Has your perfect little sleeper started messing around in their crib vs. napping or going to bed? If so, you might need to provide a sleep reminder to help your sweet little baby or toddler to get the hint that time in the crib is meant for sleeping….not playing or messing around.
It’s not uncommon for a baby or toddler to need a little wind-down time before they fall asleep, or a developmental change can also affect sleep for a short period of time.
But, if you find yourself with a middle-of-the-night dance party lasting for hours or over an hour of messing around before falling asleep for naps or bedtime, a friendly sleep reminder may trick your child to go to sleep. A sleep reminder can be a helpful tool in your tool belt.
Who is a sleep reminder good for?
- A baby or toddler who is an otherwise great sleeper started messing around recently.
- A baby or toddler who takes a looooooooong time (over an hour to fall asleep each night) but still wakes up at the same time each morning (not providing an adequate amount of overnight sleep).
- A baby or toddler who constantly has super long dance parties in the middle of the night and has an otherwise good sleep schedule – but the middle of the night wakings have lasted over a week.
What a sleep reminder is not good for?
- A baby or toddler who gets riled up by your presence and will stay up even longer once riled up.
- A sensitive sleeper who is quick to create bad habits and may delay sleep looking for the small chance that you can comfort them.
- A baby or toddler does not have any self-soothing skills or you are the one helping your child fall asleep –> my Ultimate Guide to Sleep Training is the go-to resource to learn more).
How do I give a sleep reminder?
The best way to give a sleep reminder for a baby or toddler is to try to voice soothe into a video monitor.
Click the talk button and say, “night night, time for sleep.” Hopefully, saying the phrase once or twice will do the trick and get your baby to lay down and sleep. If this method is effective in getting your baby/toddler to sleep, you do not need to risk creating a bad habit that will otherwise need to be fixed. If you don’t have a video monitor with a talk-back capability, you can use the following ways:
For babies, you can do it a few different ways:
- A quick snuggle or pick up / put down (where you take your baby out of the crib, hold him over your shoulder for a quick minute, and put him back down)
- A reassuring tummy pat.
- The words “night night, it’s time for sleep.”
- A sleep reminder for a baby less than 9 months should be done around the 20-minute mark to prevent your baby from becoming overtired. Wait another 20 minutes before giving another sleep reminder.
For toddlers, you can do it a few different ways:
- If your toddler is standing at the crib, go in and put him down, and say “night, night, time for sleep”
- While laying down, give him his comfort objects – blankies, lovie or stuffed animal.
- Alternatively, you can just open the door and use your voice to tell your toddler it’s time to go to sleep
- If your toddler is out of the crib, you can hover over them in their bed or stand at the side of the bed. Use the “night night” phrase but be careful not to lay in bed or continually offering tuck-ins (which, for some, will create more bad habits down the road).
- A sleep reminder should be done around the 30 minute mark to provide ample opportunity for your child to fall asleep independently. If your child naturally has a longer wind-down process, you can up the time to about 45 minutes or even an hour.
What if your child is crying?
It is possible that once you offer your child a sleep reminder, they will jolt themselves out of the “playtime” phase and they will get upset. If so, use a consistent soothing technique to get your baby or toddler sleeping.
Optimizing overall sleep should be the name of the game at this point, so select a method that you are most comfortable with that will get the fastest results and get your child sleeping.
A sleep reminder is just another tool in the sleep toolbox. I do not advocate creating a habit where you have to do sleep reminders for every nap or bedtime. Use your mom-gut to guide you, and I hope that a sleep reminder gets your children sleeping!