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!
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.
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.
- 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!