Some kids are born great sleepers. Others have to be trained—and then, a year later, retrained. So what's the secret of those clever mamas who do it successfully? Let us all benefit from their best, bleary-eyed breakthroughs. Here, their top ten most common practices.
1. They are religious about the sleep schedule
These moms will skip a midday birthday party so their toddlers can nap. They kick grandparents out after dinner so their kids can get to bed on time. Their children won’t see fourth of July fireworks until they are nine. These moms will sacrifice pretty much any social opportunity for the sake of getting those little suckers to bed on time.
2. They put their kids to bed ridiculously early
Here’s the sad truth: Little kids who wake up before the sun will do so even if you put them to bed at 9 p.m. Later bedtimes do not equal later wake-up times, and earlier times tend to be better for children's circadian rhythms, and the creation of healthy sleep habits.
3. No car or stroller naps
These moms will move mountains to ensure their kids’ naps happen only in the bed/crib. Even if that means forcing a one-year-old to stay awake as they speed home from the grocery store. The odds of successfully transferring a sleeping child from car seat to crib are slim at best. They do not take chances.
4. They know that sleep begets sleep
Other moms (and well-intentioned relatives) have plenty of theories and advice: Put him to bed later, he’ll sleep longer! Just give up the nap and make bedtime way earlier! But sleep is counterintuitive. And long naps actually result in more hours of night sleep, not fewer.
5. They invest in sleep training clocks
Sleep training doesn’t stop at teaching kids to fall asleep. It’s essential to teach them to stay asleep—or at the very least stay in their rooms and play quietly until the bunny puts on his backpack.
6. They unplug at least an hour before bedtime
We know that blue light from screens messes with the circadian rhythms of adults. For kids, these effects are magnified. Desperate though you may be to plop them in front of Peppa Pig so you can have five seconds of sanity before the bedtime battle begins, resist the urge. Though screens may appear to put them in a sleepy stupor, there’s almost nothing more stimulating to their developing brains.
RELATED: 6 Clever Ways to Keep Your Kids Off Their Phones
7. They resist the “big kid bed” peer pressure
Other moms may buzz about transitioning their kids out of the crib at 18 months. But changing a child’s sleep environment can have destabilizing effects at the exact moment he's having a resurgent resistance to sleep. (Thank you, separation awareness!) So unless your little pole vaulter is climbing or jumping out of his crib, consider keeping him where he’s comfortable.
8. They nap their kids 'til kindergarten
So what if all her nursery school classmates have given up their naps? If your child will still go down at midday, even if only on weekends, consider yourself blessed.
9. They keep the room cool—and quiet
Thermostat set to 68 even in winter? Check. White noise machine at full blast? Check. Blackout shades stretched to their full “midnight cave” potential? You know it. Moms of well-rested kids have optimized their environments for sleep.
10. They never wake a sleeping baby
The scenario: She’s been napping for three hours and will wake up just in time for dinner. The game-changing advice: Let her! Though it defies logic, most babies and toddlers will usually go back down for bedtime within three hours of waking from a nap. Interrupting their z's is likelier to backfire, leading to night wakings and crankiness—for both of you.