I’m so excited to share this week’s guest post with all of you! Matt and I hired Leann to help us sleep train both of our boys. She was truly a lifesaver for us last winter as we were all working on transitioning to a family of four. We were all lacking sleep and it was starting to take a toll. Leann was patient with us and always listened to any and all concerns. We have made a lot of progress with both boys. We were struggling with middle of the night wakings, long bedtimes, and early wakings. No wonder we were all exhausted. We still have some problems, but nothing like we used to. I’m happy to report that both boys go to bed awake now and we have a lot less mid-night wakings…now if we can just get them to “sleep in.”
I hope this post blesses you are your family.
Prayers of restful sleep.
By: Leann Latus, Infant & Child Sleep Coach
Do you remember the first “advice/observation” that you were given when you announced to your friends and family that you were expecting? Mostly likely it was something like, “Get ready for sleepless nights and to be continually tired for the next 18 years”.
As a sleep coach, I want to assure you that this doesn’t have to be the case. It is possible to have a full night sleep even with young children! Granted it may not happen in those first few newborn months, but with the right timing and consistency, it is possible. I have been fortunate to help over 600 families with newborns, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers experience quality sleep.
Over the years, whether with clients or overhearing a conversation at the park, I have heard many mom’s sigh with frustration when talking about sleep training. Getting your child to sleep through the night is often wrought with frustration and dread. As a coach, I have helped many families figure out the sleep training process and have been able to adjust and work with all types of parenting styles.
The main goal of sleep training is to teach your child to fall asleep independently and put themselves back to sleep throughout the night. Babies and Toddlers do naturally wake up in the night in accordance with their sleep cycles, but with sleep training, they learn to fall back asleep on their own.
The good news, there are some quick and easy practices that you can start tonight that will help your child become an independent sleeper and help ease the anxiety around sleep training.
Tips #1: Consistency!
Consistency involves creating and enforcing an early bedtime. By getting your child to bed early, you avoid an overtired, emotional, irrational child. As parents, we have all experienced the overtired “beast-mode”, in which the pink cup will just not do and heaven-forbid, the crackers are broken!
Did you know that a child before the age of ten should be getting 11-13 hours of sleep a night! A recent study from McGill University confirms what most parents know: “when children sleep a single hour less than usual, they are irritable, easily frustrated and lack proper attention”.
Consistency also involves putting your child to sleep in the same bed. I know this can be hard, as a cuddle on the couch is so enticing; but if you use the same bed, it provides a sense of security and familiarity. Your child will learn that this is the place where sleep is expected.
Make their room dark! Go and get those blackout curtains that you have been humming and hawing over. Another good practice is to start turning down the lights in the house at least an hour before bedtime. This will help cue the production of melatonin and prepare your child for sleep.
Startling noises such as car horns or loud talkers, can also easily wake a child and if he or she hasn’t learned to put themselves back to sleep, it means you are dragging yourself out of bed to help them. White noise machines or fans are great additions to your child’s bedroom. This is especially helpful during daytime naps when loud outside noises are more frequent.
Also, create a predictable daily routine before bed. For example, bathe your child, nurse or bottle-feed them, sing/read and then put them into their crib or bed.
Tips #3: Put your child to bed awake!
This is the most important tip! I know, it seems much easier to rock your child to sleep or even nurse or bottle feed them to sleep. These actions are what we call sleep “props”, which are actions or items that the child requires to fall asleep. If your child wakes up in the night, are they able to fall back asleep without this item or do you have to get up, search for that missing binky and plop is back in their mouth?
The biggest objective that I hear about sleep training is “What about the crying?”.
Sleep training does NOT require you to leave your baby to cry until they fall asleep. However, I do encourage you to give your baby a few minutes to see if they can fall back to sleep on their own. If they don’t, go to their room and offer comfort by talking quietly and reassuring them.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to share easy tips like these to help families work towards better sleep. My passion is helping families experience the amazing benefits that quality sleep can have in their lives.
If you have any questions, please feel free to visit my site at www.tendertransitionsmn.com; where you can download a free eBook with even more tips to getting your child to sleep through the night and schedule a free “Let’s Get Acquainted” phone call with me.