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Interview with Sleep Specialist Kirsten Taylor

on Wednesday, 07 May 2014. Posted in Toddler Tips, Family Life, Life With Baby

GeoBaby chats with Kirsten Taylor, a sleep specialist based in New Zealand, on how to get babies in bed for quality sleep

Interview with Sleep Specialist Kirsten Taylor

Tired from being kept up all night by a baby who just refuses to go to bed? Or do you have a colicky baby who just can’t fall asleep? We chat with Kirsten Taylor, a sleep specialist in New Zealand and the founder of SleepDrops (a sleep support system catering to babies, adults, and everyone else in-between) on sleeping tips for babies, Mums, and Dads.



Q&A with Kirsten Taylor

GeoBaby:  What inspired you to become a sleep specialist?

Kirsten Taylor: I grew up wanting to be a lawyer. However, a year of law school at Auckland University changed my mind about becoming a barrister, but I was at a loss about what to do with my life. I gave myself permission to travel and see the world until I decided what I really wanted to do. A spontaneous healing experience in Japan lead to a fascination in natural medicine and next thing I knew, I was on a plane back home to study Medical Herbalism and Naturopathy.

I now analyse the human body, work out where the problems were and prescribe the perfect combination of herbs and nutraceuticals to help people get better sleep.




GeoBaby:  Can you share a few tips on how to get a baby to sleep?

Kirsten Taylor:  Consistency is key! Get into a routine - albeit a flexible one - and follow that. When my son was young, someone gave me some great advice: he is the rock and the parents are the water.

Get to know your baby; pay attention to their signs and signals. If they start making signs that they're tired, get them to bed in a quiet, dark place as soon as you can.




GeoBaby:  What is a major no-no for getting a baby to fall asleep?

Kirsten Taylor:  The biggest mistake parents make is feeding their babies then putting them to sleep without burping them properly. The babies fall asleep happy and content but then when they enter a lighter sleep phase, they wake up crying with a sore tummy. Parents need to really take the time (sometimes 15-20 minutes) to get two or three burps out once and for all. There is also misinformation about bottle or breast-fed children not needing to be burped – this is just not the case.




GeoBaby:  How long does it usually take to introduce a new sleeping pattern to a baby?

Kirsten Taylor:  Every baby is different and what works for one family may not work for another, so you need to be realistic about what works for your family. Find something that resonates with your family culture and spiritual beliefs and then give it a good go. If you are consistent every day and night, you should see improvements within a week or so, but remember the rock and water analogy - sleep is not something that you can force onto a child! The best thing you can do is to create a friendly, safe, and secure environment that naturally encourages sleep. You want your child to grow up with a healthy attitude towards sleep, so each day and night spent teaching your baby to naturally fall asleep is an investment.




GeoBaby:  What's the optimum temperature for toddlers and babies to fall asleep?

Kirsten Taylor:  A room that is warmer during the day and cooler at night is shown to give the best results for infants. The room the baby sleeps in should be warm and well ventilated with no drafts and be at a temperature comfortable for a lightly clothed adult. Research indicates that the optimal temperature for a baby’s room is between 16-20°C, with the ideal room temperature being 18°C.




GeoBaby:  Do you have any sleep advice for Mums and Dads?

Kirsten Taylor:  Mums and Dads need to replenish their mineral and nutrient stores to make sleep chemicals, so supplementing their diet with magnesium and other sleep co-factors is very important. That way even if they have to get up in the night they will fall back to sleep easily and get good quality sleep.

Interacting with electronic screens with blue light can delay sleep for up to an hour and a half, so adults should cut out the use of cell phones, Facebook, emails, etc. for an hour and a half before they want to fall sleep. Also, consider cutting back on alcohol as it depletes magnesium (a key sleep mineral), and having a shower or a bath before bed as a change in body temperature initiates sleep.




GeoBaby:  How does SleepDrops fit into your career as a sleep specialist?

Kirsten Taylor:  The development of the SleepDrops range was a totally organic process. I was literally just creating individual sleep and stress remedies made up of vitamins, minerals, herbs, homoepathics, and flower essences for my clients, depending on what they needed. Over time, I noticed that I had a common sleeping formula that pretty much worked for everybody.

Our core product, called SleepDrops for Adults, contains 13 herbs, 11 homeopathics, and 9 flower essences, and is formulated to turn off a busy mind and soothe the nervous system to get you to sleep. The SleepDrops for Babies has 11 herbs, 5 homeopathics, and 9 flower essences and works pretty much the same way as the SleepDrops for Adults, except the remedies have been chosen to specifically support babies. It addresses the most common reasons why babies don’t fall asleep, plus additional support for sore stomachs, gas, teething, etc.




GeoBaby:  Any last tips for GeoBaby parents?

Kirsten Taylor:  Using lights to re-enforce your natural circadian rhythm can also be helpful. Use timers to make the room lights go dimmer as night-time comes and brighter for when you want your day to start. Otherwise, use black-out curtains and feel free to play white noise or music in the background. Babies are used to listening to very loud noises while they were in the womb, so don’t be afraid of getting the vacuum cleaner out! And if you get over-tired ask for help. Someone can take your child for two hours and let you sleep. Chances are you and baby will feel much better when you reconnect after a good catch-up nap.




Kirsten Taylor will visiting Hong Kong and will be speaking at the Hush-a-bye-Baby Sleep Workshop (May 15-17, 2014). See our GeoBaby events calendar for more info!





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