Raising Great Sleepers

Raising Great Sleepers“Put them down awake.”

Our mission of raising great sleepers started with those words from our favorite post-delivery nurse, Michelle.

We had more than a few lengthy conversations with Michelle during our hospital stay, but this one about fostering strong sleeping habits in babies always stuck out.  She wasn’t talking specifically about my son or saying do this every time, she meant kids in general and to mix it in so that they aren’t completely foreign to the concept of falling asleep on their own.

So that’s how we did it.

In the beginning and with both of our boys, most of the time they fell asleep on a loved one’s chest, but at least once or twice in the cycle, we would put them down awake.  Not screaming and kicking and crying awake, just awake.  Crying sometimes happened after they were put down, and we would get them after a little bit if they didn’t stop, but more often than not they did stop.  As they got older, we let the crying go on a little longer.

Eventually, the crying stopped and they just went to bed when put down.  Awake.  Sure they were both masters of stalling even from the beginning, but routine always won the night.

Both boys took to this practice and have always went down very well.  Too well, maybe, with the 2-year-old now lunging for his pillow from my arms the minute I finish the nighty nighty song, totally disrespecting post-song cuddle time.

Not tip-toeing around after they were asleep was another thing we were conscious of in our attempt at raising great sleepers.  The dishwasher and washing machine were never off limits, even in the pack ‘n play in the living room days.  We just went about things as normal with only hooting and hollering left out of the equation.

A vivid memory of mine is coming home from one of our first nights out after our first son was born, and my wife’s parents who were babysitting welcomed us home with whispers and soft steps.  Riding high from being free of the endless diaper changing and feeding cycle for even just a few hours, we laughed, maybe a little too loud, and let them know we’ll have none of that.

And we didn’t.  While they were sleeping we would watch movies, have friends over, vacuum and talk on the phone, and when they got older, have parties and go about our business at probably 85% volume.  As a kid, the general hub bub of the adults downstairs always put me to sleep feeling content, and I’m thinking it’s the same with these two boys.

Going in their room after they are asleep is also a good practice.  There are going to be times when you need something from their room after they are down and you should just be able to go in and get it.  There are also going to be times when you simply want to check on them, especially when they are sick.  Yes, there are times when they are babies that you absolutely do not go into that room for any circumstance whatsoever, but after a while (and a few test runs), you know when it’s safe to enter.  More importantly, they get used to it and you don’t have to do your best Mission Impossible impression should you ever find the need to go into their room.

I’m going through a sappy dad phase right now where I check on and tuck in each boy right before I go to bed most nights.  The 5-year-old doesn’t budge, even when I physically move him back to his pillow from that jackknife thing he likes to do, while the little Freight Train releases latent steam in the form of cute sighs as he nuzzles into his freshly tucked in blanket, one that was clear on the other side of the crib moments earlier.

Night and day those two.

Well, except for them both being great sleepers.


Brad the Dad can be reached at bradmarmo@gmail.comfound on: Twitter|Facebook|Pinterest


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Enjoy a unique, fresh and entertaining perspective on parenting as Brad the Dad learns what it takes to raise 2 boys in today's world. #DadsRT co-founder.

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  1. Good stuff here. On a related note, I raised my kid on rock and roll, and that’s how we got him to sleep when things got rough. I’m talking Motörhead here. Fast, dirty, and no holds barred (that’s what brought him into the world too!) Once asleep, we could make all the racket we wanted and he stayed out for the count. Times do change; they go through phases. But in those early, sleep training days, rock and roll saved my sanity.

    • That’s great, Brian! I really think it’s all about what they get used to in these early stages, and if you guys are living the “rock and roll life,” then I see no reason to change things just because a baby has entered the equation. This is the reality of life. At some point in our kids’ lives they are going to have to deal with a noisy neighbor who stays up late, a barking dog in the neighborhood, a bustling college dorm hall, etc… Absolute silence is not a reality, so why try and create it?

  2. swpax says:

    Brad, I love it: “…totally disrespecting post-song cuddle time.”

    Aside from Ms 7’s colic and the months of hell this brought on day and night, a similar approach with them allowed our night time routines to be smooth and very enjoyable for all. It helps to wear them out with active days as well. 😉

This is what I think...