Cot or Bassinet – and when to transition


There are so many decisions to be made when it comes to a new baby….how will we get him home from the hospital? Where will she sleep?

Perhaps you’re one of those people who has the nursery all painted and decked out and your idea of a perfect start is baby going straight into a cot in their own space close by. Perhaps you like the idea of having baby in the same room with you in the beginning or you live in a smaller space, therefore a bassinet may have more appeal.

A bassinet is definitely more compact than a cot and provides, some would argue, a cosier environment for baby to sleep in. There is also the mobility of a bassinet, since many come with wheels or handles, that add to their convenience. Whilst there are no current Australian standards for bassinets, some products do claim compliance with overseas standards or older Australian standards for rocking cradles.

Most bassinets will come with a recommendation for when it’s time to transition baby into a cot. Every baby is different and will grow at different rates. The Australian consumer advocacy group: Choice, recommends that once baby starts rolling over, or can pull themselves up via the sides it is time to transition them to a cot. Of course, many parents transition their babies long before this time, or begin baby sleeping in a cot straight away. Either of these approaches is perfectly fine.

Here at Sleep Love Grow, we are most interested in keeping baby’s ‘falling asleep environment’ simple and familiar, particularly from the three month mark and beyond. This is when, according to RedNose (formerly SIDS), a setting should be provided that isn’t dependent on another person. It may involve a snug wrap, a darkened room, the sound of a fan or other white noise and of course, the familiar smell/feel of their consistent sleeping space.

If you decide that a bassinet is for you, there are some things to watch out for as you are shopping around. Firstly, check the mattress. It should be firm and quite snug against the sides of the bassinet. There should be no gaps where baby’s arms or legs could become trapped. There should also be plenty of breathable area between baby and the sides to eliminate suffocation. If your bassinet comes with wheels, check there is a locking system for at least two wheels. The construction of the bassinet should feature permanently fixed parts that are difficult to budge when moved.

If you would like more information on what to look for in a bassinet, check out the Choice Bassinet Buying Guide or for safe sleep solutions see RedNose (SIDS).

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When baby hates cot and how you can help

Have a bub who is 6 months or older who hates his sleep space? Cries when you’re walking toward his cot? Cries when you try putting him in the cot?

If you know your baby is tired but he is not fond of going into his bed, try some Positive Sleep Space Association.

During his wake time, ensure the room looks completely different than sleep time (i.e. lights on or curtains open, perhaps play some up-beat music that you know he will enjoy), and place him in his sleep space with some toys and/or books. Stay in the room with him while he plays and encourage him by turning his interest to different things and providing some interaction (like peek-a-boo around the cot bars with a teddy). If he is hesitant to go into his sleep space initially during this time, try some “aeroplanes” over the sleep space or playing next to the sleep space as an initial step towards eventually playing IN the sleep space.

Children, even babies, need to be in and around their sleep space regularly for reasons other than sleep.

Once you begin doing Positive Sleep Space Association several times a day (only 5-10 minutes is required), you should begin to see a shift in his feelings about his sleep space. This practice helps an older baby “normalize” being in the sleep space, which can help him feel more settled before going to sleep and when he wakes.

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Daylight savings and sleep – what’s the deal?

So, it’s that time of year again – yay! Soon enough we’ll have to change our clocks, and this is where some things can become a bit of a struggle with a little one’s sleep. So, what to do?

Here’s some ideas for you to think about:

– Spring FORWARD, Fall (or Autumn in Australia!) BACK; in other words, make sure you’re putting your clocks forward in Spring and back in Autumn

– in Spring, you lose an hour, which can be easier to make up for than the other way around in Autumn, when you gain an extra hour

– think about what the new times for your child’s sleep will be once the clocks change; you can begin to make a slow change before the clocks turn or you can change afterward

– changes can be made in smaller increments of 5-10 minutes (with a baby of 6 months and under this will most certainly need to be the case), longer increments of 15-30 minutes (with a baby who is 6 months or older) or “cold turkey” as the clock shows (with an older toddler or child)

As we all know, we cannot force sleep. So, when the clock turns that magic number (old time) in the morning, most little people will be awake, unless you’ve transitioned beforehand.

As the clocks change, the sun’s times will change, too. This means that the amount of light coming into your child’s bedroom could potentially disrupt their ability to go to sleep or wake them earlier than expected in the morning. To help remedy this, you may decide to add a block-out blind or curtain.

The good news in all of this is that most little ones, whether they are teeny tiny or bigger, will adapt to the time changes within about a week if you take steps towards helping them do that.

Spring has sprung! Enjoy this beautiful weather and the longer-lit warm days.

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sleep crutches

sleep crutches – feeding, rocking, patting, singing and hand-holding to sleep

I meet so many families who think the first thing I will tell them is that they’ve made a big mistake getting their baby or child off to sleep by doing something intensive. Well, no. In fact, the first thing I say is this:

“parent-intensive sleep methods in the early days of a child’s life help build a positive foundation of emotional wellness on which to make slow and transitional changes with sleep if and when the family is ready to make those changes”

Being a parent is all about doing what feels right for you and your child. Helping your child off to sleep may be something that comes completely natural to you, and that’s great!

There may come a time that the method you’ve chosen when your child was younger no longer seems right. The way we parent evolves and changes, and this is certainly true of the way we choose to help our children get good sleep. There is a way of transitioning from what you are currently doing to where you want your “to-sleep-scenarios” being. Think of changing the method slowly, be patient and you’ll probably be surprised that you CAN actually help your child makes those changes with a bit of determination.

Yes, I am a sleep consultant, BUT I’m also a mum of young kiddies, a midwife and doula — I don’t have “rose-coloured glasses” about how sleep should, could or would be. I realise that sleep looks different in every single home. So, do what you think is right for you and your child and when that changes, start thinking about ways to make it look different. And if the time never comes when you feel a change is needed, then great! Keep on doing what you’re doing. And don’t forget to enjoy. 🙂

Happy transitioning!

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early wake ups – are you up before the sun?

Early wake-ups… are they happening in your home?

Let’s face it, it’s not nice being up before the sun. Especially when it’s out of your control.

So, what do we mean by early wake-ups?

We would categorise an early wake-up as a child waking before 6am and being “ready for the day”. If it happens every now and then, not to worry (as long as it’s close to 6am!) BUT if it’s happening regularly in your home there is usually a reason why.

Here’s a quick list for you:

– make sure your child is not going down too early for their first nap; awake time will be taken in reverse if a child keeps getting put to bed at the same time every day even though they need more wake time (e.g. say your 6 month old goes down for her nap at 830am from a 630am wakeup, and as she gets older that time doesn’t change.. by 9 months she’s needing 2.5 hours of wake-time first thing in the morning so if you are continuing to put her to bed at 830am her morning wake-up will likely become 6am)
– make sure your child’s first nap is not too long; when a child drops to two naps they will likely be a similar length, but as she gets older and increases her ability to stay awake the job of the morning nap is to give her “a bit of sleep” to get her through to the afternoon sleep so she can have a big chunk of sleep then and go to bed at night time between 630-730pm and not over-tired (e.g. for a 9mth old might be something like: 630am wake-up, 9-10am nap, 1-3pm nap, 7pm bedtime)
– make sure your child is not going to bed too early at night time; think about the normal “night-time sleep” for your child’s age so that you’re not expecting too much sleep from them, and remember that there is a range of what’s normal for each age (e.g. at 9 mths, babies usually sleep for 11-11.5 hours so if you are putting your little one down to bed at 630pm and she’s waking at 530am then this would be within the expected range)
– make sure your child in not going to bed too late; an over-tired person of any age will not sleep as well and is much more likely to wake through the night and before it’s a suitable time to be awake in the morning. I suggest a bedtime of between 630-730pm; think about what time your child wakes from the last nap and try not to stretch out “too long” before bedtime for the night.
– make sure you’re not encouraging the habit; if you are “starting the day” before 6am over and over again, you’re helping drive your child’s biological clock and she will likely continue to wake. If she is at an age to need a feed then do this, and encourage her back to bed (even if she won’t sleep straight away).

Being up early is not nice. If it’s happening regularly, I would encourage you to try to remedy this as soon as possible. Sometimes it can take up to a month of consistent work to get the early wake up ironed out!

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Toddlers – parenting and sleep manners!

I often talk about parenting during the day vs parenting during the night. Particularly in relation to the toddler or younger child, and particularly with night-time battles (staying in bed, going off to sleep).

Think about whether you are using the same expectations at night as you are during the day; if a child is not sure of the expectation, or if the parenting is “mis-matched” this can be part of having issues at night with sleep.

So, think about it:

– are you expecting independence during the day but not at night, or vice a versa?
– are you giving in to demands for constant attention during the day but not at night, or vice a versa?

Your child sends out signals to you and waits for the return signal as to what the expectation is. I like to ask myself, “What is my child learning (or not learning) during this particular interaction with me?”

There is no one right way to parent, but being both empathetic and definite in your expectation, during daytime and at night is a positive way to raise children.

Here is an example for you:

“I hear that you do not want to go to sleep right now. That’s fine — I can’t make your body go to sleep. But it is bedtime, so you’ll need to use your bedtime manners:

1. stay in your bed
2. be calm and quiet

I love you and I’m looking forward to seeing you again when bedtime is over.”

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Night Wakings – I just got you to sleep!

Today I thought I’d cover night wakings. It’s a bit of a controversial issue, so bear with me!
Here’s some quick facts for you:
– babies need to wake through the night to feed, until usually 4-6 months (some “sleep through” – by this we mean from late at night to first thing in the morning – earlier than this); the ‘sleep experts’ can’t agree on when this should exactly be so we’ll say 6 months minimum just to be sure! We recognize that every baby and family unit is different, and respect that many parents choose to feed their baby regularly through the night well after this age.
– babies sometimes wake through the night for reasons other than needing a feed
– once a baby has established a bit of a feeding pattern through the day (normally around 6-8 weeks, but every baby is different) generally they are feeding more often through the day than at night (nights may be roughly the same timeframe between feeds, but if your baby is feeding more regularly through the night than through the day after around 6-8 weeks then he may have day/night switched around)
– a baby who wakes very regularly (every 30-60 mins) in the evening from when they go to bed initially until around midnight (we’re talking something like going to bed at 7pm then waking at 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, etc) it may be that he is overtired going off to sleep; when babies feel overtired they’re more likely to wake after short bursts.. he has built up enough sleep debt to need a ‘chunk’ of sleep but is having trouble getting into that deep sleep phase
– a baby who wakes very regularly (every 30-60 mins) between midnight and 4/430am may have had an ‘unorganised’ day; that is his naps may be too short and his waketimes too long – for some reason this affects the early hours of the morning (go figure)!
– a baby who is waking early (before 6am) and staying awake may mean several things: he is going down too early for his first day nap, he is going to bed too early in the evening (scroll down and check the average sleep needs table on a post a little while ago) or he is going to bed too late (I know, it’s confusing — check the table for how long your baby should be ‘in bed’ during the night)
– generally a baby who is able to get to sleep without too much intensive help will be ready to wake less through the night within a few weeks (yes, babies wake ‘just because’ like us through the night but if they don’t know how to get off to sleep without help then they will alert someone every time they wake to get the help they need)

We recognize that every family is different. We believe that you should do what you feel is best for your baby. You will never be told by us that you should do it “this way or that way”.

We offer family-centred sleep solutions. If the way you are doing things at the moment is not a problem for you, then it’s certainly not a problem for us (and shouldn’t be for anyone else!).

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