How to get your baby to sleep longer.
For those of you who know us, it's no secret that we are so lucky when it comes to Lyla and her sleeping habits.

She was sleeping through the night around 6 months. We would give her a hug and a kiss, say goodnight, and lay her down. We walked out of the room- and didn't look back until she was sound asleep. We remember having a rough week when she was five/six months. She would cry, A LOT, when we layed her down. I cried. Eric took me down to our basement. We couldn't hear the cries from down there (although I was looking at our monitor that would light up, and get brighter the louder she cried, again, this was not an easy week, but well worth it).

As the week went on, the cries lessend. At the beginning of the week they lasted over an hour, sometimes two. By the end of the week they lasted only minutes.
We both wanted to go in to her room and give her one more snuggle, one more kiss, or simply rock her in our arms. When I would cry, Eric would tell me Lyla will be "fine." I wanted her to be "fine"  with ME, but I knew what we were doing was going to work out for us, in the end.

It did. Lyla sleeps about 12 hours every night. She still takes one nap during the day (For 2 hrs.). We still giver her a kiss and say good night, and that is that.

Babies are SMART. They know they can wrap you around their cute little fingers, but they are also smart enough to calm themselves down and self sooth themselves to sleep.

Toddlers need 11-13 hours of sleep. My tip for getting Lyla to sleep for 12 hours is keeping her room super dark. It's just about the easiest thing to do, but makes such a huge difference.

 I read the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth. I learned a lot (thank you Allison for reccomending it). I learned the importance of sleep and how it makes such a difference in your child in regards to their mood, health and even character. I learned that starting with infancy you have to get your baby to understand day and night. We are awake and alert during the day and at night time it is time to rest and sleep. At our house we would keep the windows open, lights on and stay active when Lyla was supposed to be awake. when she was going down for a nap, and more importantly bedtime, the lights went off (at least a half hour before we layed her down), we would relax and quiet down. She understood the difference between 'awake and alert' time and 'rest and bed' time. Like I said, she sleeps in a dark room

. Below is how I made that happen:

This is the window with her honeycomb blinds. They do not keep much sunlight out. Neither do her curtains.

Materials I use to darken her room:
black poster board (from the dollar store)
Zots- sold at any craft store (or heavy tape)

I cut the poster board to fit inside the window, covering just the pane.
We use Zots or clear masking tape to hold the poster board in place. It takes about 10 minutes.

I make sure that the poster board in only covering the pane of the window, so that the window can still be moved up and down to let in air and sunlight during the day.

Obviously the poster board in not attractive, so I pull her blinds down to cover up "our secret."

There are darkening blinds (although cute ones are hard to find) that will decrease the amount of light into your childs room. I have read about celebrities hiring professionals to come in and 'darken' their nursery. Our dollar store method has worked wonders!

I hope my advice will help your child fall asleep easy and sleep through the night. 
Side Note:
Here is a parenting mistake I made- When Lyla was a newborn we would let her fall asleep anywhere- even with noise around. We even did it on purpose, because we were told it would help us in the future because Lyla would be able to fall asleep anywhere.  Well, when she starting sleeping in her crib we started being quiet. It seemed like the natural thing to do, I guess. 
If someone would stop by our house, we would say, "sshh, the baby is sleeping."

Lesson learned: Do NOT let this happen! You don't have to play the drums or hang shelves in your house while your baby is asleep, but you do not have to be SUPER quiet. Lyla now sleeps best when it is quiet in our house. She is sensitive to sound. 

Let your child CRY- it's ok, really.
Create a DARK room.
You don't have to be SO quiet. Noise is ok.
Your child will thank you.


Lyla's 1st Dance "Recital."
This evening we got to watch Lyla in action at her dance class. I'm not sure if I have mentioned this before- but parents are not allowed in the dance studio to watch their children. It's a good things though.

However, tonight we were invited in to watch the girls put on a "show," because their age group does not preform in the REAL recital. We got to see what they have been working on each week in class, such as galloping, sliding, jumping and tumbling. Ms. Nicole taught them a few dance routines. The girls managed to memorize what moves they were supposed to be doing according to what part of they song was playing. My favorite performance was the Monkey Dance, and a close second was Goodnight, Sleep tight.

Lyla Grace was adorable- even when she had a nervous breakdown (due to the fact that parents were actually in the room watching, taking pictures and video recording- it kinda freaked the girls out).

Later that night, I told Lyla about how I was in a lot of dance recitals growing up. I warned her about Pop and dance recitals. When Pop wasn't falling asleep through them- he was causing me to have a nervous breakdown.
Like the time when I started my performance from 'off stage.' We ran in from the back of the theater, through the audience (and the plan was...)  to end up on stage. My dad yells, "Jamie Leigh!" It was  LOUD. It was his DEEP VOICE. I can still hear the exact way he said it. I was supposed to be front row and center for that dance- and I never made it to the stage.
 Yes, it scarred me for life.
Maybe you had to be there- and those who were will always remember it the same way I do.
 My dance teacher quickly grabbed me as I stood frozen in the audience (to make matters worse, it was a dinner theater). She mumbled profanities about my father under her breath and took me back stage to wipe away my tears. My sisters came back to make sure I was ok.
 I calmed down- and let the show go on.

Lesson learned: Sometimes it's better for your father to sleep through your recitals.

I like to tease him about now. I think when Lyla has her first 'stage' recital he will stay awake for it, but he'll be pretty quiet!


If you happen to be watching Ellen today, you may have seen this:

Eric and I were in Vegas two weeks ago when Ellen was filming at our hotel (the Venetian)  for her show!
You can imagine how excited I was! I was squealing and dancing (of course)!
It was pretty cool... and aside from Ellen, we had a great time!