As a Mum that has been there, I’m passionate about infant sleep.
I know that there are lots of you that have burning sleep questions that you wish an expert could answer and I really want to help as many families as possible get the sleep they need to thrive, so I’m excited to start Q&A Tuesday.
Many of you will be struggling with the same or similar issues so send me your questions via Facebook, Twitter or email and I will post the answer on Tuesday evening and you could be helping not only your family but many other tired families too.
You may not even realise that there is a simple solution to the issue that you’ve been dealing with for months, and with some simple changes, bedtime battles and frequent night waking could be a thing of the past. Just imagine how that would feel?
So get posting now, I’m looking forward to solving your sleep puzzles and helping you get some ShutEye.
This weeks question comes from Dawn.
Q. My daughter is nearly 3 years old and is generally a good sleeper. Over the past few weeks she wants me to stay with her while until she falls asleep and wants me to hold her hand. I generally don’t mind doing this but lately it’s taking longer and longer for her to fall asleep, sometimes more than an hour. If I try to leave she gets very upset. I’m not sure what to do as I can’t stay with her for hours but I really don’t want her to cry either.
A. Thanks for your question Dawn, and this is a great one to share as it’s a common scenario for children of this age.
Your daughter is most likely experiencing some separation anxiety. This can become more intense and ‘real’ at different stages in your child’s development and this age is common. Her wonderful imagination is on overdrive and her dreams and the dark can make her feel quite anxious. What we want to do is give her lots of reassurance and make her feel very secure.
So here are my suggestions of how to help her:
1. Make sure you have lots of one to one time with her in the day. Especially if she is at nursery or in childcare, she needs to have some Mummy time after she comes home.
2. Ensure that any books she is reading, or TV programmes are age appropriate. If she is exposed to content that is beyond her years this could stimulate her imagination in the wrong way.
3. Give her something of yours that she can take to bed with her. Maybe a scarf or something else that has your smell that is safe that she can snuggle up too. Maybe put a photograph of Mummy by the side of her bed so that she can see your face if she needs to. Does she have a favourite soft toy or comforter? If not, now would be a great time to introduce one. She could pick out a new one from the toy shop which would help her connect with it.
4. She needs lots of reassurance from you that she has nothing to be scared of and that Mummy will be downstairs (or wherever) whilst she sleeps.
5. To mitigate the tears you can start a process of gradually moving away from the hand holding over a number of nights. Stay with her on night 1, and then on each successive night move further and further away from her (as much or as little as you feel comfortable with) until you are leaving her completely after saying goodnight and going out of her room. You may need to hang around outside of the room to provide reassurance. Remember to give her all of the reassurance that she needs but be super consistent on the message that you are giving her; There is nothing to worry about and Mummy is downstairs.
6. Is she does really well at bedtime give her lots of praise and acknowledgement the next morning, she will love that. Even if it doesn’t go well, acknowledge her efforts and say that you will both try really hard again that evening.
This issue could be resolved in a matter or days or over a week or so depending on her personality and how consistent you can be. As I said it is very common and I urge you to help her as soon as possible so that her sleep schedule is not compromised for too long and you get your well needed evenings back. You can do this Dawn!
Please help a tired parent out and share this Q&A with your nearest and dearest.
What’s stopping your family from getting the ShutEye they need? Let me know your question and you could see it answered on Q&A Tuesday.