Parents today have access to more information than our mothers and grandmothers ever could have dreamed of. Enter a couple of words into a search engine (“sleep,” “baby,” “help,”) and in seconds you have thousands of pages to pore over. Of course, this can be a blessing and a curse. How do we separate good advice from bad advice? How do we know that something that worked for one family would work for ours? Who has the time to go through all that material?
It shouldn’t be this hard.
That’s why I’ve developed a simple, five-step program that has helped with families from around the world improve their babies’ and toddlers’ sleep. No matter what is going on in your family, these tips are designed to give you a better understanding of what is needed in order to help your baby (and you!) sleep through the night. And to make things even easier, most of these steps are done before you even get to “traditional” sleep coaching!
A more detailed version of all of this can be found in my free Five-Day Sleep Challenge, but let’s check out some of the basics below to get started.
STEP ONE: Get Your Mind Right
It can be difficult to get into the headspace to begin to tackle this parenting challenge. Remember all that information we have access to these days? There’s a lot of contradictions and misconceptions out there. So I like to start by tackling some common sleep training myths
Equally important is to really think about your own ideas and fears about sleep coaching. Are you ready? Are you scared of hearing your baby cry? Are you going to be facing this challenge with a partner or other family member? Is everyone on the same page about the ultimate goal? How can everyone do their share? Frank and ongoing discussion will be important throughout this process and it’s the best place to start!
STEP TWO: The Schedule
Just like in adults, baby and toddler’s sleep is regulated by their circadian rhythm, or body clock. Uncovering the patterns and trends in your baby’s sleep can give us so much information about their individual sleep needs and help you discover their best schedule. While you can log your baby’s sleep using an app, I generally recommend good old fashioned pen and paper. Start to keep track of...
STEP THREE: Set the Stage
The goal with this step is to set your baby up for success, and the best way to do that is to be aware of (and address or adjust) your baby’s
A “sleep prop” can fall into two categories: independent and dependent. Independent sleep props are things you put in place, but don’t have to “re-place” throughout the night--think white noise machine or black out curtains. These can be helpful, even essential tools in helping your baby get a good night’s sleep.
Dependent sleep props, however, can be a bit trickier (though not always bad!), so I’ll take them item by item…
STEP FIVE: Create your Customized Sleep Plan
You’re so close! Now that you’ve assessed and optimized your situation, you’re ready to start creating and implementing your sleep plan. How you approach this last bit is really up to you and your child’s specific needs: there is a coaching style for everyone. The most important thing (and you may recognize a theme here) is to pick a method and stay consistent! Some of the most common methods to help reach “peak sleep” include…
I explore the ins and outs of each of these in Day 5 of the Free Five-Day Sleep Challenge, but if you're looking for even more detail AND sample day-by-day plans for each method, then you'll want to check out the affordable and comprehensive Mommy SOS Sleep School.
I do truly believe that there is no right or wrong method for sleep coaching and that each child’s temperament, family parenting style and goals must all be considered when developing a plan. Remember that each baby (and family) is unique! What may work well for your best friend’s baby or your great aunt may not work well for your baby. So please make sure that the method you choose is one that you feel comfortable with - and can be consistent with.
This is truly the key to your success!
**This outline is the backbone of my Mommy SOS Sleep School, but there’s so much more! With the full course, you can get more detailed help, sample day-by-day, customizable plans and schedules, and have access to me and a community of other parents who are helping each other find a good night’s sleep by sharing their own questions, successes, and helpful hints.
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As a maternal mental health and pediatric sleep expert, I am passionate about helping tired mamas thrive throughout the many seasons of motherhood. I'm a Nationally Certified Professional Life Coach and Licensed Therapist specializing in parental mental wellness, marriage/partnership strength and pediatric sleep and soothing.
Ready to sleep through the night?