How do I make bedtime easier? Every night is a BATTLE, stop spending 3 hours getting baby to sleep.
Fix bedtime with these tips and tricks and in just a few days see those battles fade away.
I get this message almost daily! And I’ve been through it too. Baby is ahhhhh-mazing for naps, but when it comes to bedtime they are taking 4738398 hours to fall asleep and now you are all feeling stressed, tired, overwhelmed, frustrated and dread bedtime each and every night!
So, why is it so hard for them to just fall asleep at bedtime? Would you believe me if I told you bedtime can be easy and not take 4738398 hours every night? In turn, having a much happier time putting baby to bed at night and prevent you all feeling stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed and dreading bedtime?
Imagine this, you put baby into bed at 7pm and by 7:15pm they are sound asleep for the night, this equals YOU TIME! You can sit on the couch and watch TV, binge on some chocolate, have a sneaky wine, eat dinner, spend time with your partner, go out with friends…… BUT I bet you’re thinking, Sabrina, you’re crazy THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! Well, it isn’t and read on so I can show you why this may be happening every night, and possible ways to fix it.
We’ve all heard about overtired babies and the fact they don’t sleep, but have you ever heard of an under tired baby? It’s true, its a thing! Let me explain. Think about it; you fall asleep on the couch for 3 hours in the afternoon, then you go to bed and toss and turn for hours and struggle to fall asleep. Babies are the same- depending on their age they have different requirements for how much sleep they need during the day, newborns need 5-6 hours worth of naps a day, whereas an 18 month old needs 2-2.5 hours worth of naps a day. Too much day sleep can definitely impact night sleep. There will be a very low pressure to fall to sleep as baby is just not tired enough- same as if we sleep during the day for hours.
Having naps at the right times, for the right length of time, and bedtime at the right time makes a HUUUUUUUGE difference.
We’ve all heard this word, probably too many times, and you probably think everything to do with baby sleep is blamed on overtiredness.
If baby is not capable to have long, restorative naps during the day- I’m talking 1.5-2 hour long naps it is highly likely that by the time bedtime comes around they are already tired and heading into bed overtired. Remember, when babies are overtired their little bodies release cortisol and adrenaline which are no good for sleep- they will feel ready to take on the world and definitely not ready to sleep. Or they will sleep, but wake up every 2 hours overnight, 45 minutely during the day, early rising and wake up 4858392 times just before midnight.
Being overtired will result in your baby struggling to be able to wind down and switch off due to sleep hormones being unbalanced. We want low cortisol and adrenaline and high melatonin levels to be able to fall asleep. Having this cortisol and adrenaline released inhibits the release of melatonin, so it is just a downward spiral when it comes to sleep and you end up in a vicious cycle.
Ensure you follow the correct awake times for your baby- this will help immensely.
A baby who is hungry will have great difficulty falling to sleep or not be able to fall asleep. When we talk about sleep it is important to think about the bigger picture (sleeping and feeding go hand in hand 🤚). Just think, if we went to bed starving we’d probably have a tough time falling to sleep and again, babies are the same. Make sure you’ve fed baby, they’ve had their feeds during the day.
Some babies, especially breastfed babies do what is known as cluster feeding. Where they feed non stop at the start of the night. This isn’t a problem as they do this to try and tank up to be able to sleep longer stretches at night. Remember, hungry babies won’t sleep.
Some parents also implement what is called a dream feed to try and get longer stretches overnight. This is a feed at roughly 10:30/11pm and the goal is to get at least 4 hours solid sleep following. If you’re getting frequent wakes the dream feed is not working so stop it immediately.
Babies (and toddlers) need time before bed to calm their mind, relax their body and let them know bedtime is approaching. If we just ran around outside, watched TV, played with toys etc we would not be able to fall asleep within 15 minutes- so keep this in mind for baby.
A good idea is to turn the TV off, dim the lights 60 minutes before bedtime and enjoy some quiet time. This could involve reading a book or singing some songs. You’d be surprised at the difference this can make.
Having a predictable and sound bedtime routine also makes the world of difference. A bedtime routine signals to your little one that bedtime is approaching and helps to relax their mind and body too. Bath, feed, bed is a perfect bedtime routine.
When we talk about baby and toddler sleep we often talk about sleep hygiene or clean sleeping. But what does this mean? It means taking a look at environment, feeding, routine etc and making sure they are all conducive for sleep. If one of these is out of whack sleep can definitely be impacted and making a minor change can make the world of difference. This is why I focus on clean sleep and not sleep training at first as the difference this can make is immense.
When we discuss environment make sure your baby’s room is dark, I’m talking cant see your hand in front of you dark. Darkness is the only way melatonin is released so we want the room as dark as possible so this can happen. Blackout blinds are 100% a great investment when it comes to sleep environments and you will reap the rewards of putting them up.
Sound- if the room is too noisy baby will have a tough time falling to sleep, if you’re playing a lullaby when you put them to bed but it turns off after 5 minutes when they wake between sleep cycles they wont be able to fall asleep as their environment is different. If you’re going to use any sounds (lullaby, white noise etc) have it on repeat- its the easiest sleep association you’ll ever have! White noise also helps to block out background noises so can help baby to fall asleep as they won’t hear you fluffing about the house, and you won’t be walking on egg shells in fear of waking the baby.
Not sure if these tips are enough for you?
Why not take a look at Sleep & Thrive on Facebook and Instagram for further tips and tricks, or see if one of our services can help you reach your sleep goals.
Remember, a sleeping baby is a happy baby, and when baby is sleeping Mum is too.