Why Sleep Matters for Kids

Today we’re going to talk to you about five ways to get your infant asleep. We know how tough this can be. You’re new parents, or maybe you have one kid that’s really challenged and always staying awake. So Jeff and I are just going to fly through some different ideas that have helped us get our kids to sleep.

Number one, I would say Eat, Wake, Sleep really saved us and our five kids as we tried to help them get to sleep. This is a philosophy you will find in a book called Babywise. There’s a lot of things in there you may not like, but this particular piece is really helpful. And what it’s saying is that instead of … What you want to do, almost always with an infant, just naturally, is put them down when they’re already sleeping. So typically what you do is you’re feeding them, they fall asleep, and then you put them down. One of the things that this book points out is that you’re not actually training your kids to fall asleep on their own.

And so when you feel like your infant is ready for that, usually that’s not right away, but after they’re a month older or more, you can start to practice this schedule. You have them awake, you eat, and then you have wake time, and then you put them to sleep. That way they’re actually learning to fall asleep on their own. What this means is that after they go down, then if they wake up in the middle of the night, then they’ll actually put themselves to sleep. And so that’s part of just training your kids how to have a good sleep schedule, and so that’s helped us with all five of our kids. So Jeff, what have you got?

Number two for me, and I was just telling you about it, is I think the biggest thing for us is not believing the lie that just because your kid’s hyper or has a ton of energy, means that they need to stay up longer to burn that off. There’s actually been enough research and been enough data to support that usually if they start, the phrase we use is “bouncing off the walls” at 7:00, 7:30 PM, then they should have gone down at 6:00 PM. It’s almost a sign that they’re past their point of exhaustion and tiredness. And we actually put our kids down super early compared to at least our community, where they go down at … start getting … Yeah, we go down at like 6:15, 6:30.


If they’re really tired, even a little earlier. And our kids are two and four right now, so they’re still toddlers, but that’s still pretty early. Most people go to 7:00, 7:30. And then again, the second lie that goes with that is that when you put them down early, they do not wake up early. Now of course that might happen, but again, data suggests that if they go to bed in the right sleep schedule, then they actually will sleep better and longer and more fruitful. So don’t buy those two lies that hyperactivity means they need to stay up longer, or that if you do that, then they’re going to get up at 3:00 AM and just be bouncing off the walls again. So that’s what I would say for number two.

That’s awesome. So when do your kids typically get up when you won’t put them to bed that early?

We do a thing where we do … They go to bed at 6:30. They probably wake up at 6:30 or 7:00, but then we also do a thing of they have to have an hour of quiet time-ish in the morning. So they’re not allowed to come out of their rooms till 8:00, which that is … That can be a whole other episode.

We’re definitely with that.

Yeah, that saves our lives because me and Alyssa get an hour, hour and a half to ourselves before … Because if the kids set the tone in the morning at 5:00 AM, that’s not the best thing.

Yes. That’s awesome. I love that. Okay, so number three. Third thing is we like to use a timer. One of the things that’s really challenging when you’re trying to train your infant to fall asleep is that you don’t know whether or not you should let them cry it out, right? If you’re one of those hard-hearted people, you let your kids cry and try to fall asleep on their own, or if you should go pick them up and comfort them. And so a middle ground there is to actually design some kind of system where you decide we’re going to let them cry for this long.

What’s really surprising to a lot of people is that they will often say, “Well, they’ll cry for an hour straight,” but when they actually set up a timer for 15 minutes, that’s what we did, is that we would let our kids cry for 15 minutes and then we’d go get them. It actually felt like it was five hours, but was only 14 minutes or 13 minutes till they’d fall asleep. And oftentimes, they would cry the full 15 minutes, but that helped us sort of be a little more disciplined about letting our kids learn how to fall asleep on their own.

Yeah. So I would add a riff to that for my fourth one, and that is, we do the same thing, but we did incremental, where we would start … With Alyssa’s heart level, we would start with 30 seconds…


And then we’d go to two minutes and then five minutes and then 10 minutes. Meaning we would usually just add on a few more minutes to see if they could go a little longer, because I do think, yeah, attachment theory is real and certain things of this nature are real. But there also is a level at which as long as you’re coming in but stretching them a little bit, then they know you are there and that you can comfort them, but they’re also realizing that they’re safe and secure and can fall asleep. And so we just did incremental, and kept growing it to the point where they just … Like you said, after a couple of times, and they just stopped doing it altogether.

Yeah, that’s super helpful. Yeah. So the last one I would say is just stay on schedule as much as you can. Oftentimes, a problem with a particular sleeping segment is really not … The problem was rooted in something that happened earlier in the day or just being off-schedule in general. One of the things you have to embrace when you have young kids is just you have to live a pretty stable life, oftentimes. There are certain seasons where kids will really struggle with sleep, and so sometimes in order to just to have sanity, in order for them to get some sleep, you have to create a schedule and then keep iterating on a schedule, so you actually know when your child is struggling, what’s unusual. Maybe they are sick, maybe they are scared, maybe they are hungry or something. But it’s really difficult to tell what’s going on with your child, especially if they’re not sleeping, if you’re not on a really good schedule, especially to begin with. That’s something that we really did. So hopefully that’s helpful, you guys.

There’s a ton of stuff there.

I’d add a bonus one real quick, and that is dads, put your kids to sleep. I think a lot of times when I think about it, we put that in the mom category or I know a lot of dads that do, and there’s nothing better to create that attachment, to create that moment in bonding with your kids. Then you read the stories, you cuddle with them, you sleep with them, you put them down. They’re some of my favorite memories to this day. I put [Cannon 00:05:45] down right now while we have two kids, and Alyssa puts [Kinsley 00:05:47] down right now, and I wouldn’t trade anything for the world. It’s the best. And so, yeah, so that’s just a bonus one. Dads, it’s not how to get your kids to sleep, but make sure you actually are putting your kids to sleep. It’s a special time for sure.

That’s awesome. Cool, guys. Well, obviously there is a lot of different theories out there. We wanted to give you guys what works for Jeff and I, so hopefully that’s helpful to some of you. Every kid is different. Your mileage may vary. Those are some ideas. A lot of times, we just haven’t tried something that would really work. So hope that helps you guys, and happy sleeping with you and your little kids.

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