'A flexible routine': Sleep coaches share six ways to soothe newborn sleep struggles

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"Sleep struggles are experienced by all new parents as well as late into toddlerhood… Beating sleep struggles takes time, and there will be days when you are winning and days when you want to give up". (AJ_Watt/Getty Images)
"Sleep struggles are experienced by all new parents as well as late into toddlerhood… Beating sleep struggles takes time, and there will be days when you are winning and days when you want to give up". (AJ_Watt/Getty Images)

When her second child was born, Lindi Koekemoer was eager to get her newborn into healthy sleeping habits.

To get started, she enlisted the help of her cousin Zanda Greef who had been well-versed in the art of soothing a newborn through sleep struggles.

When her son was younger, he woke every two hours during the night, which had taken its toll on Greef, a mom of three.

Unable to meet the demands of family life due to sleep deprivation, Greef decided to act, taking a sleep coaching course.

After thoroughly scouring through hundreds of pages of content on sleep coaching and connecting with her cousin Lindi and many other moms on the struggles of sleepless parenting, Zanda realised there was a great need for supportive sleep programs in South Africa.

Together, the cousins established Brave Little Baby in 2019, working as sleep coaches who assist new parents in understanding their new baby's needs and sleep patterns. And getting the rest they need to make life work. 

Also see: Have a new baby? Here's how to get some sleep this year 

'The best fit' 

"We start with a comprehensive intake form to understand the family's unique situation. Each family is different, and we combine this with a temperament quiz and parenting style evaluation so that we can find the best fit when it comes to the method we suggest," says the duo of their approach during initial consultation with clients.

For Lindi and Zanda, tailor-made strategies are key since each family has different needs. The pair are also adamant about not rushing newborns into routines. 

"That's why we love suggesting going with a flexible routine".

According to the sleep coaches, one of the best ways to start is using the EASY format, an acronym for:

  • Eat
  • Activity
  • Sleep
  • Your time

The method provides a loose step-by-step structure based on what comes naturally to your new baby, providing some personal time for mom and dad too. 

"Between 4-6 months, we see a more structured rhythm forming, and then from 6 months we suggest sticking to certain times for naps to get little ones used to nap times".


Also read: My toddler's night routine is a nightmare - what do I do? Five easy ways to beat the bedtime battle  

Quick and easy tips

"Sleep struggles are experienced by all new parents even well into toddlerhood… Beating sleep struggles takes time, and there will be days when you are winning and days when you want to give up. Know that it is all normal and regression is also something that happens and is okay," assures Lindi.

Brave Little Baby has some quick and easy tips to beat your baby's sleep struggles. The team says that with persistence, you will reap the benefits and start seeing the difference in your little one's bedtime routine. Here's a look at their tips.  

Good sleeping environment

Make sure your baby's nursery isn't filled with bright light, and there aren't any colourful distractions during bedtime. Soothing, calm colours, as well as white noise, will ease them into sleep.   

Appropriate bedtime

In the same way we as adults know that we can't go to bed at 11 pm every night, our babies or toddlers should be going to bed at age-appropriate times too. These aren't firm rules but suggestions based on the age of your baby or toddler. 

Loving boundaries

When we set loving boundaries for our children, they know what to expect, and it's easier for them to predict what will happen next, so they accept the boundaries easily.  

A good evening routine

A good evening routine makes for a happy sleeping baby. No loud music or activities should take place before bedtime. The calmer and relaxed your baby is before bedtime, the better!  

Consistency is key

Keep to the same schedule and try to do the same things every night. When trying to put a new sleep plan into place for your baby, consistency is the most important factor in the baby's sleep success. If you are doing a few things differently every night, you are not being consistent, which can cause night waking.  

Nice full tummy

A baby sleeps better when they go to bed with a full and happy tummy. This will also prevent night waking and allow them to sleep for longer.  

Bonus tip: There will be tears  

If you are struggling with sleep and afraid of the tears that go along with sleep coaching, it's always useful to put things into perspective: Change almost always brings tears, but when we respond to the tears warmly and lovingly, giving them the space to feel that all feelings are acceptable, we teach them more than just healthy sleep; we build a connection. Children feel safe when we are confident in our approach and the boundaries we have set for them.

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