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10 sleep truths I learnt after 30 years as a Mothercraft nurse

Kinderling News & Features

There have been times in the past five years that I would give anything for a good night's sleep. Actually, make that several times!

So if you're a parent that dreads watching the sunset in the knowledge of the sleep you won't be getting tonight, here are Kinderling Kids Radio's Mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue's top 10 truths about baby and toddler sleep.

"Sleep is a learned art," says Chris sagely. "It's important for parents to know that from the very beginning."

1. Consistency is key

Consistency is everything when it comes to your baby's sleep. Timing and routine are crucial to raising a 'good' sleeper.

2. Sleep cues come a close second

That means helping your child learn what steps are taken in the lead-up to bedtime. A song, a book, being wrapped or sung to. Whatever your routine, make sure you stick to it.

3. Patterns change

In baby's first year, sleep patterns change regularly and often. A baby that sleeps through the night from an early age is an exception to the rule, says Chris.

4. Sleeping through the night is not the norm

Very few infants go to bed and stay asleep for the entire night without waking.

5. Changing beds shouldn't mean changing routine

Remember: Babies don't go on holiday, they just go to sleep in a new location. Sleep cues and routines need to be the same, wherever you go.

6. The more sleep a child gets, the better that child will sleep

That's why sorting out the day sleep for your infant or child often helps solve any lingering night sleep issues.

7. Get the timing right

Generally speaking, toddlers cope best with being awake for approximately five and a half hours, before they're ready for bed. For a 7pm bedtime, make sure the daytime finishes by 2pm.

8. When to drop the day nap

A child normally gives up their daytime nap between two and a half to three years of age.

9. Don't rush the big bed

Moving a toddler into a big bed before they are ready will have a big impact on nighttime sleep, so don't rush it.

10. Make adjustments as requiremed

More often than not, early waking toddlers (4:30am-5am) need their daytime nap adjusted. Ensure the afternoon sleep is no later than 2pm to encourage better overall sleep.

Got a sleep truthbomb of your own to add to this list?