How long do you normally give a schedule adjustment before deciding whether you think it's working? We had a rough night with the baby last night and I feel like I did everything "right" yesterday — all three naps were on time and I put her to bed early last night. She woke up and got herself back to sleep in a few minutes at about midnight; but then woke up at 2 and cried off and on until I went in at 3a.
The confounding factor: She started flipping onto her belly on Sunday. When I went in at 3a she was on her belly and crying, and I'm wondering if she was upset because she didn't know how to flip onto her back. I will say, when I went in at 7a this morning, she was sleeping happily on her belly, so maybe she came to terms with it quickly?? She also rolled belly-to-back for the first time while playing this morning, so who knows??
Anna, mom to 5 month old baby S
Welcome to developmental leaps. They are exciting but they can really mess with sleep! The good news is that the disturbance will be temporary if you are consistent in your response. In other words, refrain from rewarding the unwanted behavior.
In the case of this particular developmental leap, rolling, this mom did perfectly. She left her baby alone to sort it out. She could have gone in sooner to flip her baby over onto her back again... but the baby might well have rolled back onto her stomach again and cried all over again. You can certainly try rolling her back and if it works, great, but if she keeps rolling back, there's nothing to do but let her figure it out.
The best way to help takes time but it is to give her lots and lots of floor time to practice her rolling skills. Limit your baby's time in containment devices such as swings, bouncers, exersaucers, Bumbos, Jumparoos as much as possible. This baby learned to roll back to her belly just three days after rolling to her stomach but it can sometimes take a month or longer. A clean blanket on the floor is always the ideal place for a baby to play unless there is a toddler or pet around who poses a risk to her safety. In that case, I recommend a Pack n Play for safety if there is not an adult closely supervising her. Toddlers can hurt an infant very, very quickly and it's not fair to expect them to know better. Same with animals. If you can create physical boundaries to keep them apart, I highly recommend doing so.
In terms of safe sleeping, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that once a baby can roll onto his back indepdently, it is safe to leave him there. This typically happens between 4 and 6 months of age. The important thing is that you make sure that the crib has nothing in it but a tight-fitting bottom sheet and perhaps a pacifier, if desired. Bumpers, soft toys, and blankets are dangerous for babies. A sleep sack is safe but a swaddle -- once a baby can roll -- is not.
The good news is that once babies grow accustomed to rolling, they often sleep more soundly on their stomachs. Assuming you have not been rewarding her new wakings, you may well experience better sleep for the whole family once baby learns to sleep on her belly.
If you want your family to receive all the benefits of being well-rested but need a little help getting there, schedule a free consult and to get the sleep you deserve.
I am conflicted about using blackout shades in my twins' room.
I'm reluctant to use them because whenever I nap in a dark room in the middle of the day, I wake up feeling cranky and miserable. I don't want that for my girls.
But right now, they never nap on the same schedule and I am going absolutely bonkers. I can never leave the house and I never know when I'll get a break.
Kate, single mom to 11-month-old twins
Kate is an amazingly devoted mom. I admire her tremendously.
We parents should take all the help we can get. It's not cheating to help them nap. It won't make your young children wake up feeling cranky and miserable.
That's because their young bodies have totally different sleep and wake cycles than we do. Babies' bodies are designed to nap during the day. Unlike ours.
When we wake up cranky and miserable after a nap, it's because we have nap inertia. Basically, we are sleeping at a time that our bodies weren't designed to nap. Babies, on the other hand, absolutely need naps during the day.
If babies nap at the biologically ideal times, they won't have nap intertia. For twice-a-day nappers, those times are roughly 9 am and 1 pm. Once-a-day nappers should sleep at around 12 pm.
Just timing naps appropriately can make a huge difference. That's step one. And it's the furthest thing from cheating. It's taking advantage of biological sleep and wake cycles.
Step two is yes, using all the sleep crutches you can find that don't require your active, ongoing participation.
So blackout curtains? Heck, yes! White noise? Absolutely. Fan or air conditioner to keep the room cool and air circulating? Definitely. Swaddle (for newborns) or sleep sack? Sure! Pacifier that you have to reinsert 16 times during the nap? Nope.
Offer the pacifier once and that's it. Either she finds it and re-inserts it herself or she loses it and learns to sleep without it. There may be some tears in the short-term but otherwise, she will never learn to sleep independently (or at least, not until she gives up the pacifier).
The same goes for breastfeeding or bottle feeding to sleep. If your little one can fall asleep and stay asleep, feeding to sleep is fine. But if he needs another nursing session or an additional bottle to link his sleep cycles, you are doing him a disservice. You'll know this is happening if your baby (4 months or older) is waking for multiple feedings every night. By four months, your child should be able to go several hours without feeding, and that should gradually decrease from a maximum of three a night to two to one or less at nine months old. By a year old, most babies should not need any feedings at night.
My five-year-old recently started to give up her nap. The timing feels pretty terrible -- stuck at home for months at a time during a global pandemic -- but I hardly feel like I can complain. Five years of napping is a pretty good run.
But then we tacked up a heavy blanket over an internal window to her room that was letting in a good bit of natural light. Lo and behold, my preschooler is napping again. Gloriously long naps that leave her well-rested and cheerful, a delight to be around.
If this "cheating" means I can avoid the cranky miserable mess she was on the days she missed her naps... I'm a devoted cheater.
But I prefer to think of it as smart parenting. Helping my girl get all the sleep her body needs to be her best.
(Note the white noise on her table, the standing fan pointed at her, and of course, the heavy blanket tacked up over the internal window.)
If you'd like help getting your little one napping better, or need support tackling a different sleep challenge, schedule a free consult so we can get your child, and your entire family, the sleep you deserve.
My two-and-a-half-year-old has recently started resisting his nap. He has no interest in going in his bedroom at nap time and only wants to play. If I put him in his crib anyway, he cries and asks to be picked up. I think he still needs sleep but I can't get him to go down. I've tried putting him down later, around 2, but that doesn't help.
The thing is, bedtime is a dream on the days he doesn't nap! He conks out immediately... but then sometimes is up at 5 am the next day. Should I be keeping him up longer?
Also, sometimes he ends up falling asleep in the car at 4 pm and then bedtime is a nightmare -- he's still running around like a maniac at 9 pm. I need my evenings back but I don't want to start my days at 5 am, either.
Many children give up the nap too soon.
What typically happens is the afternoon nap creeps later -- I made this mistake with my oldest child -- and it thus becomes harder and harder for my little one to fall asleep. That's because I was missing the ideal nap window, between 12 and 1 pm. She seemed fine before the late nap, but it took a long time for her to fall asleep, and if she did, the nap would run late and she would wake up a cranky, miserable mess. I could expect inconsolable wailing for at least half an hour after the late nap. It was horrible.
It can also make bedtime Mission Impossible. Your little one is thus running around like an hyperactive maniac at 9 pm or later and you think, "gosh, on the days when he doesn't nap, he passes at at 7 pm. Sure, I'll miss the afternoon break, but anything is better than this madness, right?"
Don't give in to the temptation.
Overtired children are more prone to meltdowns and misery. They are also likely to wake up too early in the morning, or to have nighttime wakings. If your child has recently given up the nap and is waking up during the night or waking up too early in the morning, consider bringing back the nap. (If that's impossible, move bedtime earlier.)
Move the nap earlier. The ideal time to put him in his bed is between 12 and 1. Make sure you don't start too late. When children are overtired, their bodies produce stress hormone, cortisol, which makes it harder for them to fall asleep. They can seem hyperactive. This is a sign of overtiredness. It's better to start the nap too early, and have your child play a while in bed than to start too late.
If you are worried he won't be tired this early, make sure he gets plenty of exercise and exposure to natural light in the morning. These both cue his body when it is time to play and when it is time to rest. If he still resists naptime, you can be confident that he just doesn't want to separate from you and the fascinating world he lives in. This is totally normal. And is not a reason to delay or skip the nap.
Start lunch early, around 11:30, before she is too tired to eat well. Make sure she's hungry for lunch by avoiding unecessary snacking. I suggest breakfast at about 7 am and then a healthy snack at about 9:30 am. The exact timing isn't important; what matters is that there are set eating times and then breaks from eating. Your child does not eat to eat processed carbohydrates (crackers, pretzels, dry cereal, Goldfish) on the go between meals. These break down to sugar in the mouth, will dull her appetite, and make her more prone to getting cavities -- the teeth need a break from eating, too, to let bacteria-killing saliva wash over the teeth.
After lunch, start your nap time routine. A consistent nap routine cues his body that it is now time to sleep. A pre-nap routine of about 15 minutes is ideal. A typical nap routine includes: diaper change or visit to the potty, 1-2 books, a song, close the blackout shades, turn on the white noise, and go into the crib awake. You do not need to soothe your child to sleep. That is his job. If he is accustomed to your help falling asleep, we should work on helping him learn the vital skill of self-soothing.
You should leave your once-a-day napper in the crib or bed for at least 90 minutes, and up to two hours, before declaring the nap a failure. If she wakes after less than an hour, leave her, Let her try to go back to sleep. Don't let her sleep past 3:30, though. Once you have declared nap time over, expose your youngster to natural light and opportunities for play. It's ideal to take her outside for more exercise if you can. Avoid the car and stroller if she skipped the nap or only took a short one, and aim for an early bedtime, around 6 pm. It's better to run your errands the next morning instead. A too-late afternoon nap will wreak havoc on bedtime.
If you are worried he won't sleep at night after a nap, you can cap the nap. Try shortening it by 15 minutes every few days until you hit the sweet spot of getting enough rest to make it through the afternoon without meltdowns but falling asleep at a reasonable bedtime, around 7 pm.
Preschoolers may resist less if you call this time "quiet time" or "rest time" as opposed to nap time. Give them a short but positive message about this time, such as "Our bodies and brains need to rest now so they can grow." Don't engage in arguments, even if your miniature lawyer presents you with a long list of reasons why the nap is unecessary. A simple, "I love you. I'll see you later," is enough response. Engaging in a debate will only make things more difficult. Make sure you darken the room and turn on the white noise, even for older children. Likewise, it may be helpful to describe the steps of falling asleep to your child, such as "You need to lie down, stay very still, close your eyes, and take deep breaths."
Sleep guru Dr. Marc Weissbluth says that three-year-old children who still nap are more emotionally adaptable and able to learn. (He notes, though, that naps should not be used to compensate for a too-late bedtime as this will not make up for too-short nighttime sleep.) Giving up the nap too soon is also likely to lead to issues with nighttime sleep.
For this reason, don't give up on the afternoon nap unless it's been at least 6 weeks of consistently skipping the nap. Nap strikes are very common and can last quite a long time but are temporary. Even after nap time is over, preserve an hour of afternoon quiet time for as long as possible. Your child can look at books quietly in her room while you, dear parent, get a break too. You aren't depriving your child of attention by doing this; her brain needs down time just like yours does.
I am full of sympathy for those of you who are enduring this difficult transition. My own child seems to be finally giving up her nap at newly five-years-old. I'm very grateful that she has napped as long as she has but still, the transition is no fun. She is napping approximately every other day and is a whiny mess in the late afternoons when she doesn't sleep. She's often still cranky the next morning, despite 12 hours of sleep at night. Ugh! It's not easy to stay patient with the frequent meltdowns. We are doing our best to get through this time with grace and patience, and I know you will too!
If you would like support or troubleshooting through this difficult transition, set up a free chat so we can get your child, and your whole family, the rest you deserve.
Don't worry, I don't feel like this either.
Hey there, friend? Are you, by any chance, stuck at home with one or more little ones right now? Is life feeling out of control? Are you anxious? Unproductive? Feeling disconnected?
Yup, me too.
But I realized this morning that that feeling serves no one.
We are all in a tough situation right now. Why not do what we can to give ourselves a sense of control? And help our families feel their best?
If your child is not getting the sleep he needs, he's likely going to be wound up and hyperactive. Even if you have a very chill little one, I promise he will be even more calm and focused when he's getting the sleep he needs.
Coronavirus is providing us many of us with the ideal opportunity to change our lives, establish new habits and yes, sleep train. When will you again have such control over your child's schedule?
Also, if your child is sleeping on a predictable schedule, you'll know that you have set periods each day to focus on your work. That is going to relieve some of your stress, whether you are working for pay or a stay at home parent. Here are some things that can help:
With my pediatric nurse practitioner hat on... The good news for parents everywhere is corona virus, aka Covid 19, is rare in children. Most children either have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. It is much more likely that your child will get sick with the common cold or the flu.
If your child has not yet been vaccinated against the flu, please go today for the vaccine. Getting the flu will make her more vulnerable to catching other infections, plus the flu kills children every year. She is more likely to die from the flu than from Covid 19.
Other measures you can take to protect your children: wash hands frequently. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer works well also (assuming it is at least 60% alcohol -- check the label). Keep your child home from school or daycare if he has a cold or other signs of illness. Call your doctor's office if your child looks sick -- don't just walk in!
Get your child outside for daylight, fresh air, and exercise every day that you are both well. If you are concerned about contact with others, you can easily avoid playground and busy parks. Find a quiet road to walk on and count squirrels, or birds, or rocks. Or play tag in the backyard for ten minutes -- this has the advantage of getting your child laughing and allowing him to discharge emotions aka "emptying her emotional backpack."
(Sleep consultant hat on again.) And keep your child well rested. A well rested child has a stronger immune system than an overtired one. Focus on prioritizing an early bedtime, between 6 and 7 pm for most children under six years old. Start naps on time or even early, at 12 pm for once-a-day nappers and 9 am and 1 pm for twice-a-day nappers after 4-6 months of age.
What if your child is sick and you have recently sleep trained?
There are no simple answers here. Try to maintain the sleep routine as much as possible while also allowing for flexibility.
For example, if your child recently weaned off milk at night, in most cases you should not offer milk again at night unless your child is vomiting or has a high fever and won't take other liquids. In that case, offering breastmilk or formula (during the first year of life) at night may make sense but you should make every effort not to let your child fall asleep while feeding. Once the vomiting or high fever has resolved, typically in 1-3 days, you should switch to offering only water at night.
Likewise, if your child recently learned to sleep alone in his room but may have a fever, you should go into his room promptly if he wakes up and cries during the night. If he flashes a huge grin at you when you enter, you can assume he's fine and give him a quick pat and leave again. But if he's sobbing and hot to the touch, of course you should take him out of the crib and attend to his fever. You may wish to give a fever-reducer -- check with your healthcare provider on the best options -- and then rock him until he feels better. Try to put him down drowsy but awake if you can. If you can't, it's okay. Just resume your good habits as soon as possible when he's feeling better. It may take a few days but with consistency, once he's well, he'll get back to his good habits.
If you have any concerns that your child is having difficulty breathing, please don't leave her alone. Call your healthcare provider immediately. Most should have after-hours emergency numbers to call. This is the time to use them. If you are worried about being a bother, call early and don't wait for 3 am! This is what pediatricians are for. In most cases they are able reassure worried parents over the phone. In a few cases, they will advise you to go to the emergency room.
Daylight savings time starts this Sunday, March 7. in the United States. It doesn't start for another month in Mexico, not until April 5.
Daylight savings time is rough, especially for parents.
Or rather, the "fall back" at the end of daylight savings time is rough. "Springing forward" is actually a lot easier in most cases.
If your little one is waking too early, this is the perfect opportunity to reset her clock. Just get her up at her regular time and voila, it's magically an hour later!
The only challenge with this is, if you want to keep her waking at this suddenly-later time, you have to keep the rest of her schedule on the "old time" too. If you adjust her meals and her naps to DST, you can expect her early wakings to return, too.
Of course, early wakings are almost always the result of a too-late bedtime, so it might be easiest to focus on solving that problem. For more tips on that, check out Why Does My Child Wake Up So Early?
If you want your child to continue waking at the same time -- for most children, a wake time between 6-7:30 am is ideal for the best rest at night -- try to start transitioning the schedule now, if you are in the States, or 6 days prior, if you are in Mexico or another place with a different start date for DST.
Everything in your child's schedule will need to shift. Get him up 10 minutes earlier, feed him 10 minutes earlier, put him down to nap 10 minutes earlier. Tomorrow you will do it 10 minutes earlier than you did today. And so on. So that by the time DST arrives, you are already on the correct schedule. Easy peasy!
If you weren't that organized, no problem! Just start the transition as soon as you can. Or allow your child to transition gradually next week, if work and daycare schedules permit.
As the days get longer, children will also struggle with early wakings because the sun is rising earlier. Make sure your child's bedroom is equipped with really great blackout shades. Any leakage of light can lead to early wakings when your child is naturally less tired after a long night of sleep. Not sure you want to invest? Try taping garbage bags over the windows for a few days. I did this with my older daughter and her room was depressingly dark and cave-like but suprisingly effective at creating great naps. Your local hardware store will likely have inexpensive stick-on black out shades as well.
Make sure you are using white noise as well, to block out outside noise. The birds -- and the garbage trucks -- will be getting up extra early as the days get longer. I love this one -- it's suprisingly loud, inexpensive, lightweight and portable -- you can power it with batteries if there isn't an outlet available. We bring it on all our trips, even when we go camping!
As the days get longer, it's also easy to let bedtime slide later. It's harder to keep track of the time when the sun is shining so brightly. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when to start bedtime. If the living room is sunny and bright, consider transitioning to a darker room an hour before bedtime. Exposure to darkness naturally encourages our bodies to produce melatonin, a hormone that causes sleepiness. Exposure to blue light from screens does the opposite, so make sure to avoid them in the hour before bedtime.
Any shift in schedule can be stressful with little ones, but the start of DST in most places is a lot easier than the end of DST. A little preparation can make this transition even easier!
For help with transitioning your child to a time change, addressing early wakings, or any other sleep challenge, set up a free chat so we can get your family the sleep you deserve.
My fifteen-month-old naps from approx 10am to 12p. He has been rejecting his second nap (typically around 2:30/3p.) He nurses to sleep for nap time and also wakes to nurse or to be rocked 2-6 times during the night. I'm wondering if I need to drop or adjust morning nap?
S, mom to 15-month-old twins H & B
Many toddlers transition from two naps a day to one too early.
This transition often takes place in daycares at around 12 months, while most toddlers aren't actually ready to drop a nap until 15-18 months, although it can range from as early as 12 months to as late as 21 months.
There are typically two patterns we see when children are ready to transition from one nap a day to two. The first, and more common, is that they take a long morning nap and then can't seem to fall asleep for the second nap, resulting in late afternoon overtiredness and misery. This can also lead to nighttime or early morning wakings as a result of the overtiredness.
The other pattern we see is children that skip the first nap in favor of playing in the crib. These children generally have an easier time transitioning to one nap a day as they essentially make the switch themselves.
If your toddler is struggling to keep two naps a day, preserve that second nap as long as possible. Here are some sugestions as to how this can be done:
This can be a tough transition to make so plan for a couple of low-key weeks, if possible. There's no magic trick to make it easy. I recommend moving the morning nap time back by 10-20 minutes per day. You can expect that it will take him a bit longer than usual to fall asleep because he will be a little bit overtired. I suggest you allow a minimum of 90 minutes in the crib. If your child sleeps less than an hour, leave him! He may well fall back to sleep if given enough time.
While you are making the transition, you may temporarily need to offer a very early bedtime, as early as 5 pm. You'll know you need to do this if your child is cranky or alternatively, acting wound up and bouncing off the walls in the late afternoon. If this is happening, you can expect that your child may not eat much dinner. Don't worry about it -- she is unlikely to wake from hunger (really!). It's much more likely that she will wake up from being overtired. So just get her to bed as early as you can.
As you are able to move the nap later, your child will gradually be able to lengthen out the nap with the single nap ideally being around two hours, though this will vary for each child. Your child will likely need an earlier bedtime now than when he was taking two naps a day, though likely later than 5 pm.
Some children do well with having an occasional day with two naps a day as they transition to one nap a day. If your child is just miserably tired by 9 am on some days, this may be a good option for your family. Rest assured, as she gets older and as the transition to one nap a day stabilizes, it will get easier!
In the case of the family with 15-month-old twins, we tried many things. We eliminated the sleep crutch of nursing and rocking to sleep -- took only two nights! -- and capped the morning nap at 1 hour. We moved bedtime earlier. They weren't able to move the morning nap earlier than 9:15 am due to some medical issues, unfortunately, and after a week, the afternoon nap was still erratic. Ultimately we decided to move the morning nap later again, making it 15 minutes a day later. The toddlers are currently working on making it to 11:30 am for a two hour+ nap.
The transition from two naps a day to one is a tough one but it's a beautiful opportunity for a family to get a little further from home. In daycares, the transition often means that all toddlers sleep on the same schedule, which means it's easier for children to sleep.
If you would like help transitioning your toddler from two naps a day to one, or if you need support with any other sleep challenge, schedule a free chat with me. Let's get your family the sleep you all deserve so you can better enjoy your time together!
Are you ready to reclaim your bed as your own? Tired of waking up with a small foot in your face? Exhausted from middle of the night bed musical-beds or every-two-hour feedings? Maybe Valentine's Day has even inspired you to pursue a little romance and "adult time" in your life?
Whatever the reason, it's never too early, or too late, to stop bed-sharing. If it's not working for one of you, it's not working for any of you. You can't be the parent you want to be if your sleep is frequently interrupted. And most likely, your little one will feel a lot better once her sleep isn't so broken, too.
(If your family is bed-sharing and everyone loves it, there's no problem. Just be as safe as you can possibly be. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend bed-sharing under the age of one, due to the increased risk of SIDS.)
The most important thing to focus on is connection... during the day. Many families bed-share because they love feeling connected. But there are many ways to connect, ways that don't compromise sleep. Whenever you make a big change to your child's routine, you will want to focus on connection even more.
For working parents, before you greet your child after work, take a few minutes to breathe and center yourself. You might even want to have a snack so you aren't ravenous and can focus on your child. When you get to him, let your face light up at the sight of your child. Offer a big hug but don't insist on one. Spend the first few minutes at home together completely focused on your child. Set a timer on your phone so you won't be checking the time. Let your child pick your activity together.
Roughhousing (as unappealing as it sounds, I know!) is a fabulous way to reconnect. Children love it when they are bigger, stronger, and faster than their parents. Chase your child around the table, and let her win the race. Wrestle and let her pin you down. This physical contact and reversal in roles is hilarious to children, and all that laughter helps them empty their emotional backpacks. If they are too wound up to play and keep pushing limits, hold the boundary and let them cry. Crying also helps to empty the emotional backpack so that children can release all the big feelings they've been feeling all day while you were gone. Once they've released all those emotions, you will be much more able to enjoy your time together. Please don't feel guilty about enforcing a limit, even when you've been gone all day. Children test your limits because they need limits to feel safe in the big, scary world.
For parents who have been home, you may want to do something to mark the end of the day as well. Perhaps a quick walk around the block or a bath before dinner will do the trick.
I suggest that you do not try to cook anything complicated or open mail or make phone calls while you are spending the early evening with your child. Try to focus on them instead. By focusing on them now, you'll get a break a little bit later in the evening.
If you have an older child, you'll want to have a family meeting before making a big change like changing beds. Talk about it on the weekend, when everyone is well rested, and not at bedtime. Give your child time to adjust to the idea. Make a sticker chart and let him decorate it. Promise a small reward for staying in bed each night, and a bigger reward at the end of a few weeks of stickers earned. Let your child pick out special sheets or a new stuffy for his bed.
When the big day arrives, be prepared for big feelings. Plan on an early bedtime for your child. Spend plenty of time cuddling and reading together. Give her a warning before bedtime. When bedtime comes, stay strong. Do not lie down with her while she falls asleep as she needs to learn to sleep alone. Otherwise, she'll wake up during the night because she won't know how to put herself to sleep. You can sit next to her for a few minutes, if desired, but try to do so without continuous physical contact. On future nights, try to sit in a chair and each night move the chair a little closer to the door.
When your child leaves his room in search of your company, you need to be prepared with a strategy. Do you want to do "silent return," where you bring him back to his room without any response, as many times as it takes? This method works but it takes a lot of patience. You have to outlast your child. And you have to not react at all to the popping out of bed. Any reaction -- besides the silent return -- reinforces the behavior, even negative reactions.
Other parents prefer an extra-tall baby gate in the doorway, or a Door Monkey, a gadget that holds the door very slightly ajar, so that the child can't leave the room. Some families do a combination -- after two pop-ups, the baby gate or Door Monkey goes up. The important thing is to be absolutely consistent in your approach. Once you've set the expectation and the rule, you must stick to it. As soon as you make an exception, your child knows he can wear you out.
With preschoolers and older children, an OK To Wake clock can be very helpful. You can tell your child that when the light turns green, he can join you in bed for early-morning cuddles. If you are nursing, please don't nurse in bed, though, at least for the first few weeks of the change in beds. Nurse in a chair -- where everyone stays awake -- and then offer cuddles in bed afterwards.
Understand that this may be an unwelcome change for your child. Prepare yourself to be extra patient, and make space for her big emotions. Holding a boundary -- in this case, sleeping in her own bed -- while she cries does not mean you are making a mistake. If you are consistent, I promise she'll get over it. Younger children generally adjust more quickly than older ones but all will get used to it in the long run.
The end of the family bed does not mean the end of your strong connection. Many parents feel they are actually more able to connect with their children when everyone gets a break at night.
Of course, all these changes are easier said than done. I am confident any family can make these changes, but some parents appreciate coaching and emotional support through the transition. If you'd like some support, schedule a free chat and let's see if I can help.
Some folks claim that children can't be well-attached to their parents if the parents choose to sleep train.
This is wrong.
The happiest families are those that are getting their biological needs met. Just like being fed when you're hungry, you need good sleep to be feel your best.
An exhausted child and parent are not at their best. A tired mom or dad who feels guilty about their low energy, propped up on too much cafffeine, definitely isn't getting the most enjoyment out of their parenting experience. And if you're anything like me, odds are you are more short-tempered with your child when you are exhausted.
And the poor exhausted child who is waking up multiple times a night to nurse or cuddle back to sleep? Her body is on overdrive, pumping out stress hormone in a desperate attempt to stay awake during the day. Unfortunately, this strategy backfires and keeps her awake during the night, too.
Toddlers who don't sleep well become preschoolers who don't sleep well become adults who don't sleep well.
Here's a few not-so-fun medical facts to further convince you that sleep deprivation is a real issue:
Clearly getting enough sleep is a biological need, just like being fed. But parents still worry that sleep training will damage their children. This is a great article demonstrating that crying associated with short-term sleep training is safe.
Even beyond being safe, after sleep training, parents enjoy their children because their children aren't alternatively wound up and acting like the Energizer Bunny or cranky, irritable, weepy, and defiant from exhaustion. Parents have more to give and are more relaxed when their own cups are full after a good night's sleep.
Here's a lovely quote from a client that exemplifies the changes I see in families after sleep training, "before Abby’s help, it was taking my daughter 2 or more hours to fall asleep every night. We had hours of fighting and screaming before we got to that point, and she ended up in my bed every single night, where we both tossed and turned and kept waking each other up for the rest of the night. She was chronically exhausted and so was I! Now my daughter sleeps in her own bed, falls asleep in as little as an hour (we’re still working on that!), stays in her room all night long until her ok to wake comes on, and we rarely have tantrums at night or in the morning!" Cyndi, mom of C, age 3
Meeting the biological needs of a child and his parents makes everyone happier and more able to enjoy each other. It actually strengthens family bonds. Sleep training is a gift to the entire family.
If you'd love to give this gift to your own beautiful family, let's schedule a free chat and get you on your way to sweet, sweet dreams.
"They each got up and intermittently played and cried. Clementine was okay. Cecilia acted exhausted. They ate once, or maybe twice, each. I tried to get Cecilia to nap in her swing. She cried desperately. I gave up. They played, and whined. Cecilia fell into a bottomless pit of despair and I carried her up to her crib, where she settled happily and admired her jellyfish and sucked her thumb. I came downstairs. Clementine was trying to sleep on the floor. I carried her upstairs. She rolled over in her crib, spun 180 degrees so her feet was where her head should be, and shouted. I tried to wait it out. Cecilia started occasionally crying (wouldn’t you?). I went upstairs and removed Clementine. Cecilia saw me and sobbed. I put Clementine in the swing. She fell promptly asleep. Cecilia cried for several minutes, remembered her jellyfish, and then fell asleep. From the time they needed that nap until they fell asleep was an hour and a half. That’s insane."
Twins are tough! I recently wrote another post with tips for sleep training twins and higher order multiples. Today I'll delve a bit deeper.
Identical twins usually have similar sleep needs, while fraternal twins' sleep needs are are different as any other set of siblings. This means it will be more challenging to get your twins on a similar schedule if they are fraternal... but there are things you can do to help the process along.
In any given set of fraternal twins, there is typically one who is considered one who is the more sensitive sleeper and another who is considered the more challenging sleeper. The sensitive sleeper is more reliant on routine and can't adapt well to changes in the schedule but generally sleeps well. The more challenging sleeper struggles with falling asleep independently and tends to take shorter naps.
In order to prevent overtiredness -- which makes it harder for children to sleep -- parents should generally focus on prioritizing the sleep needs of the more sensitive sleeper, the one with apparently higher sleep needs.
If the children will be sharing a room, it is generally recommended that parents sleep train their twins in the same room. Yes, they may wake each other initially, but it's the only way they will eventually learn to sleep through each others' noises. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that twins do not share a sleep surface. Room-sharing with parents for at least the first six months, but ideally until one year, can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50%.
As discussed in my previous post, put the cribs as far apart as possible. Put a white noise machine on the floor between them. Use blackout curtains for every nap as well as at night. If one baby wakes at night for a feeding, wake the other for a feeding also unless they are past four months and your healthcare provider has given the okay for night weaning. In that case, don't wake the sleeping baby for a feeding. I know this can be scary because it might mean twice as many night wakings for you! Try to delay the first feeding until after midnight.
Fraternal twins typically do not consolidate naps at the same time. But you want them on the same schedule. This can be tricky! When one wakes after a short nap... don't let him get up! He needs practice putting himself back to sleep. Even at the risk of disturbing his twin. Give the catnapper at least 15-30 minutes to fall back asleep, for at least a total of 60-90 minutes in the crib. If he still won't sleep, get both babies up and out of their cribs so that they are sleepy at the same time for the next nap.
Night sleep training typically takes about 2 weeks for twins and naps can take even longer to fall into place. But don't despair, with time and consistency, things will get better.
I love working with twin families! You guys amaze me. Let me help you get your little ones sleeping through the night. Let's set up a free chat and see how I can get your family the sleep you deserve.