The single best thing you can do to get your kids ready to go back to school and daycare is to get them on their school schedule ahead of time.
Start waking your child up now at the same time that they will need to wake up for school. If they are hard to wake up, do it anyway. That will help them be sleepy earlier in the evening, which will help them get adjusted.
If you have older kids or children who are sleeping quite late AND have ample time, you can make the change gradually.
Otherwise, go ahead and wake them and let them be tired. It’s far better to be tired at home than to be tired at school, where there are a lot more demands on them. Get them outside if you possibly can. Fresh air and activity will help to reset their circadian rhythms.
Do not let non-nappers take a nap on those days. If your young child still takes a daily nap, time the nap for the same time as it will be during the school week, and wake your child after a reasonable amount of time, no matter how deeply they are sleeping.
It is of utmost importance to induce your child to go to sleep at the correct time, and that means that daytime sleepiness may be required. Do not let them sleep late on weekends, either.
If you have to wake them in the morning, they need an earlier bedtime.
And the only way to make that earlier bedtime happen is to wake them in the morning.
This advice may sound obvious but in my experience, most parents do not make the adjustment to wake times ahead of time. Leading to misery for the entire family the first 1-2 weeks of school, a time where there’s already plenty of stress to go around.
If you need help getting your family back on track with sleep, schedule a free consult today and have a well-rested family this school year, guaranteed.
Yesterday went GREAT in terms of naps. Valentina put herself to sleep independently every time. It's amazing how just one night of cry it out at bedtime helped naps so much.
Last night, not so much.
She was dozing during her evening feed and her older sister was having trouble falling asleep (because her sleepover buddy and her were having too much fun fooling around) so I rocked and swayed Valentina for thirty minutes while I made sure Amelie stayed in her bed.
And then as soon as I laid her down, she woke up and started to wail.
I had been hopeful that after the day's excellent naps, cry-it-out wouldn't be necessary but alas, she wouldn't calm down even after her pacifier was reinserted.
Listening to her cry was stressful all over again. I distracted myself with a phone call. By the time I was off the phone, she had stopped crying, about 20 minutes.
She woke up when I came to bed, around 10 pm and the back of her head was soaking wet again so I decided to change her pajamas as well as her diaper. This time I put the fan on, too.
She slept from 10:40-5:10 am!
I'm always so happy when the wake up time starts with a 5. It's never been later than that thus far but I am holding out hope.
Then she took a very long nap while we hiked in the green mountains of Vermont so she ended up waiting almost 4 hours to eat -- not intentional on my part -- and then took her largest feed ever, 6 ounces.
She went down independently for the next nap and I'm hoping she'll make it to the four-hour mark again before eating. When I put my older children on this schedule as babies, it immediately led to longer stretches of sleep at night. Fingers crossed!
Valentina is my last baby and I've been loathe to night wean as a result but if she naturally starts sleeping longer at night, I won't be sad...
PS Putting in a plug for the Miracle Blanket. Still the best swaddle I've ever tried. For non-rolling babies only. It's like a tiny straitjacket. Valentina stops crying as soon as she's bundled into it. I don't receive any compensation for my recommendation!
Three nights ago, Valentina, almost 3 months old, just wouldn't settle. Nothing seemed to help. I changed her diaper, I fed her, I burped her, I rocked her and shushed her and walked her. Inconsolable crying anyway.
And in the preceding days, it felt like it was getting harder and harder to put her to sleep. Or I would get her down and she would wake up a few minutes later. Torturous.
And I've been traveling without my partner so I don't have a reliable source of help. (Friends and family have been amazing but I don't like to count on them.)
So I made the spontaneous decision to start sleep training right then. If nothing I was doing was helping, and she was miserable anyway, it might as well be productive misery.
So I did one last check of her diaper and one last attempt at swaddling and popped her into her little travel bed.
I'm not going to lie. It wasn't easy. I had planned to wait until we returned to Mexico. But it seemed like my previous strategy wasn't helping her. And my friend was keeping me company, so I didn't have to do it completely by myself.
I want to be absolutely that even being a sleep coach with hundreds of success stories under my belt, this was NOT easy. It still feels scary and hard.
Nonetheless, I decided to do "cry it out" because I was confident that checking on her or worse, staying with her and patting and shushing her, would only stimulate her and make sleep more difficult.
She only cried hard for a few minutes, to my amazement. Then there was intermittent crying for another 20 minutes or so. Then, to my astonishment, silence. She did it!
An hour later, I went up to bed and found her making little squeaking noises. Not crying until I came over and checked her. Then she began to wail. I lifted her up and her back was really hot and the back of her head was soaking wet. I felt terrible, but confused, too, because it wasn't that warm in the room and she was only wearing cotton pajamas and a cotton swaddle.
I rocked her back to sleep guiltily.
And since that night... I have swaddled her and laid her down awake with her pacifier and turned on the white noise and turned off the lights and... silence. For every nap, too. It feels like a miracle.
I am not weaning her at night yet so she still wakes up to eat at night whenever she chooses -- I want to do a weight check first. But she's self-soothing for sleep during the day! And apart from last night, she generally gives me a 6-hour stretch at night and wakes for the first time at around 4:30 am. She also usually eats around 9 pm or so.
If you need help guiding your own little one to independent sleep, set up a free consult and let's chat about what that would look like.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.