Five Sleep Tips with Tegan Donahue of Bedtime Babble.
Having a baby means that you will never sleep again.
Do you remember being told this when you were pregnant? Or maybe you keep telling yourself this after sleepless nights.
Can I let you in on a little secret? It isn’t true! Just like how people tell you to “nap when the baby naps”. Seriously, we have way too much to do when our little one is down for a nap. Though, we usually end up staring at them while they sleep, making sure that they are still breathing and thinking wow, I can’t wait until you wake up so I can snuggle you again! But there is no way that a nap for mom is going to happen. That is how it was for me, at least.
Hi! I’m Tegan. I am a mama of two under two, a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Owner, and Founder of Bedtime Babble, an employee at a local university AND I get on average 8-9 hours of sleep each night.
My little ones have mastered the skills of independent sleep. They can fall asleep and back to sleep on their own.
I am so lucky, right? Yes, lucky to be their mama but not because of their healthy sleep habits. That part was not luck, it took strategy and consistency.
Good news! I am here to help with 5 simple tips for a good night’s sleep.
1. Establish a Bedtime Routine
2. Fill their tank during the day
3. Good Sleep Starts in the Morning
4. Sleep environment
5. Sleep Coaching
It is very important to establish a bedtime routine. We are all creatures of habit and find comfort in knowing what comes next. The same is for your little one. Having a bedtime routine will be their cue to let them know that it is time to go to sleep. Start your bedtime routine at the same age-appropriate time each evening.
Here is an example of a bedtime routine:
Bottle (if they still have a bottle before bed)
Sing a short song
Read a bedtime story
Put your little one in their bed and tell them “I love you. I will see you in the morning.”
Your bedtime routine doesn’t have to be exact but similar. One thing to keep in mind, do not nurse or give your little one a bottle as the last step before you place them in their crib. This will create a sleep association. Your little one will expect the bottle each time that they are to fall asleep. This also means in the middle of the night when they wake.
Fill their Tank. Think about how hard it is to fall asleep on an empty stomach. Almost impossible! Your little one is the same way. It is so important that they get the appropriate amount of food during the day to ensure that they can have successful sleep. For example, a 6-month-old should get 28-32 oz of formula or breastmilk over 24 hours.
This leads me to the next tip- schedule!
Did you know that good sleep starts in the morning? If you didn’t then you do now! To fall asleep at bedtime, it is important that your little one isn’t wired and tired. Schedules can be flexible, but to be successful you will need to make sure that naps, wake times, and bedtime happen at the same times each day. Think of Eat, Play, Sleep on repeat. Your little one’s age will determine how many naps they take during the day. As a reference, most children under 18-months old still take two naps a day.
Eat– The goal is to have a feeding when they first wake up in the morning and after each nap. You will see a pattern where your little one will eat every 3-4 hours, as we want to make sure they are getting enough nutrition during the day. (This is also the key to sleeping through the night!)
Play– Tummy time, jumper, singing, playing, blowing raspberries – interacting with your little one! The age-appropriate play allows for your little one to become tired for their next nap. We call this “getting sillies out” in our house!
SLEEP: Use a combination of age-appropriate wake windows and your baby’s sleepy cues to understand when sleep is coming next. Aim to lay your little one down right before that maximum wake window and before you see some overtired baby signs- this will make it easier for your little one to fall asleep and stay asleep.
AND REPEAT! Consistency is key. It will show your baby what to expect next and will create positive sleep cues, which can make it easier when it is time for your little one to fall asleep.
Sleep Environment. Sound, temperature, and light are important considerations that you should take when setting up a sleep environment for your little one. Use a sound machine to soothe your little one. The goal temperature that is best for their room is 68-72 degrees. Finally, room darkening shades are great for daytime sleep when the sun is popping through.
Sleep Coaching. It is so important to teach your little one how to independently fall asleep. This includes those pesky middle-of-night waking. The truth is no one sleeps through the night due to sleep cycles and their different stages. The key is to have the skills to fall back asleep independently. Now, there are other reasons why your little one might wake during the night, but if they have mastered the skill of independent sleep then you will be able to go down the list of reasons why they are unable to fall back asleep; wet or soiled diaper, the temperature of the room, sickness, hitting a milestone, etc. Sleep coaching is not one size fits all. Every little one is different. Even my Irish twins are completely different when it comes to what works best for them.
If you are still reading, then it is safe to say that you are ready to get some sleep! You might still need a little more assistance, and that is ok! I suggest that you consider hiring a Pediatric Sleep Coach. Do not let yourself become overwhelmed with all of the information on the internet. Ask for help!
As a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach, I work with families to create a plan tailored to THEIR little one. They just have to implement it! I am here for support, to troubleshoot and celebrate the victories along the way!
Once your little one has established the skill of independent sleep, then you can enjoy the benefits of sleep, too!
Tegan Donahue is a sleep obsessed mom of two under two, Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach, and owner of Bedtime Babble, LLC.