Remember that familiar saying about “sleeping like a baby”? When looked at in reality it makes as much sense as the saying, “easy as taking candy from a baby.” Have you ever tried to remove candy from a baby’s hand? It is not easy at all!
One of the first and most difficult obstacles new parents experience is nighttime with a new baby. Waking up every two hours to feed the newborn is normal and expected, but when the night feedings have been tapered off and you are ready for a full eight hours of peaceful sleep and Baby is not cooperating, it can get very frustrating.
Allowing your little one to become over tired is one of the easiest traps to fall into. Babies only need to be awake two to three hours at a time during the day; the rest of the time is sleep time. So that works out to about two or three naps during the day to prevent the fussy crankiness of an over tired baby. It is tempting to wait until the baby is tired to put them down for a nap, but this could be working against yourself because they will be frustrated and angry sounding when over tired.
During the night we, as adults often wake up to turn over or get a drink of water. Babies and toddlers also wake up and their first reaction is to call out for you to come. But they can learn to put themselves back to sleep just like you do. If you run to them at the first squeak you will be teaching them to depend on you to get them back to sleep.
It is best to let her chatter to herself or cry a little bit before you arrive to sooth her. When you do go to your baby, be calm and do not make it into an active playtime. Speak softly and let them know you are there but keep the light low so they will know it is not morning but still “sleepy time”.
For a toddler the best rule to remember is that two and three year olds love repetition. Establish a specific routine that lets them know it is getting close to bedtime. Do the same “Let’s clean up the toys” game or sing a special song as you get their pajamas on. Have a quiet book time or made up story time every night as consistently as possible. If they love to have multiple books read, be strong enough to set a limit on the number, otherwise you could be sitting on the edge of their bed for hours!
In order to break an already established bad habit of night problems you must begin slowly and gently changing the routine. If you have been holding him to get him to sleep, hold him and rock him right next to the bed for a few nights all the while telling him that you are going to put him in his bed.
If he cries during the night do not pick him up, but do touch him in his bed and speak or sing softly. Stay in the room right next to him until he falls asleep. The next step would be to not touch him, but talk to him as you sit next to him or move quietly about the room straightening things while waiting for sleep. Each night sit farther and farther away from the crib or bed until he learns to put himself back to sleep on his own.
It is also helpful for toddlers to have a night light in the room and some white noise. A small fan can give a soothing sound very easily. There are also many white noise options that can be downloaded from the Internet in a variety of ways.
Hopefully these tips and ideas will have your whole family soon sleeping like babies!