How can we get our 18-month-old daugh­ter back into a nor­mal sleep rou­tine?

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - KIDS’ HEALTH SPECIAL -

UP un­til four or five weeks ago our 18-month-old daugh­ter was very con­sis­tent and went down for the night eas­ily. We nor­mally have her down by 8pm but now this can drag out to 9 or 10pm depend­ing on

YES is the short an­swer, it is pos­si­ble to get her back into a rou­tine. It may well be a phase for her, since chil­dren’s sleep­ing can of­ten be dis­rupted by things like growth spurts, teething, changes in home or crèche, brighter sum­mer evenings, heat and so on. It doesn’t of­ten take much to dis­turb our sleep.

The key thing when chil­dren’s sleep seems dis­rupted is not to panic and also to try not to ad­just too many things all at once. Stick­ing with the how well she set­tles. At first we thought the warm evenings were in­flu­enc­ing the prob­lems, mak­ing her rest­less. But in re­cent weeks she has also been vom­it­ing in her cot shortly af­ter we put her down. Is it some sort of sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety or just some phase she is go­ing through? Can we get her back into a nor­mal rou­tine?

ba­sics of cre­at­ing or main­tain­ing a very solid bed­time rou­tine will al­ways help.

That rou­tine should in­clude some wind­ing down time in the evenings. You might plan some­thing like snug­gle-time on the sofa, read­ing books, lis­ten­ing to story CDs (or down­loads). You might even be al­lowed do a lit­tle foot rub, or mas­sage, depend­ing on your daugh­ter’s mood.

Do start the rou­tine early, so that ac­tu­ally be­ing in bed is at­tained by 7.30pm. Most tod­dlers are well ready for sleep by then, and leav­ing it later may let her get a sec­ond wind, mean­ing she is over­tired when you are try­ing to do the last bits of the rou­tine and ac­tu­ally set­tling her into her cot/ bed.

When bed­time comes, fol­low the same nightly habit of bath, nappy change, get­ting into PJs, tooth brush­ing and then bed. Try to fol­low the rou­tine in the same place, so that she gets ready for bed in her room, or your room or wher­ever, con­sis­tently. Try to avoid things like some­times get­ting ready in the bath­room, then com­ing back down­stairs and so on.

The idea is that she picks up the cues, from the con­sis­tency of the rou­tine, that go­ing to bed is the in­evitable (and wel­come) next step.

Once in her cot or her bed, per­haps you might read her a story (if you haven’t al­ready had that time on the sofa ear­lier), or you might like to say a prayer (even if you aren’t re­li­gious it is nice to give thanks for the good­ness in our lives), or some lit­tle end of day say­ing.

Then you need to de­cide whether you will sit with her while she set­tles to sleep, or whether you will leave her to self-soothe. You men­tion that she has been vom­it­ing lately. You also query sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety, when you have put her to bed. Is that vom­it­ing oc­cur­ring be­cause she has been so up­set when you left her in her room?

If the vom­it­ing ap­pears more ran­dom, then it is worth go­ing to the GP to get it checked out in case she has some kind of low-level bug, or some di­ges­tive is­sue. If it is con­sis­tently hap­pen­ing af­ter she has been cry­ing or been dis­tressed af­ter you leave her to sleep, then it may be that she is, in fact, find­ing the sep­a­ra­tion too hard. Re­mem­ber that your daugh­ter needs to feel fully safe, se­cure and com­fort­able in or­der to fall asleep. So the heat, for ex­am­ple, may have ini­tially caused her to be more rest­less, tak­ing longer to fall asleep, dur­ing which time, she may have be­come more aware that she was “on her own” in the room.

In that case, it may be ap­pro­pri­ate to sit qui­etly in the room with her, while she falls asleep, so that she re­gains that sense of se­cu­rity that your pres­ence will bring. You will, of course, be able to wean her off your pres­ence in due course.

Or, if you don’t want to get in the habit of sit­ting with her, ar­range to come for reg­u­lar “check­ing vis­its”, so that she can come to rely on the fact that you will keep com­ing back to her. By reg­u­larly check­ing on her you re­duce the need for her to call out (or cry out) for you.

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