Over the years of working with families who’ve struggled with their baby’s sleep, I’ve gotten used to the questions asking me what the “secret” is to getting a baby to sleep through the night.
Of course, there is no ONE secret. Teaching a child healthy, independent sleep habits is a result of a combination of lots of different things. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some quick tips, either!
With that in mind, today I’d like to share with you 7 different tips you can start trying over the next few nights to get your little one sleeping better.
Sleep Tip #1: Watch the waking hours
One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep – especially for babies and toddlers – is overtiredness… and it can be really surprising to learn just how soon children get overtired!
Here’s a quick breakdown to how long your child should be awake between naps during the day:
Newborns (0-12 weeks): 45 minutes of awake time
3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time
13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time
If you make sure that your child is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you’ll find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime… AND this helps them to be more relaxed at bedtime, too!
Sleep Tip #2: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark
Humans (babies and toddlers included), as a general rule, sleep better in the dark.
Try making your child’s room as dark as possible. (I recommend using blackout blinds, taping garbage bags over the windows, or whatever it takes!) In many cases, even the muted glow from a nightlight or a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep cycle!
BONUS TIP: Try to keep your child’s room as dark as possible during daytime naps, too. This can often make a BIG difference in how long your child will nap during the day!
Sleep Tip #3: Be Predictable (And A Little Boring)
Babies and toddlers excel with predictable routines. Predictable bedtime routines (lasting no longer than 30 minutes) are a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming.
A typical bedtime routine could look something like this:
After your bedtime routine is complete, be boring, and well, predictable. It is common for children to try dragging out bedtime by playing games, throwing toys out of the crib, standing up, etc. Don’t fall for it!
If your child has thrown their blanket or favorite stuffed toy out of the crib, calmly return the item without saying a word. Be boring, and the games shouldn’t last too long!
Sleep Tip #4: Feed AFTER Naps, Not Before
For a lot of babies and toddlers, the single biggest reason they don’t sleep well has to do with a feeding-sleep association. I’ve talked about this before in other blog posts here and here.
In other words, your child has made the connection that feeding makes it a whole lot to get to sleeping. They think that they need a bottle or nursing BEFORE they can fall asleep.
Avoid feeding them before the nap and wait until after they’ve woken up to offer the feed. By doing this, you can help your child break this feeding-sleep association.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This strategy should only be used before naps, not before putting your child to bed for the night. (A full tummy is needed to make sure your child doesn’t wake up hungry during the night!)
Sleep Tip #5: Same Place, Same Time
Remembering that our children love predictability, it’s a good idea to have your child sleep in the same place – around the same time – every day.
This means that naptime should happen in the same place as nighttime sleep – and avoid relying on naps to occur in the carseat, strollers, or in your arms at the coffee shop, etc.
For many parents, simply keeping the space where their child naps during the day consistent causes a big improvement in the length and quality of nighttime sleep.
BONUS TIP: When you are putting your child to sleep for the night, it’s a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep. In a nutshell, if your child falls asleep in your arms on the couch and then wakes up during the night in a completely different place (like their crib), chances are they’ll be a bit disorientated… and start crying to let you know about it!
Sleep Tip #6: Try The “1, 2, 3” Count
When your child wakes up during the night – or during a nap – and starts crying or fussing, try to wait a specific length of time before going in to check on them.
The first day you try this, I recommend waiting exactly one minute before going in to check on your child. On the second day, wait two minutes. Three minutes on the third day, and so on.
Well, children will wake up briefly at the end of each 45-minute “sleep cycle.” For those with independent sleep skills, these wake ups are so brief that they don’t even remember it in the morning. But children who haven’t learned to fall asleep independently need a little longer.
This “1, 2, 3” Count gives your child the opportunity to get themselves back to sleep – without your help. And once your child has learned this skill, you’re home free!
Sleep Tip #7: Take Five
Before you put your child to bed (for naps or at nighttime), make sure the five-minute period before they are put to bed is very calm and relaxing.
This would mean no throwing your toddler in the air… or watching a show on the iPad or tickle fights… in the five minutes immediately before bed.
DISCLAIMER: I fully endorse tickle fights and any other kinds of rowdy fun you can think of with your children. It’s fun for the whole family! Just NOT in the five minutes before bed. (Right after waking up is a great time to play!)
Like I said, these are tips – quick tricks that, for some parents, are the missing piece of the puzzle that gets their child sleeping through the night.
And while I hope that you’ll be one of the lucky parents who’s able to solve their children’s sleep problems using one of these tricks, I’m also here for you if you need a little more guidance.
For many families, spring break travels are just around the corner. The desire to escape the cold and get away from it all for a week is a wish that any parent can get behind. However, the stress and even fear that a parent can experience when thinking about traveling with kids can really make one second guess on whether or not they want to embark the adventure of traveling with their littles. Here’s the good news – a lot of kids are GREAT travelers. As long as parents take some time to account for their child’s routine and schedule while on vacation, traveling with children can be a great time.
Sleep is a funny thing when it comes to littles. Parents agonize over how to help their child be a good sleeper, making sure that they are instilling healthy sleep habits by creating good routines and a consistent schedule, and trying their best to not create “bad habits”. But the fact is, even if you do all of that, your child can still experience some challenges with their sleep, with some of these challenges seeming to be a bit uncommon in the world of sleep.
However, short of a medical diagnosis of sleep apnea or the rarely diagnosed insufficient melatonin production, many of these more uncommon sleep challenges can still have simple explanations and be more easily resolved without having to go to the doctor and invest in medical intervention.
When I was expecting my first child, I probably did more reading than I did throughout my entire academic career. I was determined to know everything there was to know about having a baby, raising a child, and everything that had anything at all to do with parenting.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the limitless amount of information out there, and how conflicted the various experts were with each other’s points of view. Even among well-renowned medical professionals, the differences in opinions that I read about were so conflicting: one person would say that one thing was absolutely essential, but then the next person would absolutely denounced it as objectively wrong or harmful by another. I ran into this everywhere.
As most parents do, I took that information, analyzed it, filtered everything through a combination of scientific research and common sense, and came up with a plan that I was comfortable with. But one thing I was never completely sure about, mainly because nobody seemed to have a clear answer, was whether I could sleep train while I was breastfeeding.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Picture yourself finally getting your grumpy baby down for her afternoon nap and you sit down for a much needed moment to yourself only to hear a loud vehicle (of course it is!) roaring down the street. Just like that, your Sleeping Little is wide awake and mad and your precious "me-time" is gone… NOT a good combination.
Or perhaps you live in the country and you’re finding yourself being woken up at dawn by a wailing infant who has adorable (but ridiculously loud) squirrels chitter-chattering in the tree next to their window.
Environmental noises are a fact of life that you can’t do much about… but there IS something you can do about your baby’s ability to sleep through the noise. In my experience, white noise machines can be a lifesaver when it comes to helping babies fall asleep — and stay asleep.
I don’t know about you, but in my house, we have exactly two weeks before my littles start their school year. In their district, school starts a few days before Labor Day weekend, and while the early start might seem a bit unfair, I think it’s a sweet blessing for their teachers to have a long weekend right away! Not that they "need" it, since ALL of the children are docile, mild, calm beings in the classroom. (Mine are not always included in that group, especially my oldest, ha.)
With that being said, I’m pretty confident that I’m not the only mom that has some work to do in order to get my kids ready for their first day of school, and mom to mom, there’s zero judgement coming from my end.
I know... I work as a sleep coach for babies, children, and adults, and it’s easy to think that I’m going to judge you for the late bedtimes, unenforced rules, inconsistent schedules, or any of the many "bad habits" that may have taken place over your summer vacation.
Pacifier North Loop, 219 North 2nd Street #102 Minneapolis, MN 55401
June 9, 2018 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm or 3:00 pm - 3:45 pm
This playdate and seminar, “7 Important Sleep Tips”, is filled with valuable information and tips that parents can implement into their child’s daily sleep routines and practices.
These tips will help you develop an appropriate bed and naptime routine for your child as well as educate parents on healthy and age-appropriate expectations for their child and their sleep needs. Littles that sleep well means that YOU sleep well. This seminar, presented by Katie of Sleeping Littles, can help you and your child find your ZZZs and enjoy well-rested nights once again!
Sign-up in advance to take 15% off your entire regular price puchase at Pacifier the day of the event!*
Speaking of littles, feel free to bring them! This seminar will take place in Pacifier’s play area. Katie works with children ages 0-7 years, though she does accept older kids on a case-by-case basis.
PARKING AT PACIFIER - NORTH LOOP: Complimentary parking is always available in the Monte Carlo lot - enter on N 3rd Ave near the restaurant. No valet is present at 10am, so feel free to self-park
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.