How to understand your baby’s sleep cycles? This isn’t always easy for us parents!
“He was sleeping well until he got to 6.5 months old, but suddenly started waking very 2 hours in the night, it seems harder now than it did when he was a newborn”. Let me tell you this is really common, to simplify it for you, you need to understand what is going on with your baby, and what is happening!
Sleep cycles are now changing, he is able to knit sleep cycles together during the night, and yes, at the end of each sleep cycle, he will wake up (often a mini wake up) and this can happen up to eight times a night. If your little one is waking up between his sleep cycles it is important you understand how you can help him to slowly transition between these sleep cycles, with the least intervention from you.
Routine can be helpful for babies (especially by 6 months old) as they often don’t understand what we tell them. By implementing a bedtime and nap-time routine you will help them to know what is coming next. Around 6 months of age baby’s sleep cycles change, and how they get to sleep becomes important. You don’t want a baby to crash to sleep on his bottle or breast, as this can often mean they are overtired when they go to bed and then they go straight into their deep sleep cycle. Around midnight they will go into a lighter sleep phase and this is when they start waking more frequently, and often need support to get back to sleep. This is particularly common if they have fallen asleep on the bottle, breast, rocked or cuddled to sleep at the start of bedtime.
Have a clear plan!
You need to be prepared, for example, by taking away the bottle you know he is not going to like this, as he wants to go to sleep but doesn’t know how. The question you need to answer is ‘how am I going to help him get to sleep without giving him his feed? How can we support this? He doesn’t actually know how to go from being awake to being asleep without his sleep aid!
Having a clear plan on how your little one is going to sleep without a feed (this being a sleep aid) is the key to success. The sleep plan is how you are going to manage helping your little one to go to sleep. If you didn’t have a plan in place at the start and you took away the sleep aid, you would think ‘how am i going to manage this now’?
By 6 months the sleep cycles are formed; your baby’s brain is more developed and this can trigger separation anxieties. So we want to reassure baby and by understanding these changes we can.
Parents often tell me they don’t want a sleep method that causes any crying. Any sleep changes can cause crying, as babies can’t have a conversation with you to say ‘I’m not very happy about these changes’, the only way they can communicate with us parents is by crying.
What do I need to understand?
What you do need to understand is what are they trying to tell you. Could it be they are saying they are hungry, tired, uncomfortable, frustrated or even protesting about the change in your intervention. When they were tiny all their cries sounded the same and it was hard to read what they were trying to communicate to us, but as their sleep improves you start understanding the difference in what they are telling you in their cries.
So by having a clear simple plan in place it can help you support them to fall asleep. It is also vitally important that you plan how how you can be consistent with them when they wake in the night, when it feels really tough! Often, to start with, put gentle strategies in place in the day that will help prevent their over-tiredness. This will make bedtime much smoother and easier. Doing this will prevent you having to jump in with both feet and overwhelming yourself thinking ‘right i’m going to get rid of the bottle, dummy, rocking and cuddling to sleep’ all at once.
By having a plan it helps you structure what you are going to tackle first! Sometimes by addressing their daytime naps it helps fill up their sleep tank before you even start thinking about what changes you need to make next. This simple step will also help you learn about your child’s sleep cues.
Let me tell you its all fixable!
It’s empowering for parents, if they can learn what’s going on with their baby, and understand why they are making these changes. Through understanding baby’s sleep cycles you will be successful. You will feel comfortable with the chosen plan and more importantly can actually be consistent with it. Sleep change’s are never an easy step to take, but by knowing why you are changing it can make all the difference!
If you are struggling and would like 1 to 1 support to get your baby sleep success, then check out my remote sleep plan support package which I am offering at £75 normally £150 during this uncertain time……
For more complex sleep problem then also consider my more extensive sleep support package which includes home visit (subject to corona virus conditions), personalised action plan and follow up support.
Should you feel the need for support in getting a plan and support implementing the plan then my overnight sleep support package may be best for your situation.
For any queries or enquiries please feel free to contact me.