Child Sleep Solutions (cont.)
For lots of families, like yours, it's OK for a time. But at some point parents may decide it's time to move their little one to independent sleep. There are so many ways to do this that are gentle and easy! I'll quickly cover a few of them. Again, since all families are different you won't use all of these ideas. Just pick the ones that make sense for YOUR family. And before I even do that, I need to say that make sure this is what your family wants to do, not what the neighbor, your doctor or Aunt Matilda tells you that you should be doing. It's OK to make the change, but only do it if it's the right thing for you.
First idea: A little at a time. Put a small mattress in your room next to your bed and have your child fall asleep there. You can do the bedtime reading in "the little bed". Even stay until your child is asleep. But don't YOU fall asleep! You need to go up into "the big bed". During the night, if your child calls to you, go to him in the little bed and then return to your big bed. Over time, move the little bed farther away from your big bed, and eventually, down the hall to his own room.
Here's another idea. I said that there are lots. Redecorate his bedroom to make it inviting for sleep. Get new bedding, glow stars on the ceiling, and a bedside pet (like a fish or turtle) to keep him company. Then encourage him to sleep in his new room.
It's important that you have a joyful, quiet bedtime routine the hour before bed so that it ends peacefully in his room. You can invite the "morning fairy" into your house -- she is the tooth fairy's sister. She leaves small prizes outside the hall of young children who sleep in their beds all night and don't wake Mommy and Daddy. She does this for a few weeks, until new habits are in place, then she goes off to visit other children who need her help. You might even line the hallway outside his bedroom with little wrapped prizes as a midnight reminder. This is a fun idea that you can use for lots of issues.
Also, I love sibling co-sleeping. Kids love to cuddle, and sometimes they will sleep better in a bunch. So, put the mattresses on the floor, side-by-side and make a sleeping place.
Use music (lullabies) or white noise like the hum of a fan, or a white noise machine that plays ocean waves or other sounds. These sounds can mask noises from one child that keep the other ones awake.
Also, look at the 4-year-old's nap schedule. A nap that is too long or too late in the day will prevent a child from being tired at bedtime. Or maybe it's an opposite problem -- no nap, or a short nap, means your 4-year-old may be overtired and wired and can't sleep. So try having a quiet time after lunch. Put your child in a dark room with soft music, white noise or an audio book and perhaps she'll fall asleep.
Lots of us have routines; they are just unplanned and not so fun! The key is to purposely create an hour-long, specific and gentle bedtime routine that invites sleep. You may need to purposely make things very different so that new routines can take their place.
If your child normally falls asleep on the couch, then do a nice session of bedside reading, or play an audio book in bed so that he's very sleepy in his own bed.
Be gentle though. Having a new sibling takes some getting used to, but all will be well for you, I'm sure.
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