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Happy 2019, readers! You know what they say — new year, new start! Is your baby or toddler still struggling to take restorative naps, or maybe having a hard time sleeping through the night? Now is the time to take action! With some effort on your part (and some help from those of us here at The Baby Sleep Site®), 2019 really can be a year of peaceful sleep for your whole family.
To help you achieve that great sleep you’re looking for, here are 9 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!
9 Tips for Better Baby and Toddler Sleep in 2019
- Don’t put off sleep training because you think it’s “too early” or “too late”
It’s true that there are ‘ideal windows’ for sleep training (and you can read more about those here). But regardless of how old your baby is and where they are in their sleep development, there is some part of their sleep you can be improving right now.
- Set Goals
One great step you can make toward improving sleep is to set realistic, clear 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, and too easy to become overwhelmed. 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.’ Once you achieve that goal, you can find another small step forward until you reach great sleep!
- Have realistic expectations
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 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.
- Make A Plan!
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 city near their planned stop, they might choose to stop sooner or later, while others will do anything to stick to their plan and stop when and where they planned to stop no matter what. Neither of these types of plans are ‘better’ – they 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 personalize one for you, you can generate a custom sleep plan here, or if you like to ‘do-it-yourself’, you can access one of our general sleep plan templates and workbooks to get some help creating your own.
- Get Support From Your Village
Whether you find a friend who’s going through a similar situation with their child’s sleep, or you have your partner/spouse, a friend on Facebook, your parent, or a Sleep Consultant from our sleepy little village helping you through, one thing that will help you succeed in making a big change in your life is your support network. Holding yourself accountable by “checking in” with someone will help you stick to your plan and work toward your goals. So, try to get your village lined up before you start!
- Stop comparing your baby to your friend’s baby
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).
- Make sure to lay the groundwork before you start sleep coaching
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. To read the full list and get the best start possible, check out 5 Things To Do Before Sleep Training.
- Stay Consistent
So you set your goals and made your plan…but are you keeping with it? 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 then, but not before.
- Take that first step
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. Often we build up how terrible sleep training will be in our heads and, more often, it’s worse in our heads 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.