Tired Baby, Sleepless Baby, Sleep Advice

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Here is our first post where we break down teaching your child the very important skill of self soothing, in three non-complicated steps.  Enjoy!

Self. Soothing. Skills. A three-word phrase that makes many a parent shudder. With all the conflicting info and philosophies out there about how to best help a child to sleep, I can see why. Cry it out, Ferber, Controlled Crying, Camping Out……phew. What is a parent to do?

Self-soothing at a basic level is the art (and science) of teaching your child how to put themselves to sleep. But it’s also a final stage in a process helping the whole family to get their ZZZzz’s.

No matter your child’s age, current sleeping situation, or your parenting philosophies and beliefs, you can and should teach your child this very important skill that will prepare them for a lifetime of good sleep. Here’s how:

STEP ONE: Start from the beginning

Most people think of sleep training simply as the task of teaching a child self-soothing skills, but that is not the case. There are five elements of healthy sleep, the fifth being the ability to self soothe. If the other four are not in place, a child will have a very hard time learning this skill. Therefore it is crucial to lay the foundation that will make this seemingly daunting task much easier on all. The first four steps are:

  • Provide a consistent sleep place to sleep
  • Create a consistent pre-sleep routine
  • Ensure that your child’s nap schedule is age appropriate and follow’s their body’s circadian rhythms
  • A bedtime that happens before your child can become overtired

With these four elements in place, your child will have a much easier time (and quicker!) time mastering the art of self-soothing. Click here for the details.

STEP TWO: Create a plan to learn self-soothing

Successful self soothing means that baby (or child) can both put himself down to sleep, and that he can calm himself if he rouses during the night. Teaching self-soothing is one of the most fraught topics in new motherhood, but I really believe in a straightforward approach that allows families to make the right decision for them.

Sit down with your partner and anyone else who may be highly involved in your child’s sleep to come up with a solid plan that everyone can follow. Our children learn what we expect from our consistent example, so the key is choosing a method to teach self-soothing that everyone is comfortable with and can follow at anytime—even in the wee hours of the morning or alone during a stressful long afternoon. If Grandma watches your little one for all naps and will never ever allow him to cry alone, then take that into account and choose a gentle method that she can consistently implement.

Don’t forget to take sleep props like the breast or a special blanket into account. For example, if your baby currently nurses to sleep you will need to move nursing to the very beginning of your pre-sleep routine so that your child can learn to fall asleep on his own without the breast. Or if your little one relies heavily on a pacifier, you can give it to him at the beginning of naps and the beginning of bedtime, but after that you can not replace it or you will be stuck replacing it all night long. Older kids can have sleep props too, for example will your toddler only go back to sleep if you give him a drink of water? Decide how to handle it and include it in the plan, too.

Where to start with sleep training/ self soothing? Ask yourself: Are you just ready to just get it done and are okay with some tears? Or do you know that your presence just makes your child more angry? Then check out the “Extinction” or “Ferber” methods, which some call the “cry it out method.” Not okay with your child learning this skill on his own? Then for your family, I suggest searching for gentle methods like “The Chair,” “Pick-up/Put Down” or “Camping Out” methods. Any of these tactics will work, the key is picking the one that you know you can carry out with absolute consistency as that is what your child needs in order to learn. Note: writing it all down tends to help keep everyone on track and accountable.

STEP THREE: Put your plan in motion

Once you have figured out what you will do for the fifth and last element of healthy sleep—self-soothing skills—add in the first four elements to your plan and then go for it. It is best to start your new plan at bedtime as that is the easiest time for a child to learn a new routine and then continue the next day with naptime. Our children feed off of our energy—negative or positive. As your child will be able to pick up on your mood and demeanor at sleep times, try to outwardly exude as much confidence as you can. If you are confident and upbeat about this new routine, your child is apt to be confident too!

Remember that consistency is the most important part as it is what will enable your child to be successful. Be patient and do not give up too easily. It takes most children two full weeks to learn a new sleep routine – which makes sense as they had months (or even years!) to learn the old way of doing things. With all five of these elements present your child will soon have great sleep hygiene in place. (Promise!)

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips.

by guest blogger Katharine Murphy
What’s a sweet enough kid, you ask? A kiddo with calm but engaged energy, who is ready to learn and join activities, sleeps well and eats well, with a smile for days, and who doesn’t ask for a sugary snack every 90 seconds…isn’t that what we all want for our little ones? Here are five tips to help your Sweet Pea feel sweet enough all day long!

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  1. Choose real food – this means lots of veggies, fruit, high quality meat and seafood, nuts, seeds, healthy fats like avocado, and soaked whole grains for the older kiddos. Hold the chips, mini muffins, cheese crackers and other highly processed snacks that send blood sugar on a roller coaster headed straight for tantrum city! If you can’t pronounce or cook with an ingredient on a label, put it back on the shelf.


  1. Healthy “full” fats – healthy fats like avocado, nuts, nut butters, olives, olive and coconut oil keep our cherubs full and satisfied for a few hours so include them in every meal. This will help eliminate the constant grazing, which can mess with digestion.


  1. Eliminate sensitive foods– those little bodies can be quite sensitive especially during infancy and toddlerhood so pay attention to any behavior or digestive changes after having sugar, dairy, gluten, or dyes and additives. Clues might include constipation, bloating, belly aches, cranky mood, difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Limiting any offending foods may make for a happier belly, brain, and bambino in general.


  1. Hydrate– our little ones need lots of filtered water to avoid fatigue, irritability, and constipation. If you have a juice-drinker, adding a squeeze of lemon and a few drops of stevia is a great way to transition back to water, since juice is dehydrating and jumps you back on that blood sugar roller coaster.


  1. Set meals + snacks– to avoid picky eating, it is your job to provide healthy and filling meals and snacks (think protein, healthy fat, and veggies) at routine times throughout the day; Sweet Pea’s only job is to choose to eat and how much. Limiting grazing on sugary snacks and refined carbs (crackers, cookies) will improve her appetite at meal times. We try to stick to three meals and an afternoon, post-nap snack.

Try this Fall-inspired recipe for a sweet enough snack!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

½ cup coconut flour (healthy fat)

5 eggs (protein)

1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or we use this one (fiber)

¼ cup melted coconut oil (more healthy fat)

¼ cup honey (natural sweetener)

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp pure vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

½ cup allergy-free chocolate chips (optional)

4 Tbsp gelatin for gut-healing protein (optional)


Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips with a hand mixer. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into muffin cups and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. Spread with coconut oil or grass-fed butter to serve + enjoy!

Check out www.sweetenoughbaby.com for more recipes, tips, and nutritional counseling services to help women get pregnant, have a healthy and glowing pregnancy, and to support the special feeding needs of infants, toddlers, and the busy family- all with real food and continuous, gentle guidance!

In sweetness + health,





Katharine Murphy is a certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and owner of Sweet Enough Baby, offering nutritional counseling services to women and families in the North Shore and beyond.  She is passionate about supporting women through preparing for pregnancy, growing a healthy baby, and nourishing their sweet babies with real, yummy food.  Katharine is mama to an amazing, almost-two-year-old son and a growing baby bump, and lives with her supportive hubby in West Newbury. Check her out at www.sweetenoughbaby.com.

Recently I have had a slew of parents contact me about their 3 year olds.  The email is always about the same:  “Can you give me some advice about my 3-year-old son?  He has always been a great sleeper, going right so sleep on his own and staying in his bed until it was time to wake up.  This all ended last week when he suddenly refused to lay down unless my husband or I lay with him. When we get up to leave he will wake and scream for us. The other night we put him back to bed over 20 times and it was so exhausting that we ended up just letting him stay with us. It was horrible as he was so upset. He still naps so we talked about taking those away. What can we do?”


Unfortunately, this is a fairly common sleep issue in 3 year olds.  And while it manifests itself around sleeping times, it actually isn’t a sleep issue at all. It’s really due to a whole slew of cognitive and behavioral developments that stem from changes that typically occur around age 3:

1.)  They start to have a need for autonomy and want to be their own person, but this is confusing and a bit frightening as they still need the safety of Mom and Dad.

2.)  They are becoming much more social beings and are developing friendships outside of their parental relationships.

3.)  They start to develop actual fears as they begin to understand the concept of being afraid.

4.)  And most importantly, THEY KNOW THEY CAN CHALLENGE THEIR PARENTS! They count on you to tell them right from wrong, safe from unsafe etc. and like to test you to make sure that you are there to reassure them and correct them.

With all of this going on, what’s a parent to do?

  • Address His Fears 

Choose a quiet time (preferably not surrounding sleep times) to discuss what’s going on. Tell him that you understand that he wants you to be with him at bedtime as he falls asleep, but it is his job to go to sleep on his own and that he can do it. Make sure he understands that you believe in him and his abilities. Validate his feelings by telling him that you want to be with him too, and you would love to add in extra cuddle time before bed or in the morning when he wakes up.

  • Let Him Have Some Control

A big part of this behavior is stemming from him wanting to exert his independence.  So try to let him be able to make some decisions surrounding sleep.  On a tangible level, let him pick out something new to exercise his decision making needs – a new set of sheets, a new pair of PJ’s or a new stuffed animal.  Also, let him make decisions when it comes to his own behavior.  As odd as this sounds, giving him permission to exhibit behaviors that you actually don’t want – such as crying – will help these behaviors to go away because he will know he has a choice in the matter.  If you say, “its bedtime please don’t cry”, he may cry only because you told him not to.  Instead try something along the lines of this dialog – “It’s bedtime and time to go to sleep, you can choose to cry or not cry but either way it is time for you to go to sleep”.

  • Make Sure He Understands There are Rules

As I mentioned above, this is the most important part.  Rules actually make our children feel safe.  They challenge us to see how far they can push, but also to make sure you are going to be there to keep them in check.  So it is critical that he understands that there are rules and that you will enforce them.  Consistency is also key, as it will allow him to know exactly what is expected.  I find that a “Sleep Rules” chart is really helpful at this age.  Create a chart which details your expectations of him at bedtime – something like: I will take my bath, put my pj’s on, read a book, and then go to sleep and stay in my bed until morning. Allow him to color or decorate the chart with stickers etc. to make it his own.  Explain to him that sleep is very important for him and also for Mommy and Daddy and that as a big boy he needs to sleep on his own. His reward for following the sleep rules is that he will feel great!  Remind him that sleep makes him feel wonderful and it allows us to have the energy to do lots of fun things during the day.

In regards to naptime, as kids near three, parents tend to start to let their schedules slide a bit later and they slowly become super overtired. Over tiredness really fuels this behavior. Make sure that he is going down for his nap as close to 1pm as possible (which I am sure he still needs – and I would not drop at this point while resolving this issue) and make sure bedtime is very early until this is fixed – as close to within four hours of him waking from his last nap as possible.  If you think that your child is truly done napping, make sure you keep a rest time intact at the time nap time was occurring and bedtime will need to be moved much earlier to make up for this missed sleep.  Click here more for preschoolers and their nap and rest time needs.  

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2015

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips.

FeaturedInButtonToday was the first day of school in my neck of the woods.

My daughter starts kindergarten this year and today she had orientation.  On our drive to school we passed many children waiting for the school bus.  MANY of these kids looked tired!  Did you know that their is a direct correlation between sleep and a child excelling academically and socially?  But how does one make sure their school aged child is getting the sleep they need?  Simply consistently follow my “Sleep Six” featured on the Boston Parent’s Paper website and rest assured that your child will be ready for all their school year throws at them! http://bostonparentspaper.com/article/back-to-school-is-your-child-getting-enough-zzs.html

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How to Teach Babies and Toddlers to Fall Asleep With Fewer Tears?

baby sleep tipsI was recently asked how to teach baby to sleep on his own without using the “cry out” method:

No parent likes to hear his or her child cry. From the time they are born, we do everything we can to prevent them from crying. We nurse, we bounce, we rock, we swaddle, we burp — anything we can muster to prevent our precious little ones from crying. Then comes the day…duhm, duhm, duhm…when you realize you can no longer bounce, or nurse, or rock etc. your baby to sleep. It dawns on you that your child (and you!) is not getting the sleep that he needs because he lacks the ability to put himself to sleep. But when the time comes to teach him to become a healthy independent sleeper, it is often hard to fathom the idea of allowing him to cry. Thankfully there are several methods available to teach a child to self soothe, as we as sleep consultants strive to come up with plans to match every parenting philosophy. In fact, there are more ways than I can list in a question & answer forum. And while there are many ways to teach a child to sleep — some gentle and some aggressive — there simply is no way to have zero tears. I am not trying to change your mind and push you to utilize a “Cry it out” method. I understand not wanting your baby to cry, but I think that it is important to be clear about what you can expect from the beginning.

Let’s discuss that for a minute: This concept of a “no tears” solution. When most parents come to me, all  that their child has known thus far is being helped all the way to a sleeping state. When you decide that it is now their job to do this for themselves, they are of course going to protest. And babies communicate by crying. No matter how gentle you are in teaching them this new expectation (that they are now responsible to fall asleep on their own) they are going to protest with a few tears. It is important to understand that going in — THERE WILL BE A FEW TEARS no matter what. They are not “I need you tears,” or “I am hurt tears”, or “I am hungry tears,” they are “I would like your company as I fall asleep tears.” I respect all parenting philosophies and certainly understand not wanting to allow your baby to “cry it out” alone in his room. There are ways other than the CIO method that allow you to be with your baby and soothe them as they learns this new skill, but they will inevitably shed some tears in your presence.

Ok, so now that we are clear on your expectations let’s get back to your question — what other ways can you teach a baby?

The Younger Baby

For babies under 4 months of age, it is possible to teach them how to self soothe simply by putting them down awake whenever it is time to sleep. You go through your soothing routine and then put them in their crib, sleepy but awake. If they fuss it is ok, give them a minute to see if they can settle themself. If their fussing escalates to tears, pick them up and comfort them and then put them down again awake. Repeat. For this to work it is critical that they go into their crib awake so that they can learn to fall asleep on their own. They may fuss for a minute or two each time, but if you consistently allow them to try to do it for themselves — they will actually learn fairly quickly!

The Older Baby or Toddler

Teaching children older than 4 months is a bit more complicated as they have already learned a set of rules surrounding going to sleep and you will have to teach them a different set of expectations so that they will now fall asleep on their own. As I mentioned, there are a plethora of ways to effectively teach your child this skill. Check out a few books on the topic and utilize one that matches your ideals, or hire a child sleep consultant who will create a custom plan for you that is in line with your beliefs. No matter how you choose to go about teaching your baby, the most important part is being consistent. Babies and toddlers learn from our example, so if you switch back and forth trying things many different ways they will not understand what you expect. You will need to commit to following your plan to the T for a solid two weeks. This means you cannot give it a go for three days and declare that it is not working. Remember your child had many months to learn the current way of doing things so you need to give them some time to learn the new routine. And again, consistency is everything!

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2015

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips.



With “Back to School” looming just weeks away, it is time for many families to get back to a healthy sleep regimen.  Confused where to start with this sometimes daunting task?

If bedcantpjbeartime or nighttime sleep has become a challenge with your pre-school or school aged child, this website from the Nation Sleep Foundation (www.sleepforkids.org) may help.  I often find that teaching children WHY they need sleep, helps to make sleep times less of a struggle.  Learning the importance of sleep empowers them to take care of themselves, while just saying “you need your sleep – go to bed” causes a battle of wills.  So carve out an hour of your day and sit down with your child and discuss what sleep does for our bodies and why it is so important.  During your discussion, visit www.sleepforkids.org.  Go through the different interactive pages which explain sleep topics in a language which children can relate to and understand.  For example –  check out “Why We Sleep,” “How Sleep Works,” and “Can’t Sleep?” to shape your discussion.  There is even a cute character “PJ” Bear, and puzzles and games.  Start now and your child will be rested and on track by the first day of school!

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2015

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips.



No matter your child’s age, there are 5 key elements that if applied consistently lead to healthy sleep!  Here is our tough-love, no nonsense, guide to getting  your child’s sleep on track and keeping it there:

I became a pediatric sleep consultant after having a terrible time getting my first child to sleep. After researching for tips and advice and coming across conflicting information, I was still at a loss for what to do. After 9 months, I finally hired a sleep consultant and within two days my “terrible sleeper” was suddenly an incredible sleeper.  It turns out that all along she (like all babies) had this ability, we just had not taught her. So what’s the secret? I introduce the WRB Cheat Sheet, 5 Simple Rules to get your baby’s sleep on track.1920581_690861651010346_4021368205776222295_n

Rule #1 — Your Baby Needs to Sleep in His Crib. Period.
Unfortunately, as I learned babies are not fashion accessories that we should just expect to fit into our social calendar. The sooner you can come to terms with this the better. Life would be much easier if we could tote our kids anywhere, at anytime and expect that they will get the sleep they need, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Babies and toddlers will achieve their very best sleep in their bassinet, crib, or bed, and it should be your goal for them to do the majority of their sleeping in this consistent location. Yes, very little babies have the amazing ability to sleep through anything, but once they reach about 2 months old they start to become social beings and have a much harder time blocking out what’s going on around them. Sleeping at home in their own darkened room will make sure there are no distractions. Also, babies and toddlers have better quality, more restorative sleep when they are sleeping in a stationary location like their own bed. Vibrations or motion during sleep (think strollers and car seats) force the brain into a lighter sleep state and reduce the restorative power of the nap. It’s similar in comparison to the sleep that you get on an airplane: ok, but not really restful. A nap on-the-go here and there is fine, but most naps should be taken in your child’s bed. This does make you a bit of a slave to your house but ask anyone who has kids — that first year flies by. Before you know it you will be out and about and personally, I would rather stay in and have a well-rested child than be out with a cranky, overtired baby.

Rule #2 — Your Baby Needs to Nap at the Correct Times
Naptime should follow your baby’s biological clock. We all have internal clocks called circadian rhythms that make us feel drowsy at certain times. It is easiest at these times to fall asleep and get our most restorative sleep. These times change as your child grows older. If you can base your child’s nap schedule so that they sleep in sync with these rhythms they will be able to achieve their best sleep. While it is sometimes daunting to follow a schedule, it will provide you the confidence to know exactly when your child will need to sleep and that he is getting the sleep that he needs.

Rule #3 — Insist on An Early Bedtime
Bedtime should be early enough to ensure that your child goes to bed before they become overtired. A child who is overtired has a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. This is because when we get overtired we release the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. This is a primitive fight or flight response, which is intended to keep us going. While this was probably helpful to cavemen, it is not when it kicks in for your baby and he gets a “second wind”. When this response occurs on a regular basis these hormones actually build up in your baby’s system and then cause him to wake-up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Although it sounds counterintuitive, an early bedtime WILL NOT cause your child to wake earlier in the morning. In fact, early bedtimes help children to sleep later as they are better able to self soothe and consolidate sleep without the presence of these hormones. In short, an early bedtime allows babies to achieve longer stretches of better quality sleep. As an added bonus, it provides more time for you to unwind and have “you” time in the evening. What parent doesn’t need that?

Rule #4 — A Consistent Routine:
This one is so simple to achieve, yet so important! Babies and toddlers crave routine in their daily schedules as it helps them know what to expect. They follow patterns and your cues, so if you create a consistent soothing routine before sleep times then they will know to expect sleep to come next. Your soothing routine does not need to be anything complicated — maybe a book and a nice soothing song — but it needs to be consistent and should always end with your child going into bed sleepy, but awake.

Rule #5 — Teach Your Child to Fall Asleep
If your child relies on you to be with them until they are fast asleep, how will they know how to put themselves back to sleep when a sleep cycle ends during nap time or when they wake at night? Self-soothing is a skill that every child must learn to be an independent sleeper. Once your child is on the correct schedule and is falling asleep before he becomes overtired, self-soothing will come much more easily. There are lots of methods for teaching your child to self-soothe. Some methods involve more tears but work very quickly and some have little or no tears but take a bit longer. They all accomplish the same end goal — teaching your child to fall asleep on their own. This is one of the best skills you can teach a child as it enables them to become well rested, independent and better able to handle the opportunities and challenges each day presents.

This article also appeared on the Zipadee Zip Blog – http://www.sleepingbaby.com/blogs/news/18517181-5-simple-rules-to-get-your-babys-sleep-on-track

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2015

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips.

In honor of World Breast Feeding Week, I thought I would discuss two topics near and dear to me: Sleep and Breast Feeding

wbw2015-logo-m2With my occupation, it is a no brainer that I love all things sleep. However, it may surprise you that breast feeding is also way up there in my priority list. Why these two passions? Making sure that my family is getting the sleep that we each need, ensures that we are all happy, patient (that one is for me ;)) and ready to face the challenges of each day. Breast feeding has personally given me more joy than I can express while creating an amazing bond with my daughters and giving them best nutrition possible. But can the two (sleep & breast feeding) co-exist or is does one need to suffer for the other to flourish? This is a common misconception and it is 100% not true. Sleep and adequate nutrition are two of our most important biological needs. Any pediatrician will tell you that a healthy baby will not allow himself to go hungry. As a certified child sleep consultant, it is my belief that many babies are in fact in need of a night feeding through 9 months of age. With this knowledge, I often schedule night feedings into many of my client’s schedules to ensure that the baby is getting in all of the feedings he needs. And guess what? Once a baby is going to sleep before becoming overtired and knows how to put himself to sleep without assistance, he often (drumroll) sleeps right through the night and through that scheduled feed. Why? Because once a baby has mastered the art of sleep, he will choose whichever need is biologically most important – eating or sleeping.  So fear not, your breast feeding relationship and your child’s nutritional needs do not need to be sacrificed by teaching healthy sleep skills.  In fact, many mom’s report to me that their nursing relationship improves when their child is well rested!

But don’t just take my word for it:
Check out this great article by Lorna C. Aliperti, APRN, IBCLC.: Can Sleep Training and Lactation Consultants Coexist?

The Take-Away:

Breastfeeding should not be sacrificed in efforts to sleep train your baby nor does it need to be. Simply provide your baby with healthy sleep hygiene and a strong foundation for sleep and when he is ready to sleep through the night without night feedings, he will do so all on his own.

Has keeping your child in his bed become a struggle?

My advice featured on the Boston Mamas Blog:


Does this sound familiar? If so, your child has “Jack-in-the-Box syndrome” — defined as a child who repeatedly comes out of bed at bedtime or during the middle of the night. Sounds serious right? But fear not, there is a cure! Today I’m going to share a little context, then give you 3 steps to get past this common sleep issue.

A Big Kid Bed is a Big Kid Responsibility

Your child’s ability to stay in bed is hinged to the reality of whether they’re actually ready to be in a big kid bed. Being in a big kid bed is a big kid responsibility and it’s important not to transition from crib to bed before they’re truly ready for this new independence. For most kids, this transition is around age 3 because they need to be at a developmental point where they can understand rules and follow them, and also handle having the security and safety of their crib removed. So, to avoid frustration on all sides, wait until your child is ready for this new milestone before making the big move.

Step #1: Call a Family Meeting

Little kids are egocentric (this is developmentally appropriate!) and love to be the star of the show. This is part of why they come out of their bed in the first place – for your attention! Use this trait to your advantage. At a non-sleep time, call a family meeting where your child and his/her sleep is the agenda item. Explain why sleep is important and that when he does not stay in his bed, no one is the family is getting the sleep they need. Also explain that there will be some new “Sleep Rules” to help everyone, and that if he does not follow the rules, then you will walk him back to his bed each time he comes out without any talking.


Step #2: Set the Sleep Rules

Toddlers and preschoolers often fight against rules, but actually crave them as a sign of safety. Many parents share that their kids always follow the rules about naptime at school or daycare; this is because their teachers enforce the rules consistently. Create “Sleep Rules” together on a piece of poster board, detailing bedtime routine and overnight behavior. For example: “I will brush my teeth, read one book, have two sips of water, go to the potty, get into bed, and stay there until mom or dad (or My Tot Clock if you choose to use one) tells me it is OK to be awake and out of bed. If I get out of my bed before it is time to be awake, mom or dad will quietly walk me back to my bed with no talking.” Be realistic with your rules and only include rules that you will 100% enforce. Also be specific and quantify things so there is no question about your expectations. Let your child decorate the posterboard if they wish.

Step #3: Putting it All Into Play

Every night before bed, read the “Sleep Rules” together to remind your child of your expectations for both bedtime and overnight.  If/when he comes of his bed take him by the hand with absolutely no talking or eye contact (remember he is coming out of his bed for attention and if you give any at all negative or positive – it will give him a reason to come out again) and walk him back to bed. You can assist him into his bed and replace the covers if needed, but no snuggles, hugs, kisses, etc. Once he is in bed, leave the room right away. This trip should be all business. Do this each and every time he comes out of his bed. The first night, you may have to bring him back to his room 30 times but if you stay 100% consistent and do this without giving any attention at all during the returns, after just a few days your child will be a Jack-in-the-bed!

Amy Lage is a contributing writer at Boston Mamas, a certified pediatric sleep consultant, and founder of Well Rested Baby. If you have questions you’d like to have Amy address in a future column, e-mail editor@bostonmamas.com with your question!


Nope,  4 month leap forward!

At least once a week I receive an email from a panic stricken parent of a 4 month old stating something similar to this:

“My son turned 4 months old last week and his sleeps seems to have fallen apart.  He was sleeping for a stretch of 8-10 hours at night and now he is suddenly waking every 2 hours.  My friends have told me he is going through the 4-month sleep regression.  How do I get my good sleeper back?”


What these parents are experiencing is a change that all babies go through around 4 months of age. While many refer to it as the “4 month sleep regression”, it is actually a sign that their child is growing and maturing and making an exciting leap forward.  A sleep regression is defined as a cognitive, physical and/or emotional development that disrupts a child’s normal sleep pattern.  A child younger than 4 months actually has not developed any sleep patterns – so it is not possible for a regression to have taken place!  Up until now the baby’s daily needs have been random:  he has slept when he wanted to sleep and eaten when he wanted to eat.  Now suddenly his body is developing biological rhythms that tell him when he should be sleeping.

We all have internal clocks called circadian rhythms that are genetically controlled. These biological clocks have evolved from daytime (light) and nighttime (dark) cues. These biological rhythms make us feel drowsy at certain times and sleeping in sync with them will produce the most restorative and best quality sleep possible. As we age these times shift.  Up until this point, the baby’s brain was too immature to sync with this internal clock.  For this reason, his body had an easy time sleeping anywhere and at anytime.  Now that his brain has started to mature, he is in need of a schedule that works with this rhythm – including a bedtime that fits in and allows him to sleep before he is overtired.

So what’s the correct schedule for a 4 month old?  I recommend a schedule where the first nap is starting between 8-9am, the second nap is starting between 11:30-12:30pm and the third nap starts about 90 minutes after he wakes up from nap two.  As naps are just starting to develop, you will need to watch your baby for his sleepy cues and then get him down within these windows.  Remember, at 4 months old the baby’s circadian rhythms are just starting to develop.  They will continue to evolve over the next few weeks; therefore you will see some inconsistency with napping.  Some days will be great and others will be all over the place.  You will need to be consistent with your approach and put your baby down for his naps in these biologically age appropriate windows – while not allowing him to become overtired.  Having him on a schedule where he is sleeping during his biological sleep waves will allow him to achieve his best quality sleep, however he will still need to learn some self soothing skills.  If you have not started already, this is a good time to allow him to learn to put himself to sleep.

Bedtime should roll right into this schedule and be about 90 minutes after your baby wakes up from his third nap. So if he napped from 3-4pm, bedtime would be at 5:30pm. It is a common misconception that putting your child to bed this early will cause them to wake early. This is not true. An early bedtime that occurs before a baby can become overtired, actually allows them to sleep longer and later into the morning. It is very common for babies this age to start sleeping 12-13 hours a night at this point if they go to bed early enough.

I understand that this change can be frustrating as it has caused your baby’s sleep to seemingly take a step back, but I can assure you that this is a necessary step to getting him on a consistent schedule and allowing him to learn to be a great independent sleeper.

This article originally appeared in Brewster Macaroni Kid.  Click here to view article.  Unknown

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips!