15 01, 2019

How To Get Your Child to Sleep (More) This Year

January 15th, 2019|Categories: Where to Begin|

How to Get Your Child to Sleep (More)

With the New Year upon us, comes the perfect time to begin to implement healthy changes for ourselves and our family. One of the most fundamental, but often overlooked cornerstones of health, is sleep.

As moms, we often could sleep very well, if only some little person would let us. However, bedtime battles and multiple night wakings can really impact the quantity and quality of sleep that we get.

The good news?

That you can improve your child’s sleep rather quickly, and therefore yours as well.

Start 2019 off right with a resolution to help get your child to sleep more solidly than last year.

Unlike popular resolutions that add more to-dos to your already busy life, instilling a sleep routine for your baby or child will actually simplify your life by creating a daily rhythm.

Why Start a Sleep Routine?

Routines give definition and structure to your day.

They allow you to plan outings when your child will be the most content.

They also leave you with more time to do nothing but relax, instead of trying to get your child to sleep.

Either way, a child who sleeps better, will make your life easier.

And as a mom, that’s always a great thing.

To get started with a new sleep routine for your child, follow these 5 tips for starting a new sleep routine;

On Your Mark…

Look at your calendar and pick a time when there will be few interruptions.

To help your child get used to the new routine, it’s important to be home for naps (for the majority of the time), rather than in the car or at someone’s house.

Not only does this help to instill the routine, but it also encourages healthy and restorative sleep that isn’t taken on-the-go or prone to interruptions.

Plan and Write Out a New Routine

When trying to help your child to sleep better, the primary focus should be their daytime routine.

If you’re unsure what routine is best for your child, start with documenting their day. This includes wake ups times, their mood throughout the day, meals, diaper changes or potty times, naps and bedtimes.

After 4-5 days of documentation, review the information and see what patterns you notice.

What Do You Notice?

Compare your child’s wake periods (and the resulting nap lengths) with this wake time infographic.

If you are noticing many naps that are only about 40-45 minutes in length, your child is going to sleep easily and waking up content, she may need a touch more play time (AKA: activity or wake time) before her nap the next day.

However, if the documenting reveals naps that are only 20-30 minutes in length and are loaded with crying-both before and after a nap-then the wake time may be too long.

There are other factors that can contribute to short naps, such as sleep associations and overtiredness, but this is a general guideline to start with.

Write out a new routine and post it in a highly visible location. For toddlers and preschoolers you can add pictures and make it into a poster for their room.

Develop a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine

Develop a simple pre-sleep (often referred to as a wind down) routine and do it before each sleep period. Keep is short, simple and easily to adapt between caregivers.

When a wind down routine is performed before every sleep time, it helps to cue your child’s brain to settle down for nap or night time.

This makes your job so much easier as the wind down routine helps your child understand that sleep is about to happen. They will begin to look forward to their naps and bedtime, thus ensuring a much smoother sleep time process for everyone!

Start in the Morning

The best place to start a new overall daily routine is at the beginning of the day.

Does this mean you have to wake your child up?

Yes, it might.

If your child is 4 months or older, sleeping past 7:45am  and you’re trying to establish a new routine, then regulating morning wake up time may be needed.

This may surprise some parents who think that bedtime is the best time to start, but that’s usually only for changing sleep habits. When we alter an overall routine, however, starting early is an easy place to set the tone for the rest of the day because of how daylight interacts with your child’s brain throughout the day.

The sun has a powerful influence of our internal rhythms (sleep, hormones, temperatures, etc.) and it’s easier to work with it, than against it. By regulating the morning wake up time, you will keep your day on track, rather than starting at bedtime.

Be Consistent

Like any changes we make this year, we must continually work at them in order to see the results. Getting your child to sleep is no different.

Being consistent will help your family quickly adopt the routine so it becomes second nature. In only a few weeks of sticking with your child’s new routine, life will be easier as your child will quickly and easily go to sleep.

Moving Forward

If you have one day that goes off track (or several weeks!), don’t worry about it! Get back to the new routine when you can.

Any change you make toward’s your child’s sleep health is better than no change at all!

Tired of figuring out on your own?

Don’t have the time to figure it out on your own?

Book a consultation and I’ll help you start the year off right-healthy, happy and well-rested! Don’t forget to also join the Baby Sleep 101 Facebook page and have access to weekly live (and FREE) Q and A events!

 

2 09, 2012

Baby Sleep 101

September 2nd, 2012|Categories: Baby Sleep, Sleep Help, Toddler Sleep, Where to Begin|Tags: , , , , , , |

Baby Sleep 101-Where to Start When You’re Overwhelmed

So seeing as this website and blog is all about children and their sleep, I figured it’s best to start at the beginning when talking about sleep. 😉 This is “Baby Sleep 101”; giving you the foundations of healthy sleep for your child.

If your child isn’t sleeping, it means YOU aren’t sleeping. You’re tired. They’re tired. So how do you go about solving your child’s sleep issues?

“Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
When you sing you begin with do-re-mi ”

-Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music

The Fundamentals

You first need to know the basics of healthy sleep habits.  It doesn’t matter how old your child is-they need sleep. But they do have different requirements in terms of how much and when. If you want more detailed information per month, check out our sleep tips by age breakdown on our resource page.

The fundamentals of healthy sleep can be narrowed down to 6 key elements.

  • Age appropriate wake times
  • Consistent wind down routine
  • Consistent nap schedule
  • Consistent sleeping location
  • Self soothing skills
  • Age appropriate bedtime

If you’re having sleep troubles with your baby, it is very likely that one or more of these key elements are missing.   You may think that everything is in place, but chances are, something isn’t. It really helps to keep track of your child’s routine because we can forget small details from day-to-day, especially when we’re living on limited sleep. So, start by taking notes of your baby’s routine for 3 days and then look back to see where problems are arising.

Look at the Info to Decide What Needs to Change

Age Appropriate Wake Times

Is your baby sometimes up for 3 hours in the morning and other times only for 1.5 hours? Is your 2 year old napping at 12pm on weekends, and 2pm on the week days?Then you need to fix their wake times and nap routine. If you’re not sure how or where, then err on the side of caution and keep wake times on the shorter side.

In general, babies who are on 2 or 3 nap routines need a shorter morning wake period, often around 2 hours and then a slightly longer wake period later on.

Toddlers and preschoolers doing one nap a day, may have their nap mid day, or even a longer morning period and a shorter afternoon wake period.

Consistent Wind Down Routines

One of the basics of  baby sleep 101 is to have a wind down routine for your child. Look at how you prepare your child for naps and bedtime-is there a consistent wind down routine that signals them that it’s time to sleep? If not, then they may be too overstimulated to settle down and fall asleep. Keep the wind down routine calm, simple and soothing.

Nap Routines

If you are frequently on the go and your baby is taking many naps in the car, then you need to adjust that as best as you can. Of course there are going to be naps here and there in the car seat or stroller, but overall we need to make sure that the majority of naps and bedtime are in the same, consistent location.

The most restorative kind of  sleep is non moving and lying down on a flat surface. Non moving means non moving so remember to switch off those vibrating bassinets too. 🙂

Children crave routine and their bodies respond wonderfully to it. Not only does it benefit them to have most naps motionless, doing them about the same time each day also helps.

Falling Asleep Unassisted

Another important component to healthy sleep is the ability to fall asleep independently. (Please note, I’m not talking about newborns here-falling asleep unassisted is a learnt skill and I don’t advocate formal sleep training until at least 4 months of age, so please keep your expectations realistic.) If your baby only naps for 45 minutes and then wakes but is tired and wanting more sleep, it could be time for them to start learning self soothing skills.  The same idea applies to the 3 year old that keeps coming into your room during the middle of the night or needs you to stay with them until they are completely asleep.

There are many different ways to accomplish this, from gradual to more direct. I cover all the options in the  Sleep Training Series.

It’s All About the Bedtime

How about bedtime? If bedtime fluctuates anywhere from 7 to 10 pm, then your baby is likely going to bed too late (most do best with a bedtime between 6-8pm) and becoming over tired which leads to resisting bedtime, increased night wakings and early risings (5:30am or earlier).

Keep your child’s bedtime age appropriate and understand that crankiness/fussing/getting hyper/crying can all be signs that they are tired and need more sleep, regardless of the age.

Not sure when to put your little one to sleep?

Use this as a rough guideline;

0-3 Months 1-2 hours after last nap

3-6 Months 2-2.5 hours after last nap

6-9 Months 2.5-3.5 hours after last nap

9-12 Months 3.5-4 hours after last nap

Moving bedtime up earlier for a few days can help to reverse the symptoms of cumulative sleep loss. Moving bedtime up for a few months will keep them from falling into a sleep debt again.

Consistency Matters-Consistently!

Consistency is also extremely important. I can’t stress this enough! You may  have all of the key elements in place, but only on the weekends. This isn’t consistent. Consistency means day in and day out. It may be boring, but it sure is restful. 😉

Babies don’t need a lot of variety-they actually crave consistency and it’s up to us as parents and caregivers to provide it for them when talking about sleep. Consistency in routine and sleep times lead to healthy sleep. We wouldn’t deprive our children of quality food because we know that good nutrition is a building block for healthy growth and development. So we need to also be just as mindful to the kind of sleep we provide.

Fix What’s Broke

Once you know where the problems are stemming from, it’s time to make a plan and take action. This can be where the really hard work starts (but I know you can do it!).

It’s one thing to be tired and up with your child frequently through the night, but it’s quite another to make a plan and stick to it night after night and not go back to what you were doing before.

Let’s say you were rocking your child every few hours at night. Yes, you were up, but chances are, both of you were at least falling back asleep relatively quickly. But if you are now trying to sleep train and not rock, then your child will probably be up for much longer stretches of time as they learn a new way of falling asleep.

And they likely won’t be happy about it.

Neither will you or anyone in your house.

This can make it verrrrrrrrry tempting to just give in and end everyone’s misery. But, you need to think about life long term. How long are you prepared to keep getting up and rocking? We know that bad sleep habits don’t go away by themselves.

How long do you want to suffer with the consequences of sleep deprivation? How long do you want your child to? Only you can answer this, but it is an important factor to consider. We know that sleep loss effects us immediately, but we also know that changing sleep habits take commitment and follow though. It has to be the right time for you to take action.

If you can commit to at least 2 CONSISTENT (imagine blinking lights around this word for extra emphasis 😉 ) weeks of change, you will see results. Two weeks isn’t that long if you compare it to months or years of poor sleep.

When we’re tired it can be hard to see our issues objectively, sort out the priorities and take action. Sometimes you just need someone else to give you the tools so you can concentrate on the work. 🙂

If you’ve tried the above tips and haven’t seen success or are feeling overwhelmed with sleep issues, please consider a sleep consultation . Baby Sleep 101 offers a variety of affordable packages that provide varying levels of support. There is also the Facebook page and the weekly Q and A sessions where I can answer questions live, and you can also find many great resources on the Pinterest Page and follow me on Twitter.

Here’s to you and your child’s sleep!