As a parent, your child’s sleep can be so confusing, and when you aren’t getting enough of it yourself, it feels like a complex and impossible puzzle to solve. We all LOVE the nights where our children sleep through peacefully, but if something comes up seemingly out of nowhere, it can feel hard to know where to begin to get you all back on track. Keep reading for 3 things to consider if your child who was sleeping well suddenly begins fighting bedtimes or waking multiple times a night.
- Check how they initially fall asleep. With children under the age of 12 months, feeds are typically done as part of the bedtime routine. Some children are very tired and fall asleep each and every bedtime, but can be easily transferred into the crib. However, some children may begin to struggle with the transition as they get older. This is due to them becoming more aware, alert, and engaged with their world, and being able to better recognize that the place they are initially getting so warm and cozy to fall asleep in is not the location they are waking up in. So my first recommendation for children who may begin to have trouble falling asleep at bedtime or waking in the middle of the night is to check how they are initially falling asleep. Any extra support given such as feeding, rocking, walking, or even back patting to sleep can make it harder to learn self soothing skills and get themself to sleep when then inevitably wake up during the night – since every single person on Earth wakes up during the night!
- Check how much daytime sleep they are getting. As children grow, their sleep needs decrease, and the consolidation of that sleep changes. From 4 months until between ages 3 and 5, most children require about 3 hours of daytime sleep. Some need more, and some need less, which is fine, until it begins to throw off overnight sleep. So first, check in and track for a few days how much daytime sleep your child is getting. Next, check how that sleep is consolidated. Are they ready to drop a nap and increase their awake windows? When children are, you will often notice that they don’t appear as tired, or sleep for shorter amounts of time as they need to increase sleep pressure by staying awake for longer periods.
- Giving them time and space to figure out how to return to sleep. As parents (this is also something I am guilty of!) it is second nature as soon as we hear our child cry to jump up and attend to them. It’s an amazing gift we have to be attentive to our children, but we also want to give them the time and space to be their own confident humans and learn skills on their own. And if we are too response, they don’t get the opportunities to do so. So I always recommend a pause before you attend to them, just to see if they can pull out some soothing skills and get themselves back down. With a hard working sleeping partner or an older sibling close by it’s so easy to jump in to try to minimize the damage of waking others, but the hope would be they are in such a stage of sleep that a bit of crying won’t wake them.
So if your child has gone from a grade A sleeper to multiple wakings, run down this quick list and see if any of them could ring true! Have questions? I’m always available in One Huddle to answer them!