So, I would bet just about everyone reading this has heard, read or BEEN a parent complaining about children and SLEEP!
It’s a MAJOR issue with MOST children. Now, there are probably a GAZILLION theories about WHY they do it and HOW they do it.
All I offer you are 3 techniques with which I have had success.
Now, while each technique is, on it’s own, successful,
The most success can be had when you implement all 3 techniques during each stage of their early lives.
#1- It begins at birth
#2- Be TOUGH on TODDLERS!
#3- Create a habit for life
By using these 3 techniques throughout each stage of their growth, you set them up to have better sleeping habits throughout life.
#1- It Begins at BIRTH!
From the first moments when your child is in your arms, falling asleep, you have a decision.
A) Begin a pattern, that sets your child up for a healthy sleep routine that will encourage their young minds to grow
B) Begin a pattern, that while momentarily and temporarily WONDERFUL, can become DESTRUCTIVE and PAINFUL
Yeah, look me in the pixels and tell me you’d choose B. lol
What I’m talking about is rocking your baby to sleep. Now, I do not mean you cannot ROCK your baby while he/she is DRIFTING off to sleep. But when those final moments come, right before they are truly going to go to sleep, place them in their bed. THEIR BED. Both of those things are EQUALLY important.
By placing a baby in their bed BEFORE they actual fall asleep you are encouraging them to SELF-SOOTHE. What this means, is that they learn to handle their own need for comfort. This is the beginning steps to creating an independent child, as well.
Equally important is placing them in their DESIGNATED SLEEPING PLACE.
Now, though it can be beneficial to have a “Nap Time” Place and a “Bed Time” place, neither place should be YOUR BED. Now, I’m not saying that you cannot EVER sleep with your child. There are special occasions. But it is important to set a PATTERN in their brain for WHERE sleep should exist. Not only will this encourage their bodies to actually prepare FASTER for sleep, it will ALSO encourage independence.
So, though it may be tempting to watch those baby eyes close and that body melt,
Please, do your CHILD a favor and place them in their bed, instead.
(Try allowing your child to come into bed in the MORNING, when it is near time to wake up.)
(This is a good tip for stay at home moms once your partner has left for work!)
In addition to those two MAJOR techniques, you can include minor ones that will aide in the ease with which your infant drifts off to dreamland. Like taking a bath right before bed and using a “calming” soap, playing calming/classical music while they sleep, etc.
#2- Be TOUGH on TODDLERS!
As your child grows, generally, so will their desire to avoid bedtime.
The ONLY thing you can do is MAINTAIN A ROUTINE and BE CONSISTENT.
As your toddler grows, develop a routine and MAINTAIN it. OF COURSE, life will throw you curve balls, just TRY to do the routine as OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. THAT is all that matters, you try. And when you cannot, you try to maintain as many PIECES of the routine as possible. So, here is a good routine: Straighten up room, Bath, Brush teeth, Sing a Song, Read a Book, Lights Out.
But. everyone’s routine is different. Just create one. And make sure you tell your child each step in the routine.
(You can even make a poster with numbers, pictures and words depicting each step)
But even more importantly is YOUR CONSISTENCY in LEAVING THEM to sleep.
Because if your toddler is anything like MOST toddlers, they are going to FIGHT. lol And that’s perfectly normal! But the reason why it is so important to remain consistent is because it builds respect for you and outlines the basis for your parental AFFECT on them. If you cave in, they may begin to WALK ALL OVER YOU. Trust me, it can be VERY hard to hear their pain and not be able to rescue them. But you have to leave them be.
If your child gets up, you do what I call a “Reset”. You pick up or direct the child back to the designated sleeping place, get them back in bed and leave. Period. You simply “Reset” them.
And last, but certainly not least…
#3- Create a habit for life
When your child enters the 4-5yr range, it becomes important that you let them begin doing their routine ON THEIR OWN. There may be certain aspects of it the will need help with at first, but just about every type of GROOMING should be done. at the VERY least TOGETHER.
Example: Brush their teeth really well for them, explaining exactly how. Then let THEM do it and talk them through it. Eventually they will get good at it and you can begin to walk out or drain the tub or get their pajamas, etc. Then, leave them alone all together.
You can even eventually teach them how to do the toothpaste!
And you can do this with anything, like, washing themselves, wiping themselves, tying shoes, dressing, eating, etc.
Just apply that same formula: Do it for them, Let them do it, As they improve- step out and finally let them be.
And your child will give you subtle HINTS as to when each step should be taken.
By allowing them to do their own routine you actually help them to create the habit of going to bed each night as something they do for THEMSELVES. Not because you MAKE THEM. If you wait until LATER in life to PUSH them to do these things, they may rebel. Start young, they feel GOOD being able to have independence.
Therefore, encouraging independence.
Now, I’m not saying some might not disagree with me on any or ALL of my ideas. But, I used them with my girl and typically, we have no trouble with her going to bed. So, perhaps you could try one or all of them and see if it helps!
Join me MONDAY as we continue with the Mommy BLUES, discussing POTTY TRAINING. Yes, the devil in TRAINING FORM! lol
But come back MONDAY and I’ll have tips on how to get them out of diapers and on the potty!
Until Next Time,
Wild Mommy MC