How to get your baby or child to sleep.

I feel a bit weird about giving this advice as I'm not a Midwife however its the one thing parents keep asking me and I see the same question from strangers all over social media so this is just the advice I have given many friends and had such good feed back, it also leads to nicely to my next blog and new found trick on the next stage 'How to stop kids getting up so early
I wouldn't recommend the following before about 9mths as baby might need more milk, cuddles etc...but I am the woman who broke down in tears in the middle of Asda when Archie was only 4mths because he wouldn't 'Sleep through' so I know how hard nocturnal alarm clocks are.

How to get your child to sleep?....If you find out, tell me....I'm kind of joking but obviously things like child's age, a growth spurt and even the weather will effect how they sleep and what time they get up. Especially now at the peak of July it is pretty much all I am hearing from my fellow parents, grotty babies/toddlers/kids refusing to go to bed and then up at the crack of dawn which is literally 4.30am just now. If you caught my last blog Here you will see things have been a bit wild here too and if there is ever ANYTHING wrong with my boys from behaviour to illness the first place I always look is Sleep. Making sure kids have enough sleep is the most important thing for them but for us parents too. I quickly found out around week 3 with my first baby that "You can cope with anything on a good nights sleep" and you are a mumbling tearful wreck without it.... 

Still laugh at this picture but I'd had...some wine 
then been up loads in the night and wanted to cry...hubby 
caught it perfectly.

My boys both woke up every 2-4hrs until they were around 7mths old, I breastfeed them but even when I started combination feeding with formula it didn't help as PROMISED. I truly thought both times around they would NEVER "Sleep through". I wanted to stab anyone who even mentioned sleep, never mind asked "Is he a good sleeper?" These periods of time honestly scarred me, it was by far the worst bit of having a baby personally, I need my sleep but it also made me feel like a crap parent, I must be doing something wrong. If I have learnt anything about babies though its that NOT sleeping through is more normal until around 6mths to a year. It is the last thing you want to hear at the time but its true "They will do it when they are ready" That is exactly what happened on both occasions and at around 7am refreshed I thought something bad must have happened...but didn't dare check ha ha zzzzzz. 
Thankfully from that point on they have both been really good sleepers, we have had a few hiccips like illness but that is fine when they are poorly I don't mind getting up, its when they get used to 3am party time long after the chicken pox have gone and its back to square one. As I said the "Sleepless Nights" phase honestly scarred me for life and I wont go back you hear me I wont....so I have a few things that I've picked up, I always go  to if my little munchkins are not going to sleep or sleeping through. 

Sleep breeds Sleep. 
If your baby is napping all day or very late on it stands to reason that they will up in the night or not ready for the land of nod at bedtime. That said keeping a child up all day that needs a nap or two will usually back fire. You're left with a ratty, red faced child, who doesn't know what to do with them selves but then its bed time and it makes NO sense but they are just crying about being tired not just going to sleep?! So make sure they are having a good nap, I would say not past 4pm but if they haven't slept until about then (It happens sometimes) and nod off in the car or you put them down, then in my experience a little 30 min refresher will work wonders and make the witching hour go a bit smoother. The same works for keeping them up, the best bit of advice I ever had was if your child is hyper at night its not because they are not tired its because they are exhausted. 

So get them to bed, we do about 7pm.

Sleep has to be (almost) trained.
It is by far the most frustrating thing I have come across, whiny knackered child, put in a cosy cot and dark room but wont sleep....what is that?! Some days I would give my back teeth to have a little Nanna nap. However sometimes small people need the tools (and the moon and stars to align) to learn how to sleep. I know people who rock their baby, sit on their 5yr olds bed, I've even heard of a parent getting into the cot all for upto 2 hours until they sleep. Seriously NO JUDGEMENT HERE. You do what you have to but the only thing I would say is that I could bare to do any of those things long term, I clock off around 7.30pm Mummy time is calling and my patience is going for a rest but thats just me. So from being babies my boys have had their milk, cuddles, then in their bed - awake, door shut, night night. So they can learn how to drop off on their own, this then works for naps and times when you cant put them in their cot, so a buggy or car seat or travel cot will work. It hasn't always been this smooth don't let me fool you I have often had to do a patch of "Controlled crying" and sometimes they have been great for months but then an illness or the clocks going forward comes along and its all knocked out so I have to do some more control crying - See below for process.

Feel proud and relieved when the boys just nod off on their own....anywhere!

Be firm. 
Its not for the faint hearted to get a baby who doesn't want to sleep off to the sand man. Maybe your baby is a little cherub and they just want cuddles, I can see this will break your heart to leave them to cry its your call but mine were both just defiant monsters who only wanted to be UP and having a snack or playing. So if you want everyone to have a good nights sleep you have to be tough sometimes and teach them its night time and no one is getting up. When your exhausted Ive done it all, its easy to give them a drink of milk or let them come in your bed - this rarely worked for us, they would pretend snuggle in then start fidgeting and want to get toys after 5mins it was all a con on our cuddly emotions- or get them anything they bloody want frankly at 2am. However I've learnt this will just continue and everyone will get more and more tired. So gird your loins and be prepared for a hard night or 3 but it will pay off. 

Lets begin.

1. I'm assuming nothing is wrong, no illness, not hungry, clean nappy etc and make sure the following is right, so there are no excuses...doubt or horrendous guilt lingering.

2. Room: No doubt their room is lovely and cosy but try and stop excessive noise, stimulation (like toys especially older ones as they just want to play with them) and light. Good curtains so as little light as possible is coming through, we bought a 'Gro' black out blind, I even had to tape the sides to ensure total darkness but its worth it.

3. Temperature: not too hot or cold. It is recommended that Normal room Temperature is 16-20C so make sure the room is cool enough and baby is dressed appropriately. I still use the room thermometers just for peace of mind, one of mine was free and the other was only about £2 its a good guide though instead of guessing. At the minute it is so hot we have had to buy fans for the boys rooms, £12 from Argos, Archie's reached 28C the other night its in the sunniest side of the house so good investment. I also swear by the sleeping bags for under 3s, because getting cold and waking up due to kicked off blankets is just not funny so I love these. We are in the last size now with Oscar although he hasn't been able to wear it for a few weeks with it being so hot.

£12 Argos.

3. Bed comfy: I was sent a lavender sleep spray to trial about 4 yrs ago and I love it, no clue if it actually works but I have bought a few more and use it on all of our beds. It smells lovely, obviously is a natural relaxant and its good to take away because it is a smell from home on strange beds. I still have a cot bumper too because kids sleep roll about 20 times a night so it wakes them up if they knock their head doing the midnight hocky cokey. Also Oscar started waking up a few months ago and I realised it was because he had so much stuff in his cot. I had about 6 blankets and 12 teddys arranged at the bottom which have accumulated but he was getting tangled up in them, more importantly though he was playing with them when he woke up. So they have all been cleared out, he has his beloved "Ducky" his sleeping bag or light blanket at the minute and that's it...All very boring, nothing fun here, go back to sleep son.

4. Bedtime routine: We have always had a very basic not too strict one but I think its important to prepare and calm for bed. My boys don't have a bath every night because they get dry skin so something the Dr advised against. 
About 6pm after dinner, they have a bath or face and hands wash, PJs, unless they are in the last size of nappy I would recommend the next size up for bed as less likely to leak, Milk, unless it's late for whatever reason, they can have milk downstairs with a bit of chill TV, teeth, toilet break if no nappy, story, kiss and cuddle, "Night Night" Oscar now asks for sweets as I shut his door and Archie wants to know the meaning of life as I shut his but its still then lights out. 

5. Tough bit - Controlled Crying. 
  • Ok so if the child is crying immediately or starts 10mins in let them cry for about 5mins they might just be testing you and go off, if you run in straight away the first time they will start doing this...I know the hard way. * I have been known to pick them up at this point, give a little cuddle and a verse of "Twinkle Twinkle" then back down and a firm "Night Night" again, but play it by ear, this usually works with Oscar but if they don't go to sleep after that then they are just playing the game to get up.*
  • If they are still crying after 5mins, go back in make sure they are still laying down, got their teddy, dummy etc give them a pat or tummy rub and say "Shhh shhh its Bedtime now or Night Night time" preferable they will have stopped crying but unless they are hysterical (give a few more pats) then just leave. 
  • If they are still crying leave it 10 minutes now and then repeat the above.
  • If they are still crying leave it 15 minutes this time and then repeat the above. 
*This sounds bad but past this point don't make too much eye contact and fuss or this is what they start to crave just that little bit of attention. "Its bedtime" that's it. 
  • Repeat every 15 minutes until they are asleep. If you notice they are crying but not as loudly give it another 5 minutes as they might be drifting off and it could god forbid wake them! 
  • It shouldn't take more than an hour, repeat this during any night time wake ups and nap times. Try not to sit by their door or monitor because it will make it feel much worse and the minutes like hours.
  • What if they are REALLY hysterical to the point they throw up? (This applies if they have just filled their nappy too) I have only had to do this once and got some advice from the Super Nanny who said: Go back in like nothing has happened, no big fuss "Oh you poor baby etc" Strip them off, clean them up and their bed if needed, maybe give them a small drink of water. Then start the process again. Its not nice but it works and when they wake up so happy and full of energy I know its right. 
  • What if your child isn't a baby or in a cot? This is still a good process, you might have to add, putting them back in bed from the landing or stairs but it still works in that they know, its not time to be up and it wont be fun if they are. My near 5 year old started being a pain to go to sleep last month especially with the light nights. He wasn't crying just kept coming down stairs for a few nights. I did the process with a "Its just boring grown up things now" and it worked really well. A threat always works wonders as well on older ones like "You wont do xyz tomorrow if you don't go to sleep now" 

  •  Like I said the first few days/night will be tough but so worth it. You are not being cruel, everyone needs good sleep to function, soon they will be "Sleeping like a baby" worst.phrase.ever.  

  • Now go and have a glass of wine or a treat...or both and relax you deserve it.

    If you try any of this I would love to hear from you and like wise with any questions. As I said I'm not a pro though just another Mam trying to get some kip passing on what's worked for me. 
    Ash xox


    1. We are trying to get Callie out of the habit of being cuddled to sleep. It's hard though as some nights she falls asleep on her bottle then we put her down and that's it! Other nights she has the bottle and is still awake. That's when all hell breaks loose and the screaming starts. Chris.

      1. As I said NO JUDGEMENT here you do what you have to but in my humble opinion if you build a rod for your own back its just continues they are all little tinkers 7pm onwards is our time to refresh! Maybe give her the bottle a bit earlier so she doesn't fall asleep and try this if she wont settle? Completely up to you but its worth it when they learn to go to sleep on their own. Good Luck xxx