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Q&A: Your Sleep Questions Answered

Q: What is a dream feed?

A: It’s a feed given to your baby just before you go to bed, and can be given if your baby is half awake. What you can do is lift your child from her cot and give a quiet feed with the lights down low. A dream feed maximises the chances of achieving a longer stretch of sleep at night. However, this is not recommended beyond four months as it can encourage a milk-sleep association and lead to unnecessary feeds later in the night.

Q: When should my baby start sleeping through the night?

A: Some babies sleep through the night within the first two weeks of being born. But most sleep more in the day and less at night at first, until about four months of age. Expecting an uninterrupted stretch of 10-12 hours’ sleep from the baby is unrealistic. Babies are considered sleeping through the night when they sleep about five hours straight. Some babies take longer to achieve this. You can help your baby by letting her sleep at night, not waking her to feed, and by keeping things dark and quiet.

Q: Is co-sleeping safe?

A: Co-sleeping isn’t recommended because there’s a higher risk of smothering, falling and SIDS. Unless you follow strict safety precautions on co-sleeping, there are other alternatives for keeping your baby close to you. If you’re breastfeeding often, use a bedside co-sleeper. It looks like a cot with a missing side, where you can raise it to certain height and put it right next to the adult bed. If you’re feeding baby often, you can also consider putting a bassinet, cradle or crib nearby.

Q: How can I get my baby to take longer daytime naps?

A: All babies sleep in cycles throughout the day. Leave her for 10 minutes when she wakes to see if she can settle herself back to sleep. If she starts to cry, pick her up and pat her back until she stops and then put her back down again. Try this for 20 minutes and if she doesn’t go back to sleep, get her up and try again the following day.

Q: My toddler still has a pacifier for bedtime/naps, any tips on how to remove this?

A: Offer him a reward or swap for a very interesting new toy. The key is to make sure that he knows it’s gone at that point – it needs to go in the kitchen bin and then into the big bin for about 10 minutes before the garbage truck arrives. From then on, you will need to keep telling him that the bin uncles have it every time he asks for it. He will forget very quickly if you keep distracting him and re-enforcing the message.

Q: My 11-month old is a light sleeper and early riser. How do we get him to sleep in?

A: After 4am, babies and toddlers are in their lightest stage of sleep. If he is quite “prop” dependent, then this is the time when he will find it the hardest to re-settle. Try to stop all night feeds, consider ditching the pacifier and try not to get him out of bed until after 6am. Reassure him you are around, but keep the room dark and keep repeating a key message that it’s still not time to get up. It may take a few weeks, but he should start to sleep later.

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