How do you help children to sleep through the night?

There is lots of advice about, how to help your children to sleep through the night. It is up to you  to choose which suits your parenting style and more importantly which suits your child.

Listening to James Wilson  sleep practioner from The Children's Sleep charity on Radio 4 today, reinforced how you need to listen to your child and wait until the time is right for them, to try any new sleep training techniques.

Children develop and mature at different rates and we are all too keen to group them together. Sleep routines are individual, and one child may have the emotional maturity to settle themselves to sleep and another may not. When a child is born they will all react to their new environment differently and parenting styles are all unique, so comparing children is not always helpful. Especially when suffering from a lack of sleep!  Medical experts have shown lack of sleep affects almost every function from eyesight and brain processing, to mood and appetite - so if you are tired cut yourself some slack and recognise things won't be perfect.

If you are struggling to help your child sleep through the night and have tried lots of different sleep techniques, then ask a health professional for advice. They are there to support you and will be able to recommend community organisations, where you can meet other parents going through the same things, as you are.

A bedtime routine can help your child settle better and a story at bedtime is a perfect way to start this process. #BathBookBed is a campaign which was launched by Booktrust to reinforce this message.

Children are watching screens before bed and are creating habits, that could prevent a good nights sleep. If they can open up a book with you at bedtime, you will be making memories to treasure. I read to my children at bedtime, long after they needed me to. We shared special times together over the pages of Harry Potter and are bonded together with our love of stories.

Stories can still be shared at bedtime wherever you are in the world, I read stories to my cousin's son in South Africa via Skype. The calming sound of a recognisable voice across the miles, at bedtime has been therapeutic for him and me!

One thing to remember - keep things in perspective, children will sleep at night eventually. Getting support from family and friends is key, an hour to yourself is so valuable to recharge and SLEEP..........

Looking for books to read to your children at bedtime?

Book time to meet The Reading Champion every Wednesday at The Forum 11.30-12.30. I will recommend books for your child.



4 Reasons why you should take your baby to the library.

Baby friendly spaces can be hard to find, but did you know libraries are baby friendly? They are perfect places to take your baby to share the joy of books.

Sharing books with your baby is a perfect way to bond and one of my colleagues children's librarian Mandy Steel always said:

"A picture book is for two laps"

Cuddling up with a book at the library is a such a beneficial activity and you will be amazed at how quickly your baby will learn, how to turn the pages, how to point to the pictures and when they respond with a sound, when you read a well loved story, the feeling is priceless. You have to try it!

4 reasons why you should take your baby to the library today:

  1. Libraries are free to join, you can borrow up to 14 books for your baby and they can have their very own library ticket from birth.
  2. They are accessible to all, so are buggy friendly, Breastfeeding friendly and have baby changing facilities.
  3. Offering your baby a lifelong love of books is an investment in their future. You can give them a wide range of books and support them as their first and most enduring teacher.
  4. Libraries are a community and offer free story and baby activities where you can meet other parents.

Come along to

The Forum is a fantastic shared space and offers free story and rhyme sessions for under 5's. 

Come to Storyrhymes during half term on Wednesday 26th October at 9.30am-10am or 10.30-11am dress up and join in with my favourite spooky story at 10.30am in the shared space on the ground floor.

Take your baby to the library today, give them a headstart and a lifelong love of books

Did you know Museums are places for families with babies?

It's never too early to visit a museum with your baby, they are:

"Social, sensory, stimulating places-perfect for babies." - kids in museums

Museums are a wonderful place to take a very young child and offer interesting things to explore which will stimulate all the senses. In Southend our museums do not charge an admission fee, so are accessible to all.

Have you visited your local museum?

Many families do not see them as spaces that are baby friendly, offering activities for babies is a perfect way to encourage visits. After being inspired by

I started to run interactive Sensory Storytelling at Prittlewell Priory Museum for babies who are not yet walking. The session lasts approximately 55 minutes and is split into two parts: a delivered story journey followed by free-choice sensory play.

By using rhyme, alliteration, repetition and song we draw the babies into a magical world and offer them each the opportunity to be a part of the story journey with assorted tactile props along the way. During the sensory play part of the session there is further opportunity for the babies to explore these open-ended resources, largely made from stimulating and interesting natural materials, to support their understanding of the world around them. We finish up with a short shared song session to draw a gentle close to the session. 

Families with babies now have a reason to visit the museum and now realise it is a place for them.

Bring your baby and create your own piece of history. 

Book via Eventbrite


Do you talk to your baby?

Talking to your baby does not come naturally to everyone, and it may feel strange to new parents and carers. It is something that needs to be practised and learnt together. A book is a perfect tool to start the process, sharing books with your newborn is an ideal way to start communicating with your baby.

You are your baby's first and most enduring teacher, your voice is the one they love the best. Sharing a book together every day will increase your bond and begin the process of communication.

When your baby copies you for the first time, it is a proud moment, the more you practise together the more they will learn. Babies brains are developing at an astonishing rate, during the first years of their life. 700 connections or synapses are being made in your baby's brain every second, during the first three years of their life. These new connections are influenced by many factors and strengthened through relationships.

Speak in a sing-songy voice to your baby, as it is slower and the pitch is higher which matches the limited range of your baby's vocal tract. You may find singing engages your baby for longer.  I met Doctor Rachel Drury brainchild of BabyO last year at The Enable Conference (Musician and researcher working predominantly in the field of music education and psychology) She also believes music is perfect for bonding and is a communication tool.

 "Music plays a vital role in baby's development, the rhyme in music separates the syllables and breaks the words down, which is a fundamental thing for reading" - Dr Rachel Drury

It's simple - talk to your baby, from the first day you meet them, it boosts their brain power and gives them a head start.

Come along and meet me at Baby Bounce & Rhyme perfect for your new baby, take home ideas for songs, books and games to share at home together.

Should we read our children Fairy Tales?

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales." - Einstein

I recently watched Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain talking about her new book "Bake Me a Story", which encourages baking alongside traditional fairy tales. or so I thought!

Nadia said that fairy tales gave children nightmares, so she had changed the stories in her book. I have read the classic fairy tales many many times over the years to children in settings and to my own children and now grandchildren. The structure of the fairy tale is there to be used by the child to support their emotional development. We may come across people who remind us, of these characters from fairy tales and as adults can see how the stories prepared us and made us emotionally resilient. 

Fairy tales help children learn how to navigate life. (Bettelheim, B. Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.)

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
― G.K. Chesterton

I believe these stories should not be forgotten or changed as they are part of our culture of storytelling and should be passed on for years to come.

By all means choose which fairy tales you share with your children, please read them so this tradition is not lost forever.

Do you read fairy tales to your children? Should Grandma really get eaten by the Big Bad Wolf?

Well I hope the Big Bad Wolf does'nt come visiting me!

I am passionate about sharing stories with very young children, I look forward to meeting you soon.