No Cry Sleep Solution Questions

When your child moves from the crib to the bed it’s a milestone in his life as well as yours. There is no precise time for making this move, though typically it’s between the first and third birthday. The key to success is to be patien and allow your child time to adjust to the change.

Why move a child from crib to bed?

If a child sleeps well in his crib, don’t rush the change. Switching to a bed gives a child freedom and brings new issues for parents, such as the yo-yo syndrome or early morning wanderings. The most common reasons to switch:

  • Your child learns how to climb.
  • Move your child out of the crib when the rail is up to the level of his nipples, since climbing out is more possible.
    Your child outgrows the crib.
  • Don’t assume it’s time! You may think that he’s uncomfortable, but he may be content in his little nest.
  • Your child asks for a bed.
  • If she’s old enough, then go ahead and take the leap.
  • Your child is learning how to use the toilet.
  • Even if your child uses the toilet during the day, it’s often a long while before bedtime dryness happens.
  • A new sibling is on the way.
  • If your little one loves his crib, then ousting him to make room for the newcomer may add stress. If you feel that the time is right then make the change two months or more before your newborn arrives.

What kind of bed should my child move to?

There are a number of options for a child’s first bed:

Toddler bed
These are small, low and child-sized. They have guard rails on all sides, and come in playful designs.

Regular bed
A common choice is a mattress, box springs and bed frame (with all sides protected from fall-outs). Consider a double or bigger size to accommodate the night-reading ritual.

Mattress on the floor
A popular choice is a mattress or futon on the floor. This provides your little one with a big-kid bed, but one that prevents any painful falls.

Bunk bed
Hold off on a bunk bed until your child is 6 years old, when it is considered safe.

Up to 70% of children under age five have sleep problems. Sleep issues are complicated and have many causes. They are hard to deal with because when children aren’t sleeping, parents aren’t sleeping, and that lack of sleep affects every minute of every day for every person in the family because lack of sleep isn’t just about being tired. Sleep has a role in everything ~~ dawdling, temper tamtrums, hyperactivity, growth, health, and even learning to tie his shoes and recite the ABCs. Sleep Affects Everything.

The following ideas are of value to almost any sleeper, of any age. These tips can bring improvement not only in your child’s sleep, but also in her daytime mood and last, but not least – improvements in your own sleep and outlook as well.

 # 1  Maintain a consistent bedtime and awaking time.

Your child’s biological clock has a strong influence on her wakefulness and sleepiness. When you establish a set time for bedtime and wake up time you “set” your child’s clock so that it functions smoothly.  Aim for an early bedtime. Young children respond best with a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 P.M. Most children will sleep better and longer when they go to bed early.

 # 2  Encourage regular daily naps.

Daily naps are important. An energetic child can find it difficult to go through the day without a rest break. A nap-less child will often wake up cheerful and become progressively fussier or hyper-alert as the day goes on. Also, the length and quality of naps affects night sleep – good naps equal better night sleep.

 # 3  Set your child’s biological clock.

Take advantage of your child’s biology so that he’s actually tired when bedtime arrives. Darkness causes an increase in the release of the body’s sleep hormone — the biological “stop” button. You can align your child’s sleepiness with bedtime by dimming the lights during the hour before bedtime.   Exposing your child to morning light is pushing the “go” button in her brain — one that says, “Time to wake up and be active.” So keep your mornings bright!

 # 4  Develop a consistent bedtime routine.

Routines create security. A consistent, peaceful bedtime routine allows your child to transition from the motion of the day to the tranquil state of sleep.  An organized routine helps you coordinate the specifics: bath, pajamas, tooth-brushing. It helps you to function on auto-pilot at the time when you are most tired and least creative.

 # 5  Create a cozy sleep environment.

Where your child sleeps can be a key to quality sleep. Make certain the mattress is comfortable, the blankets are warm, the room temperature is right, pajamas are comfy, and the bedroom is welcoming.

 # 6  Provide the right nutrition.

Foods can affect energy level and sleepiness. Carbohydrates can have a calming effect on the body, while foods high in protein or sugar generate alertness, particularly when eaten alone. A few ideas for pre-bed snacks are: whole wheat toast and cheese, bagel and peanut butter, oatmeal with bananas, or yogurt and low-sugar granola.   Vitamin deficiencies due to unhealthy food choices can affect a child’s sleep. Provide your child with a daily assortment of healthy foods.

 # 7 Help your child to be healthy and fit.

Many children don’t get enough daily physical activity. Too much TV watching and a lack of activity prevents good sleep. Children who get ample daily exercise fall asleep more quickly, sleep better, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed.   Avoid activity in the hour before bedtime though, since exercise is stimulating – they’ll be jumping on the bed instead of sleeping in it!

 # 8 Teach your child how to relax.

Many children get in bed but aren’t sure what to do when they get there! It can help to follow a soothing pre-bed routine that creates sleepiness. A good pre-bed ritual is story time. A child who is listening to a parent read a book or tell a tale will tend to lie still and listen. This quiet stillness allows him to become sleepy.
Work with these eight ideas and you’ll see improvements in your child’s sleep, and yours too. 

Does it takes forever for your baby to fall asleep? Does he or she only fall asleep if you breastfeed, give a bottle or pacifier, rock, carry, swing, take a ride in the car, or perform other elaborate rituals? Does your baby wake up frequently throughout the night? Are your sleep issues further complicated because your baby won’t nap easily, or takes very short naps?

Do you ever feel like Leesa, mother of 9-month-old Kyra who said, “I am truly distressed, as the lack of sleep is starting to affect all aspects of my life. I feel as though I can’t carry on an intelligent conversation. I am extremely unorganized and don’t have the energy to even attempt reorganization. I love this child more than anything in the world, and I don’t want to make her cry, but I’m near tears myself thinking about going to bed every night. Sometimes I think, ‘What’s the point? I’ll just be up in an hour anyway.’”

As your sleep issues cast lengthening shadows over your life, you may begin to live purely for the moment. Your sleep-deprived, foggy brain may focus so intently on sleep that you can’t think beyond the next few hours of rest. You may have one – or many – people telling you that you should just let your baby cry to sleep.

You are probably frustrated and confused. What you lack is perspective. To gain that perspective, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where will I be five years from now?
  • How will I look back on this time?
  • Will I be proud of how I handled my baby’s sleep routines, or will I regret my actions?
  • How will the things I do with my baby today affect the person he will become in the future?

Once you have some perspective about your baby’s current sleep issues, it is important to be realistic in determining your goals and to be honest in assessing the situation’s effect on your life. Some people can handle two night wakings easily, while others find that the effect of even one night waking is just too much to handle.

The key is to evaluate whether your baby’s sleep schedule is a problem in your eyes, or just in those of the people around you.

Begin today by contemplating these questions:

  • Am I content with the way things are, or am I becoming resentful, angry, or frustrated?
  • Is my baby’s nighttime routine negatively affecting my marriage, my job, or my relationships with my other children?
  • Is my baby happy, healthy, and seemingly well rested?
  • Am I happy, healthy, and well rested?
  • What is a reasonable expectation for my baby at his/her age?
  • What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “acceptable”?
  • What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “pure bliss”?
  • Why do I want to change my baby’s sleep patterns? Is it truly what’s best for me and my baby, or am I doing this to meet someone else’s expectations?
  • Am I willing to be patient and make a gradual, gentle change for my baby if that means no crying?

Once you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of not only what is happening with regard to your baby’s sleep, but what approach you will feel most comfortable using to help your baby sleep better.

In addition to my two-year-old son Coleton, I have three older children, and they have afforded me the perspective I lacked the first time around. My children have taught me how very quickly babyhood passes. I struggle now to remember the difficulties of those first couple years, so fleeting are they. And I am proud that I didn’t cave in to the pressures of others around us to do what they felt was right; instead I followed my heart as I gently nurtured all of my babies. That time is long gone for us, but those memories remain. And now, all four of them sleep through the night. And so do I.

Nap are important for your child’s healthy mental and physical growth. A daily nap refreshes a child so that she can maintain her energy, focus, and ability to learn for the rest of the day. Studies show that children who nap are more flexible and adaptable, have longer attention spans, and are less fussy than those who don’t nap.

How can you tell if your child needs a nap?

Here are some of the signs that your child needs a daily nap: 

  • Wakes up in a good mood, but gets whiny and cranky as the day progresses
  • Has more patience early in the day, but is easily aggravated later on
  • Cries more easily in the afternoon and evening than earlier in the day
  • Has an afternoon or early evening slump, but gets a second wind afterwards
  • Yawns, rubs eyes, or fusses while getting ready for bed
  • Often falls asleep in the car or when watching a movie

How much naptime does your child need?

Children differ in their sleep needs, some needing more or less than shown here ¾ but what follows is a general guide that applies to most of them. Even if your child’s sleep hours add up to the right amount, his or her behavior tells you more than any chart possibly could. When in doubt – always try for a nap, since even a period of quiet time can help a child feel more refreshed.

Average hours of daytime and nighttime sleep 

Age
Number of naps
Total length of naptime hours
Nighttime sleep hours**
Total of nighttime and naptime sleep
Newborn*
 
 
 
 
3 months
3
5 – 6
10 – 11
15
6 months
2
3 – 4
10 – 11
14 – 15
9 months
2
2 ½ – 4
11 – 12
14
12 months
1–2
2 – 3
11 ½ –12
13 ½ –14
18 months
1–2
2 – 3
11 ¼ -12
13 – 14
2 years
1
1–2 ½
11–12
13 – 13 ½
2 ½ years
1
1 ½ -2
11–11 ½
13 – 13 ½
3 years
1
1–1 ½
11 –11 ½
12 – 13
4 years
0 -1
0 -1
11–11 ½
11 – 12 ½
5-6 years
0 -1
0 -1
11
11 – 12
 
*Newborns sleep 16-18 hours daily, spread over 6-7 sleep periods.  ** These averages don’t signify unbroken stretches of sleep.

© Elizabeth Pantley, The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers (McGraw-Hill)
When should your child nap?

The timing of your child’s naps is important since a nap that occurs too late in the day will prevent your child from being tired at bedtime. Generally, the best nap times are:

  • If your child takes two naps: midmorning (around 9:00 to 11:00) and early afternoon (around 12:00 to 2:30)
  • If your child takes one nap: early afternoon (around 12:00 to 2:30); after lunch

If your child tends towards short naps, don’t give in and assume that it’s all the nap time that she needs. Try some of these tips for increasing the length of naps:

  • Give your child lunch or a snack a half hour before nap.
  • Keep the sleeping room dark.
  • Play soothing music or white noise during the entire nap.
  • Make certain that discomfort from teething, allergies, asthma, ear infection or other health issues aren’t preventing your child from taking a good nap. If you suspect any of these, schedule a visit to your health care professional.

Watch for signs of tiredness

Tired children fall asleep easily. If he isn’t tired he’ll resist sleep, but if you miss his signals, he can become overtired and be unable to fall asleep when you finally do put him to bed. Your child may demonstrate one or more of these signs that tell you he is tired and ready to nap – now:

  • losing interest in playtime
  • rubbing his eyes
  • looking glazed or unfocused
  • becoming whiny, cranky or fussy
  • losing patience with toys, activities or playmates
  • having tantrums
  • yawning
  • lying down or slumping in his seat
  • caressing a lovey or blanket
  • asking for a pacifier, bottle or to nurse

The nap routine

Once you have created a nap schedule that works with your child’s daily periods of tiredness, follow a simple but specific nap routine. Your child will be most comfortable if there is a pattern to his day. He may come to predict when his naptime approaches and willingly cooperate with you.

Nap routines change

Children’s sleep needs change over time, so remember that the routine that you set up today won’t be the same one you’re using a year from now. Be adaptable!

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby. This is a glorious time in your life ~ and a sleepless time too. Newborns have different sleep needs than older babies. This article will help you understand your baby’s developing sleep patterns, and will help you create reasonable expectations for sleep.

The Biology of Newborn Sleep

During the early months of your baby’s life, he sleeps when he is tired — it’s that simple. You can do little to force a new baby to sleep when he doesn’t want to sleep, and you can do little to wake him up when he is sleeping soundly.

Newborn babies have tiny tummies. They grow rapidly, and their liquid diet digests quickly. While it would be nice to lay your little bundle down at bedtime and not hear from him until morning, this is not a realistic goal for a new baby. Newborns need to be fed every two to four hours — and sometimes more.

Sleeping “through the night”

You may believe that babies should start “sleeping through the night” soon after birth. For a new baby, a five-hour stretch is a full night. This may be a far cry from what you may have thought “sleeping through the night” meant!

What’s more, some sleep-through-the-nighters will suddenly begin waking more frequently, and it’s often a full year or more until your baby will settle into an all-night, every night sleep pattern.

Falling Asleep at the Breast or Bottle

It is natural for a newborn to fall asleep while sucking at the breast, a bottle, or a pacifier. When a baby always falls asleep this way, he learns to associate sucking with falling asleep; over time, he cannot fall asleep any other way. This is the most natural sleep association a baby can have. However, many parents who are struggling with older babies who cannot fall asleep, or stay asleep, are fighting this powerful association.

Therefore, if you want your baby to be able to fall asleep without your help, it is essential that you often let your newborn baby suck until he is sleepy, but not totally asleep. When you can, remove the breast, bottle, or pacifier from his mouth, and let him finish falling asleep without it. If you do this often enough, he will learn how to fall asleep without sucking.

Waking for Night Feedings

Many professionals recommend that a newborn shouldn’t sleep longer than four hours without feeding, and most babies wake more frequently than that. The key is to learn when you should pick her up for a feeding and when you can let her go back to sleep on her own.

Here’s a tip: Babies make many sleeping sounds, from grunts to whimpers to cries, and these noises don’t always signal awakening. These are sleeping noises, and your baby is not awake during these episodes.

Learn to differentiate between sleeping sounds and awake sounds. If she is awake and hungry, you’ll want to feed her so she’ll go back to sleep easily. But if she’s asleep – let her sleep!

Help Your Baby Distinguish Day from Night

A newborn sleeps 16 to 18 hours per day, and this sleep is distributed evenly over 6 to 7 sleep periods. You can help your baby distinguish between night sleep and day sleep, and thus help him sleep longer periods at night.

Have your baby take his daytime naps in a lit room where he can hear the noises of the day. Make nighttime sleep dark and quiet, except for white noise (a background hum). You can also help your baby differentiate day from night by using a bath and a change into pajamas to signal the difference between the two.

Watch for Signs of Tiredness

Get familiar with your baby’s sleepy signals and put her down to sleep as soon as she seems tired. A baby who is encouraged to stay awake when her body is craving sleep is an unhappy baby. Over time, this pattern develops into sleep deprivation, which complicates developing sleep maturity.

Learn to read your baby’s sleepy signs — such as quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, and fussing — and put her to bed when that window of opportunity presents itself.

Make Yourself Comfortable

It’s a fact that your baby will be waking you up, so you may as well make yourself as comfortable as possible. Relax about night wakings right now. The situation will improve day by day; and before you know it, your newborn won’t be so little anymore — she’ll be walking and talking and getting into everything in sight…during the day, and sleeping peacefully all night long.

The lack of adequate, restful sleep can affect your child’s mood, behavior, health, memory and growth. If there is anything standing in the way of a good night’s sleep it’s important to address the issue and solve the problem. Following is a list of typical sleep disrutpers and possible solutions.

Nightmares 

Children spend more time dreaming than adults do, so they have more dreams—both good and bad. After a nightmare saying “It was just a dream” doesn’t explain what they experienced – after all, most kids believe that the tooth fairy and Big Bird are real, too. After a nightmare, offer comfort just as you would for a tangible fear. If your child wakes with a nightmare:

  • Stay with your child until she feels relaxed and ready to sleep.
  • Be calm and convey that what’s happening is normal and that all is well.
  • Reassure your child that he’s safe and that it’s OK to go back to sleep.

Night Terrors

During a night terror your child will wake suddenly and may scream or cry. Her eyes will be open, but she won’t be seeing. She may hyperventilate, thrash around or talk incoherently. She may be sweating and flushed. She may seem scared, but your child is not really frightened, not awake, and not dreaming. She’s asleep, and in a zone between sleep cycles. A child having a night terror is unaware of what’s happening, and won’t remember the episode in the morning.

During a night terror you may try to hold your child, but often this will result in his pushing you away or fighting you off. The best response is a gentle pat, along with comforting words or Shhh Shhh sounds. If your child gets out of bed, lead him back. If he’s sitting up, guide him to lie back down. Keep an eye on him until he settles back to sleep.
Nighttime Fears

It’s normal for a child to imagine monsters that generate a fear of the dark. Even if you explain, and even if you assure him that he’s safe, he may still be scared. You can reduce his fears when you:

  • Teach your child the difference between real and fantasy through discussion and book-reading.
  • Find ways to help your child confront and overcome his fears. If dark shadows create suspicious shapes, provide a flashlight to keep at his bedside.
  • Leave soothing lullabies playing, or white noise sounds running to fill the quiet.
  • Give your child one, two, or a zoo of stuffed animals to sleep with.
  • Put a small pet, like a turtle or fish, in your child’s room for company.
  • Take a stargazing walk, build a campfire, or have a candleligt dinner to make the dark more friendly.

Preventing Sleep Disrupters

Some things have been found to reduce the number or severity of sleep-disturbing episodes. They are all based on good sleep practices and worth a try:

  • Follow a calm, peaceful routine the hour before bedtime.
  • Maintain the same bed time seven days a week.
  • Avoid books and movies that frighten your child.
  • Have your child take a daily nap.
  • Provide your child with a light snack an hour before bedtime, avoiding spicy food, sugar or caffeine.
  • Have your child use the potty just before she gets in to bed.

Is there a time to call a professional?

Always call a professional if you have concerns about your child’s sleep.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution (McGraw-Hill, 2002).


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