10 tips for getting your 1 year old to sleep

Rhys had always been a little angel when it came to bedtime at our house. I know that at his mum’s he used to wake up throughout the night but at ours he’d always slept 7-7. I think it’s probably because he knew that he couldn’t just go on the boob here so even if he did wake in the night, he never bothered to let us know about it!

He still sleeps silently throughout the night but getting him to sleep in the first place has suddenly proven to be difficult for usWe can rock him off, sing to him (I don’t know how may rounds of ‘this old man’ I go through each night), fill him up with milk; and as soon as we put him down, boom – he’s up again, eyes open, babbling away – back to square one!

Pete finds it more difficult than I do, partly because he can’t resist talking to him which only ends up making him more alert; and also because he finds it easier to give in and pick him up whereas I find it a bit easier to be strict and try to get him to stay in his cot when he wants out.

We haven’t tried letting him cry just yet, although I think if we hadn’t nailed it last night, it may have been our next option! So last night, determined not to spend potentially hours getting him off, I used these tips and what do you know – he was off in 15 minutes!

1- Don’t make a big thing of saying ‘Goodnight”. 9 times out of 10 letting your child realise why you’re taking them to their bedroom at night time will only make them upset that playtime is over and this is not a good realisation for anyone! Pete will simply kiss Rhys on the back of the head while he’s not paying attention and we don’t even say ‘goodbye’ or ‘goodnight’ over even wave as he now understands what they mean. 

2 – Prep the room. Rhys is quite a light sleeper when he first drifts off so spending time drawing the curtains and getting his bed ready while hoping to calm him down merely set’s us back a step. I always make sure that his bed covers are pulled back too to make it easier to slip him into his cot once he’s nodded off.

3 – Comforts at the ready – Rhys has a dinosaur comforter that he can’t sleep without. Not having it at bed time would make him upset to the point of being wide awake and by the time we’d struggled to find it, melt down mode would have begun.

4 – Something pink – Rhys has a thing about my pink fluffy dressing gown that Pete’s parents got me for Christmas. At first I think it was how fluffy and snuggly it is but now I think he just associates it with me and cuddles. If I try to rock him to sleep in any other blanket he won’t have it but as soon as I wrap the dressing gown around us it’s like he’s in a trance.

This could be anything, like one of your t-shirts, a scarf, anything that you can pop in the cot (safely) with him so that if he wakes up can smell/ feel it and think that you’re still holding him.

5 – Don’t get too close! A great tip I’ve acquired is making sure the dressing gown goes in-between the two of us when I cuddle him. That way when he drifts off to sleep I can put him in his cot with the dressing gown and he won’t feel that I’ve let go of him. This could be the same for anything, a muslin, comforter or whatever, as long as they don’t feel that separation. 

6 – Drown out the noise – we have quite a creaky house so I find it helps to turn on his Tomy Starlight Dreamshow Musical Nightlight. It plays a variety of tunes and lights up a really nice pattern on the ceiling which he gets mesmerised by.

7 – Touch his face! OK I know this sounds weird but to get him off to sleep I run my finger around his eyes, down his nose, around his mouth and pretty much repeat this till he nods off. I tell him what I’m doing at the same time ’round your eyes and your button nose. Over your lips and up you cheeks’. It’s a tip my mum used to use on me and it’s brilliant!

8 – Close those eyes. This is another odd one but i stroke his eyelids down. I do it gently of course and it eventually gets to a point where he can’t be bothered to open his eyes anymore as he knows I’ll just close them again!

9 – Bottle at the ready! Sometimes Rhys wakes up in the night and needs a bit of a drink. I’m not sure if it’s because he gets warm or because he sleeps with his mouth open so his throat gets dry, but either way he loves a midnight tipple! We always make sure to have his bottle of water in the cot ready for him to grab and not wake himself up searching for it.

10 – Follow his lead. Normally Rhys will get tired around the same time, 6:30-7 ish; but sometimes  he likes to shake it up a little. We’ve found a lot lately that his tiredness could kick in as early as 3pm and as late as 11pm. At first this really bothered me. As a bit of an organised freak I like for things to be done when they should be, but then I realised that it’s not a behaviour thing. It could be a growth spurt, it could be that we had a particularly tiring day or that his day time nap was enough for him.

Trying to put a baby to bed thats not tired is literally the most frustrating thing, even more so than a baby that you know is tired and won’t sleep; and the solution – don’t do it. Just wait until they’re tired and if it seems a long way off, try tiring them out with some fresh air or a drive?

I hope these tips helped. I managed to get Rhys off in 15 minutes last night using all of these (they come naturally after a while don’t worry!)

What tips do you have for getting your little one off to sleep?

Thanks for reading! xx



  • Dianne
    6th June 2014 at 2:57 pm Reply

    The “round the eyes…round the little nose” thing was what my mum used to do with me and I then did it for all 3 of you. Good to hear it still works x

    • Jessica
      12th June 2014 at 11:11 am Reply

      It’s a definite winner muma!

  • firsttimemummy
    6th June 2014 at 4:59 pm Reply

    Excellent post and we’ll worked out! I was a nanny for 10 years and you sound like a pro already! 🙂

    • Jessica
      12th June 2014 at 11:12 am Reply

      I definitely wouldn’t say a pro, it can be really hit and miss. Last night he was asleep in the car so I just put him into his cot and he didn’t make a peep until 7:30 this morning, I’m hoping it’ll be like this form now on!

  • TinBoxTravller
    9th June 2014 at 1:29 pm Reply

    I’m a big fan of preparing our 16 month old’s room in advance and keeping things calm. I think we’ll be paying a bit more attention to how tired she is from now on though. She’s usually in bed by 6pm, but on occasion can take 45 minutes to drift off. On Saturday we were a bit out of routine and she went to bed at 8pm. I was a bit concerned about over-tiredness, but needn’t have worried. She was off in five minutes and gave us a little lay in on Sunday 🙂

    • Jessica
      12th June 2014 at 11:13 am Reply

      It’s definitely so important to base it on them too isn’t it? With Jasper I decided I wanted toe tat a routine and put him off to be around 8 every night but last night he didnt go off till 10 and slept right till 5, so definitely a winner!

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Hi I’m Jess, Single Mum, Accredited Life Coach, NLP Practitioner and Beauty Business owner.

I chat about all thing female empowerment, spirituality and positivity