So you’ve read all the books and followed the advice on sleep for little ones. Established bedtime routine: check. Darkened room: check. Well fed: check. Comfy sleeping bag: check.
Yet your baby or toddler still won’t settle at night and you’re feeling tired and desperate. Here I list out 10 sleep tricks garnered from personal experience that could just save the day (or night!):
This is great for newborns who are used to being tightly packed in the womb, so being wrapped in a swaddle replicates the experience and helps them feel at home. For us, our son had wandering hands so the swaddle simply stopped him from hitting himself in the face!
2. White Noise
In the womb your baby was used to constant noise like your beating heart, noisy stomach and general sloshing sounds. Enter the SleepHero iPhone app with its library of 40 calming sounds. The sound of a vacuum cleaner was a winner every time.
3. Tissue on Baby’s Face
Nathan Dailo, from Sydney, uploaded a video to his YouTube channel demonstrating how he gets his three-month-old son Seth to drift off in just 42 seconds. The first few strokes of tissue paper seem to have little effect on baby Seth who appears to be wide awake, however after the fifth stroke Seth’s eyes begin to droop. He slowly begins to drift off, opening his eyes occasionally but but by the 14th stroke he has fallen asleep entirely.
4. Look to the Dark Side
After 1-week-old Madison would not stop crying, her father discovered that the soothing sound of Darth Vader’s breathing was just the thing to soothe her to sleep. The sound of the Sith Lord is included in SleepHero‘s library of white noise sounds. Give it a try with your little one…may the Force be with you.
5. Use Your Voice
This may seem obvious but when your baby is born, a parent’s voice is already familiar and thus has a positive effect on her. Shhhh-ing, singing or speaking in a soothing tone can help baby drift into dreamland knowing mama is safely nearby. If you’re lazy then let SleepHero take the night shift by recording a gentle lullaby and configure the app to play your soothing song when it detects that your little one has woken up.
6. Comforter Toy
When Freddie reached the age of 6 months we gave him an elephant comforter toy at bedtime. He immediately latched onto Dave (that’s the elephant’s name) and, having explored the various polyester appendages, decided that the trunk was the favored bit to suck on when dropping off to sleep. It quickly became clear that Dave had an amazing soporific effect. Three years on, Dave continues his night time vigil. I sometimes wonder whether Freddie will still be attached to Dave when he goes off to college.
7. Children’s Clock
The Gro-Clock trains toddlers to know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to get up. If the child wakes in the night, they simply glance at the clock to know what to do: if there are stars showing, they should lie down and relax as it’s not time to get up yet, and the stars will keep them company. As the stars count down, they know it is almost time, and then with a big smile the sun arrives on the screen to signal that it is time to go and see mom and dad.
8. Reward Stickers
Following on from above, if our toddler made it through the night without interruption then he would get a reward sticker – enter SleepHero again. When he picked up 7 stickers then he would choose a special treat of his choice. This trick didn’t always work but definitely saved many hours of sleep and got our son into a happy sleep/wake-up cycle.
9. Train Your Cat
OK, not the most practical of sleep solutions but your feline friend may actually be a sleep nanny in disguise.
10. The Freddie Show
If your child is anything like my two then they LOVE looking at videos of themselves. We worked out quite early that showing videos of himself to our son Freddie would quickly transform him from a state of complete inconsolability to calmness in a matter of seconds. So “The Freddie Show” became an incredibly useful trick when our little man became overtired and couldn’t settle to sleep. Even more useful was looping the video through the SleepHero app and projecting it onto his ceiling. Freddie would happily lie in his cot staring up at the lo-fi footage whilst Daddy quietly tip-toed out of the room.