My top tips on how I have raised four great sleepers

This post was created in partnership with hydraSense®. To make sure hydraSense® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

Bedtime. Every parent wants to crack this one. Not only can sleep be hard to come by as a parent, but it’s your job to teach your kids healthy bedtime habits and how to sleep through the night. Not to mention that depending on the age and stage of your child, sleep is constantly morphing and it’s up to you to decode it and figure out how to tweak it to your child’s needs.

Twin nursery

Having four kids with good sleep habits hasn’t come without hard work and occasional hiccups. But for me, healthy sleep for our whole family is a priority and I have been fiercely protective of it from day one.

Here are some helpful trouble shooting tips I have picked up along the way that may just help your family too.

Have a plan. Before I get into the importance of having a plan, I think it is important to say that it’s okay to throw your plan, or someone else’s suggested plan out the window if it is just not working for you. I did. When I first became a mom I tried to fit our son Holden into this very strict sleeping schedule that I read in a parenting book. It drove me crazy when he just wouldn’t conform to this generic formula that had nothing to do with my baby. It felt so good to let other people’s rules go and just follow my gut, knowing that finding what works may take some trial and error.

new mom

When I found out I was having twins, I thought of everything, including how to create an optimal sleep environment in their nursery, to rehearsing (using dolls), our future night time routine. This might sound a little overboard, but after being through the baby stage twice I knew that a plan and having a goal made a big difference. For me it was having my twins sleep in their cribs, in their own room from day one and that I would be able to independently do night feedings from the beginning. This plan paid off and actually worked really well.

sleep training twins

Get creative when you hit a bump in the road. Just this past week, Mia (one of our three year old twins), started into some separation anxiety and a fear stage. This caused Mia to wake up nightly crying and screaming for hours on end. Despite what we would try, Mia’s hysterics would escalate keeping her twin sister, Everly awake in the bed beside her. Eventually, we began taking Mia into our bed, (something we try to avoid); just so that we could all just get some sleep.

After a few days of this I decided something had to be done. What could help Mia stay in bed all night and avoid the tears? That’s when I came up with the idea for a sticker chart. So that day I set out to buy special poster paper and stickers and created three charts, one for each of our girls (our son didn’t want one). This little reward in the morning has changed everything. Since implementing a sticker chart, we haven’t heard a peep from either Mia or Everly at night.

toddler sticker chart

Be consistent. This is probably one of the most common rules to babies and kids sleeping well. Have a schedule and stick to it. Our schedule was something that I was fiercely protective of which has created very predictable sleeping patterns and happy bedtimes. Anytime we’ve been forced out of routine because of special events, or trips we see the ripple effect. So, we make sure that whenever possible we can try to schedule life around our sleep routines.

Relax and be ready when your kids get sick. All of my tips above are great… when your kids are healthy, but every once and while an illness settles into our home and disrupts everyone’s sleep. Often, when our kids get colds, it hits Everly extra hard. She has always been more prone to congestion than our other kids and it’s our job to make sure I can reduce and relieve her nasal cold symptoms to help her breathe better.


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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by hydraSense®. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of hydraSense®. To make sure hydraSense® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

5 Sleep Tips For Your Newborn – The First Four Months

mother and newborn sleeping

This is a special guest post by Jamie Contarini, a certified sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site, Halton

After having your baby, the first few months can be exhausting and frustrating and exciting all at the same time. A baby’s sleep schedule is often unorganized and chaotic because her biological sleep rhythms are still maturing. You might do the exact same thing two days in a row and get completely different results. I understand the concern about creating bad habits, but right now you only need to make sure that your baby is well rested and well fed. Here are 5 tips for navigating through sleep during the first four months.

1. Be Safe. Always remember the “A,B,C’s of safe sleep”. Babies should sleep Alone, on their Back’s in their Crib (or bassinet).

Room sharing is safer than bed sharing and your baby will have some time to practice sleeping in her own space with you in the room.

2. Organize Day from Night. Open those blinds wide and get outside during the day. Expose your baby to a lot of sunlight during wake time and then make it dark when it is time to sleep (for naps, unless you are out, and at bedtime). During the night, keep interactions to a minimum when you can. Feed her, change her, give her some snuggles and help her fall back to sleep. Keep the chatting to a minimum (even though you just want to tell her how cute she is), this is a great habit to get into and it will help in the next month or so when her sleep becomes more organized.

3. Keep Short intervals of Wakefulness. Newborn babies sleep a lot – they can sleep 14-18+ hours and it can come in varying chunks throughout the day and night. A newborn can really only handle a wake time of between 30-90 minutes before needing sleep, and it might be a short nap, but sleep is sleep at this age. Watch the clock and help her if you need to. Most newborns can fall asleep anywhere, in a carrier, stroller, in the bassinet etc., so you can take advantage of this mobility and get out of the house when you are feeling up to it.

Closer to 2-4 months, her wakefulness periods will lengthen to 45-90 minutes, but you might find it harder for her to fall asleep. She is taking in the world and doesn’t recognize when she needs to sleep, so you need to watch the clock and watch her for her “tired cues”. What are some of the signs to watch for? She might start turning her head side to side (resisting sleep), rubbing her eyes or pulling on her ears.

I am sure you have received or you will receive the advice that you should keep your baby awake during the day so that she will sleep better at night – don’t do it!! An overtired baby has a harder time falling and staying asleep. Sleep begets sleep.

4. Practice and Playtime in the Crib. If you are not using the crib right away, then between 2 & 4 months, start giving your baby a chance to get used to it. It is important for her to have a consistent sleeping place and a space that is all hers. You love your bed, being able to stretch out and sleep however you want – she will get to that point too. If you still want her to sleep at arms reach near you for the night (in a bassinet or playpen etc), then offer naps in the crib. You can set up the crib in your master bedroom if you want to – just give her a chance to spend some time in it.

5. Soothing Routine. It is never too early to start your bedtime routine. Similar activities each night is going to send a cue her brain that sleep is coming next. What should be included in your routine? Change her diaper, put her into her pj’s and sleep sack or swaddle and then feed her. You can sing a song, or read a book, rock with her and cuddle – you can combine any number of these. Your routine does not have to be too long, and if you notice that she is getting fussy or turning away from the book then close it and get her into bed. At this point you are calming her and letting her know that it is time for sleep. If she is falling asleep during your routine then you can skip to the end and get her into bed.

Once you finish you routine (approximately 10-15 minutes) put her into her crib or bassinet and offer her the chance to drift off to sleep on her own. If, at the end of your routine she is upset and crying, you can help her sleep. There are no rules at this point other than our safety rule listed above.

After 4 months (calculated from her estimated due date) then you can let her work at falling asleep on her own for nights and naps, but right now, she might need some extra help, and you might enjoy the extra cuddles!

Bio: Jamie is a certified sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site Halton. Proud Mama of two boys. Jamie realized that her interest in helping change some of her son’s sleep habits actually turned into a passion and she happily joined the Good Night team with her mission being to help families succeed as she did.

 When she is not working, Jamie enjoys family time with her husband, sons and golden retriever.


6 Ways To Protect Your Family’s Sleep This Summer

Sleeping boyThis is a special guest post by Jamie Contarini

Summer is finally here. Windows are open, kids are playing, bbq is on and bedtimes are creeping later. The later bedtimes happen so easily; what can happen if your little one is going to bed too late every night? You can end up with an overtired baby – and that is no fun for anyone. An overtired child has a harder time falling and staying asleep. Don’t worry though, you can enjoy the summer and keep your little one rested with these tips.

1. Follow your schedule 80% of the time. That’s right, if you protect your baby’s sleep 80% of the time then he will have an easier time adjusting to a nap on the go, or a later bedtime. If you have a fun family picnic coming up, try to protect his sleep the week before you attend.

2. Darken the bedroom. The sun stays up later and is rising earlier. For us that is wonderful, but for our children – it can really cause issues with their sleep. Darkness cues melatonin so darken up that bedroom 30 minutes before it is time to sleep. In the morning, the rising of the sun is enough to convince your little one that it is time to get up – so keep it dark until it really is time to start the day.

Tip: Use garbage bags or bristol board taped to the window frame to make the room nice and dark.

3. Practice a relaxing routine before sleep. If you are out and about in the morning, try to offer at least a 10-minute wind down before naptime and 30 minutes before bedtime. Change your baby, read a book, sing a song, or tell a story.

6 Ways to protect your family's sleep this summer

4. White noise. White noise can help to drown out the noises happening outside. It can mask the neighbour mowing their lawn, or the early morning the birds. Do not play it full volume though, it should be similar to the sound of your bathroom fan and not placed directly beside your baby.

5. Keep it cool. Babies sleep better in cooler temperatures. Keeping the room between 20 and 22 °C is ideal. If the room is warm, consider adding a fan or a ceiling fan for toddlers rooms.

6. Use an early bedtime when needed. If you find your baby is getting up earlier and earlier in the morning, plan on an earlier bedtime. I know, “that sounds backwards” – but by putting your baby to sleep a little earlier will help him get some much needed restorative sleep, and in time, will help him wake a little later.

Remember, you can be flexible with your schedule, just not every night. Everyone needs a little down time to catch up on sleep. Have fun this summer – and take lots of photos!

Bio: Jamie Contarini is a certified sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site Halton. Proud Mama of two boys. Jamie realized that her interest in helping change some of her son’s sleep habits actually turned into a passion and she happily joined the Good Night team with her mission being to help families succeed as she did.

When she is not working, Jamie enjoys family time with her husband, sons and golden retriever. Website:
Twitter: GoodNightHalton
Instagram: GoodNightHalton

Creating Successful Bedtimes For Multiple Children


This is a special guest post by Alanna McGinn

“I don’t know how you do it!” was the usual response I would get when people would find out my youngest was twins. I would chuckle to myself and think, the twins are easy – it’s the 3 year old that’s a handful! My daughter was 3.5 years old when the twins were born and I have to say she adapted pretty easily and accepted her new brother and sister very well. It was her dad and I that had to do the big adjusting. Going from 1 to 3 kids was like going from none to 1. Suddenly your world is thrown upside down with these two small blessings, and even a sleep consultant wonders if I will ever sleep again.

My eldest was a solid sleeper and this definitely made it easier to hold onto some kind of routine when at times it seemed impossible. But once the babies were old enough to start a more consistent sleep routine I struggled with how I was going to work in my toddlers routine into the their sleep routine. This was an issue I never considered until we were knee deep in it. I think most parents of multiple children, whether you are dealing with twins or not, struggle with this dilemma. How do parents tackle different sleep routines and bedtimes with all their kids? Never mind how do you do, it but how do you do it successfully?

Have a Plan
Often when I’m working with families of multiple children bedtime is the biggest headache, largely due to who’s running the show. Spoiler – it’s not mom and dad. Parents need to sit down and form a plan that is realistic for their family, that includes age appropriate bedtimes, and who’s putting whom to bed. Take back control at bedtime and stop flying by the seat of your pants. Whether the plan is discussed or written down, having one will encourage both parents to remain consistent.

Ask for Help
Depending on how many kids you have and whether or not both parents are home at bedtime you may need to ask for help, and that’s okay. I did! At times my husband had to work at night and getting all three to bed on my own was difficult in the beginning. I recruited grandparents and a local sitter to help me out when I needed it and was a lifesaver. Listen, I understand that sometimes it’s tough to ask for help but check your pride at the door and do it. People around you want to help so let them.

Twin tip! While it’s important to keep twins on the same sleep and feeding schedule a 15-30 minute difference is okay. Mom, if you are on your own you can only do what you can do. If that means you can only feed and put down one twin at a time then that’s okay. I always say having twins is no different than having a singleton – everything just takes longer.

Teach Healthy Sleep Habits
Bedtime get’s easier once your child becomes an independent sleeper and I encourage you to start teaching healthy sleep habits once your children become old enough. Choose a sleep training program that works best for your family and once everyone is sleeping soundly you can successfully stagger age appropriate bedtimes and use these times to connect and bond with each child.

Bedtime Tip: Join our movement to #BringBackBedtime for the entire family and incorporate some of these bedtime tips to help all family members have a good night’s sleep.

Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site. Join our movement and #BringBackBedtime.