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Creative baby announcements are one of my fun obsessions on Pinterest. I am secretly jealous of how creative parents or parents-to-be are! Being a mom of three now, I’m well aware of the deep fatigue, heavy eyes and dark circles that result once the bundle of joy arrives and no one is sleeping more than a couple hours at a time! Well, I am very excited to introduce you all to Karoline Babaian, Founder of The Sleep Nest. She has a special post for us with all the best tips to get your baby to sleep peacefully! We ALL could use some sleep help, and she is the expert! Just take a look at her testimonials, and you’ll see she’s like the magic sleep fairy coming to your rescue. Check out all her tips and info below and make sure to keep up with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Getting Your Infant To Sleep the Sleep Nest Way
There are many ways that we, as parents, have tried to get our babies to fall asleep. As a mother of 2 girls, I understand and empathize with the countless parents I have worked with in hearing their stories of what their “bedtime routine” consists. Some are tried and true, and others are a hit and miss. Whatever the method has been, the key thing to remember is with each stage growth, milestones crossed, and changes of needs arise, the same methods may not necessarily stand true to work. In other words, if feeding your baby used to work for a good few months, it does not mean that will always be the case because as the baby’s needs change, we have to remember keep up with how to strategize a new form of putting the baby down. Here is the thing; if a baby has to consistently depend on being soothed by someone or something (bottle, nursing, pacifier, rocking, holding, etc.) then that baby will consistently feel the need for that at every sleep situation. This is where you then slowly enter the world of no sleep unless baby is soothed to sleep.
Building healthy sleep habits can and should be implemented as early on as possible. Does this mean you won’t get to rock your baby to sleep ever? Not necessarily. But, to provide a child with the opportunity to figure out his or her own potential of soothing on their own is when baby will get longer stretches of sleep. As a Sleep Coach, I use the analogy of taking pain medicine; the pill helps relieve the pain 4-6hrs, then the pain comes back and now you need to take another pain medicine to feel better. If a baby is depending on, let’s say, feeding to sleep then he will still wake up to have the bottle or breast in the mouth to make himself drowsy once again to fall asleep. If this happens
throughout the night, or consistently, or either barely takes ounces, or gulps down most of the feeding amount in a given day at nighttime, then this is a red flag. Habits are easily created, and can easily be replaced.
The good news is that there are some quick and easy things you can do – starting tonight -to help your little one sleep all through the night, and take long, restful naps during the day! In order to instill healthy sleep habits, these tips will help to ensure sleep is structured and consistent.
So, here are the steps to getting your baby to sleep through the night!
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 stretch in hours of sleep during the night*. Children should be in bed no later than 8pm up to the age of 10 to ensure a school-aged child is getting proper amount of sleep, to keep up with studies.
*Refer to Daily Sleep Schedule Example for age specific hours. Put your child to sleep in the same place every night. Children thrive on knowing what comes next. Predicting their sleep times help them be more prepared for bed, and simply accept. If a child falls asleep in your arms, or in a swing, rocker, car seat, and such, they will expect to sleep there only. The moment you transfer them into their bed is when you are back to square one-awake and crying to go back to sleep.
DAILY SLEEP SCHEDULE
0-11wks | 3 to 4 naps 1-1.5hrs/ea | Awake: 45mins-1hr | Night Sleep: 16-17hrs
12wks(3mos)-5/6mos | Naps: 3 naps 1-2hrs/ea | Awake: 1.5hrs-2hrs | Night Sleep: 13-15hrs
6/7mos-12/13mos | 2 naps 1.5hrs/ea | Awake: 2.5hrs-3.5hrs | Night: 11-12hrs
12mos-3yrs | 1-2 naps 1-1.5hrs/ea | Awake: 4hrs-6hrs | Night: 11-12hrs
3-5 years | 0-1 nap (up to age 5yrs) for 1hr | Awake: 6hrs | Night: 10-12hrs
6-9yrs No naps | Night: 9-10hrs
Whether your child has a room of their own or shares a room with siblings, it’s important that you put your child to sleep in the same place every night (and for naps during the day as well.) 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.
Create a predictable bedtime routine.
Consistency and predictability (once again) are really important factors for babies and toddlers. When they know what to expect at bedtime, it makes it much easier for them to make the transition from being awake to falling asleep. This is precisely why creating a bedtime routine is essential for a successful night of sleep!
A good example of a bedtime routine might look something like this:
6:40 p.m. Bath time
6:50 p.m. Put on pajamas
6:55 p.m. Lots of cuddles & kisses (a story or two for toddlers and older children)
7:00 p.m. Into crib awake*
*If 3yrs and up- place in a toddler bed with bed rail for safety.
For a toddler 2yrs and up, a 7-7:30pm bedtime is ideal. I would not recommend anything past 7:30pm for a good few years. Once your child stops taking naps altogether, I suggest pulling bedtime back up to 7pm. This will help a school-aged child who will need the amount of sleep! Your bedtime routine shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes, and its very important that the routine is the same every single night. The repetition and predictability are what let your child know that he or she will soon be expected to fall asleep.
My staple rule of thumb with every family I work with is to ensure bedtime is sooner, rather than later. Meaning, if your child did not take enough naps, woke up too early that morning, feeling sick, etc. it is always wise to bump bedtime up by about 30mins or so. Bumping bedtime ensures the child does not get overtired, which makes falling asleep an even bigger challenge.
Put your baby to bed AWAKE!
Now, you may have already heard of this line and are wondering, how in the world do I do that when he keeps crying the moment his body touches the bed? 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 can learn the skills necessary to stay asleep through the night. Should he wake up in the night, he will resettle on his own if he knows how to self-soothe. So if he wakes up, this leads me to the next step…
If your baby wakes up during the night, WAIT a few minutes before intervening. If you are a parent that goes into deep sleep and does not hear the baby cry, then this section is not for you. But, for the rest of us who wake up and have most likely been at the baby’s bedside in 2.5 seconds out of hearing a slight noise, you can relate!
Everyone – babies and adults alike – will actually wake up several times every night. For most adults, these wake ups 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 many 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 is very 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, but you should AVOID picking your child up to rock or nurse back to sleep. Allow the sleep habits to remain strictly to self-soothe, and not do the work for the baby. Same rules apply to your toddler or older child. If he gets up from bed and walks into your room, and as most experience the two little eyes staring at your face while you are asleep, it is important to simply walk your baby over and tuck him back in. It may seem repetitive, but that is the point; remaining consistent. Once you see your baby resettling, this is when
I tell my clients that they have “seen the light” so-to- speak. Yes, there is a light at the end of that dark and dreary, sleep-deprived tunnel!
The first thing to remember is to know and believe that no matter where you are at with your baby’s sleep habits while reading this, is that you are an AMAZING parent who loves unconditionally. After all, don’t we truly feel that way towards our children…? As a final note, I would like to mention that as a Sleep Coach, sleep issues are on the rise and I hear from parents on a daily basis. It is a more common issue than most realize. It almost feels as if the issue has been normalized either by relating parents who suffer through sleep troubles, or family members such as the grandparents who suggest to stick with the “traditional” way to getting the baby to sleep. After all, look at how well you turned out is what you will hear in response.
If you are suffering through sleep deprivation because you just cannot seem to get your baby to sleep on his or her own, and even more importantly your baby is not getting the suggested amount of sleep, then this is your opportunity to ask yourself how you can turn that around and FIX it. There is help and all you have to do is ask for the help!
Karoline Babaian, and approved by The Sleep Nest prior hand.Karoline Babaian is a Certified Sleep Coach, personally trained and certified by renowned author Dana Obleman of Sleep Sense™. She founded The Sleep Nest in efforts to coach parents of newborns, infants, and toddlers age 5yrs+ to learn to fall asleep on their own, bringing balance and rest in families nationwide.