My New Year’s resolution is to get a full night of sleep. With three children, that may seem like an impossible dream.
Of all the things I know about getting a child to sleep, consistency is number one. Because the beginning of the year is the best time to refocus on priorities – like sleep – let’s dispel some myths going into 2017.
MYTH #1: It’s too late to start a sleep routine.
It’s never too late to start anything! Children, even busy third-graders like my oldest, thrive on routine. They like predictability and knowing what comes next. Even though creating a consistent routine where there hasn’t been one can be tough, it’s so much better in the long run.
MYTH #2: My older child slept great, so my new baby will too.
Don’t you wish being a good sleeper was hereditary? Every child is different. I’ve been given three completely different children. Abby goes to sleep at the same time every night and calls for me from her bed each morning once she’s awake. Jackson gets up about three times every night trying to push bedtime later and later. Henry goes to sleep when he’s good and ready, and not a moment sooner. Just because your child doesn’t sleep through the night or nap well doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong! It just means you haven’t found what works yet.
MYTH #3: A bedtime routine isn’t necessary.
My children may all be different sleepers, but each of them is comforted by their unique bedtime routine. After dinner, Jackson, Abby and Henry get cleaned up and put their pajamas on. (I have to give them a bath; always have since they were babies.) Abby goes first with brushing her teeth and prayers and bed. Henry goes next with a warm bottle, two books and bed. Jackson brushes his teeth and then has 30 minutes to play a game or read a book before turning out the lights.
MYTH #4: My neighbor/coworker/friend/favorite blogger said <insert sleep method> works for everyone.
Let me tell you a story. When Jackson was about three, he went through a terrible sleep regression where bedtime took over two hours. He’d cry and get up no matter what I did. The show Supernanny was really popular at the time, and she recommended this no-fail method of putting your child back in bed each time, without saying anything. I watched the whole episode to make sure I was doing it right. Well, after dozens of times putting Jackson back in bed, I gave up. Didn’t work for us. I soon found if he skipped taking his afternoon nap, he’d fall asleep just fine each night. Jackson wasn’t misbehaving, he just wasn’t tired yet!
MYTH #5: Now that my child is sleeping through the night, he/she will always sleep through the night
This made me laugh as I typed the words. Man, I wish it were true. Teething, sickness, separation anxiety, daylight saving time, growth spurts, fears, life changes … all of these things will interrupt normal sleep patterns. You just have to work through them and your child will get back to their sleep routine.
Good night everyone!
About Jessica Bensten
Jessica Bensten is a native of Hampton Roads and lives in Hampton with her three “miracles” Jackson (8), Abby (4) and Henry (5 months). As a mother to a childhood cancer survivor and a micro-preemie, she began the blog Mothering Miracles
in 2014 to support other families dealing with health issues. Jessica also works as Creative Director for Rubin Communications Group
and enjoys mixing her talents for graphic design and creative writing with community relations. She is a past member of both the CHKD Family Advisory Council
and the CHKD NICU Family Advisory Council.