I must mention that I am in no way a sleep expert, nor do I believe every sleep routine works for every child. Every little one is different & unique. Our story goes from a screaming, anxious environment at bedtime to now what we can call a calming, soothing experience that allows Scarlett a good night sleep every night.
Right around when Scarlett turned two years old, a nighttime anxiety started. We had always stuck to the same bedtime routine and it had worked. We would say our goodnights, lay her down while she was tired & then leave the room for the night. But all of a sudden about five or so minutes later, little miss would be crying & waiting for one of us to come in.
For me as a parent, listening to my child cry for me gives me anxiety & does not let me concentrate, let alone not feel terrible. I do know she did it for a few reasons; to get our attention, to let us know she wasn’t tired or just because she wanted to be held & rocked.
We knew there had to be another option. The crying, the anxiety & the numerous times up at night needed to change for her health and ours. After talking one night about solutions with the husband & what it was that changed in her, it finally clicked. Children NEED & want many things, but one need that will never change is reassurance.
The reassurance that you are there, that you will always be there and of course, love them forever. With bedtime, Scarlett needed reassurance & to hear us say, “we are right here. Mama & Dada. We love you & will check on you in 5 minutes,”. At that point, one gesture changed it all.
Remember as a child you used to ask your parents to leave the door open…just a bit? How did they make you feel & why did we ask that? For reassurance! Knowing our parents were there & having just that bit of the hall light shining in on our room helped sooth us to sleep. I know I did.
After about 10-15 minutes, if Scarlett isn’t already asleep, one of us will go in there & let her know how much we love her & that we are right here. This time, we add in, “let’s close our eyes please” to help her ease her even more into sleep.
Toddlers are quite intuitive to their surroundings, especially at night time. If you are having troubles, I assure you there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even if your little one can’t verbalize, they can understand you more than we know. Speaking at a medium tone & with lots of happiness will reassure them bedtime isn’t that bad at all.
This routine has worked for a few months and not one night have we had to go back in & out to an upset toddler. It makes me feel good knowing she is going to sleep and staying asleep peacefully & soundly.
What bedtime & sleep routines work for your family and children? I cannot wait to learn more about healthy sleep habits for children & babies as sleep is so important for our little ones & us.