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A Baby Sleep Expert Answers Your Questions

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with baby sleep expert Jo Tantum? Don’t worry, you can read all of the advice she shared right here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your pregnancy and parenting questions from a top expert.

And this Wednesday we handed our Facebook page over to sleep expert Jo Tantum.

Jo Tantum is a baby sleep expert with 25 years’ experience and the author of bestseller Baby Secrets, which has helped hundreds of families to achieve a peaceful night’s sleep. Jo Tantum is a trusted name within the parenting sector providing expert advice, product, literature and professional services to parents everywhere.

Catch up on everything that happened…

READ: BABY SLEEP QUESTIONS YOU NEVER KNEW THE ANSWERS TO – BUT NOW YOU DO

My two year old sleeps through the night but even with a good routine can take an hour to go sleep and we have to sit by the door or else he cries. Any tips?

Jo: Try and start a reward chart and use positive reinforcement. So have chart with stickers on by the cot. When your baby’s having a bath explain that if he settles well in his cot, he will get a sticker in the morning. Say to him that you are just going to the toilet/check on dinner, once you have settled him, and you will be back in a few minutes. Go back in five minutes to check on him, he will probably be asleep.

Start a lucky dip box with cheap things wrapped in tin foil. If he does well, without you having to sit with him he gets a prize! Give him lots of praise, phone granny, aunty to speak to them saying how well he's doing. Make sure he isn't overtired and going to bed 12 and a half hours from wake time.

My nine month old has started waking at around 10pm every night screaming and then throughout the night and will only be comforted if I rock him back to sleep. I've tried letting him cry it out and giving him a bottle or comforting him just in his cot but he won't go back unless I pick him up. He gets up at 6:30am and goes to bed between 7pm and 7:30pm and has two naps in the day.

Jo: This is normal separation anxiety, so work on the naps. Try sitting on the floor near the cot rather than picking up and cuddling, or put your hand on him, to comfort him. Start to play peek-a-boo and leave the room he's in to go to another room and increase the time you leave him each time. This will help him realise that even though he can't see you, you are there and coming back.

READ: BABY SLEEPING ON HER FRONT? LEARN HOW TO MANAGE IT

In the last week my four-week-old son has started to wake every time he is put down to sleep in his Moses basket. I am breastfeeding, so I'm waking to feed every two hours or so and when he is feeding he falls asleep. I can sit him up and wind him without the slightest murmur, but about 30 seconds after I've got back in bed from putting him down to sleep he is awake again. I've tried all sorts like warming his bed, putting him down slowly, waiting till he is in a different phase of sleep but not having success with any of it. I keep telling myself that this is just a phase and there will be lots more challenges to come. I'm worried that I am setting an unhealthy behavior by letting him sleep on me.

Jo: If your baby is a good weight (over 7lb) at four weeks he can go for three hours between feeds and a stretch of four hours at night. Have you tried swaddling? Use a light, stretchy and breathable material and make sure his hips aren't firmly swaddled. This will really help with night and nap settling. In the day make sure you wake him 15 minutes before a feed and change his nappy. He will need to nap every hour of wake time.

This will get better, but you do need to set a routine up. Feed every three hours, naps every hour and 7am wake up time and 7pm sleep time.

READ: HOW TO ENSURE YOUR COT IS SAFE FOR YOUR BABY

My 11 month old has been a horrendous sleeper thus far but after finally doing a bit of sleep training/spaced soothing he now 'only' wakes once a night – however he now gets up for the day at 5.30am, which is killing us. Is there anything we can do to push this later, even by half an hour?

Jo: Babies can't tell the time, and they only know it’s morning by your response. So total blackout is a must! All babies have a light sleep between 5-6am so if they’re expecting a feed or a nappy change, you are telling them that its morning.


Treat between 7pm-7am as nighttime. No lights, talking or feeds. Leave for 10 minutes to see if he will resettle, if not go in and soothe him back to sleep by patting. Really be constant with this for 10 mornings and you will get a sleeping baby.

My baby is almost 17 weeks old and he has slept through the night since he was eight weeks. He tends to sleep from about 9-10pm through to 7-8am. I appreciate that this is fantastic and I'm very grateful but he now has great difficulty sleeping during the day. I am having to resort to rocking him in his sling or using the car or pushchair to help him to sleep but even then he only sleeps for somewhere between 10-45 minutes. I can see him getting tired during the day but trying to put him down drowsy but awake just isn't working. Without his naps he is obviously overtired and grumpy by the end of the day. Do I need to push him to nap if he's doing so well at night? What's the easiest way to get him into a routine when he takes so long to get to sleep during the day? He's also become fussy about sleeping in his cot if he stirs when I put him down. Is it important to persevere with his cot during the day?


Jo: You’re right to be worried about your baby's daytime sleep, as this is just as important to his development as his night time sleep. At 17 weeks, he will naturally be tired after one hour 30 minutes of wake time. So watch for his tired signs – rubbing eyes and ears, staring into space, getting grumpy, yawning, then take him into his room. Total blackout, sleeping bag and cuddles, try wave sounds to help calm him, too.

READ: 5 BABY SLEEP MISTAKES NEW PARENTS MAKE AND HOW TO FIX THEM

Try giving him a comforter to hold – I suggest a muslin square knotted in the middle as this helps as his motor reflexes are wanting to grab things so this can really help comfort him.

Our 10 month old used to sleep well through the night from 7pm to 6am. But for the past two months he’s has been waking several times a night. How can we break the habit in a way that will not disturb my four year old’s sleep too much?

Jo: Make sure that your baby is getting enough sleep in the day and has a nap in the cot at least once a day. All babies that are overtired start waking often in the night as their brain is over-stimulated. At 10 months they should be having about three hours sleep split between two naps, every two hours and 15 minutes of wake time.

My daughter slept through the night from four months, which was great! Now she is almost nine months old and hasn't slept through the night for the last seven weeks. We follow Gina Ford's routine. She has her tea at 5pm, bath at 6:10pm, then last bottle at 6:30pm. She used to sleep for 12 hours but now she wakes anytime from 9pm to 1am crying and refuses to go back in her cot. We settle her and she falls asleep but the minute she's back in her cot she cries. We have taken to bringing her into our bed as it's the only thing that works.

Jo: The good news is that if she used to sleep through she can do it again. So make sure you teach her in the day at nap time to settle herself to sleep. She will naturally be tired after two hours 30 minutes of wake time. So take her into the nursery, blackout the room, give her a comforter, read her a story and settle her in the cot. Pat her bottom and back and then leave for a few minutes to let her settle herself.

Wait five minutes to see if she can settle herself, then go in and pat her again for up to five minutes then leave again. I know you’re really tired but try and stop taking her into your bed as this is a bad habit and will be harder to break the older she gets. Work on this routine for seven to 10 days to get results – being consistent is the key. If you need more advice or help our Sleep Angels are available to come to your home overnight.

READ: BABY SLEEP ROUTINES - FIND THE BEST ONE FOR YOU

My 4.5 month old is so unpredictable. He was starting to sleep from 10:30pm to 7am waking for only one feed at 5am. Recently he's stirring all night, crying, refusing a bottle and is really difficult to settle. We do the same bedtime routine but his sleeping seems to be getting worse rather than better. Please tell me sleeping through is around the corner?

Jo: Don’t worry. This is a normal four month old’s sleep regression. Your baby is now more sensitive to light and noise. So make sure you have total blackout for naps and night, no direct light when feeding or settling in the night. And try some wave sounds through an app or sound machine during naps and at nighttime. This really helps as it dissimulates their brain and calms them. Make sure that you are giving him enough naps in his cot in the day – he will naturally be tired every one hour 30 minutes of wake time, having a morning, lunchtime and afternoon nap, including a 30-minute nap at 5pm.

My three week old is getting worse at night rather than improving! From birth she was feeding every three to four hours though the night, however now she seems to be more frequently. I think this is partly to do with her feeding, at night I am struggling to get two to three ounces into her whereas during the day she will happily take between three and five ounces. At night she gulps and struggles at the bottle, often gags when the teat is in her mouth and occasionally throws up when the teat touches her tongue.

Jo: Have you spoken to your GP about tongue-tie? As this can make feeding more difficult as your baby gets older. Also she may not be hungry every time she wakes, she may just need a pat and a cuddle. Swaddle with a light, stretchy, breathable material, as this will help the night sleeps. Also, only use a low light, or the landing light when feeding at night so baby doesn't feel too awake.

READ: HOW DO I SWADDLE MY BABY?

My daughter is seven months old, I'm breastfeeding and attempting baby-led weaning. She goes to bed between 6.30pm and 7pm and we've tried controlled crying and this takes about 15 minutes before she goes to sleep. My issue is that some nights she sleeps six hours and others she's up every one and half to two hours. When she first went into her own room she slept 12 hours straight for about four nights. I'm finding the unpredictability very difficult.

Jo: Always make sure she can settle herself to sleep in her cot for naps. At seven months your little one will naturally be tired after two hours of wake time, so try a story, blackout the room and give her cuddles. Then settle her in her cot. Sleeping on her side or tummy at this age is normal, so make sure there are no blankets or soft toys in the cot.

What topics would you like covered in our Wednesday Lunch Clubs? Let us know in the comments box below.

 
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Comments

  • Lcaine1 - 30/10/2015 00:03

    I have to say that I find the answers to the questions very black and white! If only it were so easy as to 'just pat their bum' and get them to settle themselves! Believe me I have tried everything you have suggested with no luck. Also many sleep experts promote co sleeping so why do you deceive it as a bad habit? It's totally natural.

    • Lcaine1 - 30/10/2015 00:04

      *describe


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