We get to say ‘OMG parenting’ with many different inflections. I know because I am a parent. Also, I have been looking into the faces of babies, parents, and grandparents for over 20 years in my work as a clinical and public health nurse. I have felt the joys, hopes, disappointments, traumas, grief, fears, concerns, laughter and love of parents and children. I have heard their thoughts and feeling. I have seen their actions and the effects of those actions. I have interacted with the myriad of professionals who weave in and out of family life. Because of this and being a parent, I have a great appreciation for the range of experience that exists within and between each parent and child.
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Parenting Q & A
If you have any questions, email me at ns@OMGparenting.com
Why do children have such a hard time sleeping? What’s normal?
Sleep is chock full of debate. So I’m going to side-step the co-sleeping vs same room vs own room sleeping. I’m going to side-step the consistent vs not consistent sleep time, lights out debate.
Instead I’ll respond based on my personal and professional experience. I ask you, is what you are doing working? If not, play around with these variables:
- What seems to be the natural time your child would go to sleep? In fact, children have different natural melatonin reaction times (melatonin increase being what stimulates sleep).
- Then look at their daytime habits.
- Are they getting enough play?
- When and how long are naps?
- Do they get good access to natural light in the morning (or use of a light lamp)
- What activities seem to calm them (not quiet them, but calm them)?
- Are they showing signs of unprocessed, or difficult to process, feelings? Those might be withdrawal, clinginess, meltdowns (aside from normal development phase-related behaviors).
- What stimulants are they drinking or eating, when?
- Adjust those if they are having sleep resistance. For instance Increase play time, reduce the length of evening naps, increase calming activities before bedtime, make lights out time a little later, don’t do lights out but do in bed no technology time, or openly talk about the wonderful and difficult parts of being them.
Newborn – four/five year old children are often shifting sleep habits – hunger, growth, activity levels and different nap times are natural influences. For all, it is about building desire for sleep and circadian rhythms (which often enough don’t match ours). So, experiment with the above variables. You are not parenting wrongly if it’s a struggle. Keep experimenting.