Of all the misleading phrases in history, “sleep like a baby” might be the worst. Infants tend to sleep in short cycles and wake often to feed; not exactly sleep that any adult would want to emulate. While sleep should improve as a baby grows (by 12-months-old, most babies are sleeping 8-10 straight hours or more at night without waking), that doesn’t happen for every family. 

Sleep solution

The truth is, many children struggle with waking at night, or taking short naps, and continue to struggle, sometimes into school years. Many can relate to kids in their beds well past age 5.

That lack of sleep isn’t merely frustrating for mom and dad; it can take a real toll on a family’s emotional and physical health. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a whole host of problems in both children and adults, including weight gain, depression, increased hyperactivity, behavioral issues, marital strife and more.

Three tips

Fortunately, there are ways that exhausted moms and dads can improve their family’s sleep (and well-being):

  • Create calming, consistent sleep routines; this will not only signal to your child that it’s time to sleep, but also set expectations. 

  • Set appropriate bedtimes for your children (and yourself). Keep in mind that babies need 12-14 hours of sleep and children need 9-10+ hours until they are in middle school.

  • Start the night how you want it to end. This is key to better sleep; once your child can fall asleep without your help, you’ll be on your way to longer stretches of sleep.