Here at Michi Sleep HQ we’re all about finding the best way to achieve a peaceful night’s sleep for the whole family. I know that sometimes things crop up that are beyond our control. Teething, illness, the transition from baby to toddler… And your child’s temperament, of course, has a huge impact on how well they sleep too. There can be many reasons why you’re not getting the sleep you need, and just one blog post is never going to be able to cover that. But we do try! Today we’re looking at three easy steps that any family can try to end the bedtime battles. Let us know what you think.
And no, your child is NOT your enemy here! Sometimes a situation actually is within our control, and we just need a little space to see it. For example, if you’re exhausted from poor sleep because your baby/ toddler spends most of the night bed sharing with you (which is perfectly fine as long as you follow safe sleep guidelines. Read more here) and what actually happens is that you are kicked and/ or squashed all night… you can see the enemy here, right? It’s not your child, it’s not you. What you need to do is to look at the reasons why you continue to bring your child into bed, even though you know that you’re not going to get enough sleep. If it’s because you don’t have the confidence to help your child to sleep independently in their own bed, get in touch. We can help.
Other ‘sleep enemies’ can be that you’re feeding your baby to sleep but want to stop because each time they walk you’re required to do the same to achieve sleep once more. It might be that you’ve had enough of spending up to three hours cramped on your child’s bedroom floor each night helping your child to fall asleep. It could be that you’d like an earlier bedtime for your little one but feel unable to get them to bed before 10pm each night. Whatever the ‘enemy’ the first step is to identify it.
Once you know what your bedtime battle is, you can deal with it methodically. Write down the pros and cons of your situation and talk them through with your partner if you can. Talk about the reasons why the situation has ended up like this. Keep a sleep diary if you can, so that you can see if there are any patterns to your little one’s current habits, or anything that you’re doing that could be preventing them from forming better sleep habits.
Make sure your routine is solid
Almost every sleep advice post on this blog will mention routine at some point. But really, it is that important. Your child needs a bedtime routine- most parents know that already and will already have one in place- and it needs to be solid. What I mean by this is that it needs to work for the whole family. If your current routine involves you lying on a cold dark bedroom floor whilst singing lullabies through gritted teeth, then it’s not solid. Unless it works for you! And that’s the thing. All of the ‘sleep enemies’ mentioned above may be the way you like things to go at bedtime, and if that’s the case then fine. Things are only an issue if they are causing disruption to your sleep and you’d like that to change.
There are so many examples of good bedtime routines that you can google, or read about on this site. You can speak to other parents and you can compare your existing routine to any number of suggested schedules. The most important thing is that you find one that works and one that you can stick to. Consistency is key. Make sure that no matter what, you stick to your routine so that there can be no chance whatsoever that your child is confused about what’s happening. It’s bedtime, and that’s that.
If you’re gently sleep training, your routine is crucial, both through the day and at bedtime. Get it polished and get it working for you.
When there are sleep issues within a family, it’s so important to communicate to find ways to end them. This goes for between you and your partner (maybe there is more that your partner could do to help? Maybe your partner would like to take a more active role at bedtime?) and also between you and your child. If they’re old enough, talk to your little one about why they resist bedtime or why they prefer to sleep in your bed at night. Are they scared? Cold? Lonely? Find ways to soothe their fears so that they feel confident to sleep independently. And talk to your partner and family about how the lack of sleep is making you feel too. Someone may have a genius idea that could help. Keep the lines of communication open so that you don’t become withdrawn and less able to deal with the bedtime battles. You will get through this, but it will take work. Get in touch if you need some help.