Lucy asked: Please can I have some advice about getting my older children into a bedtime routine again. When they were younger they went to sleep really easily. Unfortunately now my 11 and 7 year old are going to bed later and later. I would appreciate any tips to get them back into a routine.
Maryanne says: At this age, they are probably almost setting their own routine but the key is to make sure that there is enough down time incorporated into this routine. Avoid all screens up to an hour before bedtime too. Try and keep the atmosphere low key in the lead up to getting into bed, which is true for all ages. Also, one on one time with you would certainly benefit both of them so think about giving your 7 year old some time with you and once he/she is in bed, dedicate some time to chat to the 11 year old. Hope this helps!
Fiona asked: My two-year-old dropped her afternoon sleep months ago, instead she falls asleep in the late afternoon or is really grumpy from 5ish. Is there anything I can do to encourage her to have a little snooze after lunch?
Maryanne says: This is a difficult one and 2 year olds are notoriously difficult when they realise that they can control whether they sleep or not. I would try and keep going with the sleep if you can, even if in the buggy or on the move, so time car or buggy journeys accordingly. If no chance, then incorporate downtime into her day after lunch in place of the sleep. And bring bedtime earlier. Good luck!
Becky asked: Hi there, my two week old absolutely won’t go into his crib, he’ll only sleep on me. I’ve tried a rolled up towel to snuggle him up, warming the bed, a blanket that smells of me but I’m still the only bed and I’m beginning to get a bit run down with tiredness, anything else I could try?
Maryanne says: First of all congratulations on your baby! 2 weeks…lovely but sometimes difficult age. Remember that he’s still only getting used to being outside of his previous home which he got used to over 9 months! Some babies just need the comfort of their mummy’s smell and skin and voice as they get used to this new environment. That said, it’s very hard on mummy who gets exhausted with being so tied to another person. You may want to consider a sling for the next few weeks so you can ‘wear’ him and have your hands free while he gets used to his new world. Also, swaddling can be hugely comforting for newborns too. Good luck and enjoy your baby.
Vanessa says: Hi, my 4 yr old daughter (who has never been a great sleeper) will wake up most nights afraid of everything and anything! This results in us moving objects out of her sight and often falling asleep by her bedside until she eventually falls asleep again. Any tips to prevent her from being so afraid?
Maryanne says: 2 suggestions for you… one is to use a nightlight so it’s not pitch dark. Second is to introduce a spray bottle, filled with water & a few drops of lavender and as part of the bedtime routine, spray the room a few times, let her spray the room and explain that this is a special spray that takes the scaries away and makes her room cosy and safe. It can be really effective. Hope it helps!
Clare asked: hi my 2 1/2 yo has never slept through the night. In the past we have had to stay with him while he goes to sleep in the evening, usually 45mins and then he is up 2/3 times a night. The broken sleep is now too much for us! He sleeps for 10/11 hours a night and has a daytime sleep limited to an hour. We have recently been much stricter with ourselves and he is now able to put himself to sleep at bedtime without us being in the room but he is still coming in at night. He will go back to his bed and sleep after five mins but we are often too tired ourselves to put him back and just find him in our bed in the morning. I realise it’s our perseverance that is needed but with us being exhausted are there any tips for making it slightly easier or tricks we have missed. Thank you, in hope of a night’s sleep!
Maryanne says: I certainly wouldn’t blame yourself for being too exhausted. You are human and sleep deprivation is torturous! So you’ve almost answered the question yourself…your perseverance. You’ve clearly already made huge inroads in that he is now settling in his bed at bedtime. It’s just a matter of really sticking with it and doing the same for the night wake ups. Incentive schemes and lots and lots of positive praise are also great for this age. Make him feel proud of himself for achieving his ‘target’ and tell him how proud you are. Remember, consistency…short term pain for long term gain!
Holly asked: Hi, my almost 3 year old wakes every night 3-4 times at different times every night. Sometimes crying like bad dream, sometimes wants cuddles or a drink or can’t find dummy. Once we have seen to him he goes back off to sleep. He has spare dummy and water in bed. Tried leaving and just gets into such a state. Not persevered with that for long as have a 8month old who is light sleeper. Been going on since before baby was born. Would love some advice to get him going through again…. please!
Maryanne says: It sounds like you may want to use a sleep training approach with him to try and iron out these wake ups. The wake ups are not so much about the water, dummy etc but more about needing to see you in the night. So I would suggest a sleep training approach, involving reassurance from you, plus an incentive scheme that he is excited about.
Laura asked: My little girls just turned 1 and point blank refuses to sleep in her cot, bangs her head of side, puts her hand in her till she gags, getting up 2-4 times during the night, need help as she’s over taking my bed lol thanks.
Maryanne says: does she get upset as you start to approach the cot for sleep? I suggest that you spend time with her each day, at a time when you are not trying to get her to sleep, curtains open, lights on, with her sitting in her cot with lots of toys and books in there. You sit next to the cot and play with her through the bars of the cot and if she is happy for you to leave for a minute or two, then do that. This will help her foster a positive association with the cot. Suggest you do that every day. You may want to consider a sleep training approach involving you sitting in the room initially and gradually moving yourself out of the room as she gets more confident with settling in the cot.
Nicky asked: I put my 5yr old to bed between 7-7.30 (after her brother has gone to sleep as they share a room) however, she is in and out of bed several times for cuddles etc, and when she’s in her room she’s reading or playing in bed, it seems she’ll do anything to avoid sleep, usually dropping off around 9pm, any suggestions, as I’m sure she thinks she’s missing something
Maryanne says: Ah the frequent visitor..I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point! My suggestion would be to use a rapid return technique where you are bringing her back to her bed every time she gets up, try and interact as little as possible, just saying calmly that it’s time for sleep. An incentive scheme works really well with this age…sleep charts, marbles in a jar etc. Unfortunately there’s no magic solution other than being quite boundaried with her and lots of praise when she stays in her bed nicely.
Sally asked: One of my 2 year olds wakes around an hour after falling to sleep every night and sits up and cries, we comfort him and he goes back to sleep, he has been doing this since he was small, do you think having bad dreams?
Maryanne says: does he appear to be upset when he cries out and calms down as soon as you come into the room? If so, it’s possible that he is having a bad dream but if it’s happening every night, it’s probably become somewhat of a habit at this point. One suggestion would be to shift him slightly around 20 minutes before he usually wakes. Don’t fully waken him, just shift him slightly. He may shift position or briefly open his eyes. Then soothe him back to sleep. The purpose of this is to shift him straight into his next sleep cycle without the full wake up happening. Give it a go and see how you get on.
Suzanne asked: Hi there, my 2 boys share a room they are 3 and 6 obviously they should have different times of going to bed but as they share we find it difficult. The younger one will not go up on his own so we let the older one read in his bed, sometimes he wants to stay up maybe for just some me and dad time but it becomes difficult as the younger one plays up! I know this challenge is going to become harder as they become older and not sure how long they will share for…. Any advice?
Maryanne: Hi Suzanne, it’s always difficult when different age siblings share a room. Maybe consider using an incentive scheme such as a sticker chart to reward your 3 year old when he settles nicely at bedtime. Give him quality one on one time with you at bedtime and lots of positive praise for going into his bed nicely
Naomi asked: What’s the difference between Night Terrors and Nightmares? We think one of my kids has the former sometimes. She wakes up distressed about an hour after going to bed and seems to be still dreaming. She doesn’t remember it in the morning.
Maryanne says: so this is a very common question. Key differences are that the child (if old enough) can often recall a bad dream and sometimes can take a while for them to fall back asleep after one. Responding very quickly is important and reassure them that they are safe and ok and give them a hug. Night terrors on the other hand can be extremely distressing to witness as a parent but the child remembers nothing. A child may scream, shout, sweat and seem inconsolable. They usually occur within around 2 hours of falling asleep. The important thing to remember is not to interfere physically when a child is having a terror. Monitor them to make sure they are physically safe but touching them can intensify and lengthen the terror so just calmly reassure without touching. Hope this helps!
Thanks so much to Maryanne for all her great advice, we hope you found it useful. Check out Child Sleep works website: http://childsleepworks.co.uk/ and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ChildSleepWorks for more fantastic advice!
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