How to Help Baby Get a Good Sleep? Bedtime Routine is Your Best Friend and Consistency, the Key Word.

Bed time routine

We all know how a good night sleep can make us feel refreshed and boost our mood and morale. Babies/kids, in particular, need a good sleep, both day-time and night-time for their optimum growth and development. Insufficient sleep not only has an incidence on your child’s mood and behaviour (and on yours too!) but also on his development. All babies are different; some sleep through the night as early as one month old, others take 12 months to do it and some, even longer.

From what I have been through I have come to realise how a bed time routine is important and to be consistent with it is the key to a baby’s good night sleep. I learnt about its importance and about sleep associations the hard way. During one month I woke up each night every hour with my 5 months old baby until I was totally sleep deprived and had to go to Ngala for help. I lost a lot of weight and was a very sad person.

When my baby was born I assumed it was normal for her to wake up constantly at night until she would start on solids and then she would start to sleep through the night. I believe I made this assumption, as this was what everybody was telling me. Even during the day, each time my baby would cry, everyone would say ‘she is hungry’ and I would go and feed her. I remember when my daughter was going through a growth spurt (and I had no idea it was one since I had never heard of ‘growth spurt’ at that time) she wanted to be constantly fed. I used to feed her and she would throw up later and then cry again, I’d feed her and she’d throw up later … it was exhausting both for her and for me. I was more than often reminded that being a mum, I had no other choice than accept my situation as this was motherhood! I understood later how I was wrong to believe in all that!

I learnt that being a mum meant that I could have a life too and learning about the following was very helpful:

  • ‘Growth spurts’ and what to expect when baby is going through one.
  • Sleep associations.
  • Overtiredness — the number of hours baby can stay awake for his age, after which over-tiredness kicks in and trust me, this is your worst enemy.
  • Bed time routine.
  • The bedroom and bassinet/cot set up.

Growth Spurts

In the first 12 months babies go through several growth spurts and you will notice major ones when you see baby is crankier than usual; he will also require more feed and be more clingy. When a growth spurt happens, babies can suddenly take weight and height and after that you will notice baby has started to do new things and mastered new skills.

I only learnt about growth spurt much after my baby was born, so I had no idea why my baby was so cranky and why she wanted to feed all the time. I was even advised to check my ‘milk supply as baby was probably not having enough milk’(!!!). I started to worry until I learnt that my milk supply was fine and it was just baby going through a growth spurt.

Many breastfeeding mums start to introduce formula at this point, thinking they are not producing enough milk, that’s why their baby is behaving like that. With breastfeeding, the more you breastfeed the more milk you will produce. Once you decrease the feed the breast will start to produce less and less milk. Hence even during a growth spurt, it is best to feed baby as usual. Give baby lots of cuddle and reassurance. Baby will need extra comfort and trust me, it will pass. If you are still worried, consult your baby’s nurse or pediatrician.

Sleep Associations

Although I did read a fair bit about the Eat-Play-Sleep pattern, when my baby was born, I simply couldn’t understand how this would work. I could not understand how a baby could sleep on her own, without you feeding or rocking her. Eventhough I was given the advice not to let my baby sleep on the breast, this was exactly what was happening after each feed. Then I would take the upmost care not to wake her up before putting her (already asleep) in her bassinet. What I didn’t know at that time was that I was the one who was preventing my baby to have the optimum sleep.

I created a sleep association for her; she quickly learnt that she needed to be fed to sleep and when she woke up after a sleep cycle, she was not able to go back to sleep until she was fed again. This peaked when she was 5 months old and she was waking up after each sleep cycle. I became very quickly sleep deprived.

bed time routineWe can also create such sleep associations with soothers and rocking baby to sleep. Feeding, rocking and giving a pacifier are fine until it becomes a problem. Then your baby will need you to recreate the exact environment in which he fell asleep.

During the first three months, babies require regular feeding during both day and night and night waking is normal. Also, they haven’t developed their ‘clock’ yet so they do not know exactly when it is day or night. However around 3 months old a baby can fall asleep on his own and it is then that it’s very important not to rock baby or to feed baby to sleep or to give him a pacifier; this way baby learns to self-settle and do not have a sleep association which involves you!

It is important to play with your baby during the day, when he is awake; at night, keep lights dim, and do not talk to baby if he wakes up. If you need to change baby’s nappy, be quick and avoid eye contact. It is important for baby to understand that it is night time, he has to sleep and you are very boring at night indeed!

Bedtime Routine

Consciously or unconsciously, we all need a bedtime routine to have a good night’s sleep. Do you have a shower then brush your teeth and get into your PJ’s? Or do you just need to read a book? Most people go through some kind of routine before going to bed. It is the same for babies/kids. With my baby, it was hard at first to establish a bed time routine but I stayed consistent and, with time, it became easier for both baby and myself.

When baby is growing up and getting to know his environment, it is best to provide him with a relaxing bed time routine. Depending on what baby’s age is and at what time baby gets up, you can plan the day’s schedule. For example, a 6 months old baby will nap two to three times a day and can stay awake around 2 to 3 hours hours. So, when baby wakes up, you will know when is the next nap and then work out when is the bed time. About 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime, you can start the routine. For naps, you can do a shorter 10 minutes routine.

Bed time routine

Winding down is important for little ones before they go to bed as this calms them down and they get ready both mentally and physically to sleep.

Well, at first I wasn’t sure what to do nor how this would work out. I thought it would be good for my husband to be part of the routine just in case I wasn’t there some day. The bed time routine I used till my baby was around 18 months old:

  • Quick bath
  • Wear sleep suit and nappy
  • Get in sleeping bag
  • Feed and make sure she didn’t fall asleep (I omitted this step once I stopped breastfeeding and gave her a milk bottle – one with a straw – before she had her bath, when we were still in the living room)
  • Brush teeth (once she had a few teeth)
  • Read a book (big images, no bright colours, few words)
  • Say good night to some objects in the room
  • Say bye to her dad (if he’s there)
  • Switch the lights off (I keep a very dim night lamp on)
  • Say good night
  • Put her in her cot (which has a small blanket and a little doll)
  • Leave the room quickly

Most days, she would go to sleep quietly or just talk and sing till she’d fall asleep. Other days she would fall asleep almost straightaway and on odd days she could even take 20 to 30 minutes to sleep.

Some babies still wake up at night for one or two feeds until they are around one year old. In fact, 90 % of 6-month-olds can sleep through the night without snacking, says clinical social worker Kim West, author of 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. So if you start night weaning around that time, you don’t have to feel guilty.

You don’t have to do all the above steps for a good bed time routine. Whichever steps you choose, make sure your baby has enough time to wind down and you are consistent: do the same things in the same order. After doing the same things over and over again, baby will know bed time is approaching and he will get ready for it; he may even start feeling sleepy once the routine starts. Do not give in – stick to your routine and be consistent.

So, let’s say, your 6 months old baby will go to bed at 7 p.m., you can start the routine around 30 minutes before and before that make sure she is not over excited by screens or by some sweet foods/chocolate.

A Note on Overtiredness

Many parents do not follow a routine with their babies. It is fine if both baby and parents are happy. Many parents say the baby is not tired so he will nap later or maybe in the car or maybe not at all and at night he will only sleep when they will sleep, even if it means 9 or 10 p.m.

Babies can stay awake only for a certain number of hours depending on their age. If they go beyond that, then overtiredness sets it and YES they will not sleep, get over excited and will even sleep later at night or have a very rough night and wake up early. If you watch out for the number of hours baby is meant to stay awake and then no matter what, follow baby’s routine and then put him in his cot, I bet you baby will sleep. (Moreover, for baby’s development he requires a certain hours of sleep; make sure you are giving him all the opportunities to have that.)

bed time routine

Even now, at 2 years old, if I don’t tell my toddler to pack her toys away and insist on her having a shower, she will continue to play and will insist she doesn’t want to go to bed. She even starts crying at times saying she will play and not sleep. At this age, specially, she tries different tricks to delay her bedtime but she knows we won’t give in. She gives in after trying a few minutes and some pretend crying (with real tears!) She’s got some good acting skills! Toddlers do!

Do not wait for your baby to get overtired to put him down for his nap or bedtime. Watch out for the signs of tiredness: yawning, rubbing eyes, avoiding eye contact, clenched fists, crying or shouting for no reason, etc.

Bedroom/Bassinet/Cot set up

When asked, most people will hate to have to sleep anywhere, with lights on and lots of noise and people talking to them all the time. Babies/Kids are the same. Therefore it is essential to create the right environment for baby to have a peaceful uninterrupted sleep.

If possible, it is best to avoid putting baby’s toys in his bedroom. It is important for him to understand that his bedroom is for sleeping and not for playing. Decorating baby’s room is nice but make sure it doesn’t become a distraction to your baby.

I remember during my baby’s first 6 months, she was in her bassinet and there was a mobile with three sheep which were rotating most of the time above her head. I didn’t know at that time that it was a BAD idea to have a mobile in there! I was sending baby the wrong message: when waking up from a sleep cycle, I wanted her to sleep but then I showed her some toys! Confusing!

As mentioned previously, it took me around 6 months to learn about the above points. After 6 months, each time I put baby down for a nap or bedtime I made sure the room was dark and there were no distractions in the room. She definitely slept better.

To Sum Up:

  • Get informed about when your baby is making growth spurts so that you are ready for his behaviour and know how to deal with it.
  • Do not get baby to have a sleep association involving you.
  • When your baby is around 3 months old, start to give your baby a bed time routine and stick to it. Be consistent.
  • Watch out for signs of tiredness and make sure you put your baby down to sleep before your baby is overtired.
  • Create the right environment for baby to sleep.

Some babies sleep through the night as early as one month old and parents do not have any of the above-mentioned problems. That’s great both for the parents and the babies. Other parents are happy with their babies sleeping throughout the day, or at whatever time suits them and also in the car and in the pram, then that’s great too as it’s their choice. If parents are happy to rock baby to sleep for however long it requires then there is no problem in that.

However, for those parents who are finding themselves sleep deprived and want their babies/kids to have a routine, if they believe both baby and themselves require a restful night and not a fragmented sleep and some good daytime naps, then it will be really helpful to work on the above listed points. Having a bed time routine and being consistent will enable you to give your babies/kids the opportunity to have a good sleep. It will not be easy but I believe it is worth the effort for both you and your baby. Does your baby still wake up at night after 12 months?

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5 Days With A Toddler At Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl

Marsa Malaz Kempinski

From Gulf Times

This week my husband had one week off work for the Eid festival. We were thrilled as it meant we could have some family time out! We thought why not enjoy Doha? After having heard lots of positive reviews about Marsa Malaz Kempinski, a 5 star hotel in The Pearl, we decided to try it out with our two-year old. Marsa Malaz Kempinski is located on its own private island in The Pearl, with 150 metres of private beach. Amongst many other facilties, the hotel has several outdoor swimming pools, water sports facilities, tennis courts, a kid’s club, 11 food and beverage outlets, a spa with an indoor pool and 281 spacious rooms, among which some luxurious suites.

On arriving at the hotel, I was quite impressed with the décor; everything smelled of luxury: the extraordinary chandeliers, the unique furniture, the endless marble floors, the high ceilings with unique-designed cornices, the unique coloured roses and orchids. We were greeted by ever-smiling staff and everything was done to make sure we were at ease and enjoy our stay. When I looked at the pictures on the website, I had serious doubts about how the room we booked will look in reality. However I was agreeably surprised when I saw our room: it was way nicer than on the website! It was real luxury. Again, the cushiony carpet, the designer furniture, the unique chandeliers and lights, the Villeroy and Boch bathrooms, the paintings and the special attention (like the fruits and nuts, the flowers, the personalised welcome note). Everywhere I looked in the hotel, I had that impression of cleanliness, of luxury, of caring – or should I say opulence?

Marsa Malaz KempinskiMarsa Malaz Kempinski

An impressive blend of Arabian elegance and European grandeur […] The hotel hosts more than half a million pieces of mother of pearl: 330,000 decorating the walls and 280,000 hand carved into the furniture seen in most of the rooms. 
Another attraction includes the hand-made Murano glass oyster chandeliers from Italy, which took three weeks to assemble all the 44,000 pieces of oysters across four chandeliers exhibited within the hotel’s lobby.
 More than 3,000 pieces of handcrafted glasses and more than 9,000 pieces of handcrafted chinaware were made exclusively for the hotel. — Gulf Times

Spending 5 days in a hotel with a toddler can be challenging but here it seemed like 5 days stay is simply not enough. There are so many things I did with my daughter. We played a lot in the Kid’s Club; the two staff members are very caring and full of ideas to keep kids entertained. The first two Eid days had brunch for the kids with a wide selection of food and drinks. There are activities for all ages but also activities that the club plans as a group and which indeed keep the kids busy! Then, there are the different swimming pools which suit all ages. My two-year old had lots of fun in the very shallow one with other kids her age. We also spent some time at the beach where she made quite a few sand castles and destroyed all the ones my husband made; she enjoyed the warm Gulf Sea water, under the watchful eye of one of the many lifeguards (and mine too!). Although the Gulf Sea water is not the beautiful blue Mauritian sea water, it is still enjoyable.

The breakfast, tea and dinner experience was also exquisite. Each of the hotel’s restaurants has its own speciality; we ate mainly at ‘Sawa’ which I highly recommend. The staff are very caring and the food is one of the best I have eaten in a five star hotel. The breakfast buffet had food for different tastes and the international dinner buffet was sublime: we tasted some exquisite Japanese, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, American, Arabic cuisine with delicious and unique deserts. I’m not much of a desert person but I must admit I had so much desert that Im almost certain of having already put on some weight (and Im not joking!) It was great that the restaurant also has a Kid’s Menu although my toddler enjoyed the selection of food already offered; we also ordered some chips ‘just in case…’. The high tea at Café Murano was another treat to the palate with the exotic sandwiches, cakes, and scones, all served in designer tea sets, with view over the sea. The weather was so beautiful in the afternoon that the view from the huge window panes looked like a painting.

Marsa Malaz Kempinski attended to all our requests and also fixed any issues we had: a reflection of a real five-star hotel. Those were the positives. These are a few things that can still be improved:

  1. There was quite a few honking that could be heard at night, so it might be a good thing for the hotel to have some signs outside to discourage honking. It’s not very pleasant to hear these at night, particularly when you are already in bed!
  2. The Kid’s Club could provide more age-related books and games like for example, age-related wooden puzzles for under 3 years old, some playdough, etc. Maybe these little ones could have a dedicated area only for them, without the TV and the video games.
  3. Some of the staff members can be over zealous leading to some false assumptions on their part. They can surely remain professional without over-doing things.

The hotel is 12.5 km from Hamad International Airport and while you are there if you have some spare time, you could visit Katara Heritage Village (3 km) and/or the Museum of Islamic Arts (9 kms). Five days are over but we are almost certain that we will go back, with our toddler! There were so many other activities which we couldn’t do (some of the timings clashed with my daughter’s nap time); but, as my husband put it so well, “if we want to do everything then we would have to stay for a month at least!” – although I think one month in a hotel might be a bit too much, don’t you?

Is Your Child Eating Too Much Salt?

Kids Eat too much salt

Whenever I eat at my parents’ or at the in-laws’, I always think the food has too much salt. And what’s worrying is that I’m the only one! Everyone keeps telling me I have a problem with my taste buds! You know what? I found out that I DID! It was my taste buds because I wasn’t used to eating that much salt in food. It’s all relative: my parents and in laws find the salt level ‘normal’ but for me it is not. It’s all a question of being used to salt. That’s why I am so amazed when mums tell me they add salt to their babies’ food when they start on solids, as early as 5 to 6 months old! They argue they want to make sure the baby likes the food by making it more tasty. What they do not know, unfortunately, is that babies do not need additional salt and they are the ones who are getting them used to that taste!

The Health Foundation in Australia recommends that an adult consumes less than 6 grams of salt a day, that’s about 1 teaspoon. And we are talking here not only about salt that we add to food when cooking but also to hidden salt in all the foods that we eat. The Health Foundation aims at reducing premature death and suffering from heart, stroke, and blood vessel disease in Australia. It warns about the high intake of salt which can increase blood pressure and lead to a high risk of many other diseases. It is alarming to know that the average Australian consumes about 9 grams of salt everyday. I don’t always check the labels of food products that I buy but I always try to buy healthy food and avoid processed food and take aways as these are so high in salt.

There is now evidence that a high intake of salt in children also influences their blood pressure and can lead them to develop many diseases later in life such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis and even obesity. How children eat when they are young heavily influences their food choices and likings in later life. If they have been used to eating salty food, this is what they will like later in life. It is better for them not to be encouraged to develop a preference for salt when they are little in order to avoid exposing them to all the health risks related to high salt intake. Children should rather be encouraged to eat healthy snacks such as fresh fruits, dried fruits, fresh vegetable sticks and yoghurt. Their food should be cooked without salt if possible. There is already natural salt in vegetables and the taste of other foods such as meat, chicken, etc. can be enhanced by adding spices and herbs. I have tried it and it does work. It is all a question of getting used to eating less salt or no salt at all. If you do it gradually then very soon you will find it hard to eat out or to buy take away!

According to the Health Foundation and other health institutions this is how much salt children can eat per day in order to stay healthy and to avoid risks linked to over-consumption of salt.

Age Maximum Salt Intake
0-6 months <1g / day
6-12 months 1g / day
1-3 years 2g / day
4-6 years 3g / day
7-10 years 5g / day
11 years and above 6g / day

Babies’ kidneys are too immature to deal with added salt and anyway, they require very tiny amount daily. Both breast milk and baby formula consist of that required amount of salt and do not need any added salt to their food. When babies start on solids, although their food may taste very bland to us (remember it’s all a question of being used to salt), salt must not be added. As far as possible it is best to feed baby home made food and avoid processed food as even sauces and other stocks contain too much added salt. 75% of our salt intake come from the ready-made and processed foods. It is always important to check the nutritional information on food products that you plan to give your children and choose those with low salt content. Be mindful of products such as bread, baked beans, crisps, olives, cheese and even biscuits which already contain salt. When choosing breakfast cereals, make sure you are choosing one which has a low salt level. I used the recommendations of Choice Magazine for my baby. It compares various products and lists their salt and sugar levels.

When eating out, be mindful what you are feeding your child. A large portion of chips can contain over 1g of salt and 4 slices of bread can provide 2g of salt; so in only one meal your child can eat much more salt that he is required to eat over a few days!You can use the following as a guide: food containing more than 0.6g of sodium per 100g is considered as high in salt.

Making sure your child doesn’t eat too much salt means you’re also trying to ensure that he doesn’t develop a taste for salty food; this will makes him less likely to eat too much salt as an adult. As mentioned earlier, if you are already giving your child too much salt, just decrease it gradually. It would be a good idea to do it for the family as a whole at the same time. The whole family will benefit from it. It makes so much sense that salt is often referred to as the slow poison and we definitely don’t want that for us nor for our kids, do we?

Finland’s Education System: a win-win for all?

students are back to school

It’s back to school time in Doha. Back to waking up early, back to spending hours in traffic and back to spending the afternoons doing homeworks. The race starts at Kindergarten here when kids as young as 4 are prepared for the entry exam/interview to obtain a seat in a ‘top’ primary school of their choice. In Mauritius too, the competition is quite tough and private tuition starts in all subjects as early as the 4th grade of primary school and usually only ends at the end of high school! I cannot but ask: why not simply copy Finland’s education system?

When the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) were out, not even the Finns could believe it. PISA is a standardised test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues. It revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they were the leaders in math and in 2006, first in science. In the 2009 PISA, they came second in science, third in reading and sixth in math among nearly half a million students worldwide.

Some Interesting Facts (from Smithsonian):

  • According to a survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the differences between the strongest and weakest students are the smallest in the world.
  • There are no mandated standardised tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of high school.
  • There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions.
  • Finland’s schools are publicly funded.
  • Formal education only starts at the age of 7.
  • Everyone in the government agencies running them, are educators; not business people, not politicians.
  • Every school has the same national goals and recruits staff from the same pool of university-trained educators.

The result is that a Finnish kid is given the opportunity to get the same quality education no matter where he lives. The majority of educators in Finland are professionals selected from the top 10% of its graduates who then study for a masters degree in education. Many schools are quite small to enable teachers to know every student. Teachers are always trying new methods to enable students to succeed. No wonder 93% of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5 percentage points higher than the United States, and 66% pursue higher education, the highest rate in the European Union.

Australia and Mauritius

It was fortunate for our kids that, when drafting the National Curriculum, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) reflected on practices in countries that performed ‘better’ like Singapore and Finland. Good on Australia for that! However, due to a change in Australia’s federal government, the National Curriculum has only been partly implemented till now.

With a change of government in Mauritius too, the educational system is being reformed with a nine-year schooling system being introduced. It looks as if only the form is changing, most of the content staying the same. The competition will only shift at a later level, the tuitions will still be there and the severe competition at the end of the secondary schooling will still exist. The government has not unveiled the whole reform plan yet so I am hoping there will be more positives than the present system has.

Curriculum is important but so are educators. Educators should be given both the means and the motivations to be able to perform well. Unlike how I felt when I was working (both in Perth and in Mauritius), educators cannot simply be a number in the system, which can move from one school to another at any decided time. They cannot be expected to give their best when education has started to look more like a business where everything is about making money or cutting costs; they cannot be expected to look at teaching as a vocation and not a job, when they are only given respect according to how their students perform. Wake up people, education is NOT business! Check out Finland.

A great read is fillingmymap.com/2015/04/15/11-ways-finlands-education-system-shows-us-that-less-is-more/

Waiting for the Australian review and for the Mauritian Nine-Year Schooling Reform Project…

New Giant IPad Launching Soon: Is Technology That Good For Our Kids?

technology and kids. how does it affect our kids?

examiner.com

Apple is set to launch its new ‘giant’ IPad this Wednesday alongside other gadgets. Tech savvy and gadget addicts cannot wait for their new toys. This reminded me of a book I came across about 3 years ago warning against the threat of Television becoming the new teacher. Can technology truly become the new teacher? Is it really that good?

Since I’ve read that book I became very conscious of the negative effects exposure to screens can have (particularly) for babies. Till now I have succeeded to avoid my toddler from playing games, watching TV and using a phone. Yes I have. And people are still horrified by the sound of it since it is not the normal thing to do! I thought I had been doing the right thing until one of my husband’s colleagues told me recently that he had decided to do exactly the opposite and his 8 months old baby plays games on an IPad and also watches TV. He doesn’t believe in research supporting the ‘negative effects’ of TV and tablets. This made me start wondering ‘are these really bad?

He argued that it’s okay as long as the kids are supervised when they are using the device. In this way the device is not really teaching them bad things as you are always there to monitor and explain. True. But how does it work in practice? Do you always stay with your child when he is using an IPad or watching TV? Commercials pop up all the time. How will you monitor what they are watching? On the Internet, what will your child do when pop ups will try to redirect him towards something inappropriate? What will you do regarding issues associated with the Internet like cyber bullying, gaming and other addictive behaviours? Will you watch everything your child sees before he does it so that you know it’s appropriate for his age? I mean how does it work in reality? 

I recently received an email claiming that “behavioural neuroscientists in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia released findings of increased addictive electronic device behaviour and reductions in academic concentration, attention, memory retention and learning outcomes”. The study found that along with early patterns of inappropriate behaviours (0 – 3 age range) children’s brains are being bombarded and scrambled by the use of many electronic devices making students unable to concentrate for any long period of time, listen and respond to instructions and complete activities. Experts recommend that phones not be given to children before 13 years of age and even then, it should only be a ‘dumb’ phone, not a ‘smart’ phone. I know, I know. That’s just one side of the story. However, wouldn’t there even be an iota of truth in there? And if there is, would I want to take a risk? Or one might ask: how much risk am I willing to take?

I fully believe in IT and its numerous advantages and I also believe it is my duty as a parent to assist my child with positive developmental experiences. So, if I can restrict the electronic devices in the early years and monitor closely later, I believe that would be a great start to those. I believe I can be a better teacher to my child than TV, tablets or other electronic devices can be. What do you think?

Light the Dark: Go Australia!

Syrian refugees arrive at a beach on the Greek island of Kos after crossing a part of the Aegean sea from Turkey to Greece in a dinghy on August 15, 2015 in Kos, Greece. The Greek government has sent a cruise ship to the island of Kos which will be able to house up to 2,500 refugees and operate as a registration centre, after 2,000 Syrian refugees were locked in an old stadium during a registration process and left without water for more than a day. Australians Light the Dark rally to support Syrian refugees.
Tens of thousands gathered across the country this Monday September 7th for the Light the Dark vigil. They expressed their support to little Aylan and to Syrian refugees. I felt so proud to be Australian today; eventhough I wasn’t physically present I could feel the huge movement of compassion towards our fellow brothers.

Grandparents, parents, boys, girls, pro-refugee movements — all formed one single force to show their support to refugees. Their message was clear: ‘Tony Abott, Australia has to take more refugees!‘ And why not? Space is not a problem, is it? Nor is the country’s economic situation. So, why not?

My 2 year old is sleeping peacefully. Tomorrow will be another day where the major catastrophe will be her wanting more cake or refusing to sit in her high chair for dinner. My world is so much different to that of these people — a world where children risk losing their lives everyday or that of their loved ones. I feel so helpless when I see pictures of children arriving in Greece in dinghies and having to spend the night sleeping on the beach.

Germany is heartily welcoming refugees at the moment and UK has promised to do the same. Come on Australia, we can do better too! Aussie Aussie Aussie …

Sleep Training Baby: some tips

Baby self settles
One cannot imagine the importance of sleep until he/she is deprived of it. First time parents know exactly what I’m saying here. The first six months following the birth of my daughter, I was totally sleep deprived and nothing seemed enjoyable anymore. I was so tired all the time. Everyday I secretly prayed for my baby to sleep at night so that we could both be happy and healthy. I continuously told myself one day she would just start to sleep by herself. I never heard about self-settling, never heard about sleep props, never heard about growth spurts and couldn’t even imagine of her being able to put herself to sleep.

Then we discovered Ngala (an organisation in Western Australia), which helps parents whose babies have sleep issues, among others. I learnt how sleep patterns vary according to baby’s age, about sleep schedules, sleep routines and the whole lot! I started to read extensively about ‘sleep’ and with some advice from a friend and the help of my husband, we managed to train our baby to self settle. Some research and organisations support using self-settling techniques, particularly after three to four months old, when baby has developed the circadian rhythm. On the other hand, there is also research that totally condemn it (Read about what Sarah Ockwell-Smith has to say). I believe it’s up to the parents to decide what works best for their baby as each baby is different. Some babies do not even need to be taught self-settling techniques, some take quite long to learn it and some would start to do it straight away.

Although she could self soothe, it took my baby almost 19 months to start to sleep through the night. I could only have a decent night sleep after 19 months following her birth! That may seem surreal to some while I’m certain that even after 19 months many babies (and parents) still wake up at night. It will definitely help parents to read about self-settling techniques, sleep props and growth spurts. There are numerous websites out there but I can suggest some I have used and which I still go back to.
Ngala website

The secret of Good Sleepers PDF from Ngala

Raising Children website

Baby Centre Australia website

To this date however I still wonder if I have done the right thing. Would you recommend using self-settling techniques?