Causes of waking up too early

Waking up too early is an issue both for babies and parents, as they definitely need that extra bit of energy to make it through the day. And sometimes, when you wake up at 4am and that is not caused by a crying baby, it is even more frustrating. For that reason, in today’s post we are going to go through the most common causes of waking up too early, to help you get the good night of sleep that you deserve.

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Blackout Blinds: helping your child to sleep

When the summer months are upon us it becomes increasingly more difficult for any of us to sleep if we choose to have an early night, so there is little wonder that children struggle the way they do.  It doesn’t seem to matter what age your child is, whether they’re a baby or a preschooler, they can all struggle when the light nights appear.

You can explain to your child as much as you like about how the clocks have changed and how its light at bedtime but they’re still not going to be too pleased about having to go to bed when it’s still light, and they’re going to find it even more difficult if the light is shining through their curtains.

When this is the problem the only real solution is to either lock your child in the cupboard under the stairs like Harry Potter, or invest in a blackout blind.  If you get a perfect fit for your window frame, these blackout blinds are an extremely effective way of shutting out the sunlight when your child is trying to get to sleep.

Blackout blinds and babies

Quite a common problem when getting your baby to sleep through the night is the change in season.  If you’ve managed to do this in the winter season, even though your baby naps during the day, they will not be used to sleeping at night with the sun streaming through the window.  Night time sleeps are the deepest, and sometimes if you don’t manage to get your baby off to sleep early enough they can get what’s called “locked out” and it’s quite possible that you will find them restless all night and unable to enter the deep sleep they need.  If you fit a blackout blind before the light nights begin to creep in you’ll be able to maintain the consistency of your night time routine throughout the spring and summer too.

Fitting a blackout blind

Fitting your blackout blind is as simple as fitting any other blind, the only difference is that you will need to be very careful when you select the size.  If you get one that’s too small you’re likely to get light creeping around the sides of the blind, and sometimes this can be just as distracting as light shining through a pair of curtains.  Ensure that you consider where you’re going to put the brackets for the blackout blind and try not to put them on the inside of the frame, too close to the window, because this will almost certainly turn out to be a bad fit and let light around the sides.  If you’re in any doubt about fitting your blackout blind it’s a good idea to ask a professional, or at least someone that’s done it before to do it for you.

Mobile blackout blinds

Because we’ve become a nation of travellers, so too have our children.  Therefore it has become necessary to take our blackout blinds with us.  You can’t always expect to have blackout blinds when you go away on holiday or stay with friends and family, but your children may still need that comfort in order to get a good night’s sleep.

The mobile blackout blind usually comes in a handy bag that allows you to fold it away and pack it into a suitcase or underneath a pushchair, and it’s fully adjustable to fit any size window.  It attaches in minutes; and what’s even better than this is that you don’t have to get your drill and screwdriver out to fit it!

This article was submitted by Baby Security, the Baby Safety Superstore.  Baby Safe UK stock an excellent range of baby comfort and safety items and also stock the mobile blackout blind.

How To Get Your Baby To Sleep At Night

One of the hardest things to cope with for any new parent is a lack of sleep, which is primarily the result of your child’s lack of sleep, or apparent unwillingness to sleep when most other people are.

Getting your child to sleep properly, and to stay asleep, seems to be one of the biggest changes, and one of the most often asked questions by new parents is ‘how can I get my baby to sleep at night?’

The good news is that there are steps you can take, and techniques you can implement, which may well have the desired effect of helping your child to not only get to sleep at a reasonable time, but also to stay asleep for longer.

However, it should also be pointed out that no two children are alike, and a technique which works brilliantly for one child may not have any effect at all for another.

This can be infuriating for new parents, because whilst they are up all night with their new little one, other parents are confidently explaining how to do it properly. It isn’t that parents should berate themselves for being unable to ‘do it properly’, because it is more than likely their little one just doesn’t respond to the same things, or in the same way, as other children.

However, by trying out a range of techniques and approaches you’ll be able to see which ones work, and emphasise those more until you start to see a real improvement, at which point you can either continue what you’re doing, or try reintroducing some of the other techniques in case they help a little more.

One of the first pieces of advice I would give to any new parent is to try to make sure that you feed your child as much as possible throughout the day. Obviously there is a limit to this, as new babies have only very small tummies and will get full very quickly. But the fuller and more satisfied your child is by the end of the day, the less likely they will be to wake up through the night and need more feeds.

Clearly a very young child will inevitably need feeds during the night, but as they get a little bigger try to increase the amount or the frequency of their daytime feeds, helping them to feel less hungry at night, and to associate daytime with feeding and night time with sleeping.

Something which some parents try is to keep their baby up a little later so that they get really tired, in the vain hope that if they are really tired they will get to sleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and sleep a little longer.

Whilst this is a great theory, in practice it almost never works. The problem is that if your baby is kept up a little too late they can become over tired. If they feel too tired they may find it more difficult to get to sleep ironically.

The best thing to do is to try putting your baby to bed a little earlier, rather than a little later. You might even try settling them down for the night at about half past six or so.

It is known that as a general rule children who are settled down to bed earlier tend to sleep for longer at a time eventually, and so this is a good approach to try. I know this worked brilliantly with my son, who started sleeping straight through for twelve hours a night from the age of six weeks.

An important technique to try is to get a routine into place, and to stick to it. Young children love bedtime routines, because they are ever so comforting and reassuring. You might try giving them a bath, then cuddling up on the settee together with a book, then heading up to bed, dimming the lights, singing familiar lullabies before a final cuddle and a ‘night night’.

It helps to associate certain words of phrases with night time too, such as ‘time for sleepy bye byes, time for sleepy bye byes, nighty night, sleep tight.’ It can almost become hypnotic, which is I suppose part of the idea.

Finally, a word about crying. If you settle your child down for beds and they start crying it can be tempting to stay with them for a little longer. There is much division of opinion as to whether you should leave a child to cry themselves to sleep, or comfort them.

I would say that if they are only whimpering, leave them completely. If they are crying, leave them for a while, and then perhaps if it continues go in to see them, but don’t always pick them up. Just stay near the door, offer them some comforting words, and then leave again, even if they haven’t stopped crying.

If a child learns that by crying they can summon you instantly, and even be lifted out of bed, they will inevitably cry plenty. By weaning them off this association of crying and the arrival of a parent you will not only help them get to sleep more, but studies have shown that as they get older they are more likely to develop a sense of independence and resilience which stands them in very good stead.

Should You Buy A Cot, A Moses Basket Or A Co-Sleeper?

To begin with many new parents assume that they will need a cot for their new baby, but of course once you start looking around you realise that the choice isn’t simply about colour, style, features or size. In fact, should you buy a cot at all? Or should you just get a moses basket or co-sleeper?

Should you instead be considering a co-sleeper, or even a Moses basket? It’s not easy, and it isn’t obvious at first glance which is best for you. Here’s a quick overview of the benefits and possible drawbacks of each of the three main types of sleeping arrangement for a new baby.

Option 1 – The Cot

Regardless of whether you go for a Moses basket or a co-sleeper, your child will eventually end up in a cot, because neither of the first two options are truly long term ones.

So if money is a serious consideration you may choose to go for a cot from the very start. Having said this, neither Moses baskets or co-sleepers are likely to be as costly as a cot.

Have a look at our article on how to choose the best cot if you are unsure about you things you should take into account.

Some cots can convert into starter beds for young children, and this can help in terms of cost, making your investment go further. However, this period between your child moving on from a cot and needing a full child’s bed is only fairly brief. See our article on when to move your child from a cot to a bed.

One of the main benefits of a cot is that your child will quickly get used to sleeping by themselves. It is delightful to have your child sleeping right next to you in either a Moses basket or co-sleeper, and whilst these do offer real benefits, it is also true that children can become used to sleeping close to their parents, and may struggle once you move them away and into their full cot.

To avoid this potential transition problem many parents choose to stick with a cot from the beginning. The initial disadvantages of this might possibly be compensated for by ensuring your child is happy to fall asleep without you next to them in future.

Option 2 – The Co-Sleeping

The co-sleeper is a little like a cot, but with one side missing. The co-sleeper then pushes up against your own bed, attaching securely. This means that your baby has their own space, but is still able to sleep right next to you.

For both the baby and the parent this is extremely comforting, and can mean that both of you get a much better night’s sleep.

Inevitably of course your baby will wake up and need feeding, but what many mothers find is that with a co-sleeper this process is much easier. If you can manage to breastfeed lying down then you hardly need to wake up fully, and you and your child are likely to fall asleep much more quickly after the feeding, helping you both to feel more rested.

However, whilst there are benefits, some parents can find that the child becomes used to having their mother or father right next to them, and when the time comes to moving on to a proper cot there can be problems.

It is also possible that with some co-sleepers the parent’s duvet could cover the child. Although this is unlikely, it is possible in cases where the co-sleeper doesn’t have a very high side. With two parents and a thick duvet the temperature can rise, and this could be dangerous for your child. It’s an unlikely scenario, but one which you should be aware of.

Option 3 – The Moses Basket

Moses baskets are often viewed as being largely unnecessary, and used mostly because they just look beautiful. In fact though they are extremely practical, and allow you to let your baby sleep anywhere at all. Have the Moses basket downstairs, let your child fall sleep, then simply carry it upstairs with your baby still inside fast asleep.

The Moses basket can initially be right next to your bed, but can then be moved further away, and eventually right into the nursery, helping with the transition.

The higher sides mean that unlike with a co-sleeper you won’t be able to see your baby without sitting up, but it’s still lower down than a cot. It’s a flexible solution, but often one which your child will grow out of fairly quickly.

So you can see that each option has its own benefits, and compared to other options, some disadvantages. Partly it will depend upon budget and space, but it’s important not to assume which is the best option, but to look into it carefully, considering the benefits and options, and perhaps chatting to other parents to find out what their experience was like.

Here is a video demonstration of the Chicco Next2Me, one of the most popular products if you choose to buy a co sleeping cot.

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