Starting the year with BETTER sleep


By Jolandi Becker – MD of Good Night

As a mom who has been sleeping well for quite some time (if you have the secret to sleep you use it!), just one night of sleep interruptions can completely throw me out.  Inevitably though even the best sleepers wake up for some or other reason every now and then:  illness, the heat, wetting the bed, thunderstorms, scary dreams or just being thirsty, is to name just a few!   With my children being 8 and 10 years old now, independence when it comes to sleep (and other things) is a lot easier.  “Get your own water” or “put the aircon on” but other things like bad dreams or thunder, requires parental intervention and comfort and OF COURSE I will provide it.  Luckily these nights are few and far in between,  BUT they are a good reminder for me and hopefully for you:  there is NO such thing as perfect sleep and some night waking’s are just out of your control!  You are not doing anything wrong!

With all the information out there on sleep and sleep training, we can often create unrealistic sleep expectations for our babies and children.  Thinking that our newborn should be having longer stretches at night.  Thinking our 6-month-old should be sleeping through the night.  Thinking our toddler should be having longer naps.  For each one of these examples I can give you examples where that was the case BUT I can give you even more examples where it was NOT the case. 

What is normal sleep?

Each baby or child differs in their speed of development and reaching milestones, which includes learning to sleep well.  You need to find your baby’s rhythm and establish what their sleep needs are and stop comparing your baby or child to others, they simply are not the same.

There are some points worth mentioning – mostly to reassure you and remind you that you are not doing anything wrong, some night waking’s are just beyond your control:

  • Newborns (0 – 12 week old babies) their bellies are tiny and thus they will wake quite frequently both during the day and at night. Three hourly night feeds are normal.
  • Newborns (0 – 12 week old babies) do not have melatonin or sleep cycles, so there is NO pattern to their sleep, sometimes they will have 2 hour naps and the next nap you will do the exact same thing and they will only sleep 10 mintues. This is normal.
  • A nap lasting 45 minutes are normal.  Anything longer you should consider to be a bonus.
  • There will be phases that your baby/toddler/child will wake up early.  The sun comes up at 5am in summer and so will they!
  • There will be phases where your toddler will protest going to sleep, not because they are not tired but because they just want to test the boundaries.
  • You have a baby NOT a robot and most days will be different than the day before.
  • It is only around 10 months of age that daytime sleep becomes a bit more predictable and only from when they move to one nap a day, will it become a lot more predictable.
  • An early morning feed (between 3 – 6 am) is still quite normal until 9 months of age.  Most healthy, growing 9 month olds can go through the night without a feed.
  • Above 12 months of age, a night feed does more harm than good so all night feeds should be dropped by this age.

How can we BETTER your families sleep?

Bettering sleep does not always involve drastic changes.  Just because some things are easier to do does not make them less important. 

Try implementing some of these things for 10 – 14 days to experience their effects and BETTER your family’s sleep:

  • Follow age-appropriate awake times
    (Awake time is the time from when your baby woke until they need to be put down for the next nap NOT when they fall asleep)
    3 months – 1h30
    6 months – 2h30
    8 months – 3h00
    10 months – 3h30
  • Implement a bedtime routine that is NOT too late or too long.  Aim for a 30 minute bedtime that ends around 19h00. 
    Good bedtime routine for 6+ months:
    Cream and Massage
    Put diaper and PJ’s on
    Cuddle/Sing a song
    Put in Cot
  • Make it as dark as possible during the night and during the day. 
  • Remove all toys, including mobile, from the cot/sleep area.
  • Introduce a sustainable sleep association such a taglet.
  • Avoid any screen time 2 hours before bedtime.

Nightwakings inevitably happen to us all, including our children.  Sometimes it is beyond our control and nothing we are doing wrong.  Here is to supporting your family getting BETTER sleep, not PERFECT sleep in 2022!

Good Night