Please view my video below to learn how to handle sleep setbacks in children.
Questions about your child’s sleep? Advice to give other parents? Join the discussion in the ‘Comments’ section below!View the Video Transcript
If you’d rather read than watch, here’s a transcription of the video…
This week’s question comes from Stephanie. She writes:
“Our 19-month-old has been having night wakings for the past four months now. She used to sleep great and independently, but we went on vacation and she cut some molars. And now we have to rock her back to sleep a few times a night. What should we do?”
Well, I think a lot of people are in your same situation, Stephanie. It’s a good thing to talk about. I’m guessing that at some point you taught your daughter how to sleep independently and she was a really great sleeper. And then sort of seemingly out of the blue you’ve had a regression. And it can be around vacations or cutting some teeth or a sickness. That can often derail people’s progress.
Or it can just happen sort of out of the blue for no real reason. And if that’s the case, I just sort of named it “testing the waters.” And it tends to happen as your baby turns into a toddler and they’re testing out their independence and they’re testing out their own skills for getting the things they want. And all of the sudden you find yourself back to sort of the beginning again where you’re getting some protest or pushing of boundaries around bedtime.
And my word of advice to everybody is just to push through these little regressions, because they’re going to happen periodically. You don’t teach a child to never touch the television and then they never again in their life touch it. They won’t touch it for a few weeks and then you’ll find they’re going over to test you and touch it and you’ll have to start reestablishing those rules all over again. That’s just the nature of children.
So in this case, the good news is she was a good sleeper. She has her skills. She knows how to do this. It’s just basically a process of reminding her what those skills were that she used to have and getting her back on the right track. If she is falling asleep completely independently at bedtime, that’s great. If she isn’t, then that’s where you need to start.
So you would do your bedtime routine, put her in the crib. If you want, you can do the stay in the room method again with her. So you would spend a couple of nights right by her crib, a couple of nights in the middle of the room, a couple of nights by the door, working your way out. You can start there. If you’ve gone right back to the beginning now where you’re rocking her at bedtime as well then that’s where I would start.
And then for these night wakings I want you to handle them in the exact same fashion. So if you’re going to do the stay in the room method, you would just go back to the crib for a couple of nights, middle of the room, door, and then exit. And it shouldn’t really take more than, you know, three to seven nights to get her back on track because the skills are there. It’s just a matter of reminding her.
So that’s my best advice. And looking forward into the future, remember that this might happen again and again and again. And the best way to handle it is the same way you always would. Definitely you can go in, have a check, tell her it’s still night-night time, but you wouldn’t start doing things out of the blue that you aren’t doing anymore, like rocking or nursing or bringing her to bed with you. A couple of nights of that and you can work yourself right back to the beginning. So thanks a lot for that question, and sleep well.
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