Whether you have babies, toddlers or school-aged children, one thing we can all agree upon is that the pre-parenthood days of staying up until midnight and sleeping in are long gone. Boca moms, I’m with you; I….NEED….WANT…and dream of…SLEEP! I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering if I will actually make it until midnight tonight to see the ball drop.
So, I decided to reach out to board-certified Boca pediatricians, our town’s foremost experts on sleep, Chad Rudnick, M.D. FAAP & Paul Gilbert, M.D. FAAP from Boca VIPediatrics, to see if they had any words of wisdom for making 2019 a more restful year for local moms and kids alike.
Because they are Boca’s only concierge pediatric practice, VIPediatrics focuses on more personalized care. They spend a great deal of time working with new and veteran parents on creating a better night’s sleep for everybody. These Boca pediatricians have helped all types of families on all different types of schedules. From single parents to first-time parents, even A-list celebrity parents. They all agree that sleep is the most coveted treasure after you become a mom or dad.
Here are a few of these Boca pediatricians’ expert sleep tips:
Bedtime is a non-starter
One of the best gifts you can give your child is a great night’s sleep every night. Earlier bedtimes (and more hours of sleep) have been linked to better behavior, higher test scores, reduced risk for obesity and possibly fewer illnesses. No matter the age of your child, you need to set a bedtime that works for your family and stick to it. It’s a non-negotiable. Sure, if there’s a family party one night or if you are watching the fireworks on your Disney trip, you are going to make exceptions. But, the bedtime routine for normal “school nights” and most weekends needs to be firm (no matter what your in-laws say).
Their Own Bed
We get it, you want to sleep. So why not let your toddler come into bed with you just that one night when they wake up crying. Then the next night… what’s one more night??? Before you know it, you have a 5 year-old who is coming into your bed every night. Now some parents may prefer that. And, if that’s what your family wants to do, go for it. In some cultures and countries, that’s the norm. (Although it’s NEVER safe to let an infant sleep in your bed with you). Let’s say it together one more time: it’s NEVER safe to let an infant sleep in your bed with you!
There’s going to be some crying (maybe a lot of crying), but when your 3 or 4 year-old tries to dig their heels in and scream about not staying in their own bed, you can do the same and keep bringing them back to their room.
Pro-tip: when it’s time to transition your toddler to a “big-kid” bed, let your child pick out a new doll, stuffed animal, or small action figure to bring to bed with them where they will “teach” their new lovey how to sleep in bed all night.
Pro-tip #2: get a toddler alarm clock to teach your child to stay in their bed until it’s the time you want them to come out of their room in the morning.
Consistency is Key
This is perhaps the hardest for new (and veteran) parents. Creating and sticking with the bedtime routine is paramount for sleeping success. Toddlers and preschoolers are creatures of habit. They crave routine and you will be rewarded with a better sleeper (more nights than not) if you are consistent with the bedtime routine.
Pro-tip #3: for the child who cries as soon as you walk out of the room, start small with having your toddler or preschooler stay in their crib or big kid bed at night. Put them down to sleep and then tell them you’re going to come right back. Walk out of the room for 5 seconds then come back in and finish the nighttime routine. The next night, do it for 15 seconds. See the trend? By the time you are making them wait 2-3 minutes, they’re often already asleep!
It’s Not Too Late To Break Bad Sleep Habits
You might be thinking that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Perhaps your kids are up until 10:00 p.m. most nights or bedtime is constantly fluctuating. The thing is, kids are adaptable at pretty much any age. It’s going to take more work to sleep train a 7 year-old than a 7 month-old. But hey, all it takes is one night of a fresh start and the follow-thru and consistency to turn a bad habit into a good habit.
This mission, should you choose to accept it, is not going to be easy in the short-term. But, it will prove worthwhile if you stick to a strict routine for a few weeks. If on night two of implementing a new routine you already feel defeated, our advice to you is that a few sleepless nights in the short-term to sleep train are WAY better than years and years of bad sleep habits! So pick a night to start, stick with it, and the results will come if you’re consistent.
Heck, make it your New Year’s resolution. You’ll be thanking my favorite Boca pediatricians next December if you implement the above tips successfully! Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and sleep-filled New Year…cheers mamas!
Sponsored: This post was sponsored by the Boca pediatricians at Boca VIPediatrics. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced in any way by the sponsor. Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information. I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are mine.