Helping Your 1 Year Old Sleep Through The Night

Despite common misconceptions, babies aged 12 to 18 months do not always sleep through the whole night. Instead, their sleep undergoes a series of cycles.

10-15 minutes following bedtime, your 1-year-old should settle herself to sleep. 30-45 minutes after successfully beginning sleep, the deep sleep part of the cycle has begun, typically lasting for around an hour. If your 1-year-old has not learned how to self-settle, she may wake either just before or just after this deeper part of the cycle.

Wakeful periods do occur as a normal part of your 1-year-olds sleep cycle. This typically happens at around midnight and then regular intervals thereafter into the early hours of the morning; entering an exceptionally light sleep then waking momentarily. Babies who have learned self-soothing or self-settling will find it increasingly easier to drift off to sleep by themselves after the wakeful part of the cycle. These babies have already formulated how to sleep independently.

If your 1-year-old relies on you to help settle her to sleep at bedtime with either a breastfeed, dummy, rocking, and so on, she is going to require the same treatment if she wakes during the night. The way in which you settle her for the night will predispose her expectations for wakings during the night to be able to return to sleep.

To help both you and 1-year-old have a better night, with fewer disturbances for you and your family, teach self-settling. This way your 1-year-old can become an independent sleeper. However, there is no need to leave her to cry for long periods at bedtime or during the night wakings. This simply causes distress and negative association. Instead, reassure her, then allow short periods of time for her to self-soothe. Keep returning to reassure her but do not use props such as a feed, rocking, patting and such. She will eventually learn she can sleep independently. In doing this, try to remain calm (however long it may take!).

Consistency is key! It has a vital role to play in achieving the desired result. Remember to always provide a clear message so that your baby knows what to expect.

Within 3-7 nights your 1-year-old should have learned how to get to sleep on her own and recognise her own sleep queues.

For sleep advice & personally tailored routines for babies & children of all ages, get in contact here.

Playing a musical instrument

Can playing a musical instrument determine academic success for your child?

Various research has examined the causal link between your child’s access to practicing a musical instrument and their grades in school. 11-12 year olds’ academic achievement has been found to be positively influenced by their involvement in after-school ‘arts’ activities of the musical variety. (Young, Cordes & Winner, 2014). As suggested by Schellenberg (2004), practicing a musical instrument advocates the enhancement of general intellectual ability. In his research report, children began taking music lessons (either keyboard or singing) in comparison with a control of children taking drama lessons or none at all.

The IQ of these children was recorded before and after beginning the lessons. Superior full-scale IQ was found in the children taking part in both keyboard and voice lessons, when compared with the control groups of drama and no lessons. This highlights the notion that encouraging your child to take part in extracurricular music lessons can be tremendously beneficial for intelligence and consequently academic success.

Another study highlighting this finding demonstrated the positive significance of instrumental music training in additional detail (Foregard et al., 2008). The following improvements were seemingly associated; vocabulary, fine motor skills, nonverbal reasoning and auditory discrimination (ability to distinguish differences in phonemes). It is also noted that adolescents who regularly practice a musical instrument, show significant differences in school grades as well as ambition when compared to those who do not (Hille & Schupp, 2015).

With regards to the reasons behind this link, Huttenlocher (2002) has shed some light on the idea. It appears that the reason we see this association between music practice and intelligence in school children is the great time periods of focus as well as daily attention and practice are likely to make a positive impression on cognition. As school age children sit in the critical brain development period, environmental influence is highly important. These skills acquired from learning an instrument translate into good practices academically. Studies on parents have highlighted this also as is it universally believed that practicing music promotes desirable characteristics as previously mentioned (Dai & Shader, 2001).

Some evidence has also suggested that exposure to simply a ‘musically-enriched’ rather than playing a musical instrument could also have positive cognitive effects for primary school children, such as mathematics and language. Therefore, it is apparent that music in general has multiple progressive effects for child cognition and brain development.

The proof is in the pudding with these trends we see in increased IQ when it comes to encouraging your child to take part in musical instrument lessons outside of class.


Dai, D. Y., & Schader, R. (2001). Parents’ reasons and motivations for supporting their child’s music training. Roeper Review, 24(1), 23-26.

Forgeard, M., Winner, E., Norton, A., & Schlaug, G. (2008). Practicing a musical instrument in childhood is associated with enhanced verbal ability and nonverbal reasoning. PloS one, 3(10), e3566.

Hille, A., & Schupp, J. (2015). How learning a musical instrument affects the development of skills. Economics of Education Review, 44, 56-82.

Huttenlocher, P. R. Harvard University Press; Cambridge, MA: 2002. Neural Plasticity: The Effects of Environment on the Development of the Cerebral Cortex.[Google Scholar].

Schellenberg, E. G. (2004). Music lessons enhance IQ. Psychological science, 15(8), 511-514.

Young, L. N., Cordes, S., & Winner, E. (2014). Arts involvement predicts academic achievement only when the child has a musical instrument. Educational Psychology, 34(7), 849-861.

5 Tips that will encourage better toddler behaviour

Always give a countdown.

It is better to pre warn your toddler that a change of activity is imminent. If you are expecting him to cooperate, you will have more success if he knows what is coming next. For example, you need to go to the supermarket to do a food shop, to be back in time for lunch. After breakfast, explain what will be happening for the rest of the morning so that your toddler knows in advance. During his mid-morning snack explain that when he has finished eating you will both be going on a short trip to the shops and he will need to get ready in a few minutes. When it is time to go, he will not be as frustrated and not engrossed in his toys.

Always remember to give praise for good behaviour.

It’s easy to forget to praise the good behaviour when your life is busy. If your toddler has been playing nicely, been kind to a younger sibling, used lovely table manner or just remembered to say Thank you, it is important tell him how well he has done. Positive praise will help your child develop good self esteem this in turn will lead to a more confident child.

Remind your toddler which behaviour is desirable and reward him with some quality time or a reward activity

Ensure that your toddler gets the right amount of sleep at the right time of day.

Toddlers who are sleep deprived are usually prone to more meltdowns. Put an evening and bedtime routine in place, follow the same pattern each night where possible. Turn off the tv, ipad and computer 2 hours before bedtime. Toddlers thrive on routine and like to know what is coming next. A wind down, followed by a bath, brush teeth, story, cuddles, into bed and settle to sleep. By 2 years old children should have their milk before their bath, out of a beaker or cup and brush teeth after. Bedtime should always be between 7pm and 8pm.

Outside play, fresh air and exercise is a winner

Toddlers are very physical and need plenty of outside exercise no matter what the weather. Unless you have acres of garden, a walk outside, visit to a park or run through some fields will help your toddler feel calmer. Even if it is easier to pop him in the pushchair to get from A to B, where possible allow a little more time so that he can walk with you.

A whole food diet and Regular meals time make a difference

Although toddlers can be fussy, try to avoid offering lots of processed snacks. Most children between 2 and 3 can become picky about food, refusing to eat from time to time.

If your toddler has refused his lunch, move on with the day, do not offer puddings or five choices of other foods. Most will have 1 good meal every day so try not to worry too much. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks are okay but try not to let him fill up at these times. Offer fruit, cut up raw veggies, or nuts as a snack. Give him home made simple lunches and dinners, porridge for breakfast with nut butter or fruit. Erratic blood sugar caused by snacking on high sugar foods can affect your child’s behaviour making him more prone to meltdowns.

My tips for a stress free bedtime

Have a bedtime routine, however allow for some flexibility.

Follow the same pattern of events each night, even if the timings are slightly different

Give your child a bath each night. What better way for her to unwind and get ready for going to sleep. It is also a pre curser for getting into bed, toddlers thrive on this type of routine because they like to know what is coming next.

Have a set number of books to read with your child at bedtime. It’s a lovely time to read and share a story or 2, along with a chat about the pictures, but don’t allow story time to go on for too long. Toddlers and young children can easily become over tired and more resistant to sleep.

Teach your toddler to self-settle and become an independent sleeper. At the end of a busy day it’s not just the children who are tired. Adults need some time in the evening to recuperate and be adults. If your child is difficult to settle, requires lots of help to get to sleep or uses delay tactics, the evenings can be fraught and tense. By implementing a stay in bed technique you can easily teach any child to understand what’s expected at bedtime, gain the confidence to stay in bed without a parent sitting beside them, and settle to sleep independently

10 Top Tips To Get Your Toddler To Eat Healthily

Eat meals with your toddler where possible. Children learn from watching adults. If your toddler is always eating alone, she will get bored quickly, lose interest in her food and ask to get down from the table before she has eaten enough. If you can eat at least one meal a day together, she will develop a positive association with mealtimes, be less prone to attention seeking behaviour, more likely to try new foods if you are eating them at the same time.

Most toddlers have one meal a day where they eat really well. Capitalize on this by offering the most nutritious foods at the mealtime your toddler will be the most receptive.

Avoid filling your toddler up with high calorie snacks. The calorie requirement for a 2-year-old is 1000 to 1400 calories per 24 hours. 1 or 2 processed snacks a day filled with empty calories could mean she simply is not going to have an appetite for fruit or vegetables. Mid-morning snacks need to be small but nutritious.

Share healthy snacks with your toddler to encourage healthy eating. Slice an apple thinly, add a few raisins. Sit together and share. It’s not just about the food, the positive interaction with an adult at snack time will encourage healthy food habits.

Offer milk as drink first thing in the morning, with breakfast and at teatime. Keep your toddler hydrated during the rest of the day with water. Children who drink and fill up on milk throughout the day will not have an appetite at mealtimes.

Let your toddler play with her food. Children who have not been allowed to touch their food through the weaning stage, to get messy or have been wiped clean excessively during mealtimes can be prone to food phobia. Make one meal a day full of finger foods with healthy home-made dips, encouraging your toddler to be hands on and get a little messy.

Some young children are sensitive to new foods and reluctant to try them. Try introducing a couple of new healthy foods at a time. Show the new food to your toddler before you cook it, tell her what it is called and why its good to eat. Ask her to hold and smell the new food before and after it’s cooked. If she does not feel under pressure, she may be more interested in trying something new.

Bring something healthy for your child to eat after nursery. She will be grateful and happy to tuck into a helping of crudités or grapes after a busy day.

Keep your fruit bowl full. If there are healthy delicious foods within view and available day to day your toddler will become accustomed to eating them at snack time.

Do not make food an issue. Sit with your child while she is eating but try not to constantly cajole her. You will find she is more inclined to eat what you have prepared if you just chat about your day or make conversation about things she can relate to.

Why does my baby wake in the night?

A relatively new mum asked me this morning “why does my baby wake during the night even when she isn’t hungry?” It’s simple really, the baby doesn’t know she is supposed to sleep in her own cot all night. She actually has no idea it’s supposed to happen this way. It’s obvious that she will get tired and need to sleep, but instinctively a tiny child would prefer to sleep with her mother or in the arms of an adult where she feels safe.

Take a peek into the lives of other mammals. Mostly they sleep with their mother or in a group where they feel secure and protected. You will rarely see a baby mammal sleeping alone as they tend to hang together for safety, its instinctive. Cows park their new borns in a safe place, like under a hedge or in long grass. The mother cow waits until the tiny calf has gone to sleep and then wanders off to graze. She always has her eye on the calf, who on waking will walk straight to is mother for milk. You will usually see a group of slightly older calves sleeping together, often with a mother cow or two looking out for the whole group; it’s like an animal nursery.

Sheep do the same; lambs hang out together, frolic and play with other lambs then sleep in close proximity. Foals sleep close their mum too. Dogs and cats follow the same pattern, the mother feeds her litter, when they are sleeping soundly she will leave them for a while to eat and wash herself.

It’s not so surprising then that a human baby would feel safest and happiest in bed with its mother. Aren’t we just mammals after all? The problems arise when baby is put to bed already asleep, she wakes slightly during the night but instead of still being in some ones arms she is alone. For a moment imagine going to sleep for the night with another person beside you, then you wake to find you are alone but you didn’t see your sleeping companion leave. Wouldn’t this make you anxious or concerned?

A baby can often wake during the night because she has fallen asleep in the arms of a parent, instead of dropping off to sleep in their own bed; she woke during the night to find herself alone, not surprisingly she is in a screaming panic.

In order to drop off by herself and sleep independently (remembering mammals prefer to sleep with other mammals) a baby has to learn to go against instinct. So, if you are striving for a little more sleep, want your baby to sleep by herself and for longer stretches, you will need to teach her to that’s its okay to do so. A gentle approach that gives the right message, helping her develop a positive association with her cot and sleeping alone will work just fine. Providing its done in a calm, kind and gentle way both parent and child can achieve a good nights sleep, waking refreshed and ready to start the day.


Modern Day Vitamin D deficiency

Modern Day Vitamin D deficiency in a westernised culture: unpicking the scare mongering about rickets

Rickets for most of us is something of the past, something you don’t hear of occurring anymore particularly in western cultures. However, recently scare mongering in popular news repositories have been name dropping the historical bone disorder more and more. One eye catching article stated that children who stay inside on computers and parents who apply sun screen excessively to their children in sunny and hot weather is leading directly to sharp increases in bone disease and rickets.

It’s important to remember that these articles are meant to be shocking to read, in order to get more views, and while there is some truth in this it’s embellished to give more of a punch, leaving us very confused. While at the same time we are being told that excessive sun exposure is extremely dangerous, we are also being told our children will develop bone disease if they don’t go in the sun at all? Let’s unpick that one.

Vitamin D is a unique vitamin because it can be synthesised from exposing our skin to the sun. The Vitamin D Receptor (VDR) which synthesises vitamin D from sunlight is present in most cells. Because of the way vitamin D is made in the body, a major cause of vitamin D deficiency is not enough exposure to sunlight, this could be from not spending enough time in the sun at all or from wearing sun screen too much of the time. Some research has shown that wearing an SPF of 30 can decrease Vitamin D production by up to 95%.

While it is incredibly important to be safe in the sun especially with little ones who have often fairer and more sensitive skin than adults, it’s also important that you and your children get enough sun exposure to produce vitamin D. One of the reasons why vitamin D is so important for bone health is because it stimulates calcium absorption in the intestine. Without vitamin D, calcium absorption is impaired to only about 10-15% being absorbed into the blood. It’s also important to remember that the sun is the main source of vitamin D and that dietary absorption is minimal. Yes, that includes fromage frais with added vitamin D!

You might be thinking all of this is well and good, but how do we safely expose our children to the sun so that they get enough Vitamin D to have healthy bones? It’s all about minimising risks of sun exposure whilst maximising the benefits. As the strength of sunlight varies at different times of day, so does the ability for the skin VDR’s to synthesise vitamin D.

The sun is most intense between 11am and 3pm, so at these times, its easiest to synthesise vitamin D so less time is needed in the sun. this is also the time when sunburn is most likely to occur, so short periods of time spent in the sun are best, and also only exposing areas of the skin least likely to burn such as forearms, hands and lower legs.

Before 11am and after 3pm the sun is less intense so you’re less likely to burn, but it takes longer to synthesise vitamin D. Young children should also seek shade between 11 and 3 in the summer months (March to October) and wear protective clothing to cover areas likely to burn, such as a brimmed hat to cover the face and neck. As long as you are careful in the sun you can maximise vitamin D exposure for your little ones, making sure they get enough without getting burned or damaging their skin.

Phoebe BSc (Hons) Nutrition

New born baby sleep

New born babies typically sleep for 16 to 18 hours in a 24-hour period.

If you and your baby had a particularly traumatic delivery, she might want to sleep all the time in the beginning, apart from when she wakes up for a feed.

During the first few days after the delivery, baby will need to rest and recover. Coming into the world must be exhausting. This will give a new mother a little time for extra sleep and a chance to recuperate a little. Gradually you will notice sleep patterns and cycles develop. While adults have sleep cycles of round 90 to 100 minutes long, going from slow wave sleep to REM, a baby from birth to around 6 months old will have shorter cycles of 45 to 50 minutes.

Babies have periods of quiet sleep and active sleep, basically lighter sleep and deep sleep. Have you ever noticed how your baby seems to be zonked out whilst sleeping in your arms yet as soon as you place her in her cot or crib she stirs and immediately starts to cry almost waking fully? If this sounds familiar then you baby was in a light sleep as you put her down in her crib. Often, if you wait for a little longer, for her to go into a deep sleep, she would quietly remain settled with eyes tightly closed and not noticed her change in environment.

Your new born baby will have sleep cycles of 45 to 50 minutes. During the transition between lighter sleep and deep sleep she may stir and need to be resettled. She also will stir from a deeper sleep at the end of a cycle for be fed or because she has other needs to be fulfilled such as a nappy change, wind, too hot too cold or contact with a parent. Most babies will need help to get to sleep, or will need help to learn how to put themselves to sleep. During the first month, its normal for a breast-fed baby to wake as often as every 2 hours for a feed. Because regular night waking in the early weeks and months is a survival mechanism for a new born and the oxytocin hormone secreted in mother’s milk is a natural sedative. Therefore, it’s quite usual for baby to associate nursing back to sleep as the only way to settle. Nursing to sleep is a very natural and healthy way to settle a young baby, it’s a great time for mother and baby bonding. These isn’t anything wrong with this and you should ignore anyone who suggests otherwise.

I’ve heard many times “never allow the baby to fall asleep on the breast” and I suggest if this advice is given you may wish to take it with a large pinch of salt as mother nature has her own opinion. Allowing your young baby to nurse for however long and often as she wishes when she wakes from a sleep develops a sense of security and comfort and apart from helping develop mother baby bond, allowing a new mother to feel relaxed and develop a good milk supply.

Dairy Free

With more and more people feeling the health benefit of a dairy free diet the “Free from” market is booming. Sadly though farm shops and garden centre cafes aren’t up to date on the free from menu, and often found to be lacking in choices.

Recently, while visiting a garden centre and its large busy cafe with a 7 and 4 year old I was surprised to see their ice cream menu badly lacking in dairy free options.

The 7 year old is dairy and gluten intolerant, the 4 year old gluten intolerant but can have dairy. Obviously one child can’t have an ice cream if there isn’t anything suitable for the other.

After lots of drama and quite a few tears (the 7 year old not me) we opted for lemon sorbet for one child and mango for the other.

Sobbing “I hate being dairy free” the 7 year old tried her lemon sorbet reluctantly and left about a third for the wasps. The mango sorbet was devourded with no complains, its just a shame there are not  more dairy free options as so many are now freely available in supermarkets and health food shops such as “Booja Booja” and “Almond Breeze”