Parents

11 sleep solutions for kids from the real experts, parents

Sleeeeeeeeeeeep. Boy, do we need it — but so many of us don’t get enough of it, especially when we have young kids at home.

TODAY

Thankfully, the TODAY Parenting Team is here to provide genuine help! In response to our “Sleep Solutions” challenge, TODAY Parenting Team contributors shared all sorts of tips, tricks and strategies for helping little ones — and their parents — get more shut-eye. We’ve compiled some of their great suggestions here.

Please feel free to join in this ongoing conversation by becoming a member of our TODAY Parenting Team, and stay connected to TODAY Parents updates on our Facebook page. If you have your own sleep solutions to share, please tell us. We are definitely listening!

1. Tire them out. (Dr. Katie Lockwood, pediatrician)

Courtesy of Jennifer Swartvagher
Go, go, go ... then stop.

“While it wasn’t an intentional parenting strategy but rather my son’s innate need, we spend our days running around, playing at the park, and getting exercise. When awake, he is always busy. His afternoon naps and bedtime slumber are needed for him to recharge. By the time we are ready to put him to bed he is exhausted and his body is ready for rest.”

2. Get the temperature just right. (Beyond Mommying)

“A baby who is too hot or too cold won’t settle. Dress baby appropriately for the temperature and use a fan to provide cool air, or if the room won’t stay warm enough for a baby who’s too small for blankets, try a space heater.”

3. Put them to sleep while they're still awake. (Beauty Momme)

Courtesy of Beauty Momme
This mom puts her baby down to sleep when the baby is sleepy — but not sleeping.

“Make sure your child stays awake after each feed, whether it’s one minute or one hour, and put them to bed awake. Now, you don’t need to wake them into a fully awake state each time (this depends on your daily routine if it’s naptime yet), but just enough that they know where they are and can continue to snooze if it’s time for them to sleep. This is one of the most important sleep training methods that is in ALL the books I’ve read and is the MOST IMPORTANT!”

4. Be consistent. (Dr. Katie Lockwood, pediatrician)

“Nap time and bedtime are the same each and every day. No exceptions. Due to my rigidity on this issue, we have missed events and parties, we have been captives in our home during most afternoons, and we are constantly planning our day around sleep schedules, but our children sleep well. When we moved into our new home when my son was 18 months old, we coordinated the move so that his nursery could be disassembled and reassembled at the new house in time for his afternoon nap. And although he was in a new home with the noises of unpacking around him, he slept for two hours.”

5. “Full bellies = sound sleepers.” (Jennifer Swartvagher)

Courtesy of Jennifer Swartvagher
Ahhhh, my belly's full and I'm gonna shut my eyes for just a minute ...

“Sleep came easily for my newborns. They were pretty content at night. With the bassinet close by, I was available for a drowsy all-night smorgasbord. When they were old enough, a little solid food for dinner paired by a warm bottle of milk ensured a long stretch before waking. I always considered it a win if they slept for at least five hours at a time. Then there were the mornings when I woke up in a panic because they slept straight through till morning. That was the goal, right? Still, I would creep into their room and count the rise and fall of their chest before climbing back into my bed. Wouldn't you know, as soon as my head hit the pillow, they’d be awake.”

6. Prepare kids to fall asleep. (Lisa Maxwell)

“We have a nighttime routine that consists of reading a bedtime story and rubbing our kids' feet with lotion. I try to keep some sleep lotion or stress lotion handy, and I think this helps them wind down more than anything because it also helps clear their minds. My kids love having their feet rubbed and usually beg for it. Who doesn’t like having their feet rubbed?”

7. Make it dark. (Dr. Katie Lockwood, pediatrician)

Courtesy of Jennifer Swartvagher
They're so quiet when they sleep!

“One of the best purchases we ever made were blackout shades. This makes it easier for him to fall asleep in the afternoons when the sun would otherwise be shining in, and ensure that he isn’t waking with the sunrise in the morning. He does use a nightlight, but one that has a timer that turns it off after 20 minutes and doesn’t shine directly on him.”

8. Parents and kids: Put that cell phone away! (Lisa Maxwell)

Courtesy of Ingrid Y. Prueher / The Baby Sleep Whisperer
Moms and dads also have to devise strategies to get enough sleep themselves.

“Everyone’s brain needs a break from that phone! I know it's hard to do, but turn it off. Hearing texts has disrupted my sleep on many a night, so I try to turn mine off now. Teens can be really bad for losing sleep due to phones, to the point that I’ve actually taken my teens phones away for the night when I heard them texting all hours of the night.”

9. Lie. (Jennifer Swartvagher)

Courtesy of Natalie T.
Shhhh! Baby's sleeping!

“Room darkening curtains are a lifesaver, but when all else fails, lie. I couldn't wait until Daylight Savings Time ended. Once it was dark, I could convince my kids it was time for bed, well, until they learned how to tell time. I thought about keeping the clocks turned forward all winter, but they were bound to catch on eventually.”

10. Parents need sleep, too — and here’s a healthy way to get it. (Lisa Maxwell)

“On the days I exercise, I can always tell I fall asleep faster. Exercise also helps reduce stress, so this may be another reason it helps with sleep, too. Try to fit 30 minutes of exercise in each day, mixed with chasing the kids, being their taxi driver and refereeing your little munchkins, and the next thing you know, you'll literally pass out at night!”

11. Remember the strategy that eventually will work. (Jill Morgenstern / Do Try This at Home)

Courtesy of Do Try This at Home

“Here is the ONE secret method that actually worked for us:

“Just wait for them to become teenagers. Then they NEVER want to get out of bed.”

Follow TODAY.com writer Laura T. Coffey on Twitter @ltcoff and Google+ and learn about her new book at MyOldDogBook.com.

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