Sleep Regression- The suckiest thing to happen after you've got sleep under control!

You've finally found a groove with your baby’s sleep- things are going well, wake ups are minimal and BOOM! Your baby is back to 1000+ wake ups a night and more feeds than ever just to get baby back to sleep!

We hear it all too often here @ Sleep Play Grow- Regressions can test the most patient of us and literally be soul destroying when left untreated for many months!

The most common factors promoting regressions include:

  • Illness

  • Teething

  • Growth, Development & Milestones

  • Change i.e. New Baby, moving house, travelling, separation/divorce

Once you are able to identify the underlying factor in your regression, it’s best to write down the steps you will take to overcome the regression - For example:

  • Illness regression? Wait until baby’s symptoms start to subside and resume usual sleep strategies straight away

  • Teething regression? Same as above BUT if teething is on & off for quite a few months look at ways of managing baby’s pain, numbing gums before bedtime and for wakes during the night can work wonders for managing pain!

  • Growth, Development & Milestone regressions? You may froutine adjustment to fit inline with baby’s developmental age- You can find sample routines for your baby’s age here: www.sleepplaygrow.com.au/shops

  • Change? Try and keep as much “normality” during change as possible- If travelling, try and get bedtime on the current city’s timezone asap, New baby arrival or separation/divorce? If your little one is old enough prep he or she about whats happening e.g. a new baby will be here soon, daddy has a new house now etc - For younger babies, ensure they have some constants happening in their lives e.g. Park or Beach day every Tuesday etc

Our Sleep Tips and Settling Skills E Guides which can help manage regressions can be found here:

www.sleepplaygrow.com.au/shops

If you are still struggling with your regression, please feel free to contact us www.sleepplaygrow.com.au/contactus for a free confidential chat

SILENT REFLUX - OUR STORY

Our story is very targeted to all you Mamas out there who have dealt with many a sleepless night and specifically those mums who have dealt with silent reflux with your little ones and may be struggling with it, this is for you!

Firstly, our story is a long one and please remember I’m not a doctor and I’m not encouraging you to do anything I’m just sharing what we went through and what helped us get through the toughest times.

Being a first-time mum and going through what I did with Nixon, my long nights and tired days turned into my research time. Researching symptoms, answers, help and mostly wanting to read other mum’s stories.

I’ve been asked to write our story by a dear friend, one who has been there to hold my hand since Nixon was 6 months old. So, I’m hoping by sharing my story I can help share, guide and reassure other mums that it gets better!

Nixon was an extremely fussy baby from day dot. Nixon didn’t latch on straight away for breast feeding and after 12 hours of trying and having a very large (9.9 pounds!) hungry baby we chose to express and line fed. This was still not enough, and so by day 3 we started topping him up with formula. Nixon lost weight straight away before we even left the hospital we were kept in an extra day to be monitored. After 5 days we were sent home after his weight had stabilised. Feeding still wasn’t easy I tried every day to breastfeed, when I couldn’t I expressed and line fed, after time my milk started drying up even on medication and we decided to stop and solely went onto formula, this is when our problems started.

            

Before Nixon we had no idea about reflux or silent reflux. We just knew we had a very unsettled and unhappy baby of which we didn’t know what to do... Sitting down writing this and reflecting on our last 12 months certainly makes me realise how much we all went through. The first few months of his life were hard and unfair on him, and on me. Thank goodness for my husband and mum.

Nixon became the most irritable at 3 weeks old and would cry from midnight to 6am- being a first time mum I wasn’t sure why, I would try feeding, walking up and around the house, juggling and jiggling him, rocking and swaying down the hallways until I would finally get him to sleep. As the first few weeks went on his unsettled times started to stretch from 6 hours to 12 hours at a time, we started putting him in the car and driving around the streets until he would finally fall asleep but he would wake as soon as we stopped.

It became apparent to us that Nixon was crying more than your usual newborn baby and he was extremely irritable. When Nixon turned 6 weeks and times really started to get hard, we took him to see a paediatrician, this is where I was reminded that it is normal for babies to cry, however he believed Nixon may have ‘colic’. Needless to say, it wasn’t, only 48 hours after seeing the Paed we ended up in hospital with Nixon refusing any feeds for 24 hours and nonstop crying, my heart was breaking not being able to help him and not knowing what was causing all his pain. Being in a new environment and new people all around him, Nixon was quiet and content, sure enough making liars out of us. Doctors performed numerous tests and suggested colic and sent us home.

            

We returned to our Paed who suggested the possibility of a lactose problem and changed our formula to a medicated formula called Neocate. By 8 weeks Nixon had dropped a lot of his weight due to refusing his feeds, we trialled EVERY bottle you could possibly think of trying to get him to drink.

Conflicting diagnosis of colic and lactose left me feeling confused and I doubted myself, do I just need to harden up and this could actually be normal? I knew in my gut something was wrong and I began to read online about a great nurse that worked at my local Family Health Clinic so I booked in to see her when Nixon was 2 months, looking back now she was amazing! She suggested changing Nixon’s formula from Neocate to Allerpro due to possible taste issue. Needless to say, Nixon took the change well and began feeding again BUT this didn’t last long.

Returning to our routine check-ups with our paediatrician, Nixon was now 3 months old where again they suggested to change his formula as they suspected it wasn't lactose and maybe he was just being fussy. Under their guidance we followed the recommendation. At 4 months we were still not feeding well and still continuing to drop weight, so it was suggested to introduce solids to help fill him up and gain weight – Nixon was very accepting to puree pears and rice cereal. Over the next 4 weeks he was refusing all bottles and only accepting of solids (which we used formula to make his rice cereal).

Nixon’s sleep was becoming worse, he would only sleep for 15-30mins at a time day and night. I had read a well known sleep book when I was pregnant and I was adamant I was going to get Nixon into a routine, however with an unsettled crying baby this was near impossible. I found it very difficult to leave the house because Nixon wouldn’t settle in a pram as he was on his back. So, at this point the pram and cot were his enemies.

            

 

I began comparing Nixon to other children as to why they weren’t as unsettled as him, they would be sleeping/drinking/eating and not screaming. This once again got me to jump online looking for help and answers. I was recommended to see a local lactation consultant with regards to Nixon drinking from his bottle, she concluded he was lip and tongue tied. She referred us to a dentist to have it laser cut however following my gut told me this wasn’t the real issue and I sought a 2nd opinion from our family chiro who said he didn’t believe this to be the problem.

Moving forward a few days again we landed ourselves in hospital once again with Nixon refusing bottles and solids for 3 days. He was tested for dehydration however they put it down to him having a respiratory infection due to his low immune system. The Dr did suggest having weekly follow ups with our GP for weight management. Our GP referred Nixon to have an ultrasound on his stomach to see if there was any inflammation causing him not wanting to drink and eat. All tests came back clear. Time had passed and if anything, he was getting worse by the day.

We spent anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes rocking Nixon to sleep each time, gently putting him in his cot only for him to wake instantly or if we were lucky he would sleep up to 30minutes. On those tough nights we would be taking turns holding him, rocking him & patting him- it felt like it was never ending- I was exhausted! I was emotionally drained and so sleep deprived. I remember a few nights at 3am I would call mum for help. I felt at that moment I was desperate for sleep as was Nixon! I reverted back to online googling to find a sleep consultant that would help break these bad habits. My first sleep consultant was a disaster and she tried to move Nixon from a tummy sleeper to a back sleeper and remove his dummy. After 10mins of uncontrollable crying I had to call it quits as her methods were not working for me.  

This made me more determined to find someone who suited Nixon’s needs- I came across Sleep Play Grow. They had a package which involved a 3-night stay to help assess, plan and implement a new sleep strategy (to be honest I was hooked from the minute we spoke- Nicole just “got it” and fully understood everything I was trying to translate)

            

Before we could even make our plan, Nixon ended up in hospital again this time with ulcers down his throat and stomach from continual projectile vomiting. We were admitted to hospital once again this time for 6 days and Nixon was tube fed... it had to be one of the hardest things to go through. I remember calling Nicole and she suggested seeing a gut specialist paed in Brisbane. FINALLY, we started to get some answers and he straight away suggested these were all tell-tale signs of silent reflux. The Dr immediately put Nixon on Nexium medication and medicated Formula. We also saw a gastroenterologist who performed an endoscopy and concluded the ulcers were caused by acid build up in his stomach from reflux. This is when Nixon was finally diagnosed with reflux (7 months old!!). We were told to continue on the same medication however we could revert back to Allerpro (knowing he took it well in the past). The damage that the reflux caused to his stomach and throat was horrible but with the right medication we kept it under control.

When we returned home I felt a weight had been lifted... finally all the restless days and sleepless nights could be answered for, and after numerous doctors and hospital trips we finally had answers as to why Nixon was so unsettled. Although having silent reflux wasn’t going to be an easy road, we finally knew what road we were now following. I reconnected with Sleep Play Grow and honestly Nicole changed our lives! Nicole has the gentlest approach and worked with me every step of the way to ensure we helped Nixon to start enjoying sleep. It hasn’t been an easy road but I took her advice and followed it to a tee. He now sleeps like a trooper and actually loves his bed!

Nixon’s Symptoms

·       Tummy sleeper, would lay flat

·       Feeding was incredibly hard, inconsistent and sounded like he was guzzling

·       Hiccups which would start while feeding and last a long time

·       Uncontrollable crying for more than 6 hours at a night

·       Tight fits, stiff body and rattly chest

So here we are Nixon is now 13 months old- he is still having weight management issues but he is such a happy, lively, energetic soul. We are still medicated but only once a day (was originally twice), we have now started Aptamil Gold Toddler formula and Nixon is eating 3 solid meals a day. We still have our good and bad days where eating is difficult and a chore. I’m still not sure if this is still physiological (pain with eating) or if its FOMO (fear of missing out) but we roll with each day as it comes.

So please hang in there it does get easier and you will learn to love being a mum give it time, trust your gut and seek the help from the right people.

You can find our reflux baby E Guide here:

www.sleepplaygrow.com.au/shops

            

 

REAL MAMA REVIEW

It can be so hard to ask for help as a new Mum, a total step out of your comfort zone & a big step right into parenthood 

 

Please take a minute to read our real life review from the beautiful Tara & family! 

 

"As first time parents and no family close by, we reached out to Nicole quite early in the piece to help guide us through the first few months. At our in-home consult we were given a custom routine, shown some useful settling techniques, tips and tricks. And in a couple weeks of hard work and persistence, we had a baby who was self-settling and sleeping through the night as well as two very happy and confident parents. Nicole is so lovely and easy to talk to and a wonderful source of information. She really takes the time to listen to your situation and explain everything - you can tell she is passionate about what she does. It takes courage to ask for help and we are so happy we did as we are much more relaxed and really enjoying every moment of parenthood"  Thank you Nicole!  

 

 

 

 

Transition, Regression & Change

Transition, Regression and Change

 

 

During the course of a Toddler’s lifetime there will be changes & challenges at some point along the way. As we know, Infants & Toddlers thrive off routine- Any interruption can cause unrest, especially if the change is sudden. The most common reasons for regression in toddlers are:

 

·       Dummy / Bottle removed

·       New Baby

·       Change in Bedroom

·       New Daycare/ Change in Carers

·       Moving House

·       Accident eg car, a bad fall, negative experience

·       Parent separation

·       Illness

 

Signs and symptoms include behavioural & emotional reaction- Tears, verbalising “no” or “I don’t want to”, clinginess, heightened emotions, toilet accidents, fighting sleep & nap time, hyperactivity, food refusal and more!

 

The best way to move forward is to let your little one know exactly what’s happening and what the next step is- We have listed a few scenarios below to assist:

 

“Today we are visiting our new house, we are going to see your new room. All of your things from your old room are coming, Mummy and Daddy are coming too. Next time we come to the new house we will be able to put all of your things in your new room”

 

“We are going to a new Kindy, there are lots of new friends and teachers and toys to play with! Everybody is friendly and really nice-It still has the same things as your old kindy, playdough, puzzles, songs and story time and you can take the same bag and sheets, just like we did at your other Kindy”

 

“Mummy is having a baby- You’re going to be a big Brother/ Sister. See that bump in mummy’s tummy? It’s a baby! We even have pictures of the baby growing inside mummy’s tummy, lets take a look!”

 

By bringing elements of the old in with the new- we can associate one with the other. Your Infant/ Toddler needs to know that when entering the unknown, some things will still remain the same.

 

Try and keep your routine as normal as possible

·        If Mum does Daycare/ Kindy drop off – Keep it the same

·        If Monday is swimming day- keep it the same day when enrolling your child in their new    swim class

·       If you go to the park/ café on a certain day/ time- Keep it the same

 

Remember, if you are anxious about the lifestyle changes made- your Infant & Toddler will pick up on these emotions. If your child is upset, guide them through the changes positively without taking the emotions on yourself.

 

Change is huge in the eyes of an Infant / Toddler- By taking baby steps and making change & transition slow, your child will adjust & become resilient in their own time

 

 

This suck to sleep thing???

Quite often during a consult we will find that the bottle, breast & dummy are some of the most common causes for overnight wakes... If your baby needs one or any of the above and cannot fall asleep without sucking, then your Baby has what we call in baby sleep land- A suck to sleep association... Some parents are happy to wait it out for baby to stop in their own time, for others its a constant battle with baby waking every hour or two- causing anxiety, stress and total sleep deprivation for the entire family! 

Its not all bad, take the dummy for example- As your child moves on from the newborn phase & increases their muscular strength & eye-hand co ordination, Baby is able to learn to take the dummy in & out of their mouth. By scattering dummies in the cot or using a dummy blanket (google sleepy-tot), you can teach baby to successfully find their dummies independently during overnight wakes- Another alternative is to make a game out of putting Baby's dummy into their hand & guiding the dummy to their mouth.. The idea is for baby to independently settle, without Mum & Dad getting up ten times per night replacing the dummy

The bottle & breast are another story... Its something that your baby can't use independently without intervention from Parent/ Caregiver. If baby is falling asleep at the bottle or breast, when they wake, Baby wants the same sleep assistance he or she fell asleep with (cue bottle/breast)

How to stop it?  We have listed a couple of strategies below: 

* Follow a Feed, Play, Sleep routine (we have these available on our website under the Shop Now section) 

* Start slow if your not ready to go cold turkey

* Decrease the amount of Bottles / Breastfeeds overnight over several nights till desired feeds are achieved

* Keep overnight feeds in line with baby's age - A baby that is six months old, on track growth and development wise and has solids established shouldn't require feeds overnight 

And finally... BE CONSISTENT... Change takes time xx 

 

Making the transition from One Baby to Two...

Congrats.. You're pregnant with Number 2- The joy, the elation, a new sibling for your first born... OH MY- Two kids???? What was I thinking?????? (Insert scary who hahahah laugh) 

In all honesty, taking the leap from one child to two may not be as bad as the visuals currently going on inside your head.. It may take a few little tweaks here and there for things to be smooth sailing MOST days.. like 4 out of 7.. Which is the National Paediatric average.. The same goes for sleep.. 4 nights out of 7?? #winning 

Here are Sleep Play Grow's top tips for making the transition from one baby to two: 

1. Prep your toddler before the baby's arrival- Reading baby/ sibling type books are great for really little toddlers (13-18 months) to grasp an understanding of what's happening, Looking / gently touching Mum's belly & showing them ultrasound pictures and role play via soft toys/ dolls are great too.. By using visuals you can really express what is safe & dangerous around a new baby e.g. Gentle touch, using the "shh" cue, not picking baby up etc 

2. Keep your routine pre baby as much as possible- Toddlers thrive on routine..!  If your child has an external activity e.g. swimming, Its great to keep the momentum going and an outing that both you & your toddler will look forward to.. Look for activities which require fostering your child's independence with little adult interaction (Boppin babies, Gymnastics, Swimming, Dance lessons, Lil kickers are all great independent activities)  as you will be limited as to how much "hands free" time you will have to fully engage with your toddler during the activity

3. Buy a baby sling, ergo, baby bjorn- LIFESAVER and allows plenty of hands free time available to your toddler whilst supporting the needs of a new baby... There will be some days where the new baby just won't want to be put down & It's amazing how you can have a baby strapped to you and a also bear hug your toddler at the same time! 

4. Include your toddler in the day to day stuff- Toddlers love to help!! The can be very useful in helping to do nappy runs, grabbing the wipes, singing the baby a song, giving baby a gentle cuddle and even a source of entertainment for re directing & distracting an overtired and cranky bub

5. Sleep Play Grow recommend you do one 1:1 activity per day with your toddler- This could be a swim, watering the garden, setting up the train set, a drawing activity, an outing to the shops, a walk to the beach- Whatever you and your toddler enjoyed together pre baby- Toddlers will love the undivided attention- even if its just 20-30 mins 

6. Create a busy box for your toddler - This box can have any age appropriate activities your child can play independently and is great for putting on the floor in front of you while your feeding the baby or if your having ONE OF THOSE DAYS! You can change up the toys weekly to keep your toddler engaged.. Things like Lift the flap books, stacking cups, magna doodles, cause & effect type toys are great for young toddlers while older toddlers will love surprise type toys- new play dough, wrapped type toys -shopkins, avenger eggs etc ... Once you've stopped feeding baby pack the box away and only use during feed times/ when you need toddler engaged in a semi structured environment within arms reach 

7. Keep your little one's sleep on track - Having a baby and a toddler wake at 3am together is not fun for anyone.. ! I recommend keeping your white noise in your toddler's room for as long as possible to block out those 3am newborn cries... If you're unsure how to maintain that sleep balance- An in home consult or attending one of our Saturday workshops may be just what you need! 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Solids

Just made it through the Newborn Stage? Feeds on track? Feeling great that you've finally figured this feed, play sleep thing out (yup, totally a thing- email us if you'd like to find out more) and now its time to start solids... Starting solids is totally an individual thing- Some families like to start at four months of age, for others it could be six months.

The general consensus is that if everything is on track, your baby is having four hourly feeds, sleep is going ok, they're getting a little cranky at those in between times and that hunger roar is loud and clear ... Its probably time to start solids. They will also start to mimic you (open their mouth and drool) while watching you eat! 

Start smal.. and thin. You want that farex OR baby porridge (I'd recommend the bellamy's brand) to be super runny at first- mixed in with a fair bit of breast milk or formula.. After a week or so- Once they've adjusted, you can start to thicken it up... Once its thickened and things are going well, feel free to add a little fruit puree.. 

A few of our clients LOVE Sophie Guidolin's 6 month + baby oatmeal- Recipe Below 

  1. Pour boiling water over around half a cup of pitted Medjool Dates with half a cup of oats in an airtight container for around 5 minutes. Ensure enough water to cover the entire mixture, as the oats will expand as they soften.
  2. The dates will turn into a soft, jelly texture as the time goes on.
  3. Once cooled, puree with the food processor or baeba. (baby food maker)
  4. Add in apples, pears or mango puree to the mixture. It turns into a delicious creamy, soft oatmeal. 

I always recommend starting with breakfast as this will help initially sustain them throughout the day- Its also implementing a healthy habit that will continue for years to come... Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day! 

To move forward and start trying other foods- Puree Banana, Apple, Pear (I steam then add a little of the apple broth or pear broth to the mixture and puree), Sweet Potato & Pumpkin.  I aways try flavours individually with babies before mixing them as a combo.. That way you'll know exactly what your baby likes, rather than dismissing both foods. 

It can be an adjustment for your little one. Place a small amount on a spoon and let them take it off rather than using the spoon to tip into their mouth/ throat... Remember, they are used to sucking from bottle or breast, their natural reaction will be to suck from the spoon.. They will also start to use different muscles in their mouth which can take a little while to perfect.. Don't expect too much too soon- Its a learning process for BOTH parent & baby x 

The Early Riser

As it's now well on it's way into spring/ summer here in Australia, It's getting light here in sunny QLD at 4.30am which means earlier wake times for lots of Babies and Toddlers! 

What can you do about getting a couple more hours of zzz's in the wee hours? Here are my Top 3 tips to minimise the dreaded early rise... 

1. Make sure the room is DARK- You can do this by purchasing a GRO BLIND (google it if unsure) that has little suction cups that stick to the window - Best invention ever and and they block out heat in your little ones room as an added bonus! 

2. Keep your white noise on from the time our little one goes to sleep till the time they wake- Perfect for blocking out those chirpy birds! 

3. Treat the early wake as you would a night time settle.. As in, settling Bub as you normally would if he/ she was to wake in the night

Final Tip: Be realistic about your morning wake times... If your household is generally up at 6AM, Half an hour of baby snuggles sounds like the perfect way to start your morning!