How to Make My Kids Sleep Longer

How to Make my Kids Sleep Longer

When I first found out I was pregnant, one of my main concerns was sleep. You see, I LOVE to sleep. I NEED to sleep. I couldn’t even muster a half-functioning day if I had less than 9 hours of sleep. How was I supposed to make life happening if I had broken sleep? How could I survive the first months of motherhood if I didn’t sleep all night?
I read numerous books and articles to help my baby sleep better before she was even born.

In this article, I will summarize the best things I’ve learned that worked for all 3 of my children (not only for the odd one that seems to be the better sleeper).

I won’t go into details why sleep is important and how it can affect learning, development, and mood. I start with the assumption that you realize that proper sleep is one of the most important pillars of wellbeing.

Be the fierce protector of your child’s sleep

Prioritize what’s critical for you and your family. For me, it was my children’s sleep that was the top priority.
We never went to dinner with them. We would have a weekend lunch out, or we would go to eat out only if we had a sitter and only after we put them all to bed.

We always returned home for nap times.

Of course, there will be exceptions to this. There will be things that happen that prevent you from getting the kids to bed in time. That’s all ok if it’s the exception and not the rule! But if you want them to sleep more, respect their sleep more.

Establish a bedtime routine

Children love predictable schedules. They don’t have a broader understanding of the world other than “this is what happens now, I know what to expect next, I am safe.”
Make bedtime routine something they always look forward to. Ours has always been dinner, bath, book, snuggles, bed. Even if you’ve never had a routine before, it is never too late to start implementing one. The children will love it; you will love having the freedom to not make any decisions in regards to what comes next.

Follow a sleep schedule

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, with the help of a panel of experts, has released its first ever official recommendations for how much sleep children need. All these numbers are inclusive of naps:
4-12 months – 12-16 hours
1-2 years – 11-14 hours
3-5 years – 10-13 hours
6-12 years – 9-12 hours
13-18 years – 8-10 hours

If your kids need to be up at 6:30 for school, get them to bed in time so that the morning is not exhausted and draggy. Plan for the upper ranges. Our kids are all going to bed between 7 and 7:30 so they can be up at 6:30 to go to school. The smaller ones still nap and most days the nap is at least 2 hours.

Plan for emergencies

What if they wake up in the night with nightmares or bathroom requests? What if they are teething? What if they have colic? What if they’re sick?
Give yourself some grace.
There are days like this. Days so tired, you will not be able to shake off the feeling you are moving underwater.
These days, try not to make big decisions.
Don’t say too much.
Breathe deeply.
Take a nap if you can.
Go to bed early.
It will not last forever.

Set boundaries

Most kids will self-regulate by the age of 2 years and sleep throughout the night. Some will already do that when they are four months. Others will need longer. Much longer.
After a certain age, however, if there is no medical reason for waking up, it is just a habit of having broken sleep. I believe it is my duty as a mom to help my child learn healthy sleep habits.
There are many ways to go about it, depending on the parenting style implemented in each home.
Let me give you some examples:
If the child is struggling with emotional issues: vigorous play and snuggles before going to bed, reassuring stories with made up characters that go through similar struggles, many cuddles, talking about what went well in their day and what made them sad.
If the child wakes up to eat: offer a dinner high in fat and low in starchy carbs, make sure they drink plenty of liquids, don’t give any fruit or other sugary snacks past 2 pm.
If your child (or you) responds well to rewards: sticker chart with a prize after seven nights of staying in bed, or calendar box-ticking.
If she wakes up too early: an alarm clock to signal when it’s time to come out of bed, water, toys and a book close by, an explicit setting up expectations conversation (it can only be done with older children.)

There isn’t one that is better than the other. You are not a bad mother for trying all or some or none of these. Do what feels right for you and your family. But learning how to get proper sleep is an art and a learning opportunity for both your child and you.

Here are some tools that were extremely helpful for me:

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, 4th Edition: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night’s Sleep

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples

Ziggy Baby Muslin Baby Swaddle Blankets, 48×48 (3 Pack) Chevron, Arrow, Cross, Grey/White

We all dream to have the odd day when the kids sleep so log we don't even know what to do with ourselves...

How to Make My Kids Sleep Longer?

Make Sleep a Priority!

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