Helping Children Develop Healthy Sleep Habits

Thanks to SleepBuddy for sponsoring this post.

A good night’s sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for both adults and children but, while adults typically look forward to bedtime (especially those of us who are parents!), many kids don’t see their bed as such a wonderful place. Whether you are transitioning a young child from their crib to a bed, trying to keep a child in bed through the night, needing to convince your child not to wake up at the crack of dawn, or struggling to sleep-train a child of any age who is on the Autism Spectrum, sometimes a parent just needs a little help teaching healthy sleep habits. Luckily for those parents, I have discovered a little secret tool that may help called SleepBuddy.

SleepBuddy is the complete sleep system that uses a programmable sleep light, a children’s book and a reward chart with stickers to create reasonable boundaries and put healthy sleep habits in place. The sleep light makes it easier for your child to relax and fall asleep and the timed light turns off when your child can get out of bed.

The sleep light came with directions that made it easy to program. You simply set SleepBuddy’s start times and durations for nap (if needed) and nighttime, then the light (either a calming blue or amber color) goes on and off at the times you choose. The times you set are stored in memory until you change them, and can easily be changed when needed. There is also an option to override the system for just a day when you need your child to nap or go to sleep at an earlier time.

While getting out of bed after mommy or daddy left the room was a struggle throughout the boy’s younger years and falling asleep has been a struggle for Lucas over the years, the biggest ongoing sleep problem we’ve struggled with in our household is keeping the kids in bed until a decent hour. The boys have been early risers ever since they transitioned from their cribs and it’s led to a lot of zombie-like mornings for this mom. 4am wake-up calls when I didn’t go to sleep until 1am and then having to deal with toddlers? Not sure how many cups of coffee I needed to help me through each day for all those years!

Nowadays they “sleep in” until 6am or so most mornings. Sometimes though, they wake up as early as 5am so now that we started using SleepBuddy they know to stay in bed until the light goes off. Currently it’s set to go off at 6am but we plan to lengthen the time in 15 minute intervals until 7am which is the time they need to get up and get ready for school. I’m hoping it gets them sleeping later. Lucas ended up sleeping until 7:30 this morning (which is very rare) so I am thinking maybe he woke up, realized he couldn’t get up and then fell back asleep. Jacob, my oldest, and a strict rule-follower, proudly told me that he waited until the light went off before he got out of bed, even though he’d woken up earlier.

So whether you are transitioning your little one to a “big” boy or girl bed, trying to keep your child in bed later (like I am!), or need to add some more structure to the bedtime routine for your child who has Autism, I’d suggest incorporating SleepBuddy to help your child develop good sleeping habits. You can learn more about SleepBuddy here and purchase it on Amazon here.

Why Won’t My Baby Sleep?

The following is a guest post by Katie Pitts, M.S. CCC-SLP, CSSC, a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. I met Katie when I was at the Baby & Beyond conference a couple weeks ago and she had some great tips for getting Lucas to sleep easily so I invited her to share here on the blog. If you would like help or have questions please see the end of this post for how to contact her to receive a free 15 minute consultation.

Why won’t my baby sleep?

This is a question I often asked my first son when he was an infant. I asked it in a sweet voice, I asked it in a pleading voice, I asked it in an angry voice, but no matter how many times I asked, he never gave me the answer.

I can remember the night— and some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about— when I felt like I could not take it anymore. My son just would not stay asleep and I had hit rock bottom, exhausted from waking up multiple times every night and having to soothe him back to sleep. My husband found me at 3:00 in the morning sobbing away in our living room.

When our babies don’t sleep well, we tend to look for an explanation. We think it might be teething or gas. We worry that she’s too small and she needs to eat in the night, or he’s too big and he needs to eat more or he won’t feel full. The list goes on and on.

Are any of these explanations the real truth? Sometimes. But barring those times when your child has a burning fever or a new tooth coming in, the real reason most babies won’t sleep or stay asleep is that they just haven’t learned how.

We all have strategies that help us make the journey into sleep each night. We have bedtime routines that we tend to do without really thinking about it, and we do these things because they help us transition from the busyness of our day to a restful sleep.

Most of us have a favorite position on the bed that we turn to when we feel sleep about to come. Some of us need a glass of water beside the bed, some need white noise or music, others can’t sleep without the window open. Some need a cup of herbal tea, and some have to read for ten minutes…Whatever the differences might be, these are all sleep strategies, and without them we’d have trouble drifting off.

The same goes for babies. Many parents who haven’t developed a sleeping strategy for their babies will complain that their child can only fall asleep with the bottle, or while breastfeeding, or while being rocked or patted.

While this might be true, the trouble is, by offering these props, parents are creating a situation where their babies are dependent on something external to help them sleep. And that’s why they don’t sleep well.

Night waking is very common in babies who have not learned to sleep properly and are relying on a prop. When they wake up and the prop isn’t there to put them back to sleep, they have to wake up fully and cry in order to be soothed back to sleep. It’s not personal, Mom and Dad… they haven’t made it their personal mission to wake you up ten times a night. They just have no idea how to go to sleep without your help.

Luckily there is hope. There are lots of ways to give your child the tools she needs to be able to sleep independently, even from a very young age. Babies are capable of sleeping through the night, and learning those skills young will help make bedtimes and nighttimes relatively hassle-free.

A well-rested child is a happier, healthier child. And a well-rested parent is healthier and happier too!

Click here for 7 tips to try TONIGHT to help your baby sleep.

A few words about Katie:

Katie Pitts is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and the founder of Sleep Wise Consulting. Katie has dual master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Educational Administration. After 3 months of sleepless nights, Katie found a quick gentle solution to solve her son’s sleep problems. Shortly after this, she became certified as a baby and toddler sleep consultant and opened Sleep Wise Consulting. For over a year, Katie has given families the tools they need to teach their children to sleep at night. Interested in a FREE 15 minute evaluation to see how she can help your family? Start here: http://sleepwiseconsulting.com/free-15-minute-consultation/