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Try These 5 tips Tonight to Improve Your Child’s Sleep

During my years as a sleep professional, I’ve gotten used to people asking me what the “secret” is to getting a baby to sleep through the night.

Of course, there is no ONE secret. Teaching a child healthy sleep habits is a combination of lots of different things.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some shortcuts, either!

With that in mind, today I’d like to share with you 5 different shortcuts you can start trying over the next few nights to get your child sleeping better.

Let’s get right to it:

Sleep Shortcut #1: Watch the waking hours

One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep – especially for babies and toddlers – is overtiredness… and many parents are surprised to learn just how soon their children get overtired!

Here’s a quick guide to how long your child should be awake between naps during the day:

Newborns (0-12 weeks): 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes of awake time
3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time
13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time

If you make sure that your child is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you’ll find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime… AND that they are more relaxed at bedtime, too!

Sleep Shortcut #2: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

We humans (babies and toddlers included) sleep better in the dark.

Try making your child’s room as dark as possible. (I recommend using blackout blinds, taping cardboard over the windows, or whatever it takes!)

In many cases, even the glow from a nightlight or a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep cycle!

BONUS TIP: Try to keep your child’s room as dark as possible during daytime naps, too. This can often make a BIG difference in how long your child will nap during the day!

Sleep Shortcut #3: Be Predictable (And A Little Boring)

Babies and toddlers love predictable routines.  And a predictable bedtime routine (lasting about 30 minutes) is a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming.

A typical bedtime routine might look something like this:

– bath (5 minutes)
– put on pajamas (5 minutes)
–nursing or bottle and burping (10 minutes)
– read a story and/or sing some songs(10 minutes)

Make sure that this routine is the same every single time. Remember, you want bedtime to be as predictable as possible for your child!

After your bedtime routine is complete, be boring. Lots of children will try to “drag out” bedtime by playing games, throwing toys out of the crib, standing up, etc.

Don’t participate.

If your child has thrown their blanket or favorite stuffed toy out of the crib, calmly return the item without saying a word. Be boring, and the games shouldn’t last too long!

Sleep Shortcut #4: Same Place, Same Time

Remembering that our children love predictability, it’s a good idea to have your child sleep in the same place – at the same time – every day.

This means that naptime should happen in the same place as nighttime sleep – rather than in carseats, strollers, your lap at the coffee shop, etc.

For many parents, simply changing WHERE their child naps during the day causes a big improvement in the length and quality of nighttime sleep.

BONUS TIP: When you are putting your child to sleep for the night, it’s a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep.

In other words, if your child falls asleep in your arms on the couch and then wakes up during the night in a completely different place (like their crib), chances are they’ll be surprised… and start crying to let you know about it!

Sleep Shortcut #5: Take Five

Before you put your child to bed (for naps or at nighttime), make sure the five-minute period before they are put to bed is very calm and relaxing.

No throwing your toddler in the air… or watching TV… or tickle fights… in the five minutes immediately before bed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I totally encourage tickle fights and any other kinds of rowdy fun you can think of with your children. It’s fun for the whole family! Just NOT in the five minutes before bed. (Right after waking up is a great time to play!)

The Next Step?

Like I said, these are “shortcuts” – quick tricks that, for some parents, are the missing piece of the puzzle that gets their child sleeping through the night.

And while I hope that you’ll be one of the lucky parents who’s able to solve their children’s sleep problems using one of these tricks, I’m also here for you if you need a little more guidance.

About the author

Shannon Glenn

Shannon Glenn is the owner and founder of Sleep Well Children Consulting and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist. She is dedicated to helping parents assist their children and babies in developing healthy sleep habits. With a B.A. in Psychology, Shannon has worked extensively with children and their families for over 15 years in a variety of settings.  She has been offering sleep solutions for over six years.  

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The Five Steps To Getting Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night!

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

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