19 Sep Navigating The first 3 years of Sleep
Interview with Baby Sleep Consultant, Paediatric Nurse and Early Childhood Professional, Catherine Thompson
• Biggest mistakes made by parents around paediatric first aid
• The early developmental stages
• Sleep regressions and advice
1. What inspired you to become a Paediatric Nurse and Early Childhood Professional?
Catherine: Ever since I was a young girl, going way back to the teenage years, I always had a keen interest in babies! I naturally gravitated towards them and knew my career needed to involve babies whatever shape or form.
Prior to attending university, I worked at a local nursing home near my hometown of Bath, England. My time there cemented the importance of prioritising quality care at the end of life not only at the beginning.
The value of a ‘holistic approach’ to care became so apparent to me and this led me into my studies in Paediatric Nursing.
After qualifying and working for some time in the profession, I felt there was a gap missing for me and gravitated towards social/emotional development rather than medical/technical which led me into Early Years Education.
2. What is one of the biggest myths or mistakes you see made or talked about when it comes to pediatric first aid?
Catherine: I have experienced much anxiety and concern from parents around Choking. I find this results in delayed progression with solids, avoiding lumps/mashed foods and offering purée for extended periods of time.
As a result of this delay I find infants often then have difficulty adjusting later on, potentially impacting speech/language and swallowing.
3. Can you tell us a bit about the importance of a child’s first 1000 days of life, which you recently spoke about on Instagram?
Catherine: I was actually so inspired at a recent conference where Nathan Wallis spoke about the importance of the first 1000 days.
The first 1000 days relates to the period of time from the moment your child is conceived up two years of age. During this period, your child’s brain, body and immune system undergoes significant growth.
Evidence goes to show that that way we are defined is not just down to our genetic makeup. The environment that we are exposed to is even more influential!
The way that infants and toddlers are responded to during this period of time of growth is invaluable.
By responding to your child’s needs where possible in a warm and consistent way you are fostering secure attachment and strengthening your relationship.
Find moments to connect with your baby or toddler during key caregiving times for example, nappy changing, feeding, bathing and dressing.
There will be times when you aren’t able to respond the way you should or could do. There is no perfect in this.
4. Can you tell us about sleep regressions and your advice for parents struggling with getting bub to sleep
Catherine: Your infant and toddler will reach healthy developmental milestones throughout their early years.
These are not regressions rather part of normal development and a positive change.
In the first two years as your child develops new skills, it can affect their sleep. It’s helpful to remember that every child responds differently at these stages.
These ages & stages involve a period of rapid brain growth, which results in there being an increase in REM / Active sleep. Your baby may be trying to practice new skills during their sleep which interrupts it.
When it comes to your baby waking, if your baby is calm, try leaving them to see if they can re-settle. You may need to offer them some more support to sleep, experiment with timing of this and see what works. This time will pass and you can always get things back on track.
5. What is your biggest piece of advice to Mums and Dads out there?
Catherine: Don’t be afraid to reach out for help early on. Initial support with feeding and sleep can be so beneficial as they are so intertwined.
To expectant parents, try and plan ahead, establishing your resources/support systems before your baby is born.
Be kind to yourselves, it takes time to learn about your baby, you’re not always going to get it right and that’s healthy.
Slowing things down and observing your baby will help you to learn about their temperament and personality. Babies are capable and quick to learn.
Establishing what works for you and your family really is the crux of it.