Does The New Year Call For More Sleep?
Most of us set goals for the new year; and if not goals, then things we want to change or focus on. For many parents, I hear that sleep is a major concern and stress factor for their family. If your baby or toddler hasn’t developed good sleep habits, maybe better sleep for the whole family is on your 2018 list of things to improve.
You’re Not A Failure!
If your little one is having trouble finding a way to sleep through the night, or not taking consistent and restorative naps, it does not mean that you are a failure. Many moms I work with come to me feeling this way, and it is definitely not the case. Most families really do struggle with helping their babies and toddlers to get the recommended amount of sleep they need.
Tips For Better Sleep:
Just like anything parenting related, a host of information is available on how to help your little ones sleep better. In fact, so much information is out there on this subject, that some of it is conflicting along with hard to “wade through.” Here are some basics that are easy to understand and follow, in order to get your child on the path to better sleep:
Make the room your little one is sleeping in as dark as possible. It should be so dark, that you can’t see your hand in front of your face! Once your baby becomes more aware and observant of their environment, things in their room can become quite a distraction at bedtime or nap time. So if you can help take away those distractions by making the room dark, that’s one less thing keeping your baby or toddler awake.
Is your baby waking up sweaty? Are they wearing breathable clothing or sleeping in a breathable sleep sack (or with a breathable blanket, if you’re using blankets)? Check the temperature of the room where your little one sleeps. A good range for babies and toddlers, as far as temperature of their sleeping environment, is between 68-72 degrees. The general rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one more layer than you are wearing, so if you are putting them in heavy, footed pajamas, with a fleece sleep sack and the temperature of your house is in the 70’s or higher, it may be too hot for your baby. In the summer, especially living in Albuquerque, make sure your baby is in breathable pajamas with a lighter sleep sack (muslin is a great choice here).
If your baby or toddler isn’t getting restorative sleep, you may try adding a white noise sound machine. This is one of those things, that before I actually had babies, I was extremely opposed to doing. I thought that my babies would be trained to sleep through anything . . . barking dogs, doorbells, the sounds around our house. What I found was, like many things I thought before actually having kids, that was easier said than done. Some babies sleep great without a sound machine, but many babies tend to sleep better with one because it helps drown out all other noise around them. Plain old white noise is a great choice for your sound machine. Sometimes other settings like waves, forest sounds, etc. can be too stimulating.
Do you have a predictable bedtime and nap-time routine? If not, this may be something to try. Babies and toddlers tend to thrive on consistency! Establishing a predictable bedtime and nap-time routine helps your little one to understand that it’s time for sleep. Incorporating a bath into your bedtime routine will be something nice and relaxing for your child. Everything after the bath should be calm and somewhat quiet. It’s also a good idea to cut any screen time 2 hours before bed.
5. Ask For Help:
If the amount of sleep your little one is getting starts to become a topic of stress or worry, reach out and get help. Most cities and states have sleep consultants that specialize in working with families to help their babies and toddlers get the recommended amount of sleep for their age. Hiring a sleep consultant may sound like a luxury that would be very expensive. But you might be pleasantly surprised at the range of services and prices offered by sleep consultants!
6. Reap The Benefits:
Once your baby or toddler begins to sleep better, take advantage of the extra time you’ll have! For my husband and me, hiring a sleep consultant was life changing! Instead of trying to get our twins down for hours each night, making some sort of a meal for ourselves, and then falling into bed exhausted, only to be awakened a few hours later to do it all over again, we now have a few hours every night to reconnect after our long days. Getting a full night’s sleep helped me to overcome my Postpartum Depression. And I had the patience needed to raise my infant twins (who are now one-year-olds).
Now that my girls take consistent naps, I am able to work from home and have some time to recharge during the day. I’ve heard from many of my clients that their families have also been able to reap these benefits. What would you do with extra time if you didn’t have to spend so much of it trying to get your little one to sleep?
If one of your goals for the new year is for your family to get more sleep, I hope you find this post beneficial. Sweet dreams!