How You Can Improve Your Child’s Sleep Today
Hi! I am Kyle Mlasko, Bella Luna Family’s newest sleep consultant. I’m truly thrilled to be a part of the team and can’t wait to support families around the country!
I decided to become a sleep consultant after sleep training my son had such a profoundly positive impact on my life. Once my son learned healthy sleep habits (and I got more sleep), I became a better human, mom, wife, and friend. My son was suddenly craving sleep and became a happy, well-rested baby. I knew I wanted to help other families achieve the same results that I did. That led me to enroll in the Family Sleep Institute’s program in 2022.
Are you in need of some positive sleep improvements (like my son needed)? Keep reading!
When You Have A Child Who Isn’t Sleeping Well
If you are an exhausted parent of a child who is not sleeping well, you likely do not have an abundance of time in your schedule. This means that researching and putting together a sleep plan to help your child sleep better will be challenging.
Not only do you not have time to do the research; there are such conflicting pieces of advice around sleep that it is difficult to know what to trust and what will actually work.
As a new, first-time mom, I felt completely overwhelmed by all of the sleep information I found on the internet. It was difficult to sort through what would give me the most bang for my buck to try to get more sleep. I wish that someone had told me what I’m about to share, on one of the many sleepless nights I was Googling like crazy!
If you can do anything to help your child’s sleep TODAY, here are my top 4 tips:
Top Tips To Improve Your Child’s Sleep Today
Tip #1: Check the Sleep Environment
Two things that can improve sleep are the darkness of the room and the use of white noise. Both of these factors can help babies and toddlers connect sleep cycles and lengthen those short naps. Darkenss can also help prevent early morning wakings.
Now, when I say “dark”, I mean the room needs to be so dark that you cannot see your hand in front of your face! I know it sounds excessive, but TRUST ME. It makes a world of difference for your little one when there is light coming into the room.
When your little one sees light, it delays the production of our sleepy hormone, melatonin. This means your little one’s body thinks, “it’s time to be awake!”
What You Can Do: Download our ‘Darkness How To‘ to learn a quick test to determine if the room is dark enough and get recommendations of our favorite solutions for creating a pitch black sleep space.
White noise is a great tool to have in your parenting toolkit for several reasons. First, it mimics the sound your baby heard in the womb and can often be comforting. Second, it helps to block out household/outside noises that have the potential of waking your little one. This constant and consistent noise can help to link sleep cycles. We aim for white noise to be set between 50-55 decibels.
What You Can Do: Invest in a dedicated sound machine. Our favorite is the Dohm Connect because it is clean, fan-based white noise. Plus it has an app to turn the volume up without having to go into the room. This is helpful if a thunderstorm, fireworks or a neighbor’s party threatens to wake your little one. You can see all of our favorites here.
Tip #2: Give Your Little One Some Time and Space
What I mean by this is don’t rush in the moment your little one starts fussing. Babies are noisy sleepers and have brief arousals multiple times throughout the night when they may not be fully awake. If you go in too soon, you may inadvertently wake them up. Give them some time and they may be able to resettle themselves without your help.
We also want our children to learn how to connect sleep cycles and consolidate and lengthen their naps. If we give them a little bit of time to try to put themselves back to sleep, they sometimes will.
What You Can Do: Try waiting 5 minutes to give your child the chance to resettle.
Tip #3: Put Your Little One On An Age-Appropriate Schedule
Once your baby hits the 4-5 month mark, we want to have a consistent daily schedule. This means moving away from wake time. Wake windows create inconsistency in your baby’s natural biological sleep rhythms. Using a schedule, along with watching for your little one’s sleepy cues, can help find ideal sleep times.
What You Can Do: To keep naps and bedtime on track for the day, we recommend waking your little one by 7 AM. In between 6-7 am is a normal, biological wake time for babies. This will set your little one up for success. It will also allow your little one to go down for their morning nap with enough sleep pressure to help them sleep longer. Then, they will take an afternoon nap (and possibly a cat nap) and still be able to maintain an age-appropriate bedtime between 5:30-7:00 PM.
Tip #4: Use An Early Bedtime
I can already hear you thinking – “won’t my baby wake up even earlier if I put them to bed early?” Short answer: not if the early bedtime is used appropriately!
Children have more NREM (non-REM) sleep in the earlier parts of the evening. These NREM sleep cycles are the deepest sleep your little one can get, and therefore are the most restorative. If your child is overtired, putting them to bed earlier will help them catch up on some much-needed sleep and help them to become better rested!
What You Can Do: on days when naps are less than ideal, skipped, or on an overstimulating day, move bedtime as early as 5:30-6:00 pm. Here is a great article that goes in-depth about the benefits of an early bedtime. Download our Bedtime and Sleep Needs chart here.
Still Struggling With Sleep?
We hope that these sleep tips to improve your child’s sleep help! If your babe is still struggling with sleep, reach out to us to book a discovery call to see if sleep coaching is right for you and your family! We will help eliminate your little one’s sleep associations which will help them learn to fall asleep independently!
P.S. Want to stay connected?
Sign up to receive our monthly "Scoop" email newsletter!