By Carmen Botes – Good Night Consultant
We all want the best for our babies and toddlers. The aim of sleep coaching is that we strive to create predictability for both bedtime routines and day-to-day routines.
We want our children to feel safe and we have a responsibility towards them to ensure they feel secure.
When our support journey has come to an end with families and their little ones, what then? When can life resume besides nap routines, bath routines and feeding schedules?
How does one change what has become so easy (a good routine and a baby who is sleeping better) to actually socialising! Having a braai at friends, inviting people over to your house and the family getaways, having to house share with others? What about holidays where there is usually little to no routine at all?
One almost forgets how life was before helping your baby to better sleep, that you have been craving all this time.
All of a sudden you have happy, sleeping baby’s or toddlers, something you may have thought you’d never experience for yourself.
Good quality sleep is not a myth! It is a reality that is possible for everyone.
Consistency: This is the key!
What does consistency mean? It means that you always stick to the rules. You are sure to be a little late here or a little too early for an appointment, but most important is that your little person that is tagging along knows exactly what their specific routine entails.
You have been invited to a braai, “OH NO, we cannot, baby must sleep” says Mom. “I am sure it will be fine” says Dad!
Well, I say go out and enjoy a fun night out with your friends. You will never know if you do not try it.
Environment: It is important!
Create the same environment as you have at home. Take along your camping cot, pack your bath bag with all your bathing goodies. Make sure to take the bigger car to make sure all your extras fit.
When you get to the braai, bath your little one on time as much as it will allow, 15 minutes here or there will not be the end of the world. The same rules and routine will apply. After bath time, go the bedroom you have chosen for sleep.
Draw the curtains, switch on your white noise. This is the special tool for any outing or new sleep environments. It helps to drown out the loud sounds of laughter, dogs barking, car doors opening and closing. It is also something that is familiar and will help your little one to settle and sleep well. This white noise sound should be consistent and on a monotone setting. Remember, you have done the hard work already. Your baby will know exactly how to fall asleep. Always allow for those few extra minutes of getting comfortable in the new room.
It looks different, it smells different and it also sounds different.
Your little one will always remember how to fall asleep. Do not let your self-doubt as parents be the reason that your child will not sleep. It may take 10 – 15 minutes longer to fall asleep, but they will fall asleep. They know exactly how to. You do not have to add a feed or fall back to the sleep associations you had before. Do not allow yourself to regress because you feel out of your comfort zone.
Babies are actually great when it comes to environmental changes. Let them prove it to you.
Tonight, when the braai is over, pack up your camping cot, put everything back into the bigger car you came with. Baby into his/her car seat and drive home.
Once you are home, take your baby out of their car seat and into their cot. Off to sleep as you would have done any other night before this. Yes, there is a slight disruption in the night, however the brain is a powerful muscle that has memory and can remember all it has learnt.
Then, breathe. You made it. It went well!
As for going away on holiday – again, keep to the routine as much as possible. At the end of the day, your baby or toddler will appreciate the perfect end off to the day that is the bath routine. They know that sleep follows. This is the predictability that you have created for them, they enjoy this and with the onset of melatonin, which will help them to settle for the night.
Prevent wake ups or early mornings by adding white noise and making sure the room is as dark as it can possibly be. If there is still some light that comes through the sides of the curtains, you can stick some black bags to the windows, which are cheap and easy to remove once you leave. We want to preserve the melatonin by not allowing the early sunrises to interrupt sleep, most especially in the early mornings when you would like to sleep in a little later on holiday! Enjoy yourself!