Does your little one wake frequently in the night? Or are they up early in the morning, ready to start the day when you really aren’t? Are you dreaming of a good night’s sleep but just don’t know where to start?
I know exactly how you feel – when I had my little boy, I knew I’d be sleep deprived, but I didn’t realise quite how exhausted I’d be. Eventually my husband and I decided we needed to do something about it, but really didn’t know what the best thing to do was, or how we’d summon up the energy to do it! I avoided “sleep-training” for a long time because I thought it would mean leaving my child to cry, which I wasn’t prepared to do, then a friend recommended the Sleep Nanny method, which is a gentle and gradual approach, designed to maintain a secure attachment between the child and parent…I was sceptical to start with, but we quickly saw results and went from bouncing our little boy to sleep for hours at a time, to all of us getting a good, restful and restorative night’s sleep. Since then I’ve become passionate about children’s sleep, so I trained with the Sleep Nanny and have been helping sleep deprived families ever since!
If you are experiencing sleepless nights with your own little one, here are five tips I wish I’d known back then…
Sleep breeds sleep
You might think that keeping your child up late or limiting naps in the day will lead to them having a better night’s sleep, but it’s actually the opposite! Naps and a consistent bedtime really do help – getting the right amount of sleep in the day will contribute to better nighttime sleep, the old saying ‘sleep breeds sleep’ really is true!
What works for one child, won’t necessarily work for another
All children are unique, and so have unique sleep needs depending on their temperament. There isn’t a one size fits all solution, so work out what’s best for your child as an individual, and you as a family, and be consistent with your approach, which leads me to my third tip…
Consistency is key
Whatever your plan is, stick to it…if you stop halfway through it will be confusing for your child, but it will also teach them to hold out until you give in and give them what they want (which is generally the thing that’s stopping them learning to fall asleep on their own in the first place).
How a child falls asleep at bedtime will influence how they sleep during the night
We all wake in the night, often four or even five times; it’s a basic biological function, but whilst you or I might roll over and put ourselves back to sleep and remember nothing about it in the morning, if a child has fallen asleep a certain way at bedtime, when they wake in the night, they’ll look for that same method to help them again. So if your child is used to being fed, rocked, cuddled, bounced or sung to sleep, this is why they’ll need it again (and often again, and again, and again!) in the night.
Sleep is a learned skill
Sleep is a learned skill, some children just naturally get it, others don’t and need more help, particularly those with a super alert temperament. Understanding this, and establishing the right way to help them learn how to fall asleep on their own is so important. There is no such thing as a “bad sleeper”, just a child who hasn’t learnt how to sleep well. And remember, teaching them needn’t be an ordeal for you or your child – gentle methods are just as effective in securing long-term sleep success.