Getting your child to sleep — and sleep well — sometimes feel like an Olympic sport. Whether you choose to cry it out, co-sleep, or some combination of both, there are many developmental changes that can affect your child’s sleep patterns, particularly during their first few years. There are different approaches for how to address sleep challenges with your child and we’ve rounded up some of our favorite recommendations, many of which are from our Mamas Uncut Community.
5 Tips to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night
Sleep Training and Cry it Out
Going with the “cry it out” method is a personal choice, but one that many parents move forward with when their children are between 4-6 months old. The goal is to teach your child to soothe themselves so that they’re able to fall asleep on their own and put themselves back to sleep if they wake during the night.
As the name suggests, if you’re using the cry it out method, you should put your child to bed and let them cry/fuss until they fall asleep unassisted. Word to the wise: Because your child will go through sleep regressions, some children have to be re-sleep trained at certain points.
Cut the Nap
Napping is a wonderful break for kids and parents alike, but you may reach a point when your child’s nap is cutting into bedtime. If your child begins to stay up later and later, it might be time to cut out — or at least cut down — your child’s nap. This will most likely result in a transition period where your child is extra grumpy during those twilight hours, but in the long run, cutting out the daytime rest leads to an earlier bedtime.
Start a Bedtime Routine and Stick to It
Consistency is key when prepping a child for sleep. Of course, there will be times when following an exact routine is not possible, but as much as you can, work to follow a consistent routine, including bath, books, and lights out at generally the same time every night. What’s not recommended as part of the nighttime routine? Though it can be tempting some nights to put on the TV or a movie, it’s not recommended before heading into a little one’s nighttime routine.
As kids get older, a fear of the dark may arise, making a nightlight a great addition to the bedtime. You can choose from a classic nightlight or a combination stuffy/nightlight like Fat Brain Toys’ plush nightlight. Tip: Be sure to take your nightlight if you’re traveling so that your child can more easily adjust to sleeping in a new space.
If you’re really struggling to get your child to sleep, you may want to begin using melatonin. Melatonin is released during the night to help you sleep soundly. It is available over-the-counter in a number of forms, including liquid and gummies. Most children will respond to a low dosage of 0.5 mg or 1 mg. Before taking melatonin or any medication, please speak to your pediatrician to come up with a game plan.
Getting your child to sleep and then sleep through the night can be tough and what can make it more challenging is that your child’s sleep routines and needs will change as they age. There are many sleep techniques that you can try to make your nighttime routine go more smoothly. We hope the above is a good starting point to help your child — and everyone in the family! — get a good night’s rest.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.