For some reason sleep has been the topic of the week that's come up in so many conversations lately. I'm blessed with two decent sleepers, but we've also done some work to get them where they are tonight. It's easy to research theories and best practices, but it's hard to keep them ALL in mind when you're trying to fix a sleep problem. Now, of course, your doctor is the first place you should seek kid advice, but if you're looking for ideas and anecdotal evidence, here's our (very short) list of tips that might help your kids get more sleep:
But first, don't forget our Mommy Meetup is tomorrow (and most other Mondays) at Lil Chameleon in Tuckahoe. Drop in between 10:30am and 12:00pm to hang with other moms and let the kids play with toys and each other. $5 cash at the door or register online at LilChameleon.com.
1. Practice the same routine every night. Kids will know what's coming if you always do bath, book, bed.
2. Make sure there are no noises in your home to wake them up. Not sure? Try recording sound for one night and seeing if any jumps on the playback sync to their waking up. For all you know, their radiator could come alive every night at 3am. The same goes for light in the morning. Make sure your blackout shades are blocking out those morning rays.
3. Think about a child alarm clock. You know, the one with the green light when it's time to wake up and the red light when it's time to sleep? We found an article with the 10 best here.
4. Do they have enough comfort in the bed? If they are old enough for a lovey, go for it. Some kids love a sleep sack. Or white noise. Or a mobile. If you have to build a spa-like retreat fit for a 1-year-old to get your eight hours, go for it!
5. It's warm enough/cold enough, right? Many baby monitors measure the temperature so you can make sure the room is comfortable.
6. A toddler pillow can make a difference. Our three-year-old was sleeping with her head on the mattress because an adult pillow was too high for her. We got a toddler pillow and now she sleeps like a rock, head square in the middle.
7. Is their mattress as good as it can be? Just like you wouldn't want to spend your life on a futon, if you can avoid them sleeping for long stretches in a pack-n-play or other thin sleeping pad, their quality of sleep will improve.
8. Address the cosleep issue. It's everyone's personal decision, but if you want to transition them to their own room before age 4, it might be easier to move them in before they are old enough to realize they could have it any other way. You also have to consider everyone's quality of sleep. Are you waking them up, or are they waking you up? A good night's sleep is so important to their mood, health, and brain development. Take that into account when you're deciding who sleeps where. It might not be as cuddly and secure, but if you all sleep better when they are in their own room, it might be worth the payoff.
9. Don't neglect naps. The better they nap during the day, the better they sleep at night. Most pediatricians agree if you skimp on much-needed naps, they may not sleep through the night either.
10. Don't get conned into running a diner. Most pediatricians will also tell you that by about 6 months, babies no longer need a nighttime feeding. There are several ways to wean them off this habit, so talk to your doctor.
11. Hit the reset button. If they wake up and you can't figure out what's wrong, try restarting the sleep process. Change their diaper, put them in a different sleep outfit and swaddle or sleep sack, and put them down in a different spot in the bed. Check their body to see if they are running hot or cold, and adjust the thermostat accordingly. Turn the music or white noise up or down. Change it up and you might fix whatever is bothering them.
12. Tell them what you expect from them during the night. This is a tip for toddlers and older kids. Try a simple conversation during the day where you say things like, "At nighttime, everyone is sleeping. If you wake up, stay in bed and lay still. You'll feel better if you close your eyes until you fall back asleep." Or give them a coping strategy like humming a song or trying a new position to sleep in, or setting up a stuffed animal to hug if they wake up. Then reinforce this training at night. I'm not above bribing to get the results I want.
13. Is it time to drop the baby monitor? For our three-year-old, it might be doing more harm than good. She knows we can hear and see her through it so she interacts with it when she might otherwise try to get back to sleep on her own. She's also recently decided the infrared light on it is scary, and she doesn't like when the camera moves. It might be time to ditch Big Brother and let her sleep without surveillance.
That's it for this week. Don't forget to check out our list of things to do on Valentine's Day. And as always, check our website for events and our easy-to-navigate chart of every weekly kids library program in Westchester.
See you next time!