12 Dec Q&A with sleep guru Heidi Skudder
Posted at 15:30h
in Mum's words
Sleep Coach Heidi Skudder speaks to Mums the Word about common issues when sleep training and how to keep on target!
For the past two weeks, 9 month old Joseph has been through a new sleep regime. In short it has involved throwing away his dummy, enduring regular crying intervals, and a lot of creeping around outside his door stopping myself from running in and feeding him. The goal was to get him sleeping 7pm-7am. This is hugely achievable! By the end of week 1 he had slept the full 12 hours two nights in a row and I was mildly freaked out by sleep. Euphoria aside – week 2 has not been as plain sailing and I am now fully established in a 5am wake up nightmare. 5am in my book is still night time! My goal in week 3 is to extend the 5am wake up call to 6.30am.
Our sleep trainer Heidi has answered some of your questions sent to Mums the Word and explains how I can get Joe to sleep until 7am.
What tips do you have on getting rid of the dummy and why it is important?
The dummy can be useful if you have a baby who is refluxy, as it helps keep milk down after feeds. However once your baby grows out of reflux symptoms or is over 12 weeks, the dummy can become a problem. It is different for every child, some children can use dummies to age 3/4 and never have them affect sleep, other babies will start waking several times a night for the dummy. It is only a problem if it is a problem for you. Getting rid of dummies during sleep is best done cold turkey, a halfway house will only confuse your child. To take the dummy away, introduce a comforter instead and use a sleep training method to help soothe your child.
How important is the daytime routine and tips?
A day time routine means that your baby will be well fed and rested, which is key to a good nights sleep. The most common misconception I come across is that babies who sleep in the day won’t sleep at night – in fact it is the opposite! A child who is well rested during the day will go to bed more easily and not be overtired, meaning they sleep better too. Sleep breeds sleep!
How do I maintain my new sleep routine? What happens if they get ill or start teething?
Unfortunately when your child is unwell (sickness, temperature, chesty cough) you cannot sleep train. However you can try and keep your child in their cot without interfering too much and just helping them to sleep that way, so that all their good habits are not unlearnt. If you really do fall into bad habits, as SOON as your child is better, revert straight back to your sleep training method. The sooner you get back to it, the easier it will be.
A good sleeper generally won’t wake often from teething, if they do during a bad phase of teething, offer teething gel, some calpol but then do let them self settle back to sleep themselves without intervening.
Any tips on tackling the 5am wake up? How do I not fall in to the trap of my baby waking up 5.30am/6am and it's the start of the day?
Early morning waking is closely related to overtiredness. Is your baby having enough day time sleep for his age? It can very quickly become a habit so my advice would be set for cut off time (e.g. 6.30am) and ignore anything earlier than that. It may take a week or more but baby will stop waking so early. You can also try moving bedtime earlier to see if it has an impact.