20 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Better

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

As I’ve mentioned before, Baby throws parties in the middle of the night. He is the Energizer Bunny incarnate: he rarely needs more than 9 hours of sleep at night, and no matter how poorly I think he slept the night before, it never affects his next day and his naps are always perfect.

Although Baby seems fine with his sleep patterns, Hubby and I, of course, are always on the hunt for ways to catch a bit more sleep. This means I’ve spent a fair amount of time reading about gentle ways to help your child sleep. Here is a list of solutions that I have come across from various sources. Sometimes they work, and other times they don’t, but I thought it would be helpful – for me and any other mama out there who would like a more restful night of sleep – to compile a list of tactics in one place.

1. Introduce a lovey as a symbol of sleep and as a comfort item for your little one.

2. Follow a bedtime routine.

3. Give your child a soothing bath before bed. (Since Baby hates baths, this one never works for us!)

4. Massage your little one with lotion – preferably a lotion that is naturally lavender scented.

5. Play white noise in the background.

6. Use black out shades – or a night light – depending on whether your little one seems to need more or less light.

7. Drink chamomile tea that will be delivered to your baby through breastmilk, or offer your little one her own cup of chamomile tea.

8. Read a special bedtime book or sing a favorite sleepy song as part of your nightly routine.

9. Put a few drops of lavender essential oil on your child’s mattress or rub it into his feet.

10. Offer your child some organic cherries with their dinner. They naturally promote sleep since they contain melatonin.

11. Make sure your little one gets lots of physical activity and fresh air throughout the day to help naturally tire him out at night.

12. Try offering your child Herbs for Kids Valerian Super Calm or Hyland’s – Calms Forte 4 Kids if needed.

13. Stick to a regular nap schedule has it will help night sleep.

14. Have a consistent bed time and waking time every day of the week.

15. Make sure your little one has had plenty to eat and drink before bedtime. If you are nursing, “tank up” your child.

16. Wear your baby down in a sling.

17. Leave something that smells like you in bed with your baby.

18. Use a ceiling fan in the bedroom.

19. Nurse your baby down.

20. Co-sleep.

What helps your little one sleep better?
mom sleeps with baby

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eve August 12, 2011 at 9:08 am

Thankfully, we’ve never really struggled much putting Handsome to sleep. He gets a nice warm bath (which he loves) with lavender bubble bath, then he gets lavender lotion, comfy pjs and nursing time with mama. He falls asleep listening to baby einstein classical lullabies, cuddling with a blanky and stuffed elephant he’s had since he was born.

I just love this photo of you and baby sleeping! You look so pretty, Charise!
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2 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama August 12, 2011 at 10:26 am

That’s sounds like such a nice process. It makes me want to go to sleep right now :-)

Thank you for the sweet compliment! <3

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3 Eve August 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

Oh and we can’t forget….we read Good Night Moon before nursing! He waves “bye bye” at the moon!
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4 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama August 12, 2011 at 10:27 am

Awww….

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5 Momma Jorje August 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm

We had a struggle last night, but most nights are pretty easy. I don’t follow much of any routine other than this: I make our tiny apartment dark and quiet. Then she climbs into my lap to nurse herself to sleep. It might be 10, it might be 11… it could be later. I just follow her internal clock.

However, on the rare occasion when she is too wound up, I usually just lie on the couch (to doze) and let her play until she is ready. I have a photo my husband took one morning when he found her sleeping reverse of me on the couch. She hadn’t even woken me as she climbed up to sleep!
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6 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama August 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

That’s great that most of your nights are pretty easy! I’m sure that will feel like a huge bonus when your little guy arrives :-)

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7 Momma Jorje August 14, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I am SO hoping things hold out til then (or get even better)!
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8 Lana @ Dentist West Hollywood August 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Valerian root is amazing as a sleep aid, I had no idea they made it for kids! I wonder if my sister knows – I’ll definitely be passing this along. :)

Lana

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9 Melissa August 13, 2011 at 10:40 am

Thanks for this, Charise! Sleep has been a challenge this week, and I’m not sure it’s so much something we’re doing wrong as it is my resistance to change. The comments are reminding me that each child has their own schedule, and that schedule is not necessarily the same each day!
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10 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama August 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Melissa, I’m so glad you brought up resistance to change. Even though being up with Baby a lot is obviously tiring, when I make the conscious choice to just accept it rather than fight it, it is SO much easier. I have been doing this for a while and I can’t believe how powerful that little choice can be in how I experience our nights.

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11 Jackie August 13, 2011 at 8:03 pm

I will have to try some these tips with my own kids. We already try some of them but still struggle at bedtime and they still get up half way through the night. I will also have to check out the valerian root for kids. I use valerian root myself to help me calm down enough to sleep.

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12 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama August 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Thanks, Jackie. I’ve actually never tried valerian root myself. I really should!

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13 Gaby @ Tmuffin August 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I don’t know how I missed this post! Little M likes to party in the middle of the night, too. Baby and Little M should hang. For us, what works changes every week or two (for both nap and night time sleep). Babywearing is the #1, fail-safe way to get him to sleep, but sometimes I’m just so exhausted I want to lie down too. But when you lie down together and he finished nursing and pops up, says, “Blah blah blah” and proceeds to crawl all over you, it’s like–SIGH–what now? I hate having to get up after lying down. Isn’t that so lazy and pathetic? :)
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14 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama August 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm

LOL – yes, our kids really should hang out! Kelly of Becoming Crunchy’s little one is usually throwing parties the same nights as Baby too. They should all Skype each other!

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15 Beeb Ashcroft August 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Great post! Now, do you have tips on 20 ways to help adults sleep better? LOL!
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16 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama August 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

Thanks! Ha – I’ll write that post once I actually figure out how to do it ;-)

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17 Brenna @ Almost All The Truth August 20, 2011 at 2:10 am

I can’t tell you how I don’t miss this time. ;) My oldest was a horrible sleeper. At 10 – 12 months he was still waking 8 times a night, and only wanted me (and breastfeeding really).

I can’t tell you how many 3am drives I took with my little ones, it seemed nothing would get them to sleep.

Baby girl was a nightmare to get down but once she was asleep it was a little easier.

Lots of luck!
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18 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama August 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm

It must be so nice to be past the bad sleep stage! I don’t think I would be awake enough to handle a 3am drive, but I know my parents did it all the time when my brother was a baby :-)

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19 Alison Golden - The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman August 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Agree with everything you’ve said here and I would emphasize the need the blackout shades. I took some advice from a maternity nurse and she told me – no crack of light whatsoever was the best thing. Not under the door, the windows, nothing. We had blackout paper taped to the window and shades and a draft excluder to stop the light under the door. With twins, sleep was a priority for us. And it truly worked.
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20 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama August 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Great tip, Alison. I’ve heard this has worked for a lot of moms!

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21 Bob Lipply@clearwater homes September 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

A warm bath before bedtime always worked for us but it may not be the same for others. Sleep is very important and babies needs to sleep more. Toddlers however try to skip naps but as parents we ought to make them recover the right amount of sleep.

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22 Kayla @ Discount Furniture Burbank October 11, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Humm… I think that I want to try some of these on myself. I really like the organic cherrries idea.

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23 Christine @ African Babies Don't Cry February 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

Jesse was a dream sleeper at night, but refused to nap during the day, at all! Which meant I was constantly exhausted from all the night-time feedings (which he didn’t even open his eyes for) and long days – never got a nap myself ;) And things have not changed, at two years old he now never naps during the day, but thankfully sleeps for around 11 hours at night :)
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24 Shannon @ GrowingSlower June 2, 2013 at 12:38 am

Oh boy! Our LO is an energizer bunny too! He slept from 8pm to 4am this morning and was ready to go. (I was not!) We’ve tried almost all of these at some point, but maybe it is time to revisit a few before Baby#2 arrives. We could all use the extra sleep!
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25 Renae @ Launderlife February 22, 2014 at 1:46 am

Great list of suggestions. Co sleeping (bed sharing) is what helps us get the most sleep. Breastfeeding in bed helps get us back to sleep quicker, too.

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26 Charise Rohm Nulsen February 22, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Thanks, Renae! I can’t imagine my children’s infancy without co-sleeping and breastfeeding.

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