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9 Proven Ways To Boost Baby Sleep!

There can be a lot of noise regarding how to optimise infant sleep, what you should and shouldn't be doing.

But what are the truly evidence-based ways to support infant sleep and how can you apply them?

Lets take a look!

1. Optimise parental-child attachment

Attachment is a really prevalent topic in the world of child psychology. It explains the bond between a caregiver and a little one and can contribute to their cognitive and emotional well-being. As bedtime quite often marks a time of separation from a caregiver children can naturally find this quite intimidating. Research has shown that weaker attachment can reduce sleep quality and duration. Building attachment with little ones is a core area for supporting sleep! When working with families, I often recommend activities that build connection and containment so that little people can feel more secure and independent by having access to responsive and loving care!

What can you do?

  • Love bombing

  • Close physical contact and touch (e.g. massage)

  • Loving verbal and nonverbal interactions

  • Understand Watch, Wait, and Wonder & The Circle of Security.

(Scher, 2001; Belanger et al, 2015; Pennestri et al, 2015)

2. Support responsive feeding and parenting,

High warmth and emotional availability throughout the day and at bedtime has been found to improve both feeding & sleep.

(Teti et al, 2010; Philbrook & Teti, 2016)

3. Promote and encourage teamwork among parents

Working together as a team to share the load and divide up responsibility has been found to lower stress AND improve sleep.

Sharing the load of parenthood can be challenging, but it's crucial for maintaining a healthy and balanced family dynamic. Here are some strategies parents can employ:

Communication and Planning:

  • Open and honest communication: Discuss expectations, responsibilities, and frustrations openly. Schedule regular check-ins to ensure everyone feels heard and understood.

  • Shared planning: Create a chore chart or family calendar, delegating tasks based on preferences, skills, and availability. Be flexible and adapt as needed.

  • Mental load balance: Don't underestimate the invisible "mental load" of remembering tasks and planning. Share grocery lists, schedules, and reminders digitally or physically.

Sharing Responsibilities:

  • Equal responsibility doesn't always mean equal tasks: Consider individual strengths and preferences when assigning chores. One parent might cook while the other handles bath time.

  • Trade-offs and flexibility: Be willing to trade tasks based on daily workload fluctuations. Offer help when your partner seems overwhelmed.

  • Delegate tasks outside the home: Explore childcare services, meal delivery, or housecleaning help when feasible. Consider splitting the cost or alternating who utilizes these services.

Building Teamwork:

  • Celebrate shared successes: Acknowledge each other's efforts and contributions, fostering a sense of partnership and shared responsibility.

  • Make time for individual needs: Ensure both parents have time for rest, hobbies, and self-care to avoid burnout and resentment.

  • Embrace imperfection: Don't strive for perfection. Recognise that some days will be easier than others, and prioritise flexibility and communication.

Additional Tips:

  • Involve children age-appropriately: Encourage older children to participate in chores and responsibilities according to their abilities.

  • Seek support: Talk to friends, family, or support groups for advice and encouragement. Consider therapy if communication difficulties persist.

  • Remember, you're in this together: Approach challenges as a team, prioritising open communication and mutual respect.

By implementing these strategies and cultivating a collaborative mindset, parents can effectively share the load and create a more harmonious and fulfilling family environment.

(Teti et al, 2017; Tikotzky 2017)

4. Expose infants and children to as much natural daylight as possible

Natural daylight is vital for helping to regulate the circadian rhythm as well as boosting feel-good hormones, which aids sleep and reduces negative sleep outcomes.

(Bedrosian & Nelson, 2017).

5. Avoid use of screens, artificial light, electronic devices, and gaming, particularly in the 2 hours before bedtime

The blue light emitted by screens can inhibit melatonin production and, therefore, prevent the onset of sleep. You could try using prepared evening activity baskets filled with relaxing puzzles, toys and crafts to keep your little one occupied whilst you get pre-bedtime tasks completed. (Check out our blog!)

(Bedrosian & Nelson, 2017)

6. Encourage parents to be observant of infant cues and respond to individual tiredness levels

Being observant of your own child's unique sleep needs, cues and signals can help you to learn their normal and adapt things appropriately! Take a look below at my sleep cues checklist for hints and tips on some signs they might display.

(Whittingham & Douglas, 2014)

7. Refrain from later afternoon naps after about 7-8 months, as these can have a negative effect on night time sleep – as can too much daytime sleep in general

Napping is vital for regulating stress hormones, but its important naps are timed well to prevent issues with night sleep. Too much day sleep specially close to bedtime can prevent the build up of sleep pressure which is necessary for good nighttime sleep quality.

(Thorpe et al, 2015)

8. Have a consistent, positive bedtime routine

The regularity and predictability of a bedtime routine can help to indicate the onset of sleep and become a calming as opposed to stressful experience for you and your little one. Keeping similar activities in your routine can be regulating to your body clock and allow for more consistent sleep.

(Mindell et al, 2015)

9. Promote a healthy lifestyle, including diet, exercise, emotional well-being and stress management

Not only important for your little one but also vital for you!

Taking care of your overall physical and emotional well-being is one of the core ways to optimise sleep for the whole family.

Check out our guides for more evidence based ways to promote sleep.

(Whittingham, 2016; Schneider et al, 2018)


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