Develop healthy sleep habits.
Sleep is a topic all new parents have questions about. Getting enough sleep is a common challenge for many parents.
Healthy sleep habits
- Develop daily routines:
- Help your child settle for the night with regular meal, snack and nap schedules (even on weekends).
- Have a consistent bedtime routine: bath, brush teeth, book and bed.
- Remember that a child's needs are always changing so no routine should be rigid.
- Recognize sleep cues (see below).
- Keep naps in a consistent place rather than napping on the go in the car or stroller.
- Wind down the action at bedtime and avoid TV watching.
- Put your child to bed when he/she is drowsy but still awake. They are more likely to self-soothe to sleep.
- Put your child into his/her own room if possible after six months of age.
Learn sleep cues and put them down while they are still awake.
- Decreased activity
- Slower motions
- Less vocal
- Sucking is slower or weaker
- Quieter, calmer
- Eyes are less focused
- Eyelids droop
Fatigue and overtired signs
- Rubbing eyes
- Irritable, cranky
Sometimes parents will receive advice from well-meaning friends and family on how to help their child sleep through the night. Not all of this advice is supported by research and may actually have some negative effects. Here are some common pieces of advice that are not supported in research.
Myth: Keep your child awake in the day
Fact: Overtired babies will have more difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Myth: Introduce solids early or add cereal to the bottle
Fact: Adding cereal to a bottle is a choking hazard and solids before six months are not recommended.
Myth: Discontinue breastfeeding and/or introduce infant formula at night
Fact: breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for the health of your baby. It is recommended to continue breastfeeding for two years and beyond.
Myth: Increase the volume of the night feed
Fact: babies know how much their bodies need and regulate it throughout the day and night. If you over feed a baby, he/she will tend to spit it up.
- Tactile. Massaging, rubbing, kissing, rocking (up and down or side to side), position change while carrying (for example, changing from hip to shoulder), warm bath, hands-free swaddling while baby awake
- Auditory. Singing, humming, playing music, white noise (fan, vacuum)
- Sight. Mobiles, dim lights, darkness
- Motion. Swings, cradles, rocking chair, going for walk, baby carriers
There are a number of reasons why your toddler who usually sleeps through the night may start waking in the night.
- Growth spurts
- Separation anxiety
- Change in routine
Once these issues have been resolved, you may have to reestablish sleep patterns so that your toddler returns to sleeping through the night.