Nurturing Sleep

Home of Emotional Wellbeing and Child Sleep.  



Welcome to the Nurturing Sleep Blog! 

My aim is to empower parents to support their children through sleep and parenting difficulties in an emotionally approriate way, so that each an every baby and child who experiences my Nurturing Sleep approach feels Happy, Safe and Reassured.

Enjoy the blog.

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Keeping Cool about Hot Weather Sleep!

Posted on June 28, 2015 at 2:55 PM

Summer weather is great fun for babies and children - they love playing outside and the fresh air and physical activity prepares their bodies for sleep; however those hot, sweltering, sweaty nights can really upset baby and children’s sleep.


Here are my top hot weather sleep tips to help you keep cool about hot weather sleep!


Prevent dehydration:

    Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids;

    Breastfed babies may require more frequent feeds, but avoid giving water to breastfed babies though as this may interfere with the feeding relationship and supply.

   Offer your Formula fed baby some cooled boiled water in a bottle between feeds;

   Older babies and young children will enjoy fruits, homemade fruit iced lollies, fruits, drinks with ice cubes etc which all help to keep children hydrated!


• If its very hot Keep your baby or child cooler through the day by sponging her with luke warm or cool water; the air movement over her damp skin will help to cool her (in the same way as perspiration/sweat does).


• Keep your baby’s bedroom cool by keeping the curtains/blinds shut during the day;


• Open windows and door throughout the house to encourage air flow throughout the house as much as you can during the day.


• The ideal bedroom/sleep temperature for babies and children is 16 – 20 °C (61 – 68 °F)


• Cool down the bedtime routine with a cool bath;


• Use a fan in the bedroom to keep the air moving and flowing in the bedroom; but make sure its not directed directly at your baby or child.


• Cut back on sleep wear; a good rule of thumb is to dress your baby for sleep in 1 layer more than you are comfortable in; try her in just a nappy and vest;


• Dress her in light weight, breathable natural fibre sleep wear – manmade/synthetic fibres can be very sweaty as they keep heat in.


• Beware of disposable nappies! The synthetic waist band can cause irritation and rashes in hot weather – very uncomfortable at night! Consider using cotton nappies during hot weather.


• Naps!! Beware of prams, moses baskets and car seats... prams and moses baskets can be airless so make sure your baby is in the shade, and if you can use a fan to keep the air moving around him (not directed on him;) - Also make sure she doesn’t nap in direct sunlight in the car, pram or carseat.


More hot weather information for babies and young children:

Keep your child safe in the sun  

Summer Safety for young Children

Keeping children safe in hot weather



Dummy use and SIDS

Posted on June 22, 2015 at 3:50 PM

What about dummy use and SIDS?

From my experience dummies / pacifiers are either loved or loathed by parents! Sucking on a dummy can be very therapeutic for young babies, providing them with ‘non-nutritive’ sucking opportunities. Sucking is also the 5th ‘S’ within Dr Harvey Karps/Happiest Baby approach to baby calming along with swaddling, side position (back to sleep), shhhh, swing. Where they are loved or loathed, its good to be clear about the SIDS recommendations in relation to dummy use.

Along with room sharing and breastfeeding, dummy use is a factor that the lullaby trust associates with a decreased risk of SIDS. A study group from the America Academy of paediatrics reviewed 7 studies of dummy use and SIDS and consequently concluded that dummy use is associated with decreased risk of SIDS. Further 2 studies suggested that for babies who used dummies regularly the degree of protection from dummy use is lowered when a dummy is not given on occasional sleeps.

Therefore, the Lullaby Trust recommendations state that:

• dummies are introduced after breastfeeding is established (usually by 1 month) and gently withdrawn between 6-12 months to avoid adverse effects such as ear infections and dental malocculsion.

• The use of dummies is consistent within the baby’s sleeping routine

• A dummy is not forced on the infant or replaced if it falls out once the baby is asleep

• The dummy does not have any attachments on it (no cords around your baby's neck)

• The dummy is never coated with anything sweet

Download the Lullaby Trust's fact sheet about Dummy use here:

resource: Lullaby Trust evidence base 2014:

Toddler's Naps - are they necessary?

Posted on May 4, 2015 at 10:15 AM

New research highlights just how important adequate sleep is for toddlers. Parents are only too aware of the consequences of missed naps for their toddler... tea time tantrums... bedtime melt downs.... Research now suggests more far reaching and possibly lifelong consequences of toddlers missing naps.

The research led by professor Monique LeBourgeois of the University of Colorado Bolder studied the emotions, reactions and problem solving ability of 2 ½ and 3 year olds who had missed a nap. The children attempted to solve both a solvable and unsolvelable picture puzzle both after a nap, and then after missing a nap the following day.

After being deprived of their nap the children showed a 34% decrease in positive emotional responses after solving the solvable puzzle compared to solving a puzzle after a nap; when nap deprived children attempted to solve the unsolvable puzzle they showed a 31 % increase in negative emotional responses compared to their attempts after a nap.

Researchers suggest that the measured emotional responses of the toddlers demonstrate that sleep deprived toddlers may experience a decrease in coping skills, be more prone to tantrums and frustration, have difficulty interacting positively with others, and experience decreased cognitive engagement. Professor LeBourgeois concludes that overtime the consequences of missed naps for toddlers “may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems”.

So, how much sleep does your toddler need? Well, on average toddlers between 1 and 3 years require between 12 and 14 hours sleep a day, 11-12 hours of which is night-time sleep. By 18 months toddlers have usually reduce to one nap a day of about 2-2 ½ hours, and this nap reduces to about 1- 1½ hours at around 3 years of age.


Further reading:

Nap-Deprived tots may be missing out on more than sleep. Article available here:

Children and sleep National Sleep Foundation.


Getting to know your newborn

Posted on May 4, 2015 at 10:10 AM

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to understand your newborn’s behaviours? Well, researchers Peter Wolff, Heinz Prechtl and T Berry Brazelton found that newborn babies display characteristic patterns of behaviours. Often, understanding these behaviour patterns can help new parents respond appropriately to their baby, which can help enhance attachment and their experience as new parents. The behaviours are classified into 6 states of consciousness which are beautifully described and illustrated by Marshall and Phyllis Klaus in their wonderful book Your Amazing Newborn. The 6 states include 2 sleep states, 3 wake states and crying.

Quiet Alert:. When babies are quietly alert they quite still, their eyes are wide and bright as they channel their energy into looking and hearing. She may turn her eyes towards a parent’s voice, and even reach out towards it. The longest period of quiet alert occurs after birth when the newly born baby closely observes her parents’ voices and faces. Make the most of your baby’s quiet alert state to socialise with her!

Active Alert: this more active and ‘fussy’ state, when your baby will look around more and her movements will be more jerky; you’ll probably observe this behaviour often before feeding.

Drowsiness: this is the ‘falling asleep’ and ‘waking up’ state; her eyes will be glazed and unfocussed and eyelids droopy either as she’s falling asleep or just waking up. She may also smile or frown.

Crying: the newborns’ communication system! She maybe hungry, lonely, bored, uncomfortable... Parents typically respond by picking their baby up and putting her to their shoulder to soothe. Interestingly, researchers have found that it is the picking up movement rather than the upright position that calms the baby and often puts the baby into the quiet alert state!

Newborn sleep: Newborns sleep18 hours or more in 24 hours; this sleep is divided into 30 minute cycles of quiet sleep and active sleep.

Quiet sleep: peaceful, restful sleep! When in quiet sleep babies are relaxed, eyelids are closed, they lie very still and their breathing is regular. She’ll be quiet and still except for the occasional startle and very small mouth movements.

Active Sleep: or Rapid Eye Movement sleep. A baby’s body is more ‘active’ and mobile in this sleep state and her breathing may be irregular and a little faster than in quiet sleep. You may observe her eyes moving under the eyelids, and her eyelids ‘fluttering’; she may also smile, grimace, frown and make sucking movements – interesting to watch! Babies are more likely to wake from ‘active’ sleep than from quiet sleep.


Recognising and understanding these 6 states of being can help parents get to know and understand the needs of their newborn baby, and so can contribute to making those first few weeks of parenthood an empowering and enjoyable experience for all!


Sources and Further Reading -

Klaus, M and Klaus, P. (1999). Your Amazing Newborn. Cambridge MA: Da Capo Press Inc.

Nugent, K. (2011). Your Baby is Speaking to You. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.


Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to inform and not for medical diagnoses or treatment. Please contact a health care professional if you have concerns about your baby or child’s health.




Night Fears....

Posted on May 4, 2015 at 10:05 AM

Night time fears in young children are very common; fears can range from fears of the dark and shadows to monsters under the bed. Fears are a normal part of growing up and are linked to cognitive development because preschoolers aren’t yet able to distinguish between what is real and what is imaginary; they are also bright enough to know that things can be hidden by darkness. During the day your child is busy; there are lots of exciting things to distract him, but at bedtime and during the night when he wakes he’s tired, alone, its dark, its quiet and worries may surface. So, young children are more likely to feel insecure, worried and anxious at bedtime and during the night than during the day.

If young children are experiencing night time fears they may start to have settling and waking problems. They may become more clingy at bedtime and/or resist going to bed, use stalling tactics for ‘just one more kiss...or drink....(or both!)’ or continually get up to find you. Young children don’t have the coping skills to manage their fears themselves, so they need reassurance and support to help them cope and become calm. Comforting reassurance is always the best approach for night time fears.

Some practical tips that may help young children through night time fears:

• Reassure, reassure and reassure again; tell your child she is safe, and you are there to make sure she is safe;

• If the child verbalises his fears – ask him what would help him feel safer... the door open, a night light or torch?

• Look at the bedroom through your child’s eyes; remove any pictures or toys that could be viewed as scary; what adults see as ‘cute and cuddly’ may be viewed as scary by young children - and monitor TV viewing;

• Use a predictable, comforting bedtime routine, and consider encouraging the use of a comforter, lovey or special toy to help him feel less anxious;

• Try to encourage happy thoughts before sleep – talk about the child’s day, the happy things that happened and some of the exciting fun things that are planned for tomorrow;

• Consider using relaxing music, or a CD of waves, or rain to mask the silence of night time and any noises that may disturb or frighten;

• If she’s scared of monsters or goblins under the bed or in the cupboard - think of practical solutions like filling the space so there’s no space for goblins to hide.

• If monsters or gremlins are the problem - find happy, friendly monster books to encourage happy, friendly monster thoughts.

• Is darkness scary? Go for a walk outside together at night; give her a torch for night wakes; use a night light and put a favourite family picture next to it for comfort and leave the door open.


Finally, if your child’s fears become excessive, the fears increase over time and/or she begins to display anxiety and stress symptoms during the day, then it’s advisable to seek medical advice and support.


Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to inform and not for medical diagnoses or treatment. Please contact a health care professsional if you have concerns about your child’s health.