It’s the ultimate catch-22 of parenthood: You need sleep to be a good parent. Your baby needs sleep to be healthy. However, a baby’s sleep habits are unpredictable at best. Attending a baby/child sleep training seminar with Jed Black of Stanford clued me in to some great tips and hacks for helping little ones (and their parents!) get the rest they need. Topics discussed include eliminating naps and/or switching to a different nap schedule. Babies are conditioned in uterus to not abide by the “normal” 24 hour sleep schedule. A two-sleep period in a 24 hour period is “correct” for humans, although our schedules have long dictated otherwise—babies don’t know this.Training Your Baby to Sleep with Jed Black

Learning about natural sleep habits can greatly help parents and children alike stick by a better schedule. Siestas (longer naps) in the afternoon can be a great help. Of course, if parents can nap with their children, that’s ideal. Thus far, there has been no scientific proof of dangers of sleeping too much. Unless there’s another, related condition at play, the body won’t “sleep too much.” Parents who are fearful of this with their babies can rest easy, but of course if you’re concerned it’s always best to talk with your pediatrician.

Sleep Problems

Sleep inertia, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders can happen to anyone of any age. When asked if there’s an optimal time of day for night sleep, Black notes that that there’s no way to arrive at that number. In many cases, either your child or your schedule will determine the sleeping time. When possible, it’s best to let your child’s natural sleep patterns choose the schedule.

Understanding how to optimize sleep is a skill that you can hone for yourself for a lifetime. Children are many times better at adapting to natural “best practices” than adults. Knowing that society’s perception of “correct” when it comes to sleep is often wrong, or doesn’t apply across the board to everyone, is key. There will always be morning people and night owls. If parents are one and their child is the other, this can cause even more confusion.

Your best productivity time might be completely different than your child’s. Prioritizing sleep hygiene should begin as soon as possible, but it’s never too late to start. Find out more about Black’s suggestions, recommendations, and tips by checking out the entire video.