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Rock a bye baby ... eight top tips to help tots drift off into land of nod

Your baby can turn from a little sleeping angel into one who doesn't want nap time at all, and overnight. Expert Lucy Wolfe suggests a number of remedies

It is not unusual for some parents to have a great little sleeper who all of a sudden turns into a horrible little sleeper. Typically, sleeping issues may be represented by a resistance to sleep at bedtime, waking frequently overnight or deciding that they just don't want to nap anymore. As a result you are stuck in a cycle of over-tiredness.

What can you do to get back on track?

1 The greatest solve-all solution to a large percentage of sleep issues would be to bring bedtime forward. Aim for your child to be asleep by 7pm or earlier if visibly tired.

2 Make sure you waken your child in the morning no later than 7-7.30am.

3 If your child is under five and not sleeping well at night time, consider reintroducing the nap. Most children up to age three will still biologically require a daytime sleep. After 18 months a lot of children need just one nap and the ideal time for that is from noon onwards. If they are resistant to napping in the cot or bed then try the car, buggy or couch. If a nap is not achievable, encourage quiet time instead.

4 Add extra time to your bedtime routine. Make it work for you where sleep is concerned - do so in the bedroom, with the lights low.

5 Limit the use of electronic media and TV, obviously, in the last hour before bedtime.

6 Get more active. Spend time outside, specifically in the morning and after the midday sleep.

7 Be consistent in how you manage your child's sleep disturbances. Try not to operate a "sometimes" method for sleep where you chop and change how you respond to your child.

8 Be mindful of bedtime reading to children, so nothing which may cause fear or anxiety.

Lucy Wolfe, CGSC, MAPSC, is a paediatric sleep consultant and mum of four young children. See sleepmatters.ie

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