My six-year-old son won’t sleep in his own bed, so we have been letting him sleep with us. How can we work on moving him back to his own room? He has sensory issues and always wants to be near me. —Jenny
Dear Jenny, This issue of children with sensory issues not being able to sleep on their own is a common one among children who have sensory differences. Sleeping is one of the physical tasks of self-regulation and when any one or combination of a child’s sensory systems is not working efficiently or effectively, then sleep is likely to be disrupted. One of the most common ways that sensory differences impact sleep is from what we call tactile/touch processing differences. Some children need more touch input so they can feel where they are in space (their own body awareness is poor) and other children have touch sensitivities (their sense of touch is over-responding). In both cases, having a parent close to them offers the warm, firm, pressure that helps to calm touch sensitivities OR it gives them the added feedback about their own position so they can rest and relax into sleep.
Now that you’re home… The chaos of traveling is over. (Sigh) Time to reset! If you traveled over the weekend, I hope you made it back safely and without too much stress.
In the third part of my series on Traveling With Kids, this week is all about resetting and recovering from your travels. While you may see a minimal sleep regression when your child returns home, things should get back to normal within a week. If the trip is longer than 1 week, it may take extra time for your child to readjust to being home.
I, for one, love getting home from a trip to sleep in my own bed and aim to be back on our normal routine as quickly as possible.
To make the transition easier, here are a few tips to handle those first few days after you return from travel:
Tip #1: Assume your child, and you, will probably need a little extra sleep for a few days. Travel is hard on all of us and most of the time we’re not getting to bed at our regular bedtime, we’re not always eating the healthiest of foods and we usually have more activity than our normal day. If your child seems extra tired before bedtime, it’s ok to put them to bed a little earlier rather than pushing through to their normal bed time and trying to get an overtired child to sleep.
Tip #2: Don’t wait! It’s best to get back to your regular routine as soon as you return. There’s no need to wait a few days to start, because if your child’s sleep is a bit disrupted, waiting more time won’t make it any easier.
Tip #3: Expect that your child may have some extra wakeups at night for the first few days. This is normal and your child is just getting used to being home again. When your child wakes in the night, follow your normal pattern to get your child back to sleep. Offer comfort as your child to reassure them to their crib or bed is a great place to sleep.
Tip #4: If you bent your child’s sleep rules while you were away, such as co-sleeping or rocking to sleep, don’t worry too much. Here’s the trick: stop as soon as you get home. Yes, it’s that simple. If you co-slept while you were away, your child gets put back into their crib or bed at bedtime the first day you are back home. This works best for toddlers and older children who can tell the difference between sleeping at home and at Grandma’s house. For the first few nights back at home, you may need to provide a little extra support and comfort as your child is falling asleep to re-establish boundaries around sleep.
And if all of this seems like a blur and your child wasn’t sleeping well before your trip and things seem even worse now, then I have the plan for you.
Contact me today and let's get your child sleeping all night!
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