Training Your Little One to Sleep

posted by Andrea | 12/1/2011

Due to the recent birth of our beautiful baby girl, Nora Faith, I’ve rounded up an All-Star list of moms who effortlessly seem to manage work, home, family, life, and everything in between! You can read all their words of motherly wisdom here, as well as how they manage to “do it all” while still living a life they love.

I’ll be sharing my own thoughts and baby updates soon enough, but right now, I’m simply soaking up their trusted advice while cuddling with my new baby girl! 


The following is written by Amanda from OhAmanda.com and Impress Your Kids:

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The first few minutes after my daughter was born, the nurses said, “I don’t think those 3 know anyone else exists in the world.” We were absolutely head over heels with our little girl. It was the most amazing, heart-opening experience of my life.

Little did I know how much she would rock my world!

It’s like that saying, “to have a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body”. What that quote does not say is that to have a child is also to decide to forever and ever NEVER get enough sleep again!

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was determined to read everything I could about sleep patterns and techniques for babies — I wanted my sleep!

How to get your child to sleep can be one of those highly debated mothering choices. But I think there is at least one thing ALL parents can agree on: children NEED sleep!

In fact, kids need a lot more sleep than you think! Archibald Hart, author of Sleep, It Does a Family Good: How Busy Families Can Overcome Sleep Deprivation says babies under 1 should have 14-15 hours of sleep per day! And 6-12 year old kids should still be getting 10-11 hours!

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I have done everything from cry-it-out, to no-cry, to a little bit of co-sleeping. Here are some of the best things I learned as a jealous-of-her-sleep mama of two:

1. Sleep Begets Sleep

I learned this from Dr. Weissbluth, pediatrician and author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. The more good sleep babies get, the better they are going to sleep.

Over tired children (for some unknown reason) do not sleep well! I remember when my daughter was very little, if she stayed up way past her bedtime (usually because of some crazy grandparent adventure) she would always wake up early the next morning! And if I put her to bed early (which I often did when my husband was out of town), she’d sleep later the next morning! Seems backwards, doesn’t it?

2. Protect Nap and Bedtimes

Bedtime and nap time are connected. When you protect nap time, your bedtimes will go smoother. When bedtimes are consistent, nap times will be easier!

With a newborn, it is easy to get into the she’ll-fall-asleep-in-the-carseat, but if you want your kids to enter that full, deep, restorative sleep that will effect their entire day, you need real naps and real sleep!

Ironically, I was so intent on getting my kids to sleep in their beds at naps and bedtimes, that it was hard for them to fall asleep anywhere else!

3. Do Not Wake a Sleeping Baby

My son is three years old and it still pains me to wake him early from a nap! The only time waking a child up is a good idea is if they are mixing up their days and nights or if you are trying to protect night-time sleep. For example, if my son takes a late nap and is sleeping at 5pm, I will wake him to protect his 7pm bedtime!

4. Implement Early Bedtimes

Children and babies are ready for bed BEFORE they start showing signs of sleepiness. When your baby rubs his eyes, yawns, or is cranky, you have (sadly) already missed their perfect bedtime! Go ahead and start the bath, the blanket, the story and the bedtime routine before those sleepy cues! Let your baby fall asleep in a nice drowsy state, not a crying-I’m-overly-tired scream-fest!

Plus, it’s nice to have some adult time early in the evening when your kids go to sleep. My daughter is in kindergarten and still goes to bed at 7pm!

These are just general guidelines and simple tips to help you and your baby keep sleep a priority! It seems like a simple thing, but it’s surprising how something like baby’s bedtime becomes a big deal in your life. I’m no expert, but I do know that a good night’s sleep helps my kids’ behavior. And when I get more sleep, I’m a little better behaved, too!

 

What are your thoughts on kids and sleep?

Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at OhAmanda.com and Impress Your Kids. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!
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15 comments

  1. Shannon

    12/01/2011

    Wonderful advice! I also found that my girls were much better off if I scheduled errands around their nap time. Once the second was born, after a few months they both took a nap at the same time in the afternoon. I scheduled errands before and after nap but never during if I could help it!

    [Reply]

    oh amanda Reply:

    No joke! Who knew life would revolve around naps, huh?! :)

    [Reply]

  2. Laundry Lady

    12/01/2011

    My 2 year old daughter’s current bedtime is 7:30. I wish it could be earlier but my husband doesn’t get home until 5:30 so by the time we have dinner, it’s almost time to put her to bed. I don’t think he could handle getting much less time with her. However, I’ve also noticed a correlation between light and waking. Even though we have shades in her room my daughter definitely sleeps longer on cloudy mornings and during the winter when it is stays darker longer. Summer time she definitely wakes earlier. While I agree you should push for ideal sleeping habits keep the time of year in mind and give yourself a little bit of grace.

    [Reply]

    oh amanda Reply:

    Oh, there’s definitely grace involved! But I feel good knowing I have a schedule in my head. Then when we get off, we know exactly when/where to get back!

    And you’re right about light–I like it when it’s rainy out b/c the kids sleep later! ;)

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  3. Christina

    12/01/2011

    I’ve been an advocate for years about sleep. Essentially, if you or your children need an alarm clock or need to be awakened, you aren’t getting enough sleep. Our bedtimes are early in our house – the almost 9yo is in bed by 7:30, one of the 14yos is in bed by 8 and the other 14yo and 15yo are in bed by 9 (not “in bed reading”, but “in bed, lights out, making an effort to sleep”). At any time, if they are not able to naturally wake up at the time they need to in the AM, we start moving bed times up earlier. Yes, it means less time in the evenings, but we don’t watch TV or movies during the week anyway so it’s basically dinner, showers & then bed. That also gives hubby and I some alone time (although I’m usually in bed by 8:30 and hubby is within an hour of that).

    [Reply]

    oh amanda Reply:

    Good point about that alarm clock! That’s a good thing to remember! Thank you!

    a

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  4. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles

    12/01/2011

    Excellent post! Sleep is so very important, and sometimes it seems so very elusive. I know it has helped us to keep up with a routine and make sure there is consistency in napping and bedtime, even when it’s not the most convenient thing to do.

    [Reply]

  5. sarah

    12/02/2011

    Absolutely kids need sleep. One of my babies was just not a good sleeper right from the get go and one of mine just was. Routine and schedules are vital for good sleep patterns. My almost 8yr old and 41/2yr old are still in bed by 7.30pm. The 4yr old is out by 7.35pm and the almost 8yr old reads or does something quiet till I say lights out at 8pm. During the week we stuck/stick to a fairly rigid schedule but the weekend we have always tried to loosen those routine reigns a tad. It allows us to do stuff, be a out and about little later than normal. It has given us flexibility and helped teach our kids flexibility.

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    oh amanda Reply:

    My kids are 3 and 5 and they sleep from 7/730-7/730 every day! And they need it, you’re right!

    a

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  6. HG

    12/05/2011

    Long before I had children, I heard a wise grandma say that children must be taught how to sleep. Just as we teach them to feed themselves, walk, & talk, sleeping is a learned behavior. This is so true.

    It hurts my heart to see babies & children behaving badly because they’re tired. It seems so obvious that the simple solution is to help them get more sleep, but many parents just don’t get it. Whatever the method, it takes work to make sure your children get enough sleep, but as with all other purposeful parenting, the results are definitely worth the effort!

    [Reply]

    oh amanda Reply:

    You are so right, my kids are so much better when they have sleep! I have to remember to give them grace when I am the one that made them stay up late!

    a

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  7. Sleep: My Precious | ohamanda.com

    12/21/2011

    [...] friend, Andrea from Simple Organized Living just had the sweetest little baby girl! And as she’s snuggling her new bundle of joy, she [...]

  8. Jeni

    12/21/2011

    Sleep is essential, and I was one who guarded my babies’ sleep time. They were in bed on time, napping on time, etc., and we planned around that.

    The thing that helped the MOST when our kids were wee babies was the double-swaddle. It helped my kids sleep longer, and they loved it as much as I did! Sometimes I wish I could still swaddle my 2yo and 5yo… :-)

    http://jeniallen.blogspot.com/2009/08/wfmw-double-swaddle.html

    [Reply]

    oh amanda Reply:

    Oooh, the swaddle!! How could I forget the swaddle?! I love love love swaddling!

    a

    [Reply]

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