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by Dana Obleman


When parents face difficulties with infant and child sleep issues, they often feel helpless and alone. Although everyone has advice to give, it seems like nobody offers a definitive plan as to how to get your child to sleep through the night.

   The information available on the subject is highly varied. Some books recommend getting up with your baby a dozen times a night, while others suggest letting them cry alone until they throw up! With contradictory advice like this, it’s no wonder parents are confused.

    Although most parents can appreciate that their infant needs to sleep in order to grow and develop, many are unaware of the important sleep associations children acquire along the way.  If a child is not given the opportunity to develop strategies to fall and stay asleep on her own, she may become dependent on outside stimuli to assist her.  

   Consider these tips below for helping your children get the sleep they need.


1.  It is critical that you teach children is how to fall asleep on their own without external help.  It is a life skill that is just as important as healthy eating habits or daily exercise.

2.  Consistency is the key.  Whatever your method, stick to it. Bedtime and naptime have to be non-negotiable.

3.  A short naptime routine will help to create a relaxing environment that will prepare a child's mind and body for his nap.

4.  A predictable bedtime routine is an important cue to let the child's body know that bedtime is near and it’s time to relax and prepare for nighttime sleep.

5.  An early bedtime is the key to avoiding overtiredness and hyperactivity in the evening.  Any time between 6pm and 8pm is ideal for most infants and toddlers to be heading to bed.

6.  Think of sleep as a continuous 24-hour cycle.  Whatever happens at each stage of the day has a direct impact on what happens for the next 24 hours.  Think twice about skipping naps and allowing late night bedtimes.

7.  Infants who are allowed to fall asleep while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding often require this routine when they wake during the night. If possible, avoid letting your child fall asleep while feeding.

8.  Proper daytime naps will help your baby sleep better at night.  It's not true that keeping your baby up all day will help him sleep better at night. In fact, the opposite may be the case, as overtiredness leads to a more restless sleep with frequent waking, even for adults.

DANA OBELMAN, a mother of three and former school teacher, founded the Sleep Sense Program, which focuses on creating an effective yet gentle and completely customized sleep plan for parents to follow to help their infants and toddlers achieve a good night's rest. Using methods to let parents identify their children's "sleep signals" and establish routines based on those signals, the Sleep Sense Program has become a leading infant sleep-training system. Dana offers individual consultations in person or via telephone (www.sleepsense.net/private-consultations) and group seminars (www.sleepsense.net/seminars-speaking). She is the creator of "The Sleep Sense Program" (www.sleepsense.net/do-it-yourself-options), a bestselling "do-it-yourself" guide for tired parents.

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