Small Talk#20: 4 Sleep Mistakes to Avoid

Tough time getting little one to sleep?

tough time getting little one to sleep

Sleeping beauty                                                       Image by Lydia of GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography

And what you can do to remedy this!

As your little one grows into the toddler stage, it can become quite a battle to get him or her to bed without a major meltdown! Sometimes, we as the parents are unaware that we are actually contributing to the making of these bedtime hassles. Below are 4 things we may be unconsciously doing and the possible remedies we can use to stop ourselves from sabotaging our child’s bedtime!

1: Staying up late

Signs of being tired                       Image by pixabay

Sometimes we feel so guilty that we are at work all day, and not with our little one, that we are tempted to keep him up late so as  to have “quality” time with him. Some of us even get into the habit of putting our little ones to bed just before we, ourselves, go to bed. But by your little one staying up so late they can actually become overtired and that means they become irritable and may well refuse to go to sleep.

Remedy: set an age appropriate bedtime and stick to it. It is important that you watch for signs that your little one is getting tired – he may rub his eyes, yawn or get droopy eyelids. If you tuck him into bed when he is just getting sleepy he will fall asleep far more easily than if he is overtired

2: Routine

tantrums are normal when child is overtired

tiredness leads to tantrums:                      Image by flikr.com

Some people don’t really like to be thought of as having a “routine” – we think that others will label us as “boring” if we confess that actually we really do have a routine which we follow most days! However, whether we admit it or not, most people have a certain routine that helps them unwind after a day at work and babies and toddlers are no different. So if you find yourself putting your child to bed at a different time each night because of whatever has distracted you, you may well be asking for a temper tantrum. One can’t just suddenly announce “bedtime” in the middle of whatever a little one is doing and expect them to comply like little lambs!

Remedy: Establish a bedtime routine that suits you and all the number of sleep hours your toddler needs and then be consistent with what you have chosen. You may, for instance, choose to feed your toddler his supper first, followed by bathtime (as supper time can be a messy time if he is trying to feed himself!) and after that straight into bed with a story or two before hugs, kisses and lights out. The time you choose for bedtime should, of course, fit in with your lifestyle. If you are a stay at home mom, for example, bedtime chosen may be later than that chosen by a working mom who has to get her little one up early in the morning. There is no hard and fast rule and whatever time you choose will obviously depend upon your own particular circumstances but it is important that your little one get the appropriate amount of sleep needed for his age.

3: Bedtime fears

childhood fears prevent sleep

Nightmares! Image by flikr.com

When your child goes to bed happily but once story time is over and you switch off the light he suddenly becomes wide awake its time to try to find out the reason for this behavior. Your little one may be afraid of the dark but not be able to verbalise this yet! I experienced this with my second son who, night after night, used to suddenly appear in our bedroom, repeatedly, despite being taken straight back to his bed each and every time. He never said what was bothering him and I couldn’t work out why he was doing this. Then one day I remembered that when I was a child I had been scared of the dark. I used to beg my mom to leave the light on, but she wouldn’t and so I used to call for endless glasses of water, just to have her come back! Once I remembered this, I went out and bought a little Noddy night light for my son’s room which we left on all night and lo and behold, he never gave us another night’s problem –he went to bed happily and he stayed there ALL night! So if your child fights going to bed, despite your having set up a routine, it may be important for you to try to find out WHY and then you can make a plan to solve the problem!

4: Bedtime Battles

bedtime battles should not occur

Arguing: Image by flikr.com

When your child resists bedtime, it is very easy to become embroiled in a battle of wills. Toddlers are always testing the boundaries and seeing how far they can step over them and nearly all little ones do not always want to go to bed just because they are being told to!

Remedy: It is vital that you stay calm even if your child is throwing a tantrum about going to bed and this is where your bedtime routine can pay off. It gives your little one a chance to unwind from playtime and lets him know that bedtime is coming up. If you can get your tot to look forward to his bathtime (after all they can have fun in a bath) and then maybe even get to choose the stories you read to him, he will probably not give you too much of a hard time about going to bed as this is his routine. But every now and again, he will be bound to try to assert his independence but objecting to bedtime. Toddlers can be very clever with their diversion tactics, too! Try to anticipate any of these by taking care of “that last sip of water” before bedtime, so that he won’t use it as an excuse to get out of bed. Let him choose which soft toy he will sleep with or tell him you will read two stories but he can choose which stories they are. In other words, remain calm and try to be one step ahead all the time!

Comments and ideas are always welcome! Drop me a line either in the comment box below this post or email me directly at lydia@gofotolifestylenewbornphotography.co.za

Here’s wishing all moms happy sleep times!

Yours in newborn photography

Lydia

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