If your baby (or toddler or older child) is having trouble sleeping independently through the night, the first thing you should know is… you’re not alone! Studies show that up to 30% of babies have sleep challenges, and that 75% of parents would like to change their babies’ sleep habits.
The good news is that there are some quick and easy things you can do – starting tonight – to help your little one start sleeping all through the night… and taking long, restful naps during the day!
So, as promised, here they are
Step 1: Choose an Early Bedtime
The best time to put your baby or toddler to bed is sometime between 6 and 8 o’clock in the evening. This ensures that your child will be able to get a solid 11-13 hours of sleep during the night. (And yes… that is how much sleep children should be getting every night up through the early elementary years.)
Step 2: Put Your Child to Sleep in the Same Place Each Night
Whether your child has a room of their own or shares a room with parents or siblings, it’s important that you put your son or daughter to sleep in the same place every night (and for naps during the day as much as possible.) Putting your child to bed in a familiar place lets them know they are safe and that they are in a place where sleep is expected of them.
Step 3: Create a Predictable Bedtime Routine
Consistency and predictability are really important to babies, toddlers, and young children. When they know what to expect at bedtime, it makes it MUCH easier for them to make the transition from waking to sleeping – and that’s why creating a routine is so important! A good example of a bedtime routine might be something like this:
6:20 pm Bath time
6:35 pm Pajamas
6:40 pm Nursing/Bottle **
6:55 pm Story/song/cuddles
7:00 pm Into crib
** (DO NOT let your child fall asleep while feeding)
Step 4: Put Your Baby to Bed Awake
If you’ve been rocking, nursing, or otherwise soothing your baby to sleep, this is going to seem like a tough one… but it’s actually the most important step! It’s only by letting your baby fall asleep WITHOUT your help at bedtime that he or she can learn the skills necessary to stay asleep through the night. And if your older child is depending on your presence in their room to fall asleep initially, then that same presence is going to be required each time they wake in the night in order to go back to sleep.
Step 5: If Your Baby Wakes in the Night, Wait a Few Minutes Before Responding
Everyone – babies and adults alike – will actually wake up several times every night. For most adults, these wakings are so brief that we don’t even remember them the next morning. However, many babies will immediately start to fuss or cry when they wake up.
This is simply because they haven’t learned how to fall asleep on their own. If a baby has been nursed or rocked to sleep at bedtime since birth, it’s not surprising that they wouldn’t know how to fall asleep independently. The good news is that any babies can figure out how to get back to sleep within just a few minutes of waking up in the night!
If your child continues to fuss or cry for more than a few minutes, you’ll want to go in and offer some comfort, but it’s important to let your child do the work of falling back to sleep. You can speak softly to your child and do some gentle rubbing or patting, but you should avoid picking your child up and rocking or nursing back to sleep.
FREE Sleep Evaluations
While these tips can you get you started right away, every child IS unique. We offer complimentary sleep evaluations so you can discuss YOUR child’s situation and get direct input on getting them to sleep independently, happily, and restfully. Contact us today to schedule your call and start getting the answers that you need.
Ladera Ranch, Ca 92694
(949) 272-0725 (call OR text)