This is an “it worked for us” post. Since I have been blogging about my awesome iComfort bed so much it gotten me thinking a lot about sleep. More specifically, how much BETTER you feel mentally and physically when you are getting enough sleep. Now that my kids are two and five, in retrospect, there were 5 things that helped my babies sleep better and become great sleepers so I thought it might be worth sharing.
In case any of you are sitting reading this right now, dark bags under your eyes pounding a big cup of coffee and exhausted, I hope that maybe even one of these tips might prove to be helpful to you! And when you are that tired I know sometimes you are willing to try anything!
When my babies were born I became obsessed with sleep and my lack of it. I had no idea how much the interrupted sleep would affect me mentally. I felt horrible, like I was on the fast train to looney-town. The only way I could describe it was that I just didn’t feel like myself. Once my kids slept through the night, I felt like a different person.
Babies and the sleep topic can be a sensitive issue and everyone has different philosophies and styles. From co-sleeping to cry it out sleep scheduling, I believe you have to trust your natural instincts on what is right for your babies, and if it works for your family, embrace it!
For me, it all started with a book. One day when my first baby was about six months old, I called my cousin (who was a seasoned mommy) almost crying with exhaustion asking her if she had any tips to help my baby sleep.
I will never forget it, she said, “Have you heard of THE BOOK?” Me, being desperate, asked, “WHAT BOOK?!” I had read several of the sleep books and nothing seemed to connect with me or fit my instincts. The book she recommended, which is number one on my list, was a lifesaver for me. So that is where it all began….
5 Things That Helped My Babies Sleep Better
1. “The BOOK” was Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. I swear by this book and used it with both my babies. It totally connected with me and it made sense to me. I learned a lot about how important sleep is for children, quality sleep, and his philosophy and tools made my kids AWESOME sleepers. I owe a lot of my sanity to Dr. Weissbluth!
2. Foster an attachment to a lovey, blankie or some kind of attachment item. This was recommended in the book. When they were itsy bitsy I introduced the lovies. Emma still sleeps with her two Angel Dear bear lovies, who at 2 1/2 she named “Carter & Siena” and she told me they are twins. No joke. And Morgan sleeps with her Darling Droolers Ribbon Lovey she calls, “Bee.” They are both really attached and it has helped them get to sleep and soothe themselves when they are upset. Parenting expert, TheGoToMom.com, has a great video as well on just how important an attachment item is. You can watch it here.
A note on the lovies & blankie! We have made it a ritual from early on that our kids don’t take lovies or blankie out of the car on errands or to the park, or anywhere (God forbid) they could get lost. The thought of it is too traumatic! So they will take them in the car, but I got them used to leaving them in their carseats and told them we didn’t want them to get dirty. Big help as they are always in the house or in the car, and no where else.
3. Blackout shade in their bedrooms – My husband bought and installed a cheap-o roll down blackout shade underneath both their blinds in their rooms so their rooms stay really dark. If someone puts them down and forgets to shut it, they will wake up WAY earlier due to the light. I swear by the blackout shade. Especially for naptime.
4. Pavlov’s dog sound association- Just like Pavlov’s dog, I swear by some sort of sound that they associate with sleep. For my oldest, we had the Fischer Price Ocean Wonders Crib Aquarium in her crib that she would push to play a song and she goes to sleep to the same music. At 5, we still have that aquarium in her regular bed. For the little one, we got this Homedics SoundSpa Sound Machine and put it to the “ocean” setting. Both these are helpful as you can take them with you to set up their same “sleep scenario” when traveling.
5. Regular crib naps & times and early bedtimes. One of the things Dr. Weissbluth preaches is the importance of quality, restful sleep. Since they were about 6 months old, I have pretty much done anything I needed to do to get my kids home to nap in their crib at roughly the same time and get them to bed early at night. It has meant that I have had to say “no” to things if it meant interfering with a crib nap and has been often inconvenient, but it is just a way of life. The sacrifice of being a tad “home bound” is MORE than worth it to me because of the great sleepers they became because of it. Everything is a trade off! Many probably wouldn’t agree, so again, it is all about what works for your family and this has worked for us. Hallelujah!
Does anyone have their own tips to share? I know kids and sleep is always a hot topic, so PLEASE comment and let us in to your “secrets!”