woke at 11 for a feed just as I had gone to bed. She then woke again at 1.45 am and I tried to settle without a feed but she drained another bottle at 2.15 am, it took until 3 am for her to go to sleep enough to be put down without crying. Just in time for Max (nearly 3) to start shouting for us, I sat with him from 3 am until 5.15 am as he wanted to get up and go downstairs. I said our sleep phrase “it’s sleepy time Max” and reassured him I would stay with him. He fell back to sleep at 5 am!  Holly then started crying and when I went to her was soaked right up her back with wee so needed a full change, which, of course, meant she was then completely awake 🤦🏼‍♀️

The point of my post is to say I’m not perfect and my kids don’t always sleep all night long. I can’t force them to either, however having the knowledge I have really helps.

What I am able to do (most of the time) is rationalise what’s going on with them which makes me feel a bit better mentally and also enables me to have an idea of what to do tomorrow to try and make tomorrow night better.

For both of my kiddies, they’re suffering from overtiredness at the moment.

It’s partly due to still catching up following Christmas where routine
really went out of the window, and partly due to having 2 kids now and it being
much more difficult to maintain a schedule that really suits them both.

I’m 6 months into being a Mum of 2 and I haven’t managed to get our evening routine quite right for Holly. She doesn’t get as calm and quiet a bedtime routine as she probably needs as I’m also entertaining a 3-year-old. This sometimes means I miss her ideal bedtime window (also the TV is on for Max).

For Max, he’s dropping his nap. Some days he has it others he doesn’t. On the days he has it, he often has too late a bedtime (9 pm or later) on the days he doesn’t it’s 7 pm.

The problem with having no nap is that he’s asleep before his story finishes and crashes into his first sleep cycle. This means he’s restless overnight and wakes really early in the morning.

The problem with the late bedtime is that he still needs to get up at the
same time for us to go to work! This can just mean that the over-tiredness
builds and builds and can really have a big impact a few days down the line.

My plan of action!

I will get them both up 7 am and start our day at the normal time as lying in can cause more issues, a regular wake up time helps maintain the circadian rhythm! Max will probably need a short nap around lunchtime but I will cap it at 30 minutes so he can still build up enough sleep pressure for bedtime at 7.30 or 8 pm.

sleeping baby blissed out babies

Holly’s naps are actually pretty good, they’re about the right length for her and spread evenly across the day. I just really need to focus on giving Holly a calm bedtime routine starting 45 mins before bed and keeping the lights really low. I know these little tweaks make all the difference, just need to practice what I preach!

Part of what I do with my sleep packages is give you a really good understanding of sleep, information, and tools to understand what’s going on so you can tweak your routines when needed to make things better now and with your little one’s changing needs. I support you for as long as you need to put the plan into practice.

If you would like to know more just drop me a line, happy to meet for much-needed coffee!  xx

Categories
Motherhood Sleep

When will my baby sleep through the night?

Being a parent is hard enough without adding sleep deprivation too. Nature is cruel to make us go through the process of pregnancy and birthing our babies (however they arrive into the world) then landing us with this little defenceless human who doesn’t let us have a good rest to get over it!

yawning baby

One of the main questions I am asked as a sleep coach, or in my baby massage classes is “When will my baby sleep through the night”?

It isn’t a question I can ever answer with any accuracy. What I can do though is offer up some facts which might help you understand why your little one isn’t sleeping through the night from 6 weeks old (although if yours is then that’s great :-))

The facts

Studies say that 85% of babies still wake at least once in the night until they are 18 months old. It really is ‘normal’ for your little one to wake in the night. Sometimes it feels like yours is the only child who doesn’t sleep through, hopefully knowing the real statistics you feel reassured that you’re not doing something wrong.

Babies don’t just wake because they’re hungry, it could be any number of reasons. Cold, noise, pain or just because! Babies are also programmed to wake to protect themselves from SIDS.

Babies are unable to self settle / self regulate as their brains aren’t developed enough until 4 or 5 YEARS of age. Knowing this, how can we truly expect our little ones to be able to get themselves back to sleep when they’re in a state of upset or stress? If your little one is crying they literally can’t calm down by themselves to be able to settle off to sleep. They need us to help, this might be by feeding, rocking, patting, singing whatever works.

What can I do?

Don’t expect too much too soon. Be responsive to their needs. You are not spoiling your child by being there when they need you. Studies tell us that a child who has been responded to consistently when they are younger is actually more independent when they are older and NOT the other way around!

Don’t compare your baby to others. They are all different, with different personalities and different needs. Trust me there’s always someone in the baby groups who is loud and proud about their baby’s ability to ‘sleep through’ and that’s great for them, I can assure you that the other 90% in the room is probably in the same boat as you.

Keep breastfeeding exclusively if you can, as these Mums report that they have better sleep than mixed feeding or formula feeding Mums. This is not a judgment (I’m a formula Mum), just what the evidence says.

Try and get at least 4-5 hours in one go, this is the amount of sleep that we feel makes a difference to us. Ask for some help if necessary.

Practical sleep tips

It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are lots of things you can do to make it better and give you THE BEST chance of getting a great night’s sleep.

  • Make sure your little one is getting the right amount of sleep in the day for them, over tiredness REALLY affects nighttime sleep (and early rising!)!
  • Keep the lights low in the evenings
  • Have a calm and nurturing bedtime routine
  • Offer a sleep-inducing bedtime snack
  • If you use white noise play it ALL night long
  • Work with a sleep coach!

Above all remember this is a phase in your life that will pass, this isn’t forever. You can do it.

As normal as it is for them to wake in the night if your child is waking 4/5 times or even more, there is most likely a strategy we can find that will improve that.

If you feel like you’re at the end of your tether because your little one’s sleep is so disrupted and you need help, drop me a line, I offer free 15 minute consultations. My bespoke sleep packages are tailored to you and your family and give you the tools to be able to improve your little one’s sleep now and over the coming years. I am here to support you through the plan for as long as you need it.

Categories
Bonding Classes Maternal Mental Health Motherhood

Bonding. Can baby massage help? A real story

Having had anxiety and depression in the past, on finding out I was pregnant with my first baby, I naturally had some questions around how likely it was that I would get post natal depression.  I hadn’t been someone who had wanted children all my life so wondered if I might struggle with bonding. The midwife explained there wasn’t necessarily a definite link between the two for me but that there was plenty of screening and support once the baby arrived which put my mind at ease a little.

I had a relatively easy pregnancy, apart from regular bouts of bleeding due to a low lying placenta and in the latter stages I developed SPD which was pretty painful. When my due date came and went and two weeks later I was heading to hospital to be induced, I wasn’t even considering how I would bond with the little person we were about to meet. I had a generally good birth experience and little Max arrived into the world.

That’s the hard bit done, I thought… but that’s not quite how it was…

Oh my, what have we done?

We were kept in the hospital for two nights as Max wasn’t feeding, I had been adamant I would breastfeed but it seemed this wasn’t working out. Max was diagnosed with a significant tongue tie. In that ward overnight, exhausted after labour and just needing sleep, Max did nothing but cry and I literally didn’t know what to do. I suddenly felt completely helpless, completely out of my depth and completely alone in those long first nights.

On returning home I thought everything would just go back to normal! No chance!

The lack of sleep in those first weeks is relentless, nobody can prepare you for it. Feed, sleep, change, feed, sleep, change. Sleep when the baby sleeps they say – ha! That never did work for me so I was absolutely shattered.

As soon as Max was born I knew I would do anything for him but I can’t honestly say that I felt any bond with him at first, I just didn’t get what I had heard to be a burst of love for him, how can you love someone who just screams at you no matter what you do?! Thankfully I have a wonderfully supportive husband and family and an amazing group of Mums from NCT.

Once my husband had to go back to work and I was left alone with the tiny screaming human, desperate to escape the house, I looked into classes that were suitable for newborns and came across a local baby massage class. I rounded up a few of my NCT buddies and we started when Max was around 10 weeks old.

This is supposed to be fun!

The first session was traumatic – it took me all my energy to get us out of the house in time and Max cried pretty much the whole way through the class. Is it worth it I thought?!

Practice makes perfect

As the sessions went on, the logistics became easier, practicing the strokes that we learnt in class at home meant that we were both more relaxed in each-other’s company and I learnt to read Max’s cues better. I learnt how to tell when he was tired, bored, needed a boundary, lots of other things beyond the obvious physical needs of food/sleep/nappy change.

As the sessions went on, the logistics became easier, practicing the strokes that we learnt in class at home meant that we were both more relaxed in each-other’s company and I learnt to read Max’s cues better. I learnt how to tell when he was tired, bored, needed a boundary, lots of other things beyond the obvious physical needs of food/sleep/nappy change.

The communication skills that came from spending time together doing the massage strokes were invaluable for me, I could see that he was a human with needs and not just a robot who I could make better by just seeing to the physical needs.

That was the breakthrough moment for me, things suddenly clicked into place. I was able to connect with him and there began our bonding.

Now we are so close, I’m able to communicate so much better with him and he is amazing.

Not only that but when Max developed colic and silent reflux I felt able to do something to help him. Now I know exactly what they’re talking about when they describe the bond between mother and child, for me it certainly didn’t come as naturally as I had expected, but it did come.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your new life as a parent, you are not alone. It is such a huge change in your life and everyone reacts differently. My baby massage course is a friendly space where you can learn the wonderful skill of baby massage for bonding, but you can also chat about your feelings with others who are in the same boat.

Book a place on the next course here.

Categories
Motherhood

The Power of Words

Pregnant public property

Why is it when you’re pregnant or have had a baby people seem to think they can make extremely personal comments to you? I spent the last 3 months of my pregnancy fielding comments like

“are you sure there’s only one in there” or even one of my favourites “wow you are absolutely enormous”

which is enough to strike anxiety and doubt into even the most confident of women. 

Thoughtless comments

This week I was walking down the canal pushing my pram in the sun and a man walked past as I was drinking from a can of diet coke says to me “I hope that’s low calorie?” I didn’t really know what to say so carried on walking but actually by the time I got home it had really got to me! I’m really tired, feeling a bit lonely and bored on maternity leave and not exactly feeling my most confident anyway. This is the last thing I wanted to hear. Why is it ok to say something like that to anybody, let alone someone who has produced another human and is doing their best to keep 2 kiddies plus a husband alive?

Post-natal pressure

It got me thinking, how are we supposed to embrace our new bodies when there are people in the world who judge complete strangers like this and feel the need to say cruel things?

Why is there an expectation from society that we will just ‘bounce back’ as though our bodies are elastic, why don’t we embrace that they may always be different because of what they have gone through? Why is different bad?

Why is there an expectation that I should be watching what I eat/drink when actually that sip of Diet Coke is the first thing to pass my lips all day because I’ve had to get a toddler out of the house and sort a 3 month old before going out and I’m always at the bottom of the list?

What is wrong in our culture?

So many cultures around the world respect and nurture new Mums. In China there is the 30 day long ‘sitting in’ period where Mothers aren’t allowed to leave the house, are looked after by relatives and are fed home made lactation inducing meals.

In Japan they have Ansei which is 3 weeks of rest, staying with parents and often the Mum will stay in bed with baby for most of the time. Japanese ladies have low rates of hysterectomies in later life, and the theory is that is related to Ansei as the uterus is given good time to properly recover.

In India the tradition is to stay home for 40-60 days with friends and family cooking meals and giving the mother daily massages.

In the UK you might even be sent home from hospital within 24 hours of having a caesarean section! It feels like we are expected to recover physically and mentally within days or the early weeks and get back to looking our best almost immediately.

The media

If we look at parenting magazines, the covers are adorned with glamourous women with full faces of make up and perfectly coiffured hair, their smiling babies beautifully balanced on their size zero hip. This just perpetuates the myth that we can have it all, the reality is we probably can’t, nor in most cases do we want to.

The reality

Often in those early days/weeks/months of motherhood, a good day is when you have had a shower, or manage a full morning of wearing clean clothes! But of course while the media shows us how we ‘should’ look, how will we ever match up? Does this perpetuate the idea that we should all want our old bodies back immediately and that we should somehow prioritise how we are looking on the outside for the purpose of showing how well we are doing at motherhood?

Of course, if you are able to wash your hair, put your make up on and that makes you feel good then that is brilliant, but we certainly shouldn’t feel that is how we need to look to please other people.

This is why in my baby massage classes, I’m honest about the fact that Motherhood isn’t always Insta perfect and I’m passionate about them being an open forum to discuss the challenges as well as the amazing moments we experience whilst finding our way as Mothers. Its all about creating that little village.

For me, for most of the time anyway, I don’t generally worry too much about what people think about me and how I look but I do definitely feel some pressure to be losing the baby weight. Silly and flippant comments like the one made to me this week don’t help, but I don’t blame him specifically, I just wish our society could change how we think of, value and support new Mothers. Hopefully one day that will change.

If you would like to come along to one of the friendliest groups you will find, just drop me a line.  My inbox is always open x

Blissed Out Babies Jemma's Family
My little family  x