Firstly I would like to congratulate you for making the step toward improving your baby’s/toddler’s sleep. I know you’re exhausted, but I also understand that all you want is what’s best for your baby/toddler.
You know something needs to change. So many parents are feeling frustrated. Overwhelmed and exhausted, but are too scared to take that first step towards better sleeping.
You’ve probably been struggling through months –if not years- of interrupted sleep caused by a baby/toddler who, for whatever reason, has never really learned how to fall and stay asleep on his/her own.
And, like most clients I’ve worked with, you’re probably getting close to the end of your rope. When you ask your own mother how to get your little one to sleep through the night, you get one kind of answer. When you ask other parents, you hear another suggestion.
You may have even asked your baby’s/toddler’s paediatrician how to help him/her stay asleep, only to be told that it’s only a stage, and he/she will eventually grow out of it.
Not only are you sleep deprived, you’re also being presented with a hundred different opinions on how to solve your problem.
So you pick one idea, try it for a couple of nights, and then give up in frustration. A week later, you decide to try another approach, only to abandon it after a few more nights, again disappointed. Perhaps this has been going on for just a short time, or maybe you’ve been suffering through years of sleepless nights.
No matter how long it’s been going on for, I’m certain I’ll be able to help you make a positive change in your baby’s sleep. If you are happy to stay committed in my recommendations, you will definitely improve your baby’s sleep. This guide will share with you the Eight primary ways you can improve your baby/toddlers sleep or help him/her start sleeping through the night. Here are just a few reasons to improve your baby/toddler’s sleep.
- Learning & Memory:
Children who gets enough sleep, learns more rapidly than those who are tired. Have you ever tried to learn something new when you are tired? It’s hard!
This is a big one for a lot of people. While some children won’t get too cranky, some get downright monstrous. Behaviour problems have been linked to sleep deprivation.
Your body’s immune system has more trouble fighting off illnesses when it hasn’t gotten enough rest.
A Harvard study concluded that too little sleep in babies and toddlers might be linked to obesity. Our bodies release hormones Leptin and Ghrelin to signal to our body when we are full and hungry, respectively. When we don’t sleep enough, Leptin levels go down and you get a spike of Ghrelin. You will get hungry and most likely eat when you should be sleeping.
Studies are now finding that it was once thought that sleep problems were a symptom of depression, but now they are considering that sleep problems may precede depression. We can see that first hand with Post Natal Depression (PND). Depression is the most common form of mental health problem and it is now considered as just as common in children as it is in adults. Each year 17 million people suffer from depression and as many as 1 in 33 children may have depression.
Now that we know that our children need a lot of good quality sleep, and why it’s important, let’s get started!
Tip 1: Don’t be afraid of the dark
We humans (babies and toddlers included) sleep better in the dark. Try making your baby’s/toddler’s room as dark as possible. I recommend using blackout blinds, taping cardboard over the windows or whatever it takes to make the room as dark as possible.
In many cases even the glow from a nightlight clock can be enough to disrupt your baby’s/toddler’s sleep cycle!
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!
Tip 2: Consistency
Whatever is happening at one sleep situation needs to be happening at all sleep situations to send a clear message about what is expected – SLEEP!
Remembering that our children love predictability, it’s a good idea to have your baby/toddler sleep in the same place-at the same time-every day. This means naptime should happen in the same place as night-time sleep-rather than in car seats, prams, your lap at the coffee shop, etc.
When you are putting your baby/toddler to sleep for the night, it’s a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep.
Tip 3: Bedtime Routine
Babies and toddlers love predictable routines.
And a predictable bedtime routine (lasting no longer than 30 minutes) is a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming.
A typical bedtime routine might look something like this:
- 6:30 pm – Bath
- Dress in Pyjamas
- Milk feed + Story
Keep your baby awake
- Swaddle or Sleeping bag
- 7:00 pm – Bedtime
Your baby must be fully awake when you lay him/her down!
Make sure that this routine is the same every single time. Remember, you want bedtime to be as predictable as possible for your child! After your bedtime routine is complete, be boring. Lots of children will try to “drag out” bedtime by playing games, throwing toys out of the cot, standing up, etc. Don’t participate! If your child has thrown their blanket or favourite stuffed toy out of the cot, calmly return the item without saying a word.
Be boring, and the games shouldn’t last too long.
That your baby’s/toddler’s bedtime routine should be somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes in length, and that the steps should be repeated in EXACTLY the same order each and every night.
Also remember that at no point in the routine should your baby/toddler be falling asleep.
Tip 4: Shorter awake times during the day
One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep – especially for babies and toddlers – is overtiredness. And many parents are surprised to learn just how soon their children get overtired! If you make sure that your baby/toddler is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you’ll find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime… AND that they are more relaxed, too! Here’s a quick guide to how long your baby/toddler should be awake between naps during the day:
- Newborn – 10 weeks: 45 minutes to 1 Hour
- 11 Weeks – 3.5 Months: 1.5 Hours
- 5 Months – 5 Months: 2 Hours
- 6 Months – 7 Months: 2.5 Hours to 3 Hours
- 8 Months – 13 Months: 3 Hours to 4 Hours
- 14 Months – 3 Years: 5 Hours to 6 Hours
Tip 5: Try the “1,2,3” System
When your baby/toddler 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 him/her.
The first day try to wait 10 min before going in to check on him/her. If it’s too difficult for you to wait 10 min, try the 1,2,3 system. The first day you wait for 1 min before you go in to check on your baby/toddler.
On the second day, wait two minutes. Three minutes on the third day and so on. (Max 10min)
Why? Well, everyone (babies and toddlers included) will wake up briefly at the end of each 45 minute “sleep cycle”. Most adults wake so briefly that we 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” System gives your baby/toddler the opportunity to get themselves back to sleep-without your help. And once your baby/toddler has learned this skill, you’re home free!
Tip 6: Put your baby down AWAKE
Put your baby down for naps/bedtime AWAKE in his/her cot. Not drowsy, AWAKE. It is very important (Especially at night with your bedtime routine) not to feed your baby to sleep. If he/she tries to fall asleep, tickle the feet, read a story or take him/her of the breast or bottle.
Tip 7: Fall asleep in Cot
It’s very important for your baby NOT to fall asleep in your arms. He/She has to fall asleep where he is going to wake up à in his cot.
Tip 8: Sleep Associations
Sleep associations are the number 1 reason why babies don’t sleep well. Sleep associations are external strategies your baby needs in order to fall asleep. The falling and staying asleep skill is not internalised.
- Remove Dummy
- No rocking
- No Patting
- No Feeding to sleep
- No Co-sleeping
I hope that you have found this information helpful and that your baby is on a good path to healthy sleeping. If your little one is still struggling to sleep well, you might need more personal help and support from me or there might be a medical reason (like reflux or eczema). Please see your GP if you are not sure. Happy Sleepers’ services are not Medical Advice. The advice you receive from me is for informational purposes only and is intended for use with common early childhood sleep issues that are wholly unrelated to medical conditions.
Happy Sleepers is here to help you. We have a wide range of packages available to suite your needs. From video training (Do-it-yourself) to Full night stay where you have all my attention and support. Sometimes you are just too tired or too close to your situation to solve your issue on your own. I’m here to help you in your journey towards better sleep. My motto is: Sound Sleep for EVERYONE!
Hi, my name is Christine Scheepers.
I am an ICU Nurse, Midwife, Qualified Sleep Sense Consultant and Founder of Happy Sleepers.
I am a mother of 4 year old twins, Anthony and Emma and they are the reason why I started my Happy Sleepers business. As babies, they made me realise how important sleep is and how the lack thereof, made us a very dysfunctional family.
We were very tired and really didn’t enjoy our little twins the way we wanted to.
We were desperate for sleep!!! Because I was so sleep deprived for such a long time, it became my mission to help other mums and families with their sleep challenges.
I have undergone a comprehensive training and mentoring program with Dana Obleman, founder of the Sleep Sense program in the US (www.sleepsense.net), which equipped me with the best tools and knowledge available to change sleep problems into healthy sleep habits.
I am very passionate about my business.
I really think I can make a positive difference in your life.
DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR BABY’S SLEEP NOW?
GET YOUR 14 DAY STEP-BY-STEP SLEEPING PLAN AND DAILY COACHING VIDEOS TODAY
I’m Christine, the founder of Happy Sleepers. I am an ICU nurse, Midwife, Qualified Sleep Consultant and I’m a mum of twins. I’ve helped 100’s of babies and parents in the past and now I’m here to help YOU! 🙂