Child Sleep Solutions (cont.)

PANTLEY:
If your child wakes up in a good mood, but gets whiny and cranky as the day progresses, or if he becomes hyperactive in the evening and if he has temper tantrums during the bedtime routine it's likely that a nap would help.

And one more important sign that your child still needs a daily nap: you desperately need the break to recharge your own battery and be a better parent.

"The key to ending bedtime battles is to create a consistent, predictable bedtime routine that is appealing to your child.""

MEMBER QUESTION:
I do get concerned about day naps. My son does not take naps and I really think sleep is important for his learning in school. If his night sleeping is so difficult, should I encourage a daytime nap? Thank you for the wonderful ideas.

PANTLEY:
Yes, Yes, Yes! Actually a good nap means better night sleep. Weird, but true!

And you are right, during sleep the brain sorts what has been learned during the day and creates permanent files. Without adequate sleep, memory fails, and new information can be lost. A good night's sleep is critical for clear thinking and all that a young child has to learn.

MEMBER:
My child actually takes a nap by himself he gets so tired from preschool. Lucky me, huh?

PANTLEY:
Indeed, lucky you! I had one of four like that. She'd head upstairs on her own and say, "Me nap!"

MEMBER QUESTION:
My 2-year-old's biggest issue is going to sleep. He throws a tantrum every time I put him down for a nap or for bed at night, to the point where he makes himself sick. Where do I start?

PANTLEY:
Tantrums at bedtime are a sure sign of a sleep-deprived child, believe it or not.

We are back to a daily naptime and bedtime routine. But the key is -- A PLEASANT, JOYFUL ROUTINE THAT YOUR CHILD LOOKS FORWARD TO! OK, yes, I was yelling, but it's that important!

You child should be looking forward to your routine. Include lots of bedtime reading or storytelling since it helps relax a child. Also, you don't have to announce that it's naptime or bedtime -- just gradually go about the peaceful process.

MODERATOR:
What are the other elements of a good bedtime routine?

PANTLEY:
The key to ending bedtime battles is to create a consistent, predictable bedtime routine that is appealing to your child. This pleasant routine should take about an hour from start to finish and happen at exactly the same time every night. It should be quiet, peaceful and dimly lit. And NO TV or wrestling!

MODERATOR:
Let's talk about those monsters that live under the bed. How do you deal with them and other things that go bump in the night?

PANTLEY:
Lots of kids take flying leaps onto the mattress to avoid being grabbed by what waits beneath. The best solution is to simply eliminate the "beneath" by putting the mattress directly on the floor and pack away the bed frame for a year or two. After all, there can't be anything under the bed if there is no under the bed!

Fear of the dark is one of the most common childhood fears, and for most of us it lingers even as adults. Think of the fact that all scary movie scenes occur in the dark. You can help make the dark less mysterious with occasional fun activities like building a campfire or having a candlelight dinner or reading by flashlight.

You can give your child stuffed animals to sleep with, a small bedroom pet like a turtle or fish, and a bedside flashlight to help her feel safer.

Since the creatures that scare your child are imaginary, you may be able to banish them with a spray bottle of "monster remover" or a magic wand.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My son has had some night terrors. We can't calm him down when he has one. We don't touch him, but quietly talk to him. He will run out of his room; it's pretty scary. What is the best thing to do?

PANTLEY:
Night terrors are very different from fears or bad dreams. Night terrors are terrors for the parents to watch -- a child looks so frightened and can't be calmed down.

The good news is that he's NOT frightened, NOT dreaming and NOT awake! He's kind of stuck between two sleep stages and not aware of what is going on and won't remember it.

The best thing to do is keep him safe, try to guide him back to bed, shush him a bit (Shhhh Shhh) and wait it out. Most kids outgrow these over time.

MEMBER QUESTION:
I know this chat is for toddlers or preschoolers, but I have a 6-and-a-half- month baby and he sleeps 12 to 13 hours at night. He wakes up for a bottle and goes right back to sleep for two to four hours. Is that too much sleep?

PANTLEY:
Too much sleep is a very rare question!

If your child is healthy, growing well, happy and hitting normal childhood milestones, I wouldn't worry at all. But prepare yourself. This can (and likely will) change at some point. So stock up on your own sleep now!

"Keep in mind, that most of us wouldn't leave our babies alone for 10 minutes during the day, yet we want them to be alone for 11 hours at night."

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