Does anyone here have a baby or toddler with a MASSIVE early rising problem? A mom in the My Sleeping My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community group posted about her daughter’s 3:30am start to her day, so I HAD to give her a response!
In my books, you’ve got an early rising problem on your hands when:
a) your little one is waking up before 6:00 AM for the day; or
b) your little one is waking up before 10.5-11 hours of nighttime sleep. So for example, if your baby had gone to bed at 8:00 PM for the night, you wouldn’t want him starting his day before 6:30am at the absolute earliest.
In this situation, it sounds like we have a baby who’s stuck in the wrong time zone. Even though this mom was battling early rising beforehand, the dreaded fall back time change has made things worse!
The biggest piece of advice here is treat ANY wake up before 6:00 AM or before it’s been 10.5-11 hours of night sleep as though it is nighttime. In other words, at 3:30am, don’t get her day started because it’s going to signal to her internal biological clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, that it’s time to start her day!
Our bodies are extremely sensitive to light, whether it’s natural or artificial. By turning on the lights, getting her dressed, feeding her, and ultimately getting her day started, it tells her circadian rhythm that 3:30am is morning. What make matters worse is when this baby goes down for a nap at 6:00am, which is when she should really just be starting her day. This early morning nap reinforces the early rising problem by getting her into this vicious cycle of waking early, napping early, going to bed early, and waking up early again. This is why it sounds like she is stuck in the wrong time zone! So to break this vicious cycle, I would treat a 3:30am wakeup as though it’s 3:30am….which is nighttime 🙂
Don’t underestimate how powerful exposure to light and darkness is for rejigging one’s internal alarm clock. And by the way, this applies equally to adults! Does anyone here remember repeatedly waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom during pregnancy? The biggest piece of advice I always give people when they need to use the bathroom at nighttime is to keep the lights off. Otherwise, it might be significantly harder for you to fall back asleep even though you WANT to.
Light is a very powerful tool can help you break your little one’s early rising cycle. Just keep to a very simple rule- only expose your little one to light when it’s daytime!
Anyone here wondering why their 2 year-old’s nightwakings are still happening? You’re not alone! A mom in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook community has a toddler who continues to wake up at night for a bottle.
Jennifer posted the following question: “Does anyone here have a two year old who keeps waking up at night? My son wakes up every night at different times screaming, nothing seems to calm him down. It’s so hard to get him to go back to sleep. He’ll ask for milk usually too. I don’t know what to do. Will this ever end?”
Absolutely. By the time he’s 16, he’s likely not going to be waking you up at night asking for a bottle of milk! The better question to be asking is whether this going to end anytime soon. The truthful answer is that we don’t know. If we don’t jump in and intervene, there’s no guarantee as to how much longer this nighttime behaviour could go on for.
The better question to be asking is whether this fixable. Does your 2 year-old need to be waking up repeatedly at night for a bottle? And is this good for him? No, your two year old CAN absolutely be sleeping through the night on a regular basis. And no, it’s NOT in anyone’s best interests, including a toddler’s to be waking up at night because we need sleep!
How we fall asleep initially is what sets the tone for the rest of the night. If your little one relies on certain conditions, such as a bottle to fall asleep, this could explain why he’s waking up wanting a bottle to go BACK to sleep. When he wakes up at the end of one of his many sleep cycles, he might expect you to recreate those conditions of which he relied on to fall asleep to begin with.
The solution? Teach him how to fall asleep by himself, without the bottle. Toddler sleep training is very doable with the right plan in place. My favourite sleep training method for toddlers is the Sleep Lady Shuffle. NO cry-it-out is necessary here!
Jennifer mentioned that when he wakes up at night, he wants to be taken out of his room. So let’s be real- that must be fun for him! He’s obviously figured out that if he wakes up, he’ll get a bottle and some entertainment. The wakeup is worth it to him!
In order for us to fix this, I recommend changing up the way he’s responded to so that the nightwaking is no longer rewarded. This doesn’t mean that you need to resort to “cry it out” either. The Sleep Lady Shuffle is often a great fit for these situations. In fact, given his age, it wouldn’t be something I’d recommend anyways. Why take the steep, bumpy road up, if there is a smoother, easier path to get you to the exact same end point?
Will your 2 year-old’s nightwakings ever end? Yes, but we don’t know when. As long as we don’t intervene, this problem could continue to go on for longer. If you want to fix this, you can! Make sure that he is falling asleep without assistance initially at bedtime so that you can tuck him in, say goodnight, and leave the room. And make sure to change how you’re responding to him when he wakes up at night. He needs to learns how to fall asleep, and back to sleep, without intervention.
If you’re wondering why your toddler is waking up TOO EARLY on a regular basis, keep reading 🙂 Early rising is the pits!
A mom in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook community has a 3 year-old who was previously a great sleeper. They transitioned her into a big bed from a crib, which initially went well. They also shortened the length of her nap and eventually removed her nap completely because of her transition to a full time nursery program in September.
Since these transitions took place, her toddler wakes up too early, comes into their bedroom at the crack of dawn, and doesn’t go back to sleep. How exhausting!
There’s likely one of two culprits causing a toddler to wake up too early. The problem could be caused by a combination of both factors.
When a toddler finally drops their nap, she can easily become overtired if her bedtime isn’t pushed earlier to compensate for the lack of daytime sleep. Overtiredness, unlike what our common sense dictates, is actually a massive sleep stealer and is a well-known culprit of early rising. I know it sounds confusing but hear me out: when we become overtired, our bodies become stressed and it causes our cortisol levels to rise. And when cortisol levels rise, it makes it much harder for us to stay asleep throughout the night.
The solution? Instead of putting her to bed for 7pm, temporarily push her bedtime back to 6:00 PM. I know this sounds early- and it is. It’s very early! But sometimes an early bedtime is very necessary when in the thick of dropping a nap. By getting her down an hour earlier for the night, there’s a good chance her night will lengthen.
Many 3 year-olds are not ready to be transitioned to a bed just yet. Many children in this age range sleep better in their cribs because they aren’t mature enough to handle all the freedoms offered by a bed.
Sometimes, a toddler doesn’t realize he can leave his bed and room whenever he pleases at first. This can mislead parents into thinking the transition to a bed is going well! And as soon as your toddler realizes she CAN leave, she might go “Hey, wait a second- why would I stay in bed if I can leave my room and drive my parents crazy at 5:00 AM?” This is why many toddlers need a physical boundary to keep them contained, whether it’s a gate by the door or going back into the crib. Otherwise, it could be too tempting for her to leave her room.
For the record, my younger daughter was in a crib until her 4th birthday for this exact reason. She was very immature and untrustworthy. I knew that if I transitioned her to a bed any earlier, it’s likely not going to end well. Food for thought.
The third possibility is your toddler’s early rising problem could be caused by a combination of the two culprits. Your toddler could be overtired AND she might benefit from going back into a crib or having a gate by the door. Play around with both of these possible culprits. I’d recommend pushing bedtime earlier first. See if this fixes the issue by itself. If your toddler wakes up too early, you may want to explore the second culprit.
The other day, I received a question from a mom in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook community about whether I had any advice about having two kids sharing a room successfully.
Now, it happens to be that my girls shared a room since they were a toddler and a baby. And for the most part, the setup has worked out beautifully. So I’ve got a lot to say on the topic!
1. Make sure that your older child is a solid sleeper. Perhaps your toddler either needs help falling asleep or regularly wakes up at night. If that’s the case, you’re going to want to tackle this sleep challenge before your kids share a room. The last thing that you want is for your toddler to unnecessarily wake up your baby. Therefore, I recommend tackling any toddler sleep issues *now* as opposed to down the road.
2. Maximize your infant’s sleep by exploring some sleep training before moving your infant into a room with your toddler. See, we want to set everything off on the right foot as much as possible. If your baby is waking up multiple times at night, there’s obviously going to be a higher likelihood that your toddler will get woken up in the process. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to sleep train your infant while she’s in your room. Once she’s sleeping better at night, *then* you can move your infant into a room with your toddler.
And look, your infant might be 4-5 months by the time you’ve sleep trained him/her and might still be waking up at night. But as long as they’re not waking as frequently as before, you’re obviously in a better off scenario.
3. Implement some type of rewards chart for your toddler or preschooler. See at first, it’s going to be exciting for your little ones to share a room together. You’ll want to make sure that your toddler understands what the rules and expectations are surrounding this new environment.
Start of by introducing a sticker chart with a few sleep manners and expectations. For example, he’s not allowed to wake the baby up in the middle of the night, nor is he allowed to wake the baby up once he’s gone to bed. Try to have a few sleep manners so that you can award him at least one sticker the next morning. This sticker chart will serve as a constant reminder for your toddler as to what are your expectations of him now that he’s sharing a room with his sibling.
Let’s address the actual bedtime process when you’ve got two kids sharing a room. I think that there is a misconception that states that you absolutely need to stagger bedtimes. Some parents believe that you can never have two children sharing a room who go to bed at the same time. I disagree! On a personal note, my girls have always gone to bed at the exact same time every single day. If they’re both due to go to sleep at the same time, why not do do their bedtime routine together? There’s no reason why two children can’t be tucked in for the night at the same time.
Getting two kids sharing a room successfully is not as challenging as it seems. As long as you have maximized both kids’ sleep, there shouldn’t be much to worry about!
I got a message from a member of my Facebook group. If you fantasize about what it would be like to have a baby that sleeps through the night, but you’re not doing anything about it, you should read my reply.
“Hey Eva, I have a question for you. I’ve been following you on Facebook for quite a while now and I’m so impressed with everything you do! My baby is 13 months and has NEVER been a good sleeper. She’s a high needs baby, cries a lot, and just hates sleep! I’m exhausted! Is it possible that some babies just aren’t sleepers? Or do you think your Sleep Bible program can work for my difficult baby and help her learn how to sleep through the night?”
All healthy babies and children can learn how to sleep well. I repeat: ALL HEALTHY BABIES AND CHILDREN CAN LEARN HOW TO SLEEP WELL! Sleep is a basic biological function that we ALL need- babies included!
Look, are some babies more difficult and needy than others?- Yes.
Does sleep come more naturally to some babies than others?- Absolutely.
But can needy babies *learn* how to sleep just as well as their easy-going friends? YOU BET!
It just means that your difficult and needy baby might not let you get away with things that an easy-going baby will let you get away with.
For example, since you’ve been following me on Facebook for a while, I’m sure you know that overtiredness is a very well-known sleep stealer with babies and young children, right? So perhaps an easy-going baby will still manage to sleep through the night even though her daytime schedule is off, causing her to become overtired. Your high needs baby, on the other hand, might wake up at all hours of the night if he repeatedly skips his afternoon nap or goes to bed too late.
So as long as you respect your baby’s sleep needs, she CAN learn how to sleep through the night!
I’ve been in your shoes. My middle child was (is?) a high needs baby (she’s now 5 years-old). She also hated sleep- or so I thought. Thankfully, with the right sleep plan in place, I still got her sleeping through the night by the time she was 6 months…and managed to keep it that way!
Plus, I’ve helped well over 1,000 families transform their babies and toddlers into champion sleepers for life…and MANY of those little ones fell into the “high needs” category.
The moral of the story- DON’T UNDERESTIMATE WHAT YOUR BABY CAN DO! As long as your baby is healthy, she CAN learn how to sleep, regardless of her temperament!
Here’s a pic of my (then) newly-sleeping baby. Isn’t it amazing how much cuter they get when they finally sleep through the night 🙂 ?
You welcome a new addition to your family. Your whole family is ecstatic and overjoyed. You constantly gush at this tiny newborn of yours who finally entered the world. Your toddler sports his proud ‘big brother’ t-shirt and wants to hold his new sibling all the time.
And you’re more exhausted than you’ve ever been in your life.
Why? Because your toddler loves this newborn baby SO MUCH…he’s decided to start sleeping like one, again.
So now, not only are you up at all hours of the night tending to your newborn, you’re ALSO dealing with bedtime battles, toddler sleep regressions, and total madness with your older one.
If this describes your current reality, I don’t envy you! In fact, I’ve been there! When my younger daughter was born, my then-2 year-old suddenly started fighting bedtime and waking up at all hours of the night. And she was a perfect sleeper! It was torture.
A mother in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community was dealing with this exact scenario and wrote in for some help. What to do with these toddler sleep regressions and overwhelmed toddlers?
While the arrival of a new baby can be exciting for a toddler, it can also be overwhelming. Suddenly, your older child might feel like she needs to share you with her younger sibling. This is why it’s SO important to give your toddler as much 1-on-1 time as possible so that she’s reminded that she’s still important to you!
While it’s perfectly normal for a toddler’s sleep to go out of whack upon the arrival of a new sibling, it shouldn’t take him TOO long to adjust. With enough support and love, most toddlers adjust to this big change within a few weeks. If he’s in daycare or nursery school, be in contact with the daycare provider about the situation. Find out if his behaviour there is back to normal.
Alright, your new baby is a few weeks old and your toddler has finally adjusted to being a big sibling. And yet, his sleep is still atrocious. Time to re-sleep train!
Which method should you use? It depends on what your toddler’s sleep was like BEFORE the new baby arrived. If your toddler was a great sleeper beforehand, and this poor sleep was just a temporary blip, you may want to take the quick and dirty route here. When I was ready to re-sleep train my 2.5 year-old, I explained to her that after I tuck her in, I’ll check on her in a few minutes, but that I WILL not go and get her. Thankfully, her sleep was back to normal within 1-2 days.
If, on the other hand, you were struggling with your toddler’s sleep before the baby arrived (and her sleep has likely worsened since), “quick and dirty” won’t work here. You’ll likely want to take a more supportive and gradual approach of toddler sleep training to fixing your toddler’s sleep challenges. It’s NEVER too late!
A mother in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community recently asked: When can babies fall asleep on their own? Can I sleep train newborns? Is there a specific age where a baby no longer needs to be rocked to sleep? My son is only 2 months, so I’m not expecting this now. Is this part of sleep training at 4 months, or am I simply creating bad habits?
Here’s the deal, in a nutshell: Don’t worry about creating bad habits just yet!
At 2 months of age, your baby is in the thick of the “4th trimester”. This refers to the first 3 months of the baby’s life when he transitions to life outside of the womb. It’s very normal during this phase for a baby to be VERY needy. I mean, remember- your baby was living in the womb for 9 months. This big world is new to him! This is why you want to mimic the womb as much as possible during these first few months. It’s inherently calming and soothing to your baby. So if your baby needs help falling asleep at this stage, it’s FINE!
While we’re not doing any kind of behavioural sleep training at this age, many newborn babies can actually fall asleep on their own (or somewhat on their own) with the right conditions in place.
Look- it’s never a problem to help your newborn baby fall asleep if they need the help. But, I always encourage parents to try putting their baby down awake (or drowsy but awake) once a day and see what he can do! See, the more practice your newborn can get at falling asleep independently, the better he’ll get at falling asleep without assistance, which means there’s a much higher chance you’ll avoid potential sleep problems down the road.
Now, this isn’t always possible with every single baby. If you have a very fussy, high-needs colicky baby who is still struggling to adjust to life outside of the womb, then don’t make yourself crazy trying to get your newborn to sleep awake. If it’s not going to happen without him screaming bloody murder, don’t worry about it.
The good news is that the vast majority of newborn babies are NOT high needs, fussy and colicky. So if you have a fairly easy-going baby in this age range, try giving your baby a bit of space while falling asleep and see what she can do! She may surprise you 🙂
Continue to help your little baby to fall asleep for now, it’s no problem. We’re not about to sleep train newborns. It simply means that when your baby reaches that 4-6 month mark, you’ll be able to do some behavioural sleep training and teach him how to fall asleep on his own. So if you’re struggling with getting your baby to fall asleep at bedtime, and if you’re still getting woken up all night long, sleep training can help!
Are you creating bad habits by rocking your 2 month-old baby to sleep? No. Your little one is still in that 4th trimester and might need some help falling asleep. That being said, I strongly encourage you to TRY, even once a day, to put your baby into his bassinet awake. He may surprise you!
It’s exhausting enough to have a 12-month old waking up throughout the night. Can you imagine TWO babies keeping you up at night? Well, I’ve actually had numerous parents ask me about the ins and outs of sleep training one year-old twins. Every twin parent’s DREAM is to see their twins finally sleep throughout the night without waking up.
Let me share a question that was asked by one of the moms in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community group. She wanted to know why her 1-year-old twins suddenly developed sleep problems and began waking up during the night when they used to sleep so soundly.
Here is her question: I need help with my one-year-old twins. They use to sleep through the night but we always rock them to sleep. Now they are waking up multiple times at night and don’t nap well during the day. What should I do?
In order to provide her with the best solution, here are few things we need to address:
One of the main factors that can lead to sleep challenges with twins is their schedule. Whenever a baby is awake for very long periods of time during the day, they are likely to become very overtired. Overtiredness can cause twins sleeping problems such as poor napping during the day and unnecessary nightwakings.
In order to avoid overtiredness, these 1 year-old twins should not be awake for longer than 3 hours to 3 hours and 45 minutes throughout the day. The babies’ bedtime may need to be moved back earlier and/or the nap times will need to be tweaked if they are typically awake for longer.
Sleep crutches such as rocking and feeding the baby to sleep have, for all intents and purposes, an expiration date. As your baby gets older, he becomes more aware of his environment and surroundings. This increases the chances of your baby waking up prematurely at the end of a sleep cycle.
These babies currently rely on rocking to sleep. Although the “expiration dates” of these sleep crutches vary from one baby to the other, it sounds like the rocking to sleep has reached its shelf life here. These parents would benefit from learning more about sleep training their 1 year-old twins so that they can learn how to fall asleep on their own, and how to fall BACK to sleep on their own. A sleep plan is a must!
Until these babies are sleep trained, there is nothing stopping them from waking up at night and calling out for assistance to help put them back to sleep.
Teach your baby to fall asleep independently. There’s no getting around it 🙂
Sleep training 1-year-old twins can be very tricky but it is the best solution for the situation at hand.
Now, this does NOT mean you need to put them in their cribs, say goodnight, leave the room and not come back in. You can absolutely implement a gradual, gentle and supportive approach while your babies learn how to fall asleep independently.
Getting a baby to sleep through the night without feedings might be one of the most anticipated moments in the lives of new moms. Going back to a full night’s sleep is high on anyone’s wish list! The main question here is: how can a parent get themselves a full night’s sleep without putting their baby through too much stress? One of the moms in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community group wanted to know when can a baby sleep through the night without feedings? She specifically wanted to know how she can get her 8-month-old to stop waking up for feedings at night. Great question!
Two main questions need to be answered when it comes to night weaning: 1) when is this possible; and 2) how the heck do you do it? Is sleep training and breastfeeding even possible? Spoiler alert- yes, it is!
Since babies can be very different from each other, this question has no right answer. I’ve seen babies that required no night feeds after they turned just 4 months old. I’ve also seen babies that were almost 10 months old and still woke up nightly to be fed.
The medical community agrees that a healthy baby is typically ready for an uninterrupted night’s sleep after they turn 6 months old. As a sleep consultant myself, I’ve never had a problem weaning a baby over the age of 7 months from all night feeds as long as that baby was healthy.
Again, I can’t stress this enough that there is no absolute rule here. Every situation is different!
Now that you’ve decided it’s time to end the night feeds, the only rule you need to remember is that you should remove these feeds gradually (though not TOO gradually). Never, under no circumstance, go cold turkey and remove full feeds completely, especially if you’re sleep training and breastfeeding. If your baby is used to waking up and eating quite a bit at night, you’ll have a genuinely hungry and frustrated baby. We all know that spells trouble!
Instead, you’ll want to gradually transfer the night intake of calories to the day. You can do that by shortening the night feeds by 1 minute each night. It’s a number small enough for the baby not to get cranky and big enough to keep the process short from start to finish so you can enjoy those peaceful nights again.
So for example, if your baby takes 10 minutes to breastfeed, next time spend only 9 minutes feeding him. The following day, spend only 8 minutes feeding him, and so on. If your baby is bottlefed, simply decrease the amount she consumes per night and then offer her one ounce less every night.
Easy peasy, right?
I want to caution you to make sure that your baby is waking up during the night solely on account of being hungry and there’s nothing else going on. There are many reasons babies constantly wake during the night that have nothing to do with hunger- overtiredness and sleep crutches are just two of them! So just remember that getting a baby to sleep through the night without eating isn’t always as simple as implementing a night weaning strategy. You’ll want to have a bigger sleep plan in place!
Nap transitions can be yucky and annoying at the best of times- and the 1-0 nap transition is no different. In fact, getting rid of toddler naps completely can be a long, drawn out, not-so-fun process. A mother named Grace in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community group wanted to know: when do toddlers go from a napping once a day to not napping at all? GREAT question!
Most toddler naps are ready to disappear by 3-4 years of age. Though I’ve seen many toddlers eliminate their nap before age 3, and I’ve seen many preschoolers struggle to make through a day of kindergarten without their nap. So there’s definitely a big range as to when toddlers give them up!
Now, toddler naps can take time to go away! It doesn’t mean that your toddler is necessarily going to be torturing you during this process. Rather, it might mean that he needs a nap on some days but not others. Or perhaps your 4 year-old doesn’t nap at school during the week but needs a nap on the weekends to catch up. These scenarios are FINE!
Take a look at your toddler’s sleep schedule and assess whether it works. As the famous saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” So if your 3.5 year-old is still napping for 90 minutes during the day, falls asleep nicely at bedtime, and sleeps through the night until morning, don’t change a darn THING! But if your little one has suddenly begun fighting bedtime, or if she suddenly started waking up much earlier in the morning, it might be time for that nap to go!
Listen in and watch my video below for more details!
People are often SHOCKED to hear that many of my clients reach out for help because their toddlers are STILL not sleeping through the night. Fixing toddler sleep issues is no easy feat, that’s for sure! Unfortunately, bedtime battles and frequent, extended nightwakings are regular occurrences in many households with toddlers and preschoolers. Tons of parents reach out to me wanting to know how to get a toddler to sleep. The good news is that this is fixable! Sleep training a toddler IS possible!
A mother reached out for help in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community group about her toddler and preschooler’s sleep issues. Her 20 month-old wakes multiple times a night and needs to be rocked back to sleep. He also wakes up around 5:00am everyday for a snack. On top of that, both her kids struggle to fall asleep and will ONLY allow their father to put them to sleep.
If you’re having trouble getting your toddler to sleep, definitely watch this full video here!
It’s finally that wonderful time of year- summertime! This means warmer weather, beautiful natural sunlight, and a possible family holiday. How exciting! Except that going on vacation with your little ones means a change to their environment and routine…something that makes it challenging to keep your little one sleeping through the night!
I can’t think of anything more annoying than spending ALL that time and money planning a wickedly awesome vacation, only for you to be bleary-eyed the whole week because your little one decided that 2am was suddenly a great time for a visit from Mommy.
Watch the video below for more detail!
Figuring out your baby’s sleep schedule can be tough!
So if you’ve been following this blog for long enough, you’re probably aware of the fact that putting a baby to sleep when he’s overtired can be a recipe for disaster, right? I mean, overtiredness causes difficulty falling asleep, nightwakings, early rising, and short naps. And if you hit the jackpot, you might end up with all four of these!
This means that your little one must be put down for a nap or bedtime JUST as he’s beginning to get tired, BEFORE he becomes overtired. Fantastic. I know that you know this already 🙂
So how are you supposed to know when your little one is ready for sleep?
Easy- just look out for his sleepy cues, right? The second you see your little one yawn/rub her eyes/pull her ears/etc., it means with 100% certainty that he’s getting tired and is ready to go to sleep…correct?
Ehh- not so much.
By the time your baby is at least 3-4 months of age, sleepy signs can become unreliable. For this reason, sleepy signs SHOULD NOT be used as the primary factor to determine sleep times.
That’s right, you read that correctly. Many of you are probably very confused reading this. I repeat- do not go by your baby’s sleepy cues as the sole factor to determine sleep times.
My advice is ALWAYS to use wake periods for this purpose. The amount of time your baby is awake for in between sleep should be the primary factor used to determine nap times and bedtime. And sleepy signs, on the other hand, should always be used as a secondary factor.
If you’re not sure what your baby’s wake windows should be, download my FREE sleep chart HERE that outlines my suggested wake windows, sleep totals, and number of naps for little ones ages up to 5 years!
Those of you who follow me are probably WELL aware of how important naps are for your baby’s overall sleep habits. Daytime sleep is CRUCIAL for avoiding overtiredness, which can cause all sorts of ugly sleep problems you don’t want.
But you know that already. So you try your hardest to get your baby to nap…and he WON’T SLEEP! Don’t worry- getting your baby to nap well can be tricky!
A mother named Jenny from the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community asked a fantastic question about her 6 month-old’s naps. She expressed frustration over struggling to get him to sleep when he’s even slightly overtired. I don’t blame her!
Watch the video below for more details!
Nap transitions are no fun, and the 2-1 nap transition is no exception. You feel like you have EVERYTHING under control as your baby is finally on a great sleep schedule. Then your baby’s daytime sleep needs a change and he begins to drop a nap. ARG!
Most babies are not ready to transition to one nap until they reach the 15-18 month mark. I typically assume that a baby needs two naps, unless she proves it to me otherwise. Transitioning a toddler to a 1 nap schedule before he’s ready has the potential to cause INSANE amounts of overtiredness and wreck havoc on nighttime sleep. Ladies and gents, trust me on this one- DO NOT try this at home!
If a baby is falling asleep nicely in the morning and appears to be tired, he probably needs a 2 nap schedule for a bit longer.
There are a few different circumstances that will trigger the necessity for a one nap schedule:
Definitely get a copy of my FREE sleep chart outlining my suggested wake windows and sleep totals HERE!
A mother in My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community group was wondering if her 14 month-old was ready to drop down to 1 nap. Here was my response to her given over Facebook Live:
Traditional behavioural sleep training is not for every parent. Maybe you’re not ready to make such big changes to your little one’s sleep habits. Perhaps you hate listening to your little one cry- even if you’re in the room supporting him. Or maybe you were blessed with an amazing sleeper who doesn’t need sleep training!
A mom in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community asked about my opinion on the shh/pat sleep training method. With this approach, you place your baby in the crib awake and pat her all the way to sleep. I answered her question in detail over Facebook Live.
If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts in greater detail, then watch the video below!
Does anyone here have a baby that STILL wakes a million times a night?
It’s a known fact that uninterrupted sleep is a rarity when you’ve got a newborn baby. Newborn babies need to eat around the clock for the first few weeks of life! But what if your baby is already 7 months-old and STILL waking up every 2 hours all night long? What can be done? This is precisely what a mother in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community group wanted to know.
Don’t fret, there’s good news! While a healthy 7 month-old baby might still need to eat once at night, any additional nightwakings are unnecessary. This mean that they’re avoidable and fixable!
Here is a list of factors that can be contributing to your baby’s countless nightwakings:
I elaborated on this question in much more detail on Facebook Live. You can watch and listen to my full answer here!
My mother always says that when something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
So when a mother in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook community told me that she came across a book that claims to get her baby sleeping through the night by 12 weeks of age, I knew which book she was talking about.
The book “12 Hours by 12 Weeks” claims that if you follow their feeding and sleep schedule, your healthy 12-week old baby can learn to sleep 12 hours straight at night. Now, I really dislike being the bearer of bad news. However, I would also hate to mislead anyone and get their hopes up about something that might not be possible.
So I gave my take on this particular book in this Facebook Live video below. Spoiler alert- I’m not a fan. In my opinion, the advice in this book is not age appropriate, is not developmentally appropriate, and does not align with the basics of sleep science. On top of that, this advice might not be safe!
I delve into my concerns about this book in MUCH more detail here!
Boy, if I had a nickle for every time someone would tell me how LUCKY I was that my kids were great sleepers.
There’s this common misconception in today’s day and age that some kids are born to be great sleepers, while other kids are born to be terrible sleepers. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
The good news is that this misconception could not be further from the truth.
Here’s the thing- there is NOTHING to be jealous of here, folks. I promise you. The fact that my kids were each consistently sleeping through the night without night feeds by 7-8 months of age WAS NOT because of luck. In fact, my younger daughter was always a high-needs baby, which makes sleep even more challenging!
A good night’s sleep has always been a massive priority of ours in our home. As a result, our hard work, commitment and consistency paid off. And it can for you too! Listen in!
Any parent who’s done the slightest amount of research on infant and toddler sleep will know how important it is for their little one to fall asleep independently. But what’s a parent to do or think when their little one IS falling asleep independently, but continues to wake up a million times a night?
An exhausted mother posted this question in the My Sleeping Baby Facebook Community. I answered it on Facebook live below!
Sleep training is NOT the be-all-and-end-all. It DOES NOT address every single reason why your baby might be waking up at night. In this specific situation, the scheduling needed tweaking as the baby was likely going to bed overtired. See, overtiredness is your worst enemy because it can cause difficulty falling asleep, nightwakings and early rising. This is no different with babies that are sleep trained!
What do Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa all have in common?
1) They all take place in the month of December this year.
2) They all often involve festivities and celebrations that go all afternoon or all night!
Sounds like so much fun! But wait- what about your baby’s nap schedule? And early bedtime? What should you do? How can you balance your little one’s sleep with your holiday celebrations?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. In this Facebook Live video, I discussed how you can go about figuring out a solution that that will work best for your little one and for yourselves.
Ask yourself these two questions:
I discuss this further in my Facebook Live video- watch it below!
The fall-back time change is coming up very soon! This is probably the most ANNOYING day of the year for every parent of a baby or young child. Why? Because your child’s 6:30am wakeup, which is early enough as it is, has suddenly turned into a 5:30am wakeup overnight. We can thank this barbaric, out-of-date time change for that!
Because this time change doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, you need an action plan. It’s essential to survive this time change and get your child back onto his pre-time change schedule.
Here’s what I suggest:
1) Get blackout blinds for your child’s room, if you haven’t already done so. The last thing you want is for a bit of natural sunlight to beam into your child’s room and wake him up at the crack of dawn. It can happen!
2) Push your child’s schedule later once the time change has hit, starting with the morning nap.
Let’s say you have a 6 month-old waking up at 6:30am for the day and napping by 8:30am for the morning nap. The time change might mean that he’s up at 5:30am that Sunday morning. Keep him in his crib until at least 6:00am and DON’T put him down for a nap at 7:30am (new time). Instead, try keeping him up as close to 8:00am (new time) as possible because we’re trying to shift the schedule later. The slightly later morning nap will push the second nap later, which will push the third nap later, which will push bedtime later. The goal is to gradually shift that morning nap back to 8:30am so that your baby’s schedule is back to normal.
ONLY stretch your baby’s wake time before the morning nap. Don’t stretch your baby’s wake times before the subsequent naps or before bedtime. This is because there is the most amount of sleep pressure around that nap and we can usually get away with breaking the “rules” with this nap, for the purposes of shifting a schedule later. If you try stretching your baby’s wake time at any other time of day, your baby will likely become overtired.
3) If you have a child who is no longer napping, put him to bed a little bit earlier than usual. For example, if you have a child who usually goes to sleep at 7:00pm, he might be ready for bed by 6:00pm (new time) because of the time change. Try keeping her up until 6:30pm so that she doesn’t wake up at 5:00am ready to start her day!
Now, you can TRY to preempt the time change by gradually shifting your child’s schedule later before the time change hits. Here’s the thing: it might not work. I’ve tried it with my kids and it never worked. But hey, give it a try! Use the same approach I recommended in step #2, which is to only shift the morning nap later and allow the rest of the naps and bedtime to follow.
Now let’s talk about the 18 month sleep regression. This one can be a doozy! I mean, isn’t every problem more challenging when the baby has reached toddlerhood? 🙂
There are a few factors that typically cause this regression. Firstly, he’s learning how to exert power and control over his environment—and sometimes this defiance can carry over to bedtime. He’s discovered the word “NO!” and he’s not afraid to constantly use it throughout the day, and at bedtime!
Second, many toddlers experience some anxiety at this age. Your toddler is learning how to regulate emotions and identify which situations warrant being scared and which situations don’t. Maybe something scared your child, such as a dark barking, a bee sting, or a thunderstorm. If you can identify the source of your toddler’s anxiety, you’re going to want to give him extra support and comfort.
Lastly, part of this regression might also be caused by those awful molars that many toddlers get in around now. They’re painful!
But fear not moms and dads, this isn’t going to last forever. It’s a phase, and all phases come to an end if you ride them out correctly. Here are my survival tips for you:
It’s extremely important for YOU to be comfortable with whatever sleep training method you use. You want to be comfortable executing your sleep plan through until the end. Why? Because consistency is crucial to get your baby sleep well!
1) Your emotional well-being is an extremely important aspect of your sleep plan. If you are feeling nervous, anxious and uncomfortable with your plan, your baby might feed off of this negative energy. This can cause your baby to cry and protest more, making it far more challenging to stick to your plan. And at the same time, confidence is contagious! If you are calm, cool, and collected, your baby will feed off of this positive energy.
2) If you are comfortable with the approach you’re taking, there’s a much higher chance you’ll follow through to the end. Look, implementing a sleep plan typically isn’t enjoyable. However, it’s one thing to be dreading the process but eager to make changes. And it’s another thing to have this awful feeling in the pit of your stomach that what you’re doing is wrong. If your plan isn’t sitting well with you, take a different approach. Otherwise, there’s a good chance you’ll end up throwing in the towel halfway through the process. Cry-it-out isn’t the only option here!
If you’ve been encouraged to let your baby cry-it-out, but your gut is telling you not to do it, listen to yourself! Look, if you are ready to make changes and are determined to fix your child’s sleep problem, then you’ll definitely want to explore a more gentle sleep training approach. However, if you’re feeling pressure from people around you to sleep train when this is something you don’t want to be doing, tune them out 🙂 You don’t HAVE to sleep train if you don’t want to! Sleep training is only for families who WANT to make changes to their current situation. If your current setup is working for you, there’s no need to change a thing 🙂
“Drowsy but awake”- the gold standard to aim for in the sleep department, right?
If your goal is to maximize your child’s sleep, it’s important to be placing your baby or toddler down AWAKE at bedtime.
How a baby falls asleep initially at bedtime sets the tone for the rest of the night. The purpose of sleep training is to strengthen your child’s sleep skills so that he can fall asleep unassisted. You want your baby to be able to fall BACK to sleep unassisted without relying on a sleep prop. Feeding, rocking, or patting to sleep are the most common examples of sleep props to avoid. See, if a baby relies on something to fall asleep at bedtime, there’s nothing stopping this baby from waking up at night expecting the same type of assistance to fall back asleep.
Here’s a very common situation I see:
The parent puts the baby in the crib half-asleep at bedtime. Or perhaps the parent sits next to their toddler and rubs his back until he’s almost asleep. When the baby or toddler wakes up in the middle of the night, the parents begin to implement a sleep training method. Except that this baby or toddler just cries and cries! Why? See, if the child needs to be rocked, fed, or patted to a drowsy state in order to fall asleep at bedtime, he won’t consistently put himself back to sleep in the middle of the night without that same assistance.
The question to ask yourself is “how strong are your baby’s sleep skills, on a scale of 1-10?” A baby that is vigorously rocked to sleep and then transferred to the crib out cold would be a 1. A baby who goes into the crib completely awake and falls asleep by himself would be a 10. And a baby who needs to be rocked until he’s half-asleep would be a 5.
So a 5 is much better than a 1. But it’s definitely not the 10 we should be aiming for. If a baby’s sleep skills are only a 5, it means that he’ll sometimes be able to fall back asleep, while other times he won’t be able to pull it off without your help.
If your goal is to maximize your baby’s sleep as much as possible and attain as much predictability and consistency as possible, it’s very important for your baby to go down completely 100% awake at bedtime and to begin any sleep training plan at bedtime.
It’s the key to getting yourself an awesome sleeper!
When you are implementing a sleep plan, you need to remain 100% consistent so that your baby receives a clear message as to what is expected. If you’re constantly starting and stopping the process, or if you’re repeatedly switching things up, you’re going to have a very confused baby on your hands. And if your baby is confused, you’re likely going to get more crying, more protesting, and less sleeping!
Here are two very common examples of inconsistency you want to avoid:
This is when the baby cries and cries for any amount of time, only for you to switch things up and give the baby what he wants. This might mean you eventually pick the baby up and rock him to sleep. Perhaps you give him a feed. Or maybe you pat him. The problem with this scenario is that the baby’s hysterics were rewarded.
Let’s say you have a 3 year-old who asks you for a cookie, and you refuse to give her one. She throws a temper tantrum, only for you to eventually give in and give her a cookie. The obvious problem with this scenario is that the 3 year-old has learned to tantrum to get what she wants. She’s learned the crying and screaming is worth her while! So next time she asks for something and you say ‘no’, there’s a good chance she’s going to throw another tantrum because it worked last time!
With sleep, it’s no different. When implementing any type of sleep plan, our goal is to minimize the protesting as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong, some protesting is unavoidable. The last thing we want to be doing is encouraging MORE crying by rewarding it. Always remain 100% consistent and avoid any kind of intermittent reinforcement!
This is when parents respond to their child differently throughout the night. For example, when the baby wakes at 10pm, the parent sticks to their sleep training method of choice and baby falls back asleep independently. But when the baby wakes again at 2am, the parent rocks her back to sleep. The problem with this scenario is that the baby is getting inconsistent messaging. She doesn’t understand why she’s expected to fall back asleep on her own at 10pm but gets rocked back to sleep in the middle of the night. This scenario is going to cause confusion on the baby’s end, which leads to more crying.
Without consistent messaging across the board, your sleep training efforts might not get you very far. I KNOW that implementing a sleep plan can be exhausting, especially when you’re in the thick of things. I get it! Just remember that this is short-term pain for long-term gain.
If you are convinced your baby is an alien incapable of giving you good quality sleep, don’t fret. 600 babies later and I still haven’t come across a baby incapable of learning how to sleep well. Don’t underestimate what your baby can do!
Overtired babies do NOT sleep well- and here’s why!
A baby becomes overtired when he is past the point of being ready for sleep. Your goal is to get your baby down for sleep just as he gets tired, before he becomes overtired. When we begin to get tired, our bodies produce a hormone called melatonin. This is the hormone that makes us sleepy and it helps us fall asleep and stay asleep more easily. This is why your baby must go to sleep during that short period when his body is producing melatonin. If that window of time passes and your child still hasn’t gone to bed, he becomes overtired. At this point, your baby’s body begins secreting a hormone called cortisol, which is a stress hormone created by the nervous system. Cortisol is what specifically causes difficulty falling asleep, nightwakings, early rising, and short naps.
When babies become overtired, they either become wired and get a second wind of energy, OR they become cranky and irritable. Regardless of how your baby behaves when overtired, going to sleep and staying asleep will likely be more challenging.
A baby or toddler becomes overtired when he’s awake for periods of time throughout the day that are too long. Very often, a baby will consistently go down for a nap too late, which leads to short naps. By the end of the day, the baby is SO overtired that he struggles to settle at bedtime. I’ve even seen situations where a baby’s naps are timed perfectly- but because the baby’s bedtime was too late, it threw the entire night off!
Babies’ brains develop the most under the age of five. A big part of brain development happens when one is asleep. Babies being overtired translates to babies having poor sleep, not just in terms of how long a sleep segment extends but also the quality of rest the baby gets. It is simply not worth it. Anything beyond an hour of the baby’s usual sleep time is bad sleep hygiene for the baby.
Overtiredness is a well-known sleep stealer.
Make sure you have your baby or toddler on an age-appropriate schedule with properly timed naps, based around biologically appropriate wake windows. In order for sleep training of ANY kind to work, the child cannot be overtired. Otherwise, if you remove the child’s sleep crutch (such as feeding or rocking to sleep) AND put him down too late for sleep, he’s not going to fall asleep so easily. In fact, the sleep training might not work at all.
If you are tackling a sleep problem, make sure you are protecting your baby’s daytime schedule, naps, and bedtime.
We, as human beings, are programmed to sleep best in a dark, quiet room. This is because light suppresses the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us sleepy. As a result, someone can fall asleep more easily in a darker room than when there’s light beaming in. And babies are no different.
In fact, it’s especially crucial for babies to have blackout blinds in their room because babies have daytime sleep requirements that adult don’t have (unless, of course, you’re up with a baby all night long!). Babies also need to go to bed much earlier than adults do. It’s MUCH more challenging for a baby to fall asleep easily and stay asleep in a room with too much sunlight.
Blackout blinds are especially helpful during the spring and summer months. The following is a scenario that I see all the time: spring time comes around (specifically the Spring Forward time change), there’s TONS more sunlight beaming into the baby’s room, and the baby suddenly fights sleep and refuses to go to bed. When I advise the parent to install blackout blinds, the problem suddenly goes away!
This is why blackout blinds are so great!
Here’s my response:
1) It’s a bit of a myth that you can teach a baby to sleep anywhere. Some babies can do it, while others can’t. No different than how some adults can sleep 8 hours straight on an international flight (like my sister!), while others will never sleep for longer than 5 minutes on a plane without the help of a general anesthetic (such as myself). Some babies might be able to sleep nicely in the stroller when you’re out running errands. Yet, there are just as many children who will be too distracted by their environment to sleep nicely while out.
Whether or not your baby can sleep well with lots of outside distraction comes down to his temperament. If your baby is unable to sleep in an environment that isn’t optimal, there isn’t much that can be done here. Simply respect your baby’s need to sleep in a dark, quiet room.
2) If you are an avid traveler, you might be worried about how your baby or toddler will sleep when you are away. Here’s the thing: even if you are away for 2 months out of the year in total, it’s a minority of the year. Your child is still spending 10 months of the year sleeping in her crib or bed at home. Prioritize your child’s sleep when he’s home- and worry about vacations as they come. The last thing you want to be doing is sacrificing your baby’s sleep during those 10 months of the year, with the hope that your baby will learn how to sleep anywhere you go during your 2 months of vacation time. Either your baby will be adaptable to sleep well without blackout blinds, or she won’t.
On a side note, my older daughter never slept with blackout blinds because she never needed them! My younger daughter, on the other hand, couldn’t fall asleep unless she was in a dark, quiet room.
Blackout blinds are fantastic. They will help your child fall asleep quicker and STAY asleep. What’s not to love?!
I recently had a mom ask me a fantastic question. She said to me “Eva, I don’t understand. Why do we, all of a sudden, need blackout blinds, and a white noise machine, and a proper daytime schedule, and an age-appropriate bedtime routine? Because in previous generations, when we were babies, our parents and grandparents weren’t worrying about any of this!”
Here’s my response: Our parents and grandparents didn’t know what we know today. We, as a civilization, are always growing, learning, and advancing. We’re always trying to DO better than previous generations.
The medical world has made HUGE advancements, thanks to the amazing research been done over the last number of years and decades. Diseases and conditions that were previously incurable, and potentially fatal, are now suddenly manageable thanks to these advancements. Why would we rely on medical knowledge from 30 years ago if the medical community has made new, life-changing discoveries?
Back in the day, parents received medical advice that we would never dream of implementing today. I can almost guarantee that every single mom or dad reading this article was put to sleep on their tummy as an infant. Yet, thanks to the “back to sleep” campaign and the extensive research that’s gone into SIDS prevention, the number of SIDS cases has gone down substantially. Even though our parents and grandparents did something a certain way, it doesn’t mean we’re going to do the same thing.
The world has also made substantial advancements in the world of health and wellness, specifically healthy sleep. Why not take advantage of all this amazing knowledge that our parents and grandparents didn’t have access to? If my exhausted mother knew that putting me to bed very late for the night was causing me to wake up at the crack of dawn, she would have put me to bed earlier in a heartbeat! Instead, she was sleep deprived for years because she didn’t know better.
We are an incredibly privileged generation of parents. We have access to all this amazing information, advice, and support that can change the quality of life of everyone in your family. When it comes to getting your baby to sleep well, you have the option to empower yourself with this information.
So if we know that using certain sleep tools help your baby fall asleep faster, why not use them? If you know that making certain changes will improve your baby’s sleep, why not implement them? Because your parents never did this?
What can I say- my mother WISHES she knew what we know about sleep today. Her years as a young mother would have been 100 times less exhausting!
Is sleeping through the night a developmental milestone that all children will eventually reach when they are ready?
GREAT question! The short answer is NO. Sleeping through the night is NOT a developmental milestone. See, here is a non-comprehensive list of examples of age-specific developmental milestones: rolling, sitting up, standing up, crawling, walking, talking, reading, playing with other children.
I should mention that sleeping through the night without milk IS a developmental milestone. The medical community concludes this can safely happen by 6-8 months of age with healthy babies. But simply sleeping through the night is not a milestone.
Some babies are able to sleep through the night from a VERY early age, while other children are still waking up at night when they’re in preschool! Sleep is a *skill* that comes more naturally to some babies and children than it does to others. However, the most high-needs baby can still learn how to sleep well if the right tools are provided. If your older baby or child is still waking up at night, the problem is likely connected to your baby’s sleep habits.
Here’s a list of factors that could be causing your baby to still wake up at night:
Your child’s development is not related to any of these factors. You can always make big changes to your child’s sleep habits with a solid sleep plan, regardless of how old your child is.
If you are falling on your face from exhaustion, you don’t need to wait for that magical day to come when your child decides to sleep through the night. Sleeping uninterrupted at night is not a developmental milestone. We don’t know how long you’ll be waiting for that day to arrive. So if you’re ready to start sleeping better, there’s no better time like the present to make changes!
What can you do to start improving your little one’s sleep?
This is a question I get ALL THE TIME. Regardless of whether the baby is 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, or 2 years, I always have parents asking me if their baby is too old to be sleep trained.
Here’s the good news: It is NEVER too late to make changes in the sleep department- ever! Now, the older your child gets and the longer he/she holds onto these unwanted sleep habits, the harder it’s going to be to change them. So this might mean that it’s likely going to take longer for a sleep plan to be successful with an older baby or toddler. Nonetheless, if you’re ready for change, it’s very doable!
Look, if your gut is telling you to hold off on sleep training for any reason, listen to yourself. You know what’s best!
But if you know that deep down inside that this is the right time to make changes and that there’s no better time like the present, do it! Don’t underestimate what kind of gift you are giving your child by teaching him to sleep through the night. The benefits of uninterrupted sleep to your child’s health, emotional well-being, and development should NOT be underestimated!
I’ve had numerous clients with babies who were struggling to meet a milestone. I’ve witnessed 12 month-olds struggling to eat solids. I’ve had 18 month-olds with no interest to walk. And I’ve seen 2 year-olds who weren’t talking. Once we managed to fix the child’s sleep problem, the problem has often disappeared! Suddenly, the baby is eating solids like a champ. The toddler has learned to run. And the preschooler’s speech has exploded.
Coincidence? I’ll let you decide that one 🙂
The following is a scenario I see all the time: The parents have a baby or toddler who doesn’t sleep well. They want to make changes to their baby’s sleep habits. But they think their only option is to let the baby cry-it-out and remove all night feeds cold turkey. The thought of leaving their baby to cry indefinitely makes them too uncomfortable. In the end, the parents don’t change anything and continue to struggle and suffer from sleep deprivation.
Allow me to dispel two very prominent myths about sleep training:
The good news is that sleep training doesn’t need to involve leaving your baby to cry-it-out for extended periods of time as long as you have a proper sleep plan in place. There are many approaches you can use that are supportive, gradual and gentle.
See, sleep training is an umbrella term that describes teaching a baby how to fall asleep unassisted. If you have a baby who is being fed or rocked to sleep, sleep training might be appropriate so that he can learn how to fall asleep without these props.
The way in which your baby falls asleep initially at bedtime sets the tone for the rest of the night. So lets say that you have a baby who is being nursed to sleep at bedtime. When she wakes up at night, there’s a good chance she won’t be able to consistently put herself back to sleep without the help of nursing. Sleep training is fantastic if your goal is to eliminate your baby’s nightwakings that are not caused by hunger.
Now, with any type of sleep training approach, there is likely going to be crying. Your baby is bound to protest change. Remember- NOBODY likes change, even if it’s good change. It’s also going to be frustrating for your baby at first because she never learned how to fall asleep without assistance. Falling asleep independently is a SKILL, just like riding a bike. However, there are many sleep training approaches you can use that allow you to be present while your baby goes through this learning process.
Sleep training and night weaning are two completely different processes. Sleep training involves teaching your baby how to fall asleep unassisted. Night weaning, on the other hand, involves shifting calories from the nighttime to the daytime. Many babies are ready to be sleep trained but not yet ready to be completely night weaned! If that’s the case, it is absolutely permissible to sleep train your baby while respecting any nighttime nutritional needs your baby might have.
Even if you have an older baby who doesn’t need to be eating at night and is ready to be night weaned, you don’t need to remove those feeds cold turkey! You can remove them *gradually* so that this process is less painful for everybody.
While sleep training is not usually enjoyable, it doesn’t need to be torturous and involve hours of crying. Sleep training can be done gradually and in a supportive manner.
Newborn babies and sleep usually don’t go hand in hand. And there’s good reason for this- newborn babies wake frequently at night because they need to eat! However, there is still lots you can do to maximize your newborn’s sleep, make everything as manageable as possible, and get your baby’s sleep habits off on the right foot. You can definitely avoid future problems down the road!
Here are my top 3 sleep tips for newborn babies:
Newborn babies become overtired very easily because they need LOTS of sleep. A 6 week-old baby might need to sleep every 60 minutes! So if you haven’t already done so, download the following sleep chart that has my suggested wake windows and sleep totals for babies and toddlers of all ages. This will give you a very good idea as to how often your baby needs to go to sleep.
Newborn babies need to nap very frequently. While you might enjoy holding your little baby all day long, it’s going to get exhausting after a while! You want to be able to put your baby DOWN for at least a few naps a day. The Fisher Price Cradle Swing is a fantastic product for this age range, as is a baby carrier with good back support. Stroller and car naps at this age are just FINE!
Eventually, you want your baby to be able to put herself to sleep 100% of the way on her own. At this age, she doesn’t need to be doing all the work just yet. If you’re able to rock her until she’s drowsy before you place her in the crib, you’re doing great! Getting your baby used to falling asleep somewhat on her own can often avoid huge sleep problems down the road, such as being reliant on feeding or rocking to fall asleep.
Now, if you try getting your baby down drowsy but awake and it just doesn’t work, don’t worry about it. Try again the next night and eventually she’ll get it.
“Just give him a little bit of formula- it’ll help him sleep longer!”
Boy, if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that piece of advice thrown around, I’d be very wealthy! Parents are always asking me if they should supplement with formula to get their babies to sleep longer.
Here’s the lowdown: If your baby is at least a few months old, and breastfeeding is established, and your have good milk supply, then introducing formula will probably not make much of a difference to your baby’s sleep.
There are two sizable myths around formula and sleep, which have contributed to this misunderstanding:
When a baby is in those first few weeks of life, his sleep patterns will revolve solely around the need to eat. Babies in this age range spend their lives eating and sleeping, only to wake up from their sleep to eat again!
By the time your baby is a few months old, things change. Sleep is more complex, which creates a multitude of reasons as to why your baby might be waking up at night. And most of these potential culprits have NOTHING to do with hunger!
Here are some common sleep stealers:
These are all factors that can cause unnecessary nightwakings, and they have nothing to do with hunger. So replacing your breasted baby’s feeds with formula might not do a darn thing if the root of your sleep problem isn’t nutritive.
A bottlefed baby CAN take down more ounces in one feed than a breastfed baby can because it’s usually less work for a baby to eat from the bottle than it is to eat from the breast.
HOWEVER, as long as a breastfed baby is eating more frequently during the daytime and can compensate by getting those extra calories, she can sleep JUST as well as her bottlefed buddy can. Replacing a breastfeed with formula really isn’t necessary!
If you have been legitimately struggling with your milk supply, introducing formula might help with your baby’s sleep. However, I find that many moms tend to THINK their milk supply is going down, when their milk supply is just fine! See, if you have an exclusively breastfed baby who’s been giving you lots of wet diapers and who’s gaining weight beautifully, your milk supply probably is just fine. But always check with a lactation consultant if you’re worried.
As a sleep consultant, I get asked about the 2-3-4 schedule ALL THE TIME. Before I give you my thoughts, let me first explain how the 2-3-4 schedule works.
The 2-3-4 schedule is a suggested framework for a schedule to put your baby on who is napping twice a day. It is suggested for babies over the age of 6 months. According to this framework, your baby should nap 2 hours after waking up for the day. 3 hours after that nap ends, your baby goes back down for the second nap. And then 4 hours after your baby wakes up from the second nap, it’s time for bedtime.
Thanks for asking! Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of the 2-3-4 schedule. It’s not something I ever suggest as a starting point because it doesn’t work with most babies. And here’s why:
The average 6 month old baby can only be awake for 1.75-2.5 hours before getting tired again. As a result of these short wake windows, a 6 month-old will likely become VERY overtired on a 2-3-4 schedule. And overtiredness can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightwakings, early rising, and short naps!
If your baby is tired enough for a nap after 2 hours of wake time in the morning, he likely won’t be able to stay awake for 4 hours before bedtime without getting overtired. And if your baby legitimately needs to be awake for 4 hours before bedtime, he is likely not going to be tired enough to nap in the morning after only 2 hours of wake time.
So look, obviously every baby is different. If you happen to have your baby on a 2-3-4 schedule and it appears to work, there’s no need to change it! The advice I’m providing here is not meant to be customized advice for your particular baby; rather, this is a general observation I have made being in this field for a number of years and having worked with hundreds of families. It just doesn’t work with the vast majority of babies! If it DOES happen to work for your baby, just remember that he is the exception 🙂
To get proper guidance on age appropriate wake windows for your baby, check out my sleep chart that outlines suggested sleep totals, wake windows, and number of naps! https://mailchi.mp/mysleepingbaby/sleep-chart
I think we can all agree that time changes should be outlawed, right? They’re completely archaic and totally pointless in this day and age. However, it doesn’t sound like they’re disappearing anytime soon. So as parents of babies and toddlers, we really need to know how to best navigate these awful time changes.
Because we will be shifting our clocks forward by 1 hour this weekend, many of you want to know how to handle your child’s sleep! This time change is typically the less evil one, but it’s still a sleep stealer in many circumstances.
Now, what if you have an early riser on your hands? Good news folks! The universe is handing you a wonderful gift on a silver platter. And that gift is a later schedule, if you play your cards right! So let’s say that your baby is consistently sleeping through the night but her schedule is just too early. Allow her entire schedule to naturally shift one hour later, getting you a later wake time!
Lastly, remember to be patient. Time changes totally stink and sometimes your child might just need time to get over this hump.
What is a routine?
A routine is a sequence of events that take place in the exact same order every single day. This is different from a schedule! A schedule is when a baby wakes and sleeps at the exact same times every single day. Newborn babies aren’t ready for a set schedule until they’re at least 6 months. This is because daytime sleep doesn’t neurologically organize and become more consistent until that time. A routine, on the other hand, is much more age-appropriate for a baby in this age range.
I suggest implementing an eat-play-sleep for your baby. This means that your baby wakes up, eats, plays, and goes to sleep.
Establishing a routine can be done from day 1 if you have a formula fed baby and from a few weeks onward if you have a breastfed baby and breastfeeding is established. An eat-play-sleep routine helps separate feeding from sleeping so that your baby doesn’t learn to rely on the bottle or the breast to fall asleep.
Now, in case this wasn’t obvious, the “play” part of your baby’s routine should only be happening during daytime hours! At nighttime, your baby should only be eating and sleeping. There should be NO awake time during nighttime hours!
Why implement a routine?
Get this, people: the research actually shows that when your baby knows what’s about to happen next because of this routine, 1) the baby tends to cry less throughout the day; 2) the baby tends to fall asleep more quickly; and 3) the baby tends to STAY asleep more easily. How awesome is THAT? Even though your baby might only be a few weeks old, he can pick up on this routine very quickly and EVERYONE benefits! Adding structure and predictability to your daytime hours will get your newborn baby off on the right foot and allow you to establish solid sleep habits from the beginning.
Let’s talk about the witching hour, which is that intense fussiness during the late afternoon and early part of the evening. What causes the witching hour and what can we do to help minimize it? Is it colic?
It’s often thought that colic is responsible for this fussiness. However, true colic is only experienced by 15-20% of newborn babies. So what does this mean for the other 80% of babies who experience this extreme fussiness?
Here is a list of the top four factors that can be responsible for this fussiness, as well as what you can do about it!
If your baby isn’t sleeping enough during the daytime, this can cause a HUGE bout of crying in the evening. See, as the day goes on and your baby continuously stays awake for too long between naps and only sleeps for very brief periods, he’s often exceptionally overtired by the evening. As a result, all he wants to do is wail non-stop! Tip: Focus on daytime sleep! Good quality daytime sleep is absolutely essential for babies of all ages, but especially with newborn babies. Do what you need to do to ensure that your baby naps frequently during daytime hours.
Want to know how much sleep your baby needs? Download my FREE sleep chart that outlines suggested sleep totals, wake windows, and number of naps! https://mysleepingbaby.com/sign-free-sleep-chart/
This is especially common with babies who live in very busy households. Perhaps you’ve got older children running around your house, or maybe your home is just always busy! Even though your baby might not be participating in these non-stop household activities, she’s definitely taking everything in. By early evening, a baby who’s been overly stimulated all day can experience sensory overload and cry non-stop. Tip: Babywear! Get yourself a good quality baby carrier so that you can put your baby on your chest and have your hands free. Wear your baby close to your chest as it will help relax his little nervous system. For many parents, babywearing is their savior until their little baby outgrows this phase.
This is when younger babies try to eat more frequently during the early hours of the evening in order to “tank up” before giving you a longer stretch of sleep during the first half of the night. Tip: Allow your baby to continue to eat as frequently as she wants before going to sleep.
If you don’t burp your baby well, or if she is sensitive to a food you eat that is passed down through your breast milk, you might not have a happy baby. Tip: Make sure that your burp your baby well after each feed. Otherwise, all these air pockets might accumulate throughout the day until your baby has so much gas that he becomes extremely uncomfortable.
Remember that some of this behaviour is normal and unavoidable! However, applying these tips should make this phase more manageable for you in the long run!
How do you to teach your baby the difference between day and night?Newborn babies do not know when it’s daytime and nighttime because they’ve spent the last 9 months in the womb. As a result, their biological clock is not developed yet. So if you happen to have a baby who is up all night long and sleeps all day, unfortunately this is somewhat normal!
The good news is that this phase usually comes to an end by 6-8 weeks of age. I know this might seem like an eternity if you have a 2 week-old infant at home though! Try to be patient, as exhausting as it is.
The other piece of good news is that there are steps you can take to help speed this process along:
Don’t worry about waking your sleeping baby. There are MANY circumstances where waking your sleeping baby is the best step to take. And tackling a day-night confusion problem is one of them!
How can you ensure your little ones sleep well when on holiday?
A very important factor that determines how well your baby sleeps while travelling is his temperament, which is inborn. Part of a child’s temperament determines how adaptable they are. See, some children can easily adapt to a new environment after taking a few minutes to familiarize themselves with their new space. If you have an easy-going child, your child will probably be fine when travelling!
However, if you have a child who is very slow to warm to new changes, as shown in the past by the huge amount of time it took her to adapt to her new daycare, or caregiver, or house, it will probably take her quite a bit of time to adjust to her new living arrangements when travelling.
Here are my top tips for ensuring that your child sleeps well while travelling:
If your child’s sleep regresses while you’re travelling, make sure to be militant about getting things back on track when you’re home. This might involve re-sleep training!
Transitioning your child from one sleep environment to a new one can be very exciting! Yet, it can also be stressful! How do you transition your baby from a bassinet to a crib as seamlessly as possible? Or move your toddler from a crib to a bed without a fight? Or transition your child of any age from co-sleeping to his/her own sleep environment without too much push-back?
My BIGGEST tip for any parent who is experiencing any of these transitions is to incorporate regular playtime with their child IN their new sleep space. Put your baby in his crib and play peek-a-boo. Sit with your child in her new bed and have a tea party. Your goal is to get your child laughing and having tons of fun in his new sleep space.
This piece of advice might come as a shock to many of you who were told to keep the child’s room ONLY for sleep time. I disagree. Now, I’m not advising you to play with your child in his room all day everyday. I’m simply advising you to incorporate 10 minutes of play here and there. Regular playtime with your child in his new sleep space will really help him become acclimatized to this new environment. You don’t want your child’s crib or bed to be foreign or scary. Plunking your baby in the crib for the very first time at bedtime might not go over so well if he’s never been in a crib before!
Regular playtime with your child in his new sleep space also allows him to develop positive associations with this new space. You want your child to LOVE his new crib or bed. It’s essential for you to take a bit of time creating wonderful positive associations with the new sleep space for this transition to go well.
Are pacifiers a helpful sleep tool for babies and children? Or are they sleep props that only causes sleep problems?
Pacifiers are a really interesting device because one day they can be your biggest savior as parents of young babies. And then the next day, they are the bane of your existence. At one point, I wanted to burn every single one of these within a 500 mile radius of my home!
Pacifiers are fantastic for newborn babies under the age of 3-4 months because babies in this age range have a very strong sucking reflex. This means that offering a newborn baby a pacifier to suck on can really help calm the baby down! If you’re breastfeeding, introducing a pacifier can help prevent you from becoming a human pacifier, which can be exhausting.
There’s also some research correlating the use of a pacifier in newborn babies to a decrease risk in SIDS. The current theory behind this phenomenon is that pacifiers prevent a newborn baby from going into a deep sleep. Falling into a deep sleep can be hazardous for a newborn baby if something is obstructing their breathing. Because the use of a pacifier keeps the baby in a lighter sleep, the baby can easily wake himself up in the event of a problem!
Pacifiers can become very problematic around the 3-4 month mark. This is when babies become aware that they have fallen asleep with the pacifier in their mouth and that it’s fallen out! This might become a huge problem for you because your 4 month old likely doesn’t have the fine motor skills to put the pacifier back in his mouth on his own. This means that YOU are stuck doing this for him instead!
Once your baby is older and reaches that 8-10 month age range, many babies develop fine motor skills that are strong enough to grab the pacifier on their own, without your assistance. So once your baby reaches this milestone, the pacifier shouldn’t be a problem anymore. The pacifier is usually only problematic for babies in the 3-6 month age range who rely on the pacifier to fall asleep but don’t have the fine motor skills to replace it on their own just yet.
Now, you can always reintroduce the pacifier to your baby when she’s older and she can replace it on her own. So keep in mind that teaching your baby how to fall asleep without the pacifier at bedtime doesn’t mean you need to get rid of the pacifier forever!
Sleep regressions are never fun- and the regression that often happens between 8-10 months of age is no exception. Your baby may have been sleeping through the night…and suddenly, your baby hates sleep again!
For the most part, this regression is due to significant brain development. Babies this age go through many developmental milestones such as crawling, scootching, sitting up and standing up. Sleep often goes on the backburner temporarily while your little one enjoys practicing his new skill set. How can you expect them to sleep when their new skill is so much fun?
At this age, babies are also beginning to comprehend your language, which is extremely exciting and stimulating for your baby, making it difficult for them to sleep well.
And lastly, it’s very common for babies in this age range to transition from three daily naps to 2. Nap transitions can often cause temporary sleep trouble because of the unavoidable overtiredness your baby will experience when losing a nap.
Here are some tips to get you through this regression with your head above water:
1) Remain consistent: now is not the time to start rocking or nursing your baby to sleep or resorting to co-sleeping if this isn’t something you want to keep up long-term. Keep up with your good sleep habits as best you can.
2) Don’t assume all of your baby’s sleep problems are due to this regression. If your baby wasn’t sleeping well to begin with, it’s unlikely this regression is the root of your current sleep. problems. Waking up more than 1-2 times a night is excessive, even during this regression. You probably have a lingering sleep problem that was worsened by this regression.
3) Don’t assume the problem is always caused by teething. Contrary to popular belief, teething is not the cause of every infant sleep problem.
4) Be patient- Give your baby a bit of time to figure out these new developments. Sleep WILL take a front seat again soon!
5) If your baby is overtired from a nap transition or from sudden nightwakings, always make sure you are putting baby to bed slightly earlier to compensate for the sudden lack of sleep. Keep your baby’s bedtime earlier until she adjusts to her new schedule.
Don’t forget that sleep is a basic physiological requirement. The better your baby is sleeping now, the more successfully she’ll overcome sleep regressions and milestones down the road.
What’s going on here? For the first 3 months of your baby’s life, you were able to peacefully rock her to sleep and expect nice long stretches between feeds. All of a sudden, it’s taking you two hours to rock her to sleep. On top of that, she’s waking up countless times a night, and she’s cranky and miserable! You’ve gone to the doctor to rule out an ear infection, so perhaps she’s teething?
I prefer to look at this regression as more of a PROgression because it marks a permanent change in your baby’s sleep habits. When your baby was a newborn, his sleep was much more ‘babyish’- meaning, he slept deeply all the time! This probably explains why he was able to sleep anytime and anywhere, regardless of noise and distraction.
Once your baby hits that 4 month mark, your baby’s sleep patterns become more ‘adult-like’ where he begins to cycle in and out of deep and light sleep. Your baby is no longer a newborn! Yay! The bad news is that this milestone often causes tons of night wakings and short naps. This is because your baby now needs help falling BACK asleep at the end of that 45 minute sleep cycle if he doesn’t have independent sleep skills to begin with.
With most sleep regressions, life should go back to normal within 1-2 weeks as long as your baby had great sleep habits beforehand. This regression, on the other hand, is different. This is not a phase that will magically go away over time. The changes to your baby’s sleep patterns are permanent so waiting-it-out is not advised here!
So you finally geared up the strength, courage and readiness to begin sleep training your baby, expecting that you would be enjoying the fruits of your labour within a week. And yet, weeks and weeks go by and your baby is still waking up throughout the night! WHAT GIVES?
The reality is that for sleep training to work, you need to address the multitude of factors contributing to the sleep problem. Below is a list of the top 5 sleep training mistakes I’ve come across in my career:
In order for you to make big changes to your baby’s sleep, you need to be ready. And I mean READY to make these changes and stick to them. Often parents don’t realize what kind of commitment is involved and are not ready to prioritize sleep needs over other priorities.
Before beginning any sleep training plan, make sure you are well-versed in your baby’s sleep needs. You should know what a typical daily schedule should look like for your baby. Improperly timed naps, short naps, extremely large awake periods or a bedtime that is too late will lead to an extremely overtired baby. Attempting to sleep train an extremely overtired baby with a daytime schedule that doesn’t meet his sleep needs will be disastrous and can lead to copious amounts of unnecessary tears and protest. Don’t waste your time!
Oh how I loathe this saying, mainly because it confuses parents. When a baby is a newborn, attempting to put him down drowsy but awake is a fantastic goal. However, once your baby is old enough to be sleep trained, you want to ensure you are putting your baby COMPLETELY awake in his crib so that he learns to do 100% of the work on his own. Rocking or feeding a baby halfway to sleep is going to thwart your efforts since this baby isn’t really learning how to fall asleep completely on his own.
Oh man- if only I had a dime for every time I’ve had to remind a family to remain consistent! This advice applies across the board to those of you who are implementing the most direct approaches to the most gentle. BE CONSISTENT! Starting and stopping the process, as well as switching things up multiple times can be extremely confusing and aggravating to your baby, which will likely lead to MORE crying and protesting. Once you start the process, stick to it like glue and don’t look back.
There are many choices of sleep training methods you can implement to teach your child how to fall asleep on his own, and how to fall BACK to sleep on his own. In order to figure out the right method for you, there are a few factors you should consider:
So your baby is no longer a baby and it’s time to move onto the next exciting milestone: a BIG KID BED! Or wait, is it time? Transitioning your little munchkin to a bed too early can lead to a whole new assortment of sleep problems that you want to avoid. Trust me!
To ensure the transition to a big kid bed is successful, be sure to follow these 4 important pieces of advice:
Keep your child in the crib for as long as possible, ideally until at least 2.5-3 years old. Children under this age range typically do not have the maturity to appreciate the freedom that comes along with sleeping in a bed. As a result, your child might develop “Jack-in-the-Box” syndrome, popping out of bed as soon as you leave the room. You’ll be going nuts.
Now to address the million dollar question- what if you have a crib jumper on your hands? Does that mean it’s time to transition to a bed?
Not necessarily. Before transitioning your monkey…I mean toddler, to a bed, try the following tricks to keep your child in his crib:
Sleeping in a big kid bed is a huge deal for your child. A few weeks before moving your child to her bed, start talking to her about it. Ger her excited! Take her with you to pick out her new bed and sheets. Get her involved with implementing an exciting rewards system. Let her choose the stickers, decorate her new “Sleep Manners” chart, and let her choose her rewards!
Make sure to keep as much of your child’s daily routine as possible, especially his bedtime routine. Don’t create new bedtime habits unless you’re comfortable continuing them for the long run. Remember that consistency is key- as long as your child knows what to expect when bedtime comes around, the transition should go smoothly.
Remember when daylight savings in the fall meant you got an extra hour of sleep? If you’re a parent with young children, you’re probably reminiscing about those good old days. Now that I’ve reminded you that daylight savings is around the corner, you’re likely also dreading a potential 5am wakeup from your little monkeys.
Thankfully, I can help you avoid this catastrophe. Here are 3 tips to help make this clock change as pain-free as possible.
1) Begin moving your child’s bedtime forward by 15 minutes each night, starting on the Thursday prior to daylight savings. Your child’s whole daily schedule moves back those 15 minutes the day after. This way, you will have shifted your child’s schedule ahead by one hour by the time daylight savings arrives, and he or she will be able to go to sleep right away at his usual time.
2) Keep your child’s room dark so that daylight changes don’t interfere with his/her sleep. If lots of sunlight tends to shine into your child’s room first thing in the morning, you can tape garbage bags or tin foil to the windows to block it out- I know this might not coordinate well with the room’s décor, but it works!
3) Continue with your regular bedtime and naptime routines. Ensure you keep to your child’s schedule as closely as possible. Remember that consistency is key!
Keep in mind that it can still take children up to a week to adjust after the time change. As long as your children have healthy sleep habits, the time change won’t be as dreadful as you think.
So your baby isn’t sleeping. She can’t fall asleep on her own, she wakes up 5 times a night, she naps for 20 minutes at a time, and she has NO structure or routine to her day. You’re exhausted and sleep deprived….AND SO IS YOUR BABY!
Last night you were so tired that you accidentally put hand soap on your toothbrush and started brushing. You weren’t so happy.
You finally recognize that your baby’s sleep challenges are not going to magically disappear without some intervention. You need a SLEEP PLAN.
Here are some steps to follow when coming up with a plan that will get you and your family the sleep you all need and love. Of course, there is a whole slew of additional factors that can contribute to poor sleep, but this will get you off to a good start:
Are YOU ready for change? This is one of the most important steps to creating healthy sleep habits for your child. If you are not ready to make significant changes to your life and your baby’s life, you won’t be successful.
For example, some parents are used to going about their daily lives and making their baby’s sleep needs fit into their schedule. This will need to change. If you want your baby sleeping through the night, it is essential to ensure he takes properly timed naps in his crib and has a consistent early bedtime. Otherwise, you will have an overtired baby on your hands…and those babies will never let you sleep at night!
Change is hard for everyone involved, even if it’s good change. Your baby will probably protest this change at some point, so you need to be prepared to put in the work!
How many hours of sleep does your baby need over a 24-hour period of time? How many naps does she need, and how many hours should her naps equal? How long can your baby likely be awake before needing a nap? How many night feeds (if any) does your baby need?
It’s extremely important that your goals for your baby are age-appropriate. For example, your 3 month-old will not be able to sleep 11-12 hours uninterrupted (unless you have one of those Olympic sleeping unicorn babies that I’ve heard about). On the other hand, your healthy 10 month-old baby weighing in at 23 pounds whose dinner consists of a bowl of macaroni, a chicken thigh, a handful of green beans and a container of applesauce can surely learn to sleep until the morning without needing a midnight snack!
Whatever you do, be realistic and don’t set yourself up for failure!
Here are a few tips on making your baby’s sleep space as sleep-friendly as possible:
Many of you are reading this with a deer-caught-in-headlights look on your face. “Routine? What’s a routine?” A routine is a set of regular activities that are constantly performed in the same order. Implementing a daily routine for your baby is important so that her day has structure and predictability and so that she gets the daytime sleep her body needs. This is essential!
Your baby’s routine should follow an eat-play-sleep structure. As your baby gets older, the “play” portion of the routine will get longer and he may need to eat again before the “sleep” part of his day occurs. Make sure you educate yourself on your baby’s sleep needs (discussed in step 2) so that his routine involves properly timed naps for his age and an early bedtime. Otherwise you’ll have an overtired baby on your hands, which will make sleep training almost impossible.
Make sure that your baby’s nutritional intake is optimal throughout the day as well. Nutrition and sleep are directly connected, so poor eating habits can directly cause sleep issues.
Now comes the fun part- SLEEP TRAINING! If your baby’s self-soothing skills are weak (or non-existent!), you need to sleep train. There are a variety of methods to choose from that can teach your baby how to fall asleep on his own so that he can put himself back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night.
For those parents who want a gentler approach, there’s Kim West’s “Sleep Lady Shuffle”, Tracy Hogg’s “Pick Up/Put Down”, and Elizabeth Pantley’s “Plantley Pull-Off”.
For the parents who are comfortable with a more direct approach, Dr. Ferber’s “Progressive Waiting” approach and Dr. Weissbluth’s “Extinction” are the two most popular.
There is no right or wrong choice of sleep training methodology. All that matters is that you are 100% consistent!
Keeping a log will help you track your baby’s progress so that you can make tweaks to his routine when necessary.
Give yourself AT LEAST one weak to implement your plan before making any major changes. Tossing old sleep habits and creating new ones can take time! Be patient and consistent. Just remember that by teaching your baby to sleep, you are investing in your child’s health and well-being!
Every parent dreads the thought of starting their day before 6am. Even waking up before 7am can be challenging!
Here’s the not-so-good news: If your baby or child is waking between 6am and 6:30am and is well-rested, you may have to accept this reality. On the other hand, if your child is waking before 6am or is waking up between 6-6:30am but is collapsing from exhaustion by 7:30am, it is essential to step in and teach her how to sleep later.
Thankfully, the cause of early rising is usually easy to point out, making the problem quite fixable! Here are a few common culprits of this dreaded 5am wake-up:
If your child is waking up at the crack of dawn, this often means that a) your child’s bedtime is too late; b) the duration of your child’s nap(s) were not long enough; or c) the amount of time your child is awake between his last nap of the day and bedtime is too long for his age. Quite often, a combination of these factors is causing the early rising.
I know this goes against the common misconception that a later bedtime and shorter naps will lead to a later wake up, but the reality is often the opposite. When a child becomes overtired, their nervous systems produce a hormone called cortisol. When cortisol is present in their bodies, it is very common for a child to begin waking up early.
It is essential to ensure your child’s room is DARK! On a scale of 1-10, if ‘10’ is pitch black, it’s ideal for the room to be an ‘8’. If the sun is beaming through the windows at 5:30am, it could wake up your child. Installing blackout blinds is your best bet to avoid this problem.
For babies under 8 months who aren’t eating enough solid food, an early morning wake up could be caused by this hunger. Giving your baby a dream feed between 10-11pm, where your baby feeds without fully waking up, can help. Make sure your child is getting all the calories and nutrients he needs during the day!
If your child isn’t able to fall asleep on his own without any help, he will struggle putting himself back to sleep in the middle of the night. Make sure your baby is going to sleep drowsy but completely awake and aware of being put to bed.
Sleep Apnea, snoring, GERD, or even a mild cold can affect breathing, which will affect sleep. If you are concerned with your child’s breathing, speak to your pediatrician.
If your child is consistently waking up before 6am, fix the problem as soon as possible! Over time, your child’s early rising could become habitual, which means you will need to spend a lot of time teaching him to fall back to sleep at 5am. It is very important to treat this pre-dawn wakeup as a night-waking- do NOT get your child up before 6am because you don’t want his body to get used to waking at this time.