If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.
Q: What is your top tip for how to get a baby to sleep?
A: The single most important word is timing. You are using your child’s natural sleep rhythm as an aid to help her sleep well. You watch for drowsy signs and when they appear, you begin your soothing to sleep efforts and bedtime routines. Good timing prevents a second wind. What happens when you skip a nap or the interval between naps is too long or the bedtime is too late?
When you are short on sleep, your body reacts in a predictable way. You get keyed up because your body produces stimulating chemicals such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline to fight the fatigue. This results in a burst of energy commonly known as a second wind. When you catch your second wind, you are in a state of higher neurological arousal. You might feel more wired, turned on, or full of nervous energy. The higher state of neurological arousal makes it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep or both. Understanding how sleep deprivation causes a second wind that makes it more difficult to easily fall asleep and stay asleep also leads to a deeper appreciation of the opposite situation: being well-rested allows your child to more easily fall asleep and stay asleep.
Q: At what age should you start the Weissbluth Method?
A: It is never too early to start to help your child sleep better. Start with your newborn, or as early as possible to help your child sleep well because:
It is never too late to start to help your child sleep better because:
Q: How does daytime sleep differ from night sleep?
A: Naps are not little bits of night sleep randomly intruding upon children’s waking hours. Naps have their own rhythms and specific purposes.
Why Naps are Beneficial:
Q: Does the Weissbluth Method work for all age groups?
For children of every age, the brain naturally alternates between wake and sleep outputs. This is an automatic process over which we have no control. If you try to fight this circadian rhythm, you will lose because the ancient and powerful force behind this biological process is the rotation of the earth on its axis creating day and night. As the earth rotates, dawn and dusk separate day and night. Dawn and dusk are twilight, or in-between states. Not fully day and not fully night.
The brain automatically shifts into the drowsy state which is also an in-between state: not fully awake and not fully asleep. As your baby starts to become drowsy, begin to soothe your child to sleep. Healthy sleep occurs when the sleep period is in synchrony with the occurrence of the brain’s output for sleep both during the day and night. When you put your well-rested child to sleep at the beginning of the drowsy period, because the baby’s brain is naturally drifting into a sleep state:
Although some adults have an eveningness preference (owls) while others have a morningness preference (larks), research in children shows that between birth and 8 years of age, evening types (owls) occurs in less than 2 percent of children at every age. In separate research, using objective measures of sleep and salivary melatonin, at 30-36 months of age, the number of definite evening types was zero. So, the vast majority of babies and young children are larks (become drowsy early in the evening and wake up early in the morning) and thus benefit from early bedtimes.
My name is Marc Weissbluth and I’ve been a pediatrician since 1973. This baby sleep blog will help you create a healthy sleep schedule for your child. My baby sleep advice and sleep training will teach you how to get a baby to sleep through the night. To stay updated with my latest baby and child sleep blog posts, be sure to subscribe today.