How to establish a bedtime routine for babies & children that actually works
Forgotten what a restful nights sleep is? Running off copious amounts of coffee and adrenaline? This one’s for you!
Meet Katie-Jane Crosbie, a sleep expert for over 23 years. Katie-Jane has personally helped many hundreds of families find a restful night’s sleep with her proven 3 month to 6 year-old sleep training approach & routine.
Below she will share her top tips on how to start implementing proven techniques to help you finally get your baby/ child into a great bedtime routine.
Sleep-deprivation can have an impact on relationships, work, the mental and physical well-being of parents and children. It can cause suppressed appetites and of course, grouchiness!!!
At the time of a client contacting me, the parent(s) and child are surviving on adrenaline and are no longer having good quality stages of sleep.
Sleep deprivation can have a big impact on your home life, work life, relationships and general well-being, not to mention that your child’s erratic sleep patterns can affect their day-time routine, creating a vicious cycle of family exhaustion.
There is no right or wrong way to parent; we don’t receive a manual (how great would that be?!)
For example, if a client chooses to have their child sleeping in their bed until they are 6 or 7 years of age, or they are happy going back into their child every hour in the night to ‘re-put the dummy back in’, then that is their choice. However, it is only at the point of clients hitting a brick wall, thinking ‘this does not work for our family anymore’ and feel it is time to implement positive changes, that they contact me to help give them guidance, knowledge, routine, structure and most importantly a full night’s sleep!
Most of the time, the erratic behaviour has started within the child’s routine quite a while before I am contacted, but naturally as parents it is easy to think, ‘They will grow out of it’, ‘Maybe they are teething’, ‘Maybe they do not like the colour of their room!’ (Yes, I have heard this reason before!).
Reality is, children will not ‘grow out of it’, as for whatever reason the erratic behaviour begins, a body’s sleep clock only takes 3-4 days to settle into new timings, then it will usually automatically continue to wake at set times each day. This, thrown in with the waking association of being attended to, whether ‘attending to’ is giving a feed, putting the dummy back in, picking up the child to cuddle then putting them back down, children will wake up and know no different to the fact that they wake up and in their mind, this equates to being attended to.
To bring a rested night’s sleep, we first need to;
- Eliminate all the old body clocks (sleep clocks for all, but food clocks for those children who have reverted back to having feeds throughout the night for comfort, or an aid to fall back asleep) and implement new ones.
- Eliminate the awake association of being attended to and instead implement new, good quality sleep, so, if they wake through the night, they will have learnt to naturally fall back asleep, unless at genuine times when they are in need of being attended to.
I am a huge believer that, at times of sickness, then all ‘rules’ of staying in their own bed should ‘go out of the window’.
At a time when they really just need to be nurtured, whether being held or sat/sleep with you away from their own bed – they are not robots after all, they are children – and sleep-training does not mean we do not nurture; we are simply setting boundaries and implementing good sleep habits that will set them up for the rest of their childhood years.
I will leave you a small real life story of my clients, Mr. & Mrs. C, who approached me several years ago when their second child, baby H, was 8 months old. My client and her husband had hit that brick wall of ‘this does not work for our family anymore!’
Upon contacting me, they began telling me their journey of how they were experiencing an extremely erratic sleep routine, along with reverting back to bottle-feeding baby H every hour, as they assumed his awakenings were due to hunger. Mrs. C had for the first time in her life had a grand mal seizure during delivery of their baby. She had fallen into a coma for several days, at the same time as the baby was on the special care unit being monitored.
As the days went, on Mrs. C came out of her coma and their baby was growing stronger each day. Post-discharge from hospital, Mrs. C started having petit mal seizures every 30mins, so her Mum naturally moved in to ensure that an extra pair of hands were available around the clock. By this point, Mrs. C’s driving license had been removed by the DVLA, whilst they were eliminating the reasons of the increase in petit mal seizures.
Their consultant had suggested the sleep-deprivation could be triggering the petit mal seizures and, if this could not be eliminated, then Mrs. C would need to go on long term epilepsy medication. It was at this point I was contacted. I went along for a consultation and they both sat there looking exhausted and hopeful that I could sleep-train their son so that he was structured. As I did with all the babies I work with, implementing an 11-12 hour sleep of a night and 2 x 1.5-2 hr naps daily.
I spent 4 days within their home: we laughed, we cried, I held hands and offered reassurance. As each day passed, they began to see the positive changes the sleep-training was bringing and how quickly baby H was adapting to the new boundaries, resulting in a rested routine with good quality sleep being achieved for all.
Mrs. C was not prescribed long term medication and received her driving license back.
No matter what your reasons are for being at the point of wanting to bring positive long lasting changes to your child’s routine, a rested sleep changes lives and, as we all know, we can all function much clearer with good nights sleep in our lives.
I truly am passionate about my work and feel privileged to work in parallel with each of my clients, to bring about the positive changes they need.
If you would like to hear more about Katie- Jane’s sleep packages and consultations send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org