Q&A on baby sleep with Pampers
Establishing some kind of bedtime routine, dealing with night terrors, or just getting little ones to sleep full stop can take its toll. To help find some solutions, Mumsnetters had the chance to put their questions to a sleep expert at Pampers
With 25 years of experience, sleep expert Jo Tantum is the author of bestselling book Baby Secrets and is a member of the Pampers Love, Sleep & Play panel. See what advice she had to offer in response to Mumsnetters' questions below.
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Q: I have a 10.5-month-old daughter who has never taken a dummy or a bottle. She still wakes to feed two to three times a night and feeds to sleep. I am going back to work next month and need to find a quick way to stop feeding her to sleep so that my husband and other carers can help. Please tell me what I should do? (muddypuddled)
Jo Tantum: It can be really frustrating when a baby won't take a bottle. As she is 10.5 months old, she should be getting enough nutrition in the day to stop the feeds at night. To do this gently, I suggest that she has a short feed before a nap - just a few minutes - then cuddle her until she is drowsy, and put her in the cot. At night, again only feed for a few minutes, cuddle and then soothe in the cot with patting. Give her a comforter - I suggest a muslin square knotted in the middle - and tuck it down your top beforehand so it smells of you. It will take about seven to 10 days of stopping the feeds and cuddles and getting her used to being soothed in the cot in the day for naps and at night. Try offering milk in a sippy cup a few times a day to get her used to it before you go back to work. Good luck!
Q: I need to teach my five-month-old son how to sooth or settle himself to sleep - I desperately need my evenings back, he's so clingy! Can I swaddle again at five months or not now that he can roll over? (Ohwoolballs)
Jo Tantum: You must be exhausted! I wouldn't advise swaddling at this stage as he can roll over, so a sleeping bag will be fine for naps and nights. Try to stop the feeding to sleep in the day and have a feed around every 35-45 mins instead so he has a good feed rather than snacking all day and night. He should be tired after one hour 45 minutes of wake time - so practice self-settling in the day. Make sure you have total blackout, a sleeping bag, wave sounds and a comforter to help him settle. And cuddle rather than feed before naps. These triggers will help him understand it's time for sleep. The reason that most babies struggle to sleep is because they are overtired. Alternate each time he wakes up at night between giving him a feed and patting him back to sleep. Some issues, like reflux, can also cause a baby to wake often in the night and need a feed, so go and speak to your GP about this.
Q: Our son is 11 months old and wakes constantly. He will not go to sleep and he will not stay asleep. He's rarely in that 'zonked out' stage I see other babies in. He snaps awake instantly at any noise or disturbance. We've tried everything I can think of: sleep consultants, pat/shh, pat/gradual, retreat/cc, routines, being baby-led, co-sleeping, controlled crying naps in the pram and more. Any ideas? (TheHubblesWindscreenWipers)
Jo Tantum: Wow you really seem to have tried everything! Sometimes doing lots of things can cause more confusion for you and your baby as it's constant change. Waking after 20 minutes means that he is waking himself up as he's 'falling' asleep in the second phase. It's that falling asleep motion that jolts them awake. They become very aware of it and as a result they can't seem to get past that. This is usually caused by an overtired, oversensitive baby and so the cycle continues. At 11 months he will need to have a nap every two hours 45 minutes of wake time. Don't look for tired signs if he doesn't seem to have any. Just take him up five minutes before into a total blackout room and put some wave sounds on - there are lots of apps you can get. Have this on all nap time and night, research shows if you have a calm, consistent sound the brain calms and the body relaxes - think about when you go for a massage. Then put them in the sleeping bag and read stories in a slow quiet voice (have the door ajar so you can see). Cuddle until getting sleepy then in the cot and pat - I know you say you have done pat/shh. Mine is different. Use a curved relaxed hand and push/shush. One hand on his chest, back or shoulder depending on sleep position and one hand on his bottom - pushing firmly. Once he is asleep, sit by him to watch when the 20 mins is up, and when he starts to move start the pushing again. The idea is that you are getting him used to falling whilst you hold his hand. If you continue this for a week then he will start to sleep longer as he won't be frightened of the falling sensation anymore. One final thought is whether your little boy's nappy is causing him any discomfort? New Pampers Baby-Dry features three absorbing channels, which are designed to spread wetness evenly throughout the nappy. This means that he won't be disturbed by a wet, bulky nappy while he’s trying to nap or sleep through the night.
Q: My daughter is a year old and has one 30-minute nap a day and that's it. She also is breastfed to sleep and refuses to take a bottle from my husband. I would just like one evening a week he could put her to bed (it would be lovely for him too) and need tips on how to achieve this. (User6Billion)
Jo Tantum: At a year old, babies tend to start showing you who's boss! Your baby must be chronically overtired and therefore more sensitive. This can often mean they get very clingy with the person looking after them most of the time. She should really need a nap every three hours of wake time - that's two naps a day until she is around 15-16 months old. Take her into her room: total blackout, sleeping bag on, comforter and wave sounds. Read some stories, say goodnight to all the characters, give her a cuddle until she is feeling sleepy then put her in the cot. See if she settles by herself, and if not do my push/shush method. Use a curved relaxed hand and push/shush. One hand on her chest, back or shoulder depending on sleep position and one hand on her bottom - pushing firmly. As she is breastfed she isn't going to just take a bottle and it's nothing to do with your husband. She just doesn't understand that the plastic in her mouth has milk in it. I would try a brand that does soft teat bottles that mould to her mouth like a breast would. Start a bottle-feed every day at the same time instead of a breastfeed. Sit her facing out on you or your husband's lap or in a bouncy chair so the position is different to breastfeeding, then put the TV on - baby TV or a DVD or baby Einstein - so she is distracted. Don't force the bottle on her; let her look at it; feel it and when it's in her mouth squeeze so some milk comes out. Try this every day for the next two weeks and she will start to take more and more of the bottle and then your partner can take over when needed at bedtimes.
Q: My daughter is nearly 15 months old and I am still feeding her around two or three times throughout the night. I know it's comfort more than hunger; do you have any advice on how to stop the night feeds and getting her through the night? (Caillou)
Jo Tantum: You are right that at 15 months it's more of a habit feeding in the night than her needing it. If you are consistent with this you should get her sleeping through in about two weeks. So make sure she is having good meals in the day and when she has naps, or at bedtime, don't feed her to sleep. When she wakes in the night try and soothe her back to sleep rather than picking her up and feeding her straight away. See if she settles by herself for around five minutes, if not, then do my push/shush method until she's asleep. Use a curved relaxed hand and push/shush. One hand on her chest, back or shoulder depending on sleep position and one hand on her bottom - pushing firmly. If she doesn't go to sleep and gets upset, pick her up and calm her. Try and delay the feed by 15/20 mins and feed if she won't go back down. Only feed for five minutes then back in the cot, soothing. You are teaching her that you will always be there for her but gradually reducing her need/habit of feeding each time she wakes, without her getting upset.
Q: At the moment, my baby (four months old) sleeps from 11pm to 6am. Sometimes, she wakes up around 3am for breastfeeding, other times she sleeps throughout. Is it alright to not wake her up for breastfeeding? I am worried that she will lose weight. (FashionistaGurl)
Jo Tantum: Firstly, she will need to have a bedtime routine at around 7/7.30pm as otherwise she is losing out on hours of sleep she really needs. Secondly, at four months she is having enough nutrition from breastfeeding in the day for you not to wake her for feeds in the night. Most of her feeds need to be in the day, so she gets to have enough sleep at night. And thirdly you need a great nappy like Pampers Baby Dry which is so absorbent that it keeps your baby dry for up to 12 hours at night - so you won't need to change it until morning.
Q: I have observed that my four-month-old is doing a sucking gesture when she is asleep – probably three to four hours after I breastfeed her (she sleeps immediately after). She does this at night time and she sleeps throughout the night, mostly. Is it just a sucking reflex or she is actually hungry? Do I need to wake her up and breastfeed her or wait until she wakes up? I have weighed her and she is actually not gaining weight much. (KARMAisaBtch)
Jo Tantum: It will just be her sucking reflex which is very strong up to four months old. This starts to diminish when the baby is ready for weaning. You don't need to wake her up in the night to feed her. If she was hungry she would wake up and ask to be fed - so don't disturb her. Try to make sure that her feeds in the day are full feeds, usually around every three hours. Babies do start to slow down with weight gain after the 12-week growth spurt so try not to worry. Speak to your health visitor if you are concerned.
Q: My 18-month-old son naps like clockwork at nursery, but whatever I do to try and replicate the routine at home; he fights sleep as hard as he can in the day. He sleeps in his buggy and in the car quite happily. Any tips for daytime cot napping? (DaisyDando)
Jo Tantum: It's best to speak to the nursery and ask what they do before a nap and the routine they use. They are usually shattered at nursery anyway and if he sees other toddlers going to sleep he will follow them. After three hours 30/45 mins from wake time he will be tired, so take him into his room five minutes before. I would try to have some wave sounds on in his room, curtains/blinds closed and read a story or two saying goodnight to all the characters. This will help him get sleepy.
Q: I'm keen to get my four-month-old's day naps into more of a routine. At the moment he has roughly three one-hour naps a day, I don't know if I should be putting him down to sleep at the same time each day, regardless of whether he seems tired? I also read conflicting advice - one saying they sleep better in the crib/room they sleep in at night, and another saying to make day naps bright and different so they differentiate day time, which is best? (Natah)
Jo Tantum: It's always difficult when there is so much conflicting advice out there. Babies usually start to learn to differentiate between night and day at around six weeks old. So at four months your baby will understand the difference and will be sleeping in longer blocks. Babies need triggers to go to sleep, much like we do - our pajamas, pillows, quilt. A baby's triggers are darkness (they don't understand they have to close their eyes to go to sleep), a sleeping bag, a comforter (try a muslin square knotted in the middle) and soothing sounds. If you want to go out for nap you can still do these things. Get a pram blackout cover and wave sounds on your phone so he isn't woken by outside noise, a blanket tucked around him so he's cosy, and his sleep comforter. He should be tired around every 90 minutes of wake time and need around four hours of naptime, so don't wake him if he sleeps longer.
Q: My eight-month-old son will not nap for longer than 30-40 minutes. How can I increase the length of these naps? I've already tried increasing the amount of time between naps, moving to two naps instead of three and letting him fall asleep in the cot instead of on me - nothing seems to work! (Summerdays2014)
Jo Tantum: Babies have daytime sleep cycles of 30 or 45 minutes. When they wake they cry out and you usually get them up thinking they have had enough sleep. So they set their internal alarm for that cycle. This also happens when babies are overtired. At eight months your baby is going to be tired after around two hours 15 minutes of wake time. So if he has only had 30 minutes you need to get him to have another nap two hours 15 minutes later so he can catch up. He should be having around three and a half to four hours sleep at nap times. When he wakes early, try using push/shush for five minutes to let him know it's okay to go back to sleep as nap time isn’t over yet. To do this, use a curved relaxed hand on his chest, back or shoulder depending on sleep position and one hand on his bottom - and push firmly. It usually takes seven to 10 days of being consistent with this for them to improve and start to sleep longer.
Q: My six-month-old baby boy is great at going to sleep at night and sleeps straight though; however every hour or so he screams but he's still sleeping? Are these night terrors and if so can I do anything? (crogers13)
Jo Tantum: It's very early for sleep terrors - this is usually seen in toddlers and older children. We don't actually know what happens when sleeping at six months, whether they dream or play over what's happened in the day. Babies do make strange sounds in the night when they are fast asleep; it's usually when they are transitioning between lighter and deeper sleep cycles. Having wave sounds on all night can often help the brain to calm and help him through the sleep cycles. Also when you are ready, think about moving him into his own room as often you moving around as he comes into a lighter sleep can wake him further.
Q: My youngest son is 17 months old and has never slept through! He goes to bed every night at 7pm, has a bedtime routine, and he falls asleep no problem; however he then wakes anything from two to nine times - it's exhausting! We have tried everything and spoken to the health visitor and doctor who have both said it's a phase and he will grow out of it. Is there anything you can suggest? (Mommy2Boys10)
Jo Tantum: I suggest that you see a pediatrician too, and chat about reflux. This can cause lots of sleep issues and if it's not resolved will continue to be an issue with toddlers waking often. Start with the daytime nap and teaching your little one to sleep in the cot. For toddlers waking a lot in the night, often the reason is them being overtired and therefore not going into deeper sleep. So once asleep in the day, let them sleep up to three hours - this is called a sleepfest and can really help the night time waking. Once he wakes in the night just use a curved relaxed hand to push/shush. One hand on his chest, back or shoulder depending on sleep position and one hand on his bottom - pushing firmly. You can continue this until he is asleep. If you continue this for seven to 10 nights he will start to sleep better. Also having wave sounds on all night can help toddlers sleep longer and more deeply by pulling them back to sleep in light sleep cycles.
Q: My little one is 17 weeks old and up until four weeks ago would go to sleep quite easily after a feed (breastfeed) and sleep for a four- to six-hour stretch - so up only twice to feed at night. Now it's taking up to 40 mins to get her to sleep each time (feeding, rocking, carrying around) and once finally asleep she is only sleeping for two-hour stretches. I'm exhausted. Why the sudden change in sleep pattern and what can I do? (Butterflies88)
Jo Tantum: Unfortunately your little one has hit the dreaded four-month sleep regression, so the good news is it's a completely normal developmental phase all babies go through. At four months old your baby's eyes start to see in HD, so the world becomes really exciting which is why naps out and about can stop. Their hearing becomes more acute so if you are sharing a room - as lullaby trust guideline states - then you will be synching your sleep cycles with your baby and be waking each other up as you move around and make noises. They also start developing their hand-eye coordination, which means they understand their hands belong to them. This causes lots of pulling hair, clothes and cot sheets. So to help your little one get back to great sleep again, here is my advice: get total blackout for naps in the bedroom and out in the pram/car seat. Use wave sounds at all naps and nights to stop you disturbing each other, as the brain will tune in to the consistent sounds rather than other noises. Offer a comforter to hold - a muslin square knotted in the middle – which has been tucked down your top beforehand so it smells like you. Naps should be around one hour and 30-45 mins after wake time.
Q: Do you have any advice regarding babies moving in their sleep? My son has just turned one and as long as he's not teething or ill, he is capable of sleeping through the night. However he moves about so much that he ends up banging his head on his cot. If I get to him quickly, I can move him without waking him. However if I don't get there quickly enough, he will wake up. This generally happens at least once an hour. (Changingagain)
Jo Tantum: As you probably know, the lullaby trust doesn't recommend cot bumpers as your baby could get tangled up in them, but there are other products which just go around each slat to stop the bumps. Often the reason babies move around a lot in the night is because they are overtired and can't get comfy, so make sure they are having enough nap time. Every three hours of wake time - two naps a day until 15-16 months.
Q: My 10-month-old has always fed (breast-fed) to sleep. I need to find other ways so that other people can put him down to nap or to bed when I go back to work! He gets very cross if I try and rock him to sleep. (BowiesJumper)
Jo Tantum: This is such a common issue for breastfeeding mums. You need to gradually reduce the time you feed him before naps. So start by reducing a few minutes every day. Up to the point you are just holding him. A lot of babies don't like being rocked and actually want their own space. When he's in the cot use a curved relaxed hand and push/shush. One hand on his chest, back or shoulder depending on sleep position and one hand on his bottom - pushing firmly. At night just try and do this before feeding him back to sleep. Then teach whoever you want to get him to sleep this technique. You can gradually reduce the patting so he gets more confident about settling himself to sleep. This will take about two weeks of perseverance but it will be worth it.
Q: My one-month-old son seems to need to feed to sleep but it's tricky to get him to burp afterwards, and then he wakes during the night with wind. How can we get him out of this rut? (JollyHockeyGits)
Jo Tantum: At 15 months your toddler will be able to self-burp. They start to do this around seven or eight months - so I don't think he's waking because of wind. At this age he should be having one to two naps a day around every three hours 15 minutes of wake time - totaling two/two-and-a-half hours. Take him into his room five minutes beforehand, so he starts to unwind. He's probably too stimulated and overtired. Have blackout curtains calming wave sounds playing and put him in the sleeping bag. Read some stories and say good night to the characters, then a cuddle and in the cot. Use a curved relaxed hand and push/shush. One hand on his chest, back or shoulder depending on sleep position and one hand on his bottom - pushing firmly. You can continue this until he is asleep. If he fights it, take a step back from the cot and count to 100 then take a deep breath, calmly walk over, put him back in his preferred sleeping position and continue the push/shush. Once he's accepted this, he will lay down, as most babies and toddlers love this motion. You have to be consistent and have the naps in the cot for at least seven to 10 days for him to start to respond and sleep better.
Q: My one-year-old is a dummy fiend at night. Thankfully I managed to wean her off the dummy during the day, but she just won't go to sleep at night without about seven dummies in her cot. I would love to stop the dummy use if possible, as if she can't find them in the night, she howls the house down. Any tips would be gratefully received! (JanieLovesLuckySocks)
Jo Tantum: That's great you managed to wean her off it in the day. That means you can do it at night, too. So take away one dummy a night and replace the first dummy with a comforter - a muslin square is always the easiest. Then tie a dummy in each corner. This way she will be able to grab that and find a dummy to suck. If you wanted to you could reduce the dummies on it until there are none, then you are left with a muslin - easy to find and easily replaceable.
Q: When is the best time to establish a sleep routine and how long should a baby sleep every day? My 12-week-old usually sleeps through the night but doesn't nap much during the day. (victria)
Jo Tantum: It's totally up to you when you want to decide on a routine, some parents want a routine from day one and others wait longer. Establishing a routine at 12 weeks is great timing as babies sleep patterns will change at around four months and you want to get them into a good routine before then. It's great your little one is sleeping so well at night, naps are very important too, even if it's just to give you a break. Your baby should be tired after 90 minutes of wake time. Firstly, take them into the nursery; this is so when you move your baby into their own room around six months they will recognise it for sleeping. Different sounds and smells can make a baby anxious, so it's always best to introduce their room early. Make sure you have total blackout and swaddle or half-swaddle them for naps. Also, make sure you use a light, breathable material. Your baby's startle reflex that they are born with is usually starting to diminish now so just having one arm in helps them to settle better. Have wave sounds on so they start to relax, then give a cuddle and place in the cot. Use a curved relaxed hand and push/shush. One hand on her chest and one hand under her bottom pulling her towards you in a patting motion. Say ssshh new her too. Stroking from her forehead to the top of her nose can also help her feel sleepy. If you continue to do this she will start napping better. There is only a 15 minute window between 'I'm tired' and 'I'm overtired', so be aware of that.
Q: Do you have any advice for establishing a routine for two children - aged one and four years - who share a room? (TheDuchessOfKidderminste)
Jo Tantum: Start a wind down time before they go upstairs - try bath time together to get the last of the energy out of them. Then get the one-year-old dressed in the bathroom, while the four-year-old's still in the bath. Then take both of them into their bedroom to get the four-year-old dressed. Have low lights on. There should be no leaving the room after this. Depending on breast or bottle-feeding the one-year-old, have half of the milk while reading stories. Then say goodnight night to your four-year-old and let them read a book themselves. Settle the one-year-old with the rest of the milk. Lights off and wave sounds on. Once they're in the cot and settled, get the four-year-old into their own bed after having a story just with you. And keep wave sounds on all night to stop them disturbing each other. One thing to consider is their overnight nappies. Pampers Baby-Dry are designed to spread wetness evenly throughout the nappy, so that little ones won't be disturbed by a bulky nappy during the night.
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