Adults may need their favorite pillow and blanket, or maybe they read a book to help them fall asleep. But, for kids, it’s a different story, they often get used to falling asleep only if they have their parent nearby. This association makes a child balk when a parent tries to get his kids to sleep alone. Rather than face a tirade, a tired parent can quickly end up lying prone on the floor or taking a child into bed.
A child needs rest at night, and sleeping is the only option. Furthermore, learning to fall asleep on his own is an essential skill for a child to achieve. It helps the child to feel he can be alone and be safe. But, the process may take time; you need to help your child to adjust to falling asleep alone in a gentle, supportive way.
Here are five steps to a better night’s sleep for the family.
Keep on saying and repeating these words at night, such as
“It’s dark; let’s sleep… In the morning, Mommy and Daddy come to get you!”
Or: “If we can get out of the tub now and brush your teeth, we’ll have time for a new story before lights out at 7:30!”
You need to follow a whole routine, for example, Dinner first, then a bath, stories, kissing and stuffed animals to share the toddler's bed, then prayers or blessings, and lights out while you sing to your little one. Beware of too elaborate a method, because they will find a way to expand bedtime. So, don't think of night routine as a chore that's taking too much time.
Toddlers may find a way to resist the bedtime routine. But, you can overcome this by having the clock, rather than you, be the bad guy.
You can create a list of the child photos doing the steps of the bedtime routine, with a clock time next to the picture. You should follow the images as you do this routine every night. Your kid will eventually begin to move himself through the method.
All toddlers go through regular sleep cycles in which they wake just slightly and then settle into deep sleep again. You need to ensure that discomfort doesn't wake your child during those periods of slight waking.
Darkness matters, blackout curtains can be necessary, especially in the summer when your toddler will be going to sleep while it's still light out.
Also, warmth matters too if your toddler kicks his covers off, make sure he sleeps in warm PJs with feet.
After a bedtime routine, If you hold your child until he falls asleep puts you in danger of falling asleep beside him. Try to use the time to meditate, if you can, or listen to music.
If he's used to falling asleep by holding him, try to touch instead of hold. Eventually, he will be able to fall asleep with you merely holding his hand, or putting your hand on his forehead.
There is also an effective way that often helps kids fall asleep is to give them a giant stuffed animal or pillow to keep at this point, to replace you holding them. Kids usually love to curl around a large, cuddly animal.
It may seem hard for your child to learn new sleep habits. He may cry, and beg, for you to do things the old way. He will show you all his fear of being without you. It is like being sent away when it comes to bedtime.
Your job is to listen and comfort him by saying, for example, that you will be very close and you will always come if he calls.
You could say to him that you would come back in ten minutes and read him another story if he was quiet.
The first few nights are always the hardest for both of you. Try to use the new routine with stuffed animals, and then stay by your child's bed and keep reassuring and holding him. He will fall asleep quickly.
It may seem that the first night is complicated and would take much time and energy. But, within a week, don't be surprised if your child lies right down to sleep as soon as you put him/her down.
If you will return to your child after 10 minutes and you think they are asleep, wait five minutes more before checking. There's no point waking a sleepy toddler!
There is a chance that you will find your child is still awake; in this case, try to calm him and promise that you would read one more story in ten minutes if he were quiet.
To make a baby or a toddler fall asleep is a tough job. You have to make a plan, stick to it, and keep a record to see how far you've come.
You need to be patient cause it will take time and energy. It is a hard habit to break, but with patience, firmness, and support this approach should do the trick.