Sleep issues are one of the greatest struggles for parents with young children. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have tried everything (short of professional help) to solve sleep issues with one of my twins. If you are reading this post, you’re probably not interested in my “woe is me” story. What you want is some advice, and probably some sleep; because when your little one isn’t sleeping, chances are, you’re not sleeping either! In general, the majority of sleep issues in young children are developmental and they will resolve themselves (unfortunately not overnight). Below are some tips to help your little one get more sleep:
Create a welcoming sleep environment
- Your child should sleep in the same environment every night.
- Keep the room temperature comfortable and dress your child appropriately.
- Keep the noise down! Try a white noise device to block household noise.
- Consider introducing an age-appropriate security object like a blanket, doll, etc.
- Keep the room dark and use a nightlight only if needed. Try room-darkening shades during months when it stays light later.
- Start in infancy with a story at “bedtime.”
- Do not rush the bedtime routine; make it a priority! This will help everyone decompress from the day.
- Stick to your routine and insist other caregivers do the same– even on weekends. Bath, Books, Bed, Lights out!
- Activities after dinner should be mellow.
Waking at night and “flight risks” (those who repeatedly get out of bed)
- Consider your child’s basic needs (diaper, food, fever, too hot/cold), “Why is he awake? What does he need”?
- Reassure your child, return him to bed, and promise to check on him in a few minutes. Try not to lie down with your child or allow him in your own bed. Doing this will encourage his disrupted sleep behavior and he will expect this every night. Although a tempting quick fix, this is a difficult habit to quit.
- Be consistent with your “flight risk”! Return the child to bed, remind her that it is bedtime and she must stay in her bed, reassuring her that you?ll see her in the morning!
Remember to be consistent! Don’t expect results overnight. Your child is constantly growing and developing. Amidst constant change, children require reassurance, support and love from their parents. Keeping this in mind will help you cope better in parenting them through these rough times. Struggling with sleep issues is extremely stressful for parents, so if you feel that you are having a difficult time coping personally, as a couple, or with your child, it’s best to seek help from an expert in the field, starting with your pediatrician.