7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Tonight

7 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Sleep Tonight


During my practice as a sleep professional, I’ve gotten used to people asking me what the secret is to getting a baby to sleep through the night.

Of course, there is no ONE secret. Teaching a child healthy sleep habits is a combination of lots of different things.

But that doesn’t mean that there are not some shortcuts!  Today I’d like to share with you 7 different shortcuts you can start trying over the next few nights to get your child sleeping better.

Here we go:

Sleep Shortcut #1: Watch the waking hours

One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep is overtiredness. Many parents are surprised to learn just how soon their children get overtired. Here’s a quick guide to how long your child should be awake between naps during the day:

  • Newborn to 3 months: 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes of awake time
  • 3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
  • 6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
  • 9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time

If you make sure that your child is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you will find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime AND that they are more relaxed at bedtime, too.

Sleep Shortcut #2: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

We humans (babies and toddlers included) sleep better in the dark. Try making your child’s room as dark as possible. I recommend using blackout blinds, taping cardboard over the windows, or whatever it takes. In many cases, even the glow from a nightlight or a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep cycle.

BONUS TIP: Try to keep your child’s room as dark as possible during daytime naps, too. This can often make a BIG difference in how long your child will nap during the day.

Sleep Shortcut #3: Be Predictable (And A Little Boring)

Babies and toddlers love predictable routines. And a predictable bedtime routine, lasting no longer than 45 minutes, is a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming. Make sure that this routine is the same every single time. Remember, you want bedtime to be as predictable as possible for your child.

After your bedtime routine is complete, be boring. Lots of children will try to drag out bedtime by playing games, throwing toys out of the crib, standing up, etc. Don’t participate. If your child has thrown their blanket or favorite stuffed toy out of the crib, calmly return the item without saying a word.

Sleep Shortcut #4: Feed AFTER Naps, Not Before

The most common reason they infants and toddlers struggle to sleep has to do with a feeding-sleep association. They think that they need a bottle or nursing BEFORE they can fall asleep. By feeding right after nap-time instead of before you can help your child break this feeding-sleep association.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This strategy should only be used before naps, not before putting your child to bed for the night. A full tummy is needed to make sure your child does not wake up hungry during the night.

Sleep Shortcut #5: Same Place, Same Time

Remembering that our children love predictability, so it is a good idea to have your child sleep in the same place every day. For many parents, simply changing WHERE their child naps during the day causes a big improvement in the length and quality of nighttime sleep.

BONUS TIP: When you are putting your child to sleep for the night, it is a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep.

Sleep Shortcut #6: Try The 1, 2, 3 System

When your child wakes up during the night or during a nap and starts crying or fussing, try to wait a specific length of time before going in to check on them. The first day you try this, I recommend waiting exactly one minute before going in to check on your child. On the second day, wait two minutes. Three minutes on the third day, and so on. Why?

Why? Everyone, babies and toddlers included, will wake up briefly at the end of each 45-minute sleep cycle. Most adults wake so briefly that we do not even remember it in the morning. But children who have not learned to fall asleep independently need a little longer.

This 1, 2, 3 System gives your child the opportunity to get themselves back to sleep without your help.

Sleep Shortcut #7: Take Five

Before you put your child to bed, for naps or at nighttime, make sure the five-minute period before they are put to bed is very calm and relaxing.

The Next Step?

As I said, these are shortcuts and quick tricks that may help some parents get their children sleeping through the night.  I do hope that you will be one of the lucky parents who are able to solve their children’s sleep problems using one of these tricks. If not I am also here for you if you need a little more guidance. Feel free to book a 15-minute free call to discuss your child’s sleep issues and how I can help.

Please Sleep!

A child’s sleep is paramount. The more a child sleeps, the more content his/her entire family is.  It’s amazing that one little body can have such a huge impact on everyone and everything around him/her. As a caregiver for a little bundle of joy, you learn quickly or start researching how you can help your little one sleep.

I worked with children for over twenty years before having my own son. I do believe my education and experience was a great asset but it did not prepare me for the role of mom.  It assisted me with understanding developmental milestones and how to deal with a variety of behaviours not once was I taught the art of improving my child’s sleep.  This was something I learned on the fly.  I was able to find the magic that worked for us.

The one thing I had to really do was look at his whole day and not just his sleep schedule and pattern.  I learned that my little guy needs to be out and about exploring his world.

I am constantly on the go and I must be out of the house by 10 am or I have a toddler melting down on the floor.  The more we do, the better he sleeps, the better he sleeps, the saner I remain.  My focus is often what can we do so the little man will sleep well.

Here are some of my tips that improved my child’s sleep:

  • Physical exercise The more energy he burns the longer he sleeps.
  • Fresh air When we play outside he sleeps well
  • Food My little guy will stay asleep longer if he has had a good lunch or snack (fruit, veggie, and proteins).
  • Structure and routine The naptime and bedtime routine are quite similar.  The main difference is he gets one book at nap and three at bedtime.
  • Noise  We keep noise to a minimum and use a fan for white noise.
  • Blackout blinds A dark room is a must.

Here’s hoping your child has mastered the art of sleeping or will soon.

Happy sleeping!



Tips and Tricks for Moving From a Crib to a Big Bed

Tips and Tricks for Moving From a Crib to a Big Bed

Sleeping comfortably in my crib!

I am truly amazed at how fast my little man is growing! It is hard to believe that two years have passed.  We have reached so many amazing milestones.  One of the next milestones will be moving from a crib to a big bed.

Honestly, I will keep him in his crib as long as it continues to be safe to do so.  The reason for this is that his sleep is very important for his sanity and let’s face it mine as well.

How do I know he is still safe? He does not climb out. He is in a sleep sack which prevents him from climbing out.

I realize he cannot stay in a crib forever, so here are the 7 tips I will use when he is moved to a big bed:

  1. Remove any furniture that is not safe.  His book shelf which is very tall and not anchored to the wall will be moving out.  He is adventurous, need I say more?
  2. There will continue to be no toys in his room. This drives home the point that his room is for sleeping.
  3. His books will remain in his room.  They will be in a container that is easy to remove if the books are preventing him from going to sleep.
  4. I will include him in picking out the bedding for his bed and accessories ( lamp, wall art, etc). I will guide him to bedding that is not overly stimulating but catches his attention.  I can foresee his current sea theme (my choice) changing into a sport themed room (his choice).  I am sure to shed a tear or two when I am removing the sea themed items and I will make sure he does not see that!  This is exciting, not sad.
  5. He has a crib that converts, so he will “help” us convert the crib to a bed.  If we were looking for a new bed I would include him as much as possible.
  6. I will positively reinforce him the next morning when he stays in his bed. I will reinforce with words, gestures (high-five, “pound it”) and even develop a sticker chart if required.
  7. If he is struggling with staying in his bed, I will simply take him back to his bed with no words until he stays in bed.  I will repeat the key phrase we use for him to go to sleep, which is “it’s night night.” If he continues to leave his room, I will shut the door and hold it shut for a few seconds then let him know the door will open up when he is in bed.  This worked like a charm when he slept on an air mattress when we were visiting family.  I am not a fan of leaving a door locked.

Have fun celebrating this milestone with your little one!

Enjoy and happy sleeping,