At the very same time when you first become a parent, you start to realize how precious and beautiful sleep can be. A full night’s sleep becomes a glorious thing of the past, and you curse your previous, pre-baby self for taking it for granted. Chris & I became zombies when Kai was born and as soon as Kai started sleeping through the night, we decided to be crazy and get pregnant with Rowan. When Rowan was born, we once again waved bye bye to our sleep and hello to interrupted & restless nights. Now that Kai & Rowan share a bedroom (one of the many joys of living in a small 2-bedroom apartment in NYC), it’s been a struggle to keep the boys from waking each other up. I know that I’m not alone. I get many, many messages asking if the boys sleep well and if I have any tips or tricks for a healthy nap and sleep schedule.
I’d now love to introduce you to Hadley. I met Hadley at the end of last year while she was visiting NY from France and instantly felt how warm of a person she was. Our personalities just clicked and we’ve been emailing and catching up ever since. Hadley is a sleep consultant and graciously agreed to give some (much) needed advice to some of my fellow Instagram Mamas who are currently struggling with getting their sleep back. I’m now going to back away and let Hadley take over with her beautiful knowledge of sleep and answer some of the questions you sent me.
Hello! My name is Hadley Seward. I’m a certified sleep consultant who helps families get more sleep.
My son was a decent sleeper for the first year but that totally fell apart after a trip back to the US when he was 13 months old. At one point, I remember saying to my husband, America broke our child’s sleep. We worked really hard to get his sleep under control and, once we did, it was like coming up for a breath of fresh air.
Once I discovered what a difference good sleep could make, I wanted to spread the joy. I completed the Family Sleep Institute’s 250-hour certification course and founded Bonne Nuit Baby in early 2016. I’m based in France but work with clients all over the world.
My sleep philosophy is two-fold: 1. Babies and toddlers are absolutely capable of sleeping well and 2. As a parent, you gotta play the long game when it comes to sleep. It’s all about finding long-term solutions that you’re okay keeping in place for months, if not years. Usually short-term solutions just lead to more problems down the road.
I have a 4-month old, how many naps should he be taking? He’s having a hard time taking naps and fights going down.
Sixteen weeks is a very challenging time for parents because their babies’ sleep changes dramatically. Before it was all about watching tired signs and letting them pass out anytime, anywhere. At four months, you want to move to a more consistent 3- or 4-nap schedule, with about 1.5 hours in between each sleep period. The reason we aim for a short awake window is to prevent over-tiredness from kicking in. At that age, I found it helpful to set a timer on my phone each time my son woke up so that I could see how long he had been awake. You also want to try to do most naps in the crib in a very dark, quiet room.
I have a 10-month old and a 2-year old who share a room. It’s been a struggle because every morning the younger boy wakes up at 6am and starts to yell, which wakes up my older son (who otherwise would sleep until 8am). What can I do to avoid this?
It may be that you have both a night owl and an early bird, so let’s split the difference in their sleep preferences and aim to have them both up by 7am. First off, ensure that their bedroom is SUPER dark and quiet. I’d recommend using white noise overnight so there’s less of a chance they’ll wake each other up by making little noises in their sleep. Then take a look to see why the younger one is waking so early: is he getting enough daytime sleep? Does he have an age-appropriate bedtime? (See schedule recommendations in the next answer below).
My 9 month old only sleeps 7-8 hour some nights, how can I encourage him to sleep longer through the night?
Great question! Nighttime sleep is very closely linked to the quality of daytime sleep, so I’d start by looking at his nap schedule. At nine months, he should be on a two-nap schedule (around 9am and 12:30/1pm) with a bedtime that’s approx. 3-4 hours after his last nap. For example, if he woke up from his nap at 2:30pm, you’d want to put him down around 6-6:30pm, if possible. It seems illogical, but oftentimes an earlier bedtime leads to much more sleep overnight.
Our 2-year old is sleeping in a toddler bed but for the past two weeks has been coming into our bed several after bedtime. She moves around like crazy in her sleep so both my husband and I have been feeling the physical effects (stiff necks/bad backs/lack of overall sleep). We’re at a loss for what to do. I put her back into her bed but she wakes up as soon as she feels me lay her down.
You’re not alone in this struggle, mama! Many of my clients who have toddlers face the same struggle (and are experiencing the negative effects of a wiggly third person in their beds). First off, if you’re serious about stopping this, then you have to set family sleep rules (including “we all sleep in our own beds”) and then be super consistent about enforcing them. Convene a family meeting where you explain the sleep rules and the reasoning behind them. Explain to her that she can no longer come into your bed at night. If she does, take a deep breath and silently lead her back to her bed each and every time. It can occur a LOT the first night or two, but she’ll quickly get that it’s easier to just stay in bed. Just remember: the key to this is consistency, even in the middle of the night when you’re dead tired and just want to cuddle under the warm covers.
How do I transition my 7-month old out of bed sharing and into his own crib?
There are two ways of going about this: one is to just to start doing all naps and overnight sleep in the crib. Some babies fight it, others are ready for more independence. The other is to gradually shift sleep to the crib by starting with the morning nap, then afternoon nap, and then finally bedtime/overnight. Whichever route you choose, be very consistent about it so you don’t create a confusing situation for your little guy. Also, if you’re nursing him in bed, you may want to start doing that elsewhere (like a rocking chair) so that he stops associating your bed with eating or sleeping.
Aaaaand I’m back! Did you guys notice I shamelessly snuck in a question above for Hadley to answer? Thank you Hadley!
And thank you all for sending me such great questions!
I received so many REALLY good sleep questions and I’m really grateful that Hadley took time out of her busy schedule to answer as many as she did, but if you’re still wanting more, she is hosting an online toddler bootcamp starting TOMORROW. It’s a five-day sleep challenge for exhausted parents who are ready to get serious about sleep. You receive daily emails, access to a Facebook group where she’ll provide individualized help for you, and two live Q&As with her. All of this for only $25! Hadley told me that she intentionally chose a lower price point that was affordable for all families–so it’s a great deal! Use the promo code “Bethany” to save an additional $5. It starts tomorrow, so be sure to sign up ASAP here. Now let’s get some SLEEP!
& now for some sleeping baby photos because there is nothing I love more than a peaceful, sleeping baby.
(The very first photo ^ at the beginning of this post ^ is a sleeping newborn Kai. I love that photo so much.)