One of the biggest worries for parents that favour gentle and attentive parenting is the transition of their toddler from their shared bed to sleep independence.
If you are a parent that is content to allow the transition to occur purely as an ‘organic’ process, that is, when your child is developmentally ready, it can be a wonderful experience as you watch their emerging confidence and independence flourish.
But sometimes all good things must come to an end, sooner rather than later – toddlers are ‘messy’ sleepers!
So, if you have reached your sleep deprivation pain point and can no longer tolerate disturbed sleep, don’t feel guilty about making the decision to reclaim your own restful sleep space. After all, sleep is also essential for YOU.
Chronic sleep deprivation from disturbed sleep will impact on you physically, emotionally, and mentally and if you are not getting good restful sleep, you are compromising your own health. This can compromise your ability to parent well, which ultimately affects the well being of your children.
Transitioning can be done in a beautiful gentle and loving manner and totally in line with your gentle parenting ideology.
Take a moment to think about the support they had when they were sleeping by your side. You can bet they settled and slept well because they felt safe, loved and nurtured.
The key to helping your child transition to independent sleep is to create the same conditions…because you know they work!
Relaxation is the key but HOW do you get them to relax in the first place?
Your toddlers emerging independence, defiance, language development and mobility is not only wonderful, but also challenging and quite likely to erupt all at once, when the ‘comfy’ sleep arrangement changes are ‘not’ to their liking.
BUT did you ever consider music as a form of relaxation? Traditionally, lullabies were used to get little babies to sleep; they formed part of the routine. You held your baby close and rocked or sang, and baby fell asleep…or not, when placed in their crib. No matter… Baby could gently ‘cry’ itself to sleep.
But today we have different expectations and lullaby sleep music should reflect a more gentle ideology.
It should have lyrics that are positive and promote re-connection and have the ability to actually help children relax into deep sleep. Good sleep habits can then form very quickly when sleep becomes associated with the same sleep music as the cue to relax.
Here are some things to keep in mind to make the transition easier:
- Your toddlers’ emotional cup needs to be filled. Sometimes bedtime is the only chance they get to make it known. Re-connection and relaxation are what you both strive for. When they feel re-connected to you, they can relax. When they relax they can fall asleep. When they are asleep, you can reclaim your evening.
- An extra feed or bedtime snack high in protein will stop hunger waking them during the night. After all busy little people burn lots of calories!
- Development of fears and imagination can be very frightening, especially at night. A night-light, keeping the door open and reassurance are all helpful. If they have a ‘monster’ under the bed, a good tactic is to ask the monster to take your hand and ‘show him to the door’ with a firm goodbye and don’t come back! ‘Monsters’ are very real in their minds and toddlers don’t ‘get’ “monsters are not real”.
- Lullaby sleep music is not just for babies! What you did with your baby…singing, patting, rocking and humming also works extremely well for the toddler age. In fact your toddler will love the attention, feel safe and be able to relax. Sleep associated lullaby music specifically for sleep settling, is proven to promote deep sleep. A soft toy or special blanket can also be a comforting aid.
- Again ROUTINE cannot be over-emphasized. Regular bedtime and 12-14 hours sleep will make all the difference to getting good sleep for optimal development, improved behavior and a toddler you will enjoy.
Regardless of your child’s age, it all comes down to this – if your child is not relaxed, they will not be able to fall asleep. Provided they are in good health and their physical needs met, remember, all ages need love and connection…really a recipe for life!
ROUTINE, RE-CONNECTION and RELAXATION promotes gentle sleep solutions. Try it with lullaby sleep music… it just could be the missing link to your child sleeping well.