Submitted by Julie_Batten on Thu, 05/16/2013 - 20:58
Today's guest blog post is brought to you in association with Oral B
Handy Hints for a Blissful Bedtime
Developing a bedtime routine often proves to be one of the most beneficial ways of instilling good sleeping habits in your children. A bedtime routine provides children with a transition period between being awake and going to sleep, which allows them to get used to the idea with a sense of safety and security.
Children thrive on routine, and knowing what to expect at the end of each day nurtures their sense of contentment. Sticking to a predictable pattern at bedtime helps to form a frame of mind that’s conducive to embracing sleep. Although the routine may change and evolve as your child grows, the basics at bedtime fundamentally remain the same. However you choose to create your routine, stick to one that works for you and incorporate the bedtime basics.
It’s important to set a time to start getting your children ready for bed. Keep to that time as much as possible to help nurture natural sleep rhythms. Give your child a heads up when the clock starts ticking, so that bedtime comes as less of a shock. Teach them to learn by association and be aware of impending bedtime with rituals such as running the bathwater or tidying up toys.
A simple snack before bed that incorporates both carbohydrates and protein can be beneficial. Carbohydrates encourage sleepiness and protein keeps blood sugar levels balanced, which can help to stave off hunger until the morning and encourage an undisturbed night’s sleep. It’s important to ensure your children clean their teeth after a snack and to promote this activity as one of the regular rituals.
Encourage teeth cleaning with fun brushes that incorporate popular children’s characters. Electric toothbrushes provide thorough and gentle cleaning with the benefits of battery power. Oral B brush heads provide safe and effective cleaning, which is just as gentle as when using soft manual brushes. From Power Rangers to Disney Princesses, your children can choose their favourite colourful characters.
Combine teeth cleaning with a relaxing warm bath which raises your child’s body temperature to a sufficient level to encourage sleep. Comfortable pyjamas and a story while tucked up in bed are perfect bedtime basics. Reading a favourite book, cuddled up with a comforting toy often becomes a key ritual.
When it’s time for your child to go to sleep, keep goodnights brief and relatively business-like. If you continue to return to your child when called, what should be bedtime runs the risk of becoming playtime.
I had never thought much about a baby comforter for my little boy when he was first born, but looking back now I wish that I had. Seb became attached to a completely random soft toy that became known as MoMo who was quite literally irreplaceable! She was given to him when he was about 3 months old by my mother when we were out shopping one day. She showed it to him, he beamed and that was it, the irreplaceable, random soft toy (an eskimo dressed in a santa outfit, I said it was random!) became Seb’s comforter. At first I thought he was just quite fond of her but it soon became apparent that it was more than that. She HAD to be with him at bedtime and nap times and as soon as he got upset or tired she was the first thing that he would look for. He is now 6 years old and still sleeps with MoMo.
Benefits of a comforter
There are definite benefits to comforters, studies have shown that babies and toddlers who use a baby comforter are significantly more likely to sleep through the night than those with no comforter. When your child forms an attachment to a soft toy or blankie she can use it to self soothe, which is essential for helping her to learn how to sleep through the night without calling for you. So everyone has a better chance of getting a good night’s sleep.
If you currently rock, cuddle or feed your baby to sleep, you are probably finding that you need to do that several times throughout the night to help your baby go back to sleep after she wakes. Baby comforters work in the same way as rocking and feeding your baby because they aid her to sleep. The difference is that she can use the comforter independently, without calling for you. Her comforter will also provide reassurance during times of stress, change, or separation.
Studies have also found that baby comforters play a major role in helping children to cope when anxious or concerned. Research has even found that baby comforters can be as effective as mum in reducing any moderate distress in babies. If your baby is struggling to sleep through the night, a baby comforter could prove to be a worthwhile investment.
Choosing a comforter
Learning from experience, I would recommend choosing your baby’s comforter for her. Pick something that’s easy to replace if lost. We have had lots of very stressful moments when we thought MoMo was lost. Once she got left at Centerparcs and we didn’t realise until we got home, my god that was a nightmare! Also pick something that is designed for young children such as a sleepytot bunny, a comforter for babies should have no parts that could represent a choking hazard, such as buttons for the eyes or nose.
Something soft and tactile is perfect for stroking as your baby drifts off to sleep, but make sure there’s no loose fur pile that your baby could breathe in. And try to keep the colours pale (as you can see MoMo is definitely NOT pale!). Babies are easily stimulated by bright colours and you want your baby to be soothed by her comforter, not ready to play! Also, make sure it’s machine washable. Your baby’s comforter will definitely get pretty grotty at times!
Before giving the comforter to your baby, keep it close to your skin for a few hours or overnight so that it smells of you. From a very early age, you can pop the comforter in your baby’s basket or cot so that she can smell or see it nearby. Even just being able to see the comforter at this early age can give your baby the security she needs to fall back to sleep, especially if it smells like you. Between 6 and 12 months, your baby will start to form a very strong attachment to the comforter, often needing it to fall asleep with.
This is a key time in your baby’s life as she begins to understand you can go away and leave her and separation anxiety can set in. Baby comforters have been shown to make this time much easier for your baby (and you!).
How long will they need their comforter?
Children seem to need their comforter most between about 1 and 3 years of age, before they've learned to feel safe when you’re not there. A lot of children will probably be ready to give up their comforter by 3 to 4 years of age - at least in the daytime.
Most children rely on their comforter when they are worried, afraid, or tired. They are usually needed at times such as bedtime, naptime, or when staying with someone else, (such as with a child minder or at nursery).
It’s best that you let your little one give up her comforter when she’s ready to (rather than when other people think she should!). Children tend to let go of their comforter when it loses its special meaning for them and when they feel confident trying new things. Usually this is between 3 and 5 years of age but at 6 Seb is still very attached to MoMo and still sleeps with her every night, I don’t feel the need to pressure him in to giving her up, I know the time will come, when he is ready, but even then she won’t be going anywhere as I certainly won’t be able to give her up, I think I must be as attached to her as Seb is!
Submitted by Julie_Batten on Wed, 03/27/2013 - 14:43
Look at gorgeous little Eloise who is our Easter star of the blog!
Eloise's mummy Faye got in touch with us to share this photo and here is what she had to say:
I just thought I'd send a photo of another satisfied customer!
Eloise loves her sleepytot bunny and it's been an absolute godsend for us (both my girls have had one)! I cannot recommend this bunny enough for anyone whose baby has a dummy for sleep. Plus ours have been washed squillions of times and still perfect, so very good quality!
Thanks so much for sharing with us Faye, we hope that you all have a wonderful Easter and your 'Easter Bunny' continues to help you all sleep!
Submitted by Julie_Batten on Mon, 03/18/2013 - 11:08
We have a brand new star of the blog.
Ella's Mummy Lisa sent us this gorgeous photo of Ella with her new sleepytot Henry!
And this is what she had to say:
I just wanted to send you a quick e-mail to say....... This is the best invention in the world!!!!
It took Ella about a week to reaslise what is was and since then she has been sleeping brilliantly. We called him helpful Henry and he has been our saving grace. I actually feel human again. Thank you so much, thrilled with the results, I couldn't believe it. She loves him so much now going to bed she automatically spits out her dummy and goes for Henry straight away. Best thing I ever bought and will recommend to everyone!!!
Thanks so much for the picture Lisa, we are so pleased that Ella is now sleeping soundly through the night thanks to Henry!
Submitted by Julie_Batten on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 16:53
We absoultely love hearing from Mums and Dads who tell us they are getting more sleep thanks to their Sleepytot bunny, so I was delighted to receive this e-mail from Emma with a picture of her beautiful daughter Charlotte. It appears that a sleepytot bunny was just what Emma and Charlotte both needed after countless sleepless nights!
This is what Charlotte's Mummy Emma had to say:
I thought I would send you an email and photo further to receiving our Sleepytot Bunny yesterday.
Charlotte is nearly 7months old and since dropping the nightfeeds a couple of months ago I have been getting up at least 6 times a night to put her dummy back thus her going back to sleep until it falls out again :-(
I dubiously placed my order for a Sleepytot Bunny, desperately hoping this could be the answer to our problems.
She arrived yesterday and I excitedly attached a dummy to one of the arms (see attached photo) and Charlotte immediately put the dummy in her mouth whilst hugging the bunny, result!
Obviously the test was last night, I followed the same bedtime routine as usual and put Charlotte down at 7pm awake but with her Sleepytot Bunny, she went straight to sleep and didn't wake up until 7am this morning! When I went in she was happily gurgling away with a dummy in her mouth and cuddling bunny, perfect :-)
I'm hoping it was not a one off fluke and that I can now throw away the matchsticks that have been keeping my eyes open for the past few months :-)
Thanks so much for sharing this with us Emma, we really hope that Charlotte continues to sleep well with her Sleepytot and that you all get lots more rest from now on! x
This is Madeline (12mnths) with her sleepytot named Billy the Bunny! We introduced the sleepytot at 5 months I placed my order at 4 am online after another terrible night of chasing lost dummies round the cot and it is the best purchase I ever made!
Maddy took to the sleeptot straight away and would dangle him over her head till one of the dummies would land in her mouth! He has also over time become her comfort toy so I always feel reassured as long as her sleepytot accompanies her she will always feel secure, she likes to crawl around with him or just lay on him!
I also think the sleeptot was the ideal toy to wean her off her dummies (which we wanted to do before her sibling arrives) we gradually took a dummy away at a time and noticed she liked to tickle her face with with the ears and we had no fuss what so ever!
Thanks so much for sending us the picture, we always love to see little ones with their bunnies! Good luck with baby number 2, we would love to see a picture of your new baby with their sleepyot one day!
Submitted by Julie_Batten on Sun, 02/10/2013 - 12:39
When am I going to get some decent sleep?
I’m sure I am not the only mum to have asked themselves this over and over!
My children do both sleep through the night now (mostly) but to be honest at 6 and 3 years old if they didn’t then I would be in a complete and utter frazzled state!
I have to admit though that they have not been the best sleepers and I never got to be one of those smug mothers who proudly declares that her young child is routinely sleeping soundly through the night at a ridiculously young age.
My two were waking in the night for feeds/milk for much, much longer than the books said they should be and I was exhausted for months and months!
When they were babies we thought we were doing most things right, we had a good bedtime routine which we established very early on and whenever they woke in the night we would keep the lights off and make no eye contact with them but both of them kept on waking in the night for feeds for a lot longer than we had expected – or hoped for and then bad habits started to develop which took a long time to break!
Looking back now, I can see that there were things that we were doing that probably contributed to them both continuing to wake in the night well beyond the age of 6 months (in fact both of them were probably closer to the age of 2 before they were sleeping through the night routinely, how bad is that?!)
So at what age can a baby sleep all night long and go through the night without feeding?
A newborn baby (especially a breast fed one) will need to feed approximately every 3 hrs but by the time they are 3-4 months, the time between night feeds can reach about 5-6 hours, so at this age you would still be expecting to feed them once or twice in the night.
By about four months because most babies have reached 11lbs in weight (which means that metabolically they don’t need a night feed) so at this age you may be able to get your baby to sleep for 7-8 hours.
This is where it probably goes wrong for a lot of parents (it certainly was for me) as often babies will continue to demand a feed even though they don’t actually need it and continue to wake in the night out of habit. If your baby is waking for a feed at 6 months old and is of a normal weight you can be pretty sure that he isn’t waking due to hunger!
There are lots of things that you can do to start encouraging your baby to sleep longer at night and you can start from about 4 months old so hopefully by the age of 6 months you could all be sleeping soundly thorough the night.
Try to have a good bedtime routine established so your baby starts to learn the difference between night and day.
Help your baby learn to settle himself, if he can drift off by himself without being on the breast or the bottle he may be able to settle himself again in the night if he stirs.
You could try a dreamfeed – which basically entails, rousing your baby slightly to give them the breast or bottle before you go to bed. This could get you an extra hour or so if they fill up slightly before you go to sleep.
When you do feed in the night, keep all lights as low as possible, try to avoid too much eye contact and try not to fuss too much over them and do the complete opposite during day time feeds.
Start to shorten their night time feeds, don’t allow them to feed on the breast for quite as long or put less in the bottle. You can keep decreasing the amount they have over a period of time until they become ready to drop the feed all together.
Don’t rush to your baby in the night as soon as they stir, sometimes they will rouse slightly and then settle themselves again without the need for a feed.
If your baby is still sharing your room, you could consider moving them into their own room, having you close by could possibly be a factor that is encouraging continued night time waking and feeding.
I have never been ashamed to admit that my children have not been great sleepers. Once we conquered the night feeds and finally started to get some sleep would you believe that different night time issues began to develop!
My six year old boy became an early morning riser, I have seen 5am far, far too many times and even more annoyingly he appears to wake up as bright as a daisy and rearing to go (and I am NOT a morning person, just ask my Husband!)
My 3 year old girl is more like me, not good in the mornings but she became a little night prowler, managing somehow to always worm her way into mummy and daddy’s bed (sometimes with so much stealth that we wouldn’t even realise she was there until the morning!). (Some topics for future posts there I think!)
So over time I just accepted that my children clearly have no intention of doing things ‘by the book’ and maybe we contributed to this or maybe this is just who my children are, after all we are all individuals and just because the experts say so, or it is written in the parenting book it doesn’t mean that every child is going to conform to the rules does it! God bless the little cherubs, we wouldn’t change them for the world, would we!
Submitted by Julie_Batten on Sat, 01/12/2013 - 20:06
The benefits of a good bedtime routine for your baby.
When both of my children were born I was keen to get them in to a bedtime routine as soon as possible and we set about developing a nice calming bed time hour to settle them off in the hope that they would soon learn the difference between night and day and be sleeping all night long. Being honest though, although they both learnt to go to sleep on their own and bed time was never really a battle, they very rarely slept all the way through the night!
But there are lots of other benefits to a good bedtime routine and although you may initially get some resistance from your little one (depending on at what age you start), it is definitely worth the struggle!
My two children have always come out with all sorts of excuses not to go to bed but what they are always trying to achieve is more time with us and more of our attention. It can be tempting at the end of a long and tiring day to rush bedtimes so you can get some ‘grown up time’ before you collapse into bed, but spending a little bit of calm and focussed time on your children at this time of day can be so important to them.
This time of day can be the perfect opportunity to create little habits or rituals that will form part of your daily routine and can create very special memories (make the most of it, they aren’t little for long, don’t forget that one day they won’t want you to tuck them in at night or lie in bed and have long cuddle anymore and that time may come sooner than you expect!)
Children can feel safer and more secure with structure and repetition in their lives. With an established bedtime routine they know what bedtime means and if you are firm but caring with them when it comes to this time of the day they will feel comforted by the familiarity of the process.
Children love repetition, how many times have you seen that same DVD (I must have watched the Gruffalo at least a 1000 times!) or read the same story over and over? The repetition of the bedtime routine, whatever it may consist of, lets them know what to expect and this makes them feel more secure and confident which makes it easier for them to settle. This in turn can help them learn how to relax and soothe themselves. These feelings of confidence and safety are great at bedtime as they can help disperse fears such as monsters under the bed, but they also spread into their daily lives helping their emotional development.
There is no perfect bedtime routine and even when you have a good one, there may still be times when bedtime descends into total chaos and you are tearing your hair out (I know, I have been there!) but at least if you have a routine, your family all know what to expect at bedtime and more often than not it will go as planned and be a special time that you spend together.
Establishing a good bedtime routine
It is entirely up to you what you include in your routine and how long it lasts but when you plan a routine for your children, make sure it is one that you will be able to stick to as it’s the consistency that is really important. Choose a time to start which will mean that you won’t have to rush and will give you enough time to include any little rituals that you want to. Once you have decided what time you want your little one to be settled make sure that about an hour before you start to encourage calm activities such as reading or colouring. Avoid any games that involve tearing around the house at 100 miles an hour or anything that you know winds your child up! It’s also a good idea to remind them that bed time is approaching. Once they are nice and calm move into your sequence, whatever it may be. We do: bath, brush teeth/wash face, nighties/pyjamas on, story time, cuddles and kisses and finally lights out.
I am convinced that having the bedtime routine has saved my sanity! But it has also been (and still is) a lovely relaxing, calm time of the day during which we have long cuddles and share special moments together. We also have little rituals that we do each night which have evolved over time as part of the routine. I am trying to make sure I fully appreciate all of these little things because as repetitive as they may seem right now, I know that they won’t last forever and I have no doubt that I will miss most (but definitely not all) of them one day!
Submitted by Julie_Batten on Thu, 12/27/2012 - 12:57
What a cute picute of Jake snuggled up with his sleepytot bunny! Jake's Mum Vanessa sent this in for us and this is what she had to say:
I've been posting on the forum (Vee_Moz post title 3 month old awake all night...Desperate). Jake has always been a bad sleeper but it got to a point where I was like the walking dead as he was up 15 times a night!
I ordered the Sleepytot and straightaway things started to improve. He's got himself back to sleep a few times and when I've checked he's been holding onto the ears!
Thanks for all your help and here's hoping that things keep getting better.
We are so pleased that Jake loves his sleepytot and that everyone is getting more sleep! Thanks for the picture Vanessa!
Submitted by Julie_Batten on Thu, 12/20/2012 - 12:46
Jamie's mum Nikki sent us this lovely photo of Jamie with his sleepytot. We think he looks adorable.... here is what she had to say:
'Hi, I just wanted to drop you a quick email to tell you how much we LOVE, love, love the Sleepytot bunny!
After many, many sleepless nights because of lost dummies, we purchased a Sleepytot on the recommendation of a friend and we have never looked back!
Jamie adores the bunny and knows that when he sees him, it’s time for a snooze. When his dummy naturally falls out whilst he’s asleep, it lands nice and close, safely held on to by his Sleepytot bunny and it’s there ready for him when he wakes. It’s so cute to see him grab and snuggle the bunny and then easily find his dummy if needed.
It’s also brilliant in the car and pram, we use one bunny leg to attach it to the seat straps and that way it’s always on hand for a cuddle.
This is literally the best thing we have bought, and I sing its praises to all the admirers we get.
We love it so much we have bought two! A grey daytime bunny and a cream night-time bunny ( and I am seriously considering a third for a “just in case” bunny, because I don’t know what we do without it!)
Our new Star of the Blog is baby Olive who was 6 months when this picture was taken. Having three boys means I'm always very happy to see some pink... and isn't Olive beautiful?! Here's what her mum had to say about Sleepytot...
"Only two days in and already my 6 month old baby girl loves her comforter! Attached is a picture to illustrate! I kept it on my skin the day we got it and now she rubs her face deep into his belly and then she's off out like a light. We are so happy we got one and intend to tell everyone about it!
From a happy mummy and baby.
Laura and baby Olive x"
Thanks for the photo Laura and Olive! We love it. x
According to a recent survey, parents lie about how much sleep they are getting (or, more precisely, not getting). A Netmums survey claims that only 25% of babies are sleeping through by 12 weeks and 63% by the time they are one, which is comforting for people whose baby still doesn’t sleep brilliantly. What is surprising, though, is that according to the survey, 62% of parents said that they have, at some point, lied about the lack of sleep they are getting and their baby’s sleep habits.
So why do parents feel under pressure to have a perfect sleeper so much that they are willing to lie about it? It could be that sleep is one of the earliest elements of a baby’s life and achievements; if you want to call it that, so it is the earliest thing parents have to be proud of. Maybe some of those parents will also tell little fibs in 10 years’ time and say their child flew through all his SATs, or speaks fluent French?
Maybe, on some level, parents think that having a baby that doesn’t sleep implies that they are failing as a parent. Or perhaps parents would feel disloyal to their baby by admitting how exhausting it all is, and that their baby STILL doesn’t sleep at 18 months.
This leads us to ask; where do these expectations come from? What makes us think that our 8 week old baby should be waking only once in the night, or our 6 month old should be sleeping through? Some of the blame has gone to parenting gurus and parenting books. They set such high expectations of what a baby ‘should’ be doing at a certain age that we all expect this perfect, eating-feeding-sleeping baby, so more of us feel that we are failing and more women are turning to sleep consultants to help them out - at the cost of £1,000 a week!
Undeniably, sleep is a science and there are certain things that you can guarantee, such as if your baby doesn’t self-settle he is very unlikely to sleep through, and teaching him to self-settle could well result in a baby that does sleep through; or a baby who is too tired or not tired enough is unlikely to sleep well. That is how we can offer help and advice; because sometimes there is something that we are doing, or not doing, that only someone from the outside can see and say “try changing that, give her more sleep in the day, teach him to self-settle”. And it does work. But babies are humans, just like you and me. So even if you know that ‘they should be able to sleep through when they weigh over 10lbs’ or ‘most babies sleep through at 6 months’ that doesn’t mean that they will sleep through, because they are individuals and we should be proud of that.
My two children are a great example. From 8 weeks old Alice woke once in the night and, other than the occasional blip (a big one when she was 2) she has always settled well and slept through. Freddie started off pretty much the same but, at just 3, waking in the night appears to have become normal for him, somehow. I’m not sure if it was going on holiday and us rushing to settle him, or if he just likes a middle-of-the-night cuddle but, yes, I admit it, he is three and he still wakes 5 nights out of 7.
At three it’s harder to deal with; he shares a room with his sister and sleeps in a bed so I can’t leave him to cry because 1) he’d probably follow me and 2) he’d wake his sister. So one of us usually ends up snuggling him in before returning to bed with fervent promises that it will never happen again. Ever. Until tomorrow!
I suppose I do feel a bit ashamed that my 3 year old is still not a brilliant sleeper. I don’t think I lie about it but I probably do underplay his sleep habits and, maybe, tell people that Freddie wakes one or two nights out of 7. I think that’s because I’m his Mum and I want to protect him and I don’t want people to judge him or think ‘poor you’ because, actually, I’m the luckiest woman in the world; he is gorgeous! And maybe I’m a tiny bit ashamed that my son (did I mention he’s 3?!) isn’t the best sleeper. Maybe it is a bit like admitting failure, so I balance it by telling myself and others, if it comes up, that he goes to sleep brilliantly every night without a peep and it’s not that bad really……
Maybe we should all just accept our children for who they are, what they eat, how clever they are (geniuses, of course, all of them), instead of trying to measure up to some unattainable benchmark invented by experts (who, don’t forget, are making loads of money out of us) and urban myth. Maybe we should all stand up and shout to the world “I am sleep deprived and proud!”
I love this picture of this week's star of the blog Isabelle, with her Sleepytot. Isn't she adorable? Her mummy sent us this message:
"Attached is my Daughter Isabelle and her "best friend" Dummy Bunny.
Izzie is now just under 10 months old and she has had her dummy bummy since she was around 5 months old, she sleeps the whole night now becasue when she wakes up she can easily find him, I hear her wake up in the night and we hear her fumbling around in her cot and then we hear aaahhhhh as she finds him, pops her dummy back in her mouth and falls straight back to sleep and this means that dummy bunny is mummys best friend too!!!
Izzie loves her Bunny so much and she can't sleep without him!!
Thank you so much"
Thank you for the picture! Izzie, you're STAR, and a t-shirt is on it's way to you! :)
Nothing makes me happier than a Sleepytot fan. Especially one who has a SLEEPYTOT CAKE for his first birthday!
So when Koby's mum sent me this message and the piccies, I was literally ecstatic!
" Hiya from Australia,
My baby boy Koby turns 1 today so I made him this very special cake. Bunny has been a god send for us since he was 2 months old and still is! Ones always soaking in Napisan and the other with my boy always. Koby rubs his face with bunnys ears to help soothe and relax him.
Happy birthday Koby and Bunny"
Happy birthday Koby and Bunny from all of us at Sleepytot too!
I also LOVE the picture of Koby smiling with all his Sleepytots. Gorgeous isn't it?
And Koby's mum, what a fab cake maker you are! We're all very impressed here at Sleepytot!
We think you both deserve a "Star of the Blog" t-shirt but we only do them for small people!
Although at Sleepytot we aim to make getting your little ones to sleep as easy as possible, it can still sometimes be a tricky (and tiring affair). So, to treat those hardworking mums and dads, or to congratulate new parents on their new arrival, we’ve teamed up with online flower experts Clare Florist to offer one lucky customer the chance to win a beautiful bouquet of spring blooms.
The winner will get to choose their favourite from three spectacular bouquets: the blue baby boy bouquet, featuring iris, white roses and gerbera; the pink baby girl bouquet, featuring roses, white freesia and pink gerbera, or the sweetly-scented Freesia Fragrance bouquet in shades of yellow and purple.
To win your favourite bouquet, all you need to do is leave your answer to the following question in the comments below:
What’s your favourite thing about springtime?
We'll select one lucky winner in a prize draw! Competition closes on 31 May 2012.
Clare Florist have a beautiful new baby range and offer next day flower delivery, so make sure you check out their full selection now.
Results of a study of around 900 women in Brazil looks at the effect of caffeine on baby sleep.
My daughter is 7 this month. Predictably I am stunned at where that time has gone. I started thinking about how different pregnancy and childrearing was for my mum 30-40 years ago, which brought me to thinking about, actually, how different my pregnancies with my daughter, in 2005 and son in 2009 were.
In 2005 nuts were bad, caffeine was ok (not that I could consume it without being sick), soft eggs were out. In 2009nuts were suddenly good as they may prevent allergies, coffee was forbidden and eggs? I don’t know. To be honest I had become so conditioned during pregnancy number one that I struggled to drop the items that had been banned and were suddenly allowed but I did pick up the newest item on the forbidden list; caffeine. And boy did I miss it!
So is caffeine really the enemy? I mean, no one can say that it is GOOD for you, but in small doses is it really that bad during pregnancy? And does the odd cup of coffee whilst breastfeeding result in a baby that will keep you up partying all night?
Small studies over the years gave the mixed conclusions that had our healthcare providers swinging from one set of advice to another where caffeine is concerned. However, over the last couple of years there have been much bigger studies that showed caffeine in moderation (about 200mg or 1 -2 cups of coffee per day) didn’t pose a risk during pregnancy. So if you can hold it down there now appears to be no reason why you can’t have the odd latte whilst pregnant.
When I breastfed my children I never had caffeine before a feed, thinking that, like alcohol, it would go directly to the baby via my milk. But in actual fact no one has known whether caffeine intake while feeding affects a baby’s sleep, until this recent study by Dr Santos from Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil.
For the study, Dr Santos, questioned 885 mothers about their caffeine intake and baby’s sleep at the age of 3 months. 884 of the mums drank caffeine in some form during pregnancy, with 20% drinking over 300mg a day (2-4 cups of coffee) during pregnancy and 14% within 3 months of having their baby. Overall, researchers could find no link between the frequency of the baby’s waking and the mother’s caffeine intake.
14% of babies woke 3 or more times during the night, which was considered frequent but the study showed that the mums who consumed more caffeine were not more likely to wake than those who consumed little or no caffeine.
The study seems to show that limited caffeine intake of 200 mg or less (about 2 cups of instant coffee, 1 ½ of brewed coffee or 6 cups of tea) during pregnancy poses no risk to your baby, although there is not enough research to show the effects of heavy caffeine consumption on a baby’s development during pregnancy. As caffeine is a stimulant, heavy consumption will cause your baby’s heart rate to rise so it’s best to stick to moderate to low caffeine consumption during pregnancy, particularly the first months.
The study also concludes that drinking 300mg of caffeine or less whilst breastfeeding is fine, provided your baby is full-term and a good weight as premature babies are less able to metabolise the small caffeine residue that will be in your breast milk. Further studies indicate that very high caffeine intake (much higher than 300mg) can cause a baby to be jittery and fidgety and harder to settle (so stay away from the energy drinks!).
Although I tend to follow what the doctors, health visitors or midwives say to the letter, it is hard to completely believe in what I am doing or not doing for the benefit of my unborn child, simply because the rules tend to change slightly with each new bit of research. My philosophy in parenting tends to be ‘follow the rules because, if you don’t and something goes wrong, you’ll never forgive yourself’.
With this research in mind, I don’t know what I would do if I became pregnant with my third child. I would probably steer clear of high-caffeine coffeefor the higher risk first three months, and then have a cup or two a day. And whilst breastfeeding I would probably do what I have always done; keep the less healthy, more indulgent aspects of my diet (that would be the cup of coffee and the glass of wine!) for after a feed, giving my body time to metabolise it before the next feed. If the baby seemed restless or uncomfortable when I consumed caffeine I would cut it out for a day or two to see if that helped, just as I cut out onions while feeding my son and strawberries while feeding my daughter.
And I will always be mindful of what millions of us say all over the world; “My Mum successfully reared 5 children in a time when people ate and drank what they wanted”. I reckon almost anything in moderation is fine. What do you think?
After years of being told ‘breast is best’ by friends, families and health professionals, a study claims to show that formula fed babies are generally happier than breast fed ones.
A study designed to look at what affects a baby’s weight gain, both in the womb and after birth, showed that, whilst the baby’s gender, parents’ social circumstances and age appear to have little impact on the overall happiness of a baby, formula fed babies appeared to be more ‘manageable’ than breastfed or breast-and-formula (combination) fed babies.
But does that mean that breast isn’t best?
A study conducted by researchers from Cambridge, London and Paris found that formula fed babies seemed to smile more and cry less than breast fed and combination fed babies. The study also showed that formula fed babies settled to sleep more easily.
Researchers asked 316 Cambridge mothers to answer questions about their 3-month old babies. The questions were from an established ‘Infant Behaviour Questionnaire’ and covered ‘three dimensions’ of infant temperament, which scored babies on:
1. how they reacted to stimulation; how often they laughed, cooed, smiled;
2. how often they cried or became distressed, e.g. in the bath, when being changed;
3. how easy they were to soothe and how able they were to settle themselves.
Of the 137 breastfed, 88 formula fed and 91 combination fed babies, the study showed that compared to formula fed babies, breastfed or combination fed babies, showed:
1. Lower responses to stimulation (they smiled and cooed less).
2. Higher emotional instability (cried more).
3. Lower ability to regulate their own emotions (so they needed settling more).
So it would appear that mothers of breast and combination fed babies find their babies more ‘challenging’ than mothers of formula fed babies. However, the researchers pointed out that crying and being irritable is a method used by infant animals to communicate and to show that they need something.
Therefore, crying more, or needing to be soothed more, doesn’t necessarily mean that a baby is unhappier than a baby that cries less. It could just mean that they are expressing what they need in a way that comes naturally to them!
It may be, researchers say, that formula fed babies get more nutrients than they actually need. This means that they are, in effect, comfort eating. The feeling of being full all the time could make them appear more satisfied.
The study also didn’t consider other factors that may influence this result, such as:
1. What made the mother decide to breast or formula feed; anxiety about whether the breast fed baby was satisfied could affect the mothers’ ratings.
2. Whether the mother worked and whether there were other children in the home; issues and anxiety surrounding time spent with the baby could affect ratings.
3. The mother’s level of education; mothers who breast fed or combination fed tended to have achieved higher levels of education. It is possible that their scoring of their babies’ temperaments might have been affected by this.
4. Whether the description of the baby at 3 months is accurate; for example a baby may have been breast fed exclusively up until this point, then switched to formula.
It is also worth noting that the difference in the levels of each ‘dimension’ was also very small. It is unlikely that a difference in temperament would actually be noticeable if comparing two babies.
The researchers do admit that breast feeding is challenging for the mother and the baby but instead of reaching for the formula straight away mothers should instead be informed of the challenges involved and offered more support.
As a new parent, every decision is momentous! The consequences if you feel that you make the ‘wrong’ decision feel enormous and to add to it we have professionals, family and friends piling on the pressure to do what they think is ‘right’. Personally, I think that we all have different ideas on whether our child is having a good day or a bad one and those are all relative to how they are normally.
I have friends who have moved from breast to formula and found their baby slept better and generally seemed happier. But maybe their baby was intolerant to the breast milk? Or maybe the mum felt uncomfortable with breast feeding and the baby picked up on this anxiety? Or maybe it just didn’t work for them and formula was a route that left them both happier.
Maybe breast fed babies do cry more; if breastfeeding mums feed on demand then they will often wait for their baby to grizzle or cry before feeding them, whereas formula fed babies tend to have a feeding schedule and therefore have less reason to cry. As a mother who breastfed it is not the idea that my babies might have cried more but that they might have smiled LESS that worries me. My biggest concern, however, is that, so often, articles that show findings of research don’t give the full picture and we are so often led to making what we believe to be educated decisions when in fact we only have half of the information.
At the end of the day, we are all here to do what is best for our children and, in my opinion there is only one person whose instincts you can really trust; and that’s your own!
What is your experience of breastfeeding and formula? Do you think that your formula baby seemed happier?
Here's Lizzie with her Sleepytot when she was 20 months old. She's now given up her dummies and here's what her mum has to say.
"I got a Sleepytot for my 8 month old daughter as the screams when she lost her dummy in the night were unbareable, it worked the 1st night and from then on Lizzie and her Sleepytot are never apart and they have become best friends.
Lizzie was 20 months old in the photo i have enclosed and it was taken 2 days before i removed the dummy from her Bestfriends hand and when i did i was amazed at Lizzie's reaction she turned her Sleepytot around a few times and then rolled over cuddled her Sleepytot and went to sleep.
She loved her Bunny so much that the fact there was no more dummy the friendship with her Bunny was enough to comfort her. Lizzie is now 2 and still very much Bestfriends with Bunny (lizzie's name for her Sleepytot) and goes everywhere with us.
Thank You Sleepytot for comfoting my baby and for now comforting my little lady and making the transaction a breeze :)"
Well done Lizzie for giving up your dummies! A Sleepytot Star t-shirt is on its way!
Would you like to win a Sleepytot Star bodysuit or t-shirt for your small person? Just send us your pictures of your little one with the Sleepytot Baby Comforter!
Colic in babies is a common problem that usually arises when a baby is between 2 and 4 weeks old and lasts until they are around 12 weeks. Whilst colic eases with time and there is no evidence to suggest that it is harmful to babies, it can be distressing and tiring for parents.
What causes colic?
According to NHS statistics as many as one in five babies suffer from colic. No one really knows what causes it but there are several theories. These include:
Some doctors think that colic is caused by slow bowel movements which means that the air in the baby’s bowel spreads into their intestines and causes them pain
Some believe that colic is linked to eating too fast, or too much, or the baby swallowing too much air when they feed and being unable to bring the wind up
A few people think that there are links between diet and colic; whether the mother drinks cows’ milk, for example
Some mothers see links between colic and other food
Others have suggested colic is simply the result of extreme overstimulation and tiredness in babies which reaches its peak by the end of the day
The most common theory is that colic in babies is caused by the baby’s intestines working too hard, causing cramp.
Signs of colic
There are several signs that your baby has colic. But remember that colic isn’t the only cause of discomfort in babies and if your baby is crying excessively for long periods of time and can’t be comforted you should speak to your health visitor or doctor immediately.
Your baby may have colic if:
His stomach feels hard and swollen
He cries inconsolably for 2 to 3 hours at a time, often at the same time of day and usually once or twice a day
He suffers from bowel pains; they show this by pulling their legs up to their stomach and clenching their fists
His tummy is very noisy and he produces lots of wind
Colic and diet
Some people believe that the mother’s diet can affect breastfed babies. There is anecdotal evidence that stopping eating certain foods whilst breastfeeding can relieve discomfort in babies. The only real way to test this is to try it yourself; you may notice that your baby is more distressed after you have had a garlic-laden meal or a bowl of strawberries. Stopping something for a little while, and then gradually reintroducing it, can help.
Food and drinks that may cause colic or windy babies include:
Onions and garlic
Green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage
Strawberries, apples, plums
Products high in caffeine such as coffee, tea and chocolate
If you notice that your baby is better on some days than others it may be worth keeping a food diary so that you can see if a pattern emerges between the food that you eat and your baby’s digestive system. If you think you can see a pattern, try cutting out one thing at a time, leaving a couple of days between changes so that you can see what makes a difference.
What you can do
Colic can be very difficult for parents as they experience a feeling of helplessness. There are a few things that can help and, again, you can use trial and error to see if any of them work for you and your baby. These include:
Swaddling your baby or holding him close to your chest
Carrying him around in a sling or rocking him
Taking your baby for a drive in the car or a walk in his buggy to calm him down
Soothing music or white noise can help; try singing to your baby, shushing in their ear or putting them in the sling while you do the vacuuming!
Try massaging your baby’s stomach. This can be both relaxing and can help your baby to pass wind. Move your hand in a circular motion going from left to right.
Give your baby a relaxing warm bath.
Have your baby as upright as possible when feeding and wind them regularly.
If your baby is formula fed:
Try decreasing teat size to slow down the speed at which they drink. You could try changing formula brands to see if there is another one that suits your baby more.
Try adding lactase drops to their milk (some mums say this has worked for their colicky babies).
Having a new baby can be a difficult and tiring time. Whether or not your baby has colic, try to rest and take time for you too. It may help to take it in turns with your partner to console your baby, and don’t be afraid to accept help from family and friends.
The most important thing to remember is that it isn’t your fault; it helps to know that millions of parents are experiencing the same and it will pass naturally with time. If you do have any concerns about your baby’s health your health visitor will be happy to offer you guidance.
So, my last blog was about getting back into routine in preparation for the start of the School term.
Following a summer of late nights spent on the beach (in the rain), having barbeques (in the rain) and a general, blissful, slackness of routine, I duly followed my own advice and gradually moved bedtime back to 7, waking my children up earlier in the morning in preparation for the term ahead.
3 weeks in we have endured the worst bedtime battles since my daughter was 3 (my 2 year old, thankfully, goes down pretty well). I joyfully got back into the usual routine: pj's, story, song, bed, and the new assurances I would check on them in 10 minutes.... only to have my daughter trundle downstairs within 5 minutes of me kissing her goodnight.
The usual excuses followed, from the mundane 'I'm hungry/thirsty' to 'can I have a cuddle?/ I have tummy ache' to the more imaginative 'Can snakes/ burglars/bears/people from the olden days get into our house?'
I would take her back upstairs, tuck her in, and the same would happen over and over again. I tried so hard to be patient and often succeeded but too many of the days over the last weeks have ended in tears (hers, mine or her little brother's who she succeeded in waking up) and guilt (mine!). A side portion of frustration and annoyance that our precious evenings were being ruined made for a pretty grim time!
And, of course, not getting to sleep until around 9 and waking early meant for a tired little girl. I'm a great believer in reward charts for learning new things or establishing new routines. However I also believe that going to bed, like saying 'please' or 'thank you' are givens, once established they shouldn't need rewards. It's also tough to explain to a 5 or 6 year old or older preschooler that last week they were rewarded for going to bed but this week it's expected; on some level to some children this may send a message that if they misbehave they get more reward in the end!
After the first week the situation was getting to me and the old gnawing in the stomach started as bedtime approached. It seemed that after 7 long weeks of having me around most days, the change in routine, newness of her class, new pupils and being away from me for the majority of most days had made my daughter anxious at bedtime.
So I took a piece of paper upstairs and taped it to her bed; a sticker chart for my husband and I, not for Alice! I promised her that every time we checked on her, whether she was asleep or awake we would put a sticker on the piece of paper, so when she woke in the night she could tell we were around and that we had been in to see her. And it worked! I went up after 15 minutes, then 20 and for the first time in weeks Alice was asleep before 8 (after lots of excitement from her at 7.30, saying 'I'm doing really well aren't I?!'.
I'll replace this with a fresh sheet of paper with a new note ("Night Night, Love you" etc) every night and keep going until my little girl can trust again that we are always around, even if we're not physically present for every moment of her day.
It was a good reminder for me, too, that while bad habits are frustrating and can be hard to break, we need to look at WHY our little ones are doing something not WHAT they are doing. Alice felt a little vulnerable and needed reassurance that we are ever present, whether she's at school or asleep. She was also as distressed by her inability to sleep as we were (well, nearly, anyway!).
I'm trying not to feel too guilty for not working that out last week instead of just thinking she was being naughty! It is tough to sleep train an older child; their ability to get downstairs unaided doesn't help and nor does their overactive imaginations. You can't control cry or return and check a 4, 5 or 6 year old! At this stage try taking a step back and looking at why your child's behaviour may have changed suddenly, there may be a change in routine or things going on at home. And I can highly recommend the parents' sticker chart! (and you can reward yourselves with a peaceful evening!).
Submitted by Kate Fenton on Mon, 09/19/2011 - 09:53
Most mothers eagerly searching for ways to help their babies sleep through the night will have heard of if not considered the dream feed. But what exactly is it, does it work and why might it not be a good idea?
For those not entirely familiar with the concept, a dream feed is the last feed of the evening, usually given between 10pm and 11pm or just before parents go to bed themselves.
The trick is it’s given to babies while they are asleep, hence the name dream feed. This feed is to pre-empt hunger pangs which might wake babies up later on in the night, filling their tummies and helping them to sleep soundly until morning – or at least give babies and parents a longer stretch of sleep.
How to dream feed
Even as they sleep, on feeling the nipple or teat on their lips the suckling reflex is triggered and baby feeds. If baby is in a deep sleep, he may need a little coaxing by stroking his cheek or bottom lip. As babies are very relaxed during the feed they don’t need to be burped afterwards but can be gently returned to their cots.
It’s best to create as little disturbance as possible so only use low lighting, don’t interact with your baby and only change his nappy if it’s very wet or soiled.
Does it work?
So what’s not to love about the dream feed? Many parents swear by this method, crediting it with helping their babies to learn how to sleep through the night and giving everyone more rest from the early months. But others feel it simply doesn’t work, either because their babies are too sleepy to feed, difficult to settle back to sleep afterwards or still wake in the small hours for more milk.
Some experts have suggested that dream feeding creates a food habit that wasn’t there beforehand and that it disrupts a baby’s natural sleep cycle (which between the hours of 9pm and midnight is at its deepest).
There is also the issue of knowing when to give up dream feeding and the feeling that feeding a baby in its sleep when it hasn’t ‘asked’ for food is disrespectful.
As with so many baby techniques, opinions are divided. If you’re thinking of dream feeding, weight up the pros and cons before making a decision. It could be the solution to sleepless nights you’ve been praying for, but then again you may prefer to let your baby master longer stretches of sleep at night in his own time without this extra feed.
How about you, have you successfully dream fed your baby?
We’ve probably all got a bit slack with routines over the Summer Holiday, especially those who don’t need to be up for work every day. Our routine isn’t slack, as such; it’s just shifted over by an hour or so.
In term time it’s bed at 7, up at 7, but somehow over the last 6 weeks ‘normal’ bedtime is 8.30 and the children wake anything between 8 and 9 (don’t tell my husband but I’ve pretty much had 6 weeks of lie ins!).
Throughout the summer I planned on using the last week before my daughter went back to shool to move bedtime forward gradually, at the rate of about 15 minutes a day, until we were back to 7 o’clock bed. But a few days of exciting barbeques, evenings on the beach and sunshine soon made me forget my resolve!
If you are in a similar position and your children are sleeping later, try setting the alarm for 7 tomorrow morning. It may send a shudder of dread through you but it will pay off! Dragging your children out of bed bright and early will help them to settle earlier tomorrow night, ensuring they get a good night's sleep before school starts.
Try planning an activity for the day as well to keep them busy and keep the tired whining at bay, as well as making them extra tired for bed time!
If your child is starting school or nursery for the first time you may find that they need more sleep and become very tired. Nursery starters who have dropped daytime naps may need the odd nap after nursery. Try to allow them a bit of extra sleep; new experiences are tiring and the consistent routine can also take a bit of getting used to. It’s similar with school starters. Not only is it exciting being a big girl or boy and going to school, it’s very tiring too, with a whole new world of independence open to your child.
A good idea is to try (where possible) to keep the first week or so free, so that you have as few commitments as possible outside of school or nursery. That way, if you think your child is struggling you can move bedtime forward a little bit until they are settled. It won’t be long before you all slip into the new routine!
The up side of starting school is that if you have found it tough to get your preschooler into a good routine or to drop their daytime nap consistently and go to bed at a reasonable hour, starting school will probably give them the boost they need to settle into a good sleep routine.
For little ones starting nursery, a transitional object such as a comforter that can come to nursery with them on their first day, will help them feel secure. The Sleepytot Comforter can grab onto school bags so your small person will know he's nearby.
And if you're worried about your baby's sleep routine being affected by the school run, I can't recommend the Snoozeshade Buggy Blackout Blind highly enough. Just pop it on the buggy and your baby will sleep like dream as you dash back and forth to drop off and collect your older child. If you have any top tips for getting back into the routine and dusting off the alarm clock then let us know!