AOK Sleep: Meet Founder Ashley O’Kane
Forget about Black Friday & Cyber Monday – give your loved one the gift of sleep!
This week, we partnered with Ashley O’Kane, founder of AOK sleep, to bring you her top tips for making bedtime better for you and your little ones.
I’m Ashley, Mum of two, certified baby and toddler sleep coach and founder of AOK Sleep.My passion for little ones and sleep came about when my eldest didn’t! The impact that sleep deprivation had on my confidence, parenting abilities, mental health and relationships was enormous. When I finally reached out for some sleep support, it truly was like someone came in and waved a magic sleep wand over the whole family (and I wish I’d asked for help sooner!). Having seen the incredible positive impact it made, I wanted to do the same for others, and pay the sleep magic forward and that’s why I did my training.
I love helping families and it is such a privilege to work alongside them. But I know it can be difficult to reach out when you’re struggling. It took me a long time to ask for help, as honestly I felt like a bit of a failure as a parent – why didn’t I know what to do to get her to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time? How could a complete stranger know my child better than I do? But in truth, the answer can be complex – trying to get to the bottom of why a child might be struggling with their sleep can feel a bit like putting a puzzle together.
And it’s never a one size fits all approach, each family I work with have different wants and expectations, and their babies and toddlers have a wide range of individual needs that need to be considered when creating each sleep plan. I’m there to listen, empower, inspire confidence and provide effective bespoke sleep support that feels right – I would never suggest an approach or method that would make you feel uncomfortable practicing yourselves.
Top Sleeping Tips I Wish I Knew When My Girls Were Babies (and didn’t!):
That establishing a consistent bedtime routine is key; it helps your little one know that sleep time is coming and creates a much needed rhythm to the end of their day. It’s best done in their bedroom with a sequence of events that happens in the same order each time – e.g. feed, story, sleeping bag, song, say ‘it’s sleepytime’ and then bed! Feeding first and then having other steps in the sequence afterwards also helps your baby dissociate feeding from sleeping, which can be really helpful when it comes to night waking.What an awake window was and how beneficial for your little one and their sleep if you find the sweet spot! Routines can be great but tricky if your baby awakes earlier than expected, as it can then be difficult to keep your baby awake until when you had planned their next nap to be. It’s easier to be more mindful of awake windows. The awake window starts from the moment they’re awake from their nap/sleep and ends the moment that they’re ready for their next sleep. By following guidelines on timings for an age appropriate awake window (for example a 4 month old should only be awake 1h 45 mins maximum), your little one shouldn’t be under or over tired, and likely to settle more easily to sleep. Wind can be a significant cause of broken sleep! Try and break up their feeding with regular winding breaks. Once they’ve finished hold them upright and in a position that works best for you both, for at least 10 minutes. Holding baby slightly on their left side can help move any air bubbles. Tummy time can be a great way to dislodge some wind. How active awake time between naps can help encourage sleep. Getting out and about is great for all the family, but sometimes being sat in a buggy isn’t enough, especially for babies 6 months and older who are starting to sit and be on the move! Try and get some physical time in before a nap such as practicing rolling/sitting/standing. My eldest was partial to a bit of bouncing too!
That temperature can affect sleep. Make sure your little one is warm enough at nighttime, especially with the weather turning a bit colder now. Sleeping bags are great at regulating body temperature and keeping it consistent. Have a think about layers and whether your baby is wearing enough. Sleep environment can play a key part in sleeping for longer periods. Whilst it doesn’t have to be pitch black, too much light can mean that their bodies won’t be able to produce as much of the hormone melatonin that they need to encourage sleep. White noise can also be really useful in helping a small baby settle, and blocks out any other noises that might cause sleep disturbances.
Stay Connected with Ashley O’Kane