Sleep nutrition for babies and children in general is crucial to both physical and neurological development. I safeguard my children’s sleep as much as I can given our busy schedules.
Currently, my 5 yr old daughter sleeps 12 hrs a night, she gave up her afternoon nap when she started full-day preschool at 4.5 yrs old . My almost three year old son sleeps sleeps 12 hrs a night with a 1.5 hr afternoon nap. And my 4.5 month old sleeps 13.5 hrs a night, with a 1.5 hr morning nap and a 2.5 hr afternoon nap. I have great sleepers, whether by nature or nurture it’s hard to say probably a combination of both. These are the three books I have used as my guides:
I began to foster positive associations with sleep starting at six weeks old when I introduced a calming bedtime routine. But there was a lot of rocking, swaddling and swinging for the first few months per Karp’s “Happiest Baby on the Block”.
There is no exact science to helping a baby fall asleep on their own but each of my children were “sleep trained” around 3 months once they exhibited signs of self-soothing, specifically sucking on thumbs/fingers. The training was laying them down to sleep in their cribs drowsy but awake and allowing them to cry for short intervals before going back in to pat and shush them for both nighttime sleep and naps.
For my first daughter, she cried for a total of 45 minutes the first night, I checked in on her at 5 minutes intervals, then as her crying lessened 10 min intervals. The second night she fussed for 5 minutes and fell asleep on her own. The ease with which she was able to learn this new skill - soothing herself to sleep - was less a matter of my training and more a matter of her readiness. Was it heartbreaking to hear her cry? Yes, but since then she has been a champion sleeper. My son was even easier and barely cried at all. And my third was a bit more stubborn the first night but also mastered falling asleep on her own by the second evening.
There are further challenges with sleep as babies grow older. Milestones like crawling, walking, talking, etc. with affect sleep. Easing the transition from three naps to two naps, then from two naps to one and furthermore can be difficult. Also, there will be times when you need to weather naps strikes or bedtime dawdling and dealing with Daylight Savings time (Fall-back and Spring-forward). There are also sleep situations which arise when children share bedrooms. And techniques to use when your child finally gives up napping altogether. I will touch upon these issues and more in future posts.
I joke that when it comes to sleep time, I treat my kids like the Ron Popeil Rotisserie, “I set them and forget them”. And while I do enjoy the quiet time I have once they are down for the night, the goal is to promote my children’s growth and health.
- Make sure the room is as close to pitch black as possible, black-out curtains
are a must
- in a pinch you can use cardboard or even aluminum foil
- Use white noise, a fan or an air filter work great for this purpose and provide air circulation in the room
- Bedtime routines most commonly include a bath, changing into pjs, nursing, reading books and lullabies
- the youngest babies may only be able to handle nursing and a song, for older children routines will commonly be longer and more elaborate
- A baby monitor can help with your piece of mind and come in handy later when you have a nap-refusing toddler
- Check back for further articles on sleep and leave your questions in the comments, I’m happy to help you and your baby get more sleep!
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