The Secret Diary Of A Night Nanny
Meet MB sleep guru Tina Southwood: the woman with all the answers to getting your baby to love her Zzzs. Yep, weve found the holy grail of parenting, people
Before you had a baby, your biggest sleep issue might have been getting woken by next doors builders once a year during a lie-in. Now youre a mum, sleep has become a daily obsession as your baby is a regular wake-up call, often throughout the night. So, its no wonder that some new parents turn to Tina, a night nanny of nine years, for expert help with their little one. lsquo;I see children from birth until 18 months for around five nights, with the aim of getting them into a healthy bedtime and sleep habit, she says. But how exactly does she work her magic?
Sleep problem: Parents dont know how to settle her without feeding, which she now relies on
So that I can help with Sophies bedtime routine, I arrive before she goes to sleep. In this case, Sophie is still waking every few hours and her parents dont know how to settle her without feeding her to sleep, which she has now come to rely on. At her age and weight, she doesnt need to be fed, as shes eating solids and drinking a good amount of milk during the day.
‘Shes eating solids and drinking a good amount of milk during the day, so she doesn’t need to be fed at night’
I explain that Ill try different ways to soothe her without resorting to a feed. One thing I find is that lots of new parents dont know how to read their babys sleep cues ndash; yawning isnt the most important indicator (especially that first yawn after a feed, which is often a reflex).
Sometimes parents will go to bed and leave me to settle their baby, while others stay and pick up some tips. After a final feed, I lay Sophie in her cot and sing lullabies ndash; she soon drops off. You might think a baby over three months would struggle being settled by someone other than her parents, but Ive never had a problem.
After settling myself in Sophies room, I go to sleep. My bed is generally in the babys bedroom but, if not, Ill have a monitor next to me all night.
Sophie wakes and starts to grizzle. I sing a lullaby, but shes still crying, so I turn her on her side in her cot and pat her back. For a baby under six months, Id suggest a dream feed (when you nurse her while shes asleep), but I want Sophie to settle without milk.
‘Sometimes its simply about solving a key problem you hadnt thought of’
Sometimes its simply about solving a key problem you hadnt thought of. In Sophies case, shes used to waking between sleep cycles and needs her bottle to get back to sleep. This time, after 10 minutes of patting, she drops off and I roll her onto her back.
I hear Sophie grumble, but I dont want to disturb her, so I wait a few minutes to see what happens and she just goes back to sleep. If she did need soothing, Id leave her in her cot at first, perhaps stroking her forehead to encourage her to shut her eyes. Id also feel her chest to check her temperature, removing a blanket if she seemed clammy.
Sophie wakes again and, this time, I dont manage to calm her in her cot, so I bring her out. I cuddle and rock her, making a shushing sound. I return her to her cot asleep and go back to bed.
Sophie is still asleep when my alarm goes off. I wake her at 7am by turning on the lights and removing a layer. By six months, its good to have a morning wake-up time to start the day and keep your routine in place. I take her to her parents, with a cup of tea. If they had an older child, Id look after him or her while everyone else gets settled. Then Ill head home at 7.30am for a quick nap of my ownhellip;
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