If you are at the park, Gymboree or your weekly playgroup, odds are one of your friends will be talking about her child’s sleep schedule – or in most cases, lack thereof. Back when I had my first blog Everyday Happiness, I had quite a few posts about sleep schedules and how to help your baby sleep better. Let’s face it, I was a first-time mom and only had one baby’s sleep schedule to worry about, so I stuck to that schedule with all my might.
Fast forward, I have one 2 1/2 year old and a one-year-old, and we’ve been through quite a few sleep phases — good and bad. I learned as a mom to two that you kind of have to just go with the flow sometimes, and keeping to a sleep schedule isn’t always possible. I learned that the sleep issues don’t end just because they start sleep through the night, and that every child is different. Here are 10 tips I’ve collected over that time that have helped us navigate those bad sleep phases and help Shep and Beau get the sleep each of them needed.
First of all, here’s a summary of our normal sleep schedule these days. How closely do I stick to it? I’d say loosely – I make it work for our schedule and try not to have it work the other way around. When I was too strict with a schedule I felt like we were stuck inside all the time, and that’s not how I want to live my days. That said, if I was too loose with the schedule, the naps became unpredictable, and that’s tough for me when I’m trying to work during those naptimes.
Shep (2.5 years old)
Wakes up around 7:30 am
Beau (one year old) – FYI he dropped third evening nap around 6 months
Wakes up around 5:30 am
Second nap 2 pm-4 pm
10 Tips for Sleep Success
- Keep wake time and bedtime consistent. This was one of the most important tips from the Babywise book (just go to this blog to search any sleep issue you have – it’s so helpful!). If nothing else, keeping these times consistent helps regulate your child’s internal clock. It’s the same for adults too!
- Try a variety of sleepsacks. I say TRY because it’s not the magical cure-all for everyone. But my boys love them and SHOCK – still sleep in them. Shep transitioned from his beloved Zipadee-Zip to a Flying Squirrel sack around 1.5, and hasn’t wanted to part ways yet. And if we have ever met, you are probably already sick of me talking about how much I love our Zipadee-Zips! Great news for Borm & Co. readers, they are offering you a $5 discount on your order! Just type “BORM” at checkout.
Other sleepsacks we have liked when both were younger (from young swaddles to toddler sacks) are: Nuroo swaddles, Halo Sleep Sacks, and Merlin Magic Suit. I’m a believer that sleep sacks do more than help your child stay warm. I think they signal that it’s time to sleep differently than pajamas can.
- With babies, avoid skipping naps. I know, as a mom of two, this isn’t always possible. But I’m a big believer that good sleep promotes good sleep. When Beau skips his first nap, his second one isn’t as good. He still really needs that first nap, so we try not to skip it more than once a week (because sometimes you just have to head out of the house earlier than 11 am!)
- Sound machines. Our family LOVES sound machines. These things helped Shep and Beau sleep through our wood floor renovation (I still don’t know how they did it). We have a few DOHM sound machines, which have been the best for us both at home and travel.
- Wait before waking them when you hear the first cry. I am NOT saying cry it out. What I am saying is in the morning or at night when you first hear your child stir, let them do that. It’s how they are getting comfortable (Think about it: do you lay down at night and immediately fall asleep? Probably not. You move around, get comfortable and take time to fall asleep. It’s the same for babies!) I’ve found in the mornings when I wait to hear if Shep or Beau is actually awake or just moving around, 3 out of 5 times they aren’t ready to get up yet.
- Pick a lovie or two for them to hold tight. Shep’s babies have helped him get over his fear of the dark and settle into bed even when he doesn’t want to. He really loves all his little “babies,” and one of my favorites I got for Beau was this super soft Jellycat lovie.
- Avoid stimulating activities before bed. Easier said than done right? But I do aim to “wind down” the boys about one hour before bedtime. Depending on the night, that time is spent cleaning up toys, reading books, watching a favorite show, and time cuddling with mommy and daddy.
- Nix toddler shows with anything scary. I noticed that there was one new PBS show that Shep was watching that was likely the culprit to recent nightmares. He’d wake up several times in the night frightened and had a hard time going back to sleep. This was a rough time for Shep’s sleeping patterns. I noticed once we cut out that show, his nightmares decreased dramatically.
- Cut out sugar before 5 pm. I know some parents who have had better success cutting sugar altogether, but I haven’t noticed issues (yet) with sugar as long as it’s not close to bedtime.
- Get comfortable with phases of good and bad sleep. Sorry new mamas, but just because your baby is sleeping through the night now doesn’t mean they always will (I know, such a Debbie Downer). But it’s true. Long after baby days they go through sleeping troubles again and again – potty training anxiety, nightmares, normal toddlerisms to make bedtime last FOREVER, you name it. But nothing is permanent. Those phases come and go. And I think my biggest lesson is don’t worry too much when you are in one. Sometimes you can fix it, but sometimes it just has to run its course.
What’s your most helpful tip for baby or toddler sleep? What’s worked best for your family? Don’t forget to order your Zipadee-Zip today and use the discount code “BORM”!
Now on to the LinkUp!