Sleep (or lack of it) is one of the hottest topics around if you are a parent of a newborn, baby, or perhaps even a toddler!
The most often asked question in mum groups is about sleep.
And BOY, do I get it!
This is the person who held their baby up at the doctors’ and said, “I don’t care who you medicate, but it needs to be one of us because I HAVE to have some sleep!”
Often, the answers to all things sleep lie in learning more about your baby’s sleeping habits and helping them learn to put themselves to sleep, as well as them getting older, weighing more and maturing into sleeping for longer.
But, there is something else that’s often overlooked and might just hold the key to helping you get a few more moments of the all-important shut-eye!
And that is what you're doing with your baby during the day.
What you do in the day impacts the nights
You see, your baby is built to be a learning machine at this stage! From conception through to two, your baby is literally building their brain from the inside out. The brain is there, but it has yet to be programmed and connected. What you do with your baby every day is helping build those connections.
When you look at your baby and find that they are there looking at you, or you follow their gaze and chat to them about what they are seeing, you are literally wiring their brain!
And, like all learning, it goes from the simple to the complex. What you are doing in the simple things that you do with your baby every day is building the foundation for the learning that they will do for the rest of their life. Isn’t that amazing?!
Learning is hard work (think about you learning a new skill), and your baby has to learn everything!
So, perhaps part of the answer to your baby not sleeping well is how much stimulation and exposure to learning new things you are giving your baby during the day.
What can I do to give my baby the stimulation they need?
So - if you're pregnant, getting yourself outside and going for a walk, spending time breathing in the fresh air and looking at all the natural things around you, and, perhaps (if you don’t mind people looking at you a bit funny), chatting to your bump about what you are seeing, all provide your baby with a wonderful learning opportunity. They are enjoying the fabulous fresh air, they are enjoying the movement of your body, and they are also revelling in hearing your voice which is preparing them for when they arrive in the world. When you get home, you may find that they have had a lovely sleep and are all excited and full of kicks for you and your partner to enjoy!
With your new baby, what about making a black and white book using marker pens, paper and simple images, and reading to your baby? It’s a sensory explosion of learning for them and a chance to snuggle into the person who is most important to them - you! It will stimulate those brain connections like mad, especially if you chat through what you are showing them in detail.
With your older baby, a bit of tummy time and a chance to reach for toys just out of touch range will not only give them the chance to strengthen their neck and trunk muscles, but it will also encourage bigger body movements, helping them to develop their muscle strength to prepare for independent moving and of course, it’s also going to encourage their problem-solving skills and creative thinking skills (not something you usually think about as a benefit when you are thinking of tummy time!).
With your toddler, what about taking outside and let them explore water play in a wheelbarrow or bucket, and let them water the plants, or do some water ‘cooking’ using things from the kitchen. The fresh air, the exercise, the creativity in the play and the language development will all help to build those brain connections.
A busy child is a tired child
A child who’s spent lots of time being stimulated to learn, being given the opportunity to explore the world problem-solving, thinking, creating, hearing new language will have been building strong connections in their brain, and that’s exhausting!
When you put a child who’s had all this stimulation to bed for a nap, they may not sleep longer, but they will sleep deeper and get a better quality of sleep, which in turn will make them happier and the rest of the day more successful.
So, if you are having sleep problems with your little one, have you looked at the learning opportunities that you are offering them in a day?
Knowing WHAT learning opportunities to offer is often the problem and I hear so many parents (and pregnant mums-to-be also) not knowing what to do to fill the day with their baby. That’s where the Oliiki programme comes in. It’s full of age-appropriate, simple activities to do with your bump, baby, or toddler, and it also tells you the learning they are getting from the things that you are doing with them and the science and thinking behind it, which helps you know you are giving them learning stimulation which will hopefully help you with your baby’s sleep!
We don’t purport to be a sleeping programme, but it might just be one of our secret additional benefits!
Want to try it? Download the Oliiki programme now and take advantage of our 7-day free trial. www.oliiki.com/get-oliiki