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Helping your baby sleep through the night

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
baby sleep, online sleep program, nurture sleep program

It's getting chilly over here in OZ and those little bubs are waking because they're feeling the cold.

I've had many phone calls asking about early morning waking, especially at 3-5 am. So here it is a blog about helping your baby sleep through the night.

Why does it happen?

At 3-5 am the body temperature drops and is at its' lowest in the 24-hour cycle/circadian rhythm of sleep.

At the same time, the air temperature drops.

Aha! you're saying. Now I know why.

What can you do to help your baby?

Those of you that have been following my blog for a while will know that I'm from the North of England and we regularly get cold winters. It can drop to -7C or more and stay there for several weeks. So I've learned a lot about how to rug up and keep warm. This easily translates to keeping little babies warm too.

I've also spent years as a midwife, in neonatal nurseries/special care nurseries, helping keep those little premmie/preemie babies warm.

Layer your baby in breathable natural fibre warm clothing

Do not let baby wear hats in the house, as per SIDS guidelines. A soft flannelette sheet in the cot can feel amazing. Dress baby in a singlet/vest, a onesie, sleeping bag suitable for the season and temperature and socks.

Merino wool keeps the heat in and is a great natural fibre for Winter.

This body warming vest from Hello Night Kids keeps their core warm. This is essential for a good nights sleep. Once their arms feel cool to the touch they need extra layers on their top half, preferably wool.

A great alternative is a warm merino or wool cardigan or 'legs'.  Baby Legs are often used as leggings in winter but can easily be used on arms to keep bub warm.

To know how warm your baby is, check their tummy with the palm of your hand. You can also check their temp with a thermometer. Don't go by their hands or faces, these are always cool to touch in winter.

Layers of clothing and bedding keep baby warm

We often make the mistake of having our rooms too warm and we think a warm nursery or bedroom will keep baby warm. That is not the case. A nursery temp needs to be 16-20C at night-time, no warmer. Anything over 20C will make them snuffly by drying their sinuses out. Cooler is better than warmer.

baby sleep

Also look at their diet and make sure they're getting enough solids and plenty of low glycaemic carbs, protein and fat. Babies need calories for warmth and growth. All dairy should be full fat until 2 years old and nourishing fats have double the calories of carbohydrate."

Best Sleepwear for Winter

I recently asked mums on my Facebook page which are their favourite sleeping bags for baby?

Which sleeping bag is the 'best' at keeping baby warm, easy to change nappies, washes well and is not too expensive? I'm sending this out on behalf of Anya's mummy. I know that mums know what works best. "Hello, mummies! hope everyone is going well. just looking for a recommendation re a sleeping bag. would like something that is breathable and keeps Anya (my little one) warm. I normally dress her in a layer of thermal, then onesie, then sleeping bag and have the temperature in the room set at approx 22 degrees. thanks in advance!

Alex MacDonald, I love Hello Night Kids, Amelie 8 months sleeps through an amazing 11 hours every night and I've even used it in the Hunter Valley in Winter. She's always so toasty warm when I change her in the morning and it's so good that I can get a 10% discount from you guys -

Julie Tesei, 'We got a lovely 100 per cent merino and cotton bag from Merino Kids. A bit pricey but my daughter has eczema and the natural fibres are great!'

Natasha Szabo, 'I really love the ErgoPouch. I think it's a 3.5 tog rating, washes really well, can get on sale for about $70. Everyone I have recommended it to, loves it'.

Megan Jeffery, 'Desire Ergo pouch for sure! They have all different TOG ratings for different weather. You can also get ones with buttons on the sleeves so baby can transition from arms into arms out'.

Kate Spence, I like the Grobag & 2.5 tog

Jasmina Petkoska-Mellsop, 'Second the ergo pouch, one of the warmest on the market'.

Bridget Flynn, 'Woolbabes are great. Different weights avail. Expensive though'.

Sally Smid, 'I love snug time!!'.

Sleeping bags often have a European tog rating for warmth. Bags with a tog rating of 1.2 or below are for spring/summer use. Bags with a tog rating of 2.5 - 3.5 are for autumn/winter.

room temperature and baby sleepwear

If your room temperature is 12-16C then a 3 - 3.5 tog sleeping bag is recommended. A room temp of 16-20C is suited to a 2.5 - 3 tog sleeping bag. It's important that the sleeping bag is made of natural fibres so baby doesn't get overheated, the material needs to be able to breathe. For that reason, I don't recommend a synthetic sleeping bag.

And don't forget bed socks!!! It helped me through many a UK winter night. If your bub has warm tootsies they're going to sleep so much better :-)

And last but not least, blankets and fibres.

I see a lot of bunny rugs/fleecy fabric blankets and fleecy sleeping bags being used. I'm not a fan of these and I'll tell you why. They are made of acrylic fibres and they don't breathe and allow the exchange of heat and moisture. Instead, they block heat and moisture in so the baby can overheat and feel sweaty. Please use natural fibres for sleeping bags and bedding only and by natural fibres I mean cotton and wool, preferably merino wool. Cellular cotton blankets are great because they breathe and cotton is a low irritation for eczema prone skin. Wool and acrylic are irritants for eczema.

If you're using blankets to layer baby, instead of a sleeping bag, place baby on their back to sleep with feet positioned at the very bottom of the cot and blankets tucked in securely to the mattress.

So there's all my tips for a good nights sleep and a warm and toasty nights' sleep for your baby.

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