Dear Sleep Deprived Mama,
I totally understand. You’re feeling overwhelmed by friend’s and family’s suggestions. You’re inundated with information on “How to help your baby sleep.” You’re feeling like you’ve tried everything but nothing is working. While I do hate to be the bearer of bad news, I feel like I owe it to you to let you know there is NO one size, magical solution to help your child sleep all night. However, as a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, I can tell you there are products that actually DO help promote great sleep.
It’s rare that I meet someone who has to have ZERO noise to fall asleep. Everyone has their “thing” whether it’s the ceiling fan, the TV, their own child’s monitor or an actual white noise machine. While you know I’m not about to recommend turning on the TV for your child to sleep, I’m absolutely going to point you to my favorite white noise machine: The Dohm Sound Machine. This is by far the best and most reliable machine out there! It’s not a recorded sound, and it’s not battery operated. It’s a simple motor that has various levels of pitch and volume. Ours is turned on to make a low pitched hmmmm all night. And yes, I want that noise on all night! You aren’t going to bed at 7 pm, and you may wake earlier than 7 am, so let’s make sure your child isn’t going to be woken up by noises from the house or environment.
I will preach always and forever: The darker the room, the better the sleep! I’m talking midnight dark for bedtime, early morning time, and nap time. Of course, you can open the curtains after they wake, but when it’s totally and absolutely dark for sleepy times, your child is more likely to have a longer nap and not pop up at 5:30 am when the sun peeks in. You can find the most expensive blackout curtains out there, but it doesn’t mean they work. It’s a total surprise when I tell clients the BEST curtains out there are from Target. (But don’t all good things come from Target??)
Starting around 22 months old, you can absolutely introduce a clock for your child. This is always super helpful in helping them “Stay in bed until the clock turns green.” If your child is really struggling with waking early in the morning (like 5 am), it might be unrealistic to set the clock to 7 am. Start out by saying 6 am is “Okay to wake,” and gradually gear it towards 7 am. And remember, I’m all about the positive affirmation and rewards! If your child waits until the clock is green to get up, they get a reward instantly! Kids’ Sleep Classic is a great option to give your child a visual guide of when morning is. However, I totally welcome using a digital clock, too! Simply duct tape over the minutes and focus on the number 7. “7 is when we go to bed, and 7 is when we get up!”
Remember, while I absolutely endorse these products, there isn’t one (or a combo!) that magically makes your child sleep 11-12 hours a night. These are just great tools to help that journey along!
Becca Campbell | Your RVA Pediatric Sleep Consultant