baby sleep training

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Sleep Training your Baby

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Sleep Training your Baby

Are you thinking of sleep training your baby? Have you heard lots of differing advice and you’re not sure what to do or not do? I often hear of confusion as to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and while there are some basic sleep skills we can teach babies from newborn (check out my 5 EASY STEPS TO TEACH YOUR BABY SLEEP SKILLS) I believe there is no absolute right or wrong but better or worse ways of approaching baby sleep!

I want to make it clear that all the advice and support I offer, now and always, is based on gentle and holistic strategies. I do not use any forms of controlled crying or crying it out. I believe that responding to your baby’s needs is always the priority – day and night! Have a read of a fantastic book called ‘Why Love Matters’ by Sue Gerhardt. It’s an amazing and beautiful way to really learn and understand your babies needs in the early days, weeks, months and years. Even in utero!

So I want to outline 6 mistakes to avoid when sleep training your baby.


Starting too early

I’d advise not to begin sleep training your baby until they are a little over 5 months. Ideally 22 weeks. Prior to this, your baby simply isn’t developmentally mature enough to cope with sleep training, In fact, up until this point, it’s more common than not to still be feeding through the night too so it’s really best to just put things in place from the early weeks to support their own sleep skills and wait until they are physically and emotionally ready for the gentle changes that come with sleep training.

In fact I’d suggest 5-7 months is the optimum age to sleep train but of course, whatever stage you’re at, sleep training can be done. Bear in mind, as your baby gets older and turns into a toddler it’s more tricky as habits are more deeply ingrained!

Be mindful that what’s always important is going with your babies needs. I know some baby experts have really clear guidelines as to amounts and timings and while can be important, I believe that trusting your instinct as a parent and being as in-tune with your baby as possible offers a much more nurturing, enriching and bonding parenting experience.


What’s your plan?

Often parents want to make some changes but they are really not sure on what a plan might be, what one looks like and haven’t thought through all the details. A sleep plan does not need to be complicated. It just needs to cover enough to have know what you will do with each sleep time, wake time and how to respond to each waking. I’ve written a post ‘Before You Start Sleep Training Your Baby’ which you might find useful. A sleep plan is something we could work through together if you felt you needed professional support and guidance to help you through whatever stage you’re at with your little one.


Sleep is a skill

Understanding that sleep is a skill we all learn is sometimes quite a surprise to hear! There’s that old saying ‘sleeping like a baby’ as if babies are born knowing long, restful, deep sleep. Well, we all know that is definitely not the case! I think that saying is more related to the amount of sleep a baby needs in total, with no thought to the frequency they need to wake for feeding, changing and nurturing.

Your baby has had so much help in the womb. It was warm, cosy, noisy and moved a lot! So it’s a big change when they have to learn how to sleep without that same environment. This is of course why we mimic some of these things for them such as white noise, swaddling and rocking them to sleep. We’re helping them to sleep and this is what I mean by sleep being a skill. Babies are not born knowing how to fall asleep by themselves and even harder, to resettle after a natural sleep-wake cycle!

Perhaps your expectations for your baby are high and you may not have realised. Do you feel your baby ‘should be sleeping through the night’ because people ask you all the time “are they sleeping through the night yet?” Are you preparing to return to work and feel your baby ‘should be sleeping through the night’? Your lifestyle, your needs as a family, society and fear of judgment from others can be a factor in how you manage your baby’s sleep. It might be helpful to reflect on these things. Be patient and kind to yourself.


Lack of routine

Sometimes it can be easy to focus on sleep. Just sleep. But actually it’s important to think about the whole picture. What I mean by this is holistically look at other aspects of your baby’s world. Their routine, their environment, their diet are also very crucial when thinking about improving their sleep.

I always talk about routine being your friend, your BEST friend and this is something that when put in place, can really help with sleep now and set the foundation for all aspects of your baby as they grow into a curious toddler and pre-schooler.



Very often I’ll talk to parents who are so keen to crack on with a sleep plan. Hurray! But when we talk some more, it becomes clear they are planning a trip away, or there’s some big changes happening in the home soon. In this case I always advise to wait until everything is as settled at home as it can be.

So I recommend holding off with sleep training if your little one is about to start nursery or have a new caregiver, you’re planning a family holiday, you’re going back to work, you’re moving home, you’ve got workmen in, you’ve got family coming to stay….you get the picture! You will get the most positive results from sleep training when all things like these are not happening!!

Obviously life is life and things crop up and changes happen so there will be times you may have to deal with the things in the middle of sleep training but ideally, keep disruptions and major changes to a minimum to help get your baby sleep better faster!


Overlooking their sleep environment

Having an optimum sleep environment is SO important too and something that can overlooked. There’s several things to think about here…


What’s the temperature of their sleeping place?

Ideally it should be 16°-20° and is best maintained with thin layers and socks rather than thick clothing that can help them get too hot (this is a factor when increasing the risk of SIDS. I always encourage parents to follow the guidelines of The Lullaby Trust.


Are there blackout blinds to ensure no sunlight creeps in?

Tiny slithers of light can disturb a baby so easily, especially as it’s the time in the early hours when sleep naturally becomes lighter and therefore it’s easier to be woken by sunlight.


Is it too stimulating for them?

Have a look around their room. Are there lots of toys, mobiles, colours and stimulating things to keep them from feeling calm and settled. What we see as adults may not be as impactful upon our eyes and nervous system as it is to your little baby whose senses take in so much all the time. Try to ensure toys are tidied away and it’s a quiet, neutral place to wind down for sleep.


Is it too quiet for them?

Remember how I earlier talked about just how noisy it was in the womb (your blood pumping, your heart beating, your amniotic fluid sloshing about) and sometimes babies find it hard to settle if it’s too quiet. Also, on the other hand, big noises and bangs can be equally unhelpful for your baby’s sleep which is why white noise can be great. It can sooth and mask unwanted noises and keep a stable comforting noise instead. Once your baby is six months or over, thing about pink noise. It is on a slightly different frequency and research shows it can help improve the depth and quality of sleep. Have a listen on NOISLI to hear the difference. It might even help you too with relaxing and productivity!



So there you have it. 6 mistakes to avoid when sleep training your baby. If you’re thinking about sleep training, bear these things in mind BEFORE you begin and you’ll be on the road to success! To recap, think about…


Your baby’s age. Don’t start too early.


Your plan. What are your sleep goals and how might you get there? Think through a plan first.


Sleep is a learn skill. It’s your job to help your baby learn this skill. Not to do it for them but to encourage them to do it for themselves!


Do you have routine in place for day to day and not just sleep? They are all connected and important!


The timing of when you begin sleep training is key. Wait until after that holiday, until they are well settled in nursery. A more settled home and routine will encourage the sleep training to be more productive.


Don’t forget to look at their sleep environment. Is it too warm, too cold, to bright, to stimulating?


Good luck with any changes you decide to make. I’m only an email or phone call away if you feel you do need some sleep support. Don’t forget to check my blog on my website and even more, you can join my The Little Sleep Coach Community and never miss a thing and get your FREE Ultimate Infant Sleep Guide as well as lots of other advice and support.


In this together


Caroline x

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Summer Pregnancy

Summer Pregnancy Tips

The summer of 2018 is shaping up to be a hot one. We are thinking of all you pregnant mums to be out there. We thought we would share a few summer pregnancy tips. Hopefully, they will help you to keep cool and relaxed.

  • Wear loose clothing – great to let the air circulate around your growing bump.
  • Keep hydrated – water, water, water. Invest in a cool water bottle
  • Keep your feet elevated – this will help to reduce Edema (swelling). Which can be worse in the warm summer months.
  • Invest in the right shoes – uncomfortable shoes can be a killer at the best of times
  • Head to the supermarket – crazy I know but the air conditioning in shops is so welcome when you are hot and fluster. Or even just chill out in the car with the air conditioning on full blast.
  • Create your own mist bottle – buy a little spray bottle from Poundland. Fill it with water and use it to spray on you to cool off.
  • Stay in the shade – when you are out and about seek out the shade as pregnant ladies are more susceptible to sunburn.
  • Buy a fan – the nights can be hot and sticky, so hopefully, this will help to give you a restful night.
  • Don’t make grand plans – take one day at a time. Some days you may be full of energy and others you might want to relax.
  • Invest in a small paddling pool – Great for popping your feet in after a day at work or after running errands. pregnancy feet
  • See if home working is an option – sometimes a commute, when it’s hot, can exhaust you, so you may well be more productive to work from home. so check with your employer to see if this is an option.
  • Swap duvets for sheets – also pop your sheet in the freezer and then put them on at bedtime. Which means that you’ll start the night cool.

We hope these simple tips help, if you have any others please comment with them.

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The Hamlet - Melon Holidays

A diary of a single parent holiday – melon holdays

A diary of a single parent holiday.

As a parent, I feel holidays make up an important part of childhood. I have so many fond memories of family holidays as a child. When I became a single parent the thought of holidaying with the children seemed a bit daunting. Just one adult to 5 kids in a place you don’t know can for some seem like a too bigger challenge.

However, this challenge has become a lot less daunting with the help of a fantastic new company called Melon holidays. They specialise in holidays for single-parent families in the UK and abroad.

During the Easter holidays, we were invited to try out a Glamping holiday in Lancashire.

The Hamlet - Melon Holidays

Sunday 1st April

We headed north up the M6 to Lancashire for our adventure on Easter Sunday. On arrival at Salmesbury Hall, we were greeted with friendly reception staff who informed us about everything going on in the hall during our visit.

We headed through the grounds to find our Shepherds Hut and pod. Being a larger than average family the normal family (sleeps 4) wouldn’t give us all a bed so the pod close by enabled the older children to sleep comfortably. The Shepherds Hut was well equipped with a shower room and central heating. There were double bunk beds which comfortably slept 4. Plus electricity and USB points to charger phones or similar.

Once settled in we headed to the hall for a tour with Betsy Bumblebee, it was a very light-hearted but informative. The older kids loved hearing more about the history of the property.  We then headed off-site to get dinner. The weather wasn’t too kind to us so we didn’t really have a chance to set up a BBQ. Plus I wanted something quick and easy after travelling.

Single Parent Holiday
Melon Holiday’s – Glamping Accommodation

Monday 2nd April

After a settled nights sleep, we headed to the Hall for a pre-booked delicious cooked breakfast with some other single parent families that were also booked on this holiday. It was lovely to have a relaxed breakfast with other families not having to worry what others may think of you as you are all in the same boat so to speak.

The weather still wasn’t on our side, we even got snowed on during our walk to breakfast. Once we had had breakfast we headed into in Samlesbury Hall for a Storytime, Treasure Hunt and Craft Morning with Betsy Bumblebee. The kids giggled along to the story before we headed around the hall in search of the picture clues to complete the treasure hunt. Whilst the kids searched and explored the hall, it was lovely to have a grown-up conversation with other adults. Once the hunt was completed, it was time for a craft activity for the kids to cut, stick and create to their heart’s content. Then Betsy Bumblebee herself checked the kids treasure hunt answers and gave them a little Easter treat.

single parent holiday
Activities at Samlesbury Hall

During the afternoon we decided to head off sight, to visit my sister who lives locally for tea. If you are staying in the Hamlet at Samlesbury Hall, they give you a key to the outer gates so you don’t have a curfew and come in once the Hall is closed to the general public.

Tuesday 3rd April

We started off taking our time and chilling in the Shepherds Hut, plus making the most of the power shower (this and the toilet alone has me hooked on Glamping rather than trudging to the shower block on normal camping holidays). Once we were sorted and ready to take on the day, we explored the adventure playground and let the kids be kids and get muddy.

This day was definitely the best day weather-wise on our trip. Meaning we had could explore every inch of the grounds including the Bee Centre and other animals on site.

Then in the evening, we lit a fire as the sun went down and created the most special memories of the holiday.

As the kids told me they loved this holiday and were enjoying time with Mum being switched off of technology. Yes, I am that business mum that spends too much time on her phone! Our last night left me feeling calm and relax, just what a holiday is all about.

single parent holiday
Fire Pit and Hot Chocolate Time


Wednesday 4th April

Our final day and time to head home, we took our time to pack. The kids played hide and seek in the grounds and then we headed on our way home.

Before we arrived at The Hamlet, Melon Holidays sent us full details of local places of interest to visit. Plus a full list of things going on a Samlesbury Hall. This means that parents can plan activities ahead. I like to take one day at a time when we’re away but it was lovely to know what was going on locally too.


Melon Holidays have Glamping Trips to Samlesbury Hall, The Hamlet: 27th May29th July26th August21st October

Plus trips to Malta: 26th July20th October
Majorca: 25th May12th August19th October
Tenerife: 26th May15th July20th October

Disclaimer – We were offered a holiday in return for an honest review, all thoughts and photos are my own.

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Little Pickles Markets Goody Bags

A Day in the Life of A Market Organiser – Promotion Day

The Daily Life of a Little Pickles Markets Organiser – Market Promotion Day

I first became an organiser after seeing how much fun it looked when, as a new mum, I attended a market as a buyer. I have been organising markets now for 5 years in the Hampshire area. I have a girl of 7 and it fits perfectly around family life, school runs and my other part-time job.

A typical ‘Pickles’ admin day begins with the school run. Once that is done, I come home and get myself a cuppa! I sit at my desk and prep for the day. This begins with making a to-do list! (Lists are life after all😉)

Once that is done I will complete admin tasks at my laptop and printer. This includes things like printing leaflets for future markets, emailing information to sellers, replying to enquiry emails or filling our sought-after goody bags!

Once that is done, and I’ve ticked the things I have completed off with a big green ✔️ I will sit down for lunch away from my desk and either read a magazine or watch the TV for half an hour. This is when I will quickly complete any family life admin like making dentist appointments or ordering shopping online.

Market Promotion

I usually schedule my visits to venues after lunch so I can add it in with the PM school run. So once lunch is done I collect together what I need, including my important to do list and set off. These visits can be anything from delivering advertising, putting up a banner or meeting a new potential venue.

Once I have completed these tasks I head off to collect my little girl. I love the fact I can be there for the school runs and I know she does too, especially if it’s a day I bring a treat! It’s a comfort to know that I can also reschedule jobs when I am needed to collect her if she is poorly. It is so flexible I really can fit it around family life.

Written by Clare our Portsmouth, Wickham and Chichester Organiser

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Market Day

A Day In The Life Of A Market Organiser – Market Day

A day in the life of a Market Organiser – it’s Market Day!

As soon as I wake up my mind is on the market.  I post a reminder on a few local Facebook pages and then go through the things I need to take with me. I’m very organised so packed my bags last night, but my 3.5 year old son has a tendency to remove items and add strange household objects and toy cars to it! My son stays with my husband on Market Day but it won’t be long until he can come along and help me which is one of the things I love about my job.

I arrive early to the venue to prepare the hall. This is quicker at some Markets than others depending on the size of the venue and if we supply tables or not. Turns out that putting up 6ft tables is a great workout!

I’m always prompt to let the sellers in as I know how eager everyone is to set up. I tick each person off as they come in, direct them to where they need to be and answer any questions they have. I absolutely love chatting to the sellers while they set up. I get such a buzz organising and managing events (control freak!) so I’m totally in my element at this point. 

I really enjoy wandering around the hall to see what fantastic items people have on offer at such low prices. I have to exert self-control but usually buy something for my son; you can never have too many cool t-shirts right? (Especially when they’re from Next, in perfect condition and only cost £1!) 

I genuinely find it odd that so many people still buy everything brand new from shops. I’ve always shopped second hand and it just makes sense – you’re saving money and reducing waste. Maternity and baby items are only used for a few months so they’re often still in perfect condition once parents have finished with them. Little Pickles Markets give parents and grandparents an opportunity to make some money back on these items and clear some clutter from their house! 

Before long, excited Buyers are queuing outside the door, peeking through to see what they’re going to make a beeline for! Some buyers come armed with a shopping list, others are just on the lookout for a bargain. 

The sellers are excited too and there’s a real atmosphere building as I open the doors to buyers who come flooding in. I can’t give them their change fast enough! Before I know it, the hall is packed and there are clothes and toys flying everywhere. 

There is a constant flow of people coming and going – bags bursting and trips being made back to the car because they can’t carry any more!

Buyers leave with huge smiles on their faces, telling me about the bargains they’ve picked up and how much money it’s saved them; their excitement is infectious. 

In no time at all the last few buyers are leaving with their arms full of bargains and the sellers begin to pack away. I walk around and speak to each seller – most are thrilled as they have a lot less to take home and have made some money! Lots of sellers also book for the next market to sell the rest of their items. 

I tidy up the hall, take down the signs and banners and make my way home feeling pleased that I organised such a great market, gave people the opportunity to sell their unused and unwanted items and allowed other parents and grandparents to pick up some bargains. I can’t wait to show my little boy what I bought for him and tell my husband how much money I saved on it! 

Written by Vicky, Hedge End and Southampton Market Organiser


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