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The secret of sleep for babies and toddlers


Steve Spinks
24 November 2011
Any new parent will tell you getting your baby or toddler sleeping well can sometimes be an impossible task.

However, according to a baby sleep specialist, Elaine Harvey, a simple two-step approach could solve any dilemmas parents are experiencing with their sleep-deprived offspring.

Ms Harvey, a qualified maternity nurse and sleep consultant who runs Lullababy SOS (Save our Sleep) on the Gold Coast, will conduct a workshop called Understanding Settling Techniques and Sleep in Babies and Toddlers for midwives, early childhood nurses (practitioners) and students at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus and at Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour on Wednesday November 30 and Thursday December 1.

The workshop will discuss the six most popular settling techniques taught by early childhood experts, including the Lullababy SOS technique.

“The most popular settling plans are controlled crying, Lullababy SOS, the pick up/put down technique, the five S technique (shush, sway, swaddle, suckle, stomach), ignoring in the room and the core night method,” Ms Harvey said.

“The Lullababy SOS technique involves two parts of the sleep process. The first part is about re-setting the baby’s body clock so they are sleeping and waking at more age appropriate times rather than the ‘time-zone’ they are currently set at. This part of the process involves assisted settling and re-settling by the parent while baby is learning how to sleep in their cot at the right time and is an important learning experience for parents too. The second part is teaching baby about how to get to sleep and then back to sleep independently when and if they wake up.

“Sleeping for babies is so important, after all, a young baby sleeps for 16 to 18 hours a day as this is their main activity. In hospital (after the birth) the main focus is on feeding, which is also absolutely essential, but if you don’t get the sleeping right it’s likely the feeding won’t be right. Sleeping is a huge part of a baby’s life and if you do not get it right everything else falls by the wayside and you’ll end up with an irritable little baby.”

As part of her business, Ms Harvey offers her services 24 hours a day, six days per week, so that parents and children can be settled into a routine as quickly as possible. It’s a practice widely used in the United Kingdom. She believes a baby’s sleep routine should be settled as early as possible, preferably within nine to 12 weeks of the birth.

Health professionals or students can still register by contacting the Continuing Professional Development Events Coordinator Carla Robinson on 02 6620 3634.

Photo: Elaine Harvey.