The secret of having a child who sleeps well

Consistency is the secret if you want your child to sleep well. Consistency in the timing and place of sleep will begin to build healthy sleep habits. Your child needs to depend on your consistent response in how you handle their sleep.

When I talk with pregnant families they are all hoping for a baby that is a good sleeper. Unfortunately, babies are not born knowing how to get to sleep or stay asleep. We probably have all heard the phrase “sleeping like a baby”. I do not know who made that phrase up. My guess is they never had a baby. A newborn does not know how to get to sleep. Newborn sleep is very disorganized in length and timing. The parents are exhausted because the baby is not sleeping.

Sleep is a skill which every child needs to learn. There are certain ages when the ability to sleep develops in the brain. How the parent responds to those changes in the child, determines what the child learns.

A consistent response teaches the child how to handle sleep. For example, if you rock your child to sleep, they will expect to be rocked to sleep each time they are tired. Our children learn to anticipate what will happen after a certain action.

Choose carefully what consistent behavior you are doing to get your child to sleep because you are building a habit in your child. Is this something you want to live with long-term?

Consistency will help your child sleep well.

1) I encourage the families I work with to choose a consistent bedtime routine. A bedtime routine is doing the same thing in the same order, every bedtime. The bedtime routine tells your child that sleep is coming next. Their body begins to anticipate sleep.

2) Keep the place of sleep consistent. After the age of 12 weeks, all sleep should be in the child’s bed. The child associates their crib with sleep. The child does not have to figure out where they are because the crib is familiar to them.

3) Keep the timing of sleep consistent. Bedtime and naps should  happen at a similar time each day. There can be small fluctuations in the timing of sleep, but it should be close to the same time each day. Every child has a body clock which is set by the sun. Connect sleep time to their body’s desires to sleep. After 4 months of age, a child’s body is programmed for an early bedtime. Trying to push bedtime too late will lead to an over-tired child who fights sleep.

An example of this would be a toddler who consistently goes to bed at 7:30 PM each night. As the clock gets close to 7:30 PM the child feels tired and their body wants to sleep. The child’s biological clock and their consistent sleep habit makes the child desire sleep. Bedtime is less likely to turn into a battle. The end of the day can be enjoyable

4) During the night wakings parents should respond in a consistent way. Choose what habits you are building into your child. Think beyond the moment of what will work and whether or not you want this to happen every night.
Feed a hungry child, but not every wake up is for hunger. If you rock your child every time they wake during the night, the child will expect that. Keep in mind the age of your child, whether they can handle their own waking or need your intervention.

Contact me for help getting your child sleeping well.

Build consistency into sleep for your child. Your child will reward you by being that great sleeper you dreamed about.

Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

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Alix Kron
Alix Kron
4 months ago
We cannot say enough positive things about our experience working with Arlene!! We were desperate for sleep, going almost 5.5 months with frequent wake ups, nursing back to sleep, nonstop crying during the day, screaming in the car and becoming more and more hopeless as time went on without having success … Arlene changed all of that within no time. She listened to exactly what was going on for us, developed a sleep plan specific to our daughter’s needs/our goals and was so supportive and answered all of our questions along the way. It was very easy to follow the plan that she developed and it included naps and weaning off of night feedings. We saw a difference in our daughter almost immediately! Arlene has absolutely transformed our lives and given us the ability to enjoy each other and feel so much better getting the sleep we all want and NEED! Our daughter is now sleeping 11-12 hours per night, eating only once overnight as opposed to every 1-2 hours, is on a great nap schedule and is so much happier!!! It’s the best money we’ve spent.
Adrienne G.
Adrienne G.
2 years ago
We worked with Arlene to sleep train our 22 month old son who had been bed sharing and nursing to sleep. She helped us develop a sleep plan that was specific to our son's needs. It addressed both his nighttime sleep and his naps. It really took the guess work out of the endeavor, because as a parent, even if you read all the sleep books, there are many different opinions and it is hard to know what is right. Arlene was attentive, flexible and available to answer all of our questions and concerns. I would highly recommend working with her! Our son now sleeps 11-12 hours a night and put himself to sleep on his own. Sleep training him has been a game changer for me (I sleep now too!) and for him. He seems well rested and his development seems to be progressing faster now too. His language skills are flourishing since he is getting better rest.
Amanda C
Amanda C
4 years ago
We just wrapped up our second time working with Arlene, and had another great experience! Arlene helped us sleep train our first baby a few years ago when she was 4 months old at the time. She was a terrible sleeper, waking up once every hour and needing to be rocked to sleep for what felt like hours and hours each day. I was a stressed, exhausted, and worried first time mom, and I was drawn to Arlene’s calm and experienced approach. She gave us an option for a gentler strategy that worked for us at the time, and was detailed and responsive in her sleep plan and attentiveness. Our daughter just turned 2.5 years old and is still a great sleeper. So once our second baby turned 4 months recently, we did not hesitate to work with Arlene again. We now have two rockstar sleepers in our household, thanks to Arlene! It means the world to us that she was there to help guide us, instill confidence, and most importantly, help teach our children such a valuable skill they will undoubtedly benefit from for the rest of their lives.
Begoña Cirera
Begoña Cirera
2 years ago
Arlene helped me first with my first son who was 2.5 year old when I hired her. He slept with me during breastfeeding. He never wanted to sleep in his crib. I was due with my second, and I needed better rest, and had no clue how to get him to sleep away from my bed. I even had to sleep w him during naps, or he wouldn’t sleep. I had to walk him for hours to fall asleep every night. It was awful. Two weeks after Arlene helped us create a program for him, he was done!!! He was sleeping in his own room, all night (12+ hours) and he was SO HAPPY during the day. We learned so much, and all made so much sense. After trying methods and books, nothing worked. My son is almost 6, and he falls asleep at 7:30pm every evening, until 7:00am. As a parent, you know how precious those hours are. With my second one, I didn’t make the mistake of waiting until he was two to train him to sleep. By 3 months, we slowly started, with Arlene’s help. I never had to walk him or be there for him to fall asleep. He’s now 3, and he is a great sleeper, much better than his big brother ever was, still takes 90-min naps, and sleeps 11 hours a night. Every penny I spent to hire Arlene’s expertise is worth it. My only regret was not to look for her sooner. Lifesaver, 100%.
Abbey Stidam
Abbey Stidam
6 years ago
Arlene Fryling at Gentle Touch Sleep Time helped our son sleep, which helped us sleep! We were having trouble transitioning our son (4 months at the time) from his rock-n-play to the crib and our amazing sleeper since birth was all of a sudden not sleeping very much. Arlene talked with us about what was going on with his sleep and why the change in his sleep pattern. She answered all our questions and calmed our worries and frustrations. She came up with a sleep plan that worked for our family. She guided us every step of the way. He is now an amazing sleeper again! He is 18 months old and sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 1 1/2 - 2 hour nap. He loves to sleep and never fights sleeping. I am so thankful we had Arlene Fryling help us and we were able to teach our son to sleep.