Sleep

Sleep! An essential part of childhood, and critical to parental sanity. Read on for some of our key points in sleep philosophy, and a guide to a few experts in the field:

· Sleep begets sleep (don’t wake up your newborn during the day to get her to sleep more at night – it usually backfires)
· Better rested children/infants are less likely to have terrible tantrums and irritable moods.
· The best sleepers are produced by parents who realize that sleep is an essential life skill that needs to be learned. Don’t vacillate on a child’s need for sleep by returning to the room multiple times or allowing them to control the time and place for sleep. It is OK to allow a child to learn to self-soothe (i.e. cry a bit.) CONFIDENCE is key!
· Adolescents need 8-9 hours of sleep a night – staying up excessively late on weekends and staying up extra late on weekdays doing homework destroy the needed sleep architecture
· In our experience the best sleepers are produced by following Dr. Weissbluth’s book, “Happy Baby, Healthy Sleep Habits.”
· Incentives given for “staying in your bed all night by yourself” need to be immediate and satisfying to child – i.e. a small prize or mini chocolate bars that they would otherwise never be allowed to wake up and eat. This may take 1-2 weeks of the immediate reinforcement. Promises of “do it for 1 week and I’ll buy you a bike” don’t work nearly as well.
· A young child who is climbing out of his/her crib is may not be ready for a big bed, especially if they are very active. You have two choices: Dr. Nikki strongly recommends crib tents to keep good sleepers sleeping well. Dr. Jenn suggests trying the crib mattress on the floor, but be sure to fully childproof their room and put a gate in the doorway to avoid midnight wanderings. We advocate keeping kids in cribs as long as they are sleeping well- often until the age of 4!

Here are some popular sleep strategists:

Ferber : An expert in the field from Boston Children’s Hospital. His cry-it out theory has saved many families priceless sleep hours.
http://www.childrenshospital.org/views/june06/sleep.html

Weissbluth – He helps you understand how to initiate sleep BEFORE your child is overtired. He also is the advocate of the “lock on the door” philosophy for older children that I have seen work many times. (you almost never actually put the lock on).
Below is a summary of how to implement his theories:
http://www.ehow.com/how_2107237_use-weissbluth-sleep-training-method.html

Sears – An advocate of the family bed and attachment parenting, Sears has many helpful suggestions for those not comfortable with the cry it out approach:
http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070100.asp

NIH: Here is a link to an informative sleep document:
http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih3/sleep/guide/info-sleep.htm

Sweet dreams to all tonight….