Parenting Q & A with the Three Day Nanny Kathryn Mewes
Well known as Channel 4’s Three Day Nanny, Kathryn Mewe's expertise covers baby sleep problems, eating and weaning, child behaviour and discipline.
How can I get my 15-month old daughter to sleep through the night? I've tried feeding her later and cutting out naps, but nothing works. She's been in the same routine since she was 5 weeks old. I've even moved her bedtime to later on in the evening and this hasn’t worked either.
Sometimes the time we settle our children to bed at night can impact on waking. Children tend to sleep solidly for the first four hours in the night. (eg: 19.00 – 22.00 or 20.00 – 00.00) After this point they wake 6 times (or move into a light sleep). This happens every 90 minutes eg. a child who goes to bed at 19.00 will move into light sleeps at 22.00, 00.30, 02.00, 03.30, 05.00 and 06.30. So, the way in which you settle your daughter to sleep initially will be expected when she wakes. This means that if you rock her, feed her to sleep, sing her to sleep, have music playing or lights on etc. these things will be expected every time she wakes, up to six times a night.
With this in mind, you need to encourage your daughter to self-settle at 19.00 in a darkened, warm, room on her own. Doing this means that when she wakes she will know what is expected of her. Please also try and make sure she has a daytime sleep of 90 minutes – 2.5 hours, preferably at lunchtime. The more sleep they get at this age the more they want. If a child is over tired they will fall asleep quickly at night but often wake suddenly at some stage because they have not spend a calming time drifting off to sleep. For a far more detailed explanation and 3 day plan to follow please refer to my book The Three Day Nanny.
How can we deal with a three-and-a-half year old who wakes several times a night due to bad dreams? She's always been a fantastic sleeper. She wakes petrified and then hates her room, and it then becomes a battle to get her back off! The next day is just as challenging as she is overtired, grumpy and anti-social.
I would suggest creating an reward system with your daughter. You could try hanging a ribbon from her bedroom door and each morning she will receive 3 hair clips to clip onto it or stickers/similar for doing the following: 1 clip/sticker for going to bed nicely and settling to sleep on her own. 1 clip/sticker for staying in her own bed all night. 1 clip/sticker for waking up nicely in the morning.
The key to an incentive system is that a child always achieves their goal. This means that she ALWAYS gets 3 clips in the morning. This means that if she shouts at bedtime you let her shout and continue returning her to her room in silence until she settles herself to sleep. If she wakes in the night, reassure her but limit talking to her and see that she settles herself back to sleep in the same way as she did at the beginning of the night. Finally she wakes in the morning and waits for you to go to her room between 06.30 – 07.00, assuming she goes to bed around 7pm, but if she comes out any earlier, you should return her and ask her to wait. The key to this is that you are consistent, calm and positive.
For more detailed information and a plan to follow please refer to my book The Three Day Nanny where you will find a plan to follow that will break this cycle of interrupted sleep in 3 nights.
Parenting expert Kathryn Mewes is brought to Gurgle in conjunction with Milton.
Milton has been a leading name in sterilisation and hygiene for over 65 years. During that time the ‘Milton Method’ of cold water sterilisation has been used by millions of parents, and in homes and hospitals throughout the UK and beyond. Milton also offers a hygiene range helping to keep babies and parents safe at home and while out and about. www.milton-tm.com