When parents face difficulties with infant and child sleep issues, they can often feel helpless and alone. Although it seems like everyone has advice to give, it seems like nobody offers a definitive plan as to how to get your child to sleep through the night

The topic of infant sleep is foremost in every new parent’s mind, and the information available on the subject is highly varied. Some books recommend getting up with your baby a dozen times a night, while others suggest letting them cry until they throw up! With contradictory advice like this, its no wonder parents are confused.

Although most parents can appreciate that their infant needs to sleep in order to grow and develop, many are unaware of the important sleep associations children acquire along the way. If a child is not given the opportunity to develop strategies to fall and stay asleep on their own, they may become dependent on outside stimuli to assist them. Consider these tips below for helping your child get the sleep they need…

1. The single most important skill you can teach children is how to fall asleep on their own without any external help. It is a life skill that is just as important as learning healthy eating habits or the benefits of daily exercise.

2. Consistency is the key. Whatever your method, you need to stick to it. Bedtime and naptime have to be non-negotiable. Sleep is just as important to a child’s health as a nutritious meal.

3. A predictable bedtime routine is an important cue to let the child’s body know that bedtime is near and its time to relax and prepare for nighttime sleep.

4. A short naptime routine will help in creating a relaxing environment that will prepare a child’s mind and body toward the idea of naptime and ease the transition.

5. An early bedtime is the key to avoiding overtiredness and hyperactivity in the evening. Any time between 6 and 8 pm is ideal for most infants and toddlers to be heading for bed.

6. Think of sleep as a continuous 24-hour cycle. Whatever happens at each stage of the day has a direct impact on what happens for the next 24 hours. Think twice about skipping naps and allowing late night bedtimes. It will affect what happens at the next stage of the 24-hour cycle.

7. Infants who are allowed to fall asleep while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding often require this routine when they wake during the night. If possible, avoid letting your child fall asleep while feeding.

Those sleepless nights aren't good for you or your baby - and a gentle, effective sleep strategy is a lot easier than you're probably thinking. In fact, most babies will learn to soothe themselves into a deep and peaceful sleep within just a few nights!

Author's Bio: 

Dana Obleman launched her successful private practice as a Sleep Coach in 2003, and since then has helped thousands of parents solve their child’s sleep problems.
Dana offers individual consultations with parents (in person or via telephone), group seminars, and is the creator of "The Sleep Sense Program", a best-selling "do-it-yourself" guide for tired parents.
Dana has made numerous television appearances, has been featured in national and local newspapers, spoken at multiple parenting trade shows and baby conventions, and co-hosted a popular parenting radio program. She was also recently invited to present a lecture on solving infant and toddler sleep problems to a convention of family doctors at one of the country's largest medical schools.
She currently lives on the West Coast with her husband and three young children.