Is my child too old for sleep training?

We often come accross parents of toddlers who wonder whether their children are already to old to be sleep-trained. The answer is ‘no’. You can always teach your children healthy sleep habits. Truth be told, the older the child, the more challenging the process is going to be; but it is certainly possible. Here are some things you need to take into consideration when sleep training an older toddler:

  • They need to sleep! If you have been following us, you know how important sleep is for children.
  • They learned from us. Be a role model in terms of healthy sleep habits. Children model our behavior, so make sure you are a good example in this area too.
  • They are smart. They’ll try everything under the sun to get your attention and get their way.

What method should you follow? We do not believe cry-it-out is the best method for sleep training babies; although we acknowledge that it might work with some babies*. When it comes to toddlers, it doesn’t work! You need to create a plan that involves your child, that is adapted to your child’s personality; otherwise, it won’t work. These are some things to keep in mind when building your plan:

  • You are trying to break a habit, that you help creating; be patient!
  • Consistency is key
  • Avoid fights and stay calm
  • There’s no negotiation
  • Make it fun and rewarding
  • Make sure the room is childproof
  • Don’t do cry it out, it won’t work with
  • They understand, get them on board!
  • Get them excited about sleep, make feel ‘adult-like’, praise them, reward them every morning for the first weeks

If you need additional help building your sleep training plan, contact us at contact@smoothparenting.com or call us at 646 450 6605

Transition from Crib to Toddler Bed

How’s that process going to affect her sleep habits?

Some toddlers will enjoy their new found freedom and jump out of the bed and roam around; some will feel afraid being taken out of the safety of their familiar crib; and some will transition easily to their new beds and sleep there from day one.

Sleep training and sleep adjustments are different for every one of us. Keep in mind that your child will eventually sleep in her bed. Make a plan of how the transition is going to go and stick to it.

When should you do it?

Making the transition to a ‘big boys/girls bed’ can be difficult, and many parents stress about this process. Our advice is to keep your toddler in a crib for as long as possible, this means waiting until your toddler is around 3 years old.

There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation to tell parents when a child is ready to make the move from a crib to a bed. Every child is different and you know yours better than anyone. Wait to make the transition once you feel she’s ready and she’ll be able to do it without major complications. Some signs that she’s ready are:

  • She’s been trying to climb out of her crib consistently at night and naps (cribtents and mattress on the lowest position didn’t work).
  • She understands directions and boundaries.
  • She shows interest in other friends or siblings’ beds.

When shouldn’t you do it?

When there’s another major change or event going on (i.e. new sibbling, new house, potty training, new daycare, new caregiver…).

How do you do it?

We advice you to break it down in two different phases:

1. Preparation:

During the preparation you should talk to your child about moving to a ‘big bed’ and how great that is. You should make it sound like a big accomplishments to her. Tell other family members and friends what a big girl she is, and that you trust her so much that you’re going to give her a ‘big girls bed’. Your goal is trying to get her to feel proud about the transition, create anticipation. You can mention older friends, siblings or friends who sleep in a bed. Remind your child how big and grown she is now, and remind her of other milestones she has reached (i.e. potty training, giving up a pacifier, drinking by herself, brushing teeth, dressing herself, etc.)

If possible, try to involve your child in the process. Let her pick up the bed, the sheets, choose between two different locations where the bed would go in the room, decide what to do with her crib, decide how she wants to ‘say bye’ to her crib, take pictures of her in the crib, etc.

Make sure her bedroom is ‘safe’ before making the transition. As she will be mobile, you have to make sure that she won’t be able to harm herself if she decides to move around at night or during naps.

Pick a date in which you will make the transition, and make a fun countdown with your child. She could cross the days in the calendar, write the number of days left on a board, etc.

2. Mixing it up:

During this phase, you should let her familiarize with her new surroundings without making the transition. This means, letting her use their new sheets and pillow while she’s still sleeping in the crib.

Remeber to celebrate and take pictures of every step towards the transition.

3- Transition:

There are many different approaches of how to do the transition. However, we believe that the most effective for most kids is the ‘cold turkey’ approach.

On the day you and your child decided the transition would take place, talk about it from the moment your child awakes in the morning. Set the new bed (or take down the side from the convertible bed), have her help you make the bed, arrange the pillows… You would remove the crib and you could throw it a ‘goodbye’.

Start the transition at nap time that first day; and celebrate after the nap is over, even if she fought it a little bit before falling asleep. Remember to have your same routines in place!

Remember:

  • If you think your child is ready, and you decide to make the transition, stick to that decision (no going back!).
  • Take the crib away once the transition is done (out of sight means out of mind).
  • Celebrate your child’s accomplishment in the morning.
  • Make a big deal out of it.
  • Keep your bedtime routine in place. You can also incorporate the bed into the routine (i.e. reading time now is on the bed).
  • Do not put ‘bad associations’ on your child’s head. She might not think that it’s going to be scary, so don’t suggest it by saying ‘You don’t have to be scared’. She might not even think of coming out of bed, so don’t tell her ‘You can’t come out of the bed’.
  • If your child has a convertible crib, the transition should be easier, as she would still be in her familiar ‘crib’.
  • If your child comes out of the bed, bring her back, calmly but firmly.

Remember that moving to a ‘big bed’ is one of the many milestones your child will accomplished in the first years of life. Our experience tells us that the attitude the parents have towards the transition determines how easy or hard the process will be. So, try to be relaxed about it, feel proud of your child, think you both can do it, and do it!

Good luck!

The Importance of Sleep

This weekend I came across this great article, explaining the importance of ‘sleep’ for children; and I thought I should share it.

Good, Sound Sleep for Your Child

Making sure your child gets good, sound sleep ensures he or she will have a sound foundation for proper mind and body development.

Sleep on These

Following are some observations from various studies illustrating some of the difficulties faced and the behavioral changes in children with sleep problems (from Wiessbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and On Becoming Baby Wise, by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, MD):

  • Children do not “outgrow” sleep problems; problems must be solved.
  • Children who sleep longer during the day have longer attention spans.
  • Babies who sleep less in the daytime appear more fitful and socially demanding, and they are less able to entertain or amuse themselves.
  • Toddlers who sleep more are more fun to be around, more sociable, and less demanding. Children who sleep less can behave somewhat like hyperactive children.
  • Small but constant deficits in sleep over time tend to have escalating and perhaps long-term effects on brain function.
  • Children with higher IQs — in every age group studied — slept longer.
  • For ADHD children, improvements in sleep dramatically improved peer relations and classroom performance.
  • Healthy sleep positively affects neurologic development and appears to be the right medicine for the prevention of many learning and behavioral problems.

What Parents Can Do

As parents, it is our responsibility to be sensitive to and protect our children’s sleep, just as we do their safety, just as we ensure that they regularly get breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We are primarily responsible for their sleep habits so it is important to start healthy ones early; it is much easier to instill good habits than correct bad ones.

Infuse the importance of sleep with daily attention to it and you will likely have a happier, self-assured, less demanding, and more sociable child. And you just might get some more sleep yourself.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/good-sound-sleep-for-children?page=3