Like everyone else, our daily routine and schedule has drastically changed. We had Sonny on a very strict schedule which included a very precise nap and bedtime. It wasn’t difficult to get him to fall asleep, because he was always tired after school. Even though his regular routine has changed and is different every day, we are still striving to keep nap time and bed time consistent…for him and for us.
Alanna McGinn has been our savior when it comes to sleep advice. Below you will find an article she wrote about helping our kids continue to sleep during this crazy time.
Stay home. Stay safe. You got this.
Helping Babies and Toddlers Sleep Well During COVID-19 by Alanna McGinn
As we navigate through these unprecedented times, the world is taking new steps every day to keep everyone safe and healthy. Healthy sleep for the entire family is important in order to support overall health, and if our baby is sleeping well then we’ll sleep well too.
So, how can you help your family prioritize their sleep and best support the sleep needs of babies and toddlers? Being prepared and having a plan in place will keep you on the right track.
Make Sure You and Your Baby Are Ready
If you’re thinking that now may be a great time to make some changes to your little one’s sleep schedule or sleep habits, you’re right! Whether you want to try extending those naps or help them build independent sleep skills at bedtime, start by ensuring that they’re old enough and that you’re ready too.
Sleep training shouldn’t begin before four months of age, as you need their natural circadian rhythms to develop first. In addition, while now can be a great time to sleep train since you’re consistently home, you need to make sure that both you and your partner are on board. If you’re feeling really stressed or are experiencing high anxiety due to what’s going on in the world, be sure to self-assess and determine if this something you can truly commit to right now.
Don’t Let Routines Go Out the Window
During this period of time when no one seems to know what day it is can wreak havoc on routine. It can be tempting to let your regular routines slide and just play it by ear, but this will only result in fussy babies and frustrated parents. Of course, there may be times when you bend the rules a little, but ensuring that your little ones go to sleep and wakes at the same time daily will keep everyone’s mood even and add structure to the day.
Read more about the importance of a bedtime routine.
Audit Their Sleep Environment
Never underestimate the power of a great sleep environment. As we move into spring, now is the perfect time to audit your child’s sleep space and make sure you’re doing all you can to support them. Early morning light should be blocked out using black out blinds and try adding a white noise machine to drown out birds chirping at sunrise. Remember, no matter where your little one is sleeping, they always need to be in a safe sleep environment, no excuses.
Read more about creating an ideal sleep environment for your baby.
Stay Consistent and Stick with A Plan
Whether you choose to sleep train during this time at home or not, being consistent in your methods and in your sleep routine is one of the best tools available for facilitating sleep success at home. For those interest in sleep training, be sure you have a support system in place and are working with an appropriate plan based on your baby or toddler’s age. Remember that making changes takes time, and in addition to being consistent, you’ll need to be patient too.
How to Help Your Child Sleep Better When Sick
If your child is fighting a virus or a cold, sleep can serve as the best medicine to help them recover. Unfortunately, sleep can be harder to come by when your baby or toddler is sick. For those parents that are in the midst of sleep training or have just finished sleep training, they often wonder how to continue supporting their child’s sleep needs.
If your child is unwell, throw the “sleep rules” out the window. Your goal during illness is to encourage healthy sleep as best as possible. If that means cuddles to sleep need to start happening again, then that’s what has to happen. Once baby starts to feel better you can get back on track with sleep training and continue to encourage those independent sleep skills.
Here’s what you can do to help support their sleep needs when sick to ensure they get the restorative sleep they need to recover quickly.
- In addition to making sure their sleep environment is set up to support good sleep, take the extra steps to be prepared during illness. Having tools you may need readily accessible means reducing the length of disruptions throughout the night. Thermometers, humidifiers, and fever reliever should be easy to access and ready to use.
- Pay attention to their sleep cues and be ready to adjust. When your baby or toddler isn’t feeling well, they’ll be ready for their nap or bedtime earlier than usual. Don’t be afraid to bump up that nap time or bedtime or even bring back a nap that they had previously dropped. You want to avoid having an overtired sick child as it will only make it that much harder for them to fall and stay asleep. Read more about avoiding the overtired zone.
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Expert of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast and author of This Baby Loves Sleep. Alanna has established the world-wide brand of Good Night Sleep Site as being a #1 sleep resource for families and she and her team of sleep consultants strive in helping families (baby to adults) and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram.