Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Three things in our sleep routine

I've been a baby/toddler sleep consultant for three years. This means that I work with families all over the world to improve the sleeping of their children. There are a wide range of issues that families face. Common problems include severe sleep deprivation (from waking hourly every night) to early rising and short naps. Anyone who knows our family also knows that we had A LOT of challenges with Nate's sleep when he was younger. It is one of the defining characteristics of his infancy and toddler years. His temperament and my inability to let him scream for hours made it hard for me to stay consistent and make the changes we needed in order to get sufficient sleep for the whole family. Sometimes it was hard to interact with the outside world without fear of completely sabotaging our progress. As a result, my husband and I pretty much suffer from PTSD when it comes to naps and sleeping. Of course, I've learned a lot since then and have gained a lot of perspective regarding Nate's sleep issues. When I had Caroline I was confident that I would start off on the right foot and get this child sleeping on her own as soon as she could, for the health and happiness of the entire family.

Read any book out there on baby sleep and you'll likely learn about the importance of establishing a routine. So when Caroline was two months old, the first step was to establish a routine with her before bedtime and naps to signal that it was time for her to fall asleep. Here are three things that I have included in her routine that I would highly recommend:

1. Stories. We have always included books in Nate's routine and I wanted that for CJ as well. At nap time we read something short and sweet like Peek-a Who, an old favorite of Nate's as well. For bedtime we always read the classic Goodnight Moon.  I am sure we'll mix it up as she gets older, and start reading classic literature from Stephanie Meyer, but right now she seems to enjoy these and I like them too.

2. Loveys. It's funny how some kids are really drawn to comfort objects and others are not. Nate didn't really connect with anything (other than his hair and mine) until he was older - maybe around 3 years old. CJ, on the other hand, LOVES grasping and sucking on fabric. So I embraced that natural inclination and got her these blankets from Aden and Anais. Since she is only 5 1/2 months, I haven't put them in with her at bedtime. But she regularly uses them to fall asleep and while she's in the car.

3. Music.  Nate still starts the night with a round of music, often U2 (obviously). For Caroline, I've been using her mobile as a way to signal the shift to sleep. We started off with this mobile, which is portable and really easy to use. But the song was 30 minutes, which I felt was too long. We now use this mobile, which was Nate's, because the songs play for 15 minutes instead.

We are working on Caroline falling to sleep independently at nap time right now. It's so interesting to see the ways in which she is similar to Nate and the ways in which she is different - so far anyway.  One thing is for certain...

Few things are more precious than a sleeping baby.

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