I bet you are wondering how my children slept when they were little. I have a 14-year-old daughter named Madeleine, and boy/girl twins Everett and Ashton who are 10 years old.  Just like all of my clients, getting my children on the right sleep schedule so that the entire family was well rested was a process that took work.

An older photo, but one of my favorites – it perfectly captures their personalities.

First Time Mommy:

When my oldest was born I was teaching kindergarten and nannying. She was one of those babies who took to a schedule easily. The first book I read when I was pregnant (and felt like I was racing full speed ahead into the black hole of motherhood) was The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg. Her approach fit my personality and the ideas I had about how I wanted to parent. Her “Eat, Play, Sleep” plan worked for us. I remember sitting with the page open to the newborn body language descriptions and constantly studying it and making notes every time Madeleine cried or moved. I also followed the calming routine of Dr. Karp (Happiest Baby on the Block author) to the point that I felt like my uterus was going to fall out from swinging and my mouth was dry from shushing. Slowly, Madeleine picked up on the routine, and the swinging, shushing, sucking, and swaddling on your side motion became a 2 minute process instead of 35+.

At around 5 months, I felt our schedule was off. She was going to bed at 9 or 10, but she had started sleeping later and I felt our nursing schedule was thrown off. After one mommy friend reminded me that “babies can sleep 7-7,” and another shared Happy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD with me, I gradually backed up her bedtime. In three nights she was sleeping 7pm to 7am. She was nursing and eating solids during the day and was gaining weight, so she did not need to eat during the night. She loved the predictability during the day and I felt more in control because I knew when I was going to get a break.

Not all babies have Madeleine’s health or temperament and not all new moms are as relaxed as I was. Remember, I have been around little ones since I was a tween. I have babysat and nannyed countless families, studied child development, observed in lab schools, worked in homes with children with developmental delays, and taught kindergartners in an inner-city school. My background meant that most days, I was comfortable setting boundaries for my little one. Even so, I still had to sometimes step away and take a deep breath, have a cry in the shower, and dart out the door when my husband walked in. But I want to emphasize: we are all different, especially in how we handle parenthood, and that is a good thing.

The Twins:

I know you are wondering… what about the twins? It was a whole new ballgame with Everett and Ashton. To be honest, I can’t remember much of the first 4 months. I felt like all I did was feed babies. Pretty soon I was dealing with a milk intolerance for one and the other screaming because my let down wasn’t fast enough. One baby wanted to live in the swaddle because he was so tense and tightly wound, and the other one screamed and swirled her limbs so much we called her ‘The Tornado.’

I learned with my first that life was just easier for us with a routine. And now with 3 under 3.5, survival was all I could manage. I followed the same routine I did with Madeleine, though I quit nursing at 8 weeks. I ended up feeding my son homemade formula due to his milk intolerance, and my daughter was more content with a faster flow bottle nipple. This change allowed me to have more time for my oldest.

What stands out the most is that I kept my son sleeping longer (a little past 3 months) in a bouncy chair so that he could be upright because of his reflux. (Side note: our bouncy chair was not the fluffy papasan-like one, it was flatter without any stuffed areas and therefore had more room for air circulation). While we had help staying with us the first several weeks, my son slept in the room with us and my daughter was in the nursery/guest room.  They were both swaddled very snuggly for sleeping and they took pacifiers instead of sucking their thumbs like my oldest.  They were big, healthy babies so they did not eat during the night after about 3-4 months, but I replaced those pacifiers a whole bunch until they learned to replace them themselves. Survival. It helped that they napped well and ate well. But it was death to replace the paci. They began sleeping through the night at around 7 months. By 8 weeks, the twins were in the nursery together at night, which was much better for me.

As a toddler, my son was the play hard, sleep hard type. The transition from two naps to one was really hard for him. He wanted to nap at 11:30am for what seemed like forever (18-24 months). His twin was a more average sleeper, not as sensitive to the routine. Ashton is the kid who sleeps in, whereas Madeleine and Everett were always my early birds. My twins gave up their naps earlier than Madeleine did, but they still went to quiet time in separate rooms until they were over 5.

Where We are Today:

Fast-forward to now, my oldest is still my sleeper. She requires more sleep than the twins and has an earlier bedtime than her peers. Some of this I feel is due to her dyslexia diagnosis. She expends a lot of energy focusing at school. I have always thought that her healthy sleep habits paid off when she started school. She started each day rested with the energy to push through all the challenges that came at her through the day. What would 1st grade have looked like if she were exhausted on top of having a brain that worked differently? Today my twins have a later bedtime at age 10 than my oldest had when she was their age. Different kids, different needs.

Once my husband and I set boundaries for sleep and reinforced them at each new developmental level, nap and bedtime routines have never been a fight in our house. Yes, they ask to stay up late every now and then, but they understand the boundaries and follow the routine.

I thought you would enjoy seeing a glimpse into my time in the trenches with tiny humans. It was messy, it was not perfect, but throughout the years my husband and I worked hard to reinforce a consistent sleep routine that worked for our family.

This month I would like to feature former clients that would like to share their story. Would you be interested?

As always, I work with children across a wide range of ages in any given month.

This past month, I happened to work with two boys that were both 2.5—one locally and one in Connecticut. The two different families were comfortable with different methods, but both had the same goal: to build confidence in their toddlers so that they could self-soothe, go to sleep independently, and stay in their room all night.  Discerning which methods work best for different families is an important part of what I do.

I recently worked with a 6 and a 7-month-old, who each needed more time to adjust to new routines. Depending on their individual sleep associations, some infants need you to reinforce new sleep habits longer than you might think. This adjusting process can be a challenge for mom and dad.

Lots of phone consultations were also scheduled this month. I have the pleasure of speaking with many parents who truly love having a conversation focused on the individual needs of their child. Learning and tweaking sleep schedules, adjusting feeding, setting expectations, and staying consistent are all important parts of the process of working with clients.  I truly enjoy getting to know each family and creating a plan to help them become a well-rested household.  


Brantley- three year old happy sleeper
Three Year Old Happy Sleeper, Brantley

The first quarter has been full of fun clients, new packages, and building my Sleep Happy Team!  I am so thankful for the opportunity to support sleep-deprived mamas each week in my part-time business.  This past month, I worked with clients in Nashville, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., along with Texas clients in Melissa, Aledo, and Fort Worth.  In February I got to work with several 4 month olds, while March’s clients included multiple 7-12 month olds and two 2-3 year olds.

Working on sleep through sickness and tornado sirens is always tons of fun and we had plenty of those struggles this past month.   I am looking forward to summer in hopes my clients are experiencing less sickness.  A common theme this quarter has been learning importance of day sleep at any age.  If there is not a commitment to day sleep, you often hit roadblocks you can’t overcome with night sleep.

On the business side, I added a new follow-up package for former clients…the Sleep Happy Club Membership.  Families receive up to two hours of sleep consulting support each month through text, email, or phone, along with monthly updated milestones for an introductory rate of $100 per month for a 3-month or 6-month membership.

Infant Nutrition and Sleep- baby feeding routine guidelines from dietitian

If your baby isn’t sleeping well, nutrition could be part of the puzzle.  Good feeding habits are the foundation for healthy growth, development, and sleep.  This article includes general guidelines appropriate for most healthy infants.  Discuss any recommendations with your baby’s pediatrician or healthcare provider to make sure they are right for your baby.

Is your baby getting enough to eat during the day to sleep through the night?

Some babies are not eating enough and this can affect sleep.  While it is difficult to track total ounces for breastfeeding babies, consider keeping a 24 hour food diary for babies who drink pumped breast milk or formula.  This can be helpful in determining if your baby is generally taking in the recommended ounces for his age.  Your pediatrician can also compare your baby’s growth chart with his previous height and weight data and determine if your baby is following his growth trends.

Take a look at the Nutrition Guidelines for Infants adapted from John Hopkins Feeding Guide for the First Year.  You can see how breast milk or formula intake typically changes during your baby’s first year.

Nutrition Guidelines for Infants

Age Amount of Formula or Breast Milk per Feeding Number of Feedings per 24 Hours Total Ounces per 24 Hours
1 month 2 to 4 ounces 6 to 8 times 16 to 24 ounces
2 months 5 to 6 ounces 5 to 6 times 24 to 32 ounces
3 to 4 months 6 to 7 ounces 5 to 6 times 28 to 32 ounces
5 to 6 months 6 to 8 ounces 4 to 6 times 28 to 32 ounces
7 months 6 to 8 ounces 3 to 5 times 30 to 32 ounces
8 months 6 to 8 ounces 3 to 5 times 30 to 32 ounces
9 months 7 to 8 ounces 3 to 5 times 30 to 32 ounces
10-12 months 7 to 8 ounces 3 to 4 times 24 to 32 ounces


Follow your baby’s lead on feeding.  A baby’s intake will vary from feeding to feeding.  It is normal for some babies to have smaller, more frequent feedings.  If you force feed your baby, you are more likely to get a fussy baby who spits up.  Formula-fed babies often go longer between feedings due to the digestion process of formula versus breast milk.  There are no absolutes on ounces and feedings, so make sure you are paying attention to your baby’s cues.

Evaluate the bottle and nipple size.  Switch to a larger bottle and nipple when developmentally appropriate.  Most babies over six months need an 8-ounce bottle.  Older babies who are still on a size one nipple (the smallest one) may become frustrated or exhausted and limit their intake during feeding times due to the extra work of sucking from the small nipple.  Older infants usually need a size two, three or larger nipple.  Keep in mind that if the nipple hole is too large, however, it is possible for the breast milk or formula to come out too quickly and this can be a choking hazard.  There are many bottle and nipple choices available for consumers, so if your baby seems unhappy or overly fussy, there are options out there that mimic nursing, have an ergonomic design, or have venting systems that decrease air bubble intake.

Hold your baby during feeding times.  Parents and caregivers are often multi-tasking during feeding and may either prop a bottle or put their baby to sleep with a bottle.  Going to bed with a bottle increases the likelihood of ear infections and tooth decay.  Some babies are fussy and have reflux-type symptoms.  Holding your baby upright during bottle feeding may improve these symptoms and that equates to better sleep.

 Switching formulas.  If your baby has recurring gastrointestinal problems, sometimes switching formulas can help with digestive issues and improve infant sleep patterns.  There are a lot of formula options, so it is good idea to discuss formula changes with your baby’s healthcare provider. Breast-feeding moms can also look at their diet to determine if eliminating certain allergens or food/beverages help your baby have improved digestion.  Babies sleep better when they don’t have tummy pain.

baby eating

Introducing solids.  It is an exciting time to begin solid foods with your baby!  Generally you want to introduce solids around four to six months of age, or when your baby has at least doubled their birth weight and weighs about 13 pounds or more.  Other ways to assess readiness for solids is ensuring that your baby can sit up independently, can open her mouth when food comes her way, and can move food from the spoon to the back of her mouth (it is normal for this step to take some time).

It is best to start with a rice or other single-grain cereal mixed with formula or breast milk, and then move onto pureed vegetables, fruits, and then meats.  Most babies show a preference for sweet foods, so you may want to offer grains and vegetables first to ensure variety.  Remember that during the first year, babies will still get the majority of their nutrition from breast milk or formula.  Continue offering breast milk or formula before solids at most meal times, especially if you are working on sleep.

It is recommended that you start with one new food at a time and try the same food for three or four days before introducing the next new food.  This is helpful if your baby has an allergy or intolerance to a certain food item. Remember that infants ONLY need breast milk or formula for the first four to six months.  It might be tempting to give pureed foods to young infants under four months, but most babies are not developed enough to sit in a high chair and have good head control until at least four to six months.  There is also evidence that introducing solid food too early can cause allergies and eczema.

Calorie-rich foods.  Each ounce of breast milk or formula has about 20 calories.  If your baby is taking four to six ounces, this is easily 80-120 calories per feeding.  Babies who fill up on baby food may have to eat several servings to get this many calories, and likely the baby food will not provide the necessary fat or protein that is found in breast milk and formula. For babies with growth or sleep issues, offering formula or breast milk first during feeding time will keep your infant well-nourished and may help with sleep habits.  After the bottle is finished or your baby cues you to move on, then you can then work on developmental milestones (and the joy and sometimes frustration of introducing a new food to your baby) with pureed or mashed foods and a spoon.

baby food- feeding routines for infants

Homemade baby food.  It is convenient to purchase baby food, but you can make your own baby food that could be more nutritious (again, a well fed baby will hopefully sleep better for you).  Making your own baby food saves money, can have fewer added fillers or extra ingredients and can be nutrient-rich.  With commercial baby food, check the food label to ensure that it does not contain starches to thicken, added preservatives, or sweeteners.  The trend now is to offer simple baby foods with fewer ingredients, so you can easily find healthy choices in the grocery store.  Just make sure you are well-informed and reading food labels and ingredient lists.

If you want to make foods at home, one of my favorite baby foods to recommend is a simple fork mashed avocado.  It is a great source of healthy fat, vitamins and minerals.  Just peel a ripe avocado (no cooking required), remove the pit and mash or puree until the desired consistency.  You can also make homemade fruit or vegetable purees from cooked fresh fruit or vegetables with no added salt or seasoning.  Prepare purees in a food processor or blender by mixing with breast milk, formula, or water.  You can make baby food ahead and refrigerate for three days or freeze in ice cube trays for longer storage.

Ensuring that your baby is healthy and well-nourished can be the key to great sleep in infancy and beyond. Making nutrition a priority early in life can help your child have the right foundation for optimal growth, development and happy sleep.

Guest author Amy Tramm is a Registered Dietitian, Registered Nurse, and Mom of three teenagers who love to sleep in on the weekends.Dietitian and Nurse Amy Tramm


This information should not be used as a substitute for medical care and advice of your pediatrician. Discuss any health or nutrition concerns with your healthcare provider.  This article contains nutrition guidelines that may not be appropriate for your baby’s specific needs.