Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night – with Meg Faure

One of the biggest challenges many new moms face is getting your baby to sleep through the night, so I was very excited to have Meg Faure, baby expect and author of Sleep Sense join me live to share her best baby sleep tips.

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Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night - with Meg Faure

Meg Faure Sleep SenseAbout Meg Faure

Meg is an occupational therapist by training and she was one of the lucky students that had all her blocks in exactly what she wanted them to be in and it was always around infants. From the time that she started with OT she knew that she wanted to work with babies. She works a lot with moms and their babies

In the early 2000’s she had her own two children. After her second child was born she published her first book in 2002, Baby Sense. Within a month the first run of the book had sold out and it became a best seller. She has published additional books after that including Sleep Sense, Weaning Sense and most recently Allergy Sense. Click here to see Meg’s books. She has written about everything from pregnancy through to sleep, feeding, weaning and now allergies.

She has launched three businesses, the first one was her Baby Sense product company which she started in 2005 and sold in 2014. The second business she launched is called Play Sense which is an education business for two to five year olds that come to play groups where she trains the teachers and they have a wonderful curriculum in people’s homes.

The third business is her Parent Sense app which is a digital application available on the Apple store and the Playstore. This is to meet the needs of the modern mom that wants information delivered differently, they want it delivered digitally and they don’t want generic information, they want it bespoke to their baby.

My Personal Experience With Baby Sleep 

My experience with my first baby was nothing short of traumatic for my husband and myself. I did not have close to sufficient sleep for over four years. When I found out I was pregnant I went off my psychiatric medication because it would have been dangerous for my baby’s development this was followed by a very long, painful labour (42 hours posterior labour) trying to have the home birth I wanted, followed by an emergency c-section.
After her birth I managed to get a few night’s sleep but wondered why on earth all my baby did was sleep and I remember discussing this with my husband. We wanted to get to know our baby and all she did was sleep and wake briefly to feed. Famous last words!
When my daughter was about a week or two weeks old she stopped sleeping. From that time until she was three years and four months old she did not sleep longer than two hours at a time… ever. She stopped having day naps at eighteen months old. When my daughter woke up at night she would cry for hours at a time and nothing we did could calm her down or get her to sleep. When she was about two years old my daughter started with night terrors and this continued for a year until she started sleeping through.
My son was born when my daughter was two years old and thankfully we were blessed with a baby that was so easy going. He loved sleeping and if he was tired he just closed his eyes and went to sleep all on his own. He only cried briefly when he was hungry and as soon as he was put to the breast he was happy as can be.
Being so sleep deprived for so long was devastating for me and my husband and I pity any parent that has to go through anything like that. Thankfully my kids, currently 7 and 9 years old, sleep beautifully now and we all get our full night’s sleep every night which I am so grateful for.
I guess that sometimes history repeats itself as my mother had the same experience with me as I had with my daughter. In fact my mother was so distraught and exhausted with my lack of sleep and severe night terrors that the doctor prescribed sedatives for me so that I could get some sleep.
For any parent that is struggling now with exhaustion and their baby not sleeping, I really sympathize and know how it feels.
Me and my kids
This was around the time we started getting regular sleep most nights!

Best Tips To Get Baby To Sleep Through The Night

The tips will vary depending on the baby’s age.
Newborns Can Have Day Night Reversal
It is very common for newborn babies to have day and night reversal, which means that your baby is awake more during the night than they are during the day. This means that they have long stretches of four to five hours between feeds during the day but then waking every two hours during the night to feed.
If this is happening with your baby make the night feeds very calming and soothing. Don’t rouse your baby too much. If baby is not not dirty don’t change the nappy. Then during the day make things interesting and active. Engage with your baby so that they really get the difference between the day and the night.
If your baby is not awake after three hours when having a day sleep wake them up so that they don’t have too much sleep during the day.
Don’t Feed To Sleep
The hardest habit to break for moms is when they have been feeding to sleep because when your baby hits six months old and is waking up numerous times a night to feed this can be an incredibly hard to stop.
From about six weeks onwards try to separate sleep and feeding. If your baby has dosed off during feeding rouse them a bit before putting them down to sleep so that they will learn to put themselves to sleep on their own.
The Critical Window Period of 4 – 6 Months
This is the age where babies can develop sleep regression but it is also the time when if babies learn how to go back to sleep themselves they become self-soothers and they become typically very good sleepers.
Part of this stage is not over-responding to your little one, allowing them to fuss a little bit when they wake to give them the opportunity to learn how to go back to sleep and how to self-soothe.
Teaching Your Baby To Use Their Dummy 
One reason big reason why babies wake up at night and fuss is because they expect someone to put the dummy back in their mouth. Around the age of seven months your baby will be able to put their dummy back in their own mouths, so teach your baby to put their own dummy back in their mouth.
The Importance Day Sleep Routines
Make sure that your baby’s day sleep routine supports their night time sleep. If your baby has too much or too little sleep during the day this will not be conducive to having a good night’s sleep.

Advice For Dealing With Night Terrors

Firstly it is important to distinguish between nightmares and night terrors.
Nightmares are usually only seen from about eighteen months old because a nightmare is a language and imagination based fear. In other words there is a whole story that is happening inside your baby’s head when they have a nightmare. It is very unusual for a baby to have nightmares before the age of eighteen months. As your child goes into the toddler years and as their imagination explodes you are likely to see a lot of nightmares occurring.
Night terrors are different. Night terrors can happen earlier, even as early as six months onwards. The big difference between a nightmare and a night terror is that with a nightmare your little one is awake, so when you go into the room they are screaming or crying and perhaps pointing at something and they can articulate it and they look fearful.
Whereas with a night terror children are fast asleep still. They can be screaming but are still asleep. The advice with night terrors is not to wake them up but to put your hands on them and apply some pressure to soothe them. Another thing to watch out for is over-tiredness, which is associated with night terrors. Night terrors will often appear at those cusp stages where you are going for example from two day naps to one or from one day sleep to no day naps.
For anyone dealing with severe night terrors Meg recommends sleep expert Alison Bentley as she specializes in sleep terrors.
Baby sleep regressions

Advice For Sleep Regressions

Sleep regressions happen for different reasons. The first real sleep regression usually happens at around seventeen weeks and that is a developmental milestone where babies learn to self-soothe, before that they don’t really have memory long term and so they are not really forming habits. From seventeen weeks they do start to learn habits and they start to rely on whatever they are using to get to sleep, whether it be the breast, a dummy or being rocked to sleep. You really want your baby to learn how to self-soothe between the ages of seventeen and twenty four weeks.
This also coincides with the age that solids are started so a lot of people think that is has to do with hunger which is not necessarily the case. Meg recommends starting solids at four months rather than six months to ensure that your baby is getting enough nutrition.
Another sleep regression happens at about nine months which is your separation anxiety stage. As your little one develops object permanence they then start to know when mom is not around and then call mom back repeatedly at night.
There are also milestone sleep regressions so as they learn to walk they have to stand up in their cot and practice their skills. These sleep regressions will vary per child depending on when that child reaches new milestones.
The last sleep regression happens in the toddler years and this one is about pushing the boundaries.

Q & A With Meg From The Live Video

We had a fantastic Q & A session with Meg during the live video where she fielded a load of questions, here are some of the questions and answers from the live video:

What is your opinion on using dummies?

Meg believes that there is nothing wrong with dummies, they are a great way to soothe your baby independently of you. Babies derive pleasure and are able to soothe themselves through sucking, whether it be on the breast, on their thumb or on a dummy. From the age of about 18 months old it is a good idea to limit dummy use to night time only and there will come a time when you should start weaning your baby from the dummy.

What is your opinion on the Cry It Out Method?

The goal of sleep training is not really to get your baby to sleep through the night, the goal is to help your baby learn how to self-soothe so that when they do wake up at night they can put themselves back to sleep.

The ability to self-soothe is a life skill and it is something that babies have to learn. If you think of any life skill that you are going to teach your child you are not just going to hand it to them to go ahead and do it themselves, instead you come alongside your child and you teach them.

Teaching your baby to sleep during the night is the same, it is about showing your baby how to do it, supporting your baby and doing it with them. It is about co-regulation, which is about the parent assisting the child, to read the child’s signals, to support them to learn their own strategies to self-soothe.

The cry it out method involves putting your baby down for the night, closing the door and only going back to your baby in the morning. This method leaves your baby on their own, it tells them that they are on their own rather than showing your baby that you are with them and helping them learn.

Meg is not a fan of the cry it out method and neither am I. There are other ways that are a lot more gentle to help babies sleep through the night.

Do you teach the Pick Up Put Down method?

No, while that method does work it can be quite confusing for the baby to be picked up when crying and then be put down again. It can also be very tiring for parents.

Meg normally teaches a method whereby the parent sits with the baby and touches baby to comfort and be with baby, supporting them in the lying down position. Yes the baby will sometimes cry, but you are with your baby soothing through your voice and through touch.

The link between autism and night terrors

There is some correlation between poor sleep and autism. In fact autistic children sleep do not sleep well in general. There is an association with sleep regression and sensory sensitivity and there is a correlation between sensory sensitivity and autism.

So yes there is certainly an association between autism and night terrors, but it only works one way. Children and babies with autism are likely to sleep badly and have night terrors, however that does not mean that a child that sleeps badly or has night terrors is likely to be autistic.

mom baby sleep

Are you saying the earlier you start the better?

Yes, the earlier you start working on sleep issues the better. You don’t have to start a feeding routine too early because young babies need to feed often, but you can start a sleep routine regarding how you put your baby down and the earlier this is done the better because habits are formed very early on.

How do you get your baby out of a routine which is already a bad habit? Baby is 13 months, is it just try daily? 

There are two things here, firstly the daily routine – if this is out just shift it overnight and get your baby into the right day routine. For example if your 13 month old is still having three naps this will put out the night routine so change the naps to two.

The second thing would be if it is feeding your baby to sleep or rocking baby to sleep. In this case it is to keep trying daily until the habit has been broken. Stop offering a feed before bed and stop offering rocking to sleep and slowly the habit will be broken over time. Until you start making that shift there will be no change, so get started with making the change.

How to get baby to stop a dummy? My little one it 20 months now

Meg recommends doing it in two parts. The first part is from about 18 months old to stop offering it during the day and only offer it during sleep time, day sleep and night sleep. You can connect the dummy to the cot so that your little one learns that there is only one time when they can have the dummy and that’s when sleeping. When you do that you take away the option of your baby always being dependent on it. If your baby is always using a dummy it is not going to be easy to go from always using it to nothing, so it is best to start limiting the dummy only to sleep times.

The second part is to get rid of the dummy completely and there is no set time for this, it will be dependent on each mom and baby. A great way to do this is to come up with a story about why the dummy needs to go and find something else to replace the dummy like a soft toy which will give your child a new way to self-soothe as opposed to the dummy.

I think the challenge is that parents often don’t know HOW to coach their child through learning this new skill. Do your resources help parents step-by-step teaching them to co-regulate with their child?

Yes, Meg does and she actually has a sleep course which she runs every two to three months. They go through ten master classes as there are tens steps to getting a child to sleep through the night and only one of those steps is the co-regulation step and Meg helps you through all those steps.

The Parent Sense app does two things. Firstly it helps you to set up a day sleep routine which has a huge impact on night sleep. Secondly on the app home screen there are four widgets, namely sleep, feeding, play and health, and if you click on the sleep widget it will take you to a section where there are tips and there is a night tip and a day tip. If you follow those tips all the way through your baby will sleep through the night because right from the get go it is establishing the right habits for your baby’s sleep.

My little one is 15 months old and still on the boob! It’s the only way to get her to sleep – problem is she wakes four to five times a night

Meg recommends to stop offering the breast at bed time and during the night. At 15 months babies really shouldn’t be getting milk at night and there are health reasons for that. Some linked to obesity and they need their nutrients from solids rather than milk. It can also lead to bad dental health, ear infections and bad habits.

The only way to stop nursing at night is to stop offering the breast when you put your baby down at night and if your baby wakes up at night offer water rather than breast milk.

Is it bad if your baby is 4 and still drinks a bottle?

Meg feels that there is nothing wrong with drinking a bottle at that age as long as your child is only drinking the recommended amount of daily milk intake, is drinking the right thing in the bottle and not drinking a bottle at night.

It’s more a case of what and when. From one year old your child should be drinking cows milk and not formula (even if it is the best baby formula in South Africa) or breast milk and no more than 300ml of milk a day, split into two or three bottles for the day. Don’t give fruit juice in a bottle, it has even more sugar in it than milk and this can lead to bad dental health.

What are your views on co-sleeping?

Meg says co-sleeping is absolutely fine and it is a very personal decision. The only thing that Meg highlights as a concern is that up until 12 months old there is an increased risk of cot death with co-sleeping. After a year that risk disappears completely.

Due to this increased risk Meg recommends good sleep hygiene when co-sleeping such as not drinking any alcohol, not taking any painkillers or sedatives, your baby must have their own space in your bed and mustn’t use your duvet and instead have their own blanket, the bed must be firm and baby mustn’t be near a pillow.

Is it important that they sleep during the day? Mine refuses to sleep during the day even though she is very tired she fights it. She is only 21 months old. 

Toddlers drop their day sleeps at very variable times. Some toddlers drop their day sleeps at eighteen months and some carry on having day sleeps until they are much older such as Meg’s daughter that had day sleeps until six years old.

While not all toddlers or children will have a day sleep Meg emphasizes the importance of children up until four years old having a day rest. So set aside a time of day for your child to have some quiet time and a rest. They don’t need to sleep but they can read on their bed or do a quiet activity.

Happy baby

How do you get your baby to self soothe?

It is important to give your baby the opportunity to self soothe rather than responding immediately, you can start doing this from about four months old. Talk to your baby to soothe them and this will help your baby to use their auditory senses to self soothe. Often your baby may quieten or put their hands in their mouth when they hear your voice and this can be enough to help your baby self soothe.

Make sure that when you hold your baby their hands can get to their mouth for self soothing so that they can learn to use their hands to self soothe.

A comfort blanket is also very useful for self soothing so get one for your baby.

If the child has a good two hour nap during the day but still wakes up at night time, would this then be caused by being under-tired? Maybe cut down the length of the nap? Baby is 20 months old

If baby is twenty months old then a two hour nap is perfect so it is more likely something else. You can look at how you are putting your baby to sleep at bed time. You can also look at deworming your baby and also look at the food your baby is eating to ensure your baby has an iron rich diet.

Can teething cause night terrors?

Meg states that teething cannot cause night terrors, they are not connected at all. Teething just causes discomfort at night and only for a couple of nights during the eruption of the tooth.

Can night terrors look like seizures?

Yes they can because your child can look like they are in such a panic.

What age is acceptable to transition from cot to bed?

Meg recommends waiting until your child is at least two years old and the reason for this is that any younger than this they do not have mental self discipline or behavioural regulation. At two years old they start to develop tools of the mind which is the way in which they can do self-talk to tell themselves what they need to be doing. It is a behavioural regulation stage.

It is not going to work putting your child in a bed before two years old and expect them to listen and stay there.

If I use the Parent Sense app now, will it still work? On 13 months?

At this time the app only goes from birth up until 12 months, but Meg is going to develop more content for older babies.

My little one is 23 months. She still cries for a bottle during the night, if I give water she cries but drinks it. How can I prevent her from drinking anything during the night because she wakes up often wanting to drink something?

According to Meg babies that wake for water during the night usually break that habit on their own so she recommends giving water rather than milk. There is nothing wrong with leaving bottles of water in your baby’s cot so when they wake they can use it independently.

When my son gets hurt, falls down or gets upset he will start crying, but then stops breathing. I did take him to a doctor and he said that he will grow out of it, but does that happen?

Meg advises to first have your baby checked by a doctor because this is sometimes seen in children that have iron deficiency anaemia, so first rule out this medical condition. This will require blood tests and if this is the reason your child will be put onto very specific iron supplements.

If there is no medical reason for it then it could be that he is becoming so distressed that he is unable to self-regulate so he undermines his physiological stability and stops breathing. The solution here is to help him co-regulate by holding him and giving him lots of comfort until he can take a breathe. It can be very scary dealing with this and Meg has come across this before.

My 13 month old keeps waking at around 4ish every single morning. I give a bottle to try and get him down again as well as take him into bed with us. This only works sometimes. He is a good sleeper and self soothes, but a very early riser. Anything else I can try? 

Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done here and Meg says this is the one sleep issue that she cannot fix. You can do a few things to try and prevent it such as make sure you have block out light curtains on the windows and use a sleeping bag so that they are warm and don’t have a drop in body temperature.

The best thing to do is bring your child into your bed and give a bottle. It is the only time Meg recommends giving a night bottle, to try and get some extra rest time when you have an early riser. She says when you have an early riser like that you break all the rules.

My baby is 2 months old, when lying him in the crib he keeps making sounds that he is uncomfortable but when he lies on the couch he sleeps perfectly. How can I make the crib more comfortable?

Meg recommends not getting hung up on your baby’s noises, especially newborns. They often make sounds and it may sound like they are uncomfortable when they are actually fine. As long as your baby is not crying, but grunting and grimacing she recommends ignoring it.

If you want to make the cot more comfortable there are some sleep inserts that you can buy, such as those from DockATot, and these are really lovely because they give babies boundaries of containment and they do sleep better like that.

Win The Parent Sense App by Meg Faure

WIN The Parent Sense App by Meg Faure

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A mobile application that delivers age related content and a bespoke routine daily, drawing on 25 years of experience as an infant specialist as well as the content in her 8 parenting books (including 2 best sellers).

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8 comments

  1. Alesia van Staden

    Awesome advice. Will definitely try this with my 3 month old. Thank you.

  2. 🤞

  3. My first born (now 5) was a terrible sleeper and only now does he go to bed by himself. We’re expecting baby number 2 to arrive in 2 months time and hope to do things differently this time around!

    • Kerry-Ann there is hope! My second born was a fantastic sleeper, when he was tired he just closed his eyes and went to sleep. It was so different from my first baby. I hope you have the same, you deserve it after a bad sleeper.

  4. Awesome advice wish I knew this when my baby was 0_ 6 months, couldn’t sleep because she would cry all night and feed only

  5. Het ‘n pragtige wonderwerk baba Seuntjie van 9 weekies oud, hy is prem gebore op 35.6 maar vermoedelik einklik 33, 34 weke volgens sy Pediater omdat hy 16 daggies in die NICU was. 💙🙏

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