How to Get the Sleep YOU Need: Even When Your Little One is Waking in the Night


It’s not only the exhaustion that plagues you when your child is waking frequently.  Just as upsetting is the gnawing worry that you are doing something wrong. Despite the posts on social media, or comments from your friends with the “good sleeper,” the reality is that young children wake in the night.  That good sleeper may be sleeping this week - but ask again a few weeks from now and odds are things have changed! So, is it possible to feel better rested? Yes!

  1. What occurs during the day influences how your baby sleeps at night.  If you do not have a regular wake and bedtime in place, begin to gently nudge your little one toward a predictable routine.  Fiercely protect naps. Sleep does beget sleep.
  2. Do NOT sleep train.  Spirited babies are not waking because their parents reward them by responding. Spirited infants wake because they are in the process of developing their self-regulation skills and because their genetically wired temperament leads them to be more easily aroused. Instead of ignoring, or even pausing for long periods of time, respond quickly. Your little one will return to sleep easier if he never reached a point of full arousal or distress.  
  3. Re-frame your view of normal sleep. In Scandinavian countries parents expect and take for granted babies’ frequent awakening. Instead of getting frustrated, they accept their child is sleeping “like a baby,” and simply do what needs to be done to allow all to return to sleep. When you make peace with how your baby sleeps, you’ll remain calmer. When we are calm, everyone sleeps better.
  4.  Go to bed earlier.  Predict there will be wake-ups during the night. If your baby’s longest stretch of sleep is from 8:00 PM to 2:00 AM when you go to bed at 9:00 you’ve already had 5 uninterrupted hours of sleep before that first wake up. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to stop doing what you are doing and go to bed.
  5. Bring in your support system. If you are parenting with a partner or have a close family member or friend who will support you, create a pattern where one adult responds from 9:00 PM to 3:00 AM while the other sleeps. Then from 3:00 AM to morning wake up the adult who was sleeping takes over so the first can sleep. The next night switch roles so that every other night you are getting six hours of uninterrupted sleep. It may not be perfect, but it is livable.
  6. Take a power nap after lunch. Power naps are 20-30 minutes in length. Even if you do not fall asleep, the complete relaxation is extremely restorative.  In fact, research shows a mere seven minutes of relaxation makes a difference in how you feel and perform.  

For more information grab a copy of Raising Your Spirited Baby 

This book will explain how to gently nudge your child to more consolidated sleep (without leaving anyone in tears) and until you get there, strategies to help you get the sleep YOU need.

Available at Amazon or your local book store

Sleep Well! 

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Raising Your Spirited BabyRaising Your Spirited Child - Parent's Choice Award WinnerMary Sheedy Kurchinka - Raising Your Spirited Child WorkbookMary Sheedy Kurchinka - Kids, Parents and Power StrugglesMary Sheedy Kurchinka - Sleepless in America