Is it really possible to teach your child to self settle and sleep without you at night and not go completely insane in the process?
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, not only can you do this, but you can also teach your children to get themselves back to sleep in the middle of the night.
I agree, it sounds too good to be true but when you’re sleep deprived and exhausted because your kids just won’t sleep, it’s worth a shot, right?
How can I help my child get to sleep at night?
Firstly, you need to go out of the room with the lights out, do this before they are asleep. This gives them the chance to fall asleep with no help from you and when you’re not in the room with them.
It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes for them to fully get to sleep so during this time, avoid doing things in or around your child’s bedroom during this time.
If your child has never gone to sleep without you, explain to them what is going to happen, be firm but reassuring to your child about being able to go to sleep when you’re not in the room.
What if my child is worried and won’t let me leave the room?
Some children will get out of bed to find you, if this happens then take things more slowly. You can go back into the room on and off, for a short time.
If you need to, you can put them back into bed, get them to lie down and tell them to go to sleep. When this is done, you leave the room.
You may need to do this over and over. Each time, spend longer and longer out of the room. If you are consistent and stick with this, then you will succeed.
HINT: Remember to keep a lid on your emotions when in the bedroom and be as boring as possible.
Another thing you can do is put a stretcher bed or mattress next to your child’s bed and lie down next to them, but have very little interaction with your child. The only thing you should do is tell them to go to sleep.
Remember that this should only be a temporary thing and hopefully once they are used to this they will go to sleep without being told to.
Then you should start to gradually get out of the bedroom and it’s important that once you start this you don’t give in or go back to your old ways as this will confuse your child and make it harder the next time you try to change.
You can also use this if they have been sleeping with you and you want to teach them to sleep in their own bed.
What can I do if my child is anxious, scared of the dark or has night-time fear about bedtime?
A small dim night light can help, maybe leave a light on in the hallway or if the room is near the bathroom or toilet leave that on at night.
Taking a comfort object to bed, like a teddy bear, can help your child not feel so alone at night. Remember to reassure them that nothing will hurt them.
How can I get my child to stay in their own bed?
Be consistent and assertive about your child staying in their own bed and if you don’t want them to sleep in your bed you have to take them back every time.
Build a consistent habit of your child going to sleep in the place where they’ll sleep for the night, usually it’s best if this is their own bed.
If a child wakes up in a difference place to where they fell asleep it might upset them and they might leave their bed and visit you.
Tip: Be aware of the differences between nightmares and night terrors.
Help! I’m at my wit’s end and nothing is working!
If you are not sure about why your child has a sleep problem or you can’t deal with it, contact your family doctor or paediatrician.
Some children may need a sleep specialist because they might have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnoea, snoring concerns or there could be other emotional issues at play.
Source: The Sleep Health Foundation is a charity that aims to raise public awareness of sleep health issues and to improve public health and safety.