Parents, are you going crazy trying to put your child to bed? Does your child sleep in her own bed? Do you have a bedtime routine? Are you getting any down time and are you constantly sleep deprived? The bed time battle is one that many parents go through and are at their wit's end for how to fix.
A survey completed by the American National Sleep Foundation reveals that neither parents nor children are getting the recommended sleep amounts and this can have a huge impact on immune systems, family and caregiver interactions, and children's moods and behaviors.
So what causes sleep problems? The reasons are many with some, like teething, being valid but most are problems that can come about because of parental guilt, bad habits, convenience, or even from parents who are so uptight that they can't bear to hear a peep out of baby and hover over them waiting for any sound.
So what's the answer to this nighttime sleep battle? Jo Frost, Super Nanny and writer of "What Every Parent Wants to Know" has some good advice. Of course, her advice for babies is different than for older children but it is based on routines for both age groups.
Keep in mind that newborns need between 16 and 18 hours of sleep daily, dropping to 12-15 hours by 6 months. They will wake up when hungry or wet but it is important to teach your baby to self-soothe at other times. This is hard for some parents to do but important. By 3-6 months, your baby should be sleeping in his own room and you should be putting him to bed before he's actually asleep so that he can learn to drift off by himself. Keep the lights very dim, using a nightlight. If he needs to be fed, keep the lights low, feed him, but don't sing, talk, or play with him. Keep things low key, avoid full eye contact so he has no incentive to fully wake up, lay him on his back, and leave the room after feeding. Try to establish a daily routine, having baby nap at similar times of day, and don't let the nap go on for a prolonged period of time. Have a bedtime routine that you follow daily. Bathe him, cuddle, and feed him. Try to keep to set times and be consistent. Keep in mind that babies must be placed on their backs, keep the room cool, no blankets or pillows in the crib, and do not smoke around baby.
Older children can have just as much trouble at bedtime. Again, you need a good routine, an early bedtime as your child needs 10-12 hours of sleep per night, and a wind-down time leading up to bedtime. Don't give in to stall tactics and bed older and younger siblings at different times. Alternate with Dad if possible so the children get used to both of you putting them to bed. The routine is important because then they know what to expect. It might start with a bath, teeth brushing, then a story read in bed. Keep the room dim and let her fall asleep on her own, like baby.
These techniques work wonderfully for Jo Frost and will work for you as well but you must be persistent and consistent. If you give in one night, then you must start over and get back on routine. Don't despair. It will work. Some children will be harder than others but all children need and want routine and rules. It makes them feel safe and secure and they must know that you are the one in charge. Keep in mind that every child is different and so each routine may be different but whatever works in your house is your routine.
For more information about child development, stop in to Bogart's Books in Millville where there is a great book exchange and a very good selection of books for raising your child. Also having good selections are the public libraries in Vineland and Millville, with new books coming in all the time.
So read, try it out, and then get a good night's sleep!