When Camille was a tiny nugget who could barely hold her head up, I must have read any book that I could get my hands on related to cognitive development. I knew that the first three years were crucial in terms of mental development. At this age, sleep is a huge factor in development and so I wanted to make sure that Camille received the highest quality of sleep. There were little “tricks” that we would employee to make sure that she was getting as much high-quality rest as possible. For example, Dr. Alan Greene, author of From First Kicks to First Steps says to avoid eye contact when putting your baby to sleep because it can actually increase their heart rate and blood pressure – which results in them becoming more awake. Let’s just say that as Camille got older putting her to sleep became more of a battle.
Things started to change when Camille was about 18 months. We moved away from fostering high-quality sleep to simply making sure that we could get her to stay within the confines of her crib. She’s a wilding at heart and at any opportunity she would hop out of the crib to wreck havoc. We were starting to get desperate, and decided to try anything to get her to sleep. We found that she would ONLY fall asleep if she thought that we were asleep too. Talk about FOMO. So we commenced to feign sleep at every nap and bedtime. Tbh, most of the time I’d actually fall asleep well before she did because I was so beat. Regardless of the time of day, it would take us about 2 hours to get her to fall asleep. Clearly, this was not sustainable. Something had to change.
Back to Basics
I hate referring to these as tricks, because there is nothing cunning or tricky about it. Tbh, we are doing the same things that we used to do when Camille was much younger. It took us some time to get back to the basics, but they made a difference. It’s a pretty straight-forward formula: movement + sound + touch. Let’s get to it.
When someone is pregnant there is a natural swaying that occurs which the baby becomes familiar with. After birth, many of use mimic this swaying or rocking when trying to calm a baby. This is more challenging since Camille is significantly larger now. There were so many days where I would give up trying to put her to sleep that I would just take her out of the bed and but her in the baby carrier. I’d start washing dishes. The result was not one that I intended: but she’d start to get drowsy and eventually she’d fall asleep. After some time, I realized that if I were to “hold” her she’d be more inclined to fall asleep faster.
White noise + Binaural beats
I can probably count on one hand the amount of times that Camille has fallen asleep without a sound-machine. This is primarily due to two reasons: we live in New York which is always obscenely loud and we have old creaky wooden floors. In order to make sure that little bit stays asleep, we keep the sound machine on. When I started to deliberately look into biohacking I learned about binaural beats. If you’re not familiar with binaural beats, Medical News Today describes it as “ soundwave therapy in which the right and left ears listen to two slightly different frequency tones yet perceive the tone as one.” There is a lot of information behind getting these frequencies right in order to encourage a deep sleep. Perhaps you don’t have the desire to learn about the science behind binaural beats, so just head over to a streaming service and search for sleep-inducing binaural beats. The options are endless. You can read about my favorite binaural beats station here.
Although my little lovebug is using full sentences and becoming more independent, she’s really still a little baby. Camille still finds comfort in being held and taking part in skin-to-skin. Skin-to-skin is super popular with infants, but I don’t hear as much about it with toddlers. Cam is a very expressive baby. When I hold her she’s most likely tugging on my ear or rubbing my arm. I find that when she has access to skin-to-skin she falls asleep much faster than without.
Combining these three things have made a world of difference in helping our little one fall asleep faster. I must say that I don’t want Camille to become fully dependent on us doing these things in order for her to fall asleep, so I use this as a last resort. There are many times when she can lie down in her bed and fall asleep without much intervention. If there are any hacks that you use to help your toddler to fall asleep, please share it! I wanna know what other people are doing!