How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?

How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?

A common baby sleep question I get from tired mothers is How Much Sleep Does My Baby Need?! New parents, in particular, can struggle with the concept that their baby has had as little sleep with them, is so much smaller and yet seems to have bundles of energy whilst we have none. Quite rightly, parents can be concerned because they know that sleep is an important factor in any child’s development and allows them to grow physically, emotionally and cognitively but the question remains; How Much Sleep Does A Baby Need?
Let’s examine this.

child sleeping in bed

When a child doesn’t get their much-needed sleep, they will get more emotional and have a harder time concentrating on the usual day to day activities. One night of a child that won’t sleep won’t harm them, but it is when they can’t perform the tasks they need to in order to develop correctly that we start to see an issue. It is the same with babies, they do need their rest (even if they seem to think they don’t) and whilst a few bad nights won’t harm them, it is preferred from a developmental standpoint that they get their required hours.

Just like adults, the amount of sleep a baby needs can vary between individuals. Just as we all have that friend who can have three hours of sleep and still be chirpy in the morning, so can our babies. Generally speaking, you can tell if your baby has had enough sleep by their mood. Of course, there are external factors, such as the dreaded teething, that can steer us off course in judging how much sleep our baby needs and we can also reflect our own feelings onto the baby – just because you haven’t coped well with fragmented sleep doesn’t mean your baby is struggling too! If you are concerned your baby hasn’t gotten enough sleep then keep an eye out for their sleepy cues during the day.

We all wake between sleep cycles and it’s perfectly normal for a young baby to require some support from you in order to get themselves back to sleep. As they get older, this need for support usually lessens and like ourselves, they begin to only stir between sleep cycles. The way in which children typically gain the amount of sleep they need changes as they grow and develop. Every baby is unique, of course.

infant sleeping on the back on mattress

However, recommended sleep amounts, and the way this is typically structured within a 24-hour period for children of different stages of development is shown below:

Chart of average sleep need for children and adults

This chart is not a strict, necessary structure. It is an average and as with all averages, it is perfectly normal and acceptable for your child to fall on either side of these numbers. As a general rule of thumb, if your child is healthy and happy then there is a very high chance that they are getting enough sleep! As you learn their sleepy cues and their behaviours at different times of the day, you will be able to recognise when they need a bit of extra sleep due to a disturbed night previously or illness.

sleep chart

5) Getting Over Mum Guilt

Mum Guilt gets all mothers at some point during their child’s lives and a common flair up for these feelings is going back to work and placing them in the care of someone else. A key milestone in helping yourself work through the feelings of guilt is to revisit your values, as detailed in this Harvard study. Think about the reasons behind your return to work and the values you are looking to instil in your child.

A helpful exercise is to remind yourself of these in moments of doubt “I’m returning to work to financially support our family”, “I’m returning to work to role-model a good work ethic to my children” or similar.

If you’re worried about returning to work or need some extra support to build your confidence so you can feel comfortable returning, you aren’t alone and I have more advice available to you. For a bargain price of just £14.99 you can get my guide which provides a breakdown of all aspects of returning to work as a mum. From a detailed analysis of different childcare options; to helping your little one transition to childcare; to helping yourself return to the working environment, I’ve got you covered. Check out my new guide here or contact me for more information.

If you have any suggestions of your own please suggest them in the comments.

HOLISTIC BABY SLEEP COACH

Take a moment to reflect on the amount of sleep your child is getting and Ask yourself:

  • What is my child’s average day-time sleep within 24 hours?

    Answer here………………………………………………………………

  • What is my child’s average night-time sleep within 24 hours?

    Answer here…………………………………………………………………

  • Calculate the above, in 24 hours how much sleep do they have?

    Answer here……………………………………………………………………..

  • What is the difference between the above number and the number range written on the chart?

    Answer here………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

  • If there is a significant difference, is it the daytime or nighttime sleep that is causing the biggest difference?

    Answer here…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

  • Whilst, as parents, we can often feel tired and desperate for the ‘break’ that daytime sleep provides, if it is causing issues with night-time sleep it is usually best to have shorter daytime naps in exchange for a good night’s sleep.

  • Some babies will only ever do short naps and it doesn’t matter how much you try to get them to nap longer they just never do, and it is ok. More short naps are equally as good as longer naps.

Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.


For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
 1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.

Foods To Help Baby Sleep Through The Night

Foods To Help Baby Sleep Through The Night

Any parent of a baby or toddler longs for their baby to be a sleepy angel and sleep through the night.  Frantic google searches in the small hours ask, “how can I help my baby settle to sleep” or “sleep tips for toddlers”.  In this article, we take a close look at foods that can help your baby sleep through the night.  We’ll look at tips that can support quality sleep for your baby and for you, and we’ll be discussing tasty mealtime options that are a win-win when it comes to helping your baby to sleep through the night.

So What Foods Will Help My Toddler Sleep?

Generally speaking, look for foods that are high in melatonin which helps to control the body’s circadian rhythm, vitamin B6 which helps brain produce melatonin, tryptophan and vitamin C which helps to produce serotonin and melatonin. Also foods rich in potassium and magnesium.

 

List Of Sleep Inducing Foods To Help Your Child Sleep:

  • Tart cherries and tart cherry juice

  • Banana, Pineapple, Kiwi, Figs, Oranges

  • Avocado, tomatoes

  • Broccoli, carrots, sweetcorn

  • Kale, spinach, lettuce

  • Soybeans (edamame)

  • Milk, Natural unsweetened yoghurt

  • Eggs

  • Poultry

  • fatty fish

  • Walnuts, pistachios and. cashews

  • Oats and wheat

  • Rice, beans, lentils

  • sweet potatoes, butternut squash

blog photos with alt text 11

What Should Breastfeeding Mum Eat To Help Baby Sleep?

Many Mums choose to breastfeed their baby, and in doing so, you can ensure your breast milk is rich in sleep supporting foods.  Nutrients in foods that Mum’s eat pass through into breastmilk.  Breastfeeding Mums should avoid excess stimulants in their diet, such as caffeine, artificial additives and sugar if they are serious about foods to help baby sleep through the night.  Likewise, eating foods that are rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, can be a smart choice for breastfeeding Mums who want to support their baby’s sleep.  So what should breastfeeding mum eat? Tryptophan is found in a range of foods such as turkey, eggs, wheat and oats, soy products, bananas and green leafy vegetables.  All these foods contain tryptophan which supports the production of the hormone melatonin to regulate sleep.

blog photos with alt text 12

Weaning And Foods To Help Baby Sleep Well

As your baby begins to wean at about 6-months of age, you can introduce foods that help baby to sleep through the night.  Aim for foods that are nutritious and easy to digest, and steer clear of stimulants such as caffeine and artificial additives.  Many parents don’t realise that chocolate can contain caffeine, so it’s wise to limit your baby or toddler’s consumption of this sweet treat.

Foods that support sleep for babies and toddlers include those rich in tryptophan as listed above.  You can get creative and introduce shredded turkey into soups and broths for your baby.  Scrambled eggs with small amounts of Spanish wilted down makes a great sleep supporting dinner and its easy to bake simple oat-based cookies sweetened with mashed banana.

In addition, consider slower burning carbohydrates as a smart choice so that nutrients are absorbed at a slower rate.  Oats, sweet potatoes, rice and butternut squash all contain complex carbsFoods rich in B-vitamins also support sleep. Beans, lentils, broccoli, avocados and bananas help your child to produce the calming and relaxing hormones of serotonin and magnesium.

Leading children’s food expert, Annabel Karmel, has some fantastic sleep supporting recipes that you and your baby can enjoy as part of a healthy diet.  The BBC Good Food website lists a range of healthy recipes that include many of the foods listed above, including meal ideas that are suited for baby-led weaning and toddlers.  Aim to cook up a storm for you and your baby in order to make the most of foods that help baby sleep through the night.

A bedtime milk feed for babies and toddlers continues to be an important source of nutrition for your child.  A small warm bottle of milk, or a breastfeed prior to sleep night can have a soothing effect that helps baby sleep through the night.

    girl eating broccoli

    Mealtimes That Help Baby Sleep Through The Night, What Is The Suggested Time To Eat Dinner?

    You’ll know yourself that trying to settle to sleep on a full stomach after a large meal is uncomfortable and unlikely to result in settled sleep.  You baby will benefit from well-timed meals to support them sleep through the night.  A large meal immediately before bed raises your baby’s metabolic rate and body temperature. This can make it harder to settle to sleep.  Aim that the evening meal for babies that are weaning is given around 1 ½ hours before bedtime.  That leaves enough time for awake activity and bath time, and then a final milk feed which will all help with your baby’s sleep.

    In Summary:

    So, to help your baby sleep through the night, aim to build the following tips into your baby’s routine today

    • Avoid foods that will ruin your child’s sleep. If you are breastfeeding, avoid caffeine and artificial additives.

    • Eat foods rich in tryptophan

    • Avoid giving babies that are weaning caffeine and artificial additives.

    • Sleep supporting foods for babies that are weaning include foods rich in tryptophan, B-vitamins and complex carbohydrates.

    • Allow time for your baby to digest their evening meal before bed.

    • A warm milk drink or breastfeed immediately before bed can help your baby to sleep well.

    references:

     Friedman M. (2018). Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan. International journal of tryptophan research: IJTR, 11, 1178646918802282. https://doi.org/10.1177/1178646918802282

     Tardy, A. L., Pouteau, E., Marquez, D., Yilmaz, C., & Scholey, A. (2020). Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients, 12(1), 228. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010228

      Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.


      For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
       1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.

      How Do I Make My Kids Room Sleep-Friendly?

      How Do I Make My Kids Room Sleep-Friendly?

      Arranging your child’s bedroom in a way that supports sleep can not only promote a more relaxing environment to fall asleep in but also an environment that supports resettling,  should your child wake during the night. You are aiming for the bedroom to be a calm, inviting space that your child associates with sleep.  

      Let’s consider a range of strategies that can help you to create that for your child:

      mum and dad reading story to their child at bedtime

      Make The Children’s Bedroom A Screen Free Zone

      • Aim to make the bedroom, and especially the bed, a no-screen zone, even during the day. Research shows that TV watching in the bedroom impacts young children’s sleep. The artificial blue light emitted by screens of televisions, smartphones, tablets, computers and gaming systems promotes alertness and impacts our sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm.
      • Many parents find that using a nightlight emitting a red-light wavelength can support sleep by stimulating the production of the sleepy hormone, melatonin.  If your child is scared of the dark we recommend using a red night light, a lot of parents use soft glow room thermometers which have a gentle orange glow when the room is the right temperature. Try to avoid leaving the door open as this can be a fire hazard. Avoid being able to see blue lights as discussed here.
      sleep friendly children's room

      How Do I Make My Child’s Room Sleep Friendly?

      • Set the thermostat to a slightly cooler temperature to support your toddler to feel sleepy. Aim for between 16 – 18 degrees. Breathable cotton clothing can also help with keeping cool at night.
      • Top Tip – put socks on your baby, under their sleep clothes and the sleeping bag. Room temperature normally drops at around 5 am, this can  wake your child as their feet suddenly get cold. Often the extra pair of socks can help with early rising.
      • Keep the bedroom quiet or consider using a white noise machine to mask outside sounds – particularly if your child has been used to this as a baby. Use dark curtains to block out light.
      little girl happy sleeping in her sleep friendly bedroom

      What To Watch Out For In Older Child’s Bedroom? 

      • Attend to any objects that cast potentially frightening shadows at night. This could leave a child frightened. You can ask your child if there is anything they want to take out of their bedroom to get a sense of what may potentially scare them.
      • If your child plays in their bedroom, involve them in tidying away toys before bed, so there is a clear separation between “play time” and “sleep time”.
      • If your child shares their room with a sibling, ensure each child has a separate space to call their own.
      family with a newborn baby in the moses basket

      Bedroom Set Up For A Newborn To 1 Year Old

      • In the room you should have cot or Moses or travel cot or carry cot. Use a good quality, firm, flat and waterproof mattress covered with cotton sheet. You will need a sleeping bag for a baby and light cellular blankets (remember to tuck those in, never have them loose in the cot with a baby).
      • Avoid using sleep pods or nests, sleepyhead, sleep positioners, hammocks, cot bumpers, pillows, duvets, loose heavy, non-breathable blankets, comforters or soft toys for children under 1 year old. Make sure to always follow  Lullaby trust safety recommendations! to prevent your baby from SIDS.
      children's bedroom shelves with soft toys

      Bedroom Set Up For Older Child

      • Use comfortable bedding and pillows that are appropriate for the temperature of the room – don’t forget to let your child help select their bedding or make it relevant to their likes and interests.
      • The Lullaby Trust recommends no bedding until after 12 months and ideally not until the child is using a toddler bed as opposed to a cot with raised sides. In these sleep guides you will find great techniques that will help you with transitioning from co-sleeping, transitioning to the cot or how to transition to a toddler bed.

      How To Avoid Any Bedroom  Anxieties:

      • You can leave an item or an object that reminds your child of you to support your child to manage any sense of separation anxiety. For example, they could place one of your pyjama tops under their pillow as a reminder that you are never far away. A photo could serve a similar purpose.
      • Many children have a transitional object: a particular favourite teddy or blanket that helps them to feel secure when you are not there. This can be a great support to a child. If your child has a transitional object, encourage them to take this into the bedroom at sleep time. You can use “teddy” as a means of talking about sleep needs. For example, “teddy has had a busy day, and wants to be quiet and calm now. Can you keep teddy company and help him drop to sleep?”

      Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.


      For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
       1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.

      5 Ways To Make Going Back To Work As A Mum Easier

      5 Ways To Make Going Back To Work As A Mum Easier

      Whether you’re going back to work after maternity leave or going back to work after being a stay at home mum, chances are you’re feeling a whole range of emotions about the transition. Not just for your little one but for you too!I wanted to share with you 5 ways you can make going back to work as a mum easier on the whole family, using my decades of experience working with families and their little angels.

      1) Handover To Child-Care

      When someone else is looking after your little one on a more regular basis, especially the first few times, it’s common to think of aspects of care that you’ve forgotten to mention multiple times throughout the day! Little things such as, how does baby like to be put to bed or that your toddler likes his sandwiches cut into dinosaur shapes that, whilst they don’t make much difference in the long run, are factors that you know will make your little one feel more at home. Make yourself a list of these things over the week or two before your child goes to child-care for the first time, this way you can pass over a simple document to your care provider and offer yourself peace of mind. Not sure what to include in your handover? There is a template included in our back to work guide here.

      children in the nursery playing with the nursery teacher

      2) Pre-Arranged Updates Where Possible

      The temptation to constantly check our phones and emails can often be big at the best of times, however, if you’re back at work without your little one for the first time in a long time then that temptation is going to be strong. Whilst your employer will likely be understanding of this transitional period, it will be easier to not be glued to your personal screens if you have pre-arranged with child-care when they will contact you with little updates that aren’t an emergency. It also helps if, for instance, you’re in a meeting and you see an email flash up from nursery. Luckily, you’re already aware that they were planning to send an email at 2 pm so you don’t feel the need to lunge at your phone.

      3)|Which Child-Care Option Is The Best?

      There are so many more child-care options available than there have been in previous years and it’s important to carefully consider not only what works best for you in terms of convenience but which environment your little one will thrive in the most. Talk to other parents in your area if you can and ask for recommendations (even if it’s strangers in a local Facebook group) and if at all possible request settling-in sessions – even if it’s with a relative or friend. That way not only will they feel more settled but you’ll hopefully be more reassured they are okay on your first day back at work. A full breakdown of the pros and cons of child-care providers and things to consider in our bigger guide.

      little girl going to school with her dad

      4) How To Calm First Day Nerves?

      Both you and your child might be feeling nervous about your first day at work, childcare or school. Firstly, you must try not to pass your feelings of anxiety onto the child, try to phrase everything positively for the both of you. Such as, ‘What are you most excited about for your first day? Mummy is excited about seeing her work friends, how about you?’. You can also try some breathing exercises, if you’re doing this with your child we recommend suggesting you both take a deep breath whilst thinking about any of your worries and then blow them away when you breathe out.

      family hanging out together

      5) Getting Over Mum Guilt

      Mum Guilt gets all mothers at some point during their child’s lives and a common flair up for these feelings is going back to work and placing them in the care of someone else. A key milestone in helping yourself work through the feelings of guilt is to revisit your values, as detailed in this Harvard study. Think about the reasons behind your return to work and the values you are looking to instil in your child.

      A helpful exercise is to remind yourself of these in moments of doubt “I’m returning to work to financially support our family”, “I’m returning to work to role-model a good work ethic to my children” or similar.

      If you’re worried about returning to work or need some extra support to build your confidence so you can feel comfortable returning, you aren’t alone and I have more advice available to you. For a bargain price of just £14.99 you can get my guide which provides a breakdown of all aspects of returning to work as a mum. From a detailed analysis of different childcare options; to helping your little one transition to childcare; to helping yourself return to the working environment, I’ve got you covered. Check out my new guide here or contact me for more information.

      If you have any suggestions of your own please suggest them in the comments.

      Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.


      For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
       1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.

      Clocks Go Back, What Now? How Do You Adjust Baby’s Routine?

      Clocks Go Back, What Now? How Do You Adjust Baby’s Routine?

      Every time the clocks go forwards or backwards, parents across the world whose baby has finally settled into a nice sleep schedule or sleep routine go into a panic. As parents, we begrudge the hour earlier wake up call but how do we get them to go to sleep an hour earlier too? It’s also a great time to adjust bedtimes and naptimes if needed or wanted, it all seems to be subject to change due to Day Light Saving Time – what can we expect?

      Spring Forward, Fall Back

      We are taught this saying to remember which way the clocks are going but, is it just us or can we also spring back and fall forwards meaning we still have to rack our baby-tired brains for the answer?

      In October, the clocks go backwards an hour and as our Baby Sleep Coach inbox begins to fill with worried parents, we wanted to share some quick tips for ways you might want to adapt your routine.

      BABY SLEEP COACH CLOCK CHANGE IN AUTUMN

      Ways You Might Want To Adapt Your Routine:

      1) Start Putting Your Baby To Bed Slightly Later

      To help with the transition of an hour, start putting your child to bed slightly later from Thursday. We recommend just 15 minutes later on Thursday and then to keep increasing by 15 minutes nightly until Sunday when you can put them to bed at the normal time. This can help by allowing your child minor adaptions and hopefully, the small changes will mean the wake-up time isn’t disturbed. Make sure to stick to their usual bedtime routine at the later time.

      2) If Your Baby Wakes Up An Hour Later Once The Times Have Changed, Gently Adjust Nap time

      We all know the joy of trying to get baby to stay awake around nap time, but if your baby does wake up later in the morning try to adjust their naps by 20 minutes so that they falling into the ‘new time’ schedule throughout the day. This should only take a day or two to allow them to adjust. If baby tries to ‘catch up’ by stretching their nap or sleeping late, don’t be tempted to let them or you’ll have to continue the adjustment cycle for longer.

      3) Go Outside!

      The natural light/dark times affects our circadian rhythm which is a large factor in your body’s sleep preparation. Unsurprisingly, the ‘daylight savings time’ was created to capture the main hours of light! We have spoken about the positive effects of Vitamin D previously but it is definitely worth getting outside to let your baby soak up some natural light on the day the clocks move backwards.

      4) Tire Them Out!

      Most parents find a ‘later’ bedtime harder to achieve with little ones, the clocks moving in October are more difficult than in March time! If you try to do more physically exhausting activities, particularly outside, on those first few days following the clock change then this will greatly contribute to them settling.

      Baby sleep coach clock change routine

      6) Be A Rolemodel!

      In addition to ‘practising what you preach’, make sure you look after your own schedule too. Remember, not only are they potentially going to get up at the same time as before (this will adjust in time), but you are losing an hour of your own bedtime too!

      5) Don’t Adjust Anything.

      A lot of parents just carry on with their normal routines when the clocks change, whilst mentally preparing to potentially struggle to stick to bedtimes. Just as our bodies naturally adapt, so do our little ones. This is the method we at Sleepy Angels will be using, but it’s all personal preference. With my own children, I sometimes haven’t even realised the clock has changed!

      What About Feeding Times When The Clocks Go Back?

      A lot of parents, particularly with babies that haven’t been weaned yet, find that the main adaption when the clocks move is feeding times. Unless medically advised due to What about feeding times when the clocks go backwards?

      A lot of parents, particularly with babies that haven’t been weaned yet, find that the main adaption when the clocks move is feeding times. Unless medically advised due to weight issues or premature babies, our Baby Sleep Coach advises against trying to stick to the 4-hour feeding schedule (which you can read more about here) and trying to be responsive to the baby’s hunger and this is encouraged even more so with Daylight Savings Time adjustments.
      Our advice is to ‘be ready’ to feed the baby at the normal time but don’t be disappointed if they want to wait slightly, or feed earlier, it is best to feed when the baby starts to show signs of hunger.

      The same applies with a weaned baby, try using sleepy foods! By giving foods that increase the production of Melatonin (the sleepy hormone!) can also encourage them to sleep better. Check out this blog on foods that will help baby sleep better. Otherwise, try to feed them at the correct time and be understanding and patient if they aren’t as readily hungry for a couple of days, you can always give a snack if they eat less at the mealtime’.

      We really hope this advice has helped to ease any anxieties you might be experiencing around the upcoming Daylight Savings Time. It is so understandable that parents worry all their hard work around baby’s sleep will be ruined by this shift in time but we can reassure you that it won’t be, any adjustments will be minor and completely temporary!

      If you have any further questions, or maybe you’re experiencing some other parenting anxieties you’d like to see a blog about please reach out to me in the comments below

      References:

      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23910656/ – Entrainment of the human circadian clock to the natural light-dark cycle, The National Library of Medicine
      https://www.sleepfoundation.org/circadian-rhythm/daylight-saving-time – Daylight Saving Time, The Sleep Foundation

      Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.


      For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
       1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.