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The 5 Things That Kept Your Child Awake Lastnight

One of the perks of my job is getting to go to informational events under the guise of a professional. For example, this morning I went out to Jenks and listened to Tara Hess speak about "The 5 Things That Kept Your Child Awake Last Night." Tara is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach and Happiest Baby on the Block Educator. She was speaking to a group of moms who either have children with sleep problems or who are staying ahead of the game by learning different sleep techniques to teach their babies.

Currently, I am in the process of transitioning my 2-year-old to his big boy bed; or, let's be honest, out of mommy and daddy's bed. It wouldn't be an issue for me, except with little sister coming in June, I want more flexibility in the middle of the night. So far, it has gone pretty well. I'm getting him to sleep in his bed and usually he comes to get in ours sometime in the middle of the night. We are making progress and I'm just not stressing about it too much.

I think the key factor in "not stressing about it too much" is that the kid does sleep.

We have a good routine that we've stuck to since he was tiny, like maybe 12-months-old. We do about 15-20 minutes of books, about two "twinkle, twinkle little stars" and an "itsy bitsy spider" or "old mcdonald." Then it's time to go to sleep. He's asleep by 7:30 p.m. and basically sleeps until 7:00 a.m. He takes 1 1/2 hour-2 hour nap during the day.

When he does wake up in the middle of the night, he goes back to sleep in seconds. I don't see how I can ask for much more from him. Basically, it's this...it doesn't matter to me where he sleeps (within reason), as long as he sleeps. As long as everyone in the house is rested, I'm going to consider that a success. It may not be perfect, but I gave up perfect long ago.

However, during q & a, I could hear the desperation in some of the women's voices regarding their children's sleep issues. Some of them were spending up to three hours a night trying to get their baby/toddler to sleep. Or, their child was waking up 8-10 times a night. Not just waking up, but screaming for them with night terrors. All of this caused them to be moody or aggressive during the day, which escalated at night when it was time to do it all over again. That sounds like a nightmare (pun intended)!

I took a lot from the presentation. Here are a couple of things Tara said that I didn't want to forget...

  • You have boundaries during the day, those can't stop at night.
  • Never have a nap before noon, if your child is down to one nap a day.
  • Don't start sleep training until about 6-months-old.
  • The sleep cycle is 45-50 minutes.
  • Caffeine stays in your child's system 8-10 hours. So even if you give your child chocolate at noon, the caffeine is still in there that night.

Also, she had handouts with some great information...

Top 10 Sleep Tips From The World Association of Sleep Medicine

  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep (see above average sleep needs chart)
  • Set consistent bedtime and wake-up times on weekdays and weekends.
  • Children need comfortable pajamas and strong, absorbing diapers
  • Avoid bright lights during the night
  • Always encourage your child to fall asleep alone
  • Keep all electronic distractions out of the bedroom
  • Maintain a consistent daily schedule
  • Establish a nap schedule if it's age appropriate.
  • Make sure your children get plenty of outdoor exercise
  • Eliminate all caffeine.

Well, I've got all of those checked off my list except for the "always encourage your child to fall asleep alone." Hey, 9 out of 10 isn't bad, right? Eh, we'll see how my attitude changes when little sister arrives and I'm not getting my 8 hours of sleep. (wink)

For more information from Tara, you can go to www.tulsapediatricsleepconsulting.com or follow her on Facebook.