And giving them the best start in life means fuelling their brainsand their bodies for the rapid growth and development that occurs from birth through toddlerhood.
To do that, they need sleep.
Proper sleep; the right amount at the right times.
We call this "healthy sleep".
Healthy sleep for healthy Babies
CONSOLIDATION OF LEARNING
Science tells us that when a baby sleeps, all these incredible (and important) things are happening in their brains - major things like memory reinforcement and learning consolidation.
Research has shown that babies and toddlers who nap well after a learning experience retain that learning, whereas babies who don't nap or nap poorly will not consolidate the learning .
Sleep helps our children learn.
REGULATION OF EMOTIONS
It doesn't take a neuroscientist to realise that without adequate sleep, babies and toddlers are unable to regulate their emotions. This results in grumpy, crying babies who are very difficult to settle. Napping well and sleeping in consolidated chunks overnight lets little brains process and regulate all the emotions our children are learning and dealing with every day.
Without this decent chance to catch up, you're in for an unhappy little one!
New research has shown that sleep plays a vital role in in the maintenance of the brain. When people get too little sleep, waste-proteins accumulate in the brain, leading to inflammation that subsequently destroys nerve cells. During sleep is when brain cells regenerate and are repaired and when you're building new brain calls at a rapid rate (in the first few years of life), sleep is extremely important to support healthy neural pathways and a healthy brain.
Without adequate sleep, our whole body suffers. One crucial area affected is our immune response system, which is lowered with extended sleep deprivation. This means your little one (and you) are more susceptible to illness, especially if you also have older children, and because your baby's brain and body isn't getting the sleep they need, they can be sicker for longer.
When a baby or toddler is overtired, the stress hormone cortisol builds up in their body. This is a naturally occurring hormone as part of our circadian rhythm, however overtiredness or prolonged sleep deprivation boosts the levels of this hormone. Because it is an adrenal-based hormone, this means your little one becomes very agitated, hard to settle and will sleep poorly as a result. During decent sleep, free from overtiredness, is when your baby's stress levels are reduced again, essentially wiping the stress-slate clean.
Is your baby getting enough sleep to be healthy?
To take this healthy sleep quiz, simply answer YES or NO to the following questions:
Does your baby sleep in chunks longer than 2 hours at a time overnight?
Does your baby have naps longer than 45 minutes in the day?
Does your baby wake up for the day at 7AM or later?
Does your baby go to bed for the night at around 7PM?
If you answered no to any of these questions, your baby or toddler isn't getting enough sleep.
What does this mean for your child?
2 HOURLY NIGHT WAKES
Your little one is really going to struggle if they continue to wake every 2 hours overnight. Beyond the newborn stage, this stops being a feeding need and becomes a settling or habit waking issue with your baby. Whatever the cause of the wakes, this pattern of night sleep will leave your baby very overtired come morning, so they're starting their day on the back foot. Think about how terrible you feel after a night like that - your baby feels just the same, if not worse. 2 hourly night wakes are not sustainable for the health of your child and have massive roll-on effects for their daytime naps, feeding and mood too.
POOR NAPS = POOR NIGHTS
Sleep fosters sleep. If your baby or toddler is napping poorly in the day, or having naps of 45 minutes or less all day long, chances are they are also sleeping badly overnight. What happens in your baby's day directly affects their night sleep, so it is important your little one is well rested in the day to lead to better night time sleep .
A baby who naps poorly will be reaching bedtime at night already very overtired, making night time sleep that much harder to achieve.
A baby or toddler who starts their day with the larks, will struggle. Waking before around 7AM can mean your little one becomes overtired very quickly and their napping will suffer as a result. This is because the stress hormone cortisol builds up in their system with overtiredness, making settling difficult and affecting naps. The result is a cranky baby who remains overtired all day long, which then adversely affects night sleep too. This quickly becomes an overtiredness cycle, as overtiredness is a key cause of early wakes... and the same pattern happens again day after day.
The natural bedtime for babies and toddlers is around 7PM; this is the way our circadian rhythms are designed. We have a boost of melatonin when the sun goes down, meaning our sleep needs to coincide with this to harness the power of deep sleep prior to midnight. A delayed bedtime for our children, restricts this biological process and their chances for more restorative sleep .
How can you give your baby the right sleep for healthy development?
Make sure their awake times are appropriate for their age, so they're being offered sleep at the best biological times, avoiding overtiredness.
Ensure their sleep environment is helping their chances of good sleep, not hindering it.
Make sleep a priority for your baby and help them achieve restorative sleep by implementing an age-appropriate nap routine or schedule.
Gently guide your baby to the skill of self-settling, so you can improve nap lengths and night time sleep duration.
The more we know from emerging science into sleep and sleep deprivation, the more we can make positive change so our precious children are getting enough sleep
we can't talk about healthy sleep, without looking at how sleep deprivation affects parents, as well as children
Here are 2 brain scans.
They were taken of the same adult, completing a task that required basic thought. The first, on the left, was taken after a restful night sleep. The scan on the right was taken after one night of just 4 hours sleep. The areas you can see lighting up show the blood flow to the brain during the "thinking" task.
Shocking isn't it?
That after just one night of fragmented sleep, our brains suffer so much.
We can use our imagination for the next part, and picture what a brain scan might look like for some of us who are running on fragmented sleep for months on end. It's a pretty scary image.
When we as parents are sleep deprived, we're compromised. We are unable to make rational decisions, we are unable to regulate our emotions, we are, in some cases, unsafe to even drive.
Here are some more effects of sleep deprivation on adults:
The quest for Healthy Sleep is what inspired us to start Little Ones™
We are Nicky and Amanda; mothers, friends, colleagues and jointly responsible for having dreamt up the idea of a company where parents can access reliable, trusted, proven advice and methods to improve their family's sleep health, without having to spend a fortune on private consultants, without limiting the support a person can get to the area they live in.
When people ask us what we do, our answer is focused on the values of our company and what we most treasure about the work we do:
"We empower families around the world to make positive change to their little ones' sleep and therefore improve the health of their family".
Because we know what sleep deprivation is like. We know how it feels to struggle through endless sleepless months, wondering what is going on, questioning and doubting yourself at every turn. We know how long those nights are and how the tears flow easily during the day too.
We've had babies who were bad night sleepers, bad daytime nappers, babies who were rocked to sleep, fed to sleep, bounced to sleep. Babies who slept in the stroller, front pack, hammock, our arms. Babies who were breast and bottle fed, babies who woke at 5 AM every single day. We've had days where we couldn't see through the fog. Where everything was just a bit too hard. A lot too hard, if we're being honest.
Everything was a battle; motherhood, our relationships with our husbands, our day to day lives. And it was a battle because we had no idea what to do and we were suffering from the chronic effects of sleep deprivation. Looking back now, we can see straight away how our lives could have been so different. How our first taste of motherhood could have been so much more enjoyable if we'd had the knowledge, the education about sleep health, reliable advice and age-appropriate methods...
And this is why, years later, we started our company and wrote our Sleep Programs - to help people. To help people improve the health of their babies and themselves, to give families an alternative to sleep deprivation, to let everyone know that there is another way and with the right advice and a village behind you - anything is possible!
We have since developed Little Ones™ into a global community, where we're able to reach out to parents all over the world. Our certified Sleep Consultants and staff members stretch from New Zealand to the UK, come from different backgrounds and parenting styles and all of them are mothers who work from home so they can also be with their children.
We are all about improving the health of families. And our Little Ones™ family is here to help you.
And so the question becomes, how can we help improve your family's sleep health?
Our carefully researched Sleep Programs are designed to work alongside your baby's circadian rhythm and natural sleep patterns. By giving you age-appropriate awake windows and nap guidelines, you're able to implement positive changes to your little one's daytime napping from day 1. This has a huge roll-on effect for their night sleep as well.
From there, we guide you through settling and self-settling strategies at your own pace, to give your baby the sleep skills they need for robust, healthy sleep habits that will last for years to come.
You can future-proof your child's sleep health, starting now.
first class research
The comprehensive information in our Sleep Programs has been thoroughly researched and cross-checked by professionals including paediatricians and sleep neurophysiologists. We only use evidence-based information because we know you want to use the best advice for your baby.
Knowledge is Power
Our Programs contain all the knowledge you need to understand your baby's sleep and implement positive solutions that suit your parenting style, because we know there is no one-size-fits-all, and you are the one who knows your child the best.
access to the experts!
All our customers gain totally FREE access to our global support community, the Little Ones Village, housed in our mobile app. In this village, thousands of parents as well as our own certified Sleep Consultants are available to help you 24/7, because we know how hard it can be trying to work things out alone.
"As a Sleep Neurophysiologist I am always on the lookout for sound information about sleep to counter the enormous amount of terrible sleep advice that is out there! When you are exhausted and just trying to do the right thing by your baby and by yourself it can be very difficult to sort through it all. Once I discovered Little Ones, I knew I had found what I was looking for.
Nicky and Amanda have written scientifically informed, yet easy to read Programs that cover all the major areas of concern for new parents - sleep, feeding and settling and, importantly, how these interact with one another. Finding this balance can be tricky and these Programs take the guesswork out of it.
Sleep is important for a range of reasons but doesn't necessarily come easily to all babies. Many of the mainstream baby sleep books and advice impose generic and rigid strategies for teaching babies to sleep independently. These don't take into consideration individual variation, unique family circumstances and sometimes even the emotional toll of sleep training. What I particularly love about the Little Ones strategies are that they are a more gentle alternative and can be tailored to your family so that you really see positive change to your baby's sleep. I am blown away by their comprehensive body of work."
Being a new mom was overwhelming, and as many new moms do, I was simply just winging it; however, at around 12 weeks I slowly started losing my sanity due to sleep deprivation. My babe would only fall asleep on me, and there was no rhyme or reason as to why or when he would sleep. I decided after one obscenely exhausting day to start researching, and that is when I came across Little Ones. It was worth a shot, right? You’ll do anything at 4am and desperate. Little Ones saved my life. I began implementing the structured routine, and my babe began to thrive completely. I, too, became more confident and assure about my abilities. Not only is the program gentle, the community that comes along with it has been by far the most supportive community I’ve ever been a part of. So many amazing mothers and administrators contribute daily, and it makes you feel as if you’re not alone. I have recommended this sleep program to so many other mothers due to my experience, and I will always be grateful for the newfound life it gave me when I was feeling lost and hopeless. Thanks, Little Ones! I am forever in your debt!
The easiest way to achieve healthy sleep for you and your little one is with our
Our Newborn Program will gently guide your baby with age-appropriate awake times and strategies to help develop nap patterns to lead to a healthier Newborn.
Our Baby Program sees your little one through the big developmental changes at this age, including the 4 month regression, nap transitions and the impact solids has on sleep. Foster excellent sleep habits for optimum health during this time.
Toddlers can be tricky. From bedtime battles to resisting naps, this Toddler Program guarantees those toddler years are a lot smoother sleep-wise and gives your little one the healthy sleep they need for their growing brain.
Little Ones™ is different in our approach to sleep. We understand the completely holistic relationship between day sleep, night sleep, developmental factors and nutrition, to establish and maintain healthy sleep habits.
In this we stand alone.
Our Programs do not focus exclusively on "sleep training" overnight. Nor do we aim to "fix" a particular sleep issue at this one moment in time, irrespective of future sleep barriers to come.
We see the bigger picture. We look at your child's life from birth to three years old and guide you towards robust and lasting health for your baby and your whole family, through age-appropriate sleep patterns.
This is not something you can find anywhere else online. It is not something an overnight sleep consultant can give you long-term.
Don't settle for anything less than the absolute best health for your baby and yourself.
Give yourself this gift!! When we reached the 4 month sleep regression, things changed. My baby started to wake more during the night and sometimes stay awake for hours. During the days the length of her naps differed and mostly not longer then 10/20 minutes. Slowly I got exhausted; I got so stressed over having no rest it felt like torture. Because of that, my partner and I were disconnecting and irritated a lot (I thought we needed therapy..)
One evening - already quite desperate - Little Ones appeared on my Facebook. I read some of the good reviews and it gave me hope immediately. The next day my mom bought it for me and I started right away. In a few days I already noticed that during the night she was more calm and then she started to sleep through! She only wakes once for a feed and afterwards falls asleep again in her own bed. We had no crying at all, only gentle coaching. So yes, I can highly recommend this to every parent!! Finally I have some me-time again during the day. Little ones, you are angels!! Thank You so much for developing this program and bringing it into the world.
 Klára Horváth, Kim Plunkett. Spotlight on daytime napping during early childhood. Nature and Science of Sleep, 9 March 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 97—104.
 Hall WA, Moynihan M, Bhagat R, Wooldridge J. Relationships between parental sleep quality, fatigue, cognitions about infant sleep, and parental depression pre and post-intervention for infant behavioral sleep problems. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2017 Apr 4;17(1):104. doi: 10.1186/s12884-017-1284-x. PubMed PMID: 28376726; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5379718.