How Is Your Baby Sleeping…?

ImageIf you missed our web chat with Karen Bramall this evening then don’t worry as she has left us with a few tips.


It doesn’t take long for those dreaded little words “How is your baby Sleeping?” to come up in any given parent-to-parent conversation. Some parents dodge the question by saying everything is fine and some dive into a long story of their child’s sleep habits and their ultimate frustration.

I am a mum of three beautiful daughters and have a wealth of firsthand experience of what it is like to endure months on end of sleep deprivation. With my eldest, it went on for years instead of months, my second was slightly better, and by the time daughter number three came along anyone would have thought I’d have known exactly what I was doing and have a dream sleeper on my hands, right…? Wrong!

The sad fact is I didn’t know what to do because no-body had ever really told me anything about how to get my babies to sleep through the night! When pregnant, I avidly read the books given to me by the doctor about pregnancy and birth, when my children were born I put into practice everything in the booklets the health visitor gave me about nutrition and health – I knew how many teeth they would end up with and when they should sit up, walk, talk,…. you name it, I read it! The thing severely lacking in everything I was given was any information about something so incredibly important to all of our health, well being and happiness as simply getting a good night’s sleep.

I had a dreadful sleeper in daughter number three. I was exhausted, depressed and literally at breaking point, I felt like a terrible mum and snappy, irritable wife, it’s no surprise to me that recent research shows that mums are far more likely to suffer from post-natal depression if their children sleep badly! I remember so well one night I lay under a blanket, on my daughter’s bedroom floor. For 5 hours I lay there, getting any rest I could, with my arm through the bars of the cot rested on her back to ‘help’ her sleep. The next day I was so exhausted that I almost crashed my car, putting my whole family in danger, I decided there and then that something had to change!

After much scouring the internet, the next day, I found a sleep expert and got help. Within literally four nights my daughter, who for nine months had never slept more than 2 hours at a time, was sleeping 7pm – 7am straight! This transformation had such a massive impact on my life that it made me passionate about educating other parents and giving them the tools and support they need to achieve the same wonderful nights of sleep that we still enjoy four years on. I was lucky enough to be able to train, in Canada with a world renowned sleep expert, to become an Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, and now help local families achieve real results, fast.

I would like to share with you the 7 biggest tips to getting your baby to sleep well.

1. Babies need to learn to fall asleep on their own without any external props. Props come in MANY forms, from dummies to feeding, to patting, rocking , music, cuddles and many more. If your baby is reliant on one or more to fall asleep then they will need it each and every time they wake in the night (which we all do at least several times a night briefly!)

2. Be consistent. Whatever is happening at one sleep situation needs to be happening at all sleep situations to send a clear message about what is expected, and that includes every time your baby or toddler wakes in the night.

3. Early bedtime. This is vital to ensure that children do not become overtired. When a person is overtired, it becomes more difficult to settle down and fall asleep. When sleep does come, a person is a lot more restless with more tossing and turning and more night time waking. Try to pick a bedtime somewhere between 6 and 8pm based on last nap of the day and your babies age. Bedtimes do not have to be set in stone, you can always move bedtime a bit earlier if your child seems tired or cranky – just try not to make it later.

4. Routine. A bedtime routine is something you can start at a very early age and is an excellent cue to the body and mind that it is time to settle down and get ready for sleep. Routines should last from 20 – 30 minutes and at least some of it should take place in the child’s room. Your routine might include a bath, pyjamas, feed and maybe a song or book.

5.Naptime routines. A short nap routine can help cue your baby’s body and brain that it is time for a nap. It need only take 5 minutes or so and might involve pulling the curtains in baby’s room together or saying goodnight to some toys in the room, then a short cuddle and a song.

6. Exhausting your child will not make them sleep any better! Skipping naps or late bedtime will affect the next 24 hour cycle. Do not let anyone tell you that naps are not important, or that skipping them will help your baby sleep longer at night.

7. Keep baby awake whilst feeding If you are feeding your infant in the night try not to let him/her fall asleep at the breast or bottle. Keep feedings low key and quiet.

The latest research shows that 84% of children who are experiencing sleep problems will continue to have them for up to 5 years. This is a very long time for a family to function on a reduction of sleep and a long time to fight bedtime battles. It is never too late to start changing your child’s sleep situation. It can be hard but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel and in the long run making changes will make everyone feel better and well rested and, in my experience, a whole lot happier!

If you need support on your journey to great sleep then I can help you develop a customized sleep plan for solving your child’s sleep problems and help you step by step whilst you implement it so if you have any questions about what you’ve just read, please feel free to get in touch. For more information please go to , or you can always call me directly on 01794 341172 for a FREE 15 minute consultation, to discuss how I can help you achieve real results, really fast.”

This is an edited version of an article which has previously appeared in Baby Hampshire Magazine. Thank you to the editors of that publication for allowing us to reproduce the article in this form.


Toddler Sense Southampton

ImageYesterday I took DD (darling daughter) to a Toddler Sense taster session run in Freemantle by the lovely Charlene. I love taking my DD to activities, but she is a very spirited 21 month old so we tend to be restricted to active events. Nobody is ever impressed when story time at the library is interrupted by my shouts of “come back, stop running!” so Toddler Sense sounded perfect.

If you’ve never heard of Toddler Sense before, it is the sister group of Baby Sensory, a national franchise for parents to help their babies explore and develop their senses through play. The sessions are run throughout Southampton and bridge the gap between Baby Sensory and playgroup/nursery. The activities are specially scripted to appeal to children between the ages of 13 months and 3 1/2 years.

We arrived nice and early to find music playing and an entire hall full of soft play equipment – including a bouncy castle and hula hoops. The 20 or so children there immediately got stuck in to playing and DD barely noticed I was in the room – always a good sign! Within five minutes toddlers were walking along planks, learning how to spin a hula hoop, and following the coloured mats on the floor. Very entertaining ways for them to work on their gross motor skills.

Suddenly, the children stared transfixed as a crocodile entered the room (*SPOILER ALERT*: It was Charlene in costume). Mr Crocodile danced, cuddled, and held hands with the children for a few minutes before waving goodbye and disappearing. DD was very excited and I saw at least one other child signing the word for crocodile so it certainly made an impression!

When the 20 minutes playtime was up a tidy up song was played and all of the children helped the parents to move the soft play equipment out of the way to make room for the structured session to begin. This was very popular with the parents; as teaching children how to do housework from an early age was always going to be! 

We sat in a square for the lesson which included activities such as holding on to the elasticated chain in a group as we sang a song, using pom poms to demonstrate sweeping up a spider, and pretending to be Bob the Builder making a house with MegaBlox bricks and toy tools. At first I was a little concerned about DD being given a hammer, toy or otherwise, but it seemed to go OK in the end. Nobody ended up in hospital anyway.

At the end of the session Charlene debuted her finale; holding streamers in front of a wind machine whilst throwing balloons, petals, and bubbles in front of it. The children were wide eyed and very excited at seeing everything float up into the air and drift back on top of them. There were a few tears as the things were packed away.

Then all too soon we were singing the goodbye song and putting our shoes and coats on. Charlene came round and thanked us all individually for coming along, which was a very nice touch. She was very friendly and great with the children. Personally I think that anybody capable of handling 20 toddlers deserves a Sainthood, but that is a little beyond my powers. 

The session was great fun and educational with it. As well as improving gross motor skills, the activities encouraged children to get involved in decision making (choosing their own instruments), following instructions (tidying up, retrieving things as asked), and social skills (mixing and playing with other children).

The sessions were fantastic and I hope to be able to take DD to more when the term starts after Christmas.

You can find out more about Toddler Sense here.

Join our Web Chat with Sleep Expert Karen Bramell

Do you struggle with your little one’s sleep? Do they wake during the night, refuse to nap, refuse to sleep in travel cots, etc? 

Join us on Wednesday 27th November between 8 and 9pm on our Talk section where we will be hosting a web chat with Sleep Expert Karen Bramell. 

As a mother of 3 and trained sleep consultant she is well placed to give advice and writes regularly for Baby Hampshire.

She will be online to answer your questions here.

Christmas In Southampton

iStock_000018218035XSmallI love Christmas. I love it so much that I usually start planning in August or September. You are allowed to call me odd for that, my husband certainly does.

This year is the first that my darling daughter (dd) has started to understand what it is all about so I’m going all out this year; Elf on the Shelf, advent calendar book tree, Christmas Eve hamper. If it’s on Pinterest, I’m probably doing it. And to kick it all off, we went to see the Christmas light switch on in the town centre last night.

It promised to be an eventful evening with three different major events within metres of each other – the official opening of the Christmas market, music at the West Quay, and a Dickensian Christmas at the Marlands Centre.

First stop was the market where DD took a ride on the carousel and begged for cookies from the German sweetie hut, followed by a cuddle with Pudsey Bear (who was fundraising for Children in Need on behalf of Boots), the official opening by Southampton’s town crier, and beautiful traditional carol singing.

Next was a little bit of late night shopping in the WestQuay Centre set to the music of new boy band “Concept”. It was at this point that I got a glimpse of my future as DD refused to take her eyes off the boys and was desperate to get closer to them. I think I may have a future boy band fan on my hands.

Freebies were had and too much money was spent in the shops. I think that would be classed as a success!

Last but not least was the Marlands Centre, which for us, was the highlight of the night. We were greeted by Ebeneezer Scrooge being pulled around in a cart whilst singing Christmas songs (a bizarre scene to walk into but great fun!), while hundreds of people crowded around the stage in the middle of the centre to watch as the town crier, Tatty Teddy, and Father Christmas started the countdown. The lights came on in spectacular fashion and showered the crowd in snow. My little girl loved it and the atmosphere was fantastic.

Christmas has come to Southampton – and what a welcome it got!

Vintage Fair Southampton

sean (1)Last weekend I took a stroll down to the O2 Guildhall in the town centre to visit an event that I’d stumbled upon in our “What’s On” listings; a vintage fair which promised to supply beautiful vintage clothing, accessories, and home ware whilst filling us up on traditional afternoon tea to the sound of a band playing music from the 1920s/30s (and such).

I love all things vintage and can be found regularly browsing eBay when I’ve saved up enough pennies to treat myself. I’ve been known to squeeze myself into dresses that just don’t fit at all in order to take advantage of a vintage bargain. As you can guess, I was very excited.

From the minute I walked in I felt like I was stepping back a decade or 7 – hair stylists sat in the lobby teasing hair in to elegant 1940s up dos, a band was playing music I’d last heard on an episode of Downton Abbey, and the musty smell of genuinely old clothes was just delicious.

I helped myself to a cup of tea and a slice of traditional Victoria Sponge (which I could have eaten a lot more of by the way!) and browsed the aisles.

Everything was clearly laid out and priced, with fantastic bargains on offer. If I’d had the funds I probably would have bought it all. Of course the piece which really took my eye was a dress that cost £200 – probably the most expensive thing in the room! Needless to say, I left that on the rack.

Each stall holder was helpful and polite; none more so than Alice at Forage and Find. I spent a long time lingering over everything there and even came back for a second look later! Alice is part of a mother and daughter team which painstakingly works components from antique items, such as old watch movements and dials, gaming pieces, broken buttons and coins, into beautiful items of jewellery.

They are a local business and operate mostly online but are stocked in Hemingway’s Vintage, Southampton.

Their items are all one off pieces so you can guarantee that nobody else will be wearing the same. For the huge amount of effort they put into their work, the prices are an absolute bargain. For instance, a necklace featuring a 1930’s dial, little vintage 1950’s opalescent stone with an intricate silver frame will only cost you £15.

For more details on Forage and Find have a look in our “Shops” listing category or click here

The vintage fair I went to was the last of 2013 but if you’d like to attend the next one then keep an eye on our “What’s On” listings where it will be listed as soon as the date is announced.

(Image courtesy of Alice)

ASK Leisure World Review

asklogoThis weekend my family and I paid a visit to ASK at Leisure World for an early evening meal. Normally this can be a bit of a mission as I have a very *ahem* lively toddler.  Meals out usually involves one of us eating as fast as we can whilst the other one tries to coax her to stay in her high chair. As you can imagine, we don’t get out often.

From the minute we entered ASK though the waiter that greeted us offered a variety of places for us to sit and asked us which would be most suitable for our needs. He then came back a few seconds later with a high chair which he helped us clip my little girl into and offered her colouring and pastels.

When taking our drinks orders he gave us plenty of time to choose and was patient with us changing our minds a couple of times. When I ordered the little lady an apple juice he took her cup and filled it up for her as he thought it would be easier for us that way.

The food was lovely, they seem to have changed the menu since I last went and I ordered a vegetarian pizza with tomatoes and goats cheese. Gorgeous. I ate way too much and ended up with stomach ache for a good few hours after that!

Darling Daughter (DD) had a starter of carrot and cucumber sticks and slices of garlic pizza bread followed by her main course of a cheese and tomato pizza. To finish she had vanilla ice cream with sprinkles on top. Her entire meal came to just £6.95 and hardly any of it ended up on the floor – bargain!

The facilities were clean and bright with plenty of tables. The food was lovely and a good temperature. The staff were very attentive and always available to us. Our server seemed to have a sixth sense for when we were about to look for him as he always turned up at the perfect moment.

I didn’t catch his name but he was fantastic and provided DD with lots of entertainment, even managing to avert a tantrum by appearing with a pin wheel for her just at meltdown moment.

The entire experience was great and I would highly recommend this as a great family restaurant.

For more information on the restaurant click here