Consistency is Key for Pediatric Sleep: Stick with your Resolutions

Have you ever felt like you’ve tried everything under the moon to improve your little one’s sleep, only to end up feeling like you’re running in circles?

You’re not alone. But getting your little one to sleep through the night is like embarking on a marathon, not a sprint. Well actually maybe not as long as a marathon, but more like a 10K. Just like hitting the gym to shed those extra pounds, improving sleep takes time and patience. Consistency is key for pediatric sleep. So, if you’ve tried a little bit of everything to get your little one sleeping better, but nothing has seemed to work, I want you to go back and analyze how long you actually stuck with something you were trying.

Picture this: it’s the start of a new year, and you’re pumped up with resolutions to finally crack the code on better sleep for your family. You’ve read all the books, scoured the internet for tips, and you’re ready to dive in headfirst. But here’s the thing – setting resolutions is easy, but sticking with them? That’s where the magic happens.

So now that it’s February, and the initial pressure of the “new year” has worn off, I wanted to check in with you. Have you been able to stick with a single sleep plan and follow through with it?

It's frustrating when you try something new and it doesn't work but you need stick with whatever you're trying for longer than a couple of nights.
Just like New Year's weight loss resolutions, pediatric sleep takes time and commitment.

It takes time

Think about it like this: when you decide to hit the gym and lose weight, you don’t expect to see results overnight, right? We might wish the weight just melted off overnight, but realistically, you know it takes time. Time to build muscle, burn fat, and see those changes on the scale. Well, improving sleep is no different. It’s a gradual process that requires commitment, consistency, and perseverance.

Sure, it’s tempting to throw in the towel when your little one wakes up for the umpteenth time in the middle of the night even though you are trying a new technique or routine. But here’s the secret: consistency is your best friend. Just like sticking to a workout routine yields results over time, sticking to a sleep plan will eventually pay off.

(If you wanted to read more about what is going on in your little one’s brain when you aren’t consistent, you can read my blog here)

Habits, habits, habits

Now, let’s talk about habits. You’ve probably heard that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit, right? Well, recent research suggests that it’s more like 66 days on average. So, if you’re feeling discouraged because you haven’t seen instant results, take heart – you’re still in the early stages of building those sleep habits. The instant gratification that we have come to know and love in our society just isn’t possible when it comes to pediatric sleep.

And speaking of habits, here’s a pro tip: start logging all your sleep information. Keeping track of bedtime routines, wake-up times, and any sleep disturbances can help you spot patterns and make adjustments along the way. Plus, it’s a great way to celebrate those small wins. Did your little one sleep for an extra 15 minutes last night? That’s cause for celebration! And when you’re feeling discouraged, you can look back on how far you’ve come since day one.

You'll see success when you are consistent in your sleep plan.
Habits are like pathways in the brain, consistency helps with pediatric sleep.

Reinforcing Habits

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the concept of habit formation. Habits are like pathways in the brain – the more you reinforce them, the stronger they become. When it comes to sleep, consistency is key. By sticking to a consistent bedtime routine and sleep schedule, you’re essentially training your little one’s brain to recognize when it’s time to wind down and drift off to dreamland. (For more information on a good wind down routine you can check out my blog here.)

But here’s the kicker – habits take time to form. Remember that 66-day average? Well, here’s the good news, a silver lining if you may: since your little one is still so new to the world, they typically take much less time than a full 66 days to establish better sleep habits! For babies, in my experience, I’ve often seen sleep improvements start to come together in as little as 5 to 10 days. With toddlers I tend to see success in a timeframe of about 14 to 30 days. This is because independent little people (aka toddlers) are more set in their ways and are used to doing things a certain way for a longer period of time,

Keeping a Record

Now, while I wholeheartedly agree that we should celebrate every small step forward as progress, it’s important to acknowledge that the process isn’t always a straight line for little ones. There may be some good days (or nights) followed by a rough one every once in a while. But trust me, with persistence and patience, those good nights will start to outweigh the challenging ones.

Now, let’s circle back to the idea of logging your sleep information. Not only does it help you track your progress, but it also allows you to identify any potential roadblocks along the way. Is your little one consistently waking up at the same time every night? Maybe it’s time to reassess their bedtime routine or make adjustments to their sleep environment. (You can download my free nap guide, with tips to set up an ideal sleep environment, here.) By having all your sleep data in one place, you can troubleshoot more effectively and make informed decisions about how to improve your little one’s sleep.

And let’s not forget about the power of celebration. As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day struggles of sleep deprivation. But taking the time to celebrate those small wins – whether it’s an extra hour of uninterrupted sleep or a smoother bedtime routine – can make all the difference. Not only does it boost your morale, but it also reinforces those positive sleep habits for both you and your little one.

Consistency is key for pediatric sleep, stick with a plan!
Stick with your resolutions and you'll see success

Progress is Progress

So, the next time you feel like throwing in the towel, remember this: progress is progress, no matter how small. Take a deep breath, sip on that cup of tea (or coffee, no judgment here), and keep on truckin’. Your little one may not be snoozing like a champ just yet, but with time, consistency, and a whole lot of love, you’ll get there.

And hey, if you ever need a cheerleader in your corner, I’m just a message away. I’ve been right where you are, navigating those sleepless nights, and my mission is to guide you through to the other side of the “no sleep tunnel” – where restful nights await.

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