Help for the Exhausted Parent
There is so much advice around sleep, it can be difficult to know where to start. We have pulled together some of the best common sense guidance for you here, but remember that what works for one child won’t always work for another. When your baby or child won’t sleep or is crying all the time, it can be exhausting for the whole family, so don’t hesitate to talk to your GP or health visitor or seek out a local parenting group (usually via your city council). It might also be worth looking at white noise machines, CDs or baby soothing Apps which can help with sleep e.g. with a selection of white noise and lullabies.
Websites and helplines
- Iconcope Babies cry-you can cope. Advice and support for parents with lots of short videos and information about what’s normal.
- Helping your baby to sleep Dealing with baby sleep problems and advice on coping with disturbed nights.
- Purple Crying This American website looks at what crying patterns are normal, what things to look out for and what you can do. Increased crying is very common and normal from about two weeks through to about four months. Parents are often frantically looking for reasons such as thrush, tongue tie, colic or reflux and although any of these could be contributing, increased crying and restlessness may also just be part of normal development. (see also the ‘fussy phase at 4 months below”) This site has sensible advice and there is a section for dads too.
- Help! My 4-month-old isn’t sleeping It is quite common for sleep to get a little worse around 4 months of age as babies may enter a growth spurt (and therefore be hungrier), be more aware of their surroundings and be interested in socialising with you! This is often called “sleep regression “ but is actually a sign of normal and healthy development, as this article points out with some useful tips on what you can do.
- Sleep tips for children under 5 years Advice on sleep problems such as your child won’t sleep without you or won’t go to bed.
- Childmind. org: Ask-the-expert. How do I get my child to sleep in their own bed? For toddlers and pre-schoolers you could try this ‘fading’ technique
- How to help if your child feels scared at bedtimeTop tips from Action for Children
- Clothing and pros and cons of swaddling Babies and toddlers may sometimes sleep better with an article of clothing from their mum or dad. Swaddling can also be comforting for small babies -This link tells you about the risks and benefits and how to do it safely.
- A Bed of Your Own by Mij Kelly: a nice little book to get children used to the idea of sleeping in their own bed and making it appealing.
- Emily Brown and The Thing by Cressida Cowell. Great for children who may be afraid of the dark or have other fears – perfect for 3-5 years.
- The Incredible Years: A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Children aged 2-8 years by C. Webster-Stratton. Highly recommended by parents.
My child has night terrors or nightmares
- How to recognise a night terror compared to a nightmare and what you can do to help. Night terrors are commonest from about 3-8 years and most children grow out of them. Although upsetting to witness, children don’t remember them and they are not usually a sign of underlying anxiety. Recurrent nightmares are often remembered and may sometimes arise from a traumatic event.
- Bedtime fears and nightmares this American sleep site also has some good tips