This is a question I get asked a lot when I’m meeting with my families. It's not always obvious when a child is getting tired, and frankly, sometimes our babies’ emotions seem like a huge mystery! Here's how to recognize "sleep signs" so you can get your child to bed BEFORE they become overtired!
Do you recognize yourself in the question below?
"Help! Why can’t I recognize my four-month-old’s sleep signs? No yawning, no eye rubbing. He seems to go from quite happy to very upset in a split second and then it takes forever to settle him down and get him to sleep."
A question I received the other day came from a parent concerned about the nap struggles that her son was experiencing at daycare. She wrote, "My 9 month old does not take good naps at the babysitter's three times a week and is super crabby by the time six o'clock rolls around. Should I just put him down early or should I wait for his normal bedtime?"
That's a great question Mama, and it's one that I hear numerous times while working with families whose littles attend daycare during the week. I've got three tips to help navigate that challenge.
Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar…
Your baby wakes up in the morning after a solid night’s sleep. You feed her, change her, play with her for a little bit, take her for a little walk outside, then rock her to sleep and put her gently into her crib for her morning nap.
And then, 30 minutes later, she wakes up fussy and irritable and, despite your pleading, bargaining, and offers of riches, refuses to go back to sleep.
So after half an hour of trying to put her back down, you finally give in, hoping she’ll be that much more tired when her afternoon nap rolls around, only to have the exact same scenario play out again, and baby is a cranky ball of unhappiness for the rest of the day.
Sleep, like food, is one of those elements where baby’s got the final say on whether or not they’re going to cooperate, so there’s no sense trying to force the issue. If they’re not sleeping, just leaving them in their room usually won’t fix things.
So here’s what’s going on, and how to fix it.
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.