Episode Summary:

This episode of Resting in Motherhood is for my toddler mamas (but it’s also good to have in your toolbox if your little one is still a baby), I want to talk about the difference between toddler sleep and baby sleep. When I first started supporting families, I imagined that I was going to be working mostly with zero to 12 month olds, but as my business grew, I started seeing more and more older babies come in and I quickly found out that toddler sleep is actually my favorite type of sleep to support clients with. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love working with zero to 12 month olds, I do, but toddler sleep is a lot more complicated than baby sleep and I want to dive into why that is. This episode isn’t meant to scare you, especially if you’re in the first year and things already feel so hard. Toddler sleep is not harder, I think it is just more complicated. But I have so much support and resources for you that will help you feel empowered, confident, and educated when it comes to your child’s sleep.

This episode is happening at the perfect time, too because I’m on the cusp of launching my upcoming toddler sleep course on April 4th. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, you can get on the waitlist to learn more here. By joining the wait list, you’re getting $50 off and also the chance to join a live toddler sleep Q&A call with me. Only the first 25 purchasers are getting access to that because I do want to keep it small and intimate so that I can answer all of your questions. Join today!


  • How Brittni is finding rest in motherhood in a very business season of her life and knowing when it’s okay to give yourself grace and let things go that aren’t serving you
  • Why Brittni decided to give toddler sleep more attention and why she currently favors supporting toddlers through sleep
  • Learning how to manage your expectations as a new mom and what your baby needs
  • Signs that your child is evolving into toddler sleep and how this can lead to new complications
  • Why Brittni believes toddler sleep is not harder, but it is more complicated
  • What is and is not biologically normal for your baby and toddler’s sleep
  • Questions to ask yourself when you get into the toddler age of sleep
  • What to do if things are currently feeling hard and unsustainable regarding sleep


Read a raw, unedited transcript of this episode.

Brittni (00:01.226)
Hello, hello, happy Tuesday or whatever day it is that you are listening right now. Welcome back to the Resting in Motherhood podcast. I am as always excited to sit down and chat with you. I know that we aren’t face to face. It would be so fun to like sit down and just have a coffee with you and chat, but I love, I look forward to this time.

all week just to sit down, chat with you, open up, go a little bit deeper. And so I’m thankful to have your time today to have your attention and to chat. So I will, I’ll share, I’ll start as I always do, sharing how I’m currently finding rest in motherhood. And this was a hard one for me to think about as I sat down today and asked myself, how am I currently finding rest in motherhood? Because I’m currently in a very, very busy season.

of my life, not just motherhood. I am knee deep in finishing all of the final touches on my toddler course, which will be launching in less than a month, which I cannot believe. And that’s just really kind of seeping into every aspect of my life. I’m working more. I’m still trying to juggle one -on -one clients, right? And being a mom and finding time to get everything that I need to get in.

done before the launch. So it’s been a lot. And so I would say this is not really a season of a lot of rest for me. But how I’m currently finding rest is kind of just going with the flow and letting go of maybe some of the rules or expectations that I have of myself. I’ve shared a lot about how important journaling is to me. I’ve also shared about the fact that I don’t really watch TV at nighttime anymore. I only read.

I’ve also shared about how I’ve been waking up earlier before Lila and all of those things I have incorporated into my life to give myself some mindfulness, to ground myself, to find some rest. But I was finding that kind of trying to hold myself to all of these was actually burning me out more, right? Like I wasn’t finding time to journal. And so then I was feeling guilty about not finding time to do it. And then it became like one more thing on the to -do list.

Brittni (02:21.986)
Same thing with the waking up early. I was trying to wake up early to get some mindfulness time and do like a little bit of quiet time or red light therapy in the morning before Lila woke up and I just I’ve been tired. Like I haven’t wanted to wake up earlier. So I’ve stopped doing that right now. Right. And then another thing is is just this week. I finished my if you’re a reader.

and fear a nerdy reader like me, I finished the most recent Crescent City book, which kind of left me in a book hangover. And usually like I’ll finish a book and then the next day I’ll start a new book. And I just didn’t feel like reading. I don’t know, I just, I needed a little bit of time to decompress after reading that book. So I’m like, oh, I’ll find a new series to watch before bed, which again, breaking one of my like cardinal rules of no screen time before bed, because I do know that it impacts my sleep. But all of this to say that,

While I am all about healing and going deeper and reconnecting to yourself and taking care of yourself, I often think that when we’re in this kind of healing era or growth era, we start feeling like these are things that we absolutely have to do. Like I need to do this to be a better person. I need to do this to be more healed, for lack of a better word. I know that’s not correct grammar, but…

We get stuck doing these things, right? Because we are doing them for a good reason, but I find that oftentimes we actually end up making life harder because they become yet another thing on our to -do list. And so I just stopped and I said, Britt, take a little break. These things are adding stress and the reason that you’re doing them is meant to be taking stress away in your life. So if this is adding stress in your life, it’s okay to let it go.

it’s okay to stop, just kind of take a reset, do what you need to do in this moment, and then when things feel better, you can get back to doing these things if they feel aligned. And so I think that that’s a lesson that we can all take on is just because something was serving us, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to serve us right now. And it’s okay to let go of those expectations or let go of those rules.

Brittni (04:41.866)
and really tune into what you need in this moment or this season of your life. And it might look different than it did in a previous season or that it will, than it will in a future season. So that’s my little, my motherhood insight today, or more just person insight, right? It doesn’t have to apply to motherhood. But I will jump now to what we’re going to be chatting about today, which is,

I want to talk about the difference between toddler sleep and baby sleep because when I first started my business, I had a 13 month old. Well, when I first got my certification, I had a 13 month old. And so I hadn’t really entered the stage of toddler sleep. And then I started taking clients when she was about 18 months old. And so I was in the toddler sleep.

stage, but I felt like I was in a good place because I had my certification. I knew what was normal. I knew what to expect. I was really confident in what we were doing. And so when I first started supporting families, I just imagined that I was going to be working mostly with zero to 12 month olds, which I do have a lot of zero to 12 month old clients. But as my business grew, I started seeing more and more older babies come in.

And I think part of this is because a lot of my like OG followers that I had when I first started my account and literally had like five followers, they’ve stayed with me, right? So as, as my page grew, as I got further along in business, these followers that had started following me from the very beginning now had toddlers. And so I started really getting a lot of toddler clients and I quickly found out that toddler,

Sleep is actually my favorite. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love working with zero to 12 month olds. I do. I love working with all families, all babies. But toddler sleep, in my opinion, is a lot more complicated than baby sleep. And let me stop here and differentiate because infancy actually lasts three years. So technically your three year old is still a baby, right? And I think we all think, I still think of Lila who’s four and a half. Oh my gosh.

Brittni (07:02.282)
as a baby, right? But technically speaking, zero to three years of age is infancy. So, but when I say baby versus toddler, baby to me, when I’m speaking is zero to 12 months, and then toddler is 12 months to four years of age. So when I started working with these toddler clients more and more, it became very clear to me that toddler sleep,

is actually a lot more complicated than baby sleep and also a lot more fun, at least for me. And this doesn’t mean that I knew nothing about toddler sleep when I got my certification because I learned all about sleep zero to four years of age. And so I knew a lot about toddler sleep, but what I found when working with families is that it actually is a lot more complicated than that first year. And I want to dive into why that is.

But I also don’t want this to scare you. Like if you’re in the first year and things feel so hard and you’re like, wait a second, I have something harder that’s coming. I don’t want it to feel, I don’t want to scare you because it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s harder. I just think it’s more complicated. And I’ll, I’ll dive into why that is. And hopefully, like I said, if you have a little one who’s zero to 12 months and things feel really hard, I want you to leave this conversation not feeling like.

Oh my gosh, worse things are coming. I actually want it to empower you and help you feel really confident in knowing and approaching what is coming. So baby sleep, again, that zero to 12 months sleep is often more, especially in like those first six months, it’s more about managing expectations and learning who your baby is and what they need, right? A lot of us, which is why I’m here, a lot of us do not have any idea.

what is coming for us in terms of that zero to 12 months sleep, right? Like maybe we’ve read the sleep training books, maybe we have friends who have babies, but especially a lot of us who have decided not to sleep train, we have no idea what’s in store for us. So those first, especially like six months, I would say, maybe first six to nine months are really about like finding or gaining realistic expectations. So knowing that,

Brittni (09:25.706)
It’s biologically normal for babies to wake about every two to three hours at night. It’s very normal for your baby to only want to sleep on you or next to you. It’s very normal for your baby to wake up as soon as you transfer them down for their nap because they’re not in your arms. So that first, I would say six to nine months is really about getting those realistic expectations.

understanding that you’re not failing. Your baby is simply being who they are. They’re being a biologically normal baby. And it’s also about learning who the child is in front of you. What is their temperament? What is their personality? What do they like? What do they find calming? What do they not like? And little by little, all of this stuff starts coming out in the first year. And so in that first year, you’re really learning, okay, what’s normal.

who is my child, what works for us. And that’s the difference, right, between this newborn or this zero to 12 months sleep and this toddler sleep. And I want to stop and say that I’m not saying that there aren’t challenges in the first year because the first year rocked my world, which is why I’m here doing what I’m doing, right? Like if you have a little one who’s waking hourly, let’s chat, let’s work together on that. If you have a little one.

up for hours in the middle of the night. Like maybe they sleep a two -hour stretch, wake up for a quick wake up, then they go back to sleep for a two -hour stretch, and then they’re awake for two to four hours in the middle of the night, which is known as a split night. Yes, let’s work on that. That is not something that should be normal. We absolutely want to work on that. If you have a little one who’s consistently waking before 6 a .m., that’s known as early rising. That’s something that we can work on.

If you have a little one who is waking very frequently at the beginning of the night, which is known as a false start, that’s something that we can work on. If bed sharing just simply isn’t working for you, that’s something that we can work on. If you’re wanting to get some independent naps, that’s something that we can work on. So I’m not saying that the whole first year of life is just accepting, but I think a lot of it is getting those realistic expectations.

Brittni (11:41.126)
knowing who your baby is, getting to know their unique needs, their unique sleep needs, their personality, and then figuring out kind of what your family values are and letting those guide your sleep decisions and figuring out what feels sustainable and what doesn’t feel sustainable. So in that first year of life, it’s really about finding your footing. And I really want to reiterate here that I’m not saying that just because you’ve chosen not to sleep train.

You can’t make any changes in the first year. If something is feeling unsustainable for you, let’s work on that. Let’s make it easier. That’s what I do. That’s how I work with clients. That’s why I have my zero to 12 month course. I want you to feel empowered. I want you to feel confident and educated. And I want sleep to feel sustainable for you. So I’m not saying, oh, you just have to accept everything that comes in the first year. But I do think.

that a lot of it, like especially if we have a baby who is just simply waking every two to three hours throughout the night for a quick feed or a snuggle and going back to sleep, a lot of the difficulties there arrive from getting those realistic expectations and not comparing our baby to the outside world. Now, toddler sleep, it’s a whole new ball game. We have a child whose sleep needs are decreasing as a child grows, right? Like from the moment they’re born,

their sleep needs start decreasing. And then especially as we near that 12 month mark, as they drop to one nap, which usually happens between 13 to 18 months, the sleep needs start decreasing more and more and more until we end up with a toddler who has dropped the nap. So we have the toddler, we have a toddler whose sleep needs are decreasing. They’re starting to really grow up and mature. They’re starting to talk. They’re starting to walk. They’re starting to run and jump and do all of these things.

They’re starting to seek their independence. Counter will really starts to emerge around 18 months of age, which is where they are really trying to resist being controlled and really find their autonomy. Their language is bursting, their social skills are really blooming. So there’s a lot going on. So we have a more complicated being in front of us, right? Like a, especially if I’m thinking of like maybe like a four month old or a two month old.

Brittni (14:03.562)
Their needs are pretty basic. Keep me close, keep me fed, keep me warm, keep my diaper dry, and help me fall asleep or let me sleep on you and I am good, right? And that’s simplifying it, right? I want to stop again and say like, if you’re dealing with hourly wakes, if you’re dealing with all of those other really hard things that I’ve said, those are not normal things and those are things that we want to work on. But if we compare the needs of this four month old, I think I said two or four month old,

to an 18 month old who is walking, who is running, who is talking, who wants to do things their own way, who’s starting to say things like me do or I do, or copying what you’re doing, right? Or starting to be more afraid of things. So now we have this more complex being and now we have to figure out sleep with them. And I think what’s really hard is,

A lot of us are like, okay, I’m gonna make it through this first year. I know that that two to three hourly waking at night is normal. I know they want to be close to me. And then we get past the first year mark. And then we really start hearing comments from family members, from friends, from people at the park, from our pediatrician, from the internet, right? Like you’re still bed sharing or they’re still waking up. I remember specifically, and this is kind of a little tangent, but.

While I was still married and I’ve shared this my ex He’s from Chile. So When we first came we had to get his green card all of that. So we have an immigration attorney We had one we’re not married anymore. We had an immigration attorney and after Lila was born We had to renew his green card and so we went to go see her and she just so happened to have a baby almost the same age as Lila So when we went to go see her Lila was like 12 months and she like jokingly asked like oh is she sleeping through the night?

having no idea like who my ethos in parenting, right? So she asks, is she still sleeping or is she sleeping through the night? And I was just like, no, she’s not. And she like stopped laughing and was like, what? Like she couldn’t believe it. Like she jokingly asked it thinking like this is like she’s for sure sleeping through the night. And I was like, oh no, she’s not. And she like, it got really awkward. Cause she was like, what? So my point being,

Brittni (16:30.378)
We tend to think or hear, especially after that 12 month mark, like, okay, things are just going to magically get better. They’re going to start sleeping through the night. I need to start working on independent sleep. And so now we have this much more complicated being in front of us and we’re starting to feel a lot of pressure or questioning on what’s normal. Should I be making changes? And then we’re also probably dealing with fighting naps, bedtimes moving later.

fighting bedtime, not wanting to separate from us at bedtime, dealing with a lot of requests at bedtime, or simply them just having a really hard time falling asleep. And so it’s all a lot. And on top of that, we are now dealing with tantrums, bigger emotions, helping them regulate themselves. And so it can be a lot. And so this is, that’s why…

To me, toddler sleep is more complicated. And I really do not want to downplay how hard the first year is. I think if we’re talking, if I had to choose what’s harder, for me, the first year was harder than any other year after. Because it’s about like figuring out who am I as a mother? What does my life look like? Who is my child?

saying goodbye, I hope you listened to last week’s episode, like saying goodbye to the life that I had before I was a mother. That is brutally hard. And then we’re not getting the sleep that we want. And that is really hard. So to me, I would say in that aspect, it’s harder. But if we’re looking at the actual sleep piece of it, I think that toddler sleep is more complicated. I don’t think it is harder. I think it is more complicated.

And so I want to chat about what’s not normal in baby sleep and in toddler sleep. And I went over that already in the, or like at the beginning of the episode, I talked about what’s not normal in baby sleep, but I’ll kind of go back through them. Hourly waking either for a baby, so zero to 12 months, or a toddler, if that is the norm in your life, like if your little one has been waking hourly for their whole life or for the majority of their life,

Brittni (18:49.258)
or if they weren’t waking hourly, but now they’ve been waking hourly for over a month, that’s a red flag. That’s not normal. That’s something that I would want to look into. If your little one has split nights, so like I talked about, if they’re waking up for long periods of time in the beginning or in the middle of the night, either zero to 12 months or a toddler, not normal. Something that I want to look into. If your little one is…

really restless at night, like tossing, turning, kicking legs. You feel like they’re never in a deep sleep. That would be something that’s not normal to me and I would want to be looking into it. If you have a little one who’s waking up before 6 a .m. consistently and apart, like if you’re waking your little one up before 6 a .m. because of a life schedule, that’s different. But if they’re naturally waking before 6 a .m., that would be something that I would want to look into.

And so I think that when we’re navigating both baby and toddler sleep, we need to have these realistic expectations about what’s normal and what’s not normal. So those are the things that aren’t normal, but what’s normal. So I’ll talk about this both from the baby perspective and then the zero to 12 month perspective. Baby perspective, it’s biologically normal for your baby to wake about every two to three hours throughout the night to get a quick feed or a snuggle.

it’s really normal for them to have shorter naps than we expect. The key there is, is if they’re waking up happy and content after a quote unquote short nap, that to me would be a sign that that was all the sleep that they needed and we don’t need to be forcing a longer nap on them. Now, if you have a little one who’s waking up 20 minutes into each nap and is inconsolable or just grumpy and upset, but you can’t get them back to sleep, that would be kind of more in the,

Not necessarily a red flag per se, but that would be something that I would say, yeah, let’s work on that. Let’s get your baby to a place where they have a nap length that when they wake up, they’re happy and content. What else is normal in baby sleep? Not wanting to sleep off of you. Again, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do independent naps. I have an independent naps workshop. I have a zero to 12 month course that can help you do that, but that’s normal. Bed sharing, right? That’s normal with a baby.

Brittni (21:03.53)
So really knowing what’s normal and what’s not normal. For a toddler, what’s normal? This is where it gets tricky because it still is normal. If an 18 month old family came to me and they’re like, my toddler’s waking every two to three hours, is this normal? I would say, yeah, it is normal. But is it working for you? If it’s not working for you.

Let’s look, let me look at an intake form. Let me see your family routines. Let me see your sleep routines. Let me get to know your little one. Where can we make changes to optimize sleep and get those longer stretches of sleep? Your child wanting to sleep with you, co -sleeping past a year is very, very, very normal. What it would come down to here is, is it working for you? And one thing I want to ask here is if you are feeling in a rush to transition out of bed sharing,

Is it because you actually want to stop bed sharing? Or is it because society has made you feel like, oh, your child’s a year now, you need to get them out of your bed? Or has family made you feel like, oh, your child’s a year now, you need to get them out of your bed? So I want to differentiate there between, are you actually feeling like this is no longer working and is no longer sustainable? Or has somebody else made you feel that way? What else is normal in toddler sleep?

I contact -napped with Lila until she was 18 months, so contact -napping with a toddler is very normal. I did nothing to transition away from the contact -naps. One day, I was laying in bed with her for her nap. I heard the doorbell ring. I have no idea how she didn’t wake up, but I ran out of the room to shut the dogs up and answer the door, and I was out of the room, and I didn’t hear her cry, so I was like, okay, I’ll just answer some emails. And then I…

and waited and and she slept for like an hour without me. And so an independent nap just happened naturally. So all this to say that contact naps can be normal for toddlers. Really when we get into the toddler stage, the questions that we want to be asking are, does this feel sustainable? Does this feel like something that’s working for us? I brought up delayed bedtimes. Are delayed bedtimes normal for toddlers? Yes.

Brittni (23:16.042)
Does it mean that we should accept it and just say, oh, this is the norm and we’re going to be okay with it? No, if you’re dealing with bedtime that’s taking over an hour or it’s causing you stress or rage at night, let’s work on that. Let’s make it something that’s not adding stress into your life. Let’s make bedtime peaceful. And so this is where I think toddler sleep is more complicated because a lot of the things that we’re experiencing are normal.

But it doesn’t mean that we have to stay there if it’s feeling unsustainable. And so it becomes this place of like, okay, well, do I just ride this out or do I try to start making changes? And my toddler is growing and how do I best suit their sleep needs to our day -to -day life? How do I best meet them where they’re at while also feeling like sleep is not causing this huge amount of stress in my life? And so if you have a toddler,

My advice to you would be if things are feeling really, really hard right now, sit down and journal. I know I said earlier, I haven’t been journaling, but journaling is so powerful. So sit down and journal. Like how am I feeling about my toddler’s sleep? What feels sustainable? What feels like I can handle it? What doesn’t feel sustainable? What doesn’t feel like I want to keep doing this? And that actually just brought up one more thing about like what’s normal with toddlers.

Is it normal for a toddler to be waking up at night and still breastfeeding? Yeah, it is. Children will self wean at a unique age to each child. I think the oldest recorded age for self weaning is seven for a child. It doesn’t mean that all children are going to self wean at seven. Most will self wean before that, but that’s the oldest recorded age. But then the question there would be, if I had a family who came to me with an 18 month old and they asked,

Okay, my baby is still waking up four to six times at night to nurse. Is this normal? Well, yeah, it’s normal, but is it working for you? Would you like to maybe get down to two to three feeds a night? Would you like to get down to one feed a night? Would you maybe like to night ween? What are you wanting? What’s feeling sustainable for you? And when you can get to that place and like I said, journal and ask yourself, how do I feel about sleep? Just do a mind.

Brittni (25:43.402)
How do I feel about my child’s sleep? What’s working, what’s not working? Where am I maybe feeling societal pressure where actually that’s not really an issue for me? And get curious from there. And that can help you uncomplicate things. Think about who your child is. What are the signs that they are showing you? Are they fighting that continually? Maybe that means that we need to extend their wake window. That’s just one example, by the way. So if you’ve tried that and that’s not working, then maybe it’s…

probably something else, right? If they’re fighting bedtime, tune into them. What’s going on? Are they possibly not tired enough? Do they maybe need to get a little bit more energy out? Do they maybe need a longer wake window? And so really start utilizing knowing who your toddler is, the signs that they’re showing you to navigate their sleep. But I also know that toddler sleep is very, very difficult. Like I said, I think it’s way more complicated than baby sleep because there’s so much going on.

which is why I created my toddler sleep course, which will be launching April 4th for the wait list. And then doors will open for the public the week after. So I will drop the wait list information below, but if you are struggling with toddler sleep and this episode, you were like shaking your head like, yes, it feels more complicated. Maybe you’ve taken some time to journal and you’re like, okay, I know that we need to make changes, but I don’t know how. That is where I want to help you. I want to make toddler sleep easier for you.

and we can do that within my new toddler course. So I will drop the information for the wait list, join the wait list. By joining the wait list, you’re getting $50 off and also the chance to join a live toddler sleep Q &A with me. And only the first 25 purchasers are getting access to that because I do want to keep it small and intimate so that I can answer all of your questions.

If you have a little one who’s zero to 12 months of age and any of the red flags that I mentioned are happening in your home or things just aren’t feeling sustainable, let’s work together. I would love to work one -on -one with you or you can definitely check out my zero to 12 month resting in the first year course, which gives you all of the information you need to confidently navigate sleep in the first year and make changes to the things that aren’t working. And even if you don’t have a

Brittni (28:01.802)
any current struggles. If you’re just wondering what’s normal, what can I expect, is there anything that I can tweak to make sleep better, the course is still for you. So wrapping up, all sleep with children is complicated and I think that the more that we can accept that and understand that it’s going to ebb and flow, there’s going to be seasons where sleep feels easier, there’s going to be seasons where sleep feels harder, and just kind of

going with the flow while also tuning into what is working and what is not working and where do I need to make changes and not being afraid to make changes. That’s the key and that’s the holdup I see with so many families who come to me and they’re ready to make changes and they’re feeling bitter, they’re feeling burned out and they didn’t know how to start or they didn’t know if they needed to start making changes and ultimately the baseline question is,

Is it feeling sustainable for you? If it’s not feeling sustainable for you, let’s talk about it. Let’s make it easier for you. Let’s make it more sustainable. I will also link, I have a four month sleep progression freebie if you’re really in the early days and you’re needing some help. And I’ll also link my toddler sleep progression freebie below if you’re dealing with disruptions in 12 month, 18 month old or 24 month old sleep. And even if you have little ones between those ages, the freebie is still great for you. It talks.

about who your child is, how you can work with their needs at their age to maximize sleep. I hope you have a wonderful day.

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