We have all heard the expression ‘sleeping like a baby’ and most of us have never given this much thought, until we become parents. All of a sudden this phrase gets a completely different meaning as we realise our babies don’t "sleep like babies" at all! Or do they?
To help sleep deprived parents and to normalise infant & toddler sleep patterns we have compiled some tips and tricks and we hope they are helpful. The best thing to keep in mind is there is no ‘fit-for-all’ solution and to go with the flow and do what works for you and your little one.
1. Calming Bedtime Routine.
Children need time to calm down and prepare for sleep. Having a consistent bedtime routine can be useful in giving your child cues that sleep time is coming. There are likely things that you do each night before bed, such as bath, massage, putting on pyjamas, brushing teeth, reading bedtime story, nursing or rocking, and so on. Try to do those things in the same order to help your child understand what is coming next and lean to wind down through that process.
Also, create a calming environment during the bedtime routine. For example, turn off any bright lights (dimmers are great), television, and loud noises or exciting play at least an hour before bedtime.
2. Use a sleeping bag/swaddle
Using a sleeping bag or a swaddling in your bedtime routine provides a strong sleep cue. Your little one will soon start associating their comfy sleeping bag with sleep time! Another great benefit is familiarity. When going on holiday or staying with grandparents or even for daytime sleeps at day-care centres – using your babies sleeping bag will give them a sense of familiarity and will result in settling faster and better sleep. Studies have shown that babies sleeping in merino have more restful, longer sleeps and gain weight faster. Sleeping bags also promote safe sleep as there is no need for dangerous loose bedding.
Using a ‘Hip-Healthy’ approved swaddle is a great and safe way to settle your little one and because swaddling your baby reduces the startle reflex and it will result in better sleep.
3. Lots of Fresh Air and Exercise
This is one of the most important factors in determining how well your child sleeps at night. Aim for at least a couple of hours each day, even in cold climates, we recommend finding a way to get outside with your kids every day (bundle them up and go for several short trips outside if need be) and finding places for them to get exercise (playgrounds or parks are great for this, but other options include going for a walk around a museum or even the mall!). For babies it is great to spend time outside too – in pram, backpack or wrap – it is really beneficial for their sleep to get a daily dose of fresh air.
If you find that your child has trouble sleeping – try and increase outside play time and see how well it translates into night time sleeping!
4. Check your little ones diet
It is possible that something the baby is eating could be contributing to sleep problems. Some babies that are on formula have sensitivities to certain types and breastfed babies might react to what you are eating (more about this next). For babies that have started solids, food allergies or sensitivities can impact sleep – most common being dairy and gluten. Also, certain types of food (watch out for sugar loaded yoghurts!) consumed too close to bedtime can prevent good sleep. We recommend no sugary foods (like yoghurt, sweets or treats) after lunchtime and we suggest vegetables, fruit, good fats (think avocados), protein, grains and nuts instead.
5. Watch for irritants in mums diet
If you are breastfeeding, then it is also worth considering whether something in your diet could be contributing to poor night time sleep. Usually breastfeeding mothers can eat whatever they like, but some infants are sensitive to certain things in Mums diet. Dairy is a frequent culprit and more obvious is your caffeine intake.
6. Consistent Napping
Good sleep promotes good sleep. A lot of parents whose children do not sleep well at night mistakenly think it would be a good idea for them to give up naps. Instead it is better to institute a consistent nap routine. Make sure that babies last nap isn’t too late in the day to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with night time sleep.
7. Comfortable Sleep Environment
Wherever your baby sleeps, ensure that it is comfortable. Make sure the room is dark (invest in some block out blinds!) and ideally the temperature should be between 18-20 degrees. Make sure your baby is dressed appropriately and you are using the right weight sleeping bag to eliminate the use of blankets which can be dangerous.
Your babies sleep space should be a calm and inviting space that promotes relaxation and rest. Natural, breathable materials like merino, organic cotton and bamboo help keeping your little one at a comfortable temperature all through the night and reduce the risk of overheating.
8. Adjust your Expectations
Babies and toddlers don’t sleep like adults – they wake – lots- and this is perfectly normal.
Babies sleep cycles (and this lasts until after 2 years) is at about half the length of an adult sleep state. Now this makes perfect biological sense – it keeps our young offspring more alert should a predator threaten their life. What predator you might think? Unfortunately for now we still possess the same innate responses that kept our hunter gatherer predecessors safe even though circumstances have changed.
Unfortunately our society puts an enormous amount of pressure on parents to have their little ones sleeping through the night and it completely discounts information on what normal infant sleep is.
Instead of trying to fix your babies ‘sleep problems’ try and be patient and go with the flow. Understand that not every child is the same and also that a child that did once sleep well, might not always sleep well – and that’s ok and perfectly normal. Teething, growth spurts, sickness, milestones, hunger, a scary situation during the day and not enough exercise or fresh air or any list of other things, can wreak havoc on your little ones sleep.
9. Recognize that this too shall pass
Our kids are only little for such a short period of time. It isn’t always easy dealing with the night waking or sleep deprivation and we know how frustrating it can be at times. It is important to realise that this too shall pass and things will get better. With age your child will start sleeping through the night and this is a skill that they will learn with time on their own.
10. Find Your Tribe
Surround yourself with family and friends that are supportive, understanding and who can help you out when you are very tired. Accept help, meals and support. Even things like Mum-groups on Facebook can be very helpful for support!
When you feel like there might be something else underlying that could interfere with your little ones sleep – visit a Cranial Osteopath and get them to do an assessment and a treatment. Quite often babies hugely benefit from this.
And last but not least we advise to try and sleep when your baby or toddler sleeps. When you are very sleep deprived and you feel like things are getting too much – nap when your child naps - other things can wait!! It’s not the end of the world if your house is not as clean & tidy as it used to be. We have all been there and it’s totally ok.
Helpful Gentle Sleep Books
We hope our tips were helpful and we understand that you would love to read more about the fascinating topic of infant sleep!
We highly recommend the range of Elizabeth Pantley’s “No-Cry” series and also The Gentle Sleep Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith. These books offer valuable tips and information. And most importantly they normalise and help you understand what baby and toddler sleep is.
The International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) in Florida USA acknowledges the Snuggle-pod as a "hip-healthy" product.
One in 20 babies born full-term have some hip instability at birth and incorrect swaddling can increase the risk of hip dysplasia. Many parents find that swaddling can provide comfort for fussy babies, but when babies are swaddled, care should be taken to swaddle properly so it allows for babies hips to develop safely and healthy. Wrapping babies too tightly or incorrectly can loosen the joints and damage the soft cartilage of the socket causing Hip Dysplasia.
Director of the IHDI and professor of Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery University Dr. Price MD, FAAP is impressed with the Snuggle-Pods unique design which allows babies legs to fall into the 'frog-like' position providing a safe swaddle every single time:
"There is plenty of room for the baby to kick and move the hips", according to Dr. Price. "Therefore the International Hip Dysplasia Institute acknowledges the SNUGBAGS Snuggle-Pod as a 'hip-healthy' product."
Dr. Price says: "It is our intention to acknowledge socially conscious companies that are doing their best to provide products to promote optimum hip development. And the IHDI recognizes that SNUGBAGS has developed products that consider the importance of healthy hip development during infancy. This is especially important during the early stages of hip development in the first few months after birth.
Owner of SNUGBAGS Kim Snel is very proud to have received the "hip-Healthy" acknowledgement. "We work very hard to provide products for parents that they can trust and know that are safe. To have the endorsement from an independent organization as the International Hip Dysplasia Institute gives us real credibility and makes us stand out from the crowd."
"This shows that we are industry leaders in developing safe products for little ones and we are extremely proud to be the ONLY merino zip up swaddle in the whole world to have received the 'hip-healthy' acknowledgement! Our Snuggle-Pod really takes the guess work out of swaddling so you can be sure to know that your baby is swaddled safely and securely every single time."
SNUGBAGS specializes in award-winning merino and organic cotton sleeping bags and swaddles. All garments are ethically made in New Zealand using local merino to create high quality, luxurious sleep wear that meets local and international safety standards. The result: better and safer sleep for baby and peace of mind for parents.
Baby and toddler sleeping bag specialist Snugbags is the latest New Zealand company to scoop the monthly Hero Award from the Buy NZ Made Campaign.
The Buy New Zealand Made campaign’s new 'Heroes' programme identifies companies who not only do a fantastic job promoting their NZ Made status but who have also excelled in other key commercial areas. Snugbags has used its NZ Made status proactively and successfully in both domestic and international market places to rapidly rise to the sharp end of its industry – growing by more than 200% year on year for the past three years, a remarkable achievement.
Founded in 2010, Snugbags specialises in 100% natural baby and toddler Merino and organic cotton sleeping bags, swaddles and base layers. With a strong focus strong on innovation and design the Piha-based company has quickly become an industry leader in top quality sleeping bags. It has sold and shipped thousands of sleeping bags around the world, with product shipped to more than 25 countries. Even some of Hollywood’s youngest celebrities sleep soundly in Snugbags comfort!
Founder and Managing Director Kim Snel was delighted with the latest success for the company, which has already taken out multiple international awards in the baby and toddler market place.
“We are thrilled and feel very honoured to have won the Hero Award for January,” she explained. “There are some amazing New Zealand made brands and to stand out and be chosen as one of the best is extremely rewarding. It shows that we are definitely on the right track and we are being appreciated and recognised because of our strong ethics and morals and that feels really good.”
Snugbags manufactures exclusively in New Zealand. It counts itself very much as an exponent of New Zealand made with more than 95% of its raw materials also produced locally.
“There is a huge trend towards more sustainable, high quality and ethical brands and we 100% fit these criteria,” added Kim. “Our customers love the fact that we are ethically New Zealand made, high quality and sustainable and they choose our products for that reason. We only use New Zealand merino which is far superior to other merinos on the market. Our customers know we manufacture to a very high standard and you simply cannot beat the quality and attention to detail that comes with being handmade in New Zealand.”
Its custom-made YKK zips are produced locally, along with the care labels in the products as well as the fabrics. All fabrics are knitted and dyed using organic fabric dyes in New Zealand and sewn by master tailors in its own Auckland studio.
A ‘no-plastic’ policy means all packaging is made from recycled paper and cotton drawstring back-packs are used to package the sleeping bags. These back-packs are great for storing sleeping bags or double as a handy swimming, beach or pre-school bag – adding further value and appeal to the Snugbags product.
Buy NZ Made status has proved to be the perfect badge and brand to help the company grow its international presence, as Kim explained.
“Being able to use the NZ Made logo gives huge credibility to our brand as it is very well known and trusted here as overseas. We are immensely proud of being ‘ethically made in New Zealand’ and it is great to be able to use the logo so customers can see this at first glance.”
Snugbags make baby and toddler Merino and organic cotton sleeping bags, swaddles and base layers. As a winner of a Hero Award, Snugbags will receive a certificate, promotion on the Buy NZ Made website, promotion in target media and automatic entry into the annual competition where they and 11 other monthly winners will be voted on by the public for the Ultimate Hero Award.
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Getting a great night’s sleep in summer can be a real challenge. The extra warm nights with little fresh air can make it difficult for your little one to get off to sleep and changes in temperature overnight can cause your little cherub to wake. Whilst we’re not at the peak of the summer temperatures yet, we thought this would be the ideal time to post an article with safe summer sleep tips for your little one.
1. Make sure the room is well ventilated. Open windows and the door to allow for plenty of airflow. Use a fan if the room is really hot, but make sure to point it away from baby’s basinet or cot.
2. Close the curtains early in the day so the room is protected from direct sunlight. Black out curtains are great to keep the room dark in the early hours of the evening and early morning to prevent early rising!
3. Placing wet/damp towels in the nursery can help cool the room down.
4. Make sure your baby’s bedtime bath is a little cooler than normal.
5. If you must, use a light rapidly absorbed 100% natural baby body lotion to nurture your little ones skin. A heavy moisturiser might leave babies skin feeling hot and sticky. Alternatively use nothing at night and only use body lotion in the morning.
6. Dress your little one in 100% natural and breathable fibres like (organic) cotton and merino. Polyester will cause your baby to sweat and overheat.
7. If your baby is swaddled look at a zip up swaddle like our Snuggle Pods. They will keep your little one safely swaddled all night long without the risk of over heating. The light weight merino/cotton fabric is super-soft and specially designed for hot summer nights. Traditional (muslin) wraps might come undone or unravell in the middle of the night which can pose a tangling, suffocation and choking hazard to your baby.
8. Sleeping in 'nothing but a nappy’ might make your little one feel ‘unsecure’ which can make it tricky for them to fall asleep and stay asleep – most of us adults sleep with at least a sheet in summer! On top of that temperatures can change during the night and your baby might wake up feeling cold. Our Organic Cotton Summer sleep bags are the perfect solution - they add a light layer that will make your little one feel safe and secure and keep your baby at the right temperature all night long.
9. Make sure to use a room thermometer so you can measure the room temperature at all times and make changes to your babies sleep wear as appropriate.
10. If your baby is red or sweaty than he is too hot and remove a layer of clothing immediately. You can check your baby’s temperature by feeling their back, neck or tummy.
SNUGBAGS are 100% natural, International Award Winning sleeping bags ethically made in New Zealand. More info on www.snugbags.com
Here are some easy, inspiring ideas to have a more sustainable (but still awesome - if not more awesome!) Christmas.
1. Get a real Christmas tree with roots. After Christmas, plant it in your garden (or keep it in a pot) and use it again next year! TIP; buy a slightly smaller tree as they will get pretty heavy once potted and after a year of growing bigger ;)
Potting the tree is also a fun activity to do with the kids. Neeva Rose loved picking her own tree and potting it.
2. If you are not into a real tree (let's face it with toddlers in the house it might not be all that practical!) - make a wooden Christmas tree instead of buying a plastic one! They look gorgeous, are very affordable and you can easily re-use them year after year.
3. Have wooden, handmade or felt decorations. It's super easy (and super fun) to make your own decorations and kids love to help.
4. When using outside lights, make sure they are SOLAR powered! You can get a huge variety of solar Christmas lights and they work brilliantly (without the huge power bill!)
5. Instead of giving presents, consider giving an experience. Tickets to the ballet, a concert, musical, the Zoo or a trampoline park are great gifts without having to buy more 'stuff'. We just bought Neeva Rose tickets to the Swan Lake and we cannot wait to take her!
6. When buying presents go for quality and not quantity and buy local and support small businesses where you can! Instead of using Christmas wrapping paper switch over to recycled brown paper wrapping. With a bit of inspiration you can make the most gorgeous looking presents that are much more environmentally friendly xx
Pictures by Pinterest.
-When you have little kids it might not always be that practical or safe to have a 'real' Christmas tree. Or you might want to look at alternatives due to sustainability. Whatever your reason a wooden Christmas tree might be your answer and we have put together a little bit of inspiration for you!
It might not have the smell of a real Christmas tree but it sure doesn't lack in atmosphere or 'wow-factor'.
Since Neeva Rose was little we had a wooden Christmas tree - James made it and it looked amazing! He constructed it so it couldn't tip over and our little wild child loved playing with the decorations. And we loved it too as there was no risk of her getting hurt.
I hope you enjoy some amazing examples of gorgeous wooden Christmas trees below xx
Pictures courtesy of Pinterest.
Sarah Ockwell-Smith is a well known (UK based) baby expert & toddler expert and a highly regarded popular parenting author.
After graduating with an honors degree in Psychology, specialising in child development, she embarked on a five year career in Pharmaceutical Research and Development, working with clinical trial data, until she became pregnant with her first child in 2001. After the birth of her firstborn Sarah retrained as an Antenatal Teacher, Hypnotherapist/Psychotherapist, Developmental Infant Massage Instructor and Birth and Postnatal Doula. Over the years Sarah has updated her knowledge with various study days and courses including paediatric first aid, paediatric safeguarding, perinatal psychology and birth trauma.
More info on: https://gentlesleepbook.com/
With every order you place SNUGBAGS donates to The Neonal Trust New Zealand. Together with The Neonatal Trust we are committed to "Making a difficult start to life that little bit easier."
Every year approximately 10% of all babies are born premature (before 37 weeks gestation) in New Zealand. That’s one premature baby born every 90 minutes. There are also full-term babies whose condition or illness requires admission to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after they are born. In all, over 5,000 babies have a difficult to start life in New Zealand each year.
With premature birth, while sometimes there is a history, or a medical condition which may lead to premature birth, more often than not, a mother goes into premature labour with no warning. With full term babies, parents may know their baby is going to be born with a complication requiring admission to a NICU. In other circumstances, the complication becomes apparent once the baby is born.
There are five “Level 3” NICUs in New Zealand, in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. These NICUs admit and provide specialist care for the most premature and sickest babies.
Depending on the parents location in New Zealand and the current capacity of the five NICUs in New Zealand, parents may be flown at any time of the day or night to a different city from which they reside. They may be flown while in labour with little or no clean clothing nor time to organise accommodation.
All of these parents are thrust into a terrifying world where their much loved tiny (sick) baby, who they have just met, is surrounded by machines, beeps, alarms, wires, needles, doctors and nurses. The parents often feel helpless. While the birth of your baby is usually a joyous event, this is a traumatic and very stressful time and depending on the condition of the baby, the parents may be on this journey for a few days, a few weeks or many months.
Aside from the trauma and emotional stress of seeing their baby so sick, there are all the associated financial and logistical challenges, for example leave from employment, childcare for other children and often simply finding a place to sleep and the time to make a meal.
When families are dislocated from their homes and have to spend long hours in a foreign environment with little or no pastoral support (we know the clinical support is first class) this inevitably makes a very stressful journey.
Once a baby is well enough they are transferred to a “Level 2” Special Care Baby Unit, usually in the area in which the parents reside.
Thanks to the highly-talented and dedicated neonatal doctors and nurses, the youngest babies to survive premature birth in New Zealand have been born at 24 weeks gestation. We aim to provide support to the families of premature and sick full-term babies as they make their journey through neonatal intensive care, the transition home, and onwards.
The Neonatal Trust is committed to "Making a difficult start to life that little bit easier"
The Neonatal Trust has three objectives:
1. The primary focus for the Trust is supporting parents by helping them in whatever way we can to get through what is usually a very traumatic time. Neonatal Trust volunteers, the vast majority of whom have had babies in one of the country's five NICUs, work to reduce the stress typically felt by families with premature or ill babies. They visit parents in the NICUs to assess individual needs, which can range from wanting access to information, to practical, financial or emotional help.
2. The second aim of the Trust is to assist the NICUs in practical ways such as purchasing or contributing to the cost of equipment and funding for staff to attend neonatal educational seminars or other professional development.
3. The third aim of the Trust is to aid neonatal-related medical research.
With every order placed SNUGBAGS will donate to the Neonatal Trust. To shop and automatically support The Trust please click here >>
"SNUGBAGS luxurious, award-winning sleeping bags are handmade in New Zealand using the finest merino wool and GOTS organic cotton. Stunning Scandinavian inspired designs are modern yet timeless and layers of luxuriously warm merino keep your baby snug in gorgeous heirloom quality. We love SNUGBAGS exquisitely stylish and ethically made sleeping bags".
BRITISH VOGUE, November issue 2016
Kai Carriers are award winning reusable food pouches that can be filled with homemade food so you know exactly what you and your children are eating whilst minimising the mess. They allow you to make nutritious food free of additives, preservatives and excess sugar and serve it in a convenient way, anywhere, anytime.
We have been huge fans of Kai Carriers since Neeva Rose was little and first started eating solids. We have used them when she was little as a convenient – first food – pouch filled with homemade baby food and since then we kept using them and still are. Now, at the age of 4,5 Neeva Rose has her yoghurt and smoothies in the pouches and I love how convenient they are. I can fill them at home and I chuck them in my bag for a quick and healthy snack. Healthier, cheaper and a lot less waste – all of which make this mama very happy!
I quite often fill our pouches and store in the freezer for a later date. No more worrying about what to feed Neeva Rose on a whim! The sturdy waterproof ziplock on the top helps prevent leaks and provides a wide opening making filling easy, and the side spout is perfectly positioned for little mouths.
You can fill your Kai Carrier with any combination of vegetables, fruit, poultry, meat, legumes, grain, dairy, smoothies, custard or yoghurt. Adults can use them too! Store anything from homemade soup, smoothies, sauces, pesto, mayonnaise, guacamole, breast milk, dips or liquids (including cocktails or mocktails!).
Another thing I really like is that Kai Carriers are BPA, Phthalate and PVC free making them safe for your little ones. They are dishwasher safe making cleaning super easy and can be stored in the freezer.
Kai Carrier are now available in a range of shapes and sizes, including their latest product Kai'cicles (Ice block pouches), which Neeva Rose loves!! So easy to make your own healthy ice cream (we blend bananas with Organic Milk), freeze and voila – a super tasty and delicious ice block!
We also have their Snack Packs which are super handy for fruit, raisins, crackers, scroggin and nuts. Once again easy, cost effective as you buy in bulk and no excess packaging.
Kai Carriers are the convenient no mess solution to feeding fresh homemade food on the go and I know you will love them as much as we do!
To browse the range click here: www.kaicarrier.co.nz
Kim is the owner of SNUGBAGS - Merino for Kids. Together with her partner James and their little girl Neeva Rose, she lives in a little beach town called Piha on the West Coast in New Zealand. They love surfing, building sandcastles and all things natural and organic.