Sleep summary: the first five years
The first five years of a child’s life are fundamentally important.
Children do some of their most important learning during these early years and by the age of five a child has developed much of their intellect, personality and many skills. The first five years are particularly important for the development of the child’s brain.
Sleep plays a significant role in brain development and appropriate functioning. It is therefore important for children to get enough sleep.
Download the free information pamphlet, Sleep Summary: The First Five Years (PDF 201kb).
Sleep patterns in babies and toddlers
A block of sleep contains multiple sleep cycles. These occur even in the womb. For babies one sleep cycle is approximately 45 minutes and in toddlers these can lengthen to about 60 minutes.
Going to sleep is a learnt behaviour and encouraging your baby to learn to fall asleep independently is one of the most helpful things you can do. It is also the first true skill that you teach your baby.
Becoming overtired will decrease the baby’s ability to achieve and maintain sleep efficiently.
Download the free information pamphlet, Sleep Patterns: Babies and Toddlers (PDF 177kb) to view a simplified summary of complex physiology. Despite this simplicity, the recommendations which the analysis leads to, work well for the vast majority of families.
Link between feeding, sleeping and growth
In order to understand the linkage between feeding, growth and sleep it is first necessary to separate babies into two general age groups. There are simple but fundamental differences between the two. Understanding these differences is quite important in planning successful strategies for optimal sleep in your baby.
The primary objective for a baby under three months of age is feeding and growth. A baby will not sleep successfully unless they are being well fed and meeting their body’s genetic requirements for optimum growth. The best possible growth rate for a baby varies from child to child and relates to both their sex and their final adult size. Boys in particular are quite intolerant about being hungry.
After four to six months this alters. Certainly by six months this older baby needs to sleep well before they will have their best possible appetite and feeding. Thus in this slightly older age group good sleep leads to better feeding and then optimal growth. If sleeping well, feeding well and growing correctly they are happy.
Download the free information pamphlet, The Link Between Feeding, Growth and Sleep (PDF 199kb).
Sleep is essential for every body system. Having appropriate volumes of sleep is fundamental for well-being.
Lost sleep, and the daytime sleepiness that follows, affects our mood and behaviour, personal relationships, work and day-to-day performance may suffer over time. Our attention span, memory and reaction time can all be disrupted by lack of sleep. Self-esteem, self-confidence and harmonious relationships between parents are common casualties of prolonged sleep deficit.
In experiments where animals are kept awake continuously it has been shown that complete sleep deprivation is fatal. In human experiments where people are kept awake for very long times the brain begins to malfunction and the subject loses contact with reality.
While it is hard to define all the details of sleep there are some effects of broken, disturbed and decreased sleep which are beyond debate.
Download the free information pamphlet, Effects of Sleep Deprivation (PDF 200kb).
The principal focus of The Babysleep Doctor strategy is families with young children. It is exciting, fulfilling and rewarding work. One important aim of our work is to develop a woman’s confidence and self-esteem. It is important for the care that she can give to those that she loves that she believes in her skills, her intuition, her commitment and her simple ability to do it well.
It amazes us how many women come with low scores for self-confidence and joy in their parenting. Using validated scores for depression, anxiety and stress, we have found that up to 32% of women at their first visit have scores showing some degree of depression.
It can be tough being a mother and there is no place for anxiety and guilt in providing care to families with a new baby.
Download the free information pamphlet, Let’s Talk About Women (PDF 172kb).
Many parents find the discussions about infant settling confusing in that there is little consistency. Authors argue different philosophies and present their point of view with varying degrees of evidence, experience, dogma and emotion. This can be quite disturbing and makes making your own parenting choices often difficult.
One of life’s skills is in describing what is a reasonable compromise which will maximise benefits and minimise risks. How do we decide as parents what is a reasonable choice whereby we can maximise the benefits for child, mother, father, siblings, the family unit and ultimately society as a whole?
To mention a couple of parenting extremes: One is ‘total attachment parenting’ where the mother is encouraged to “wear her baby” for up to the first two years. In our view, this is impractical for the mother, destructive for parental relationships and, despite its advocates’ assurances, clearly and unambiguously holds back a child’s emotional development, socialisation and self-confidence. Another extreme is what is commonly called (or perceived as) “controlled crying” or even uncontrolled crying where a baby is just left to fend for themselves. In the medical literature there are multiple examples where prolonged and extreme emotional detachment for children has life long and sometimes irreversible negative outcomes. A human infant needs the experience of love to thrive.
So what is a fair and reasonable compromise?
Download the free information pamphlet, ‘Parent-lite’ Settling and the Baby’s View (PDF 175kb).
Babies cry. This is normal and there is a vast literature for parents on why it occurs, what it means and its impact on the child.
As a mother you know that parenting can be complex. Our task is to simplify this complex time. Download the free information pamphlet, Crying in Babies (PDF 173kb), to read our analysis of some of the reasons why babies will cry in order that it assists parents to react accordingly.