Happy New Year! As much as I love the holidays, I have to admit that I am a bit relieved that they are behind us. Too much sugar and not enough sleep has made my kiddos a handful!
So tonight, I am going to start my plan to get them back on track with their healthy sleep habits. That way, they can go back to being the darling little angels I know and love (insert hint of sarcasm).
For those of you going through a similar situation, I have shared my plan below so that you, too, can bring back peace on earth! Please note, that although my kids are toddler/preschool age, it works with babies as well.
- Bring back the full-blown bedtime routine. When you’re short on time, the first thing to go out the window is the peaceful well-orchestrated bedtime routine. Now that the parties are behind us, it is time to bring back your standard bedtime routine, bath and all. A consistent bedtime ritual serves as a cue to the brain that sleep is coming and it aids in the wind-down process. It also provides our toddlers with a sense of security that helps to limit bedtime battles. The trick is to keep it to 30 minutes so that your child doesn’t become overtired which will make it difficult for them to settle.
- Pay back any sleep debt accumulated with an early bedtime. Just a few skipped naps and a couple late bedtimes is enough to throw your child into a vicious cycle of over-tiredness. When they are overtired, their bodies produce the stimulating hormone cortisol which makes it difficult for them to settle. This can lead to night wakings, early wake-ups and short naps which all tend to perpetuate each other. The best way to break the cycle and to get those hormones under control is a few nights of early bedtimes. Only 30 to 60 minutes earlier for 3 to 5 days should do the trick. Once the sleep issues are resolved, simply inch their bedtime back to the normal time by 10 minutes every 2 nights.
- Firm up the bedtime rules. Whether you have had to give your child some extra soothing due to a late bedtime or you found yourself in a co-sleeping situation due to overnight travel, get back to your typical bedtime rules ASAP. The longer you bend the rules, the harder it is going to be to get back on track to independent sleep. To aid in the transition, dust off your old sleep plan and re-do it in an abbreviated manner. Expect a couple rough days/nights while they get re-acclimated to falling asleep on their own. Once they realize that the old rules are back for good they will go back to falling asleep peacefully with their own soothing strategies. Consistency is key!
I hope these tips help your kiddos to start sleeping well again soon! If you continue to struggle to get back on track, please reach out for a chat.
Let’s make 2018 the Year of Great Sleep for All!