Written by our Infant Sleep Specialist, Emma Gawne.
If you’re browsing this, it’s probably late, and you’re exhausted. I get it, I’ve been there. So I wrote these words to help you right now, when it feels like everyone in the world gets to sleep except you and your beautiful – but restless – baby.
1. Please be reassured that you are not alone
Research has shown that 80% of children aged 6-18 months wake 1-3 times a night and more than often this is for a feed
2. Before you respond, try CALMS
Before you respond to your child, you might find it helpful to try the following technique otherwise known as CALMS
C – Connect with your feelings and calm yourself – it is very much harder to soothe and calm your baby if you are feeling dis-regulated
A – Allow yourself to breathe – try taking several deep breaths, have a glass of water and breathe out any tension you are feeling. Tensing and relaxing your fists can also help. As you become more relaxed your baby will feel it and more become relaxed too
L – Listen to your baby and what they are trying to tell you
M – Make contact your baby’s feelings – you can do this with the words you say but also with the tone of your body language that you choose to use. Say things like I can hear you are very upset, and I know you are having a really hard time as opposed to saying, there, there don’t cry it’s alright everything is fine, and you are ok baby.
S – soothe your baby. Now that you and your baby are communicating, your baby will be better able to receive comforting measures that you have you learnt – things that probably didn’t calm them before will now and they will relax
3. Slow Down
When woken by your baby try to keep yourself as relaxed slow and sleepy as you can – if you have the option to lie down and comfort your baby as opposed to standing up while you comfort them then please do this as this will make it easier to fall back to sleep once you have settled your baby.
4. Take your mind off the moment
This is a lovely little video to help you right now.
5. Gentle humming
Singing to your baby when trying to soothe them will not only help to calm them but will also help to calm you
Rather than ssshing to calm your baby use deep Ujjayi breath –this uses different muscles which help to relax and calm you as opposed to heightening feelings of anxiety
7. How to go back to sleep yourself
If your baby falls back to sleep or you switch places with your partner – a great way to fall back to sleep is to use the below exercise to help you to transition from waking into sleep
It is important to remember that we can’t evoke sleep, but we can invoke it
- Make sure that you are lying comfortably in your bed and close your eyes
- Start of by inhaling for the count of 4,3,2,1, then hold for the count of 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and then exhale 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
- (The idea is that your inhale for 4 seconds, then hold for 7 seconds and then exhale for 8 seconds)
- Repeat this process repeatedly until your fall asleep
8. Don’t look at the clocks.
Practising mindfulness and relaxation can really help to take the pressure off sleep. Rather than churning thoughts over in your mind imagine them floating past or moving in and out of your head like a breeze moving through the trees.
9. Don’t make an effort now
When making changes to your child or baby sleep, the last place to make changes is in the middle of the night – therefore if feeding rocking them etc is the quickest method for them to sleep, and it works, then continue to do so at the moment.
10. Get help in the morning
When the morning comes along you can then get in contact with me and I can work with you holistically, addressing the causes of your baby’s waking and help your whole family to have a more settled night’s sleep.