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Yawn like a fawn: 4 expert tips for lulling your little one to sleep

You’re tired. Baby’s tired. We’re here to help you both get the restorative sleep you need.

Yawn like a fawn: 4 expert tips for lulling your little one
to sleep

Lauren Yelvington is a Certified Family Sleep Institute Pediatric Sleep Consultant and contributor of the new children’s bedtime book, Can You Yawn Like a Fawn? Her insights on creating a bedtime routine for optimizing children’s (and our own) restorative sleep are downright soothing. We’re getting sleepy already.


I read all of the pregnancy books when I was expecting my first child. I was fascinated by my pregnancy and with the tiny human I was growing inside of me. I learned all about her weekly developments and her approximate size (as creatively compared to fruits and vegetables).

What I did not do was read the books that taught practical things…you know, like how to care for my baby once she arrived.

The topic I felt most lost about was how to help my little girl develop healthy sleep habits. Those long nights of soothing and nursing my baby to sleep worked for the first couple of months but were extraordinarily tiring as she grew and lacked independent sleep skills.

Intrigued by pediatric sleep, I studied to become a child sleep consultant. I needed to better understand my own child and felt motivated to help others who must also be struggling. I knew healthy sleep habits were within my reach—and they are within yours, too, mama!

So, how do we build healthy sleep habits? Along with appropriate sleep schedules, a sleep environment conducive to sleep, and the absence of sleep associations, we must also build a sleep routine that will help our little ones drift off to sleep confidently and independently.

Here are 4 simple strategies you can start today to implement a healthy sleep routine for your little one.

Set the stage early.

About an hour before you expect to put your little one to bed, set the stage by dimming lights, turning off electronics, using quiet voices, and engaging in low key activities.

These steps will serve as a signal to your little one that it is time to start relaxing for the evening.

Bonus: A relaxing atmosphere before bedtime will increase baby’s melatonin(a natural sleep hormone), which will give your tot that sweet sleepy feeling.

Timing is everything.

Beginning your sleep routine at the right time will set the stage for success. Try to ensure that your child has not become overtired as you prepare them for bed. An overtired child has more difficulty settling down for sleep and may experience more restless sleep.

Your child’s bedtime may slightly change from night to night based on the quality of their daytime naps, when your child woke from their last nap, and the activity of the day.

With healthy naps in place, infants who nap up to five times per day may sleep comfortably at night with 2-2.5 hours between the last nap of the day and bedtime. In contrast, an older child who had one nap may comfortably handle about 4-4.5 hours between their nap and bedtime.

Make it a non-negotiable affair.

As you move into your bedtime routine, be prepared to stick to your guns and resist negotiating with your little one.

Negotiations about the number of books and songs or allowing your child to extend the routine with requests for snacks, potty breaks, or extra rocking will lengthen your routine and interfere with getting to bed on time.

Keep it simple, sleepy.

Bedtime routines do not need to be elaborate and need only consist of a few simple steps.

Healthy sleep routines for infants can be as simple as entering the bedroom, changing baby’s diaper and clothes, reading a short bedtime book, dimming the lights, closing the curtains, turning on a white noise machine, feeding (if necessary), and placing baby on his back in the crib.

For older babies and toddlers, you may want to include a bath, a bedtime book of baby’s choosing, or a relaxing song.

Bedtime routines are best when limited and structured so they are predictable and soothing.

End your routine confident that your child is ready for sleep. Your child will sense your confidence and be comforted in their ability to sleep independently.

As you are establishing your healthy bedtime routine, reflect on its effectiveness. Be sure that the elements you choose to include in your routine are conducive to helping your child achieve a sense of peace and prepare for sleep.

A custom combination of dim lighting, quiet voices, sleepy actions, loving words, calming stories, and songs will have your little one ready for a night of healthy, restorative sleep.

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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