SLEEP PROBLEMS TROUBLESHOOTING

Your child is now sleeping 11.25 hours every night. You have time to wash your hair, blow dry it and even put on a face mask. You congratulate yourself on a job well done on NAP TRAINING and  BEDTIME SLEEP TRAINING. You have made it! It will be a smooth ride from here.

*snort laugh* Of course not!

There are numerous sleep problems that your child may experience. This articles is for previous good sleepers (naturally or sleep trained) who are experiencing road bumps.

RULE OF THUMB

Sleep deprivation leads to more sleep deprivation. In other words, sleep deprivation does not make your child sleep better at night, quite to the contrary.

Nerdy explanation alert: sleep deprivation is stressful to the body, so the body creates cortisol, which makes your child stays awake. Ever wonder why you cannot sleep when you are dying to sleep?! Life’s cruel joke!

SEPARATION ANXIETY

It seems to happen out of the blue. It will last a few days to a few weeks. It will happen several times throughout your child’s first few years.

  • Strict routine. If you have relaxed on your bedtime routine, this is the time to make it military again. Bedtime routine signals bedtime for a child.
  • Earlier bedtime. Your child will need extra time to unwind. Pushing bedtime earlier ensures he/she does not get sleep deprived, which makes bedtime battles worse.
  • Extra cuddle or light play before bedtime. This is especially needed if you and your child are apart all day, and bedtime is your only alone time. That was that case with my baby. He stopped crying when I spent the extra 15-20 minutes with him.
  • Never sneak away. Tell him/her why you have to leave. Tell your child you will be back. I used to tell my child I will return 3 times if he needed me. Even babies understand more than you think.
  • When you do come back, do not create any new sleep crutch (anything that assists sleep). These include rocking, feeding, co-sleeping, pacifier, sit by the bedside, lie on the floor next to the crib (guilty!)  etc.
  • Keep comforting short (less than a minute) and boring. Try to do your comforting inside the crib/bed.
  • LEAVE when you are done.
  • If all else fail, your child may have developed a new bad habit. You may just have to do sleep training again. See BEDTIME SLEEP TRAINING for cry it out method.

NAP TRANSITION

During the first year of life, your child will transition from 3 to 2 naps, and then  2 to 1 nap.

  • When the frequency of nap goes down, the duration of nap usually goes up. That, takes time.
  • At the start of transition, your child will drop a nap, but not take a longer nap, causing sleep deprivation.
  • Solution: temporary very early bedtime, until nap transition is solidly established.

SICK BABY

  • Attend to his/her needs with minimal fuss. The needs may be medication, feeding for dehydration, changing diapers, wiping nose, clean up vomit etc.
  • Do an abbreviated bedtime routine if your child ends up waking up completely.
  • You can give extra comforting, but your child still has to sleep without you, i.e. unassisted. Being sick does not mean he/she suddenly forgets how to sleep.
  • You can check on your child more frequently, but after he/she is asleep.
  • Do NOT go back to old sleep crutch eg. Rocking, feeding, pacifier, bringing baby to bed etc.
  • If all else fails, start sleep training again as soon as he/she is better.

NIGHT AWAKENING AT ANY AGE

Teething, stuffy nose, growth spurts, gassy, nightmares, defiant-toddler-syndrome, I-want-water-again-syndrome, the list goes on.

  • Pre-emptively tackle any known causes. For eg. give baby Tylenol if teething to soothe pain, use humidifier for stuffy nose etc.
  • If your child is awake at night, but does not seem to be in distress and not crying, I recommend ignoring. Boredom will put your child back to sleep.
  • If you do respond to night awakening (extra hugs to soothe nightmares, dragging their ass back to bed etc.), be SILENT, BORING and UNEMOTIONAL. Note: frustration and yelling are emotions. Sometimes, your child just wants attention.
  • Think about safety.
    • If your child is in a crib, he/she is safe.
    • If your child can climb out of the crib, get a crib tent.
    • If your child is in a bed and is mobile, you need to make sure the room/house is child proof. One trick is to reverse your doorknob, so you can lock your child in from the outside.
  • If your child understands reward (usually older than 2), have a reward system every morning if he/she did well. Make your reward visible during the day so he/she can “keep an eye on the prize”.
  • If reading a book is part of bedtime routine, read a book about bedtime. Or make up your own story about children who go to sleep and stay asleep.
  • Frequent night awakenings can also be a sign of sleep deprivation. You can experiment with moving bedtime 15 minutes to an hour earlier (try for a week) to see if it makes a difference.
  • Your child will test your rules from time to time to see if the rules still apply. So consistency is key here.

 

May you (and your child) find sleep over and over again!

 

Yours Positively,

Positive Circle.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. talrhodes says:

    Ahh you have some very good ideas. My little one is 17 months and he wakes crying every night at around 10pm and comes to sleep in our bed. It’s started off with teething and illness but now is just habit, also he now is sleeping until 8am instead of 6am because of this. I was thinking of waking him earlier on a morning to establish routine but from reading this he needs his sleep. I will have to have a read of your sleep training article!

    Like

    1. Thank you for reading! It’s so easy for a toddler to develop bad sleep habits…. a trip, an illness, a phase etc. Babies are SO smart. If you loosen your rules, they’ll take full advantage of it! So far, I’ve only had to sleep train my kid once *fingers crossed* and as long as I resist the temptation to create new sleep crutch, we’re good! I’ve found that moving my baby’s bedtime earlier solve a lot of problems. Also, if he does cry @10pm, try ignoring him a bit. Or keep repeating your bedtime routine and insist he sleeps in his bed. Good luck!

      Like

      1. talrhodes says:

        No problem. Yeah it sure is! Lucky, I’m too soft! Well Albert already has a really early bedtime and I ignore him for 10/15 mins but he usually won’t stop crying. That’s a good idea ill definitely try that, thank you so much!

        Like

  2. Luna Reele says:

    Wish I had this advice when my kids were younger. Definitely great advice!

    Like

    1. Thank you! I wish I had these advice too when I was struggling with mine. Had to learn it the hard way!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We are majorly struggling with our almost 10 month old at the minute. He is teething badly but I think it is also a combination of being in the middle of a developmental leap, recently having learnt to stand up himself and crawl properly, starting nursery 3 days a week now I’ve gone back to work AND he’s entered some sort of clingy phase where he wants a lot more contact with me than normal. (All this at the same time! 😱) The length and frequency of his night wakings are killing me – I hope to god it calms down soon! 😩😩 In the meantime I am trying not to fall asleep at my desk with the power of caffeine! 😂 Haha.

    Like

    1. Omg don’t I know that feeling😢 mine was sleep trained but went through all kinds of phases. 🤷🏼‍♀️The most important thing during these phases is – do not introduce any bad habits (eg. Rocking to sleep). Because when he is out of that phase, you won’t have to deal with that bad habit.

      If you have anytime to read, I’ll tell you what worked for me😉
      – make sure he gets enough numbers of naps and duration of naps. Mine struggled with that in nursery. It was so noisy!
      – last nap should be 3-4 hours before bedtime. If he takes a nap too late, it’ll push back bedtime, and he won’t get enough sleep blah blah blah…..
      – try an earlier bedtime (if possible), like 20-30min up to 1hour earlier. Especially if he didn’t nap well. It solves most issues😂🤣😂 really….
      – be firm with bedtime routine, and repeat them in the middle of the night.
      – Often times night awakening is a sign of sleep deprivation. If he’s been doing this for a bit, it may be the snowballing effect of sleep deprivation. I’ve had to dedicate certain weekends when we’d stay in, and I make sure he naps enough and go to bed super early. And once he got caught up in sleep, it got better.
      – the separation anxiety phase was hard. But I find starting bedtime routine 30min before his intended bedtime, so he gets to play with me helps tremendously. Especially on days he’s in nursery

      And if I’ve checked all the above and sleep is still terrible, then I accept that this is a phase. I grin and bear, and just ride the waves😖

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you! That’s all really helpful.

    I do think nursery has had an effect the last few weeks because he doesn’t nap there like he does at home so it’s probably all snow-balling to leave him a bit sleep deprived.

    I only work 3 days a week so we get four days at home together for our ‘weekend’. This weekend I think I’ll make it my mission to keep up with the best nap schedule ever! 😂💪🏻

    Like

    1. Good luck 🍀👍🏻 hope it works and keep us posted 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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