The sleepless nights. The exhaustion. Not thinking clearly. Not remembering what you ate for breakfast. Or wait… did you eat breakfast?
Or even those times you fall asleep on your way to the pillow because you know in three hours, on the dot, that little one will be screaming for more food, to be changed, and to be rocked back to sleep.
The great news is that there are steps you can implement tonight that will get your child on track to good sleep habits and sleeping through the night quickly.
1: Create a sleep-friendly environment
Make sure you have turned down the lights, the room is quiet, and your little one knows it’s bedtime by the change in your mood and body language. When you are hyped up and noisy, it makes children get hyped up, too. Change conversations to whispering, if anything must be said at all.
Turn off as many lights as possible. God made our bodies to sleep while it’s dark and rise in the morning with the sunlight. Don’t assume that they need a nightlight. In most cases, with our four kids, we would only turn on a small light (or even light from another room with the door cracked works, too) when we got up once they were awake for a mid-night feeding.
2: Create a routine
Babies and kids, alike, thrive on routine. They get in a groove and start knowing what to expect, even at the tiny age of just a few weeks old. Create patterns and schedules. If you feed first, the change diapers, then get dressed in pajamas, do it in that order every evening. Also, do your best to start the routine at the same time each evening. I realize in some cases, that’s just impossible because someone is having an off night or is extra hungry.
However, the more you stick with it, the faster they will get it and anticipate it.
It won’t take long to associate sleep with that routine, as well. It’s just the next natural thing in the progression in the routine.
3: Create a happy kid by creating a happy tummy
Infants fill up more at night. All four of my kids did this. Around 8pm, they would start their “dinner” feeding, but then only go about 1 1/2 hours before the next feeding. With my first child, I questioned it and thought maybe there was something wrong. However, since then, I realized it’s a built-in gift from God to mommies – babies know they need to be extra full so they will sleep in longer chunks of time (remember, the goal is to get past just the 2-3 straight hours of sleep to the 6-10 hours range). Mommies can function a WHOLE lot better with a longer chunk of sleep at once. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean… you feel refreshed, revived, and like you can face anything after that first night you get six hours of straight sleep! If they want to eat more and more often, let them.
It may feel like you are attached to them for three hours, but the six hours of sleep you’ll get will be worth every minute.
4: Learn to let go
One of the hardest things for a mom to do is let their children cry. I know. I’m a mom… four times over. I get it. I know that burning, sinking feeling in your heart to race in the nursery and rescue your little one. After all, you are MOMMY! You are THE Nurturer! It’s YOUR job!
Well, when it comes to getting your little one to sleep, let yourself off the hook. There are just some times they need to cry themselves to sleep.
It will not hurt them. It will not scar them. If anything, you will be teaching them that all is well, it’s ok, they can do this on their own. Were you planning on rocking them to sleep in their college dorm? The quicker you let them self-soothe, the faster they will catch on and learn how to get themselves to sleep rather than being dependent on your or daddy to make it happen.
Now, I can see you squirming in your seat, and that’s ok. Let me clarify something. The only way this step works is if you have, first, make sure all other needs are met. If they start to cry after you have put them in bed (hint, hint: this works for toddlers, too… however, you have to do this much less with toddlers if you start when they are infants), run through the checklist – clean diaper? full tummy? warm enough? dark enough? quiet enough? pacifier? feeling ok?
If you know all their major needs are met, more than likely, the current crying is stemming from being over tired or they just want you to soothe them instead of learning to soothe themselves.
I’m not telling you to let them cry for an hour straight. However, sometimes it may take them a good 15 minutes (or less!) to figure it out.
It will be hard. I know that. If necessary, ask your spouse if they will help you with willpower to not go into the nursery. Also, if you must, wear ear plugs. Trust me, you’ll hear the “I’m starving! Come feed me!” cry that comes hours later even with ear plugs!
I have successfully done this with four children, including two babies together, at the same time, every night, consistently. You can do this, too, and get the same results I did! Three of my kids were sleeping through the night at 6 weeks old and one of them was around 2 weeks old and have been great sleepers since (current ages 10, 6, 2 1/2 and 2 1/2).
You can do this. I believe in you, and I believe that baby or toddler of yours will be sleeping through the night before you know it, and you will be getting that much-needed rest you deserve!
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Jessica Stone is a wife, mom to 4, and owner of her own businesses in the fitness and essential oils industries. She has 3 special needs children, one which has an undiagnosed neuro-muscular condition that limits her mobility, and her twins are currently receiving therapy for sensory defensiveness, physical mobility, fine motor skills, and speech. She enjoys sharing what she has learned through her trials, experience, research, and tools that have helped her children’s health with other parents who are looking for support, encouragement, and helpful information. Get her FREE eBooklet Five Steps to Losing Those Last 10 Pounds today for simple steps to help you trim up and fit into those fashionable clothes you’ve always wanted to wear! Connect with Jess live today on Facebook!