How To End Bedtime Battles At Any Age
Bedtime battles with our children are horrible! No matter the age, this struggle can leave everyone feeling terrible.
Here are a few tips by age.
Newborns can be tricky! Nothing in life prepares you for having a newborn baby, absolutely NOTHING! Everyone tells you how you should prepare for sleepless nights and they weren’t kidding.
But, and this one’s a good one...It doesn’t have to stay this way for long. Newborn babies can learn to sleep well and most of our newborn client’s babies are sleeping through the night 11 - 12 uninterrupted hours by 10 - 13 weeks. NOPE, not kidding!
So, where do you start with newborns?
It’s not so important WHERE newborns sleep as long as you have safe sleep practices in place. The best thing you can do is try not to feed them to sleep. We want to start with the basics of WAKE - EAT - PLAY - SLEEP from the beginning. It’s one of the most important steps to creating a great sleeper from the start.
Newborns are notorious for having trouble sleeping and as the day wears on, this can get more difficult, making bedtime especially troublesome.
Be sure you watch the waking hours so that your newborn doesn’t get over tired. 45 minutes to an hour of awake time is all they can handle so it’s okay to wake them from their last nap of the day so they can have enough awake time before a proper bedtime.
Newborns’ circadian rhythms tend to be a bit later than older babies. You want to think of your newborn as having 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. So, if bedtime is 9pm (yes, newborns have later bedtimes!) then 9am is when the day would “start”.
Be sure your newborn is up from their last nap 1 hour before you want to put them into bed for the night. The last nap should end by 8pm.
And, here’s what should happen next:
Good, full feed
And, into the crib drowsy, but awake. That last part is super important because if you keep your newborn on the WAKE - EAT - PLAY -SLEEP routine then they always go into their next sleep partially awake and this is where the magic happens!
This is where the sleep skills start to develop! Yes, sleep is a skill that even a newborn can learn. The very best place for your newborn to practice their sleep skills of falling asleep independently are at bedtime and first nap of the day.
The more you practice putting your newborn into their crib drowsy, but awake, and letting them do the journey to sleep on their own, the faster your bedtime battles will end. For Good!
I’d say 90% of babies I work with are having trouble falling asleep at bedtime.
I had a recent client that was trying for TWO HOURS to put their baby to bed for every sleep. It was a combination of rocking, bouncing, pacifer, bottle, repeat - over and over every night and for every nap until this mom was about to lose her mind!
I’m afraid this is WAY too common. And, it’s so sad.
There is absolutely no reason why you have to spend this much time or anytime “helping” your baby to sleep!
Once babies learn to do the entire journey from awake to asleep on their own, all of the bedtime battles end. For good!
You simply can’t “help” your baby to sleep forever. For the first few months, this might work but after 3 months of age, babies need to learn to do the entire journey from awake to asleep on their own or you’ll end up doing more and more to “help” them with no end to the bedtime battles.
If you think about your own journey to sleep, no one “helps” you! There’s no bouncing, no rocking, no pacifier, etc….As adults, we need to get from point A - awake to point B -asleep on our own.
Babies are no different. Once they learn to do this, they’ll fall asleep peacefully, stay asleep for long stretches, and take long, restful naps. This is the foundation of what Kayla and I teach our clients.
The best place to learn these skills is at bedtime when sleep pressure is the highest.
A few things to remember. We always want baby on a WAKE - EAT - PLAY - SLEEP routine so that there’s no feed close to bedtime or naptime. We want baby to do the entire journey from awake to asleep on their own.
You’re probably wondering how in the heck to do this if your baby has never done that journey before. Most babies are happy about this change, but let’s face it, they are not happy with the current situation of it taking them 2 hours to fall asleep!
Change is hard and we can absolutely help your baby learn to fall asleep in a gentle, effective way!
You just have to go for it! You start at bedtime and then support your baby in a way that makes you comfortable. I create custom sleep plans that show you exactly how to support your baby at bedtime/naptime when they’re unhappy about this change.
If you’re waiting for your baby to suddenly start falling asleep easily, it’s not going to happen without some “help” from you. Stop waiting and start teaching.
When you decide it’s time for your baby to learn this amazing skill, in a few short days, your baby will be falling asleep in a few minutes!
Yep, it’s true. We see if everyday.
Toddlers fall into two categories and we’ll talk about both.
I was a good sleeper and now I’m not!
This is usually a case of simply being super consistent because toddlers sense inconsistency and pounce with ALL of their negotiating skills until they wear you down and you end up being super inconsistent.
Toddlers crave and need consistency and feel really secure when we can provide that. I want you to consider if your actions are contributing to the bedtime battles because they almost always are.
For instance, your toddler doesn’t want to go to sleep in their bed, but you want them to so you try for an hour just to give up and let them sleep in your bed. Whoa! They now know if they don’t go to sleep for an hour, they get to sleep with you! Huge reward for their terrible behavior at bedtime.
Consistency is key and you’ll get your good sleeper back in no time.
I was never a good sleeper and my parents decided a “big kid” bed would solve the problem.
This is a terrible idea for a kid that’s never been a good sleeper. The change to a “big kid” bed can be challenging for the best of sleepers so my suggestion would be that you always establish good sleep skills before you make this change.
If your child is under the age of 2.5 and you’ve moved them to a “big kid” bed with nothing but problems, do yourself and them a favor and move them back to a crib.
I know, I know….you don’t want the crib again or you need it for another child.
I get it. But, if you're serious about the bedtime battles ending, you’ll need to put your kiddo back into a crib.
With a clear, consistent plan, your toddler will be falling asleep easily, sleeping through the night, napping like a champ and THEN the transition to a “big kid” bed will be SO much easier.
Toddlers are all about consistency. Be consistent with them and they’ll be consistent with you.
So many things make sense in our adult minds but to them make no sense at all.
Bedtime battles can be cured at any age. It’s never too early or too late to learn sleep skills.
Imagine your child falling asleep easily at bedtime, sleeping through the night, and napping like a champ!
It can happen, we see if everyday.
Here’s to a well-rested family,