Navigating bedtime can be tricky for any parent. We asked a few of our clients what their most pressing questions were on the subject and fielded them to an expert, Rebecca Earl of Sugar Plum Sleep Co. Here is some of her golden sleepy time advice...
To Nap or Not to Nap?
Q: "My 2 year old daughter naps like a champ some days and others it's like pulling teeth. Any tips on how to make this a more solid routine or should I just give up when she doesn't seem tired/willing to go down?"
A: As your child gets older, they become more aware of their environment and don't want to stop the activity they are engaged in. Consistency and predictability are important to helping a child understand what happens next. This is especially important as it relates to sleep. A consistent nap time and a predictable nap routine will help your daughter make the transition from being awake to falling asleep. If your daughter is overtired, it can also lead to challenges in her initiating sleep. Start by evaluating her level of activity in the 30 minutes prior to nap time. Try to keep activities calm and provide her with a 2 minute warning that nap time is near. A quick nap time routine that includes a diaper change or trip to the washroom, a short story and a few cuddles or songs in the same order each day will help her understand the expectations for nap time. You should also ensure that her bedroom conditions are favourable for sleep, especially as we enter into the Spring and Summer months. A dark, cool, quiet and distraction free room is ideal.
Some children will drop their nap as early as 2.5 years of age. If resistance to nap time continues and/or you notice impacts to her abilty to fall asleep at night, experiences nig ht wakings or early mornings you may need to consider eliminating the nap.
Different Ages, Different Bedtimes...Help!
Q. "Any tips for dealing with kids with varying bedtimes? Our 4 year old is devastated when his 11 year old brother is allowed to stay up later than him."
A. I can definitely relate to this! My sons are 5 and 7 and this started to be an issue in January. Being consistent with your 4 year old's bedtime routine and bedtime will be important. If he is overtired, his resistance to bedtime may increase. A couple of options to consider:
Include your older son in the 4 year old's bedtime routine, if possible. Have him read stories and/or assist with tucking your son in.
Once bedtime routine is complete keep noise levels in the home to a minimum to not distract him or peak his interest in what is happening.
Place emphasis on the difference in sleep needs between different ages.
Provide an explanation of your older son's activities after the 4 year old's bedtime. We focus on homework. You can even take a photo of your 11 year old completing homework at that time as proof!
If the challenges persists, you can introduce a reward chart to help maintain boundaries around bedtime.
Mama Can't Sleep...
Q: "I have a newborn and although she is sleeping well I can't. Any tips on how to get my own sleep back on track?"
A: Congratulations on the arrival of your daughter! Motherhood definitely changes us in many ways and our sleep patterns can suffer. Our heightened senses and fears can make it difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Electronic usage in the bedroom is also a common issue with new moms. Consider the following changes:
Make your bedroom a screen free zone. The type of light emitted from electronics can interfere with a body's sleep patterns.
Avoid screen time for 60 minutes before bed time for yourself.
Avoid screen time during night wakings. Resist the temptation to check your e-mail and social media channels when you are up caring for your little one at night.
Hide your alarm clock. Looking at the time can lead to stress and anxiety, making it difficult to fall back asleep. Turn the clock face away from you.
For more great sleep tips for moms, check out my Top Ten Sleep Tips for Adults and download my Mom's Guide to Better Sleep.
Rebecca Earl, MASc.
The Sugar Plum Sleep Co.
THANK YOU REBECCA!
Want to learn more? Contact Rebecca for a complimentary 15 minute phone consult.
Sleep Well Everyone,
the Summerhill CLUB Crew