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Welcome to the 3 am club…

Congratulations you've made it into THE exclusive members club, you're up at 3am (or another time that is equally challenging to be awake)!

Your precious little one has awoken you for whatever reason and you would really rather be dreaming about broccoli on the kitchen ceiling and poonamis'.

Depending on the age or developmental stage, your baby may be waking for several possible reasons including hunger, a need to be close to you, for comfort, or acute developmental changes. All these factors may play a role in night waking disrupt sleep.

However, sometimes these different parenting challenges need a little more in-depth support to untangle than I can provide in a blog post. What I am going to help with now is getting you and your little one back to sleep.

1. This is really difficult.

Being a sleep-deprived parent is really challenging and quite often not the only battle a parent is facing. You might be stressed and overstretched with work, or juggling caring for your parents or other little people, or perhaps you’re struggling with your health? It may be that you have some seriously difficult things going on and I hope with all my heart you can soon find the right help to lighten this load.

2. This may be more normal than you think

78.6% of infants aged between the ages of 6-12 months research has shown that little ones wake 1-3 times a night (Brown & Harries, 2014). Although you may not feel it, you are most likely doing a really fantastic job in some really tricky circumstances. Sleep isn't linear.

3. Try not to let thinking about sleep take over.

You have likely been googling or reading lots about why your baby isn’t asleep. In circumstances like this taking big action may be out of your control. You don't have to change anything right now. Simply focus on the factors inside your control.

4. Calm yourself

Look away from the clocks and take a moment to regulate your own feelings. Try using the CALMS acronym

C: connect with your own feelings to re-regulate yourself. things like breathing exercises, tapping on pressure points, or squeezing your own body with a tight hug can relieve some stress. Here is a video I made that you might find helpful!

A: allow yourself and your body to relax. Tensing and completely relaxing different body parts can be useful when you are carrying lots of physical tension like a tight jaw or clenched fists.

L: listening to your baby and trying to interpret what they are trying to tell you might help reduce the time spent awake. Might they be uncomfortable, unhappy, or unregulated? Then try listening to some soothing music or white noise to calm you both.

M: make contact with your little person's feelings, talking and loving them through whatever they are going through by reassuring them with words. "I know you're having a really hard time".

S: soothe, now you have calmed yourself and your child a little more, soothing them will be easier.

Forget about trying to force sleep, calming your little one is your aim

5. Calm is the aim, not sleep (yet)

Although you are desperate for sleep, you need to remember that sleep occurs from a place of calmness. Stress is not conducive to sleep. Little ones need us to help regulate them. Forget about trying to force sleep, calming your little one is your aim. Start with what you know works. Humming, rocking, feeding, cuddling, co-sleeping. Take any action to safely calm your baby.

6. Slow things down.

As it's the middle of the night, for you and your family's benefit, keep things low and slow. Lower the lights or even keep them off. Slow down your movements and try to lie down next to your little one so that you too can rest.

7. Getting yourself back to sleep

You've worked through regulating your baby one step at a time or passed them to another caregiver. At this point, you might just pass out. But if you are feeling alert and stressed now, breathing exercises can reduce heart rate and lower stress hormones. Inhale to a count of 4, hold for 7 and then exhale for 8. Bedtime yoga might help if you find moving your body helpful.

8. The next day

Be kind to yourself, eat as well as you can, and try to exercise outside to support your body to recalibrate. The same goes for your little one.

9. Talk to people who get it

Speaking with your support network a community that makes you feel good or a professional might be a helpful place to start the next morning. If you are feeling the strain, sleep support might be a useful tool for your family. I would be more than happy to support you. Feel free to take a look at my packages, or get in touch if you would like.

Sleep well,

Imogen X


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