As new parents or even seasoned parents with a child who prefers to burn the midnight oil, we all want to know what the sacred secret of getting our child to sleep through the night, is. Unfortunately, despite the advice from well-meaning friends and family, there really is no magical formula to make this a reality.
However, all of the certified sleep consultants at Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby have pooled together our tried, true, and tested steps we have used to help get your child in the right direction to start a pattern of sleeping all night long.
Overtired, The Enemy of Sleep
We have all felt this feeling in our lives; being so tired that even a dirty floor looks like a cozy place to curl up and fall asleep. Being overtired can actually cause stimulation where your brain and body are too wired to allow sleep to win the battle. This is common with babies and toddlers, too. We’ve all seen them fussing and rubbing their eyes, bound and determined to stay awake.
The guideline below shows the amount of awake time that is ideal from newborn to toddler ages:
- 0-6 weeks, 45 minutes
- 7-12 weeks, 60-90 minutes
- 3 – 5 months, 2 hours
- 6-8 months, 3 – 3.5 hours
- 9-12 months, 3-4 hours
- 13 months to 2.5 years, 5-6 hours
- 2.5 and older – 8-10 hours
The key to achieving the proper amount of nap and bedtime for your little one is laying them down for their sleep times before they are too tired, or over-stimulated. This will help them understand that their mind and bodies are ready to rest and will grow accustomed to a schedule.
In our previous blogs, we have touched base on sleep associations and how these can become detrimental to your child’s sleep patterns. While feeding time often leads to sleepy babies, it also causes them to attach feeding with sleep as they are unable to disassociate the two in their minds.
In the first few weeks of life, it is pretty hard to avoid sleep association as our newborns are sleeping most of the time. However, after a few weeks, it is time to wean the feedings to a pattern of after they nap instead of before, and right at the beginning of their bedtime routines, so they are not using feedings to fall asleep.
To learn more about sleep association, read our previous blogs where we delve deep into this topic.
Routines are Reliable
Our certified sleep experts understand that while a routine can be mundane and boring, they are a necessary and dependable action to create a repetitive schedule that your little one will not only follow, though they will grow accustomed to and thrive from.
Routines create a positive rhythm for our children that give them a sense of comfort night after night, day after day. Starting a half-hour prior to nap or bedtime with the same routine lets them know that it is time to get ready for sleep.
Your routine can go in the order you prefer, as long as it is the same each night.
Your routine may look something like; Feed, bath, pajamas and a book, or a soothing and calming song, and then the lights are out and your little one falls fast asleep. The key is to keep it simple with calm moods and no stimulation.
This is just an example of a routine, and you can adjust as you see fit. However, we do recommend that feeding is the first step in the routine, to avoid association with sleeping as we discussed above.
When it is dark out, it creates a natural instinct to sleep. Because babies and toddlers often nap in the middle of the day, there are some ways to keep the room dark for them, thus they will associate darkness with sleep. Black-out curtains and blinds are available at many retailers and can totally block out the sun from the room.
Avoid nightlights, mobiles that glow in the dark, and toys that may light up, too.
Starting your baby off by sleeping in the dark will help them as they grow up, and ease their fears about the dark as they will be used to it and it will help them sleep better, and even longer.
Consistency is Key
When it is time for bedtime, our sleep experts recommend that along with following the same routine every night, it is also important for our babies and toddlers to sleep in the same room every night. If your baby fell asleep in their car-seat, stroller, or even on your lap, moving them to their normal bed, in their room will help them get a better night sleep. If you aren’t ready to move them to their own room, room sharing is a great option!
As parents ourselves, we all know that sweet feeling of your baby in your arms, fast asleep, and that sweeping emotion of love and bonding that can happen, and while it is hard to let that feeling go, it is important that it is not a common instance because it can cause your baby to become agitated if they are falling asleep in your arms every night and waking up in a different place. They are not cognitive enough to understand how they got from your arms to their bed, and it can cause sleep disturbances.
In our previous blog, we discussed in detail sleep cycles and if you have not read that blog yet, we highly recommend you do as it provides a more in-depth look into the benefits and function of each sleep cycle.
To cover this briefly, sleep cycles typically last about 45 minutes. At the end of each cycle, it is common to awaken, though as adults we do not remember this in the morning.
For our little ones, they are just learning their own sleep patterns and cycles and they can become more awake at the end of a cycle than adults do. This is why we stress a routine and allowing your child to learn how to self-soothe themselves back to sleep.
If you have habitually gone to your little one and held them, or rocked them back to sleep, they may have grown accustomed to it, thus creating a tougher time for them to fall back asleep after each cycle and making a long night for both of you.
Please know that if this has happened, you have not done anything to hurt your babies’ sleeping patterns, and in time, working with one of our sleep experts at Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby, we work with you and baby to adjust their routines and create a pattern of sleeping through the night.
As parents, we are often learning as we go. The advice comes from well-meaning friends, parents, and family and no one knows your baby like you do. Our goal is to work with you and guide you along this journey in an area we excel in. We do this with compassion, kindness, and a love for working with families and your little ones.
We hope that these tips have helped you get a start on creating a new routine for your little one to start sleeping better tonight. As always, we are happy to work with your family, and even better, we can work with you from virtually anywhere you might be! Give us a call, send us a message, or sign up on our website to be a part of the Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby family.