Getting Enough Sleep With Babies & Young Children

Out of all the many sessions we run at Transform Parenting, sleep sessions are by far the most popular. It seems to be the biggest challenge and involves some soul searching, as there are many marketing ‘fix it,’ remedies to be the solution to your problem of sleep. Often the problem is really about expectations of ourselves and others, who trick you into thinking it is a problem. When what is actually happening, is your baby or young child is responding to life, with an immature nervous system, and needs your understanding. Let’s do that now.

Getting children to sleep is huge, as it so directly impacts our own functioning.

Let’s just check off some basics

Every baby/ child is different and will have a certain receptivity to sleep or not, and therefore what worked with one child may not with the next one. Your job is to work out their unique personality and their ability to surrender to sleep.

Learning to read your baby’s cues is the first step and by the way, the cues will change. The more you watch and pay attention to your baby, the quicker you will learn them.

Babies and young children build up a certain amount of stress in their immature nervous systems everyday. They are largely powerless and very reliant on their caregivers, and so as life happens, they can store built up feelings of frustration/ anxiety/ anger/ tension. You will often be told by day-care, school, other caregivers how ‘well-behaved’ your child is, and when they return home – all hell breaks loose. That is normal and a compliment to your parenting. Home is where they feel safe to release the build-up of tension. They do this through emotional meltdowns, tantrums and tears. This is a very healthy response for a healthy nervous system to not store this tension. When we know this as parents we can promote that release, or just hold space when it happens – and perceiving it as a good thing.

You know yourself how much happier and peaceful you feel after a good cry or rage.
So, build into your end of day routine, a time to release energy from the day. It could be jumping on a trampoline or bed, crazy dancing to music, wrestling, chasing. For babies, it could be simply just holding them while they cry. Reduce your need to pat bottoms, shake or try to stop the crying. Just be with it, and say to your baby or young child – I’m here for you.

Laughter is a wonderful release of energy. Have some crazy fun time, and make your child laugh – you will notice a difference afterwards in their levels of calmness and cooperation.
Avoid screens at the end of the day, as this stores energy and children are often cranky afterwards. See it as an investment into the bedtime routine.

Timing of sleep is very connected to circadian rhythms so going to bed and waking up at the same time promotes the release of sleep hunger before bed.

Get creative with sleeping arrangements. The goal is for everyone to get enough sleep, so don’t be afraid to co-sleep with your baby or young children, just learnt to do it safely. Some parents can’t sleep with their children in their bed, so maybe a mattress on the floor is better. It is very normal for young children to want to be close with their parents, we are social creatures. You will not be creating a rod for your back, rather you will have well attached and secure children. Most importantly it is easier to settle them when they know you are right there, and you can often get them back to sleep before they wake up fully with some gentle reassurance. They will change and eventually you will get your space and time back.

It is also helpful to know that babies experience passive sleep and active sleep, meaning that sometimes during sleep they are more active and appear like they are waking. Don’t be too quick to respond, just pause and watch. You might find they drift off to sleep again and were merely in an active sleep pattern.

For more specific sleep issues, there are the names of some great consultants on the resources page on the Transform Parenting website.
Sweet dreams dear ones.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This