Ugh, I know, I’ve been there too! But I promise you, all is not lost! This blog will get you ticking off the basics of baby sleep so you know exactly where to from here.
So long as your one-year-old is healthy and thriving and has not underlying sleep disorders or conditions we can confident that the waking overnight is not hunger related.
Now in saying that… it is sustainable if your baby is having one feed overnight and quickly re-settling. So, if this is you keep doing what you’re doing and that last feed will drop off in no time.
But if you are finding that your little one is waking multiple times overnight and it’s taking longer and longer and getting hard and harder to re-settle back to sleep, then it’s likely there are a number of factors impacting this!
Now I want to make this very clear; it is not biologically normal for your little one to wake multiple times overnight, and it hasn’t been since the newborn days. If this is something you are experiencing then there are many pieces to your sleep puzzle that need to be investigated (PS. It’s not teeth that’s doing it)
6 ways to improve overnight sleep
Nail that nutrition
This is a doozy! Nutrition absolutely impacts the ability for your little person to be able to sleep comfortably and feel sustained overnight.
A balance of protein, healthy carbohydrates and fats at each of the main meals will be a game changer for your 1-year-old.
Protein helps to stabilise blood sugars. If your tot isn’t getting enough it’s likely their little body has a fair bit of adrenalin racing around. Which surprise, surprise, doesn’t support sleep.
I would recommend reaching out to a Paediatric Nutritionist for support in this area as many of our children are struggling with intolerances to their diet and once these areas are addressed, sleep will improve dramatically.
Create an optimal sleep environment
Another game changer.
Just think about how you like to sleep. Most of the time we prefer a quiet, darkened room, a comfy bed and snuggly clothes, and don’t forget your favourite pillow.
Well the same goes for our babies! They need a safe, consistent and optimal sleep environment the makes it easier for them to tune in and fall asleep.
Here’s a quick checklist to ensure you’re ticking those essential sleep environment boxes:
- Darkness – can you read a book in the room? If yes, it’s likely too bright!
- Temperature/Bedding – can you keep the room at 18 – 22 degrees? If yes, keep it up! If no, make sure your little one is layered with natural fabrics and wearing a quality sleeping bag.
- Noise – is the environment noisy? If yes, get that white noise on!
Create new sleep associations
Sleep Associations are the main reason for overnight waking’s. This basically means your baby (or toddler) has learnt that they need XYZ in order to be able to 1) fall asleep and 2) resettle between sleep cycles.
This might look like feeding, rocking, holding, bed-sharing or even driving them around the block (yes it happens, we do crazy things for sleep).
In order to create new (and more independent) sleep associations we need to reduce the level of active settling we are doing. This can be the trickiest part of the sleep puzzle and is also the one that gets the most attention in sleep world.
How you work on moving towards independent sleep is entirely up to you, your parenting and the temperament of your little one.
You can make changes gradually over days or even weeks, there is no prize for achieving your goals the fastest.
Take a look at the Hierarchy of Self-Settling, the bottom of the ladder is where we begin with a newborn, slowly over time we can begin to do less and less. I recommend the process begins from birth, however, the prior to 4-months-old your little one is not neurologically mature enough to do this all the time and will need your soothing.
Balance them naps
Naps are essential for overnight sleep, they are holistically and intrinsically linked. One cannot be great without the other. If naps are rubbish nights will be, if nights are rubbish, naps will be. On and on the cycle goes!
When your little one is achieving a consistent and balanced nap routine you are ensuring over-tiredness and under-tiredness is not contributing to overnight waking.
When your baby is overtired, cortisol levels will rise making it difficult for them to both settle and re-settle to sleep through the night.
A big tip here is please do not be completely guided by awake times. These are great during the first 3 – 5 months, however, beyond that a nap routine is going to work so much better with your little ones circadian rhythm (body clock) and have much happier sleepier outcomes.
Cruise into bedtime
Aim for a 10 – 20-minute wind-down prior to sleep. Ideally you want to be doing a similar routine each time. This will help to create sleep cues allowing your baby to settle into sleep calmly.
Now of course there are little ones who will fight the good fight regardless because FOMO is the real deal, but we really need to do this process regardless.
Your wind-down could include:
- Closing curtains
- Changing nappy
- Putting on a sleeping bag
- Reading a book
- Singing a song or rhyme
- Cuddles in the rocking chair
When your baby is calm, pop them down in the cot awake and let them settle to sleep. Babies who are put down asleep are more likely to wake overnight and on average sleep one hour less too.
I promise you, that late bedtime is not going to have the outcome you intend! It makes sense in our adult brain right? If I keep my baby up later, they will sleep better overnight and later in the morning.
Sorry team, this is the opposite to what you want to be doing! Remember the overtired thing we covered above? Well it applies to bedtime too! An overtired baby will NOT sleep well overnight.
Bedtime for a one-year-old, based on my Sleep Routines is around 6.30/7.00pm. It will need tweaking to suit your little ones sleep requirements and based on the naps for the day.
Again, take a look at my Free Feed and Sleep Routines guide to get you on the road to better sleep!
Wrapping it all up
If you’re struggling with the overnight partying please fill in my Working Together Form! Let me know what is happening for you and I will be in touch with the best way we can work together to achieve your goals!
Or take a look at 9 Month to 2 Year Sleep Guide – this is a very comprehensive guide with easy to read information and actionable strategies!
I’m Courtney, child-wrangler, sometimes parent-wrangler, sleep & behavioural specialist, and instigator of The Parenting Edit. And helping stressed and exhausted parents get their parenting swagger back? I live for it.
With a family-first approach, I take what you give me and work with it to get your family back to sleep. You’re guaranteed to feel supported and heard during our time together.
Let me know what you’re struggling with and let’s book you in!