I will often get asked if a child’s sleep is now ruined because a parent had to sleep with the child or had to offer more support.
There are times when my little man puts things into a perspective way better than I can. Last night he was struggling with going to sleep, Thank You Day Light Savings! When he really struggles my husband or I will lay with him.
As we were laying there I was holding him (a great big snuggle and a hug). We were listening to a guided meditation about a Koala Bear that was not able to go to sleep (here is a link to it). The meditation was talking about how the bear was not able to lay still in his bed. My little man said to me “someone needs to hold that bear down”. I laughed to myself. Then I realized that my little man understood what I was doing. I was holding him down to help him sleep. After he made that comment I was even happier about the fact that I was able to assist him and he knew exactly what I was there for.
A short time after our snuggle our little man was able to go to sleep. Does this mean I will have to do this every night? No, it does not. After children have mastered the skill of falling to sleep with minimal assistance they often do not want you there. There will be a time or two thousand, that they require extra support. There is no harm to offer the support. Some children may need you to slowly remove the support and others will adapt quickly without issue.
The point of this post is to remind you to do what you feel is right for your child. Slowly but surely you will get them to be doing exactly what is best for them.
Take care and as always, Be the Parent you want to Be!!
Sleep Regressions are talked about a great deal when talking about infant or child sleep. If you speak to a parent with a young child and you mention the word regression you will most likely see a look of fear in their eyes.
Honestly, I feel that these regressions are actually overrated! The fact is that there are many reasons for a change in a child’s sleep and stating if a child is (insert age) they will have a regression in sleep is not necessarily the case. I believe that a number of sleep-related issues get blamed on a specific age when in fact the change in sleep can usually be tied to a developmental milestone or change in sleep needs.
What is a Sleep Regression?
A sleep regression is when your child’s sleep takes a turn to the difficult side. You had a few weeks or days of great sleep and then wham, you are up several times or fighting with your child to get them the sleep they require.
When is it a True Regression?
Changes in a child’s sleep will happen several times. If the change in your child’s sleep has lasted for more than 4 days and cannot be blamed on an illness or growth spurt then you are in the midst of a regression.
The Most Talked about Regressions Demystified!
This is when our little ones are moving from the newborn sleep cycle to the sleep cycle that is similar to yours and mine. They are moving from 2 stages of sleep to 4 to 5 stages of sleep per sleep cycle.
8 to 9-month Regression:
This is typically related to a developmental milestone. At this age, there is so much growth going on that is does play havoc with our child’s sleep.
Typically, the developmental milestones that are occurring at this age are as follows: learning to crawl, standing, walking and babbling.
This can usually be related to increased separation anxiety. This age is famous for this! It does make putting your little one down for sleep a bit more difficult.
This is usually when our little ones have a verbal explosion! Has your child started to talk a great deal more? This is usually the culprit to sleep-related issues at this age.
Thanks for the Explanation, Now what?
The best thing you can do if you suspect that your child is dealing with a sleep regression is to be patient. If your child had good sleeping pattern before and you do not introduce any new sleep props your child should be back on track in 4 to 7 days.
If a week has past and you are still dealing with the sleep regression then I would recommend that you look at your child’s wake time. Your child will most likely benefit from a 15 minute increased wake time.
You adjusted the wake time and are still having issues then I would look for a hidden sleep prop or a prop that your child wakes up requesting.
If you are a Parenting Foundations Member, please feel free to send me a message so I can help you further. If you are not a member yet you can click here to learn more about becoming a member which gives you direct access to me, Brenda from Parenting Foundations.
I often get asked by families when is it appropriate to have a set schedule (also referred to “By the clock” or BTC). There are so many factors to consider. It is very hard to state “by age ___ you should have a set schedule”.
What are the factors to consider when deciding if a set schedule is for your family?
- How flexible are you?
- How much sleep does your child require?
- Your child’s temperament.
- Your temperament.
Is a set schedule what you really need?
Before I answer this question let’s discuss the difference between a set schedule (“by the clock”) and a routine. A schedule incorporates specific activities set at a reoccurring time. A routine is a set of activities that occur in the same order.
Once you have a routine in place you will figure out roughly when sleep times happen and you can plan accordingly. Some days you may have to reschedule events or plan to have a nap on the go. A nap on the go on occasion is not the end of the world. It may feel like the end of the world if you are very “Type A”.
Now to answer the question, “Is a set schedule what you really need?”. Usually, the answer to this question is “No”. You need to have a routine in place so you know what to expect during the day. Your child will thank you! When your child has a routine in place they figure out at an early age what happens next and they will start to prepare for it. When your child moves to 2 naps you will start to feel like your day is getting more predictable. When your child moves to one nap you will feel a bit like you have achieved a set schedule. It is important to be a bit flexible even at this age.
Is there ever a time that a set schedule works best?
The short answer is yes but I personally believe it is rare. I feel that wake times are more beneficial. A set schedule is best when your child is not responding well to wake times. It may feel like you are constantly misreading your child’s sleep cues. I would then try a set schedule.
Pros and Cons of a Set Schedule
|Predictable||Not very flexible|
|Can easily plan activities around sleep times||Child gets overtired or is not ready for sleep at set time|
Pros and Cons of Using Wake Times
|Flexible||Difficult to make plans|
|Child is well rested||You can feel like your life revolves around your child’s sleep|
My preference is to use wake times. As our son has aged, I still look at what time he woke up and how much time he can tolerate being awake. He will be 6 years old in September. Just because I prefer using wake time does not mean it is not best for you. I would recommend starting with wakes times and then switch to set times if it is not going well. I would wait until your child has dropped down to at least 2 naps if possible. Whatever you choose, do so wisely and stay consistent.
Please feel free to comment on this post if you have any questions.
Bedtime can be a long drawn out process for older children. In my opinion, there is no harm in having a longer bedtime routine as long as the end result is that your child is tucked into bed happy and drifting off to sleep. This is why I often call bedtime “a marathon and not a race”. When you are rushing your children up the stairs to get a bath, brush their teeth and put on pajamas it can be stressful. Stressed out children or parents are reactive and noncompliant. This results in upset people when it should be a relaxing fun time. Children will be able to rest a bit easier when they have had some fun and were able to have some good connection time with an adult prior to going to sleep.
You may be asking…
“How do you reduce the stress at bedtime?”
The following are some tips that may help:
- Take it one step at a time.
- Allow enough time to get all the steps done.
- Account for time for your child to complete tasks. As adults, this can sometimes be painful for us as we just want to get it done.
- Offer choices when possible. Examples: “Do you want to brush your teeth or do you want my help?”; “Which toothpaste do you want? Pink or blue?”
- Play and laugh as much as you can.
- Remember going late to bed by 5 to 10 minutes is not the end of the world.
We live this marathon every night. Our 5 (almost 6)-year-old is my real life example that this can work. Previously, I wrote a blog post about Bringing the Fun Back to Bedtime. I wrote this blog post shortly after I recovered from the lovely transition from crib to big boy bed. I really struggled with trying to keep the bedtime under the recommended 30 to 45 minutes. This all changed when I realized that it was all about the journey to sleep. If we got there stressed and frustrated, sleep took forever! When we got there over time and while having fun, sleep happened quickly for our son.
Here is a quick rundown of our evening routine:
- We head upstairs around 6:30 to 6:45 pm. He plays while the bath is filling up. He usually likes to play with one parent. This can be an interactive play (he likes to pretend that he is a Pokemon character and one parent is the Pokemon Master), a game (he likes to play fish or Tic Tac Toe) or independent play where his imagination goes wild.
- He uses the bathroom.
- He gets a bath and plays in the water for 15 to 20 minutes (sometimes less depending on the shape his skin is in).
- He gets dressed.
- He gets a snack picnic style on the floor in the master bedroom.
- He flosses and brushes his teeth with help from an adult.
- He then goes to his room and picks out 2 stories to read. He reads 3 books altogether (Home reading book from school and 2 more).
- While reading stories the other parent applies 2 washable tattoos on his feet or legs (Yes you are reading this correctly!)
- After stories, he snuggles with one adult (usually Daddy) for 3 minutes.
- When the timer goes off the adult leaves the room and he “reads” quietly in his bed.
- After 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes sooner) he will call out and ask that he gets his light turned off. He could do it himself but it is our last chance to tuck him in and give him a final piece of connection before he goes to sleep. He is asleep between 8 to 8:15 pm.
Keep in mind our routine may be a bit long for you or your family. As with all things parenting, do what works for you and your child!! Enjoy your child as much as possible!
If you have additional questions about your child’s bedtime routine or behavior become a Parenting Foundations Member by clicking on this link.
Have you been dreaming of sleeping until at least 7:00 AM? Would you like to teach your child to sleep in a bit later? I am hearing you yell, “YES!”
Using the Toddler Clock can Improve your sleep. I kid you not. A Toddler Clock can become your best friend. I never thought I would love a gadget as much as I love our son’s clock. There are times I would love to be able to give that clock a hug or a high five. A good example would be this morning: I woke up at 6:40 AM and just wanted a few extra minutes of sleep. I was drifting off when I heard our young man singing in his room. I was able to rest as our son will stay in his bed until the “sun comes up.” Bliss I tell you!
The bad news: It does not work for all children but it is worth a try. I suggest introducing the clock around the age of 2 to 2.5. Also, just because it was not successful at one time it does not mean it will not be successful now.
- Find a clock that will not be too bright. Too much light can interrupt your child’s ability to produce the melatonin needed to have a good sleep. Most clocks will have a setting where you can turn the brightness of the clock down. Our son’s clock has the brightness turned down to zero so he cannot see the clock at night; however, the “sun” is bright in the morning.
- Set the clock at their regular wake up time. This sounds a bit crazy but when you set the clock to their current natural wake up they will experience the success of waiting until the sun comes up.
- Increase the time in 5 to 15-minute increments. Once your child has had a few successful days then change the time by 5 to 15 minutes. Then follow this process until you get to your desired time.
- Immediate reward. Toddlers/Preschool aged children do well with a reward they do not have to wait for. If you do not believe in reward systems, then stick with the verbal praise or gestures. The reward can simply be praise, high fives, “happy dance”, stickers, or a tv show they like to watch.
The previous steps are the ones we used when we introduced the clock to our little man. He was just about 2. It took a few weeks of patience. There have been times that we have not turned the clock on properly and he stayed in his bed for 30 minutes more than normal. I was amazed.
Here is hoping you have great luck with a toddler clock as well.
Happy sleeping, everyone!