*Disclaimer; I'm not an expert. I am just one parent sharing what I've learned and what's worked for me in hopes you can learn something as well.
How do you like that title? Well, it's true.
Let's talk about sleep for a second, shall we? If you're like me you want more of it. Love your bed and wish that your kids would sleep longer and past 6:30 am, can I get an AMEN! But, alas my kiddos do not and they always have me up way to early (in my opinion) wanting me to get them dressed and fed or something. I kid.
Let's back up for a second and understand where I'm coming from on this. Both my kids have had very different sleep patterns from the time of infancy till now. Ava was my dream baby, she slept through the night at 3 months old, she took two naps a day lasting for two, sometimes three hours. I was very blessed and thought it was amazing that she always slept so great. Now that she's three her sleeping has been all over the place. We went through a phase where she didn't want to nap at all. She isn't always the best bedtime sleeper either, she doesn't like bed time shall I say.
Zane, he's my wild child and unpredictable. He still does not sleep through the night, and he's well over a year old. Let me repeat that, he does not sleep through the night. He has become a good naper during the day though. Taking two naps a day. We're still working on getting him to sleep through the night, he's not perfect and our house is not perfect either but this is what we're working on.
Both kids are up by 6:30 am EVERY. DAY. It's a miracle if I can get them to sleep past 7 am! Sometimes on the weekends they sleep past 7 am! I'll take what I can get at this point, and just add heaping amounts of coffee.
SO this is where I'm coming from my friends, these are some tips and tricks that have worked for me in trying to get my kiddos to sleep well and sleep better.
*Creating a routine.
One of the things that I really took away from the book Baby Wise, was about creating an eat, sleep, awake routine. Ava took really well to this routine and loved her schedule. Zane not so much as first. Even though he didn't thrive on routine I tried as much as possible to keep the routine and now at 11 months he's just now starting to really fall into a nice routine which is nice. Creating a bed time routine (bath time, stories, rocking and singing) is also helpful and I think gets kids in the mind frame of bed time and helps them wind down a bit and ready for bed.
*Make the bed only for sleeping.
This is especially helpful for babies when you're trying to sleep train them and create a routine. I learned this lesson that hard way with Zane. In our old home it was one level so it was easy to sit Ava in an exercauser or bouncer while I ran to the bathroom or did some other things for a few minutes. In our new home it's two levels and many times I would put Zane in his crib while I was upstairs doing laundry and trying to get some things done. He'd cry and scream the whole time till I was done doing whatever I was doing. Then when I'd actually want him to sleep or nap he'd cry some more eventually not sleeping because he was confused about what his crib was actually for. If you want your child to sleep better establish early on that the crib is only for sleeping and don't put your child in his/her crib unless you want them to sleep. Since doing this he's actually taken to nap time a lot better, and goes to sleep at night right away.
*Be willing to change up sleeping times
When I first started trying to sleep train Zane I was laying him down too early in the morning and he wasn't sleeping at all. Adjusting his nap time by an hour later allowed him to lay down at a time when he was ready and tired. Sometimes it's ok to adjust times and figure out what works for you and your child.
*Adjust your expectations
Ava slept for two to three hours at a time during naps. I expected Zane to do the same once I started sleep training him & getting him a routine. He never slept that long, ever. For a long time it was frustrating, but then I realized that he was never going to nap for three hours like Ava did. If he napped for 45 minutes to an hour I needed to be happy with it. Some babies are just not long nappers and that's ok too. Like I said he also doesn't sleep through the night, yet. At around six months this was pretty insane to me, but I've learned to just make progress with this and keep trying.