With the new year just around the corner, it’s time to chill the champagne, dust off your dancing shoes, and make your New Year’s resolutions! As much of a delightful treat 2021 was, I think we can all agree that 2022 has lots of room for improvement. And what do we all need in order to muster up the energy for any kind of change or improvement? SLEEP! The absolute best New Year’s resolution is one that involves more sleep! If your baby has not been getting great sleep, then you have not been getting great sleep. And if you haven’t been getting great sleep, then it’s awfully hard to make positive changes in your life. One of the best things you can do for your family is to fill your sleep tank. When we are well rested, we are more patient, we have more energy, motivation and are overall happier. Let’s set a New Year’s resolution that is going to help you and your baby get more sleep. Here are my top 3 best New Year’s sleep resolutions. Helllllllo 2022, let’s get your sleep on!
1. Sleep Through The Night
Sleeping through the night is something we all took for granted before kids, am I right?! Now, it’s as elusive as the end of this pandemic. Except it doesn’t have to be. If your baby is older than 4 months, then it is realistic to drop all night wakings except the ones your baby needs to eat. And if they are older than 9 months, then they likely don’t physically need to eat at night. So if your little one is needlessly waking in the night, let’s make it your resolution to help your baby sleep through the night!
Waking to eat: If your baby is older than 9 months then they do not physically need to eat at night so if they are waking to eat still, it is likely out of habit. If your 9+ month baby is sleep trained and are ready to drop their night feeding(s) then you can set some timers to do some CIO when they wake at night. Be prepared for about an hour of awake time/protesting for about a week. (Note: if your baby is older than 4 months and not yet sleep trained, you’re going to want to click here to fix that first!)
Overtired: If your baby is waking often in the night, and you know they don’t need/want to eat, then it is very likely they are waking frequently because they are overtired. Making some scheduling changes is the best way to solve this problem. Make sure you are following age-appropriate wake windows, as most parents make the mistake of having wake windows that are too long.
|Age||Awake time between naps
(Also called Wake Windows)
|Number of Naps per Day|
|Newborn||It can be a complete dumpster fire but try not to let baby be awake for more than 1 hour at a time||Again, dumpster fire. But somewhere in the ballpark of 4-7|
|4 to 5 months||75-90 min||4|
|5 to 7 months||1.5-2.5 hours||3|
|8 to 14 months||WW 1: 2 hours
WW 2: 3 hours
WW 3: 4 hours
|15 + months||Doesn’t matter as much anymore||1 nap in the middle of the day|
Inability to self soothe: We all go through sleep cycles and stir in the night, however the difference between a baby stirring and then putting themselves back to sleep vs a baby stirring, fully waking, and crying for you is whether your baby has the ability to self soothe. The most efficient way to teach your baby the skill of self soothing is to allow some crying during sleep training. When babies are given the opportunity to figure out how to fall asleep on their own (read: modified CIO), then they will learn to self soothe and when they wake in the night, they will be able to put themselves back to sleep.
2. Ditch the Co-Sleeping and Reclaim Your Own Sleep Space
Co-sleeping can be the best of times and also the worst of times. If it’s working for you and your family, then that’s great! No need to mess with a good thing. However, if it’s NOT the all-night New Year’s party you want it to be, let’s make it your New Year’s resolution to change that. Sometimes babies sleep better in their own sleep space as they are not being disturbed or woken up every time you move, snore or roll over. And it’s truly not as hard (or painful) as you may think to make the transition. If you want to be sleeping in your own space before you’ve finished putting away your holiday decorations, then start with naps. Put your baby to sleep in their own sleep space for naps only. Then, after about a week, add in nighttime. Expect there to be some protesting and be prepared to do some modified CIO. Change can be hard (for everyone!) and having some big feelings about that is totally normal. Just remember that it’s healthy for your baby to be given some space and time to work through new things and big feelings; you are going to be responsive while also fostering independence. If you are looking for less protesting and are ok with your resolution taking until National Sticky Bun Day (read: mid-February), then go for a more gradual approach, with small steps. Start by lessening the amount of physical contact you have at night, and move towards putting more physical space between you both. Next, have your baby in their own sleep space, but still in the same room as you and close enough that you can reach out and touch them for comfort (e.g., a bassinet or pack and play). Then you can move to having your baby in their own room, and you’re there with them as they fall asleep (start with holding hands through the crib, and slowly move yourself closer to the door each night until you find the sweet release of the hallway). As with any change, it’s ok if your baby protests by crying. After all, that is their only method of communication, and we of course want to allow them to express themselves. Fostering independence while preserving attachment is always the goal, and you are giving your baby the lifelong gift of sleep skills.
3. Sleeping In
If your baby is waking up before the cows have been milked, then it’s going to be awfully hard for you to ring in the New Year and not be a complete zombie the next day. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to do anything fun after your baby goes to sleep, if you know that you are going to be starting your day at the crack of dawn. Luckily, I have several options for how you can get your little one into the habit of “sleeping in”. If your baby is younger than 9 months, then they are likely waking between 4-6am because they are hungry. In this case, go in, feed, and put baby back down, and they should sleep until a more reasonable hour. If your baby is over 9 months and doesn’t need to eat, then you have a few options for how you can teach your babe to sleep longer and start the day later. One is to go in and soothe without feeding. If you do this consistently, they will eventually figure out that 5am is too early to start the day, and start sleeping longer. You can also do some CIO by setting a few 20-minute timers with the expectation that it can take about a week for them to figure it out. Some babies respond well to the parent popping in to let them know that you heard them, and you are there, however it is still nighttime so please, for the love of all that is good and pure, go back to sleep. Or something along those lines. For other babies, this “pop in” just makes them even madder. You know your baby best! If your baby is used to being fed at this time, but you know they do not need to eat, then you can slowly dilute the bottle with water over the course of about a week as a way of weaning them off this feed.
Now you may not want to hear this, but 6am is a completely natural and normal time for babies to start the day. If you want to try and extend this morning wake-up time, you can leave them in their crib for 15-60 minutes (depending on how thrilled they are with this) in order to send the memo that it’s not morning yet. You can also tweak their schedule. If they are getting age appropriate daytime and nighttime sleep, you can bump bedtime a little later and see if that helps shift everything later. If they are getting too much daytime sleep, you can try capping naps. The early morning may also be a product of overtiredness. If your baby is not getting enough sleep, then they may be overtired and moving bedtime earlier may actually help.
There you have it! My top New Year’s sleep resolutions for you and your baby; all you have to do is take your pick. Or if you’re feeling extra ambitious as we head into another
dumpster fire exciting new year, go for two or even all three! Whatever your resolution, I wish you and your family a happy and restful 2022! For all the details on sleep training and troubleshooting tips and tricks, grab my 4-24 month course and guide pack, or better yet, join our super fun group sleep training groups in January or February. And don’t forget, we are always here if you would like a little extra personalized support or troubleshooting to start the new year off with great sleep!