The #TeamNoSleep life is real, especially during the first few weeks with your newborn. It would be a miracle to catch a wink of sleep for two hours straight or even just an hour at night. For some parents, bedtime might also be tough battles with their toddlers! A good night’s sleep doesn’t always come naturally to kids, but rather, it is a learning process that develops over time. Depending on the age of your baby or toddler, and if you feel that your child is ready, you can make some changes and improvements to their sleeping habits and bedtime routines.
To help us understand what healthy sleep habits and routines are, we talked to Maria Campos-Lopez, Sleep Consultant and Behavior Specialist. As a mom of two boys herself, Maria wants to raise healthy, happy, and resilient kids, as well as guide and motivate other parents to do the same. With this goal, she started Himbing Sleep and Parenting Solutions, a consultancy service that aims to educate parents on healthy and safe habits for better sleep. Maria has helped hundreds of families, both locally and abroad, sleep better. Today she shares with us some of her most valuable insights about healthy sleep habits, as well as encouragement for every parent.
For the parents, it allows us more quality time with our children. It will go smoothly if it is timed just right and it will always help when the parents are prepared and calm. We want the routine to be enjoyable for the whole family.
Bedtime routines are important for the child so they know that after these series of steps, it’s time for bed. The more consistent we are with a bedtime routine, the quicker the child can learn and it also encourages cooperation from the child. Children thrive with routines and consistency because this is how they learn.
A common one for younger infants is known as the 3Bs—bottle/breastfeeding/boob, bath, book, then sleep. Generally just be calm and consistent as well with the routine. For toddlers, timing is so important. An early bedtime is still recommended and our goal is to get them 11-12 hour of sleep. We then want to have a consistent routine. Short and sweet with basic steps like bath, pajamas, brush teeth, a bedtime story, some hugs and cuddles, tuck them in, say good night, and lights out. Consistency here is absolutely key.
When the child is overtired, it is very hard to get them to sleep peacefully because they are so wired they just cannot put themselves to sleep. There are general recommendations for wake times for babies according to their age and this changes month to month. These are only suggestions as each child is different, so always keep an eye out for your child’s sleepy cues and using the general wake windows as reference.
For newborns, remember you always have to offer them more sleep. Remember to keep the environment calm, cool, and quiet for them. Swaddling helps a lot for their startle reflex. It always also helps to have the parent stay calm and relaxed.
Babies can sleep through the night anytime over 16 weeks, if they are healthy and following their growth curve. That being said, 1-2 feeds at night are still typical for children below the age of one. Usually by 1, there should be no more night feeds. Each child is different, so always consult your pediatrician and get their recommendation about dropping night feeds during your regular visits.
The first few weeks are tough. These are really #TeamNoSleep weeks. Try to enjoy them and bond with your child. Sleep does not always come naturally to all babies and children and bay sleep can be difficult and hard to understand. Observe your child and follow their cues. I also like to remind parents not to be afraid of crying, this is how our baby communicates so we always want to respond appropriately. Always remember you are the expert on your child and you are their advocate for better sleep. There are also no such thing as perfect parents, we are looking for progress and not perfection. You are the best parent for your child.
Maria also mentions a couple of sleep myths that parents should not believe in. Such myths usually just cause stress and frustration, and may even lead to your kids becoming extra fussy. Here are some more of her helpful recommendations to help get both parents and the little ones on the path to better sleep.
Our children need a lot of sleep. An early bedtime allows the child to be well rested and also leads to better sleep throughout the night. You will notice no matter hw late your child sleeps or how bad or good a night you had, they will always wake up at about the same time every morning, so you want to make sure that you set an early bedtime that allows them to get the 11-12 hours they need at night.
This is quite the opposite, a late bedtime causes the child to catch a second wind and even if the child seems energetic and awake, their bodies are overtired. The body sends out energy and cortisol, therefore making it more difficult for them to sleep.
Naps are so important. The quality of daytime sleep affects the quality of night time sleep as well as the growth and development of the child.
Remember that you know your babies best, Moms and Dads! Routines and habits can change especially as your children develop. With love, patience, and understanding, you’ll be able to get the hang of good and healthy sleep habits at your own pace. We’re rooting for you! You can also check out more articles about parenting right here on our site, for tips, tricks, and recommendations.