I am going to share the 7 things you need to know about complementing your baby’s natural sleep patterns to help them sleep better. So many of these things are so SIMPLE and can help your baby form a strong sleep foundaiton without any formal sleep training, let's call it sleep shaping! Also don’t forget I am offer FREE monthly sleep foundation classes. We dive into ALL of this in way more detail. Sign up here.
The #1 tip for helping your baby sleep is ensuring the environment is ideal for sleep! Babies and Toddlers need sleep, they need alot of it! So when it is time to sleep, its best if we can provide an environment that makes it easy for them. I like to recommend the 80/20 rule. Obviously life happens, but sleep is vital for development and survival so we truly should prioritize it when we can!
The 3 keys for the ideal sleep environment are:
Pitch black darkness: Your baby needs total darkness to be able take a long restorative nap and not wake TOO early in the morning. How would you like to sleep with light glaring into your room?
White noise: A constant, pleasant, white noise around 50-60 dB is ideal for sleep. It helps babies and toddler fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Kids sleep during the day and earlier t night when the world is still going, so we need to drown out the outside noise and allow them to stay in dreamland without interruption. It’s a fact that babies can and do wake frequently between sleep cycles, so we want them to fall back asleep without major distractions.
Comfortable & Safe: You want to make sure your crib is safe for sleep. Alone, on their back, and crib are the 3 easiest things to remember. Since we do not advise using blankets or pillow before at least 1-2 years old, it’s best to use a sleep sack or swaddle (newborns) to keep them at a comfortable temperature.
Babies thrive on routine (so do adults, but you can help yourself). We can help our babies and toddlers sleep by keeping their daily routine consistently normal! Again, I know days will be different but in general the oder of activities should stay relatively similar and complement your babies circadian rhythms and internal clock so they know what’s up!
The more consistent we keep our wake up time, meal times, play times, nap times, bedtime routines, and bedtime, the easier it will be for baby to sleep. Sleep is truly a big picture thing, and routine is at the top of the list for a super easy thing we can do to help it!
3. Aim for ideal nap start times.
Your baby can be very sensitive to nap timing especially as naps are developing so I have a few secrets for you.
You can aim for biological sleep times. These are based on when your baby’s sleep pressure will be just right to take a long restorative nap! If we pair this with the ideal environment, VIOLA— nice long restorative NAPS! This applies to babies 4 months and older. We watch for our babies sleepy cues and then align with our ideal nap times to determine our nap times for the day. These should stay pretty close day to day once you find the sweet spot. Also note, the catnap usually goes away between 6-8 months.
AM NAP: 8:30/9 AM with a range of 8-10 AM
PM NAP: 12/1 PM wirh a range of 12-2 PM
CATNAP: After 3:30 PM and ending by 5:30 PM.
4.Age Appropriate Sleep
Around 4 months our babies develop a strong circadian rhythm that regulates and organizes their sleep! Exciting!! We want to start offering ideal naps based on their age. Obviously, there is variability and all nap transitions will overlap, here are the general guidelines.
3 naps: 4 months to 8 months
2 naps: 6 months to 18 months
1 nap: 15 months to 4 years and older
5. Early Bedtime
Babies and Toddler need alot of sleep! Bedtime before 8 PM is ideal because we can capitalize on the amazing deep NREM sleep at the beginning of the night. Earlier bedtimes provide extra of this restorative sleep and is especially important if your baby isn’t sleeping well and may need to play some catch up. I love bedtime between 6-7:30 for all kiddos!
And remember, the later you out baby to bed, you are NOT guaranteed a later sleep in time in the morning. Usually it’s the opposite especially if baby was too sleepy at bedtime. Enjoy your me-time in the evening.
6. Establish a bedtime routine
Bedtime routine are my favorite thing in the world okay maybe not in the WORLD, but I love this time with my little one. I know sometimes the bedtime routine is sometime we dread because well, sleep may not be fun if it’s lacking.
7. Positive Mindset
My last sleep tip is a good one! It’s simple, you are your child’s person. Their role model, their leader. They feel what you feel.
Take a deep breath and do the darn thing. You’ve got this, I know you do.
I do promise it’s not that hard! It just takes a plan, some support, and a smile.
Nichole @ Little Peach Sleep