I do not birth sleepers. Nope, my kids are human firecrackers who thrive off minimal sleep, white carbohydrates, and yogurt. Sadly, I do not share this trait, and after four years of no sleep (spread out between two children), I can say I tried it all.
In that process, I learned that sleep training doesn’t have to be the black and white, one size fits all program it can feel like when you’re researching it. There are so many options, ranging from small changes you can make today, to more rigorous and structured plans you can consider down the road if needed.
I also learned I was not the first person to struggle with that whole “drowsy but awake” thing, which is why when HarperCollins sent me their new book, Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep, it seemed like a great chance to partner up on a post about gentle ways of getting the job done.
If you’re looking for some ways to start laying the groundwork for good sleep habits, or even some possible solutions for transitioning your almost sleeper into a bonafide actual sleeper, these are a few things you can try tonight.
Get creative with sound
Carefully curated sound can be used to not only block out environmental distractions (read: screaming toddler), but also provide a sense of security by mimicking the sounds baby would hear in the womb.
There are many different ways to do this. Using a noise machine, which creates a steady stream of sound, can be helpful while other products take a more literal approach by replicating the sounds of calm breathing and a steady heartbeat. An interesting note about sounds: There is a whole rainbow of sounds, ranging from white to black noise. White noise gets a lot of attention, but its high frequency, static-like sound can be too much for some. Pink noise, like the hum of a fan or an air conditioner, has a mix of high and low frequencies, and has been shown to promote deeper sleep. Brown noise brings it even a notch lower with more bass tones, and can be compared to the sound of wind, or ocean waves. You can also completely ditch the colored noise for something like whale sounds, or you know, Barry Manilow. The point is, don’t be afraid to experiment. You never know what might work for your mini-audiophile.
Follow your nose
Scent can be a powerful tool to help signal it’s time to cut the crap and get ye butt to bed. Incorporating a specific smell into your routine can not only help serve as another gentle reminder that bedtime is coming but some scents, like lavender for example, are believed to be calming in nature. Earth Mama Angel Baby, Babyganics, and Honest Company all have products that have been tested and proven to be safe for your demon of the night adorable little baby, though not all babies will tolerate scented products. It’s also worth mentioning essential oils since they are big right now. The safety of essential oil use on and around babies is not clear. Some sources will say it’s fine, while others are very staunchly against it. I personally think the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and if you are considering using them, I’d suggest researching it to make sure it is safe for your situation.
Put those golden pipes to use
Consistency is key with establishing a bedtime routine, and even something as simple as singing or humming the same song a few times can be an effective cue that gets the message across.
Let your hands do the talking
Who doesn’t love a good massage? Using massage as part of your nightly routine can not only serve as a cue that bedtime has arrived, but it can also help promote better sleep. It’s also free, and an excuse to give those chubby baby legs an extra squeeze.
Don’t be afraid of the dark
Keeping the house bright during the day, and making sure the room is dark at night can help promote a healthy circadian rhythm, and therefore assist in training your little to sleep like one of those peaceful angel babies in the diaper commercials. Black out curtains might become your new best friend when you realize the sun doesn’t set until 9pm, a full two hours past baby’s bedtime.
Take you book game to the next level
Reading before bed isn’t a novel concept (ha!), but there are special books out there designed to induce sleep. Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep truly teaches your child how to relax and fall asleep. It uses rhythmic prose, artful design that mimics the colors of the transition of dusk to dark, and includes lines like “Deep, long breaths, innn – and – ouuuuuuut, inn – and – ouuuuuuut, innn – and – ouuuuuuut.
As you read the book you realize how many tricks and techniques there are to learning how to wind down and go to sleep that we just acquire over time (or don’t) so I love that it’s all compiled in a sweet, gentle book so kids have these tools right from the get go. You can also read more about it here.
No guarantees it won’t also work on you, so get your affairs in order before cracking the (book) spine, ya hear?
Just as with any kid advice, not all of this (or any of this) will work for everyone. But these tips are simple enough and affordable enough to at least give them a shot before busting out the big guns (read: wine and ear plugs). Good luck, my fellow not-sleepers! Sending restful thoughts your way.