Tracking Your Baby’s Sleep: Using Data from a Sleep Log to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

Is tracking your baby’s sleep the missing piece to solving your child’s sleep struggles?

When it comes to navigating your child’s exhausting sleep habits, I’m willing to bet (perhaps with a bit of help) you can figure out why your child isn’t getting enough sleep or if a sleep association is why they aren’t sleeping, and maybe even see patterns from day to day and night to night if you are tracking your baby’s sleep. That’s the easy part…identifying the problem, right?!

The more difficult part, though, is knowing what to do about it and tracking your baby’s sleep may help! [To help, get your free sleep tracker here!]

If you need a cliff-notes version of the WHY, here it is: Your child is waking at night because of science, and they’re not able to put themselves back to sleep without your help because of human behavior.

So, the question is…HOW do fix it so we can see positive change and healthy, sustainable sleep habits form?

Lucky for you, by nature and by profession, I am a researcher. I like data. I love solving puzzles and I like figuring out WHY something isn’t working and HOW to fix it. This is one of the superpowers that makes me an excellent sleep consultant!

When I had my first baby, I read all the books, googled all the things, applied a sleep training method, tracked sleep, and thought, “Oh gosh, my baby is supposed to have X hours of sleep!” But I didn’t know WHY we were not getting that sleep and HOW to achieve that. 

I was trying to problem solve so I would track the number of hours she was sleeping. But when we weren’t seeing a change, I was just anxious. I thought, “Yes. We’re doing something wrong. Everyone is tired.” 

But now what?

I could clearly see that her sleep was lacking. It was right there in front of me, plain as day, charted on a sleep log (and evidenced by the cranky baby and tired mommy!)

We decided to try our own form of sleep training and applied one of the sleep training methods I had read about. We did see some progress initially. But her naps were still short and she was not getting the sleep she needed. What was going on?!

There was more to it, and something was missing! It was then that I realized, sleep is a puzzle, and when we align those puzzle pieces we set our child up for success to establish a lasting, healthy sleep habit. I believe sleep training involves much more than just applying a method or tweaking the schedule because those pieces may only help in the short term. However, when we examine the whole puzzle and look at all the data, we better understand WHY the child is struggling with sleep and HOW to get them the sleep they need. 

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you done your research? Maybe even tried applying a sleep training method? Attempted different schedules to try to help your baby take better naps or sleep better at night? Searched the internet? Implemented pieces you have seen on social media and are still struggling?

Something’s missing. And today, I’m going to tell you what it is.

Is tracking your baby’s sleep the answer?

Yes. And no.

Using a sleep log and tracking your baby’s sleep can be such a helpful tool to see what’s potentially going on with your child’s sleep. As a sleep consultant, I know exactly what types of things to look at, what patterns start to emerge as your child is learning independence with their sleep, and what to watch for to see if your child is ready for a tweak to their schedule.

Here’s what you need to know when you’re tracking your child’s sleep:

  • What is the total sleep in 24 hours your child should be getting for their age?
  • What amount of sleep should come from naps and what amount should come from nighttime sleep?
  • If and when to cap naps or wake your child from a nap to preserve nighttime sleep
  • How long it’s taking them to fall asleep for naps and nighttime
  • The timing of things – how long are routines? What times should naps be at? When and how is feeding happening during the day and at night? Are you following a schedule that compliments their circadian rhythm? Are they going down too early or too late for a nap or for bedtime?

You can see there’s actually quite a lot that goes into it. I certainly didn’t realize all of this when I was first tracking my daughter’s sleep years ago.

You can track their sleep all day (and all night) – but without the other pieces of the sleep puzzle in place and without knowing what to watch for so you know what changes to make – you may struggle to see 10-12 hours of nighttime sleep consistently with age-appropriate naps during the day. This can feel overwhelming and frustrating. I know, because I was once there and I don’t want that for you.

If you’re logging your child’s sleep and still seeing short naps, early morning wakings, or more night wakings, it might be time to work with a professional.

Working with a Sleep Consultant

Sometimes people reach out to me and they have no idea what’s going on with their child’s sleep…just that there’s not much sleep happening and they’re tired. They want someone to tell them exactly what to do to fix things.

Others will reach out, and, similar to my situation with my daughter, will have tracked sleep, tried a few things, and they’re still not seeing the progress they had hoped to see by now.

Either way, with a plan and support from a sleep consultant who knows exactly what to do and what to watch for throughout the process, you can experience success with your child’s sleep!

Here’s what it looks like to work with Little Sleepers Big Dreamers:

  1. We have a sleep plan, especially for your child and your family. This plan includes all the pieces of the sleep puzzle, written out for you so you can be sure there is nothing left out or forgotten.
  2. You have guidance and support from a professional sleep consultant! I hold you accountable. I’m making sure you’re feeling supported, confident, and comfortable with implementing the sleep plan and method correctly. We have a full hour together to go over all of this and answer any questions you have.
  3. We track your child’s sleep data on a sleep log on Google Sheets (not fancy, I know, BUT…it allows me to see your child’s sleep horizontally AND vertically from every angle I need to help you be successful. Something an app has yet to help me do!) as we implement the sleep plan. I watch for patterns to emerge and make recommendations based on what I’m seeing as we work together for a few weeks. Before you know it, your little one will be sleeping all night long and taking quality, consolidated naps during the day.

I’ve been trained to know what to look for when it comes to the data you’re putting on your child’s sleep log.

If I’m seeing your baby or child is still waking with one sleep cycle change, that means something to me. 

Or if they’re waking with big sleep cycle changes at night, that means something to me. 

And I know how to help you fix it. 

Stop struggling with your child’s sleep.

This is where I dive in, troubleshoot, and help fix some of these things because of the training I’ve had. These are things that parents sometimes miss; Parents may see a big sleep cycle change in the middle of the night as just a night waking, and they don’t necessarily know why it is happening and how to fix it. 

Just as you might be able to identify a slow drain in your home and recognize that it could get worse, you can see the problem your child has with sleep and that it may worsen. You aren’t a professional, though, so you want to bring in someone who knows how to figure out what’s causing the slow drain AND who knows how to fix it. It’s the same with your child’s sleep. Bring in a professional who can figure out the cause of your child’s sleep struggles AND who knows how to fix it.

We wouldn’t think twice about calling a repair person to fix our AC when it’s broken or go to a salon professional for a new cut and color. They’re the experts.

Why is it so difficult to accept that our children may need professional help when it comes to their sleep? It’s because sleep is supposed to be this natural phenomenon, right? But it’s not that easy. Babies need to learn everything, from how to eat to sleep to talk and walk and they need our help with each stage. So when it comes to sleep, think back to the science AND the behavior. Hire someone who knows what the problem actually is AND who knows how to fix it. Hire someone to help guide you so you can help your child learn how to be an excellent sleeper.

I spend time tracking your baby’s sleep across 24 hours and over several days. I look at things horizontally and vertically on the sleep log. This all means something to me!

Specifically, I choose to use Google Sheets as my preferred sleep log tracking tool because it provides live updates. I can go in and see how your baby slept, what they did as they were falling asleep, and I ask the parents follow-up questions. I’m looking for patterns of sleep consolidation and sleep latency. These terms mean something to me.

Sleep logs are checked several times per day as we’re working together, and when we are one week, or two weeks into tracking your baby’s sleep, it’s fun to look back and see all the progress that’s taking place and that has already happened.

You can do this yourself by grabbing my FREE sleep tracker here. Or, I can help you.
If this sounds like something you and your child would benefit from, I invite you to take a look at the packages available to you on my website or read what other parents are saying. How much is sleep worth to you?

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Pediatric Sleep consultant, Kristi Roberts

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It is so easy, you can start tonight! Let me help your family get the sleep you need to achieve your dreams.