Sleep deprived? Does your baby think it’s funny to want to play all night long?
We’ve enlisted the expert help of The Gentle Mama to help address this challenge. Hayley is an Infant Sleep Educator. In this video and blog post she talks about the science of sleep, how to understand the signs your baby is giving you, and she shares 3 top tips for happy healthy baby sleep and gives insights around sleep plans and routines. Be gone sleepless nights!
"Hi, I'm Hayley, certified infancy educator and founder of The Gentle Mama.
I've been invited here today to talk to you about baby sleep and give you a few of my top tips to help your little one sleep better and for you to feel more confident with your baby sleep.
I'm an infant sleep educator, not a sleep trainer, and my job is to help parents understand their baby's sleep, to understand the science behind it, to understand how to build a healthy attachment with your baby so they feel secure, loved, and happy in their sleep environment.
I help parents optimize their baby sleep routine, their rhythm, their bedtimes, I don't try to force your baby to change in order to fit in with our expectations.
Parents nowadays are facing a lot of challenges when it comes to our baby's sleep, and actually, most of them are based on our expectations and our modern lifestyle and not on the actual baby sleep. So for example, babies do awake at night, and that's normal. We don't need to stop them from waking up at night.
Lack of support.
We are dispersed nowadays. There is no community, no village for many of us in the modern world. So our babies are growing up without that village but so are we, and that's really, really impactful for us. So that's one challenge that we're facing.
There's a lot of old school sleep consultants out there - there's a lot of misinformation out there telling us that our babies need consolidated sleep to be healthy, or that our baby must sleep through the night by the time they're six months old, or that we have to get our baby out of our room as quickly as possible. This is all misleading. It's misinformation, and it's harming us as parents because it's putting so much weight and pressure and stress on us completely unnecessarily.
This might be from friends or family or from social media or from books that we're reading. The pressure from others to do what they're doing because it worked for them, or to follow the steps that they've heard about in a magazine that they read 10 years ago, or to do what their parents did because they turned out fine. Every family is different. Every family is unique. And as a result, we can't follow the advice in the steps that others have given us if it doesn't feel right for us. So number three is external pressure. We're really struggling with that.
Suppression of our intuition.
With all this advice, with all this information being thrown at us and social media giving us so much information - Dr Google giving us all this misinformation and making a paranoid. Our intuition is being squashed down and we're being told to listen to others instead of listening to our own gut. So for me, this is one of the biggest issues out there at the moment, the fact that mothers are not empowered to listen to their own intuition and this is a big part of the job that I do.
So what can we do? How can we help ourselves and our babies to get better rest?
So our babies are communicating with us all day and all night. They don't know how to talk yet, but they do know how to communicate through their signals. And this is something that we need to take the time to listen to, listening to their cries, their movements, watching how they are changing their movements during the day.
When they're sleepy, do they wriggle about a bit more?
Do they clench their fists up?
Do they fuss more when they're tired?
What is their happy alert state like?
How does that compare to when they're about to fall asleep?
Can we start to pick up those signals as early as possible, and start to respond earlier so that they don't get to the overtired state.
Listening to our baby signals is so important, and responding to them you do not need to ignore your baby cries.
You do not need to "Toughen them up." You can respond to them sensitively, respectfully, because they are whole human beings right from day one. In fact, before day one, they are whole human beings. So respond to them.
But first of all, learn what those signals are.
- Listen to our intuition.
In order to start to getting familiar with our intuition, we can ask three questions when we have a decision coming our way. And that is, does it feel safe? Does it feel right? Does it feel respectful?
All three of those questions will require you to tap into your gut feeling. And if you can't answer yes to all three of those confidently, then there's something in your intuition that is saying there are alarm bells here. So try that out. It's just the beginning.
- Focus on a rhythm instead of a schedule.
This is a tricky one, because everywhere we go nowadays, everyone is told, fit them into a schedule.
Other people will try it and their baby is about to go through sleep progression, or their baby is developing really quickly, suddenly or on a growth spurt. As a result, that schedule doesn't work. And then parents start to feel stressed or like they're failing. It's entirely unnecessary to have a schedule or to follow a clock.
And for a small proportion of people who start that schedule at the right time for their baby, it might work, but then it might not work for your family.
Instead, you can follow your baby. You can start to build a rhythm. Rhythm will help you to flow through the day without having to watch the clock, but knowing the rough timings of what works and when. So those are my three tips.
For more information, I have an online baby sleep course called Happy Healthy Sleep for zero to 12 months olds, and it's also perfect during pregnancy to get you prepared. And in that course you will learn so much more about intuition and your baby's healthy sleep, sleep safety, so many other factors.
And thank you again, to Nessa Organics for inviting me on. "