Well, readers, you know what they say — new year, new start! If your baby or toddler is struggling to take restorative naps, or is having a hard time sleeping through the night, now is the time to take action! With some work on your part (and some help from those of us here at The Baby Sleep Site®), 2016 really can be a year of peaceful sleep for your whole family.
With that in mind, here are 16 tips you can use to get started on improving your baby or toddler’s sleep, and to ensure that you have a well-rested year ahead. 🙂
16 Tips for Better Baby and Toddler Sleep in 2016
- Change your lifestyle
- Do your homework
- Have realistic expectations
- Stop comparing your baby to your friend’s baby
- Trust your instincts
- Plan for setbacks
- Don’t put off sleep training because you think it’s “too early” or “too late”
- Set goals
- Make a Plan
- Get Support
- Be sure you’re starting at the right time. There are good times to sleep train….and then there are bad times to sleep train. Even the best sleep coaching plan can be utterly derailed if it’s implemented during a window in which your baby just isn’t prepared to learn new sleep habits. So what do “good” sleep training windows look like, and when do they happen? You can read about the best time to sleep train in this article.
- Make sure to lay the groundwork before you start sleep coaching
- Try keeping a sleep log
- Work on a great schedule
- Stay consistent!
- Take that first step
Instead of making a long list of resolutions, commit to making a lifestyle change. Just like a crash diet doesn’t work in the long term, a ‘quick fix’ probably won’t provide lasting changes in your baby or toddler’s sleep habits. Instead, focus on making a lifestyle change, in which you change the way you view your baby’s sleep. Commit to getting rid of unhealthy sleep habits (like falling asleep in front of the TV, or having inconsistent bedtimes).
Most of the parents who will visit this site in the next year are well-informed and well-read, so this goes almost without saying, but do some reading and research about your baby’s sleep and make sure you know age-appropriate milestones. Our blog is a great place to start! 😉
While we have helped some families achieve miraculous results in just one e-mail or phone call, that certainly isn’t our norm. Some families need 30 days of unlimited e-mails, and frequent tweaks to their Personalized Sleep Plans™, before they see results. We aren’t miracle workers, but we’ll keep working with you to find THE solution that works for YOUR family. Your baby is unique and may or may not respond as quickly as some of the lucky few who have success in one or two nights. So please, have realistic expectations for your baby. Know that it may take days or perhaps even a few weeks to see any improvement. If you are realistic, you will have less frustration and more success, since you are less likely to give up before he has time to learn. This is especially true for slow-to-adapt babies.
It’s soooo frustrating when your friends around you all have babies who sleep great or did after five minutes of crying or something. Believe me, I know! But try not to believe the many ‘myths’ your friends may tell you about sleeping through the night. And consider that a) not all people define “sleeping well” the same way (some might not mind replacing a pacifier three or four times per night, but you might), b) it doesn’t mean they won’t have different sleep issues later (babies change a lot in the first two years!) and c) all babies have easy and hard things about them (some might struggle with sleep and others with eating, for example).
Sometimes our instincts are wrong (like if you think keeping baby up later will give you more sleep, when usually the opposite is true), but many times they are right! You know your baby best. If you start to wonder if you are making too many excuses for bad sleep, you’ll know it’s time to make a change.
No doubt that just when you figure out the first thing, a second thing pops up: “She was sleeping great and then learned to roll! AAAHHH!” Teething, sleep regressions, illness, growth spurts – setbacks like these are all normal, so be prepared for them.
True, there are ‘ideal windows’ for sleep training – and you can see them in this past article. But here’s the thing – there’s no time like the present! If you have a newborn on your hands, you can start working on sleep right now – today – using our e-Book Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep. It’ll help you lay a foundation of healthy sleep habits that’ll last a lifetime. And if you have an older toddler on your hands, whose sleep associations are deeply entrenched? It’s NOT too late to sleep train – we have so much experience in helping parents sleep train their toddlers! (We wrote a book about that, too – it’s called The 5 Step System To Better Toddler Sleep.)
One helpful step you can make is to set (realistic) goals for your baby’s sleep. If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s very hard to find a path there. Make sure that your goals are specific – instead of setting a goal like ‘sleep through the night’, try setting one like ‘down from 3 night wakings to 2 within first 10 days’.
If you’re going on a road trip across country, most people make a plan. Some will plan it down to the last detail, including where they will stop for potty breaks, while others will make looser plans. If they make it to a nearby city to their planned stop, they might stop sooner or later, while others will do anything to stick to their plan and stop when and where they planned to stop. Neither of these plans are ‘better’ – both reflect the personality types of the people who made them. So, regardless of your personality type, remember that success usually starts with a plan (even if it’s not super-detailed). Now, as to how to get a sleep plan – we can make one for you, or you can access our sleep plan template and workbook in the Members Area.
Whether it’s another friend going through a similar situation, your partner/spouse, a friend on Facebook, your parent helping you through, or one of our sleep consultants, one thing that helps you succeed in making a big change in your life is your support network. Holding yourself accountable by “checking in” with someone also helps you succeed. So, try to get your support lined up before you start.
There are a few things you should do before you start any kind of sleep training, including catching up on sleep (both you and your baby or toddler should do this) and possibly visiting your doctor, if applicable. To read the full list, check out 5 things to do before sleep training.
You can do this before you start sleep training, to determine how much sleep your baby is getting, and to spot any trends in sleep. But it’s also a good idea to keep a sleep log/journal while you are sleep training. Keeping a record of what works (and what doesn’t), and charting your baby or toddler’s progress over time, will be a big help to you as you work on sleep.
Sometimes, small changes to your baby’s sleep and feeding schedule is enough to make a big difference in sleep. For instance, if you are struggling with night waking, try adding in an extra feeding to your daytime schedule. Or, examine the timing of your baby’s naps, and make sure they don’t fall too close to bedtime (and that they aren’t forcing your baby to stay awake too long). I know this may seem like a big task, but we have a ton of resources to help! Take a look at our sample sleep and feeding schedules by age, or try making a customized nap schedule for your child, using our custom sleep schedule generator.
I know, I know — we sound like a broken record, right? 😉 We say this a lot, but it’s an important point to remember! The number one key to successful sleep training is consistency. You have to give a plan time to work, and you have to faithfully stick to that plan, before you’ll ever start to see progress. So don’t throw in the towel after just a few nights – instead, stick with it. If you haven’t seen any meaningful changes in 7-10 days, then consider making changes to your plan.
Why is a bullet point about taking the first step the very last thing on our list? Because once you have your plan, taking that first step is often the hardest. Very often we build up how terrible sleep training will be in our head and, often, it’s worse in our head than in reality. We’re afraid we’ll be sleep training a tortoise and we’ll feel guilty because our baby won’t sleep and it’s our fault. The first step in solving any problem is usually the most difficult, but it’s also one of the most important.
Remember – your family can do this! Take that first step today, and you’ll be well on your way to a 2016 that’s filled with relaxing, peaceful nights!
And speaking of taking that first step, remember – you don’t have to do it alone. You can call in a pro to help! Our team of expert sleep consultants is ready to create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ just for your family. The plan will walk you through every step of the sleep coaching journey, and will be 100% personalized to your child’s personality and needs, and will mesh with your parenting goals and philosophies.
Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to log in and get started right away!
What are your sleep-related plans for 2016? Any of you planning to sleep train? Feel free to ask questions and share your tips below – we love hearing from you!
Our Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
If you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
For those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.