I'm not one of those parents who had a good sleeper since day one. And by month 8, sleep was still barely hitting 4 consecutive hours for anyone in the household, sometimes not even 2! I read tons of books, blogs and learned every different sleep training method out there.
There were all these different methods I learned about, "Sleep-lady-shuffle", "By-the-Clock", "Extinction", "Ferber" , "Dr What'sHisFace" and more. I knew that one of the methods would have to work on my then baby and I tried them all. Finally at 9 months, he was sleeping through the night - but only after a week of sleep training. Sleeping through the night means anything til 5am! But this didn't last long as traveling and illness can throw any sleep regimen off. So after a few more exhausting sleepless months, we (and I meant I) had to start again with the sleep training. Each time it would take shorter days to get him back on track but then something (there's always SOMETHING!) that will throw him off and then we are back to maybe waking every 3-4 hours again.
And now that Lil' G is 2, sleep is still challenging but I had a recent victorious night which is allowing me the energy to muster up this article: he slept 9 consecutive hours (yay I'll take it)!!
I decided at this age, I couldn't do any sort of sleep training. I've used the Extinction method but hearing a 2 year old cry is worse then grinding nails in your Vitamix. So I figured, at 2, I could *gasp* just reason with him and it seemed to work. He lets me leave the room without crying and he'll give me a good minimum 6-9 hours a night.
So, if anyone knows the pain of having a difficult sleeper, trust me, I know. I've been there and back. That's why I'm going to share some of my tips on how to get a happier and restful sleeper. Good luck!
1. Keep the room as dark as possible.
Babies biological clocks are still learning when it's day time and night time. Get black out curtains to keep room as dark as possible. Young babies aren't afraid of the dark but as they get older (toddler years), you may want to get a small night light. Avoid colors such as blue and white as they promote stimulation. Red or orange make the best colors for night lights as these are similar to the sunset which signals your body that you are ready for bed. We love the Cloud B Twinkle!
2. Get a good sound machine.
We have two. The Duux baby projector has very soothing music, projects beautifully on the ceiling and best of all, it automatically turns on when baby starts crying.
3. Read this book.
My friend advised me to get this book. She said it was the only one I'll need. She was soooo right. And this is from a mom (me) who read 3 other sleep training book and a bunch of blogs every night for 6 months straight. "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child".
4. Invest in a good sleep sack!
I've been talking about my favorite sleep sack for months already. natural breathable merino sleep sack has been a huge factor in getting my child to sleep well. The merino wool regulates his body temperature so he never over heats or is never too cold. It's roomy and spacious enough for him to maneuver around but safe enough to deter him from climbing over the crib. The anti-bacterial material means you don't have to wash the sleep sack as often. I air it inside out every day and wash it every couple of months in cold water with a wool cleaner. Right now, Woolino is offering Sophitikid readers a 10% promotional discount utnil the end of April with the code "SOPHISTI".
5. Have a Routine.
Babies and toddlers love to know what to expect next so a routine helps. Cues, such as bathtime, story time, singing or saying good night to objects in the house helps indicate that "sleep time" is near. What ever it is, keep the routine as consistent as possible so they know what to expect.
6. Keep Lights and Activity Dim.
Keep voices lower and try to turn lights lower to help create a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Right before bedtime is not the time to go into hyper mode and dance up a storm or throw your baby up in the air. Keep the TV off, voices low... you know, be boring.
7. LEAVE the Room while Baby is Awake.
This has got to be one of the most important lessons I've learned through trial and error. You want to leave the baby in the crib while he/she's awake - drowsy is okay but as long as the baby ain't full on asleep. This will allow the baby to self-soothe herself/himself to sleep. As adults, we often wake up multiple times at night but we are able to self-soothe ourselves back to sleep within seconds. Little ones are still grasping this idea. The more practice they get, the better they'll be able to self-soothe themselves back to sleep.
8. KEEP the Room Exactly the Same as When You Left.
Why? Because when babies wake up in the middle of the night, they expect the room to look exactly the same as when they fell asleep. If you had a projector on, keep it on. IF you have a noise machine on, keep it on. If you were sitting tirelessly in that velour glider, you BEST better be in it when the baby wakes at 1am, 2:15am, 3:35am, 4:40am. Otherwise, say good night. Be confident and firm. Be smiley and happy so you leave the baby with positive thoughts. Basically, you're signaling to the baby that "sleep is fun and awesome".
But because sleep is so awesome, I had to share my tips to help YOU out. Sleeping baby = happy baby = happy parent. Good luck and enjoy the journey!