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.
Have you ever negotiated with your toddler at bedtime?
When I have my consultations with the parents of a toddler, there’s usually some kind of amusing story surrounding bedtime. They tell me, sometimes a little embarrassed, about how their sweet little one gets 3 or 4 stories a night, changes PJs twice, then asks for a glass of milk that they’ll only drink a few sips of, then say goodnight in a very specific, drawn-out way, the endless night wake ups and the back and forth to get them asleep again…and finally, the parents looking at each other wondering how on earth they got to this point.
And it always happens the same way... a little bit at a time.
Toddlers love to test boundaries, and they know that the one thing you want from them at bedtime is for them to go to sleep, so they’ll use that to their advantage. I know it sounds a little diabolical, but it’s their way of seeing where your boundaries lie and how much authority they actually have.
So one night they ask for a glass of milk, and the parents think, “What’s the harm?” The next night, they ask for a glass of milk and an extra story. A week later, they want a glass of milk, an extra story, and three hugs and two goodnight kisses. Little by little, these crazy bedtime routines get established, all according to what the toddler wants.
So there’s a simple solution to this issue:
That’s it. It’s that simple. I won’t kid you, sticking to the rules can be a challenge, because they’re going to ask, test and complain, but if you stick to your guns, they’ll understand sooner rather than later that the bedtime routine is not up for negotiation.
Despite the fact that your child might not agree, toddlers take a great amount of comfort in knowing that you, the parent, are firmly in charge and are confident in your decisions. It gives them a sense of security. If you start allowing them to make the decisions, they actually start to feel like they’re in charge, and it becomes a slippery slope of request after request, and the next thing you know it’s been 2 hours to get your child to bed.
Additionally, a predictable, repetitive bedtime routine actually helps you all sleep better. It signals the brain to start secreting melatonin and signals the body to start relaxing muscles in preparation for a restful, relaxing snooze.
And, finally, you’ll never have to explain to your friends how you have to have to make your little guy pancakes at 10pm in order for him to go to bed.
So if your toddler or child is constantly pushing bedtime, running through the house and you have to spend hours getting them to bed or back to sleep in the middle of the night, give me a call. I’ll show you how to end bedtime battles and give you your evenings back. Schedule a Free Sleep Evaluation and let's chat about your situation. I'm happy to help in any way I can to get you and your child sleeping all night!
When you’re considering where your baby should sleep, the obvious answer is ‘a crib’. What you put in that crib important…and I’m not just talking about the baby.
Baby stores, social media and online decorating boards show beautiful huge cribs with lots of bedding, stuffed animals and fluffy-ness all over. While it’s really cute, are those beautifully decorated cribs the safest place to put baby? When my husband and I were shopping for our daughter’s crib, there was a crib in the store decked out in all white with cushy bumpers, a sparkly mobile and soft sheets. My first thought was…what if she spits up? Who wants to try and clean spit up out of white sheets? Not only that, but the crib bumpers were nearly 6 inches thick!
Babies move, even the little ones just a few weeks old. They squirm and wiggle all over the crib so you want to create the safest place for them to sleep. Yes, they need to sleep in a crib or bassinette…not in your bed on the soft mattress, not on the couch or a comfy chair. Don’t use positioners either. If your crib height is adjustable, start it at the highest position, but as soon as baby starts to push him/herself up on her hands, lower the crib mattress height.
Bare is best when it comes to decorating cribs. Cribs should have a firm mattress, with a waterproof cover and a single sheet. Bumpers can become suffocation hazards. Also, don’t put mobiles, toys, stuffed animals, projectors or mirrors in their cribs. Not only can the toys become hazards, but we want baby’s crib to be a place for sleep…not playtime.
Dress baby in one piece pajamas to sleep and make sure nothing covers baby’s head. If you feel like they need to stay warmer, use a wearable blanket, such as a sleep sack. Do not use loose blankets.
Lastly, baby should be put to sleep on his/her back. It may not be the way that you were put to sleep or what you hear from your mom but since the Safe to Sleep campaign (formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign) was implemented, SIDS deaths are down 50%. Once baby is old enough to roll, it’s ok to let them.
Making sure that your baby has a safe sleep environment is important, not only for parents, but also for all caregivers. Make sure you communicate to anyone who cares for baby about these safe sleeping practices.
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