Does this sound familiar…your child was sleeping well and then, for whatever reason, their good sleep habits have gotten off track and now you’re not sure how to fix it? Maybe your child has recently been sick and you ended up letting them sleep in your bed …but now that they’re feeling better, you’re not sure how to get them back to their own bed and out of yours? Or maybe your little one has been having a rough time with teething and to help comfort them, you’ve been picking them up and rocking them back to sleep…but now that the new tooth has popped through, they’re still waking up during the night and need you to rock them back to sleep? Or maybe your family has recently been on vacation and your child has been staying up later than their usual bedtime…and now that you’re back home, you can’t get them to bed at a decent hour? Sure, we all tend to bend the rules a bit when it comes to our children’s sleep habits. Certainly, when our children are sick or not feeling well, a little extra TLC is needed and necessary. However, although our initial intentions of allowing a change in our child’s sleep habits are good, we can easily find ourselves letting the change last longer than it should and not knowing how to get back on track.
Believe me, I can totally relate! A little over a month ago, my 5 year old son fell (well, was pretending to be on the show “Wipeout” and was jumping on the couch and fell off) and broke his left arm. After several hours in the ER, lots of x-rays and lots of tears (both his and mine!) we headed home with his arm in a cast and a sling. Knowing he would be in a bit of pain for a few days and that he needed to keep his arm elevated, I was worried about how he was going to sleep. Plus, he has a low level loft bed and I didn’t feel it was a good idea for him to be climbing up and down the ladder to his bed. So, I booted my husband to the living room couch (sorry honey!) and suggested that my son sleep in bed with me…so I could keep an eye on him during the night. Well, it was like having a newborn all over again…I heard his every sound and jumped up to see if he was ok if he made the slightest move. He seemed to sleep just fine…me on the other hand, not so much! But I still felt like I needed to be close to him and make sure he was ok during the night. This went on for several nights when my husband gladly volunteered to lower his loft bed down to the floor and suggested our son move back to his own bed. Reluctantly, I agreed and my husband got to work right away on lowering the bed. Although he seemed to be feeling better and his arm didn’t seem to hurt or bother him during the night, our son continued to sleep in our bed for several more nights. He was definitely enjoying his new sleeping space and I was still worried about him sleeping by himself without clunking himself on the head with his cast. However, I finally reached the point, out of sheer exhaustion, that I realized he was fine to go back to his own bed and that I had let this new sleeping arrangement go on for too long. My son, on the other hand, strongly disagreed and begged and pleaded for me to let him stay in our bed, saying “I need someone to watch over me”. Oh boy! How was I going to fix this one?? With a little explaining to our son that it was time for him to sleep in his own bed again and a whole lot of consistency on our end, he was back on track within a few nights. He still needed a little reassurance that I would check on him before I went to bed each night but overall, he handled the transition back to his normal sleep routine fairly well.
So, if you’re finding yourself wondering how to get your child’s sleep habits back on track, know that consistency will be your best ally! Your child may protest (loudly!) and really dig their heels in about going back to their usual routine. It’s totally normal and to be expected- who wouldn’t want to be all snuggled up in bed or rocked to sleep every night? What matters is how you respond to their protest. Stay consistent and be calm and loving, yet firm in your response. Caving in to their pleading requests will only make it harder for both you and your child in the long run. For whatever reason your child’s sleep habits have been derailed, try to get back on track as soon as possible. It may take a little retraining if you’ve already sleep trained them before, but it shouldn’t take too many nights to settle your child back into their normal routine.
If you’re having trouble or you’re just not sure how to solve your child’s sleep issues and you’d like some help getting back on track, please contact me today to learn how I can help you!
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