Child Sleep and Getting Back The Routine

Happy New Year! The party is over…THANK goodness!

Now that the holidays are behind us, many families are ready to get back on track with sleep. I get a flood of calls after the holidays. Families have traveled, guests have gone home, children and parents are recovering from nasty colds and viruses that were passed around, and all of us seem to need a holiday to recover from the holidays.

 The Party Is Over

Here are my recommendations.

  1. Set aside a no agenda weekend – As soon as you can plan your first weekend (Friday through Sunday) to be close to home, low key, do nothing, quality time weekend where the only agenda is to hang out and get back on track with sleep. If you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah your child will have lots of new toys to play with.
  2. Prepare your child – Tell your child what is happening. No matter how young or old your baby is talk to her about what to expect.
  3. The big picture goal. – Keep your main focus on one thing and that is the dependable predictable routine of the day. Focus on where you can create “sameness” of routine. Keep a light log of wake up time, meals, and activities.In can help to create mini rituals around the following.
  • wake up ritual
  • breakfast ritual
  • autonomous free play – where you just sit back and quietly observe your child. Your only task is to notice and see if you can catch the soft signs of sleep.
  • tidy up ritual
  • nap ritual
  • time for yourself ritual – instead of rushing around to see how much you can do, take the time to rest and rejuvenate.
  • wake up ritual
  • lunch ritual
  • you get the picture! The picture includes ritual. In each ritual be mindful of being completely present. If your mind wanders to the next task bring it back to the moment. This is why I like song as part of the ritual. It keeps us there. And we have to breathe to sing.

My wish for this weekend is for you to SLOOOOOOOWWW down.

Seriously, think snails pace!

Take your time in each activity, each moment and each task. Whatever you are doing, however you are doing it, slow it down. Take a deep breath, be in that moment and then slow down some more.

I this sounds too idle and too quiet for you , I recommend that you pick up the book written by a fellow RIE Associate, Deborah Carlisle Solomon, called Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE Way.

Deborah’s voice will pump some peace into this no agenda weekend of yours. She offers wonderful ideas on how to create the best environment that supports both awake time and regular sleep. Her fresh take on the RIE Approach will inspire you and support your confidence as well as your curiosity.

In her chapter on Sleep under the heading Bedtime Routine she reminds us of the following…

When it is time to rest, for a nap or at night, move slowly, talk quietly, and create an atmosphere of calm and peacefulness. According to one study, “parents” emotional availability at bedtime may be as important, if not more important, than bedtime practices in predicting infant sleep quality.”

Everyday in my sleep coaching I remind parents in a hundred different ways that the two most important factors of peaceful sleep are…

  1. The daily routine and when sleep happens – Finding the right “sleep window” for you child for both naps and night time sleep is a key factor in sleep success.
  2. The parent/caregiver’s emotional embodied state – The best way to help a child emotionally regulate is to work on our “self regulation”.

As far as “where” sleep happens, I especially appreciated Deborah’s ideas under her section Where And When To Sleep. She encourages parents to reframe a common idea among us that autonomous sleep is abandonment.

Magda believed that babies could benefit from sleeping in their own crib but always asked parents what worked best for them.”

Where sleep happens is a personal choice for each family. Some families bed share, others co-sleep with baby in her own basinet and some families have a nursery where their baby sleeps in his own crib.

When to make this transition, from co-sleeping to the child’s own room, is a common question I discuss with families. Deborah goes on to quote Magda Gerber, the founder of the Resources for Infant Educarers, (RIE) Approach.

Magda said that sleeping in a crib “is a way of learning togetherness and separateness, and that separateness is not the same as abandonment. A child sleeping in her own bed still knows that if she cries or if something happens, her parents will be there.” 

As I have mentioned many times in my Goodnight Blog, crying is the number one issue I talk about each day in my practice.

This month I will discuss crying in more depth in my January Sleepletter.

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