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By Paveena Kumar

Becoming a new parent is life-changing, there is excitement and a whole set of challenges that you may or may not have expected. And one of the most common challenges new parents face is sleep deprivation.

We invited Singapore’s very own Sleep Supernanny Ms Zoe Chu, Baby and Adult Sleep Expert and founder of Sleep Supernanny, to share some tips so that you can get your precious sleep back!

 

Why is sleep important?

Sleep is important for both babies and adults, many parents believe this quote “Sleep is such a luxury, which I can’t afford. ~ Robin Sikarwar” and honestly, sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Some people have a higher tolerance, but there’s only so much torture an individual can endure before they crack. Sleep deprivation can lead to problems such as short-term memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, post-natal depression and more, said Ms Chu. And have you ever heard of the term ‘Beauty Sleep’? Literally true to its meaning! With sufficient sleep, your body expels toxins from your body, and improves your complexion and mood.

And what are the benefits of sleep for babies? A very happy baby because when your baby sleeps, they produce growth hormones to assist in brain and physical development which leads to proper learning and social adjustment, cytokines to fight infection and illness and increases attention span.

So how much sleep is sufficient? Check out National Sleep Foundation’s recommendation:

LifestageAge RangeRecommended hours of sleep

Newborn

0 - 3 months14 - 17 hours

Infant

4 - 11 months12 - 15 hours

Toddler

1 - 2 years11 - 14 hours

Preschool

3 - 5 years 10 - 13 hours

School-age

6 - 13 years9 - 11 hours

Teen

14 - 17 years8 - 10 hours

Young Adult

18 - 25 years7 - 9 hours

Adult

26 - 64 years7 - 9 hours

Older Adult

65 years and above7 - 8 hours

 

What is sleep training?

Sleep training is training your baby to fall asleep without being rocked, swayed, cuddled, nursed, or shushed. Additionally, it also teaches babies how to fall back to sleep when they inevitably wake up in the middle of the night.

Zoe says she knows it doesn’t sound easy because she went through the same cycle with her twins, which inspired her to help other parents sleep train their children. She then designed a 5 Steps Sleep Baby Sleep Programme to help families in a way that suits them best. It starts with understanding the science of sleep, followed by creating a conducive sleep environment, implementing an age-appropriate daily routine to follow, setting up a sleep plan and finally, self-settling techniques. Solutions are customised to what parents feel most comfortable with.

 

What is the right age to sleep train a child?

You can foster healthy sleep habits from day 1 from the moment you bring your baby home from the hospital. You can go with the flow and yet still provide a good structure and routine in place for your baby.

 

Getting your spouse involved with sleep training

You two are on this parenting journey together, communication is key, but also, be mindful and considerate with one another. The beginning is always tough but with each other’s support, it will be a lot easier.

Speaking of parenting journey, let’s hear some baby sleep stories from parents!

 

Baby sleep stories from parents who sleep train

Owen, father of 2-year-old Kyler

We started sleep training Kyler when he was a week old as we wanted him to be more independent, and I read that a healthy sleep pattern is critical for children’s brain development. It was tough when we first started, but with persistence, endurance, and patience, he now sleeps through the night for 11 hours every day so my wife and I get to enjoy our couple time.

Charlene, mother of 4-year-old Chanelle and 3-month-old Cheyanne

We started sleep training Chanelle at 20 months and Cheyanne when she was 2 months old because I wanted to stop the habit of them wanting to dream fed and being carried or rocked to sleep. It was easier with Cheyanne as we started her at a younger age. It was painstaking in the beginning but now, my husband and I get to enjoy a full night’s rest.

 

Baby sleep stories from parents who did not sleep train

Rosemary, mother of 8-year-old Ariel and 3-year-old Iris

I wished I knew about sleep training earlier as I never would have thought my mother’s advice would be wrong – “Tire your children out so that they can sleep through the night.” How is that going for me? My dark eye circles have been “permanent residents” for the last 8 years… and my children, falling asleep after being extremely exhausted made sleep routines a living nightmare!

Brametha, mother of 10-month-old Vetrivel

We are comfortable with our current night routine as I don’t mind the process of waking up in the night to help Vetrivel back to sleep. Eventually, my child will learn how to sleep through the night and I’m okay to wait and let it happen naturally.

Stan, father of 5-month-old Kayshaa

Kayshaa’s bedtime is flexible, some nights are calm, some chaotic, but we do get our couple time when she is asleep. We are managing it and might consider keeping our current sleep arrangements until she says “Daddy I want my own bed,”.

 

At the end of the day, you and your spouse need to do what works best for your family, but remember that it takes time and adjustment. It is not something that happens overnight. Be kind to yourself and always have open communication with your spouse to see how best you can help one another to give the best for your little one.

Click here to watch Sleep Patrol Parents event highlights featuring Ms Zoe Chu!

Click here to find out more about Ms Zoe Chu’s Sleep Baby Sleep program!

 

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