HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Have you fully enjoyed the holidays over the past few months? I hope that your holidays were meaningful, fun and that you created some new memories and traditions. I know that sometimes we fill every day and every night with something that we hope will make a lasting impression on our family. November and December can be so busy that January comes around and you are ready for a restart. It is time to hit the refresh button. Does all this resonate with you? Are you ready to get the whole family back on track with sleep? Although I love the Christmas season and all that it brings: the decorations, activities, and family time, I also love getting back into the swing of things. I crave a schedule, and I know your little one does too. I love setting new goals each year. If you want to regain your sleep and sanity, you might want to start here (hey…that rhymes!)
IS IT TOO LATE?
No way! It is never too late to get back on track. I don’t care how far off the rails you have gotten, you are just one decision away from either getting back to the way sleep was with your child, or starting good sleep hygiene and habits. You simply have to admit that some changes need to be made and go from there.
FROM A GREAT SLEEPER TO CHAOS
If you find that your baby once was a great sleeper or going long stretches at night, and all of a sudden, his sleep habits are inconsistent or all over the place, it might be time to sleep train. He could be experiencing a growth spurt, learning a new skill, rolling over, etc. Sometimes, babies can get back on track quickly, but if it has been several weeks of continued poor sleep, they might need some help. The holidays have a way of getting us off track but that’s ok. No need to stress! I always want families to enjoy the holidays and be in the moment. Sometimes, there might be setbacks, but trust me, you can get your little one sleeping again.
2 METHODS FOR GETTING BACK ON TRACK
- Slow and steady
- Rip the bandaid off
SLOW AND STEADY
If there are just a few things that need to be adjusted you can start here. Or if you want to do things a little more gently, you can make one change at a time. For example, (if you’ve been with me long enough) you know that a solid bedtime routine is essential for successful sleeping. Oftentimes, a bedtime routine can be too long, too late, too earlier, or just all over the place.
I have a free Bedtime Routine on my website for further explanation. I recommend the bedtime routine from start to finish to be 30 minutes. This includes a bath, then a bottle or nursing, book, and then bed. If you are nursing a newborn, this can take a bit longer. Sometimes, if you have a newborn through around 6 months old, your baby’s bedtime might be a little different each night. This is due to varying awake windows. After your child starts taking 2 solid naps, their bedtime can be more predictable. You will want to aim for the same bedtime each night (anywhere between 6:30-8:00) depending on the age of your child.
If you have a bedtime too early or too late, it might be difficult for your child to fall asleep as they may be overtired or under-tired. Pay attention to this as you might have to adjust the bedtime. I recommend adjusting the bedtime by 15-30 minutes each night until you get the desired time.
Another thing you can try for a slow and gradual change would be to make sure that you start or get back to being home for a few weeks to implement a solid routine. You will want to feed your baby every 3 hours during the day (even if you have to wake him up). Getting sufficient calories during the day will help ensure that your baby doesn’t need to eat in the middle of the night (unless they are a newborn or even up until 6-7 months old). You will also want to consider waking them up at the same time each morning which sets them up for sleep at night.
Going outside in the morning and again at the end of the day can help regulate and set their circadian rhythm. Getting outside is so helpful for everyone. It can reset everyone’s mood as well!
RIP THE BANDAID OFF
If you were just getting through the holidays and have been waiting for this opportunity, AND you want immediate change, you will want to start here. If your baby is at least 4 months old, at an appropriate weight, and has their pediatrician’s approval, you can start sleep training. You will want to start with a consistent bedtime routine. I have a free download for babies as well as toddlers on my website to guide you through this bedtime routine. Bedtime Routine Toddler Cards.
A key to sleep training is to separate feeding from sleep. You should not feed your baby to sleep. However, your baby goes to sleep is what they will need to go back to sleep. If you find yourself feeding your baby throughout the night, but they only take a few sips or nurse for a few minutes, they are using food to get back to sleep. Food should be for nourishment and not for sleep. Remember, this does not apply to your newborn. Make sure that you have a buffer between feeding and sleep. For example, in the bedtime routine, I discuss feeding your baby after a bath and THEN do the rest of the routine: book, song, bed.
You will also want to follow appropriate awake windows to ensure that you are putting your baby down at the correct time. If you find that your baby is having a hard time going to sleep, you might be putting them down too early or too late. Adjusting the time by just 15 minutes can oftentimes do the trick. Click on the link to get an Awake Window PDF Awake Window Chart.
Next, you will need a plan! My go-to sleep training strategies are the Stay in the Room Gentle Method and the Leave and Check Method. Both of these plans work! One is (as stated) a bit more gentle and the other is a bit quicker. Depending on you, your child, and your child’s age, will be the method that you will want to go with.
STAY IN THE ROOM. A quick explanation for this method: you stay in the room with your child until he falls asleep. Once he falls asleep, you will leave the room. When he wakes up, you will return to your chair beside the crib or bed (depending on the age) and stay until he falls asleep. There is some comforting involved but this involvement gets shorter each night. The next step will be to gradually move the chair away from your child each night until they become independent sleepers.
LEAVE AND CHECK. There are a few variations of this method. The basic premise of this is to put your child down awake and leave the room for a certain amount of time. Once your baby starts to cry for a certain amount of time, you will go and check on him, comfort him and leave the room. After a predetermined amount of time, you will return and comfort him again and leave. You will do this until he learns to fall asleep on his own and puts himself back to sleep upon waking.
ARE YOU READY?
Anyone can do these steps but if you need someone to guide you along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Don’t wait one more night! Sleep training is possible and very successful if everyone involved is ready. Sometimes you might need encouragement, motivation, and a plan. I am here for that if you need me.
HOW CAN I HELP?
If you find yourself agreeing with some or all of the things that I have discussed and you don’t know what to do next, feel free to book a Discovery Call. I can help you and let you know if sleep training is right for you and your family. My goal is to encourage you, coach you through every situation that might come up, and cheer you on along the way. I don’t judge any situation because I know what it is like being a mama. If you are ready to get back to sleep, contact me today if you need help. I’m here for you. Discovery Call