You have finally decided that bedtime and night wakings have been hard enough for long enough. And naps are a daily battle you feel like you just aren’t winning. Now you’re ready for sleep training and more importantly ready to see your child really sleep well, and to catch up on sleep yourself! You’re ready to hire and work with a sleep consultant and you can’t wait to get started.
Your enthusiasm is a great first step. What else can you do to make sure your work with a sleep consultant pays off and really works? Consider these tips to make the most of your sleep training.
Make sure you start the sleep training when you’ll have time to give it your full attention. You should ideally have two or three weeks with no travel or no major moves or building works before you start any plan to change your baby’s sleep.
Plan on starting sleep training within one week of your initial consultation. That way, you can be sure that the plan is using accurate information and details about how your child is sleeping now.
Many families find it easier to start their sleep training on a Friday night because both parents may be home for the weekend, making it easier to tag team the project and catch up on sleep during the day.
Before starting a sleep training plan, take notes about how your child is sleeping, eating, and even their behavior. The more information you have to share with your consultant about what your family’s days and nights look like and about your child’s temperament, the easier it will be for her to make a sleep plan that really works for your family.
Be diligent about keeping a sleep diary once you get started. Log details about when you put your baby down for a nap, how long it took for him to fall asleep, what you did or didn’t do to help him go to sleep or back to sleep. Do the same at bedtime and throughout the night.
If your child is under 18 months, consider logging feedings too. We’re all a little bleary-eyed when we aren’t getting enough sleep so set yourself up to take notes. Keep paper and a pen next to your child’s bed or outside the door to their room and jot down quick things like what time they woke up and went back to sleep. Consider investing in a baby logbook, you can then keep a note of all sleep, feeding and nappy change times.
Make sure both parents and any caregivers are all keeping notes on how your sleep training plan is working. Be sure to share your notes with your consultant as you go along, especially if you find yourself frustrated during the process or if you change anything about how you are using your sleep training plan.
Even if you and your partner are champing at the bit to start sleep training, or if you’re a single parent who wishes you’d hired a consultant yesterday, it’s important to slow down long enough to know why you’re hiring a consultant and what your goals are. Do you hope to get your baby sleeping 12 hours uninterrupted at night? Or do you want him to sleep in longer stretches but still be fed once or twice before morning? Give yourself and your partner a chance to answer the question “why are we hiring a sleep consultant?” and “what do we want our child’s sleep to look like at the end of the process?” Are you both on the same page?
Many couples find themselves on different pages when it comes to sleep. If you and your partner have different goals for your child’s sleep or one of you is more prepared to start sleep training, you’re not alone.
Consistency is the single most important key to successful sleep training. Spend some time exploring your different feelings and finding strategies that make you both comfortable.
Your child will learn new sleep habits quickest and best when you use a sleep training plan consistently. Make sure that everyone who helps your baby or child get to sleep day or night works together by including them in the process.
Does your child have a nanny or babysitter that puts them down for naps during the day? Or does your child go to the nursery while you work? It’s really important to explain it to them so they can keep up the consistency.
Talk through how you and your partner will use your sleep plan to make sure you are a united front before you get started. How will you respond to your baby’s crying when you put him to sleep at bedtime? Will one of you respond to all of his night wakings, or will you divide the night? It’s much easier to discuss and decide those things in daylight than in the small hours of the night.
While most sleep challenges in children and babies are behavioral and not medical, if you are unsure please speak with your doctor first in order to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Set yourself and your child up for success by investing in a few basics to help create a sleep-friendly environment. Blackout blinds and a white noise machine can help make a room dark and quiet.
Make sure your baby has nappies that will keep them dry overnight and pajamas appropriate for the season.
Sleep training is hard work no matter how ready you are to get started. Using these recommendations can make a huge difference in whether your sleep training is a struggle or a super success!
It seems like the winter just ended, and it’s already on the horizon, the spring forward clock change! In Europe our clocks go forward on Sunday, March 29, and it’s Sunday, March 8 in the US. The week afterwards is usually one where everyone feels a little tired and cranky, or just a little “off”.
Nobody feels it the way babies and small children do and yet they’re the least likely to understand why, and the most likely to be upset. But with a little preparation, you can transition your little ones to their new schedule before the change hits, leaving you with a well-rested baby even when the clock jumps ahead. Here are some tips on how to move to your new spring schedule with ease:
For some children (especially young babies), making the one-hour change will be overwhelming. A slow transition to the new bedtime before the actual time change can make spring just a little easier. The idea here is to adjust everything earlier before the actual time change. That way when 6 p.m. becomes 7 p.m., your child will already be used to the new schedule.
About a week before the time change, begin putting your child to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier, moving the time back every few days until you reach a full hour. A week ahead usually works best. So, if your child has a 7:00 p.m. bedtime, you want to begin with bedtime around 6:40 p.m., then 6:20 p.m., then 6:00 p.m.
One of the best ways to prepare your child for the forward clock change is to make sure they are getting good naps for the few days before the time shift. This will help take the edge off of the discomfort associated with the upcoming changes.
You want to set them up for success by ensuring they are well-napped so that they are not extra cranky headed into the weekend that the clocks change. Moving naps back 15 minutes at a time along with their bedtime will help keep their schedule consistent.
To help your baby sleep more soundly, consider installing blackout curtains or blinds and using a white noise machine.
This will help all summer! It’s important to maintain their bedtime all year, but summer can be difficult when it stays light very late.
While you’re moving backward before the change, your baby may begin waking early. Remember that waking an hour earlier will be the goal, so if it’s just an hour, great!
If it’s more than an hour, encourage your child back to sleep. Follow that with a “dramatic wake-up”, where you go into their room at the appropriate time, open the blinds or curtains, turn on the lights, and give a cheerful, “good morning!”
With both naps and bedtime, be sure to pay close attention to your baby’s wakeful windows. If you’ve moved naps backward along with bedtime, you’ll need to maintain the same amount of time between naps and bedtime.
For example, if your 6-month-old starts her morning nap an hour early and then wakes up early, you’ll have to put her down for her afternoon nap early. The end result is the same amount of time between periods of sleep.
Take your baby outside first thing in the morning, or if it’s too cold, open the windows and let in some natural light. If there is little light in the morning early on, turn on the lights and make sure to either get outside later on for some sun. This will help “reset” her internal clock.
Be as consistent as possible with your baby’s food and sleep schedule. This means that you need to shift all meals, snacks, and naps earlier as well. Watch the clock to stay on the new schedule of 15-20 minutes earlier, depending on what you’ve done with bedtime.
Don’t forget to wake your child a bit earlier to help with this transition schedule. Adjust all meals, snacks, and naps to fit the “new” schedule on the same day that you shift to your child’s new, fully-adjusted bedtime.
A time change is a great time for a “reset” if you’ve been a little off your schedule. Infants and babies do best with a bedtime between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.
If things have been sliding a little, a time change is a great opportunity to gradually move their bedtime to an ideal hour. Take advantage of this short disruption to get on track!
Babies and young children thrive on routine. Most likely you have a set of activities that communicate to your child that it’s time to get ready for sleep. A bath, story, pajamas on, a kiss and a song — these will all need to move back in order to make up for that lost hour.
Like the bedtime, move the routine backward during the week before the clocks change.
This is also a great opportunity to start a routine that calms and soothes or to shorten your routine if it has become too long.
Adults and older children may be successful going “cold turkey” and just moving the clocks on a Sunday that the clocks change. Undoubtedly, everyone feels it for at least a week when done this way.
But with young children, a little planning the week before can make things much easier after the change. If you do decide on this method, be sure that you get outside to the sun the morning afterward to help re-set everyone’s internal clocks. Naps and bedtime will then all be according to the new time.
For the Autumn fall back clock change, do exactly the same but move your timing back not forward.