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Our Mums from Mum Knows Best Warwickshire had a LOT of questions to put to Sleep Expert Jo Tantum

We were lucky enough to have to opportunity to interview Jo Tantum and put our list of questions to her.. full interview and Q&A coming up.. for now, have a read of one of Jo’s wonderful sleep techniques, Spaced Soothing.

Spaced soothing

Jo’s “Spaced Soothing” technique is reassuring in that when your baby is upset you will always go into soothe her but it will also give her the confidence that she can go to sleep by herself.

How to do it:

  • Wait for 5 minutes before you go in, listening for quiet gaps. (If there is you can leave it longer as this is your baby’s way of saying she is trying to go to sleep on her own.)
  • When you go in gently say “Sssh”, stroke her head, and put your hand firmly on her chest. Do this for 1-2 minutes and then leave the room.
  • Continue this every 5 minutes.
  • Please remember your baby is only upset because she is tired and frustrated and just wants to go to sleep, not because she is hurt. Some Mums actually leave it longer before they go in as it sometimes makes your baby more cross if you go in too often.
  • I recommend that your baby is not left any longer than 10 minutes before going in to soothe them.

If your baby doesn’t settle after 30 minutes then get her up and try again later. When baby awakes make a big fuss of her and make her feel happy when she is in her cot. This means she will soon love going to sleep in her cot.


Your questions answered!

Madelaine asks:

How do you get a toddler to go to sleep all night!?

 Jo Says:

If you think your little one will get out of bed then leave in a cot until you have mastered the sleep, it will become harder if they are able to physically get out of bed to get to you.

As parents we tend to get so much advice that we try everything, letting them stay in bed with us, if that doesn’t work we try standing by their bed or getting into their bed with them. Sometimes as an absolute last resort we try controlled crying. This isn’t the answer.

What we end up doing is confusing our children, we are being inconsistent and they are becoming confused. Children need boundaries and don’t know what to do when they are not able to predict what we are going to do next. For example, if you have tried all the above you child won’t know which one to expect tonight. Most of all they will more than likely keep doing it to get your attention, which is their reward.

Follow these simple rules.

REMEMBER that any change you make, you need to be consistent for at least 7 days & 7 nights for your child to gain an understanding of what is going to happen from now on and they will by then know that you mean business!       

  • Use only one sentence – both you and your partner need to decide on a sentence eg. “It’s night time now, shhhhh” Only use this sentence no matter what. Your little one won’t want to talk to you if he knows he wont get a response.
  • Reward Reward Reward!!

      Reward any good behavior the following morning,

  • You could use a sticker chart next to their bed
  • Children love stampers! Find some stampers that you think he will like and if he stays in bed he gets a stamp on his hand the next day to show off to everyone! (TIFM love this idea! Stampers are great because they don’t fall off like stickers and they’re a bit more permanent)
  • You could also try a lucky dip box. Go to the pound shop or collect some little things you know he would like. Get a cardboard box and fill it with shredded paper or tissue paper, and then wrap the little prizes in foil, they will love getting to pick a treat and unwrapping it!

Note from Nikki: FYI, I love this stampers from Melissa & Doug, click on picture to buy on

Lucy asks:

How many hours sleep in the day should on average a 16 month old have and what the best time for them to have it? Just changing from two to one sleep so getting used to it x

 Jo Says:

No two children are the same but you know him best, between 15-17 months most babies will drop a nap and go from a morning and afternoon nap to once a day, usually after lunch.

Your baby will tell you when it’s time for a nap change, either by completely dropping the nap and refusing to go to sleep in the morning, or by only having a short half an hour sleep when they might usually nap for longer. If you find that your baby drops his morning nap but is sleeping 3 hours in the afternoon its probably not time and this can have a knock on effect for bedtime.

Most children at this age can go 4-5 hours before they need a sleep and this is where your bedtime & nighttime routine will help you, if you’re lucky and your baby is sleeping till 6:30/7:00am which they will be capable of at this age then you should be able to get him to have a nice long nap after lunch.

A lot of the time, this means that lunch needs to be around 11:30, not midday. This will ensure he’s fed and cleaned up ready for his sleep before he becomes over – tired which will lead to other problems.

Watch for the signs of tiredness, rubbing of eyes, short bursts of whimpering or crying, he’ll let you know!

Heidi Asks:

 How do you get a six month old to have naps during the day?! Tired but fights it so much. Also, whenever I check on her at night she’s never really in a deep sleep – any ideas?x

Jo Says:

The reason she’s not in a deep sleep at night is because shes not having naps during the day. Babies who do this tend to crash first of all and go straight into their deep sleep which leaves them to be wakefull during the night.

At six months she should be having at least two hours during the day, here are my tips to help you get her into a sleep routine during the day.

  • Try & get her to sleep in the cot firstly, if a baby is used to always falling asleep all the time in a pushchair or car it can be more difficult for them to learn where they sleep at night.
  • Give her sleep props, or cues that will help her understand it’s time for sleep, sleeping bag, comforter (often a muslin tied with a knot in the centre that you have had in your top for a while is perfect, because it will smell of you)
  • Try the ‘Sound Sleep’ App or ‘Sleepy Sounds’ they have natural calming sounds which will help your baby to drift off
  • Make sure you have a black out blind for total darkness, even at nap time this is important



Sleepy Sounds Free app for iPad or iPhone, click on image for more info

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