20 expert tips to get your child to sleep
A good night's sleep is important for both parents and children, however it's often easier said than done
SleepyPeople.com asked 20 child sleep experts to share their top tips:
1. Kim West - The Sleep Lady
'My best tip for parents is simple: choose the sleep coaching method that best ﬁts your parenting style and your child's temperament. Then be consistent.'
2. Lucy Shrimpton - The Sleep Nanny
'Avoid overtiredness. It might seem rational to think that if you wear your child out enough during the day, he will surely sleep well that night, right? Wrong. The opposite is actually true. An overtired child is more likely to have a harder time settling to sleep, wake up more frequently in the night and be prone to early rising.'
3. Judy Clark - BabyWinkz
'Put your baby down awake so that they learn to fall asleep independently without the use of props, such as a dummy or bottle of milk. Helping your baby to learn how to sleep soundly independently is a gift.'
4. Jo Wiltshire
'If your baby or younger child desperately needs a sleep but won't settle, try a 'white-out'. When you're on the go, you can face their pram or baby carrier towards a white wall. If you have a clean muslin sheet, drape it in front of them. The idea is to block out stimulation and allow your child to 'switch off'.'
5. Lucy Jones - Love Mornings
'If your bedtime routine is starting to feel more stressful than soothing, one thing that can help is giving your toddler choices so that they feel they have a little say over proceedings. So instead of asking them to put their PJs on, ask them if they'd like to wear the blue or the red ones. Rather than telling them it's bath time, skip straight to enquiring which toys they'd like to take in with them.'
6. Tizzie Hall - Save Our Sleep
'Always feed your baby until your baby is full. Once your milk has come in, never restrict the amount of time your baby drinks at the breast or if you are bottle-feeding, never give your baby a set amount of milk. If your baby drinks the bottle offer your baby more milk if they want it.'
7. Maryanne Taylor - Child Sleep Works
'My top tip for helping a child sleep through the night is to be very consistent when handling wake ups. If your child gets different responses, this will confuse and frustrate them and thereby increasing crying.'
8. Helen Packham - The Family Sleep Coach
'An age-appropriate day routine with the right amount of naps is crucial to pave the way for sound slumbers at night. This prevents the release of cortisol and the possibility of your child becoming wired and overtired at bedtime. This can lead to restless sleep and early rising.'
9. Jennie Harrison - Sleep Deprived Mums Coach
'Focus on the reason why your little one can’t sleep. There is so much information out there to help your children sleep and the majority of it focuses on how to ﬁx behaviour. This to me is a little like putting a plaster over a sore... it's a temporary ﬁx. Once you establish why, it's so much easier to help them sleep. It's not a quick ﬁx but it does bring a long-term solution.'
10. Michelle McAvoy - Lovebugs Sleep Coaching
'When you want your child to sleep right away try exercise. Our children have high energy levels and they need an outlet for that energy before they are asked to rest. Science has
proven that exercise, especially in combination with healthy nutrition, leads to better overall sleep and a decreased risk of developing childhood sleep apnea. So after dinner, I encourage you to leave the dishes in the sink and go straight outside for some active play.'
11. Andrea Elovson - Sleepy Bug
'Avoid too late a bedtime. Children who are up past their body's natural clock quickly become 'over-tired'. This makes it more difﬁcult for them to both fall asleep at bedtime and stay asleep overnight.'
12. Dee Both - Sleep Fairy & Parent Rescue
'Let babies, toddlers and children learn to calm down independently, without the help of their parent, or a dummy or comforter. When little people rely on movement, patting or comforters to calm them down, they will need them when they wake during the night. If they can learn to calm down independently during the day, they will be able to do it when they wake in the night. But if every time they cry during the day, they have help calming, they won't be able to do it on their own at night and will disturb their parents. Some babies ﬁnd it harder to calm than others, and some are very strong-willed, but they will all eventually learn. However, they won't learn to calm down if they are never given the chance to try.'
13. Lyndsey Hookway - Little Sleepers
'For newborns - try to remember where they're coming from. They've been tightly held in your womb, protected from light, cold air and noise, rocked by your movements, never put down and surrounded by white noise. They can't just adapt overnight. So try to recreate a womb-like environment for them to help them adapt and feel safe. Try white noise, using a Sleepyhead (or make your own nest with a rolled up towel), leave something with your smell on and dim the lights.'
14. Kavitha Nair - Kavitha Baby Sleep Coach
'Every baby will have their own sleep cues, it is therefore important to know what is your baby's unique signal and accordingly put them down when they are tired. And importantly, when possible sleep when your baby sleeps!'
15. Alison Scott-Wright - The Magic Sleep Fairy
'At some point you may think of going on holiday and the simplest way to ensure easy travel and quick acceptance of a time zone change with your baby is to have a well established daytime feeding and nighttime sleeping schedule in place before you go. If your baby's body clock is already programmed to eat during the day and sleep during the night, it will make adapting to a different time zone much easier.'
16. Diane Pawsey - Family Sleep Consultant
'Remember you only have 30 minutes from when you go upstairs to when you place your child in bed. Low lighting in the bedroom provides a calm atmosphere. After little one is ready for bed, give them milk. Older babies and toddlers will enjoy a short story before saying goodnight.'
17. Brenda Hart - Brenda The Nanny
'My top tip for a toddler who gets out of bed would be to make him independent once you have said good night. So make sure he has his cuddly toy, small non-spill drink, enough to keep him warm, that he is safe in his bed and then he has no need to require your assistance in the night.'
18. Tina Southwood - Sleep Baby Sleep
'It is essential that you do not over stimulate a baby, but observe her body language and signs for tiredness. Ensure she is well fed and comfortable, a baby with wind will not settle.'
19. Emily-Jane Clark - Stolen Sleep
'The best thing you can do is to stop worrying about it! Your baby will learn to sleep through the night eventually and you will learn not to sleep through the night eventually. Stock up on coffee and wait for it to pass. Because take it from me — it will.'
20. Joanna Clark - Blissful Baby Sleep Coaching
'Does your child wake up alert and ready to start their day before 6am? If so, your child is experiencing the difﬁcult dilemma of ‘Early Rising’. Early Rising is one of the most difﬁcult sleep concerns to resolve. The ﬁrst step is to identify the "red flags” that increase the probability of an early rising event. Keep a sleep log of your child's schedule to see if your child's early rising is caused from one or all of the following scenarios:
- You child is not reaching the age-appropriate daytime sleep expectations.
- At bedtime your child is conking out in your arms or on the breast or bottle.
- Your child is too drowsy when you actually put your child down to sleep.
- Your child is staying awake too long between afternoon nap and bedtime.
Until a child learns how to self-soothe to sleep at bedtime, your child will have a harder time resolving early rising and will often 'need' their sleep crutch in order to go back to sleep after an early rising event.'