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Sleep: That thing you used to take for granted, and be really good at. For the majority of new families, sleep is the number one cause of arguments. Ill health can even make the symptoms of postnatal anxiety and depression even worse.

Some infants are natural sleepers. They can self-settle, feed well and sleep for long periods of time, with no help or guidance from Mum or Dad. But as you or someone you know will relate to – this is not the case in many households. Instead, sleeping is a source of frustration that demands hours of time reading, asking advice and trial and error to help their infants get to sleep and stay asleep.

Sleep is important for infants. It aids in brain development and a lack of it can make them stressed.

If we think about it, a warm, snuggly dark womb with a constant supply of food, that they could hang out in and hear their Mum’s voice in is a pretty sweet place to relax and drift in and out of sleep. And now that the world is bright, tiring and has sharper, foreign noises to get used to – it’s way harder to drift into sleep than it was before.

Adding to the drama of it all your infant is trying to make your breasts produce the right amount of milk to satisfy themselves at the right times, and it can take up to six weeks for Mum and bub to strike a balance. If there are any feeding or digestion issues with the breastmilk, this process can be a long and difficult one until a feeding alternative is found, with the advice of a healthcare professional.

If your infant is not gaining weight each week, is crying for long periods of time or directly after or during a feed, see a lactation consultant or your GP, to find out or eliminate the possibility of an issue with the breastmilk or your little ones tummy.

Once you have established if bub either has an allergy or digestive issue with breast milk, select the best infant formula you can find. For infants with allergies to cow milk, a goat milk formula could be the solution.

If a happy feeding routine is established, but your infant is still not settling to sleep well or doesn’t sleep for the recommended number of hours for their age, there are many tried and tested ways to help.

Newborn and infant sleep issues are a process of elimination, so you will need to eliminate illness as a possible cause of extended crying. GP’s and healthcare professionals can check your infant for common illnesses such as ear infections, and suggest the best pain relief and treatment. Always seek their advice before medicating your infant.

Can formula help infants sleep better?

In short, no. This old wives tale is tempting for new parents who just want some sleep, but there is no direct link to formula fed infants being better sleepers all-round.

However, there are co-contributing factors to aiding infant sleep (to the right of this information) with which formula could help in some situations.

5 ways to help your infant sleep

  • Get familiar with sleep cycles. A infant’s day cycles through a series of needs. These needs include food, comfort and sleep and during the day when they are a couple of months old, they will also need to be stimulated and engaged in play. A basic routine is: Awake / Nappy change or Bath / Food / Playtime / Sleep.
  • Keep it boring! The womb was a dark and boring place. The world is far too interesting for a newborn to handle, and lights, noises and new faces can overstimulate a newborn. This is fine for awake time, but if the cycle calls for sleep or food, keep things nice and boring for your infant, as this will help them feel safe and settled.
  • Shushing sounds. We think you’ll agree, when you are desperate for sleep, it doesn’t matter how silly you sound, as long as something works! A strong shushing sound repeated sounds a lot like the blood rushing through the main blood supply to the uterus. This is the sound infant is most familiar with. Try holding bub (or leaning over the bassinet) and offering a strong, repeated ‘ssshhhh’ sound, like you’re really angry with someone who’s on their mobile phone in the library. You can rock your bub to the same rhythm. Don’t be afraid to go loud – that cord was right next to bub’s head for nine months!
  • Food, food food. Infants are growing at a rapid rate, both vertically and in terms of their weight. If a infant has eaten recently but cries again or won’t sleep, try to calm them down and offer a feed, your infant might just be having a hungry day.
  • Control comforting. Lastly, because it’s everyone’s least favourite, the old school control crying comforting method. It’s not recommended for infants less than six months of age. This method has been studied and no negative or psychological side effects have been found. Your bub must be getting lots of day time attention for this method to be effective. To start this method, commit (as a parenting unit) to an agreed number of minutes you are happy for your infant to continually cry. This can be 1 minute or up to ten minutes if you’re really strong willed! Start by comforting your infant with shushing, soft words or a gentle pat on the bum. Wait until bub has stopped crying, then immediately walk away, out of sight. If bub starts crying again, do something productive like wash the dishes or make a cup of tea, until your agreed time period is up. If the crying has any long pauses in it or is reducing in volume, start your timer again! If crying persists, at your time limit enter the room again and start the comforting process again, ensuring bub is still lying solo in the bassinet (no picking up for this method). This really fun cycle could go on for several attempts, but hang in there as long as you can. Infant will learn that you want them to sleep.

What are the reasons infant formula may help infants sleep better?

  1. Milk allergy or colic. Some infants are unable to settle to sleep after a breastfeed because of colic or digestive discomfort that suggest a cow’s milk allergy, gastroesophageal reflux or other conditions (as assessed following a medical review). Goat milk formula is naturally kinder on little tummies because it contains higher levels of the naturally occurring structures similar to breast milk, than those found in cow’s milk. Oli6® Dairy Goat Infant Formula is a premium goat’s milk-based formula. This breast milk substitute is specially formulated for formula fed infants from birth or when changing from breastfeeding.
  2. Some women are unable to produce or express enough milk to satisfy their growing infant. Parents might decide to try mixed feeding or switch to formula to supplement breastmilk feeds, which means a fuller infant who might be happier to drift off to sleep and stay sleeping for longer! Please note, extended periods between breastfeeding may reduce breastmilk supply and this process can be difficult to reverse. Please consult your healthcare professional before deciding to formula feed your infant.

Oli6® provides this information to help parents make an informed decision about how to feed their infants.

Since sleep is so important for children who are constantly growing and developing, it is important to choose a formula that does not cause digestive distress for your little one. Digestive distress is a common phenomenon amongst children though, so parents can become somewhat frustrated with the process. Oli6 is a natural formula that takes full advantage of the natural benefits of fresh goat’s milk, and it is generally gentler on the tummies of babies and toddlers. Therefore, we could recommend Oli6 goat’s milk formula as an alternative to formulas that may be harder for  some children to digest

Of course, if your child refuses to settle down after a formula feed, there could be other factors at play than formula choice alone. If you have winded the child correctly after formula feeding, but if the child still refuses to settle, your child could be experiencing some digestive distress. Therefore, parents who notice such symptoms should take their child to a local paediatrician or specialised healthcare professional that can examine the child for any underlying problems. Even if there is no underlying problem, a healthcare professional’s advice can still be vital, since they can also provide you with formula recommendations if your child experiences problems with the current one. Thus, if you are heading to a local health professional for formula advice, be sure to ask them about Oli6 and if our natural goat’s milk formula is an option for your child.