One of the most challenging aspects of bringing a baby into the world definitely has to be the way they hinder your own sleep. That's why we've struck gold and got the help of Kasey from Discover & Dream to share her Top 5 Baby & Child Sleep Tips with us. Check out more awesome advice on Instagram (@discoveranddream_), Facebook (Discover & Dream), or their website.
Most moms are looking for solutions to getting their child to sleep soundly through the night. Sleep troubles typically don’t go away on their own as a child will not just grow out of it. Believe it or not, sleep is a learned behavior.
In fact, sleep troubles in infancy tend to continue into toddlerhood and childhood. In order to eliminate unnecessary night wakings, early morning risings, and improve naps, you will have to do a little bit of work. Teaching your child to learn how to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own takes time, patience, and consistency! Here are 5 of my best tips to help you get started.
1. Make sure your baby is not hungry.
Babies can usually sleep through the night when they are developmentally ready to take in enough calories during the day. You want to make sure you are always giving your baby enough breast milk or formula, so when that developmental milestone is reached, your baby will be able to sleep through the night and not wake hungry a few hours later. Experts state that this can happen anywhere between 3-6 months of age as a baby is capable of sleeping 8-12 hour stretches. I always suggest to speak with your pediatrician if you are not sure how much and how often your baby should be eating during the night.
It's also worth remembering that older children also need full tummies. A good dinner and small drink just before bed should eliminate any thirst or hunger related night wakings for toddlers and kids.
2. Create a good sleep environment.
Make sure your child’s room is ideal to promote a restful night’s sleep. This may include room darkening shades (as having no light in the room helps your child fall asleep more easily), comfortable jammies, swaddling if your baby is very young (newborn-8 weeks), a fan or white noise machine to block out any outside noise, and proper room temperature (68-72 degrees). Remember not to compromise safety, but make sure your baby’s sleep environment is just right for him or her.
3. Laying your baby down drowsy, but awake.
Let’s briefly talk about newborns as they are not born with the skills to self-soothe. It’s perfectly fine to rock, nurse/bottle, or use the pacifier to help your newborn get to sleep. Think about it being practice at this stage.
You are not forcing your baby to fall asleep independently, but at least try to put your baby down calm and awake to see how it goes. If he or she cries, then comfort your baby and don’t push it. Just try again next time. Even if your baby falls asleep on his or her own some of the time, it is enough to help your baby get the hang of it. The more practice your baby gets, the better he or she will become at it.
At around 4 months of age, I suggest to always lay your baby down in their crib calm and awake and let them fall asleep completely on their own. Your baby should not be too sleepy where their eyes are already closing and half asleep. Your baby should be aware that they are being placed in their crib as this gives them the opportunity to fall asleep independently. Allowing your baby the opportunity to self-settle and fall asleep on his or her own is the best thing you can do to help encourage independent sleep. If you find that you are up all hours of the night putting your baby back to sleep, by rocking or nursing, then this is not healthy for you or for your baby.
4. Don’t encourage bad habits.
Sleep learning is just a behavioral adjustment. If you eliminate sleep props (i.e., pacifier, bottle, nursing, rocking, bouncing) that your child is relying on to go to sleep and stay asleep, you will be giving your child the opportunity to learn how to fall asleep on his or her own. You will also have a well-rested and happy child, which means a well-rested happier family.
5. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
A comforting, consistent, and solid bedtime ritual is a good way to wind down from the day and to let your child know that sleep is coming. Your bedtime routine should be the same routine every night and last for about 20-30 minutes. Eventually the routine will signal that it’s time for bed. A bedtime routine does not need to be anything elaborate, in fact, I always recommend the simpler the better. You don’t want to prolong the idea of bed or make the routine too stimulating for your child.
Here are some suggestions of activities to include in your bedtime routine, depending on your child’s age. Three to four steps from this list is plenty:
- wash up
- put on pajamas
- change diaper
- sing a song
- go potty
- say goodnight to everyone
- brush teeth
- read books
- sleep sack
- hugs and kisses
- share three things about your day
- bottle or nursing
- tell a story
Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers need to get a certain amount of sleeping hours in each day to promote good health and overall development. If your child is not getting adequate sleep, then reaching developmental milestones is going to be very difficult for them. Your child may also show certain behaviors as they get older, such as defiant behavior, be overly emotional, anxious, hyperactive, and have difficulty concentrating or focusing during play. Getting proper rest is essential for your child’s health and well-being. Helping your child learn how to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own is the best life skill you can teach them.
Thank you so much Kasey for these awesome sleep tips. As parents we have experienced those tough periods of restless nights and it is hard work. We now feel better equipped to stand firm and help teach our littles the skill of sleeping. Now go follow Discover & Dream on Instagram to keep your nights peaceful!
Creative QT designs quality + innovative toys that declutter homes and inspire creative play. Founded by parents of five, Adam and Dana Sue Hinkle, Creative QT’s vision is to empower parents and encourage a culture of families that Make Time Together. All products are designed to enrich families’ lives through active, creative play and play based learning. Creative QT products are laboratory tested for compliance with CPSC requirements and are free of lead, cadmium and phthalates so you can play with confidence. So, go ahead … today is the day: be your kid’s hero.
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