Parenting 101: Sleep Training

Parenting 101: Sleep Training

If your baby struggles to fall asleep or wakes frequently in the night and needs you to settle him, it might be time to think about sleep training. According to Brenda Hart, a qualified and professional nanny offering a personal and practical hands on approach, you can train your child to be self-contained, independent and a better sleeper. Here, Brenda tells SL how to get your baby sleeping the easy way.

How important is having a routine?

It’s key. When you have a routine, you can plan your day better, manage your baby or children better and often get more done as a result. Your day may be less stressful, and you can identify a problem like illness better. Children are creatures of habit and love routine, they like to know what is coming up next. For instance, they know post dinner is bath time.

At what age can you start a routine?  

You can start a routine as early as week 2/3 after birth, once your baby is feeding well and putting on some weight. Even if it just begins with spacing out feeds, it’s a gentle introduction to routine for your baby – and yourself.

How long does it take for children to get into a routine?

Children will adapt to a routine within a few days, however, babies can adapt to change within just 24 hours.

What sort of environment should you set?

A familiar and stable environment that meets all the needs of your baby or child is vital for encouraging routine in your household.

What are your thoughts on swaddling?  

I honestly couldn’t do my job without swaddling. Babies are like loose cannons with their Morro reflex, so swaddling tames that reflex and gives some continuity from the start of life being in a tight space similar to their mother’s tummy.

Is it ok to let your baby cry it out?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to let your child cry. Crying is a way a baby communicates. It does not always mean there is something wrong. Different cries may give you an indication something is wrong. When a child of one-year or older year cries, it may be a more emotional cry because the baby will start to express their emotions rather than younger babies who usually tend to cry when they’re hungry, dirty or over-tired.

Naturally, many parents find leaving their baby to cry very difficult, what advice can you give to anxious parents?

Invest in a sleep trainer. It will smooth your path and give you a shoulder to lean on plus a pillar of strength to get through anything you need to address with your child. Don’t despair if it takes time to get a successful result, all babies and children are different. Most importantly get your partner on board too.

How does day time sleep impact the nights?

Sleep and many other things, such as a baby/child’s daily activity levels, can impact sleep. If you do not have a good daytime routine, your nights will be a struggle.

What are your thoughts on a comforter?

Comforters come in all different forms from dummies to soft toys and blankets. If it makes your child feel relaxed, then embrace them. They won’t depend on them when they’re 20 years old!
What are your basic rules for a simple bedtime routine?

Keep it consistent. Bedtime should not take too long – 45 minutes to an hour is ample for settling your child. Although it can be tricky, keeping the children as quiet and relaxed as possible will help them drift into sleep mode. Children will often find an excuse to get up and call you back into their room – so set each child up so they don’t need anything from you all night, be it water, extra blankets etc.


What to do if your baby falls asleep whilst feeding?

It’s important to wake up your baby during a feed and make sure they have got rid of any wind before putting them to bed. There should be at least 10 mins from the end of the feed to when your baby goes to sleep.

If your child falls asleep whilst you’re out and about, what do you suggest?

If it is a 10- minute cat nap that may well be fine for but any longer it could spell disaster for the rest of the day. Stop and lift them out of the pram or car seat. Give your child five minutes to fully wake up before returning them to the pram with a toy to engage with, this should help avoid repeating the whole episode again. Don’t be tempted to make them too snug either, this will only make them feel sleepy.  

What is your opinion on ‘dream’ feeding?

The dream feed is a good way of transitioning yourchild from a night feed to stop feeding completely during the night.  It’s vital you create the right setting for this to work – dimmed lighting, no speaking and definitely no eye contact.

How do you stop night time feeds?

As babies develop and grow up, they will need less milk during the night as they’ll be filling themselves up with food during the day. A healthy daily dose of fresh air and a good 24-hour routine will also encourage your baby to sleep through the night.   It’s important that as a parent, you also train yourself not to jump on the baby as soon as he or she makes a sound.

If a baby has colic/reflux can they still sleep through?

Unless your baby is a lot of discomfort, there is no reason why he/she won’t sleep through the night even if they suffer from colic.

What triggers a bad night sleep?

Many factors can affect a baby’s sleep pattern, the most popular is a holiday and different time zone, too much attention during the day, too much napping, illness, a new baby, the wrong routine, not keeping up with a child’s development and needs and bad habits.

What if your child's sleep regresses?

There are several reasons why this happens, it’s important to look at the complete picture and try and identify exactly why. It can be a combination of factors.

Any tips for a smooth transition if your children share a room?

Read a book about sharing a room, have a plan, make sure they are sleeping well first, use a reward system if they are older children sharing.

What's your advice for travelling with children and different time zones? 

Always put the child on local time as soon as you arrive. Take into consideration what has happened on the fight. Pick up their routine making necessary adjustments for the time difference. Reset them in the morning and get them up at the usual time.
For more sleep advice from Brenda, visit

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