HomeLife StyleSleep consultant reveals her top tips get babies to sleep at night

Sleep consultant reveals her top tips get babies to sleep at night

A sleep consultant has shared her top tips for parents who are struggling to get their children to sleep at night.

Leanne Palmerston, 51, says there are “simple things” that parents can do to ensure both they and their kids get a full night’s sleep, even when they have a newborn.

Her advice when it comes to newborns is to ensure they “start doing it from day one”.

She suggests sticking to a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, getting outside, de-stimulating in the evening and going to bed when tired to sleep, not relax.

The sleep consultant, from Hamilton in Toronto, Canada, describes babies as “creatures of habit”.

“If there is a move [parents] make which is the wrong move, it is to be afraid every single time a baby cries.

“And they commit themselves to doing anything they can to stop the babies crying.

“What we see happening as perinatal professionals, is we see a parent has a video and a sound monitor and their baby is sleeping away from their parents and the parents start to hear a little squeaking and whinging.

“Parents ‘oh my goodness the baby is awake’ and then they will nurse the baby or give the baby a bottle.

“What that does, is it primes the baby to expect that when they reach consciousness they will be rescued and fed by their parents.”

Palmerston says that when this becomes a habit, babies will start “waking up approximately every hour to an hour-and-a-half”.

However, if parents were to “leave babies to just do their bit of whinging and give them five minutes”, the child usually does not start crying and settles back down into sleep.

She warns that parents who keep going to their child when they are crying at night put them at risk of having “hyper-fractured sleep”, which refers to consistently interrupted sleep.

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Not getting solid sleep could exacerbate any existing or new merging mental health issues, she says, and parents who are deeply fatigued might not be able to pay as much attention to their children during the day.

“We know that fatigue has a similar and sometimes worse effect on your ability to drive or operate machinery as does ingesting alcohol or smoking cannabis.

“The body requires sleep – plain and simple. The body requires sleep in order to regenerate itself to optimally run.

“If we think of the body as a machine – sleep is the grease that keeps the gears running smoothly. If we don’t have enough sleep then the gears start to grind out and damage the machine itself.”

She pointed to health conditions exacerbated by a lack of sleep, such as metabolic disease (high blood pressure, insulin resistance, weight issues), diabetes and heart disease.

A way to prevent fatigue is to establish a regular sleep schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, Palmerston says.

“Just like with babies, consistency is key, consistent bedtimes, consistent wake times – even on your days off,” she says.

“We all want to run to the pub, maybe have a bunch of drinks, come home quite late and then sleep in, in the morning perhaps if we don’t have to get up with our pets or children.

“But those can interrupt our habits and make it a little harder to slip back into a better habit during the work week.”

Palmerston’s other tips for getting babies to sleep is to turn the sound down on any baby monitors so that parents don’t keep fussing over children at any sound, and to stick to a routine.

Reporting by SWNS

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