Tips to keeping (or setting) good sleep habits

As we are all trying to find a new “norm” in this global pandemic, you may notice your child’s sleep slipping through the cracks. Or you may find yourself with more time to focus on your child’s sleep and want to teach him or her strong sleep skills! Whether you have a newborn, baby, toddler, or older child, I wrote this blog with a few tips to help your family navigate your child’s sleep in this time of unknowns.

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My 2 year old has a hard time falling asleep for both a nap and bedtime without me or my husband in the room. He has his own room with his big boy bed that we slowly introduced to him about 7-8 months ago before our new baby arrived. However, shortly after the baby was born, Daniel figured out how to climb out of the crib so the transition to the bed was a bit sooner than we expected.
For Nap time, I sit on the floor in his room and my husband will lay with him if he’s the one putting him in. Bed time is flat out brutal. He’s great at getting ready for bed and goes into his room willingly but it usually takes a minimum of one hour for him to fall asleep before we can sneak out of the room. Again, my husband lays with him and I sit on the floor by the door. He’s also waking up at night and coming into our room. I try to bring him back to his bed but again this can sometimes take an hour for him to fall back asleep. Please help! We have a 5 month old who also needs attention and I can’t be 2 places at once especially “Trapped” for so long.

I’m so sorry sleep has been so rough, I certainly know the feeling! That’s why I became a sleep consultant!!

When is Daniel’s birthday? I’m wondering how 2 he is :slight_smile: And did he fall asleep independently for naps and bedtime before he started crib climbing and transitioned to the big bed? Also, what does his schedule look like? What time does he start the day, nap, and bedtime? It sounds like he is totally relying on you guys to fall asleep. Once he learns to fall asleep independently and understands the expectations of staying in bed all night, those night wakings should stop. Right now, however, when he experiences naturally occurring wake ups (like we all do!), rather than slipping right back into sleep without even realizing it, he’s waking up looking for one of you, because that’s the only way he knows to get back to sleep.

I’d love to chat more with you if you’d like help making a plan to get Daniel sleeping!

Thank you for the quick reply!
He turned 2 on may 21. Yes, he used to fall asleep in his crib for naps and bedtime without us in the room. He was a great sleeper as a baby in the crib! And in the beginning of sleeping in his bed he would stay there throughout the night. He seems to be going through regression.
His daily schedule is something along these lines:
Wake time depends… if he does make it through the night in his bed he will come into our room anywhere between 6 & 7 and usually fall back asleep in our bed til about 8 am.
12-1230 lunch
2 pm start the nap process
730 start bedtime routine in room around 8 pm and falls asleep around 9 pm. He definitely depends on us to fall asleep and takes a very long time to settle himself to sleep. Hoping you can help provide some helpful suggestions!

An “ideal” schedule for him right now would be as follows:

7 wake up
12/12:30 nap (1.5 hourish)
7 bedtime

You can of course adjust that based on your preferred wake up time/his body’s natural wake up time (i.e. 8 am). Naps get tricky at this age, as toddlers still need them but even though he may sleep longer, you may have to cap his nap and/or push bedtime back to 7:30/8 to make sure he has enough “sleep pressure” to actually be able to fall asleep and stay asleep (he needs a good 5, maybe 5.5 hours between waking from his nap and bedtime sleep).

As for actually teaching him to fall asleep on his own, it’s all about setting bedtime rules/expectations and making a plan to be sure he stays within those boundaries! When I work with families, we also make a plan for how to start with parents in the room (since that’s what Daniel is used to) and how to slowly work your way out to be sure both he and your are confident he can do it!

That all makes sense as far as timing goes… what kind of plan though do you recommend for starting in the room and gradually moving out. For nap time I start in the room next to his bed and if he doesn’t lay down to relax I will move just outside his door. But then he starts getting up and playing around…
basically the same for bed time. I constantly reiterate that it is time for nap/bed but he doesn’t seem to listen.

I personalize plans for each family, based on you and your child’s needs and what works best for your household, and that takes a lot more information and time. But outside of scheduling and routines, the basis of my toddler plans, especially for toddlers in an open bed, is establishing bedtime “rules” and expectations, and remaining consistent with enforcing those rules. We often use rewards and/or consequences to help reinforce those boundaries. As for being in the room, I actually have parents start by staying in the room the entire time it takes for the child to fall asleep (while instilling the new rules), and we make a plan for how to remove you from the room over time, so that eventually you can lay him down and walk out, knowing that he can be confident in his sleep and you can be confident he will sleep!

If you’re interested in chatting about what it would look like to work together to create and implement a plan, let me know and we can schedule a (free!) phone call to chat more!