FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SLEEP PROBLEMS
●Bed to Crib, Moving Baby
●Quiet Around Sleeping Baby
●Matching Sibling Naps
●Co-Sleeping Not Working
●Fear of Overlying
●Safe Co-sleeping Research
●Pets in Bed
●Getting Preschooler to Sleep in Own Bed
●Prefers Tummy Sleeping and SIDS
●Overcrowded Family Bed
●"Nursing" Baby to Sleep at Child Care
●How Much Sleep
●Baby Wakes Up Often
●Goes to Sleep Late
●Sleeps Too Much?
●Nightwaking After Mother Returns to Work
●Waking Up Too Early
●Wakes Up to Play
BED TO CRIB, MOVING BABY
I let my 18-month-old fall asleep with me on my bed and then transfer him into his crib. Is this setting up a bad habit?
No, it's setting up a good habit. Remember that the goal of nighttime parenting is to create a healthy sleep attitude so that your baby learns that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a fearless state to remain in. Falling asleep snuggled up next to mommy or daddy is a wonderful way to transition from a busy day to a restful night. You may worry, or may have heard, that if you let your baby fall asleep in your bed he will never learn to sleep on his own. This concern is based upon the theory of sleep associations, which means that the way a baby goes to sleep is the same way a baby goes back to sleep. So, if baby goes to sleep in your arms, yet wakes up alone in his crib, he may not be able to resettle himself without your assistance. While there is some merit in this sleep association theory, think of it this way. Nighttime parenting is a long-term investment. You are creating memories. Your baby is learning to associate parents with comfort rather than being forced before his time to soothe himself off to sleep, even with a variety of personless props. As long as your baby sleeps well in his crib, then continue your present arrangement. In this way, you and your baby enjoy the closeness of cuddling off to sleep together, yet baby gets used to his own sleeping space in his crib. As an older toddler, he will eventually learn to go to sleep on his own in his crib or toddler bed. Yet, realistically, most toddlers enjoy the nighttime ritual of rocking, being read a story, and being parented off to sleep rather than just put to sleep.
If your baby could vote, he would naturally choose to fall asleep in your arms or at your breasts rather than behind bars alone in a crib. The attachment-parenting way of going to sleep is especially valuable for busy babies who have difficulty winding down at night and letting sleep overtake them.
How should I dress my baby for sleep?
As a general guide, dress and cover your baby in as much or as little clothing as you would wear yourself. If your newborn was premature, weighs under eight pounds, or is "small for date" (meaning baby born with less insulating body fat than he or she needs), your newborn may need an extra layer of clothing. Cotton sleepwear is best because it absorbs body moisture and allows air to circulate freely. Flame-retardant, cotton sleepwear is now available. Your baby's sleepwear should be loose enough to allow free movement, but well-fitting enough to stay on the proper body parts. Babies usually enjoy sleepers that contain foot coverings. New insights into safe sleeping have shown that overheating babies could diminish a baby's normal arousability from sleep. This new research has led the American Academy of Pediatrics to recently caution parents about overheating sleeping babies, especially during the first six months.
A co-sleeping baby (a baby who shares the parents' bed) also shares their body warmth and can easily become overheated. Some sleepsharing babies, therefore, may need to be wrapped or swaddled less warmly.
Get used to feeling your baby's body temperature. Cold hands and feet indicate the need for more warmth. Hot, sweaty skin indicates the need for less clothing and/or a cooler sleeping environment. Keep a consistent bedroom temperature around 68-70 ?F and a relative humidity of around 50 percent.
Be sure to dress your baby in safe sleepwear. Avoid dangling strings or ties on your baby's sleepwear (and yours as well), since these could cause strangulation. Of course, as your infant grows, expect your child to be more influenced by sleeping fashions and be more selective about what he/she wears to bed at night.
QUIET AROUND SLEEPING BABY?
My house is always noisy and with a six-and four-year-old as well as an infant. Must the baby have quiet to sleep? It's a losing battle. What can I do?
Your baby was not used to a quiet sleeping environment during her nine months in the womb. In fact, the womb is a very noisy place to sleep. Yet, babies manage to sleep through these sounds. Because womb sounds are so imprinted on babies, tape recordings of womb sounds is one of the oldest props for getting babies to go to sleep and stay asleep. As parents of eight, we found that our babies were able to sleep in the midst of noisy chaos. You will also find that babies nod off to sleep quickly when exposed to the monotonous household sounds of a vacuum cleaner, air conditioner, or dishwasher.
Babies also have a remarkable way of tuning out disturbing noises and retreating into deep sleep. Yet, if your baby startles and awakens easily from the usual laughter and yells of playing children, teach your older children to respect "quiet time" while baby is sleeping. Take this as an opportunity to teach your children the social skill of respecting the needs of other family members. If the phone ringing awakens your sleeping baby, turn the ringer off or put it on the low setting. If there is a lot of family noise, such as a party or holiday celebration, play music during baby's naptime, letting the background sounds of the music predominate over the ambient noise of a household.
MATCHING SIBLING NAPS
I have a toddler and a newborn. How can I get them on the same sleep schedule?
This is a challenging situation, since toddlers and newborns have different sleep patterns and needs, and mothers of both a toddler and a newborn have reasons to be doubly tired. First, try to get them into a similar nap schedule. Once, preferably twice, a day get them to sleep at the same time. What helped us during our juggling act of getting our newborn to nap while chasing down a busy toddler was the trick of making a "nap nook." Try a large box with a cut out door, a card table with a blanket over the sides, or a mat under a grand piano. Settle your older child into his "special place" reserved just for napping. Once he's asleep, you can then lie down with your newborn wherever it's most comfortable.
Try simultaneously napping with your newborn and toddler. Pick two consistent times during the day when you are the most tired. Lie down in your bed, and nurse your newborn to sleep on one side, while singing your toddler to sleep on the other. If your toddler is reluctant to give into a nap, put your newborn in a sling and stroll around until your newborn falls asleep, then entice your toddler into the bedroom for a sleep-inducing story and music. Market this as quiet time. Two-year-olds are old enough to get the concept of daily "quiet time." Eventually, your toddler may actually look forward to these special snuggle times with mom, and you get a much-needed a nap or two yourself.
One of the most difficult parts of maturing as a parent is realizing that you can't always be all things to all of your children. Parenting is a juggling act where you try to give each child what he needs according to his stage of development and your energy level. Although mothers seem to defy many laws of mathematics, you just can't give one hundred percent to each child all the time. You may need to call in some reserves. In this case, you might get your two- and-a-half-year-old involved in a playgroup for a few afternoons each week or hire a teen after school. When possible, mom and dad can do shift work. Dad takes the older child while mother naps when the baby naps.
My four-year-old thinks of a hundred excuses at bedtime, from a drink of water, to one last kiss, to boogie men in the closet. Where should I draw the line?
Procrastinating at bedtime is a common ploy of young children. The more children we raised, the more we observed that children do what they do in order to meet their needs. Unless they are angry or have a distant parent-child relationship, kids don't use bedtime ploys deliberately to annoy parents. There are three reasons why children don't want to go to bed: fear of going to sleep, not wanting to be separated from parents, and wanting more "quality time" with their parents. Because of changing lifestyles, rigid bedtimes are not as common or as realistic as they used to be. Decades ago, when most families lived in rural settings, the family got up early, worked together most of the day, and went to bed together early in the evening. Because today's parents are so busy and often do not have much time with their children during the day, children put their bid in for prime time with mom and dad at night. The before- bed hour may be the only time during the whole day she has your focused attention. If so, relax and enjoy it with her. Unfortunately, this is difficult for parents, since in the late evening children are tired and not the most fun to be with, you're tired, and you would like some couple time or time just for yourself.
Children are especially prone to procrastinate bedtimes following a family upset, such as the arrival of a new baby, change of daycare or caregivers, or one or both parents returning from a trip. It's unlikely that your child is being stubborn or disobedient. Most likely she is just angling for more time with you. Take this as a compliment, yet there reaches a point when your child needs to go to bed and you need some time for yourself.
Sleep is not a state you can force a child into. It must naturally overtake the child. Here are some suggestions on creating a sleep-inducing environment to help wind down your wide-awake child and save some evening time for yourself.
●Use an alarm clock or stove buzzer to signal "bedtime in five minutes." Or, use an egg timer: "When all the sand hits the bottom, the lights must go out." Your child may get tired of watching the sand fall.
●Begin the bedtime ritual earlier, say around 7:00 p.m. Avoid activities such as wrestling and exciting play after this time.
●Develop a consistent bedtime ritual, such as a warm bath, a back rub, a soothing story, and gradually dim the lights. In fact, one parent can gradually be dimming the lights as the other parent is winding down the child. Whichever parent doesn't get the children up and going in the morning should be the one to put the children to bed at night.
●Try the back rub game. "Plant a garden" on your child's back using different touches for different foods that your child selects. Gradually lighten your stroke as you smooth out the garden.
●Lie down with your child as you read the story and remain there until she is sound asleep.
●Have a continuous tape recording of your child's favorite bedtime stories, which can be used if you are unable to do the full ritual that night.
●If your child still procrastinates, choose bedtime stories that you enjoy, ones you don't mind reading over and over again. Expect your child to plead "read it again." Choose books that emphasize sounds that are repetitive, rhyming, comforting, and lulling. Make up your own stories. A story that has gotten many of our little bedtime procrastinators to sleep is telling them fish stories from my boyhood past: "I caught one fish, two fish, three fish…" Usually by twenty fish, one of you will be asleep.
●Some children have trouble going to sleep because they are not truly tired. Providing an hour or two of outdoor exercise may tire him out and set him up to relax as bedtime approaches.
●Watch a tape together. On nights when you feel low on patience, videos may be helpful to wind down the child who fights sleep or to pacify the bedtime procrastinator. Choose a calming video that you can enjoy together. Then you can snuggle up together, giving your child bedtime closeness without expending a lot of energy. Many nights when Matthew was three to four-years-old we snuggled together in a bean bag and he dozed off to LADY AND THE TRAMP.
The way your child goes to bed is more important than when he goes to bed. If you are a busy family and don't have much time with your child during the day, a later bedtime may be more realistic. Yet, children do better when they have consistent bedtimes rather than sometimes staying up late and other times being put to bed early.
TUCK ME IN, DAD
Little minds are in a receptive state at bedtime. Bedtime stories can reflect on the day and neatly tuck in a little teaching. Your growing-up years can make some great stories. Surround your child with pleasant thoughts and admirable values as she drifts off to sleep. Do this night after night and these bits of wisdom will be filed away in her library of experiences. Years later these bedtime lessons will be an important influence in her life. Bedtime prayers are a time-honored tradition effective for smoothing out the wrinkles of life and for passing on parental values and beliefs.
A word of advice: Even though their eyes are closing, children's ears are very keen to follow a story. A seven-year-old friend of ours instructs his mother to "Keep reading – I can still hear you even when I'm sleeping."
It takes me an hour to put our four-year-old to bed. She finally goes to sleep, but by this time I'm too exhausted to get anything else done.
Get behind the tired eyes of your child. First, take your child's bedtime attachment to you as a compliment. She likes being with you and doesn't want to give up the delights of the day.
Consider if your child needs more attachment rituals during the day. Children seem to recognize they benefit from a certain amount of touch time each day in order to thrive. They learn very quickly that bedtime gives them this opportunity. Try to give your child the attention she craves during the day.
THE NIGHT CRAWLER
We share sleep with our ten-month-old. She has just started crawling and climbing. How can we make our bed safe for her?
Welcome to the world of nighttime juggling. Every parent and child need to work out a sleeping arrangement that gives all family members the best night's sleep, and this may change at different stages of development. It's common for infants to practice their newly-found motor skills, such as crawling, at night. This nighttime nuisance can be exhausting for parents and deprive baby of much- needed sleep. The key to nighttime parenting is developing a sleeping arrangement that keeps you and baby within close nursing and nurturing distance, yet helps all of you sleep longer stretches. A custom that has worked in our family is what we call the side-car arrangement. You can get a crib, called a bedside co-sleeper , that safely and snugly attaches to your bed. This gives baby her own space and you your own space, yet you're still reasonably close to one another. Other ways to keep the bed safe for your infant are: avoid placing the crib near dangling strings (from curtains or blinds); use a crib approved by the Consumer Products Safety Commission; avoid crib pillows or soft, stuffed animals that could obstruct baby's breathing; avoid dust-collecting fuzzy toys in your baby's crib, especially if your infant is prone to respiratory allergies; and, of course, no smoking in the bedroom, please. Once your infant gets used to her own sleeping space in the co-sleeper, you could gradually ease her away from your bed using the traditional two-railed crib.
Will trying the family bed ruin our sex life and leave us with no privacy?
It has often been said that "a baby should not come between husband and wife, in bed or otherwise." As parents of eight who have practiced the concept of sharing sleep, we can say that our babies have not come between us. The whole attachment style of parenting, especially sleep sharing, works best in the context of a fulfilled marriage. Yet, it is absolutely necessary that a husband and wife find private time alone.
Since babies under six months have limited awareness of what's going on, lovemaking with your baby asleep in your bed is seldom a problem in the early months. As baby gets older, parents seldom feel comfortable enjoying lovemaking in the presence of a sleeping child. If you enjoy sleeping with your baby, yet want some couple time, be creative. Remember, the master bedroom is not the only place where lovemaking can occur. Every room in your house can be a potential love chamber. Another option is to put your child to sleep in another room while you have your couple time, then bring baby into your bed when he wakes up. Or, carry your sleeping child into another room. A child who's in a deep sleep doesn't awaken if gently moved to another bed in another room while you enjoy some time together.
When children get older, we feel it's important they get two messages concerning the parents' bedroom: the door is open to them if they have a strong need to be with their parents, yet there are private times when mom and dad need to be alone. You may employ the traditional "go watch cartoons" as you kindly but firmly request that your child leaves your bedroom.
While certainly lovemaking in front of children in the family bed would be uncomfortable and unwise, don't be afraid to hug in front of your children. It's healthy for children to see a show of affection between their parents.
CO-SLEEPING NOT WORKING
I want to sleep close to my three-month-old baby because I've read so much about the benefits of co-sleeping. Yet, when he snuggles next to me I don't seem to sleep as well. Any suggestions?
There seems to be a critical sleeping distance at which both mothers and babies sleep the best. Sleeping too far apart or too close together may stimulate one or both members of the sleep- sharing pair to awaken more frequently. Try this compromise. Purchase a cosleeper (a crib-like infant bed that attaches safely and securely to the side of your bed). A cosleeper puts you and your baby within arm's reach for close touching and nursing distance to one another, yet gives you and your baby just enough space that you both may awaken less frequently. (The cosleeper we recommend is the Arm's Reach® Co-sleeper® bassinet , available at nearly all infant-furniture stores. For the outlet nearest you, see )
FEAR OF OVERLYING
I want to sleep with our new baby, but I'm worried I'll roll over and smother her. Is this possible?
Each night all over the world millions of parents sleep with their babies and the babies wake up just fine. The good news is that overlying rarely happens. Overlying has in fact gotten an unfair reputation. There are many more crib accidents than sleepsharing accidents.
The same subconscious awareness of boundaries that keeps you from rolling off the bed prevents you from rolling onto your baby. Mothers I have interviewed on the subject of sharing sleep are so physically and mentally aware of their baby's presence, even while sleeping, that they feel it would be extremely unlikely for them to roll over onto their babies. Even if they did, their babies would be likely to put up such a fuss that the mothers would awaken in an instant. Martha, an eighteen-year veteran of sleepsharing, also believes that a breastfeeding mother usually has such full breasts that she is unlikely to roll over onto her chest without being awakened by pain. Since breastfeeding and sleepsharing mothers nearly always sleep facing toward their infants, rolling over onto their backs and smothering baby is also not a worry.
The bad news is that overlying does happen. The great majority of cases of proven overlying (most of the suspected cases were not proven) have been the result of an abnormal sleeping arrangement: too small a bed, too many people in too small a bed, parents under the influence of sleep-altering drugs, or unsafe sleeping practices.
If you enjoy sleeping with your baby and all of you are getting more sleep in this arrangement, don't let the fear of overlying discourage you from feeling secure with this time-honored custom. (See
SAFE CO-SLEEPING RESEARCH
I read about a study that claimed co-sleeping was dangerous. Is that true?
On September 29, 1999 a major news report entitled "Hazards Associated with Children Placed in Adult Beds" was carried in nearly every major newspaper and many national television programs, putting fear into parents. The day before this study broke I was interviewed by The New York Times, The Washington Post and several other major newspapers. CNN even sent a camera crew to our home for comments on this new research. Do parents who sleep with their infants need to worry? No! Here's the scoop. This study appeared in the October issue of The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Researchers at the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission reviewed death certificates from 1990 through 1997 and found 515 deaths of children under two years who were placed to sleep on adult beds. Of these deaths, 121 were reported to be due to overlying of the child by the parent, other adult, or sibling sleeping in the bed with the child. 394 deaths were due to entrapment in the bed structure, such as wedging of the child between the mattress and side rail or wall, suffocation in waterbeds, or head entrapment in bed railings. Most of these deaths occurred in infants under the age of three months. Like so much research, this was a good news/bad news scenario. The importance of this research is that it calls attention to parents who choose to sleep with their babies—and many do—to please do it safely. The problem with this study is that it caused unnecessary fear in the millions of parents who safely and responsively sleep with their babies. While the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) made a valid point that parents should be aware of the potential dangers of unsafe sleeping practices, they went too far in issuing a blanket statement that parents should not sleep with their babies under two years of age.
When science and common sense don't match, suspect faulty science. Co- sleeping itself is not inherently dangerous. The CPSC sleep study estimated that 64 deaths per year occurred in infants sleeping with their parents. The fact is that many more infants die when sleeping alone in a crib than when sleeping in their parents' bed. While the authors of this study indicated that their conclusions were not statistically valid, it would have been helpful if the authors made the point that the great majority of SIDS (remember it used to be called "crib death") occurs in infants sleeping alone in cribs. Instead of making parents afraid to sleep with their babies, a more contemporary approach would be to teach parents who choose to co-sleep to do it safely. Here are the precautions for safe co-sleeping:
●Always put babies under six months to sleep on their backs and not their tummies.
●Don't sleep with your baby if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or any substance that could diminish the awareness of your baby.
●Don't sleep with baby on soft surfaces, such as bean bags, water beds, and couches.
●Avoid crevices between mattress and wall or mattress and side rail.
●Avoid side rails, head boards, and foot boards that have slats that could entrap baby's head.
●Avoid putting your bed nearby curtains or blinds that have dangling strings that could strangle baby.
●Only one baby in bed at a time, please.
For parents who intuitively don't like the separation anxiety of their infant sleeping alone in a crib, but do not want to, or are fearful of, sleeping in the same bed with their baby, here is a compromise. Try the Arm's Reach® Co- sleeper® bassinet, a crib-like infant bed that attaches securely and safely right next to the parent's bed. With this nighttime nurturing device, parents have their own sleeping space, baby has his or her own sleeping space, and baby and parents are in close touching and nursing distance to one another. (For more information about co-sleepers, see www.armsreach.com.)
Despite the media hype on the dangers of co-sleeping, the facts are that much of the world's population sleep with their babies and do so safely. How could a sleeping arrangement that has been practiced for centuries all of the sudden be "unsafe?" We believe that co-sleeping is the nighttime parenting style of the millennium for two reasons: more and more mothers are breastfeeding and sleeping next to your baby makes breastfeeding easier. When baby is hungry, mother can simply feed her baby without either member of the nursing pair fully awakening. Martha has dubbed night nursing as the "lazy mom's option." She has slept with and night nursed most of our babies and still felt rested the next day. In this way, both baby's need for nighttime feeding and nurturing and mother's need for sleep can be met. The second reason why co-sleeping is contemporary is that more and more dual income parents are now separated from their infants during the day. Co-sleeping allows working parents to reconnects with their babies at night and to make up for missed touch time during the day.
Nighttime is scary time for little people. When considering where baby should sleep, look at things from a baby's point of view. If you were an infant, would you rather sleep alone in a dark room behind bars or right next to your favorite person in the whole wide world and inches away from you favorite cuisine? The choice is obvious. There is no right or wrong place for baby to sleep. Each family needs to work out the sleeping arrangement that gets all family members the best night's sleep. Whatever nighttime arrangement you choose, do it wisely and safely. Sleep well!
PETS IN BED
We have a cat that likes to curl up with us at night. Should we put a stop to this when baby comes?
Sorry, your pet will have to find a new place to nap. If your cat nestles in next to baby, its fur could obstruct baby's breathing. Also, animal dander could irritate a newborn's sensitive nasal passages, causing congestion and difficulty breathing. Then there is the fear of the pet snuggling against baby's nose and obstructing breathing. If you choose to sleep with your baby in your bed, it would be wise to have your pet sleep outside your bedroom. Once your cat sees that baby is curled up next to you in what used to be "her place," the cat is likely to want to nestle right where baby is to reclaim her space. Ditto this precaution for not allowing pets to sleep in baby's crib. Toddlers, however, often love to sleep curled up next to their pets. Provided children are not allergic to their pets, this is a safe arrangement. Sleeping close to their favorite pet as an attachment object helps children enjoy a more restful night's sleep.
My three-and-a-half-year-old snores loudly. Should I be concerned?
Watch your child sleep. If he has periods of sleep apnea – stretches of 10 to 15 seconds where he doesn't breath, followed by an intense catch-up breath – report this to your doctor. Sleep apnea and snoring at night may also be due to enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids. During the day, the tonsils do not compromise the airway. But at night the air passages relax and narrow, requiring more effort to force the air to move through them faster. This is what produces the snoring noise.
Have your child's nasal passages and throat examined by your pediatrician. If your doctor is unable to detect a structural problem, be sure your child's sleeping environment is free of allergens – including dust collectors or animal dander – which can cause nighttime stuffiness and result in noisy breathing. In addition to removing potential allergens, a bedroom air purifier (preferably the HEPA-type) can help, so can encouraging different sleep positions for your child. Sleeping on his side or stomach may relieve your child's snoring.
Sleep apnea interferes with a child's overall growth and well-being. Children alternate between light and deep sleep, and when their airway becomes obstructed, they often awaken startled from a lack of air. This causes an adrenaline rush and revs up the child's nervous system at night, interfering with sleep.
Incidentally, sleep apnea also induces bedwetting because the nighttime adrenaline rush causes the bladder to empty. So, as an added perk, you'll probably notice more nighttime dryness once your child's adenoids come out.
Let your pediatrician know how worried you are about your child's tonsils and sleep apnea, and ask for a referral to an ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist.
Our daughter (age three-and-a-half) wakes up screaming almost every night, but she's not really awake. Help!
Night terrors can be frightening for parents to witness. A child with typical night terrors awakens from a state of deep sleep, sits up in bed, lets out a piercing scream, and appears pale and terrified. She may stare with eyes wide open at an imaginary object, cry incoherently, breathe heavily, perspire, and (as you have found) be completely unreceptive to attempts to console her. The episodes can last five to ten minutes, and the child usually falls back into a deep, calm sleep afterwards.
Unlike nightmares, when the child fully awakens, remembers the scary dream, and has difficulty re-entering sleep without nighttime parenting, children with night terrors don't remember this bizarre nighttime activity because they aren't fully awake during the episodes. As a result, children with night terrors are unlikely to develop a fearful attitude about sleep or to seem sleep-deprived the next day. While scary for parents, night terrors seldom bother children, and lessen with increasing age.
It sounds like you are giving your child the best therapy there is: your love and availability. Initiate some quieting bedtime rituals – a pleasant game, a relaxing story, a back rub, and soothing music. Children often replay before- bed rituals in their sleep, so pleasant and relaxing bedtime rituals are less likely to trigger nightmares or night terrors.
My 22-month-old (who sleeps in a toddler bed) has taken to running out of his room and into ours at all hours of the night. How can I get him to stay put and go to sleep short of locking him in his room (which I obviously don't want to do)?
It's normal for toddlers to periodically run out of their room and into yours at night. Most parents regard this as a normal developmental stage, though these night visits can be exhausting.
To give your child extra nighttime security without disrupting your sleep, put a futon, mattress, or sleeping bag at the foot of your bed, then establish these rules. "You can come into Mommy and Daddy's room at night only if you sleep in your special bed, but you must tiptoe as quiet as a mouse so you don't wake Mommy and Daddy. Mommy and Daddy need our sleep, otherwise we will be cranky in the morning."
To entice your child to stay in his own room and bed, try the following:
●Leave a glass of water at his bedside in case he wakes up thirsty.
●Put on a continuous-play tape recording of you singing a medley of lullabies.
●Make his bed so attractive that he wants to stay in it by letting him pick out a special comforter, sheets, or sleeping bag, and allowing him to bring his favorite toys under the covers with him.
Here are creative ways parents we know solved the problem of the midnight visitor: "After we moved, our four-year-old, Josh, wanted to sleep with us all the time. Even after he fell asleep in his own bed, he'd creep in with us at about three o'clock in the morning. Even though we enjoy cuddling with him, especially as we all fall asleep, he's an after-midnight kicker, and we'd spend most of the nights he was with us crossing our arms over our sensitive body parts. So we made a deal. We told Josh that we loved sleeping with him, but now that he was bigger, we didn't sleep well when he was in our bed all the time, and this made us tired and grumpy parents. We further explained that we could probably handle feeling that way once a week. So we made up a chart and told Josh that if he stayed in his own bed all night Monday through Saturday, he could sleep with us all night on Sunday. Now Josh is eager to sleep "well" on his own so that we can all enjoy our Sunday night snuggles."
GETTING PRESCHOOLER TO SLEEP IN OWN BED?
Our three-year-old wakes up in the middle of the night and either demands to sleep in our bed or insists that Mommy comes sleep in her room. How can we break this habit?
First, decide whether your child's desire to sleep with you is a habit or a need (a parent can tell the difference). Nighttime can be scary for little people, so when in doubt consider it a need. Physical contact at night gives you and your child a chance to reconnect. The desire for nighttime contact may be particularly strong if your child had little or no contact with you during the day. The key is to find a compromise that meets both your need for privacy and sleep and your child's need for attachment and security.
Lie down with your child in her room and parent her to sleep with a story, a back rub, and some cuddle time. Then set nighttime rules. Put a futon or mattress at the foot of your bed and explain that if she wakes up she can come and sleep in her "special bed." Your three-year-old needs to understand the importance of not disturbing your sleep. If she needs comfort during the night, tell her to tiptoe quietly and slip into her special bed without waking mommy or daddy. Eventually, your daughter will spend more time in her own bed, resorting to the special bed only during times of stress – a change in schools or friends, a move, or any of life's little upsets that can disturb children's sleep. Above all, don't feel you are spoiling your child or that she is psychologically disturbed because she can't sleep on her own. Many emotionally healthy children simply enjoy the nighttime security of sleeping close to their parents. When it comes down to it, the time your youngster spends in your room (or in your bed) is relatively short, but it encourages a positive life-long attitude about bedtime, conveying that sleep is a pleasant – rather than fearful – state to enter.
PREFERS TUMMY SLEEPING
I have a four-month-old who, up until now, has slept on her back just fine. But now that she can turn over, she often flips in the middle of the night. I know that sleeping on the back is important to prevent SIDS. What should I do?
It's been proven that placing an infant to sleep on her back lowers the child's risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). In countries where there have been "Back to Sleep" campaigns advising parents to place their infants on their backs at bedtime, SIDS rates have fallen 30 to 50 percent.
Yet, remember that this is only a statistical correlation. It does not mean that if your baby sleeps on her tummy she's going to die of SIDS. Current SIDS rates are around one in a thousand babies; meaning that there's a 99.9 percent chance your child will remain a healthy little girl regardless of her sleep position. And while the cause of SIDS is still unknown, there is strong evidence that it is the result of an at-risk baby having an immature breathing- regulating system that fails to restart the breathing process when the baby is in a deep sleep. In fact, many SIDS researchers believe that a baby will naturally assume the sleep position that allows them to breathe more comfortably during the night. If your baby habitually flips over onto her tummy after you put her down to sleep on her back this may be the right sleeping position for her. If you want to be completely safe, however, you might want to try staying with your baby until she falls asleep; then turn her onto her back when she's in a deep sleep.
My 10-month-old refuses to take a morning nap and usually doesn't get more than a half-hour nap during the day.
Both babies and parents need naps. Ten-month-old babies need at least a one-hour nap in the morning and a one-to-two-hour snooze in the afternoon. Between one and two years, some babies drop the morning nap but still require one in the afternoon.
You can't force your baby to sleep, but you can create conditions that allow sleep to overtake him. Try:
●Napping with him. You probably look forward to your baby's naptime so you can "finally get something done." Resist this temptation. Naps are as important for you as they are for your infant.
Establishing a routine. To get him on a predictable nap schedule, set aside time in the morning and in the afternoon and nap with him. This will get your baby used to a consistent pattern.
●Setting the scene. A few minutes before naptime cuddle your baby in a dark, quiet room. Play soft music and nestle together in a rocking chair, or lie down on a bed. This will set him up to expect sleep to follow. Once he's in a deep sleep you can do one of three things; ease him into his crib, continue napping with him or slip away.
Our three-year-old refuses to nap. I know he's tired, and by late afternoon he's a bear. How can I get him to nap?
Many children need an afternoon nap (or parents need them to nap) up to age four. Naps have restorative value, allowing the person to unwind, rest, and recharge to go on with the day.
●Announce "special quiet time." Set the time of day that he needs a nap, and lie down with your child, closing your eyes for effect. Mothers often need a rest as much as the child and find this midday rest therapeutic.
●Don't succumb to the temptation common to a busy parent, "Now I can get something done." Gradually your child may fall into a predictable nap time without your presence.
●To entice resistant nappers, allow them to nap anywhere in the house. When, where, and how is up to the child. Make a "nap nook," a special place in a corner, on a mat, under the piano, or in a little tent made up of blankets. Try a large cardboard box with an opening like a cat door that the child crawls into when he is tired. This capitalizes on children's natural desire to create their own little retreats in all the nooks throughout the yard and house.
●Our "very busy" two-year-old cannot relax enough to nap if we just lie with her. So we started a routine of going for a stroller ride, and this lulls her off for an hour-long snooze.
●Another predictable way of getting her to sleep is to wait until carpool time and let her fall asleep in the car. If you are going to let your child nap in the car, be sure you can check on him and hear him when he wakes up. And never leave the windows up. If the weather is too warm, carry the carseat into the house.
●Condition your child to nap. Set a consistent nap time. While you can't force the resistant napper to sleep, you can create an environment that allows sleep to overtake him: lunch, a story, a dark room, and quiet music. Don't expect these conditions to result in sleep every time, or you will set yourself up to feel angry when those little eyes won't close. He may be weary but not sleepy – he can be irritable without having "bed" shoved at him and perceived as a punishment.
●If your child is not ready to nap, he may need another hour to play before he truly needs and can accept sleep. Or your child may simply need a brief "down" time of quiet play while resting in his room.
●By three, some children are ready to forfeit the afternoon nap and go for an earlier bedtime. This transition will take a while -- several months of napping every other day, then napping once or twice a week.
●Early afternoon naps and early bedtimes are not realistic when one or both parents arrive home late from work. Encouraging the child to nap early in the afternoon "so he'll be tired and go to bed early and we can finally have some time to ourselves" deprives parents of prime time with a cheerful baby. It is no fun to be with a tired child. We have found that later naps work better for us. When I come home from work, a rested and playful child greets me. With later bedtimes you give up some child-free time together; but once you have a child, your nightlife won't be the same for a long time.
My two-month-old has no problem sleeping alone in her bassinet at night, but the only way she'll nap during the day is in my arms or in my lap. Am I setting up a bad habit by allowing this, and will she grow out of it?
You are not setting up a bad habit by letting your baby sleep in your arms or on your lap. In fact, you are creating a good habit.
Many kids ago, we learned that babies have an inborn ability to communicate their needs to their caregivers. It's up to parents to learn how to listen. If during the day your baby will only nap in your arms or on your lap, but sleeps well alone at night let sleeping baby be. If you try to change a baby's daytime sleeping habits, you may wind up with a nightwaker. In fact, most parents can handle any snooze habits during the day as long as their baby sleeps well at night.
It's often difficult for parents to discern whether their baby is communicating a need or merely a preference. But after thirty years of parenting eight children, we've learned that it's best to consider any cue a baby gives during the first few months as a need and to respond accordingly. Don't worry that you may be spoiling your infant or that she is manipulating you. This type of thinking will only create a distance between you and your baby and lessen your natural ability to read and respond to her cues. Besides, most mothers of two-month-olds need daytime naps themselves. When our babies went through this in-arms stage, Martha would simply pick out several times during the day when she was most tired and lie down with the baby so that they could nap together. In this way, the baby's need was translated into a restful habit for Martha – a pleasure she would not have indulged if baby had not requested it.
It's easy for mothers to let themselves fall into the trap of "getting something done" while baby sleeps. Instead, we urge you to enjoy these special cuddle times while they last. Eventually, your baby will outgrow her naptime cuddling need and you may long for the days when she wanted you to hold her more. Have you ever heard of a parent who looked back and wished they had held their baby less? We haven't! Most of us wish we had held our children more.
OVERCROWDED FAMILY BED
Our six-year-old and two-year-old have both made our bed their regular resting spot. And while we enjoy the many benefits of the "family bed," we'd like to get the kids to sleep in their own room. What's the best way to accomplish this?
Bed-sharing, or nighttime parenting, is especially valuable for parents who have little time with their infants during the day. It allows you and your children to reconnect at night, compensating for touch time you miss during the day.
It's important, however, to find a sleeping arrangement that's comfortable for the whole family. We found that bedsharing works best if there's only one child in our bed. Otherwise, the kids tend to take over, and the adults feel squeezed.
One way to deal with overcrowding in the family bed is to put a futon or mattress on the floor in your room. Encourage your six-year-old to sleep in this "special bed", allowing him the security of feeling close to you at night but getting him used to sleeping alone.
Later, move your two-year-old into a special bed next to her brother. And then, when they're both comfortable with this arrangement move the special beds into their own room. Since they've already been sleeping in the same bed, it should be easy to ease them into a shared sleeping arrangement in another room.
NURSING BABY TO SLEEP AT CHILDCARE
My 15- month-old daughter will be entering childcare part-time and I'm concerned about naptime. At home she either nurses herself to sleep or I take her for a drive. How can I teach her another way to go to sleep?
Talk to your childcare provider about how he or she can create an environment for your daughter that mimics her home environment as closely as possible. It will also be less confusing for your baby if the childcare provider can use a parenting style that's similar to yours.
Even if your infant can't be nursed to sleep, she can still be lulled to sleep in the arms of her childcare provider, provided your baby is her only charge. Nursing is about comforting, not just breastfeeding, especially at this age. Anyone can "nurse a baby to sleep in this sense. Explain to the childcare provider that your infant is used to being nursed to sleep and that you would like her to go to sleep in her arms, either by rocking, singing, or with someone lying next to her, if possible.
A nap-inducing trick we've used successfully with our children is one we call "wearing down." Show the childcare provider how to wear your baby in a carrier – preferably a sling-type carrier – as naptime nears. Babies love to fall asleep in a sling. Once your baby is in a deep sleep, her childcare provider can ease her out of the sling and into the crib.
"Nursing" a baby to sleep is one of the best methods you can use at naptime. It creates a healthy sleep attitude by providing a safe and loving environment in which to fall asleep and will help your baby to grow up knowing that sleep is a pleasant and fearless state.
HOW MUCH SLEEP
My daughter is 13-months-old and sleeps from 11 at night to seven or eight in the morning. She also has one or two 45-minute naps during the day. Is this enough sleep? How much sleep should she be getting?
Most 13-month-old infants sleep 11 to 12 hours a day, including naps, so your daughter is only an hour short of the average. If she seems well-rested the next day, this may be enough sleep. But if she seems tired or irritable, or nods off to sleep frequently during the day, these are signs that she needs more sleep. Below is a chart of average sleeping times for children of different ages.
Age Hours per Day
Birth to 3 months 14 to 18
3 to 6 months 14 to 16
6 months to 2 years 12 to 14
2 to 5 years 10 to 12
An 11 p.m. bedtime is unusually late for a 13-month-old. Modern lifestyles often push bedtimes later, especially among working couples who might not get home until six or seven in the evening and prefer that their baby take a late afternoon nap and be well-rested for quality time in the evening. Other parents prefer a later bedtime for their baby so they can get that extra hour of sleep in the morning. Still other parents want an earlier bedtime so they can get in some baby-free couple time in the evening.
Use the bedtime that works for you and your baby. If an 11 p.m. lights-out keeps your baby rested and suits your schedule, stay with it.
WHY BABY WAKES UP
My three-month-old is constantly waking up during the night, and I often can't figure out what she wants. I usually just try to hold her and give her a bottle. What should I do?
While babies do sleep more lightly and for shorter periods than adults, your baby needs her rest as much as you do. She won't wake frequently unless there's a reason. Consider these possibilities:
Nighttime separation anxiety. Your baby may want to sleep closer to you. Try different sleeping arrangements until you find one that gets everyone a good night's sleep. Your baby may sleep best snuggled safely next to you in your bed, or in a bassinet or crib right next to your bed.
Even if she used to sleep just fine in the next room, you may find that some experimentation is in order. Babies' nighttime needs often change as they reach a new stage of development. A sleeping arrangement that worked in the past may not be appropriate now. If you are not comfortable with your baby sleeping in your room or in your bed, gradually move her sleep space further from you as she gets older and she sleeps for longer periods in deeper states of sleep.
Gastroesophageal reflux. GER is the most common hidden medical cause of nightwaking. When a baby with GER lies flat, her stomach acids regurgitate up into the esophagus, causing pain similar to what adults call heartburn. These are some symptoms of a baby with GER:
●frequent spitting up during the day
●awakening with painful outbursts of crying that signify more than simple restlessness
●frequent "colicky" bouts of abdominal pain during the day and night
●throaty noises that occur when baby regurgitates food back up into his throat
●colicky pain right after feedings
GER can be successfully treated with medication, so discuss the possibility with your pediatrician.
Formula allergies. If your baby is particularly fussy after her feedings, she may be allergic to her formula or, if you are breastfeeding, allergic to food in her mother's diet (dairy is a common culprit). Other signs include a red, sandpaper-like rash on her cheeks or a red, raised rash around her anus. If you suspect food allergies are at the root of your baby's sleepless night, try changing formulas or, with the advice of a doctor or nutritionist, eliminating common "fuss foods" from your diet.
Airborne allergies. An allergy to something in your baby's sleeping environment can cause a stuffy nose and a buildup of fluid behind the eardrums, making it difficult for her to sleep. If your baby consistently wakes with a stuffy nose, dust-proof her sleep environment as much as possible. Stuffed animals and fuzzy toys are common dust collectors and should either be cleaned regularly or removed.
Crying is communication. Well-meaning friends and relatives may advise you to let your baby "cry it out." Don't! Keep looking for possible causes for your child's nightwaking. Eventually, you'll find the right arrangement, diet, sleeping position, and environment that will get everyone the best night's sleep.
GOES TO SLEEP LATE
My four-year-old refuses to go to sleep until we do – usually around 11:00 or 12:00 at night – and we have the worst time waking her up in the morning. How can I get her to bed earlier without a fight?
Bedtime procrastination ranks high among childcare complaints of the nineties. A later bedtime often reflects parents' changing lifestyles. The array of excuses preschool children come up with to delay bedtime really reflects a desire to spend more time with mom and dad rather than an unwillingness to go to sleep. We've noticed that the busier and more preoccupied we are during the day, the more our children lobby for quality time at night.
To get your child to sleep earlier and have more couple time for yourselves in the evening, be sure your daughter is tired. Wear her out with exercise late in the afternoon. Arrive at a set bedtime – say 8:00 o'clock – and begin your winding-down ritual an hour beforehand. Using the same routine every night will condition your youngster to know that sleep is expected to follow. Start with a quiet game, followed by a soothing bath and a calming story. Choose a story based on your own childhood or use the child's favorite movie characters: "Pocahontas and John Smith went fishing they caught one fish, two fish, three fish…" sometimes it will take thirty fish to get your child to sleep. (Counting stories work well for us, and fishing stories have been a Sears' family favorite for years!) The key is to make your bedtime ritual so loving and cuddly that your child prefers it to the activities she would do if she stayed awake.
Sometimes a child is reluctant to go to sleep in her own bedroom because it signals the end of the day. If this is the case, parent her to sleep in your bed and move her into her own room when you retire.
I have a hard time getting my little girl who is almost three to go to sleep. Her Navy dad started sailing again after being home for the first three years of her life. What can I do?
When drastic changes occur in a family's routine, expect sleep problems. Separation from dad is bound to keep any three-year-old awake at night. This is not the time to be tough. Your daughter needs the nighttime security of the one attachment person who remains constant in her life – her mother. Many military moms find it works best to have a preschool child sleep in their room, or even in their bed, while dad is away. Lie down together on your bed until your child falls asleep and then get up to resume your evening activities. When you retire for the night, you can leave her in your bed, move her onto a mattress at the foot of your bed, or transfer her to her own room. Beware of "sleep trainers" who advise you to let her cry it out. Your child has reason for nighttime insecurities right now, and if you respect them, you'll both probably sleep a lot better while dad is away.
SLEEPS TOO MUCH?
Can an infant sleep too much? My baby is 3 weeks old, and I have to wake him up to feed him every 4 1/2 hours. Is this normal?
Oh, how many mothers would love to have your "problem"! Sleep patterns in infants are extremely variable. Babies with easy temperaments tend to be easy sleepers; high-strung infants are often frequent wakers. But it's possible for excessive sleep to keep an infant from thriving. "Thriving" means more than just getting bigger, it means that your baby is developing to his fullest potential; physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Babies are born with attachment-promoting behaviors (e.g. crying) that cue their caregivers to the quantity and quality of touch and feeding they need in order to thrive. Infants who sleep too much may not initiate interaction, so you have to do it (as you've been doing when you wake him up to feed).
We suggest that you continue to schedule your baby's feedings at least every three hours during the day, but let him wake you at night. Be sure to have him weighed frequently by your doctor to be sure he is gaining enough weight . Because they are not demanding babies, heavy sleepers often do not get enough to eat. This is why you are wise to take charge of the feeding routine and continue to awaken your baby for meals every three hours during the day.
In addition to insuring that your baby gets adequate food, it's also important to make sure he gets enough touch. Demanding babies often cry if somebody doesn't hold them, but easy babies often sleep right through potential holding times. One way to address this is to wear your baby around the house in a baby sling at least a couple hours a day to provide touch and stimulation.
In the meantime, enjoy your full night's sleep while it lasts!
Our three-year-old fights going to bed. It's always a battle getting him to sleep before 10:00 p.m., and by that time I'm more tired than he is.
Parents usually need their children to go to sleep earlier than the children need to. Sleep is not a state you can force a child into. It is better to create an environment that allows sleep to overtake the child.
●Be sure your child is tired. You may have to omit or shorten the afternoon nap or take it earlier.
●Replace before-bed activities that rev-up a child (e.g., scary or stimulating TV, wrestling, sugary snacks) with wind-down interactions (for example, a warm bath, stories, quiet games, or a nutritious snack).
●Reasonably consistent bedtimes are healthful for children of all ages, and a sanity saver for tired parents. The child over three can understand the concept of bedtime. Children under five usually can't understand actual time, but can relate time to events: "When the video is over," "After you've had your bath and a snack." Try setting the stove timer to announce bedtime. If you don't take charge of your children's bedtimes, they will often drag it out until midnight.
●Bedtime routines are essential in getting children to sleep at an established hour. It should be fairly simple, for example, a snack, brush teeth and put on pajamas, a story, a prayer, and lights out. Do this every night and sleep will inevitably follow. This requires a commitment from you, but it's well worth it to know that in twenty or thirty minutes, start to finish, your child will be asleep.
●Remember, children want to have fun. If it's more fun to stay up, they'll fight sleep. They don't want to miss anything. Try making bedtime special and fun -- in a quiet way.
●Reserve favorite stories just for bedtime with the condition that you will tell the story only if your child is in bed at the appointed time. Alternate homemade stories with those in books. The most sleep-inducing stories are those that involve counting or repetition and lull the child to sleep.
●Take your child's favorite story characters and spin a long tale: Batman and Robin went fishing, and they caught one blue fish, two red fish and three green fish. Of course, don't just count -- embellish each "catch" with the sequence of getting in the boat, getting out the bait or lures, baiting the hook, casting the line, etc. Batman and Robin will be lucky if they catch more than a half- dozen fish before the child is asleep.
●A bedtime ritual conditions children to form a mental picture that sleep is soon to follow. The ritual helps them relax and get used to the idea. Before you begin the story, tell the child that he has to lie still for you to start the story. (Be sure the child is tired already.) Special bedtime rituals come with strings attached. "No backs rubbed after 9:00 o'clock." Use whatever enticement your child likes. Nighttime obedience has its rewards.
●Martha notes: "We realized that one way to deal with our little night owl, Lauren, is to respect her state of unreadiness for sleep. While we try for consistent nighttime routines, sometimes Lauren just isn't tired at her usual bedtime. She's ready enough to get into bed for stories, but after four or five, I can sense that sleep is the farthest thing from her mind. She'd be happy to lie there for an hour and listen to stories, then have the light out, hear lullabies, and flop around. (I fall asleep first on those nights.) If I don't wish to spend my time that way, we get out of bed and I give her the message that she's welcome to play quietly if she stays out of trouble."
My husband travels a lot, and when he's away our three- year-old is restless and often comes into my room in the middle of the night. How can I get her to sleep better during these times?
When one parent is away children can usually sense a change in atmosphere, especially if you're a closely-attached family and your children are attached to the absent parent. Upsetting the family harmony often leads to disturbed sleep. Even children younger than two can sense when a parent is away.
Your child's security may be threatened. To ease this nighttime insecurity, put a futon or sleeping bag at the foot of your bed. Market this as a "special bed" to be used when daddy is away. The fun of sleeping in a special place will help her forget her fear, as will the closeness to you. Be open to this arrangement even when dad is home. If he's gone a lot, this nighttime closeness for the whole family could be a way to make up for lost time.
Separation anxiety can cause a child to become restless when fathers or mothers travel a lot. If one or both parents are away, the child under three may not understand that mommy and daddy will be back in two days. When one or both of us must travel, we've learned to soften the separation by helping our children understand when we will come back. We take them to the airport and let them see planes taking off. While we're gone we call every day, and then we have our substitute caregiver bring the children to the airport to see our plane land and watch us de-plane. Your child may not comprehend the concept of "two days," so use concrete terms she can understand: "Today, we'll go to the store and visit grandma and then go to sleep. Tomorrow, we'll play with your friends. One more bedtime, and then daddy will come home." Make a chart or a picture and cross off the events as they happen. Also, ask dad to make a tape recording of him reading the child's favorite stories and bedtime songs.
a name="T071129">NIGHTWAKING AFTER MOTHER RETURNS TO WORK
I've recently returned to full-time employment. Since then our toddler wakes up and climbs into our bed and she seems more reluctant to even go to bed. Any connection?
This nighttime behavior is common and normal after mothers return to work outside the home. Yes, everyone needs to sleep, but children have nighttime needs. You could take the hard line here and either lock your door or lock your child's door, but this insensitive approach ignores the fact that your child may have needs as pressing as your need to sleep. (It is never appropriate to lock your child in his bedroom or even to lock your own door at night, except temporarily to insure privacy for sex.)
By her nighttime behavior, your child is trying to tell you she misses you during the day and she needs you more at night now. Take this as a compliment to your parenting. Try lengthening the bedtime ritual to give her more attention. Put a futon or sleeping bag ("special bed") at the foot or side of your bed and lay down the conditions we mentioned in "The Midnight Visitor" . If your child is still in a crib, try the side-car arrangement: Place your child's crib adjacent to your bed and remove the near side rail. Be sure the mattress is flush against your own. The side-car arrangement respects both your bed space and that of your child, yet provides a nighttime closeness that your child seems to need. If these alternatives do not satisfy your little person, try letting her sleep in your bed -- if all sleep well in this arrangement. This nighttime closeness can make up for some of what your child is missing during the day.
"But I'm being had. Isn't she manipulating me?" you may wonder. Consider this from another perspective. A sensitive disciplinarian respects her own needs and those of her child, as you would in a relationship with another adult. This is discipline based on love, not power. It leaves a lasting impression.
Here is another thought to consider: Now that both parents are working outside the home, early bedtimes are not realistic. Otherwise, the only daily interaction with parents would be that "happy hour" before dinner when a tired child is at his worst behavior. Instead, have your caregiver give your child a later nap so that she is well-rested and sociable when you arrive home from work. Expect a longer bedtime ritual and later bedtime to give your child a greater quantity of quality time.
WAKES UP TOO EARLY
Our three-year-old wakes up at 5 a.m. to play. He's bright-eyed and bushy- tailed and ready to go, but I'm not. Help!
Here's where your need to sleep takes precedence over your child's desire to play.
●Enforce the rules: nighttime is for sleeping, not playing. "You may not wake up mommy or daddy unless you are sick, scared, or need help. We need to sleep, otherwise we can't be a fun mommy or daddy the next day."
●If your child awakens ready to play and doesn't seem tired the next day, perhaps he's ready to awaken.
●Try putting him to bed later.
●Putting blackout curtains on the windows may get you an extra hour of sleep.
●When your child wakes up and comes into your room ready to play, take him into your bed, but immediately go back to sleep -- or pretend to. Cuddle up next to your child. You may be able to get him back to sleep. If he wriggles away, stay "asleep," hoping that the little intruder will leave you alone and amuse himself until the alarm rings.
●Give your child alternative activities that he can do on his own if he does awaken ready to play. Put easily-available snacks in his room to satisfy early morning hunger and tide him over until breakfast. Role play: "If you wake up, play quietly in your room like this." Show him how to play with quiet toys like foam rubber and noiseless blocks. "When we wake up we will come right into your room and see what you made."
WAKES UP TO PLAY
My 18-month-old wakes up wanting to nurse or even play in the middle of the night, but I want to sleep. How can I teach her that nighttime is for sleeping?
Try "playing dead". Baby wakes up and expects you to wake up, too. Instead, you and your husband stay asleep (well, you pretend to be asleep.) If she's happy to just play in the dark let her, as long as you know she's safe. Eventually, she'll go back to sleep, because it's just not very interesting being awake in the dark alone.
If you have a toddler who persists in protesting this approach by crying or screaming, realize that it is okay to say "no" to her at this age – after all, she is not crying alone in a dark room down the hall. You will be teaching her, by example, that nighttime is not for playing. Her protests may be hard for you to ignore (you've responded so lovingly in the past), but she's old enough now to handle this frustration, and she'll handle it better if she senses that you are not anxious about her.
Our one-year-old likes to go to bed with his bottle. Is this okay?
No! Don't put your baby or toddler down to sleep sucking on a bottle of juice or formula. This can cause tooth decay. When an infant falls asleep, saliva production and the natural rinsing action of saliva slows down, allowing the sugary juice to bathe the teeth all night and contribute to bacterial growth, plaque, and eventually tooth decay; a condition called juice bottle syndrome . If your infant is hooked on a nighttime bottle, remove the bottle as soon as baby falls asleep and brush her teeth as soon as she awakens in the morning. Dilute the juice with more and more water each night until baby gets used to all water and no juice – a custom we call "watering down."