This post may be a departure from my regular content, but I am publishing this as notes for myself and my family on how to help our daughter get better at falling asleep.
One of the things I wish for my family is getting enough sleep consistently. “The Happy Sleeper” by Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright comes highly recommended as the sensible middle ground between “let the baby cry herself to sleep” and “I am just a humble servant of my baby overlord“. It addresses the reasons why babies, toddlers, and children have trouble falling asleep and wake up in the middle of the night.
My notes focus on the needs of a 2-year-old and, as always – my specific situation.
Why toddlers have trouble sleeping
By 5 or 6 months of age, almost all babies are capable of sleeping well without much assistance from Mom or Dad
Babies and children are built for sleep, and by 5 or 6 months, they should be ready to sleep through the night.
Parents usually overhelp, depriving them of the opportunity (with some struggle) to learn, which is probably what happened in our situation.
On top of that, the circadian cycles of most of humanity are out of sync with the natural world because of artificial lighting, computers, and smartphones.
As both my wife and I were trying to work, coordinating with US timezones – we had Zoom calls (sometimes both at the same time!) right when our daughter needed to learn to sleep on her own. I guess Remote Work has some downsides.
When the child has trouble falling asleep on her own and relies on nursing or a parent accompanying them – she does not know how to fall asleep without help when she wakes up in the middle of the night.
The plan forward
- Hand off the responsibility for falling asleep to the child
- Instill confidence in our daughter that she can fall asleep alone and that she can go back to sleep if she wakes up
- Teach her to solve the little problems on her own – like getting water, etc
- Teach her to fall asleep in her crib so that she does not wake up surprised in the middle of the night
- Create a wind-down routine to get her to sleep before she starts “winding up”. (Children get additional energy when you miss the bedtime window).
- Of course, sleep ourselves.
- Prepare a bedtime routine. A sample routine looks like this (about 1 hour)
- Start at 6:15 PM
- Dim the lights
- Brush teeth
- Child-led play
- Read 2 stories
- Turn off the lights
- Say good night to all objects in the room (you are still sitting there so that you can all be in the dark together for a while)
- Kiss the baby good night, put her in the crib.
- Tell the baby that we’re going to check on her every 5 minutes (reverse sleep wave)
- Walk out of the room.
- Print out this plan, hang it somewhere with illustrations as a bedtime chart to manage expectations.
- Talk over with the baby, so she understands what will be happening
- Explain what sleep is and why it’s important
- Practice individual pieces, so she can figure out what to do when she wakes up.
- Getting the sippy cup
- Getting the cover
- Getting the milk and juice (our baby loves drinking both milk and juice)
- Prepare the phrase for the reverse sleep wave (below).
Reverse sleep wave
This is the variation of the “Sleep Wave”. The idea is to instill confidence that the parents are here and will check up in a predictable manner, but sleeping is the baby’s responsibility.
- Put Baby down awake (ideally drowsy)
- Walk out, say to the baby that you will be checking in every 5 minutes automatically.
- The first time, wait only 30-45 seconds before check-in
- Pop in, say something short like “I’m checking on you. I’ll be back in 5 minutes, nighty-night“. This is not a conversation starter.
- Gradually extend the check-in time until we are at 5 minutes
- Continue every 5 minutes until the baby is asleep
Over the next week or two, the number of check-ins should drop dramatically to around 2 or 3 checks.
If Reverse Sleep Wave does not work, you can try the sleep wave:
- Put Baby down awake (ideally drowsy)
- Say a prepared phrase that never changes. Something like “It’s time for sleeping. Mommy’s right outside. I love you,”
- Walk out
- If the baby starts crying (really crying), wait 5 minutes.
- Go into the baby’s room, stand by the crib
- Repeat your phrase, stay only 7-10 seconds. The check is only to let the baby know you are there
- Walk out
- Go back to 4.
Returning every 5 minutes, if she’s crying, helps your baby detect your pattern. Resist the urge to lengthen the time. Your baby needs your visits to be 100 percent predictable.
- Infants and toddlers sleep half their day or more!
- Parenting is one of the most challenging roles one can play in life.
- By 5 or 6 months of age, almost all babies are capable of sleeping well without much assistance from Mom or Dad.
- and refilling water glasses endlessly—one
- Children get confused as to whether they or their parents are doing the soothing,
- Good Sleep Is in Their Genes
- Kids don’t need to be trained to sleep; they’re built to sleep.
- For many babies, skills in other domains grow and improve, but sleep skills stall or regress.
- One: babies and little kids need warmth, sensitivity, and a sense that the world is a safe place. Two: they thrive best (and sleep best) when they have structure, routine, and clear expectations.
- and summons you back into the room repeatedly for more water, another song, and different stuffed animal configurations. You have to lie down with your little one until he falls asleep, which can take up to 45 minutes and, sometimes, you doze off, too.
- Little kids who sleep fewer than 10 hours a night are twice as likely to have low scores on cognitive tests when they enter school. Too little sleep in childhood
- We get confusing messages about sleep: cry-it-out, tough love, feed-on-demand, co-sleep . . . parenting approaches seem to contradict one another and leave many families puzzled and sleepless.
- Toddlers (1–3 years) 12 to 14 hours
- Babies and little kids don’t wind down when they’re tired—they wind up. Anyone who’s watched overtired kids run circles around a bouncy house, or throw a tantrum insisting on more television before bed will tell you this is true. Babies get overstimulated and fussy when they’re tired
- wind. Psychologists continue to find connections between sleep and ADHD.
- By 5 to 6 months, most babies are capable of sleeping through the night and beginning to develop a regular nap schedule.
- When you do something for your child that she is able to do herself, you take away her chance to struggle and ultimately learn.
- You don’t underhelp (by shutting the door and never responding) or overhelp (lying down with your child, rocking or nursing your baby to sleep after she has outgrown this need). When
- See your baby staring at his hands, at the tree branches swaying outside the window, or the light dancing across the ceiling? Wait, don’t do anything. Watch, notice everything you can about what your baby is up to. Wonder, how long will he continue and what will he do next? If your baby is happy and/or focused in his own little world, let him be!
- Older babies and little kids are already capable of sleeping well (even if it doesn’t seem so in your house quite yet). At this point, you will still be responsive, but you will focus on “passing the baton” of soothing to your child, and creating predictable responses and clear expectations around sleep.
- In the evening, lower the lights in the house an hour before bedtime and use a dim lamp during bedtime routine to help your child’s body wind down.
- Sound Use a low fan or nature sounds to block ambient noise, from siblings, barking dogs, and so forth.
- Smell Keep the air fresh in your child’s room, so that the smell and air quality are pleasant. Open the windows during the day to let air circulate. Use a low fan or air purifier to keep a gentle flow of moving air.
- Temperature Keep the room cool, around 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. It may sound chilly, but cooler temperatures are generally better for sleep.
- Child Sleep (2 to 6 Years)
- Little kids are master negotiators—quick to try out crafty schemes for delaying bedtime and resisting naps—and their awareness and imagination can lead to separation anxiety, fears of the dark, and nightmares. Even if your child
- getting to bed around 7:30 p.m. is the way to carve out enough time for a full night’s sleep.
- all children wake up during the night as they pass through stages of sleep. Many times during the night, your child (just like you)
- There are lots of reasons that children have trouble sleeping through the night without help, but one of the main reasons is that they wake up in the night with different sleep associations (even slightly different ones) than they had when they went to bed.
- One of the first steps when you’re working on sleep is to look at the exact environment in which your child goes to bed. If there are any behaviors or elements of his bedroom that he cannot re-create for himself in the middle of the night, you will need to address each of these.
- For example, make sure that there is an accessible sippy cup in case he needs water, and do “rehearsals” during the day in which you help your child practice pulling up and retucking his own blankets.
- The goal is not to do anything to help your child fall asleep at bedtime that he can’t do on his own in the middle of the night.
- *Mom or Dad’s presence Song, kiss good night, leave room
- Calling parent for water Placing a sippy cup near bed
- Hallway lights on at bedtime Dim nightlight on all night
- *Sleeping in parents’ bed (when independent sleep is desired) Feeling comfortable in his own bed to fall asleep and sleep continuously through the night
- A wind-down space. Have a dim lamp by the bed that you can use for reading and a few comfortable pillows so you can sit on or beside your child’s bed. It’s really helpful to dim the lights an hour or so before to help your child’s body wind down for sleep. Turn off bright overhead lights in the house before you start your bedtime routine (see Lights, Electronics, and Bedtime).
- Design. Does your child’s room evoke a sense of calm? Think about using colors and patterns that are soothing. Organize your child’s room so he feels peaceful during naps and at bedtime. Ask your little one if it feels cozy to him.
- Have your child make his bed. When he’s old enough to pull up the covers (even if you secretly redo it later), it’s a nice ritual to help him be involved and take care of his sleeping place.
- An optimal bedtime for children ages 2 to 6 is between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.
- Remember that your child should go to bed when he’s in a good mood, not when he’s yawning and bleary-eyed.
- If your child is a night owl and falls asleep at 9:00 p.m., he’s probably not getting the best quality and length of sleep that he needs (unless
- While you’re in the process of shifting to an earlier bedtime, gently wake your child up in the morning if he is sleeping too long, because if your child sleeps in until 9:00 a.m., he legitimately won’t feel drowsy enough to fall asleep until 9:00 p.m.
- This routine starts at 6:15 p.m. and bedtime is 7:15 p.m. This routine starts at 6:30 p.m. and bedtime is 7:30 p.m. This routine starts at 6:30 p.m. and bedtime is 7:30 p.m. Dim lights in home Dim lights in home Dim lights in home Bath Bath Bath Pajamas Pajamas Pajamas Brush teeth Child-led play Brush teeth Read two stories Brush teeth Read two chapters of a book Turn off the lights Read two stories Go to potty Say good night to objects in the room Share a story of your day with each other Turn off the lights Sing one song Go to potty Talk about your “highs” and “lows” for the day Kiss good night, put in crib, tell your child you’ll check on him in 5 minutes (see Reverse Sleep Wave), walk out of the room Turn off the lights Kiss good night, say you’ll check on him in 5 minutes (see Reverse Sleep Wave), walk out of the room Sing two songs Kiss good night, say
- Your child’s routine may take up to an hour to complete, if you think of it as starting with a bath after dinner and ending with you giving him a kiss and walking out of the room. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it can take to move through all of the aspects of your child’s routine (especially if you have multiple children). Not allowing enough time can make you feel rushed and stressed, which makes it harder for your child to wind down and fall asleep.
- The idea of a bedtime chart is to have a visual representation of each part of the bedtime routine so that the whole family is on the same page in terms of the order and the expectations before bed. A chart can be as simple or as fancy as you want to make it. It’s just a way for your child to see her bedtime routine clearly and help her move through the steps. In the next section, you’ll see an example of how to create a bedtime chart and use it as motivation for your child.
- You’ve dimmed the lights in your child’s bedroom and put a few simple toys or books on the floor. You sit or lie down on the floor with him and wait and watch to see what he does next. Just watch! Often it’s enough for your little one to simply feel your presence and interest as she explores the room. You can pick up a similar toy or a complementary toy and join in, even if it’s really simple. It’s not necessary to always expand, but at times you can add something, like “Can my guy help build that barn?” or “I’m gonna roll my ball next to your ball.” Child-led play is good to do at any time, but for bedtime, keep it quiet and calm.
- If you’re adding child-led play into your routine, try it before bath, or after pajamas, before reading a book.
- It can help little kids to have very specific expectations and limits when it comes to bedtime routines. Clarify that your routine always has two stories and two songs.
- If your child spends a lot of time haggling over which book to read, choose a handful of books and allow him to pick two from that stack.
- Your goal with bedtime routines is to be supportive and warm, but also very clear in handing off the responsibility for falling asleep to your child.
- Make sure that the last step of your routine happens in the dark, while you’re still in the room. Turn off the lights and sing songs, tell a story, or talk about the day before walking out.
- anytime you’re working on sleep with a verbal child, talking with them and explaining the new plan is key.
- Talk about what sleep is, why it’s neat, and why people need to sleep. For example:
- Everybody in the whole wide world sleeps every night just like we do.
- Did you know that while you sleep, your body becomes stronger and your brain makes connections and remembers information?
- When I don’t sleep enough, sometimes my head feels a little cloudy. What does your body feel like when you don’t sleep enough?
- Your body and mind need about 11 hours of sleep at night because you’re growing and changing so fast—sleep is really important for all of us though. Grown-ups need about 8 hours of sleep.
- Did you have any dreams that you remember from last night? Dreams are like stories told by our brains while we sleep. Your brain can be pretty creative at night, can’t it?
- Since you’re aiming to create positive, warm associations with sleep, don’t use bed or bedtime as a negative consequence—for example, by telling your child he’ll go directly to bed without stories, or using the bed or crib as a space for time-out.
- Eliminate some activities and schedule free, unstructured time. Put your pjs on early and discover what boredom feels like.
- It’s helpful to talk to your child’s teacher and find out how much homework time is reasonable. Set the timer and when that amount of time is up, put the homework away.
- Turn off the Screens Just try it. We promise you’ll do just fine. As with any habit, you may go through a little withdrawal, but the reward will be big: calmer nervous systems, brains primed for relaxation, and time to really be with each other.
- Preschoolers are brilliant designers of stall tactics, which means that sometimes just getting through the bedtime routine and actually getting your child physically into bed can feel like pushing a boulder up a mountain.
- Your goal here is to “pass the baton” of soothing to your child.
- Put your baby down awake. After bedtime routine, put your baby down drowsy but awake. Give her a pat and say a few words, like “It’s time for sleeping. Mommy’s right outside. I love you,” and leave the room. The statement you say before leaving the room is your “script,” which you will use during your visits if your child is crying.
- It’s crucial that it is repeated word for word and not changed or expanded.
- The 5-minute check. If your baby starts to cry (really cry—not just fuss, squawk, or whine), wait for 5 minutes. Go into the room, stand either at the door or at the side of the crib (somewhere where your baby can see and hear you), and say your script in a matter-of-fact, confident tone. Your visit should only last as long as it takes to walk in, say your script, and walk out (about 7 to 10 seconds). The check is only to let baby know you’re there.
- It’s not uncommon for babies to protest and cry for 20 to 60 minutes at bedtime, and occasionally this period is longer on the second or third night.
- When the Sleep Wave isn’t working as well as we expect, it’s often because the parent is staying in the room too long, trying to calm, soothe, and help.
- The Wave. If she’s still crying, wait another 5 minutes and repeat step 2 exactly. If the crying stops, reset the time to zero and go back in if cries start again and last for 5 minutes.
- Returning every 5 minutes, if she’s crying, helps your baby detect your pattern. Resist the urge to lengthen the time. Your baby needs your visits to be 100 percent predictable.
- Use your best judgment and try to give your baby space if she’s simply talking, grumbling, or mildly protesting, but do your check when she has been truly crying for 5 minutes.
- This is the period, usually the first, second, or third night, when your baby is testing the new pattern and may protest for a long time.
- Yes, she’ll get louder and madder, but with the frequency and predictability of your visits, she will still feel safe and secure. You
- Good morning. Set a wake-up time that is 11 hours after bedtime. Before this time, you will implement the Sleep Wave for any awakenings your baby has.
- We don’t recommend waking your baby up in the morning even if 11 hours have passed. Ideally, you’ll let her sleep end naturally.
- You might start by putting the best, most alluring step at the end of the routine. For example, if your toddler likes to sing a certain song with you or use a flashlight to make shadows on the wall, make that the final step in the bedtime routine.
- Remember that the best incentive for getting into bed is your undivided attention. Set
- A visual chart can be very helpful. You can ask your child to check in with the chart and complete his routine.
- Take a large piece of poster paper. Draw an illustration of each step of your child’s routine (bath, pajamas, brushing teeth). Pin up an envelope of stickers next to the paper (buy some surprise stickers on your own so they are exciting to your child). After your child completes the routine, but before getting into bed, have him choose a sticker and put it on the paper in a designated spot.
- Make a Bedtime Storybook Take photos or draw pictures of each step in your bedtime routine and write the story of how it goes every night. Your child can draw the pictures and help you make the book, or you can do it yourself and read it with her during the day or as part of your routine.
- it’s time to institute a “last call” policy.
- If you have been lying down or sitting with your child until he falls asleep, or having him sleep in your bed for a long time, you may feel most comfortable with the gradual parent wean. However, we still recommend trying the Reverse Sleep Wave first—you might be surprised by the result!
- “It’s my job to help you sleep better, so we’re going to have a new plan at bedtime.” Then explain the plan. Have these talks during the day (not while the plan is in motion at night).
- The Reverse Sleep Wave is a way to shift this dynamic completely, by setting up what we call “5-minute check-ons” that you do for your child automatically, without him calling out to you.
- When you put your child to bed, you’ll tell him that you’re going to check on him in 5 minutes—this gives him the peace of mind to know you’re coming back and he doesn’t have to craft any tricky requests or negotiate to get you back in the room. Kids love this idea; if they just wait quietly, you will come to them! It’s an elegant little twist on the concept of the Sleep Wave (see Chapter 4) because it gives your child a repetitive, consistent reminder of your presence, but it keeps your child in charge of soothing and falling asleep independently.
- Explain to your child, in a calm moment during the day, what the new plan will be and how the Reverse Sleep Wave works. Say, “We’re going to do something different tonight to help your body relax. We’re going to do our bedtime routine of brushing teeth, reading two stories, turning out the light, singing one song, and putting a cup of water by your bed. If you stay quiet, in…
- Show your child how you will stick your head just inside the door and softly say, “I’m checking on you. I’ll be back in 5 minutes. Night night,” and then you will leave right away. Make sure she understands that the Reverse Sleep Wave is quick and isn’t a conversation starter. Her role is to stay quietly in her bed and wait for your next check-on. During the day, you can use puppets or stuffed animals to demonstrate and rehearse with her to see how this will…
- The first time you do a check-on, wait only about 30 to 45 seconds before going in. The idea is to make sure you do your check before your child calls out, gets out of bed, or starts to cry. At first, she may not have the patience to…
- Stick your head just inside the door and say very softly, just loud enough for your child to hear, “I’m checking on you. I’ll be back in 5 minutes. Night night.” Then leave. You’re not waiting for a response or having any expectation of whether she’s asleep yet. You’re simply letting your child know that you are checking on her. Make this check very quiet. If you have a creaky door, put…
- Gradually lengthen the time between your check-ons until you’ve reached 4 to 5 minutes. By this time, your child will have detected the pattern and will come to trust that you will indeed come, without…
- Continue 5-minute checks until your child…
- Over the next week or two, you should see the number of checks drop dramatically. Most children are asleep by the third one. If this doesn’t happen and you feel that the checks are still going on and on, you can now choose to set a limit and…
- The Sleep Wave is the best option if you’ve tried the Reverse Sleep Wave but your child is still getting out of bed and/or crying, or if you simply think that your child is not capable of understanding and staying in bed in between checks.
- Many parents use the Sleep Wave when moving their child from the crib to the big bed, from their bed to their child’s own bed, or if their child’s sleep has regressed.
- When using the Sleep Wave with a walking, talking child who is in a real bed, you have extra challenges as well as extra tools to help. The main challenge is that now your little one isn’t confined by the crib, so this newfound freedom can bring on multiple attempts to come looking for you.
- When you choose a script to say, repeat it exactly each time, without adding a single other phrase, an exasperated sigh, a sharp tone, or any yelling. The precise consistency of your voice and your body movements are key. When you deviate from your exact plan, it confuses and activates your child.
- It helps tremendously to now imagine your child’s bedroom as an expanded crib. Instead of being contained by the crib, you can now choose a gentle but clear way to contain your child in the bedroom, rather than allowing her to join you repeatedly in the living room.
- Use a baby-proofing gate at the bedroom door. This is probably the most common approach. The gate needs to be strong and high enough to be effective.
- The trick is to not engage or stimulate her during these visits. The goal is to be so repetitive and non-engaging that she eventually figures out that it’s not really worth getting up after all.
- If your child is at her gate or door, crying, wait 5 minutes, and then go and walk or carry her back to her bed, say your script, and leave right away.
- When you get your little one back into bed, be sure not to do any additional soothing or bedtime rituals for him: “Last call for stuff” is over, so no elaborate tucking in or pulling covers up. Teach him to do those things for himself, otherwise they turn into reasons for calling you back in.
- When you’re walking your child back to bed, don’t engage in conversation or negotiations. Don’t use threats or consequences, plead, or express frustration with your child. We can’t overstate this! You don’t want bedtime to be associated with tension, and sometimes negative attention from you confuses or reinforces your child’s behavior.
- Expect your child to get out of bed 50 times at first. Hopefully this won’t happen, but you should prepare for your child to truly test the limits of this new bedtime arrangement.
- After a week or two of a consistent response, most kids fall asleep independently.
- one approach is to very gradually shift yourself out of the room, moving about six to twelve inches each night. This strategy can be very useful if lying down with your child is a well-entrenched pattern and you just can’t fathom the idea of extricating yourself—we’ve
- As with any changes planned for kids this age, start by explaining them during calm, daytime moments: Daddy’s going to move a teeny, tiny bit each night, until he is sleeping in his own bed. You can do a little playacting with animals or dolls, showing your child what it’s going to look like.
- Decide what you are going to sit or lie on. Ideally, it’s the same or similar to what you’ve been using. If you’ve been lying in your child’s bed, you’ll need a sleeping bag or pad of some kind. Make sure that, whatever you choose, it will fit through the doorway and into the hallway.
- The first night, only move a few inches away. Each night continue to move six to twelve inches. Stay in your spot until your child is asleep.
- Depending on the distance you have to travel, you should be completely out of the room and down the hallway in about 10 to 14 days. It’s a painstaking process, but don’t try to speed it up too much. It’s the gradual nature that makes it reassuring to your little one.
- Once you are completely out of the room, you can begin to use the Reverse Sleep Wave, which is a great way to maintain a connected feeling as your child falls asleep.
- If your child’s sleep regresses after this process is over and the Reverse Wave doesn’t work, be ready to use the regular Sleep Wave, so that you don’t create the lying down pattern again.
- Review the sleep associations here to make sure your child isn’t waking up at night because she can’t pull up her own covers, she can’t reach her sippy cup, or her room looks different in the middle of the night than it does at bedtime.
- But resist the easy way out (lying down with your child or bringing her into your bed), as this will make it harder, in the long run, for your child to sleep continuously in her own bed.
- In contrast to the first half of the night, in which your child has more deep sleep, in the last part of the night he experiences more light sleep.
- We’ve met families in which the child wakes up at 5:00 a.m., climbs into bed with parents, and everyone falls back to sleep until their regular wake-up time. If this is the case in your house and the whole family is sleeping well, then there’s no problem!
- Don’t shift your child’s bedtime later, because this can backfire and cause him to wake up even earlier. A good bedtime for a 2-to-6-year-old is still 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. (depending on his nap schedule). It often helps a child to sleep
- If your child can read numbers, have a clock in his room that he can see from his bed. Let him know that when the clock says “6:30 a.m.” he can get out of bed. If he cannot read time, you can buy a nightlight that works on a timer and changes colors or symbols at the designated time.
- Practice anything your child cannot do (such as pulling up covers or drinking water) during the day or before bed so he has a rehearsal.
- He lies awake at naptime for one to two weeks in a row. Note: This doesn’t mean that your child simply resists lying down to take a nap. It means that he is lying down and resting, but he does not fall asleep. Naptime resistance (protesting
- If your child is in day care or preschool, he doesn’t nap there either. If
- Bumps in the Road for Toddlers
- Prepare your child for the change.
- Only tackle one big change at a time (if you can help it).
- Add 10 to 15 minutes to your calming bedtime routine.
- Your child needs you to hold on to the steps of the Sleep Wave.
- Create a photo book for your child about his own birth and infanthood, put some of his baby photos around the house where he can see them, get a realistic baby doll and show him how you took care of him, read lots of books about what a new baby is like, and share the plan with him for what will happen when the birth takes place
- Put Your Baby down Awake Look for opportunities to practice putting your baby down awake at least once a day.
- Try using the Reverse Sleep Wave to help your child fall asleep independently in his own room at bedtime—you may be surprised by what he’s capable of.
- If you have one child but don’t have an extra bedroom, you can also opt to set up another place in the house, such as a large closet or a screen dividing the bedroom or living room, while you’re working on sleep (or as a permanent solution—babies don’t mind small spaces, as long as they are safe and get enough ventilation).
- TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND FOR YOUR FAMILY BEDTIME ROUTINE: 1. Plan, plan, plan. The key to smooth, peaceful, and predictable bedtime is planning. Start your bedtime routine at the same time every night, and keep it very consistent—this
- Make a chart, or a list (you may want to make a quick list every day, if you have a lot of naps and schedules to juggle).
- Your children are sensitive to your emotional state. Take good care of yourself so
- Tell them the steps of the Sleep Wave and create a “handout” for them to refer to over time. Include the basic steps, your script (which they should use word for word), and your mantras.
- Have them “shadow” you several times as you go through all of the steps of the bedtime or naptime routine and then continuing to the Sleep Wave. If your baby is already falling asleep quite well on her own, you will have to describe and show them what to do, just in case she wakes unexpectedly.
- Make sure that they have a reliable timer for the 5-minute checks.
- Have conversations about sleep. Tell your child that grown-ups need about 8 hours of sleep, and kids need about 11 to 12 hours at night because their brains and bodies
- day. Interestingly, the drive toward sleep is quite high in the morning at your child’s wake time, and it continues to be high for another few hours (for example, from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. for a child who normally wakes up at 6:00 a.m.). This is called the circadian sleep maintenance zone, and it’s why babies and young children can easily nap soon after waking up.
- Infant sleep cycles are roughly 60 minutes—it’s not until around school age that your child’s sleep cycles will become 90 minutes, like an adult’s.
- Toddlers (1–3 years)
- 12 to 14 hours Preschoolers (3–5 years) 11 to 13 hours
- NEW SLEEP SCHEDULE BEDTIME WAKE TIME NAP NAP NAP For babies under 5 to 6 months, use
- SLEEP ASSOCIATIONS HELPFUL UNHELPFUL Paci/thumb Feeding Lovey Bouncing/rocking Tummy time/rolling Car/carrier White noise Other Other
- Check-in with script every 5 minutes if crying, stay extremely consistent, don’t soothe during checks, and stay very calm and confident.
What a coincidence! I just finished this book about a week ago and have found it super helpful. We’re applying some of the concepts with our 6 month old and have started seeing results already.
We should have taken it seriously at that age!