In this guest blog, Lauren from Little Sleep Stars gives Mumbler her Top Tips for getting a “bad sleeper” to drift off!
Many parents I speak to describe their child as “just a bad sleeper”. It’s often said with an air of resignation and understandably these parents can feel pretty unlucky, especially when they have friends with similar-aged children who have the whole sleep thing nailed. I totally understand this feeling as prior to retraining as a child sleep consultant, I too had a “bad sleeper” and I spent a lot of time wondering what I was doing wrong when everyone else I knew seemed far more competent at getting their child to sleep.
What I now know, and what I see every day in my practice, is that temperament fundamentally influences sleep. The vast majority of the little ones whose parents I work with have a temperament best described as “alert” (“super-alert” in some cases) and they share a number of character-traits with my own mini-Mumbler, such as being determined, inquisitive, feisty…the list goes on. Whilst these little ones can be challenging, they are also undoubtedly amazing!
But here’s the thing…alert little ones genuinely have a harder time with sleep. They often find the transition from light sleep harder to navigate (largely due to their questioning little brains not wanting to “switch off”), tend not to be able to stretch their nights out as far as the 12 hours some children manage pretty routinely, and can be more noticeably affected by developmental milestones as they determinedly decide to practice crawling, standing, walking etc. around their sleep-space at various times most definitely intended for sleeping.
The good news is that all children, even those alert little ones, can learn to sleep well. It is safe-to-say, however, that teaching these notoriously tricky little sleepers the skills they need can present more of a challenge. Here are my top tips for helping an alert child to sleep well:
1. Routine: I don’t advocate strict schedules but alert little ones tend to have less flexibility in when and where they sleep. If your child won’t nap on the go or seems to really need their nap at a certain time, working with rather than against this will lead to calmer nights.
2. Anticipate: don’t wait for the usual sleepy-signs such as yawning and eye-rubbing before putting your child down for a nap. Alert little ones tend not to display these tell-tale cues until the door the tiredness is about to close so know your child’s ideal “wakeful window”.
3. Reduce Stimulation: light (natural or artificial), noise and cot mobiles etc tend to hinder sleep for alert children who find stimulation in anything. Blackout blinds and a white noise machine can create a calm, consistent sleep environment and make all the difference.
Finally, never be afraid to seek help with a tricky sleeper. I deal with a lot of alert children and am happy to offer all Mumblers a free 15-minute chat to discuss your child sleep challenges.
Little Sleep Stars: Bespoke sleep solutions from 0 – 6 years.
T: 07977 583728
Following the arrival of her son, Lauren retrained as a child sleep consultant, initially sitting within the Sleep Nanny brand before establishing her own Little Sleep Stars at the start of this year. Lauren works with the families of babies and children up to the age of 6, throughout the UK and also internationally. By creating bespoke sleep plans using gentle techniques, Little Sleep Stars can help any child learn to sleep well.