Guest Blog Post
When baby isn’t sleeping well, it can wreak havoc on the whole household. Not only is your infant or toddler probably cranky, but you are too. We are all more effective and patient parents when we are well-rested and your baby or toddler will be able to learn new skills and be happier when he’s getting the rest he needs so much.
Here are five baby sleep tips that can help your whole family get the rest they deserve and need:
- 1. Sleep Routines – Children thrive on routine and with a proper nap and bedtime routine, your child will begin to know what to expect and likely start welcoming the next part of his day with open arms.
A typical nighttime sleep routine might include diaper change, a quiet game, breastfeeding/bottle/cup (for babies younger than 1 or 2), brushing teeth, potty (if applicable), book (or 2), singing and cuddling, and then lights out. A nap routine is usually very similar to the bedtime routine, but usually shorter (about 10 minutes).
- 2. Early Bedtime – An early bedtime is often crucial to a good night’s sleep for your baby or toddler under 2 years old. When babies and toddlers are overtired, he will have more difficulty falling asleep and, most importantly, staying asleep and often wake up too early in the morning. It’s counter-intuitive, but an early bedtime will lead to a more restful sleep and a later waking in the morning very often. A typical bedtime is between 6-8 p.m., but mostly based on when the last nap ends and it is important not to allow too much wake-time. When a baby does not nap well, usually bedtime needs to be even earlier.
- 3. Naps – The better your child naps during the day, the better they sleep at night. Again, this is counter-intuitive, but the better he naps, the less likely he will be overtired and can settle down and sleep better at night. A good nap is at least one hour. Moving sleep (such as in the car, stroller or swing) is not as restorative and should be avoided, if possible. Short naps are common up through 6 months of age and thereafter may need to be encouraged. You may be interested in knowing ways to help your baby nap or toddler nap.
- 4. Sleep Associations – We all associate certain things when we fall asleep such as sleeping on a pillow. If you woke up during the night and your pillow was gone, you would most likely have a hard time going back to sleep. If you become your child’s “pillow” such that she needs to call out for you to “find her pillow” whether it’s a pacifier, bottle, nursing, rocking, etc., she will have a much harder time sleeping through the night. If she associates going to sleep a certain way, when she wakes up periodically through sleep cycles (that we all have!), she will be able to go back to sleep, because she won’t be “looking” for anything. Sleep associations are a key problem for babies having trouble sleeping through the night or napping well.
- 5. Lovey – It is sometimes helpful to introduce a baby lovey that your baby can find comfort in while sleeping in his crib/bed. A lovey can really be anything that comforts your baby, but you also need to be safe. Any item in the crib or bassinet, before your baby is at least one year old, should be smaller than his head and should not have anything that can come off that he can choke on. I usually recommend a small blanket that he can also suck on (particularly if he does not take a pacifier or you wish to break the habit). One of Ambajam’s Mini Cuddle Up baby blankets is a perfect size for younger babies and the Cuddle Up baby blanket for toddlers.
Whether you co-sleep or your baby has been in a crib since birth or whether you breastfeed or formula feed, your baby’s sleep is essential to her growth and development. Sleep deprivation has been shown to lead to obesity, behavior problems, and other health problems. But, sleep strategies that work for you may not work for everyone and what works for many people might not work for you! Everyone’s situation is unique, but when chronic sleep deprivation gets the best of you, it’s very difficult to even think straight never mind come up with a plan you can implement. Beginning with the five items above is a great start!
To help your baby sleep, Ambajam and Pick Nick’s Brain are hosting a co-giveaway! You have a chance to win a Cuddle Up baby blanket (Jumbo excluded) or a copy of Pick Nick’s Brain’s Help Your Child Sleep Step-by-Step Guide. Simply enter a comment on this post about your baby or toddler’s sleep by Monday, September 15th, 2008. Sleep tight! *Bonus*If you help spread the word and link to this post and to Nicole’s blog you’ll receive an extra 5 entries. You must link to your post in your comment. Winner will be announced Wed 9/17/2008.
Nicole Johnson is the owner of Pick Nick’s Brain – www.picknicksbrain.com – specializing in sleep products and consulting services for children. Nicole is a wife, mother of two, Full-time work-at-home IT consultant and now, an entrepreneur. She attended UC Berkeley where she received her B.A. in Computer Science and received her MBA from Ohio State University after the birth of her first son. She received her Master’s in Sleep Deprivation when her first son did not sleep and made it her mission to help other parents help their children learn healthy sleep habits, too.