How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Here's one "secret" to getting a better night's sleep: do what is best for you and your family.

  • Put your baby in a crib. Or a bassinet. Or a co-sleeper. Or a toddler bed. Or a regular bed with guards. Or on a sleeping bag on the floor. Or pull her into bed with you. 
  • Let him sleep by your side. Or in his own room down the hall. Or on a mattress on the floor in the hall
  • Breastfeed before bed. Ot bottlefeed before bed. Or breastfeed to bed.
  • Put your baby to bed at 6 p.m. Or 10 p.m. 
  • Give a bath every night. Or every two nights. Or once a week.
  • Read a book before bed. Or read ten. Or don't read before bed at all. 
  • Sing songs. Or play a CD. Or go to bed in the quiet. 
  • Use white noise from a machine. Or from the vacuum. Or don't use it at all.
  • Rock your baby to sleep. Or drive around the block. Or take a walk around the block and put him in the stroller. 

Sometimes I find that there are so many "voices" about the sleep issue that it's best to simplify, to de-clutter, to put in ear plugs and let the background noise fade...and then to just do what is right for my family. 

At first, I felt apologetic about my choices. But now I just share my experience and leave it at that. Some people might think we're a little bit crazy. We've never used a crib (In fact, we recently gave ours to a family member because we knew we'd probably never use one again...). We co-slept for a year and loved it. Now, our 21-month-old daughter sleeps on a double-sized mattress on the floor in her own room. She breastfeeds to sleep at night (although that is changing because we are going through the weaning process right now - slowly and gently...). And she still wakes up in the night to nurse so I co-sleep with her from about 2 a.m. onward.

BUT - and this is a big but - we all sleep wonderfully in our house. My daughter sleeps from about 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. And all three of us wake up refreshed and happy.

So, should you pack up your crib and send it off to the Goodwill - and follow my "method"? No...you should follow YOUR method. Determine what makes you and your little one(s) the most peaceful and then do that. Proudly. Unapologetically. Happily. With humble confidence and without reservation.

NOTE: I think it goes without saying that you should follow safety precautions and take your child's age into consideration when making your choices...

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12 comments on “How to Get a Good Night's Sleep”

  1. I have ALWAYS used the phrase "Do what works for your family" I have stopped many people in their tracks by saying this phrase. So many people think that *Their Way* is the right way!! Once again, great post!!

  2. Your post is so freeing...I'm always apologizing for co-sleeping, nursing before bed, yada yada yada...

    What we're doing works for all of us and I needed a little reminder of that...Thank you!

  3. You are so right! I just wrote about our "routine" on an earlier post of yours before I read this...

    Routines/following certain methods is a great idea but does not work for everyone! You have to do what works best for you and your family, and not let anyone tell you otherwise! Thanks for writing this post!

  4. I love your list of tips. There are so many methods out there...it's mind boggling, especially when you are brain dead from being so sleep-deprived. I probably read every book on sleep hoping for that perfect solution, but no such luck! Jodi Mindell's "Sleeping Through the Night" was most helpful to me, but I still made a few modifications. You are right that you have to do what feels right for you and your family...and for those first few months, just get some sleep any way you can!!! haha!

  5. I definitely agree that you have to do what is best for your own family. Our methods had to change with our second child though. We were co sleepers with our son. So when our daughter was born we were planning on co sleeping, but whenever my daughter was in the bed with us she was wide awake. Looking around, excited to be in the bed with us, never sleeping. So it turned out that she slept in her own crib. She still will not sleep if she is in the bed with us and she is almost one. Everyone is different, even my kids.

  6. Great job! Every child is different and every parent is different. Do what works best for you and your family.

  7. Just as every child is different, so are the methods that a parent uses to assure safe and sound sleep for the entire household. Whatever works! Sounds like things are working out for you and that's what counts.

  8. Good job! I always say that, although my methods are perfect for my family, ever mother has to decide what is best for her own family's needs and individual situation. No one knows your family like you do.

  9. Amy- I agree with the blankie. My daughter has a blankie that she is attached to and helps her get to sleep where ever we are staying. Unfortunately, there is only one of them. Uff. So we have to make sure we don't lose it and schedule washings around naptime :)

  10. Great advice! Do what works for you and your family!!

    For my children, the most important thing is the blanky!!! Neither of them (a 6 year old and almost 2 year old) would consider going to bed without theirs. My advice...get them attached to a blanket that you can get multiples of!! They both have 3 of them that we can switch out (in case one gets left at Grandma's...or they need to be washed!)

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