There are times in every parent’s life when sleep deprivation becomes a problem and it is accepted that for the first six months it will be a way of life.

But, babies and toddlers need sleep, and you’ll be surprised by how much! The most common problems are when they can’t sleep on their own (maybe it takes them hours to fall asleep, or they can only fall asleep if you hold them or if they’re in your bed), or when I can’t sleep through the night without waking up.

But keep in mind that your behavior influences your child’s actions and you hold the key to improving sleep behavior, you just need to learn how to use it. It might take a while; I’m often amazed at how quickly issues can be resolved, but don’t worry if it doesn’t happen within a week. Be consistent and you will succeed.

Safe and successful sleep techniques

try to wrap

Young babies often wake up by moving their arms and legs, and swaddling them tight enough so that they are comfortable but cannot move their limbs too much can help prevent them from waking up at night.

Lay out a square blanket so that the corner is facing up. Fold the corner down and lay your baby down so that her head rests on the top edge of the blanket. Bring one of the side corners over the body and tuck it under him, then fold the bottom corner up over his feet and legs and then wrap the other side of the blanket tightly, letting his room feel comfortable.

The water mummy method

Its scent can help your baby relax and sleep. Putting something like an old t-shirt near (but not in) the crib can help her fall asleep while you’re in another room.

phased withdrawal

This is a really effective technique for getting your baby or older child settled for sleep. It is especially useful for young children who are not used to sleeping in their own bed or who need to be physically close to sleep.

Every night, put him to bed in his own bed or cot, say good night, but then stay in the room. This doesn’t mean you continue to talk about her, touch her, or play with her, just provide a comforting presence. Don’t even make eye contact.

As the days go by, gradually move away from your child, until he can get out of bed and out of the room completely.

quick return

This is a ‘tough love’ approach for young children, but it works well when there are chronic sleep problems, especially when these involve aggression or tantrums. It’s the nighttime equivalent of ‘time out’, and you need to be very, very loud and clear about what’s going to happen. It’s hard to implement, but it’s worth it. You can start using the gradual withdrawal method if it is easier for you.

The quick return technique means that you put your toddler to bed, turn off the light, say goodnight, and leave the room. If he gets out of bed, bring them back gently and immediately, without speaking and without losing your temper (which is very difficult when it’s the 20th time that night). Repeat this process promptly and firmly as many times as necessary, until you finally fall asleep.

It can be exhausting, so whenever possible, try to enlist the help of your partner and trade turns, but make sure you fully agree on what to do, to avoid sending mixed messages to your little one.

Incentives, praise and rewards.

Regardless of how you decide to approach your child’s sleep problem, it will probably be necessary to negotiate in the early stages. It’s okay to negotiate a deal that promises a deal the next day, but don’t make it a habit. If your child has reached the goal he set for himself, whether it’s sleeping through the night or staying in his own bed, shower him with praise. Then set new goals and this should help her form a bond between being good and being in her good books.

Stickers rarely fail as a means of showing children how well they are doing. If your child is old enough to understand the concept of a night fairy, tell her that the fairy will be waiting to see how well she falls asleep, and then add a sticker to her chart.

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