Yes, that is a trick question – of course the answer is sleep, please! If you’re like most parents I know, you’ve probably said those words to your little more than once (at least in your head).
Guest Blogger Caitlin here to talk about getting your littles to sleep so you can too!
One of the biggest challenges for new parents is sleep deprivation. For some, that can continue well past the newborn stage. For me, this was a huge challenge and by the time my daughter was 6 months, I noticed the lack of sleep was really affecting my well-being.
Mom brain is real and we all know it.
I blame the lack of sleep for one. I became so exhausted that I got clumsy and started doing ridiculous things like scraping my food into the dishwasher and putting my plate in the garbage. It was no good, and I knew I had to do something about it.
Before you start worrying about your child’s sleep, learn from my mistake: don’t consult with Dr. Google. There are so many disagreements online about how, when, and even if you should do anything to improve your child’s sleep. I’m no expert, but this week, I’m here to share with you 4 simple tips that might help your family get more rest if you aren’t ready for bigger interventions. If you have genuine concerns about your child’s sleep, I highly recommend you seek the advice of your chosen health care professional and/or a certified sleep consultant.
1. White noise is your friend
And you don’t need a fancy machine to get it. I recommend simply getting a small fan for your child’s room. This is useful for several reasons:
- Keeps baby cool in the summer and air circulating in the room. Did you know that keeping your dirty diapers sealed up tightly can make the smell stronger? Open air is best and our fan definitely helps with that, and so does the drawstring wetbag.
- Helps drown out other sounds. I swear, my house was not this loud before I had a sleeping baby. Suddenly, the floors creak, the dogs’ collars jingle, and why does the toilet flush so loudly? Now we live life after 7 pm without fear thanks to our white noise!
- Gives a sound cue to sleep. I turn the fan on during story time as a part of my daughter’s sleep routine and it tells that busy toddler brain, ‘Hey. It’s time to settle down.’
2. You can keep your child in their crib longer than you might think
The last thing you need when trying to get a good night’s rest is a battle to just stay in bed at all. Just one more drink. One more hug. One more, one more, one more! Keeping your child in their crib instead of jumping to a toddler bed might help them stay put until they are ready to understand the rules of bedtime.
But what about those tricky little ninja escape artists that try to pole vault the crib? Sleep sacks (here are my personal favourites)! They help limit mobility just enough to make getting that little foot up and over more difficult, and you can always put them on backwards too! (Basically these things are baby straight jackets but more snuggly).
3. Picking the right PJs
Snaps, zippers or gowns? Another choice that might not seem like a big deal but everyone has a favourite! I know some folks hate fiddling with snaps, but I love that I can leave a snap or two open for some extra diaper room. Zippers are a great solution to those that hate snaps, but if you cloth diaper you will likely have to size up to make room for the extra bulk. Gowns are another great option if you don’t like snaps but don’t want to size up as well. Whatever your preference, the most important part of your pj choice is the diaper. A wet diaper can be just one more reason your kid isn’t sleeping through the night and it’s a fairly easy one to fix.
Lots of parents put off cloth diapering at night for fear that there’s no way a cloth diaper can hold up at night. That’s what I thought too. Our little one was in disposables at night for a long time before I went all in and ordered some overnight inserts. These inserts work great because they have an extra gusset and PUL layer to prevent leaks, plus the stay dry charcoal keeps little one feeling dry all night long. You may need to add a booster or other extra absorption to get a full night of dry diaper but with a little trial and error, it can be done. My personal record for a leak free sleep with Aileen is 15 hours. And if all else fails, Lil Helper’s delight team or handy Facebook community Lilhelper: Unsnapped are great resources to help you make cloth diapering overnight not only possible but a part of getting your little one sleeping through the night.
4. Routine, Routine, Routine
Last but not least, the importance of a bedtime routine. Just like white noise, your little one’s bedtime routine, when done consistently, tells them that it’s time to slow down and rest. Ideally it should be fairly short (no longer than 30 minutes). For example, our routine has always been clean-up song, bath, diaper/pjs/sleep sack, story, and kiss goodnight. A short but consistent routine will help your little one know that the day is done.
Of course, there are many other things that can impact your child’s sleep. Teething, illness, and growth spurts make a big impact, and so does their age. If you’re ready for more interventions to get more rest in your house, you might also consider night weaning, a sleep training routine, or even hiring a sleep consultant from your local area. It is so important to trust your instincts, and ask for help when you need it. Whatever you decide, remember that the choices you make for you and your family are yours, and you should never feel shame for making safe, healthy decisions for your family. Sleep plays an incredibly important role in our health and well-being, for us, and our kids. I hope these tips help you get a little more rest.