Things to do when your kid won't let you out of the room.
Here’s the scenario: you’ve all had a long day, you’re tired and you’re totally ready for your toddler to go to bed for the night. You do the bath, the PJs, brush teeth (maybe), read a story, sing a quick song, pick a new stuffed animal…then you go to put your toddler into their crib and your sweet child stands there and screams at the top of their lungs!
It might catch you off guard. It might be something new. You’ve entered a new phase of growth. I promise it’s normal for a toddler to scream and protest at bedtime.
Why does my toddler scream?
Here's what's going on: Your toddler is learning! Toddlers are learning how to do things, how to get things and what's expected of them. They want to have all the independence in the world, but have no idea what to do with it. For instance, your toddler wants to run free in a parking lot filled with cars...do you let him? Of course not! Your little one likely doesn't understand cause and effect...the same thing goes for bedtime when your toddler would rather be playing and having a good time with you than go to bed!
What do you do when your toddler screams at bedtime?
As parents, it's up to us to set limits.
We can fall all too easily into the trap of letting our child run the home. I mean, they are incredibly needy and can’t do much for themselves right? But as parents, we know what is best for our child (aka they need to sleep to function…) and we have our own sleep needs as well. Setting limits helps us to meet our own needs in addition to the needs of our child when they can’t meet those needs (or even recognize them) themselves.
So how do we set these limits?
It can become a bit of a dance, but it all starts with a firm, predictable routine. Each night, do the same routine so it is clear to your child that bedtime is approaching and they will be sleeping soon. Taking a bath, getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, etc. are some things that can be a part of your routine.
Here’s where the fun comes in! Since toddlers are discovering their independence, they are likely to want to gain control of every situation they can, which can be a part of the reason why they are struggling with bedtime. The key to dodging big power struggles is to give your child bit-sized bits of control throughout the evening. What do I mean? Consider this. Your child cannot choose whether or not they want to go to bed, but they can choose if they want the red blanket or the green one. See what I mean? If your child is given the chance to make age-appropriate decisions, they will feel more in control. Let them choose the bedtime story or the song you sing to them. Allow them some independence in the smaller things while standing firm in the big picture.
Once your child feels like they have some control, it will be easier to enforce the limits you’ve set surrounding bedtime. One of these limits should be a specific set bedtime, and can also include expectations such as reading only one story, singing just one song, etc. Being firm but gentle with your child will send the message that this is a solid rule that they are expected to follow. Of course, with each child and situation, it’s important to use your own judgment. Come up with a plan. Predict what may happen before it occurs and plan out your responses. What will you say if your child cries for you to stay with them? Maybe you settle them in and tell them you’ll check in on them in 10 minutes. Maybe you remind them of what a great day they had and encourage them to think about what to do tomorrow. Maybe you let them cry for a little bit to show them you mean business before checking in on them again. Whatever you choose to do, make the expectations clear. And remember that it is only a season and you won’t be dealing with this forever!
Have you ever been trapped by an overtired toddler? Are you stuck in a rut and can’t figure out what to do next? Schedule a free call with me and I’ll help you troubleshoot!
There are three key aspects to focus on in helping your child develop healthy and effective sleep habits. When working with clients, here is what I focus on first:
1. A Regular Bedtime Routine
Little ones thrive on consistency. They look to us, the parents/caretakers, to guide them in what they should be doing and how/when/where they should be doing it. This is why it is so important to develop routines. Babies and toddlers need consistent routines to orient themselves to where they are in their day and be able to anticipate what is coming next. Creating a regular bedtime routine that begins at (relatively) the same time each night will cue your baby to the fact that it is almost time to sleep. A simple bath, pajamas, a story/song, then off to bed routine can do wonders as long as you repeat the same actions in the same order each night.. Develop your routine based on what works best for you and your child!
2. Boundaries Around Sleep
If you’ve been around a toddler for more than 5 minutes you’ll know that they love to push boundaries. This is a completely normal developmental milestone, and it’s important for toddlers because they are looking to you to communicate to them what is allowed and what is not. To avoid frustration and confusion, it is important to set clear boundaries for our children, and sleep habits are no exception. Beginning when Baby is young, you can communicate that the expectation at bedtime is for them to sleep in their own bed. Other boundaries you can enforce could be keeping the baby in their room/bed until a certain time each morning (who wants to get up at 5am??) or making sure your toddler is staying in their bed all night. Decide on some healthy boundaries that will serve everyone in your household.
3. Consistency and Holding Boundaries
With both of the above tips, consistency is key. As I mentioned before, babies and toddlers look to us to orient themselves within their day and the world at large. Keeping consistent routines and boundaries allows them to know what to expect as well as how to act. This is crucial for them to be able to develop a sense of security and understand the world around them. You’ll begin to notice your toddler taking initiative when you prompt them to begin their bedtime routine. Keep it consistent and everyone will be on the same page!
What does your bedtime routine look like? What healthy boundaries have allowed your child to develop good sleep habits?
Toddlers are fascinating creatures, aren’t they? Watching them develop into thinking, creative little people is such a fascinating time, and one that parents often wish would last a little longer. Of course, they usually wish that after baby’s grown out of the toddler stage, because along with that creativity and new found intelligence, we usually see a lot of boundary-testing, which can be a frustrating experience.
Is it teething?
Have you ever heard the story of Catherine O'Leary's Cow?
Back in 1871, the Chicago Tribune reported that the cause of the great Chicago Fire was a cow, Catherine O’Leary’s cow to be precise, kicking over a lantern in the barn while it was being milked.
Unfortunately, the Tribune admitted later on that it had completely fabricated the story, but that didn’t stop people from blaming Catherine and her cow from being widely blamed for one of the greatest disasters in US history.
What’s this got to do with teething, you ask?
I’m here to make a confession. Yes, I’m a sleep coach but I too have rough nights of sleep.
It doesn’t happen often but I know how you feel. It’s 3am and you’re staring at the clock. You have a few hours before you have to get up for work and you’re worried how you’ll get through the day on so little sleep. You feel like your nights are on repeat…falling asleep but not staying asleep. Or you’re the opposite…you lay in bed and can’t seem to fall asleep no matter what you do.
So what can you do to make your nights more restful? Do these 4 things to help you drift off to sleep faster and feel more rested in the morning.
A few months ago, I was contacted by a mom of a 1-year old boy from Maryland was keeping his parents
awake all night. She told me that every night; she had to CLIMB into her son’s crib at bedtime to cuddle
with him until he fell asleep, then would slowly climb her way out of the crib, hoping he wouldn’t wake
up. This had been going on for months and she was exhausted.
A few days later, I was contacted her friend, who had a 2 year old little boy, telling me that her son was
keeping she and her husband up all night; he wasn’t staying in his crib and the whole family was
suffering because of his nighttime crib jumping. She’d heard from her friend about working with me and
decided she needed my help as well.
Both moms thought they’d tried everything and just wanted to get some sleep.
Their goals were the same…they needed sleep and so did their little ones.
We started out by talking about the boys’ sleep environment and how inviting their rooms were for
sleep. We made sure each room was as dark as possible, using blackout curtains. We made sure each
crib was safe and lowered as far to the floor as each would go to prevent falls. We also made sure to use
white noise machines to help drown out the noise from the rest of the house.
Since each boy had a different situation and amount of sleep needed, each had his own custom sleep
plan for the parents to follow. The parents got to choose which method they wanted, based on their
parenting style, to help their son sleep through the night and get on a good nap schedule.
During each family’s consultation, we talked about things that were going well with their current
situation and areas, such as naptimes and length, that needed to be improvement. We talked about
bedtime routines, when to put the boys to bed, how to handle getting the boys to sleep and how to
handle night wakings. We streamlined each boys’ bedtime routine to around 30 minutes and how to
keep bedtimes early (about 7:30/8pm). Finally we made sure each boy was getting a good nap during
the day and at the right time to balance out their day so they weren’t tired at bedtime.
Within 1 week, much to the surprise of both moms (and the Dads), both boys were putting themselves
to sleep, sleeping through the night and were no longer giving their parents nighttime shenanigans. I
was there to support them throughout the entire process and I’m happy to report that both boys are
still sleeping like angels, months later.
If you’re ready to stop the nighttime shenanigans and get your baby or child sleeping through the night,
schedule a free call with me today to learn how you can get your child sleeping, just like these moms
I often get asked by parents about my recommendations for my favorite sleep things items that are out there on the market to help children sleep at night, so I thought I’d share the Sleep Solutions by Christine list of the best items out there I’ve found.
There are plenty of lists out there telling you about the hottest baby items to help your child sleep. According to one list, all the items related to sleep totaled more than $3000! The thing is… do you know anyone who’s used them or recommended them? Are they even safe to use? I have you covered! And I wouldn’t recommend anything that I wouldn’t use with my own child or one of my clients.
My list of favorite sleep items for your child
Used all over by parents, hospitals and daycares to give babies warmth as well as a safe sleep environment, it’s a must-have for all babies under the age of 12 months. Get the one that allows baby’s arms out and free to move so they can self soothe by sucking on their hands or be able to roll if they want to. This simple piece of clothing can be easily be used as part of your bedtime routine or whenever baby sleeps to provide warmth and a snuggly feeling. Available in sizes to fit toddlers as well, they can also help keep a toddler from climbing out of the crib!
Got another child running through the house, pets that can’t seem to stop running through the house or creaky floors? A white noise machine is a great way to drown out the noise. The best one stays at a stays on all night and at a constant sound. My fav, the Marpac Dohm white noise sound machine, is simple, portable (we take it everywhere) and the noise level can be easily adjusted to whatever level you need. Be sure to keep it low enough that you can talk over it and place it in between the noise you want to drown out (such as the hallway) and the baby to act as a simple noise barrier.
Struggling with early wakeups and toddlers running through the house at 2:00am thinking it’s time to get up for the day? I recommend the Ok to Wake! color changing clock for toddlers. Even when she was in the crib, we used a clock with our daughter at 18 months to get her used to the idea that when the clock turns green, it’s ok to get up for the day. The clock is a visual reminder to toddlers for wake up time before they can tell the time. I’ve tried a few clocks and this one was by far the easiest to program. It’s so easy to set the clock and the desired wakeup time (usually 7:00am). Use it as part of a reward and consequence system to teach your child when to stay in bed and sleep and when it’s time to get up for the day.
Traveling anytime soon? You need the Gro Company Gro-Anywhere Blinds. While most hotels have good blackout curtains, what about Grandma’s house? These portable and adjustable blackout curtains can be attached to any window using suction cups to darken a room, whether it already has curtains or a cute little valence that does nothing other than dress up the window. A must if you’re going on the road this summer.
The Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator. When you have a sick baby or child, you want nothing more than to make them as comfortable as possible. This product is amazing to say the least. Compared to the silly bulb syringe that you get from the hospital, this actually sucks out the mucus from your baby’s nose. No, you won’t actually suck it into your own mouth, since there’s a handy little filter at the top of the tube so you don’t inhale green gooey-ness. It’s the best way I’ve found to clear a little one’s nasal passage.
If you add these few items to your registry or pick them up the next time you’re on Amazon, you won’t be disappointed. You can literally spend thousands of dollars on items your local baby store will tell you that will help your baby sleep. Don’t waste your money (especially on moving bassinets, which I’ll cover in another blog post) because working with a sleep consultant is WAY cheaper and lasts beyond the first few months.
Have questions about your child’s lovey or other sleep related questions? Schedule a free call with me to begin your journey to a better night's sleep!
Did you have a lovey as a child? I’ll admit that I still have my pink crocheted blanket. It’s no longer on my bed, but I can’t bear to get rid of something so dear to me that brought me comfort and happy memories.
I always ask families if their child has a lovey. You might call them security blankets, wubbies, snuggle bunnies, blankies, etc but they are all the same thing…they are an object that your child takes to bed with them whenever they sleep for comfort and security.
Loveys can be a comforting way for your child to sleep and become one of your child’s strategies for falling asleep.
I recommend parents introduce a lovey between 4 to 6 months of age.
But how do you choose which one? And what if my child doesn’t like it?
Make sure the lovey is something small, such as a small stuffed animal or small blanket, about the size of a face cloth that the child can easily find in the dark. The benefit of a lovey is that it’s something baby can find in the middle night by themselves and doesn’t require your assistance.
Their lovey shouldn’t make noise, such as a rattle or crinkle sound; it shouldn’t light up and shouldn’t have pieces that can be choking hazards, such as buttons for eyes.
You may notice that your child has a particular attraction to a small stuffed animal during playtime. Once you’ve identified the new lovey, include it in activities during the day such as tummy time and when they’re traveling in their car seat.