I am not a doctor. I am not a sleep specialist. I am a mom, and I have been blessed with good sleepers. I like to think they sleep well because I followed certain recommendations, but I am fully aware that some kids like to sleep and others just don’t sleep, no matter what you do.
In general, my kids sleep through the night, including my 5 month old. Now, do we have horrible nights dealing with teething, regressions, sickness, toddlerisms? Yes, of course. Everyone has those nights, weeks, or even months. But there are things you can do from the beginning that help build a foundation of good sleep. So when you get off track, it’s easy to get back on. I’m not talking about sleep training, I just talking about general tips.
Here are 5 ways to help your baby sleep!
Make a big deal about MORNINGS! “Good morning, good morning, it’s great to stay up late!” This is the song from Singin’ in the Rain that I sing to my kids every morning. I open the blinds and turn on the lights. They know it’s morning time. This helps your baby learn the difference between night and day. During daytime naps, let some light in. I usually leave some of the blinds open, so my baby knows it’s not nighttime. Even during his little catnap after dinner, before bed, I will turn on his lamp to differentiate nap from night. Then when it is finally nighttime, I have very little light in his room.
Put them down DROWSY. Rock them, cuddle them, sing to them, whatever you want to do. It’s wonderful bonding, and take it from a mom of a toddler, they won’t want to cuddle up to you like this forever. Enjoy it. That being said, do not do these soothing techniques until they fall into a beautiful deep baby sleep. Transfer them to the crib right before they drift off. This is an art. It truly is. But if mastered, it can work wonders because your baby will then learn, they are alone in their crib to sleep and that’s ok. Let your baby open their eyes for a second to know they’re in their crib. If they never realize the transfer and then wake up alone…. Tears! But if they are used to lying in the crib now and then awake, they know mom isn’t supposed to be with them. They will then learn to soothe themselves into that beautiful deep baby sleep.
Make NOISE. Get your little one used to sleeping with noise. I used to vacuum my house while my babies slept in their bouncy seats. Turn on light music. Move about your house normally. Babies that need complete silence have trouble because it isn’t realistic to keep your house this way forever. Having friends for dinner while your little one sleeps? Perfect! Don’t tip-toe around. And if they are a second child, good luck keeping your older child quiet. My toddler has been known to run into my baby’s room screaming during nap time. My baby just rolls over, like “Ugh, my brother is so annoying.” But he doesn’t wake up because he is used to noise.
WAKE them. Yes, you read this correctly. Most grandparents will give you a horrible look if you wake your sleeping baby. Back when we were kids, this was a horrible mommy sin. Today, a lot of moms wake their babies to eat. Try to keep them on some kind of schedule. Babies are happier when they have a routine, and babies that sleep all day long are up all night! A 5 hour nap may sound amazing, but it is no bueno when it is followed by a restless night.
Get HELP. Being a mom is hard. Getting your kids to sleep is hard. And it’s so important. Babies need their rest to grow and develop. If something isn’t working, change it, no matter what stage you are in. Get a book, talk to a sleep consultant or doctor, get help. I love Babywise, but that isn’t for everyone. Find a method you believe in and give it a try.
You’ve got this! Getting your kids to sleep is not a race, it’s a marathon. And don’t compare yourself to others. No one knows your kids like you do. At the end of the day, you will know what will work best for them.