Hi there and welcome to another Fluffy Bottom Babies blog! This past Thursday (June 1st) we had another live video session! It was the final video for our 3 part series of sleep tips with the help of the wonderful Stephanie Covey from Goodnight Sleep Site Nova Scotia!
If you missed the live video on Thursday, don't sweat it - you can watch it here!
This week focused on the toddler and older child, while looking at issues that commonly affect sleep in these years. These are times when parents often run into issues around the crib to bed transition, new night wakes, new fears and anxieties in the older child and battles around control with the younger child.
Just a reminder, these can be complex topics and we are really only scratching the surface so if you have any questions or you are struggling with some of these at home, please do not hesitate to contact Stephanie! She would be more than happy to tell you more about what she can offer your family! Check out her website here or send her a message on her facebook page here!
Let's get to it!
Toddlers are wonderful, they are exploring new abilities and the are little sponges soaking everything up. At the same time, they are tring to find their place in the world and looking for control and wanting to do things by themselves! As wonderful as this is, it can cause some frustrations, especially around sleep! They suddenly need to go from 100-0, and this is difficult for them. They may need a change in routine more suited to their age but keeping an early bedtime with routine an consistency is important now more than ever!!
So what can we do to help them through this time but still keep them well rested and on a good schedule? Lets look at the 4 C's of setting limits with your toddler.
Remain in control of the big things but let them have control over the smaller ones. For example, you can control bedtime but they can choose their pajamas or the books they want to read (set a limit on how many at the outset) - *check out our awesome selection of books here* - They will still push to see if they can get more and to see how far they can get, this is normal toddler behaviour, the important thing is that as the parent, you need to stand your ground and remain in control. This gives them a feeling of safety and security and they really need this right now!
Many of you probably know, toddlers are PROS at negotiating, especially at bedtime! "One more story" or "I need a drink of water" or "I need to go pee again," etc. Negotiating with them is not going to do it, we need to communicate and be direct as to what the plan is. For example, "we are going to read two books and then it's bedtime." Once you read the two books then stand by this, give a kiss ang hug goodnight and leave. If you give in to more, they have won and they will keep adding to the requests!
It is important to be sure you communicate the consequences to your toddler before they break the rules. "If you leave your room, then I will shut your door." Be sure to then follow through. They are very black and white right now, if you give an inch they will take a mile and it will take longer to reset the stage. It is also important that consequences are immediate so they understand why they are happening. Once it has happened, move on, do not harp. Give a hug and communicate why it happened, and then let it go.
Consistency is SO important at all ages when it comes to sleep but even more so with toddlers! No matter what method of training or what rountine, remaining consistent is so very important. It is the best way to stay successful and to maintain a healthy bedtime that is free of struggles and headaches.
Optimal Sleep Environment for the Toddler and Older Child
The next thing we can look at is, how to create the most optimal sleep environment for the toddler, and how does this differ from the younger child?
- As before, we want it dark and cool, as conductive to sleep as possible! The darker the better. Even a little sliver of light can wake a really sensitive sleeper between sleep cycles!
- Blackout blinds (such as the Gro Blind), garbage bags or tinfoil on the windows, these are portable and really do the trick!
- If you want a nightlight, use a low wattage one (4-7W), and it your little one gets up to go to the bathroom, we carry a few options for low wattage night lights here in store and online! Stephanie mentioned the Boon Glo for the potty trained child or the nighttime anxious child - because it has removable light-up balls that can be carried to the bathroom to make pee breaks easy! Check out the Boon Glo here!
- Stephanie also mentioned the Gro Clock to help the early risers! This updated version of the Gro-clock uses fun images of the stars and sun to communicate when to go back to sleep and when it's time to get up. Parents set the clock to display a cheerful smiley sun at progressively later times of morning, training the child to get up only once they “see the sun."
- Stay away from blue and white lights, these can suppress the melatonin and turn their sleep switch off. It is better to use red or yellow bulbs.
- Get rid of any distractions and clear out some toys if your child's room is quite cluttered. Make sure the main idea is that their bedroom is for sleep and not for play.
- If the house is loud or if you feel there are sounds that distract, then keep using the white noise machine to help drown some of this out. Keep it on continusously. These are safe as long as they are across the room and at a low volume.
Some other toddler considerations..
This is the time when many toddlers make the transition from a crib to a big kid bed. The problem is that many parents do this before the child is ready and this can lead to a whole host of problems once they realize their new found freedom!
What are the DO'S and DONT'S?
- DO - keep them in the crib as long as possible. If you can keep them in until they are three or older, fantastic. The older they are, the better able they are ato undersatnd the rules that go along with moving to a bed.
- DO - have a family meeting prior to the transition to discuss the new sleep rules, make a poster, have some flashcards, etc. Make a big deal of their new role and make a point of saying everyone sleeps in their own bedroom.
- DO - set limits and consequences and follow through onc eyou do the transition.
- DON'T - move them because the new baby is coming and they need the crib. If this is the case, try to borrow a crib or use a bassinet. It can be asking for trouble to move them too soon. The crib is their safe zone and a bed can seem very large and intimidating if they are not ready. If they are ready, it is still advised that you do the transition at least 3 months ahead of the new baby so you can deal with any issues well ahead of time.
- DON'T - move them just because they have started climbing out of the crib. This is generally just a new discovery, a phase, and should pass. It will require you intercepting them each time they try to climb out with a firm "NO" when the leg goes over. You may need to do this 100 times but they will eventually get bored and stop. You can also make sure the crib is as low as it can go, put them in a sleep sac to inhibit movement a bit and move the crib so that the higher side faces out if it has one.
In the case that you just have a monkey who continues to climb and/or safety becomes a consideration then you may have no choice than to do the transition but give all these things a try before giving in, especially if they are on the younger side.
Night Wakes and Anxieties
Toddlers can often decide, whether they are in the crib or not, that a sleep strike is in order, which can understandably be quite frustrating especially if this was a previously well-sleeping child. Often, they are just testing boundries or are trying out new skills or perhaps cutting those awful molars. Others may regress some if a new baby comes into the picture. It is again, a situation where there is not a "one size fits all" answer and it is another common thing Stephanie will work on with families to remedy. However, following the four C's can be very helpful and at times using things like boundries or a pass system can be useful.*
- Anxieties tend to arise in older children or if children become aware of the ideas of ghosts or monsters, or if they have one bad dream and are then afraid they will have more. It can start a bad habit if this means coming to mom and dad's bedroom every night.
- For the most part, if these are not major anxieties, it is best to address them as they are real and scary to them and not to make too big a deal and discuss ways to handle their feelings so they do not always need mom and dad (ie. monster spray, a nightlight, deep breathing, mediatation).
- It can be helpful in some of these situations to use a pass system so they really need to consider if this is the time they are going to call for mom and dad or if they can handle it on their own.
- It is usually easy to tell when it is true fear as oppose to just an excuse to get into your bed!
- If you do have a child who truly suffers from night terrors, nightmares, or other parasomnias then this can aboslutely be more difficult. If anyone has questions about these please do not hesitate to contact Stephanie so she can give you some more information on how to best handle these situations!
That about sums up our video series on sleeping tips! There is lots of information and if any of you feel there is a topic you would like a more detailed discussion on then contact Stephanie, as menitoned earlier, you can check out her website here or her facebook page here!
All of us staff here at Fluffy Bottom Babies want to thank Stephanie for taking the time to feature in our videos and give us and our audience so many amazing sleeping tips!
Thank you Stephanie!!!!
Feel free to drop a comment or send us a message if you have any questions or concerns!
The FBB Team