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The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep for Babies and Toddlers

A Good Night’s Sleep

Ask almost any new (or seasoned) parent, and they’ll likely tell you one of the biggest challenges when it comes to raising children is sleep. It seems like such a simple concept – sleep is a basic need. In theory, our bodies instinctively sleep with little to no effort on our part. In reality, getting adequate rest to support our daily lives can be much more complicated.

As a mother of three, I’ve experienced very different experiences when it comes to my children’s sleeping situations. My first baby slept relatively well as long as she was fed, dry, and warm. My next baby was the complete opposite! When he was born, he only slept when I held him. My firstborn (then a toddler) went through a jealous spell in response and wanted that same level of attention from her momma. Totally understandable, given she was adjusting to our new family dynamic, but parenting both a newborn and a toddler on little-to-no sleep was extremely difficult.

But we made it through. It’s true what they say: the days are long, but the years are short. My advice to anyone struggling with their child’s sleep is to trust your instincts, adapt when necessary, learn from the collective experiences of other parents, and do what is best for your family’s situation.

The Importance of Sleep

It may be obvious, but sleep plays a crucial role in one’s health. For our children, sleep is necessary to support their emotional and physical development. For us grown-ups, sleep is one of the keys to promoting emotional wellbeing, physical health, and just plain giving us the energy we need to show up as the parents we want to be.

Babies and children grow at rapid speed all the way to adulthood. For newborns, every new sight, smell, and touch creates new neural connections as they learn something new. Their little minds are exploding with new observations and skills. Sleep supports all that work as they adjust to the world around them. As babies grow into toddlers and then school-age children, adequate sleep supports them throughout the day as they learn new skills in the classroom, develop social skills on the playground, and so much more.

For adults, insufficient sleep can result in mood swings, reduces reaction time, and affects our ability to focus. Healthy sleep habits recharge both our minds and our bodies, leaving us refreshed and energized to take on the day. As parents, that’s something we definitely need working on our side! Parenting 101 has taught us that no matter how organized and thought-out our plans are, something unexpected will through a wrench in things. It’s important to be well-rested and alert when that happens!

Every Child is Different

Exactly how much sleep a child needs varies. This helpful guide from the Sleep Foundation is a good place to start, but the best way to know if your child is getting enough sleep is to look for cues. You know your child better than anyone. If you notice they become irritable during the day, have difficulty concentrating, or are falling asleep at the dinner table, they may not be getting enough sleep.

Just how to get the sleep your baby or toddler needs is the million dollar question. There is no right or wrong answer here, and it will likely take some (or a lot!) of trial and error to find what works for your family. Bonding is so important when you bring that new bundle of joy home for the first time because you are literally getting to know each other. You quickly learn which cry is the “hungry” cry, which requires a diaper change, and that oh-so-distinctive sound of a tired baby. But that’s not all you are learning about your newborn. You also learn what room temperature is best for them to sleep in, if they like background noise (like music or a sound machine), if they prefer a sleeper or a sleep sack, or any number of different things. 

As they grow, their sleep habits inevitably change. Just when you think you have your baby figured out – BOOM – how about a little sleep regression to change things up? Yes, they love to keep us on our toes! What used to result in a good night’s sleep might not work now. While this is frustrating, it’s also completely normal. It’s nothing you’re doing wrong as a parent. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that this is just how babies are, and adapt. You got this, momma.

Oolie Supports Your Sleep Journey 

We’ve been there ourselves, and that’s exactly why Oolie exists today. We’ve worked with other (equally exhausted) parents who struggled with sleep to bring you the tips, advice, and resources to help you find that sleep solution that works for your family.

We’ll be sharing stories from other parents just like you: exhausted moms who have gone down many 3am rabbit holes, endlessly scrolling on their phones for answers while cradling their adorable, but wide-awake baby. Some things will work for you, others won’t.

Oolie is here to support you on your journey to a good night’s sleep, whatever that looks like for you and your family.

We’ve all been there – trying to function on little to no sleep is hard and usually results in overly stressful situations for the entire family. Once you’ve cracked the sleep code, you and your children will all be much happier and healthier as a result. We promise, your baby will sleep. Your toddler will sleep. You will sleep again. And before you know it, you’ll have a teenager that easily sleeps until noon!

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—Brittany Mathiowetz

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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