5 Signs Your Child Needs Better Sleep

baby sleep better baby sleep improving sleep Sep 09, 2021
5 Signs Your Child Needs Better Sleep

I don’t believe there are good or bad sleepers. I believe all babies and children have the ability to sleep well, but some children just haven’t learned how to fall asleep and get back to sleep independently yet. If you’ve fallen into the belief that “my child just isn’t a good sleeper” please know that doesn’t have to be true and there’s absolutely hope!

So, how do you know if your child could benefit from better sleep and if sleep intervention might be useful for your family?  

Here are 5 signs to look out for to decide if your child needs some help with developing more independent sleep skills for better, longer, and more restorative sleep.

What Could Be Preventing Your Child From Getting Quality Sleep

Sleep is a critical part of a child’s health [1], so as parents we want to ensure that we are setting the foundation to provide the opportunity for quality sleep for little ones. 

And as parents, sleep is crucial for our health too! Making sure you are consistently setting your child up for success will benefit you as well!  

Here are some things that could be preventing your child from getting the best sleep possible: 

  • A sleep environment that is stimulating or uncomfortable
  • Fluctuating bedtime
  • An inconsistent bedtime routine
  • Letting your child get too drowsy during the routine
  • Putting your child down already asleep (don't worry about this one in the newborn phase!)

To learn more about how to provide a healthy sleep foundation for your child, check out these easy-to-skim & digest digital sleep guides by age!

Could Your Child Benefit From Better Sleep

When children learn how to sleep, they function and feel better, have fewer meltdowns throughout the day, and store information more effectively [2]. 

If you’re thinking that sounds great, but you’re not sure how to get there, the first step is identifying that your child could use some help with learning how to sleep better.  Yes, sleeping well is absolutely something children can learn to do! We help our children learn to walk, talk, eat, and SO much more by providing them the foundational tools to practice these things - and sleep is no different! Though sleep is a biological process, there are many tools we can help our children learn in order to sleep well

The most common signs of children needing better sleep are:

1. Early Morning Wakings 


Anything before 6 a.m. is too early (at least for me!) and should not be considered ‘morning’ (unless that’s what works best for your family’s schedule). Ideally, we want morning to start somewhere around 12 hours after their bedtime. 

2. Fighting Naps


It’s common for children to occasionally fight a nap.  But, if your child is constantly fighting their naps with a lot of crying, refusing to lie down, or they are frequently overly-tired, this can act as an indicator of being consistently overly-tired. 

3. Difficulty Falling Asleep or Falling Asleep Immediately


It’s normal for all of us, even babies, to take a little time to wind down and decompress before actually drifting off to sleep. But if your little one is fighting against falling asleep for over 30 minutes, or falling asleep as soon as their head touches the mattress, that’s an indication they’re likely exhausted.  

4. Constant Night Wakings


When I say “constant night wakings,” I’m excluding babies who are waking to feed out of true hunger (not habit) or babies occasionally waking due to discomfort (being hot or cold, dirty diapers, etc.).  If a child is 8 months old and is waking every hour through the night, we can assume it’s unlikely they are hungry. Or, if a child had been consistently sleeping 6-hour stretches, but is now sleeping only 1 or 2, we can assume something other than hunger is going on here. 

5. Requiring Outside Help to Fall Asleep


With babies 4 months and younger, requiring outside help to fall asleep is really common and generally not cause for concern.  However, as your baby grows, requiring outside help (or sleep associations) can become problematic and disruptive. Examples of this could be a child that is ONLY able to fall asleep by being rocked or fed to sleep. Children that develop their own strategies for falling asleep independently will likely have less disrupted sleep, as they know how to fall back to sleep independently when they wake between sleep cycles. 

It’s important to note that if your child is only exhibiting one of these signs, it may not mean that they necessarily need better sleep.  However, if they are exhibiting at least three of these signs in combination with one another, it is likely the case that a focus on better sleep hygiene leading to more restful sleep would be beneficial. 

If you’re still unsure if your child could benefit from better sleep, follow me on Instagram for more tips and facts relating to this topic!

How to Help Your Child Achieve Better Sleep

Now that you’ve identified some areas for improvement, where do you start? I have helped thousands of families with my baby sleep guides, all looking for answers to this question! 

Whether you’ve been struggling with your child having difficulty falling asleep at night, waking up too early in the morning, or fighting naps, a good place to start on your journey to better sleep (and one of the easiest places to start!) is a bedtime routine.

Data shows that bedtime routines can completely transform your little one’s sleep. [3] If you’re already implementing a bedtime routine but your child is still showing signs that they could use better sleep, check out my recommended bedtime routine to troubleshoot and see if there is anything that can be modified.  

If you find yourself still struggling with your little one’s sleep, please know that you are not alone and that I am here to help. Download one of my comprehensive sleep guides or schedule a call with me for some personalized support. 



[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6765101/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4537398/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6587179/

Need help transforming your child's sleep? Check out my sleep offerings for children 0-3 years old!


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