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'I'm a sleep expert and a mum of three. This is the advice I give first time parents about sleep.'

Kristy Griffiths is a mum of three girls, qualified sleep teacher and Cubo Ai ambassador. With three daughters all born within less than four years, Kristy knows exactly how it feels to be a tired new mum. It was her tried and tested routines that first led her to help friends and family before qualifying as a baby sleep consultant. 

Kristy tells Mamamia what got her through those early years of new mum life and offers us her best tips for sleep deprived new parents.

"Nothing and no one can prepare you for having a baby of your own," Kristy says.

"I came home from hospital with my eldest daughter Elke thinking; I've babysat kids before and I've done all-nighters, I'll be fine! But wow, I really wasn't."

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Knowing that something needed to change, Kristy thought about what might work for both her and baby Elke.

"I wasn't coping and as someone that likes routines I thought I would try to implement one quickly. I realised I was new at this mum job too, so we tried a few things before we settled into our new routine together.

"By the time my second daughter Minka came along, I was much happier and my little ones were thriving."

After third daughter Hattie was born, Kristy studied to become a qualified baby sleep consultant. 

"At first, I just did some local home visits in my city of Newcastle, then it moved to word-of-mouth recommendations. After two years I couldn't cope with the demand, so I began working with three other sleep consultants. I set up my website The Sleep Teacher, our Instagram account and some online courses to help with a variety of baby sleep and family needs."

Kristy knows firsthand just how much impact good sleep can have for tired parents and babies.

"Everyone is happier when they get sleep and it's a privilege to help parents and babies when they need it most. One thing I always tell people is that I can offer my advice, but it has to work for you and your family. 

"It gets to me that so many parents immediately say they feel guilty because they fed or rocked their babies to sleep - there is no right or wrong way to get more sleep."

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Here are Kristy's top pieces of advice to help new parents and babies get more sleep.

1. Mimic the womb environment at home.

"If you think your baby has just spent nine months inside a womb, it makes sense to mimic that environment and those sensations as best as possible. The womb is loud, dark, warm, and baby was cosy and confined. We spend far too much time trying to be quiet around babies when they actually were used to a lot of noise in the womb! 

"I advise parents to get block out blinds to make the room dark and cosy, to swaddle baby and keep them warm, and to get a quality baby monitor that doubles up as a white noise machine.

"Invest in other key items such as a good cot that will stand the test of time - everything else is just an added bonus!"

2. Watch for 'awake windows'.

"Awake windows for babies around six weeks of age can last for anywhere between 45-60 minutes.

"During these awake windows, baby will need feeding, a nappy change, and a bit of a look around before they go back to being fully asleep. If a baby is overtired, they will fight being awake and have short bursts of sleep which is frustrating for them and hard for new parents. 

"Watch closely for the awake windows and then for the signs that baby is tired and ready to go to sleep."

3. Aim for one cot nap in their room per day. 

"It's a good idea to get your little one used to their own sleep environment. I reassure parents it is of course okay for your baby to sleep in your arms, or the baby carrier, or the pram, but eventually you may want your baby to sleep in their own bed. 

"You can build up to it by just aiming for one cot nap in their room per day. That way when the time comes to transition to more sleeps in their cot, you will both feel better about it."

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Kristy Griffiths and her family. Image: Instagram @thesleepteacher. 

4. When it comes to settling, start with less and add more.

"Babies have no sleep associations when they are born, so it is up to us to help them establish healthy sleep habits. When you think they used to sleep in the womb without your help, it is possible for them to self settle on the outside too. 

"I suggest always starting slowly, so swaddle them, then put them down in their cot with the noise machine and monitor on and simply see what happens. 

"If they grunt and fuss, then try some 'shhh-ing', if they continue to fuss, then pat them, if they need more help, then pick them up and rock or cuddle them. Just give them a chance to settle themselves before you step in to help."

5. Look after yourself!

"Being a new mum or dad is hard and I tell everyone to let go of all expectations and remember that you are learning all the time, as is your baby.  

"Some days are going to go pear-shaped and that's okay. 

"No one day is ever the same so if you are having a bad day, it is okay to ask for help.

"Maybe someone can just pop over and give baby a cuddle while you have a shower or a nap, don't feel you need to sit there and make small talk with them either. 

"Having a new baby is a huge period of adjustment - so remember to be kind to yourself."

Have you recently had a baby? How are you coping with sleep? Let us know in the comments below.

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Feature Image: Instagram @thesleepteacher.

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