As I write regular Blog posts for the charity ‘Family Fund’ they now have a new sleep support hub, where information about bedtime routines, sensory influences, etc are shared. I wrote a post for the sleep support hub, called ‘Tired Out’ titled: ‘Sleep in our household.’ Which can be found via the link below:
As the bedtime routine is currently very tricky in our household, this has prompted me to research sleep in children. I will be featuring fellow Bloggers’ experiences of sleep and bedtimes in their family.
I remember being a child who found it hard to fall asleep and being told that “we need to sleep to recharge our batteries.” I have always been a night owl and I find I think best in the evenings, this was ok at the weekends before I had children, but it’s very difficult when your children get up at 5am and you’ve gone to bed at midnight!
Lou’s sleep and bedtimes:
I can remember the feeling of being in hospital after Lou had just been born, I hadn’t experienced interupted sleep for a few years. It was a shock to the system and she would be awake for most of the night, I think over a 48 hour period of being in hospital I must have had around a total of 3 to 4 hours sleep! When she did go off I couldn’t sleep as I was watching her breathing! There was also noise from other people on the ward and staff talking loudly! I couldn’t wait to get home! I would describe Lou from the day she was born until around a month old as ‘nocturnal!’ She would literally sleep all day and was awake all night! I can remember fighting with myself not to fall asleep whilst holding her when having a feed. After about a month I can remember the look on Lou’s father’s face as he’d too never experienced such sleep deprivation! We both sported dark circles under our eyes!
From around 4 months Lou had a pattern where she would go to sleep around 10pm, wake at 12 am and again at 2am for a feed, then sleep until 7am. This was the best feeling in the world to get a solid 5 hours sleep felt like such a relief! This followed until she was around 6 months old and then teething and weaning set in and sleep would be interupted again fairly frequently, we’d usually take it in turns to attend to her and as Lou’s daddy worked full time in the week, he’d normally get up at the weekends and I’d do the weekday nights! At 9 months I could see that something wasn’t quite right and Lou would have 11 dirty nappies a day and this would also happen during the night – around 4 times. This is when I discovered that she was intolerant to all dairy and egg products. Once we sorted her diet and the milk substitute out her sleep pattern improved again. (I will be writing a more detailed post about ‘2 dairy free kids.)
From 9 months right up to 4 years we were extremely luckily that Lou slept from around 7pm until 7am. Even through 3 house moves!
There were some occasions where she’d wake up due to a reaction to a dairy or egg product that had accidently been eaten. From age 4 Lou started to wake up at 6am, then 5am and sometimes 3 or 4am! We tried putting her to bed at 8pm rather than 7 and on odd occasions like family parties, etc she’d have a late night of 10pm, but still get up at 5am!
Around May 2016 Lou started having a problem with actually going to bed. She would refuse to put her Pyjamas on, would run around the house screaming to get away and started throwing objects. This started around the same time that Lou became aware that she’d be transitioning to first school and that she’d be leaving her current Pre School where she was very comfortable and happy. We had to make many adjustments to get bedtimes right for Lou, at first we tried using classical music to calm her, we tried using bubble tubes and a rainbow projector, and leaving a lamp on as she’s not a fan of the dark. With the advice of a Family Support worker, we gave Lou a sleep visual timetable where she’d receive stickers for each part of the bedtime routine that she successfully completed, eg brushing teeth, etc.
All of the methods mentioned above helped for a time, but by July we had to take even further measures as Lou had started to run around upstairs to avoid getting ready for bed and was able to climb the standard sized stair gate installed on her bedroom doorway. Therefore we had to get an extra tall stair gate for her safety. We would also find Lou had climbed into Moo’s cot! We removed all the toys from Lou’s room as she’d started to throw the toys and boxes out from her room in order to gain our attention once she’d gone to bed, she started to bang the door into the wall, making a hole so we had to remove the door from the room!
We set a clear ‘2 stories then it’s good night’ routine, as given the chance Lou would keep one of us up there for 10+ stories! We went through around a month of screaming and calling for ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’ which is heartbreaking. We wondered what else we could try and as Lou doesn’t like being on her own we decided to take a chance on putting the 2 girls in together ! This hadn’t been done previously due to Moo being smaller and unable to call out if Lou was climbing into her cot. We wondered if they may wake each other up, but after a few days of getting used to sharing a room, there has been so much improvement to Lou’s bedtime. At present it’s usually Lou that goes up first to bed as she gets up so early she displays particularly tricky behaviours before bedtime. This will hopefully change and once Moo is old enough they will be able to share bunk beds which Lou is already very excited about!
Moo’s sleep and bedtimes:
My experience of sleep with newborn Moo was pretty much the same as when with Lou but I noticed a lot of Reflux from early on, so much so I had to ask for someone to bring in more sleep suits and vests for Moo as I’d taken about 20 and this wasn’t enough! Both of my babies had colic and Moo, a more severe case of Reflux. The difference this time around was I couldn’t ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps’ as I had a 3 year old, an extremely lively Lou to look after and we were at this time living in a first floor flat so there was no escaping into a garden for Lou! Once Moo was treated for her Reflux and her milk sorted – which was prescription she was sleeping from 8pm until 6am from 3 months old with an occasional wake up at 2am for a feed. The only times that Moo’s sleep pattern has been interupted is when she’s teething, she wakes up and we just have to go up and re-settle her. Moo has coped with a house move and is now coping well with having Lou sharing her room. Moo still has a morning sleep around 10am and then again around 3pm and this is like clock work! Moo has a fantastic understand at 17 months, if we say to her “do you want a sleep?” She will walk to the bottom of the stairs and wait by the stair gate! We are hoping to drop a sleep soon, hopefully the morning one as she will start pre school in March 2017.
What the ‘Sleep Foundation’ says about children and sleep:
“ Infants typically sleep 9-12 hours during the night and take 30 minute to two-hour naps, one to four times a day – fewer as they reach age one”
“When infants are put to bed drowsy but not asleep, they are more likely to become “self- soothers” which enables them to fall asleep independently at bedtime and put themselves back to sleep during the night.”
“Toddlers’ drive for independence and an increase in their motor, cognitive and social abilities can interfere with sleep. In addition, their ability to get out of bed, separation anxiety, the need for autonomy and the development of the child’s imagination can lead to sleep problems.”
“Preschoolers typically sleep 11-13 hours each night and most do not nap after five years of age. As with toddlers, difficulty falling asleep and waking up during the night are common. With further development of imagination, preschoolers commonly experience nighttime fears and nightmares. In addition, sleepwalking and sleep terrors peak during preschool years.”
“Children aged six to 13 need 9-11 hours of sleep. At the same time, there is an increasing demand on their time from school (e.g., homework), sports and other extracurricular and social activities. In addition, school-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet as well as caffeine products – all of which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep. In particular, watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours.”
Source: Sleep Foundation
They also have a Facebook page.
Please look out for following featured posts from other parents who share their experiences of sleep and bedtimes.
Thanks for reading 🙂