Setting Good Sleeping Patterns For Newborns To School-Aged Children (Singletons & Twins)
Setting Good Sleeping Patterns For Newborns To School-Aged Children (Singletons & Twins)
My go-go-go duo is now 4 years, 7 months, 2 weeks & 1 day old.
The First Year – Night Confusion to Teething Woes
During the 1st year of a child’s life, parents kind of expect that groggy feeling of odd hours and late nights of feedings and crying spells due to simply having a newborn in the house. (Or new twins if you have been double blessed.) Then you have teething and all of that fun stuff. For some babies this happens as early as 2-3 months of age, but more typically teething starts at around 5-7 months. (7 being the average, but there are variations among singletons & twins. It can be earlier or later.)
For new parents of twins, getting multiples on a schedule totally helps, but any parents with numerous children will easily tell you that all kids are different, right from the get-go. Twins aren’t always alike either, even identical ones. Not where sleeping habits are concerned. (Make sure to do night-time feedings at the same time with multiples, regardless of if one baby appears to be fast asleep. He or she will still suck and drink. It helps with the schedule thing. Just an important note.) Some moms get lucky (I hate you 😐 ), and some have to handle the tough times longer than others. (Well passed the 1st year of life. I am cyber-raising my hand here.) It’s never a picnic, but you do get through it.
God seems to help us get by on far less sleep than our average amount during those 1st exhausting months. No matter the age, a routine is important. Helping newborns distinguish daytime from night-time, to not over-stimulating them in the evening hours before bed, to a decrease in small, frequent feedings but an increase in liquid consumption, which (when ready) means longer sleep sessions for all, except sometimes during painful teething. But like everything else, some babies handle teething pain much better than others. Some you barely know they are hurting, but most show signs of pain, which does interrupt sleep for both baby and parents.
Make sure the lights are out at night, however, during nap time make sure the room is not so dark so your baby can say, ”Ok, this is night-time, I am supposed to sleep now.” Use very low light to go and fetch your baby for breast or bottle feeding. DO NOT turn the bright lights in the room on full blast. We used a dimmer switch. It worked well. Keeping baby close to you also helps you get back to sleep easier. I highly recommend not co-sleeping, but a co-sleeper for the first few months of life.
Also, not coddling a baby too much at night is important. Running over for ever peep he or she makes is another bad move because the child will learn that ‘if I cry (even for no real reason) mom comes and saves me and we hang for 3 hours starting at midnight. Cool!’ You want them to learn how to self-soothe, or you will be coddling, cradling and singing until the child is 4 years old. I have been there, had that. This is especially hard for 1st time mothers, but trust me, it is crucial.
Make sure all of baby’s basic needs are met, and resist the urge to run over to her for every little noise that she makes. Habits DO form early, though they say babies cannot get spoiled until 6+ months, I don’t know. I think they get wise to what works for them earlier than that. But you do need to be sure newborn needs are met both day and night. Later on in infancy is when games can be played, so stick with good habits, and you’ll thank me later.
It is easier to forgo intense night-time coddling with twins because with one it is so easy to wanna coddle to death, and it is less exhausting and more possible to do so. With twins, often at night-time, you are outnumbered or just extra exhausted from the day. For both singletons and twins you’ll want to keep noise alive during those daytime naps so your new baby or twins become more ‘bomb-proof’ towards noises, in case there is a small noise at night, the baby won’t wake if you drop your toothbrush. Act too quiet during day-time naps and yes, even that can wake them. Moms with other kids, especially young ones, don’t need to run the vacuum etc. to achieve this daytime noise… it’s just always there.
It isn’t easy, but for most lucky parents after the 1st few months, and then towards the end of the 1st year after major teething has subsided, peaceful nights are much more abundant, and for some, even regular.
**RESIST THE URGE TO PUT THE BABY IN BED WITH YOU. HARD I KNOW AND IT IS EASIER TO DO THIS, BUT ALLIE STILL SLEEPS WITH MY HUBBY AT 4.5 YEARS OF AGE. I TOLD HIM HE MADE HIS OWN BED, NOW HE’S LYING IN IT. I DON’T SLEEP WITH MY OWN HUSBAND ANYMORE (I MiSS HIM), AND SHE WAKES WHEN HE LEAVES THE ROOM. BIG MISTAKE!**
(Easy habit to make, very hard habit to break!)
Ages 2-3 Years- Big Kid Beds, Potty Training & More
The second – third year of life, we just expect tots to be sleeping wonderfully, but even the lucky ones get their occasional bumps in the road. The time where potty training comes into play during the period of 2-3 years on average, kids may have accidents in bed that wake them, or may need somebody to help them go to the potty in the middle of the night. Many was a time I felt like just throwing diapers on at night until like 4 years of age, because it just seemed so much easier with the twins. One twin held their pee far better than the other, and she never had over-night problems after like 1 week of ‘holding it in’ or ‘get up to pee’ training. Again, even twins are different.
Some kids are more apt to have nightmares also. One of my twins definitely deals with this more. Every child will have them, but some tend to experience them more than others. This commonly wakes and scares a child of this age group and beyond. You want to calm them down but not over-coddle, and definitely still not over-stimulate. Lights stay low, no TV’s or other devices turned on. I found a white noise sound machine to be a huge asset to block out disturbances and make the room seem more peaceful. It’s not just for newborns. In fact my twins are 4 and 1/2 and we still use them. It helps.
This is also a tough time because tots are usually transitioned into toddler beds between 18 months and 2 to even 3 years of age. This makes it easier for them to creep out of bed and play games with you at bedtime. Send them back into bed with little to no talking, and fight hard to keep your cool, no matter how exhausted you may be. Don’t let them go near the TV or anything that may cause stimulation. Stick to your guns and both singletons and twins will go back to sleep sooner, and this behavior will end up stopping. Some twin pairs have it better in this department. If they sleep together, they can be soothing towards one another. Don’t expect it though. My twins still sleep in not only separate rooms, but on separate floors of our home 😥 .
Also, do try to keep those naps going. I napped until almost 4 years of age myself. I wish I had a nap schedule that we stuck to during ages 2+. For us it was just meltdown city come the evenings because we didn’t enforce napping enough, and we paid the price for it. Try to learn from us. Children of this age group still need more sleep than they are getting at night. Read about a good nightly routine before bedtime below.
**AGAIN, RESIST THE URGE TO PUT YOUR YOUNG TODDLER INTO BED WITH YOU, ASIDE FROM NIGHTMARE CONSOLATION, AND BACK OFF TO BED.**
Some of the next section applies to this age group as well.
Ages 4 & 5 – For Many Kids (NOT All) The Testing Continues
4+ things usually start getting pretty solid for those who have had trouble in younger years. Routines should continue and schedules followed. Say bath-time, book reading time, tuck in time, sleepy time. Shooting for the same bedtime each and every night is part of a good and healthy routine for toddlers and beyond even. It can be tough with the older kids, but fight for maintaining that schedule.
For kids who get up and wander out of rooms at this point, unless it is to take a pee or rising from a bad dream, they are usually just testing you. (Not that 2 and 3 years old don’t test you also. This can apply to them to, though these older children can voice their desires and needs better.) Make sure they don’t have a belly ache or ear ache, a full bladder or are scared, and send them straight off to bed again without getting over-animated and excited. Don’t yell (even if frustrated), don’t talk to your child as much as humanly possible after all needs are met. Turn them back to their bedrooms with little to no talk, and eventually they will figure out that coming out for no reason doesn’t lead to any midnight fun.
Naps are gone for 98% of children now, and so they really do need a good 11-13 hours of solid sleep at night at this age to function properly, and to be at their very best in school. Also, to make it through the long day without any unruly attitudes and meltdowns.
Ages 6 & Up- The Light of Hope Shines For Most All Kids, But Take Caution Still
6+ should be a very happy time for parents, though many do hit this mark a year or two sooner. (For some even more, but this was the best time for sleep in my home.) This is when most of my kids sacked out for the night for good, except for those rare occasions, but we all had those as kids ourselves. My boys were pretty good, but Mikayla took until the twins were about a year old, so maybe 5.5 or so to sleep very well, and it just has gotten better and better at night for her. Thank God, because it isn’t so good with the twins still at 4.5 now. Bad habits never die young, so heed my advice, or sacrifice your sleep.
Coddling Mikayla DID have me singing and rocking until nearly 4 years of age, just like the doctor warned me. Then putting a TV in her room for her 4th birthday was our biggest mistake. The TV totally keeps kids up later than just being in a darkened, soothing room, perfect for rest. No iPads or iPhones around. Kids even 9 & up need more sleep than they even know about. It is important to keep them going in a routine so they are properly balanced and rested. No homework before bed because they are less alert. It should be done earlier in the day. After school is when minds are most fresh for learning and doing the best on after-school work.
Do not over-do extra curricular activities because between that and the amount of homework they get nowadays, their schedules get off course and overly hectic, and bedtime gets pushed up later and later. For a school ready brain even older kids need a good night’s rest. Just think about you in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, do you function best as a parent working at home or otherwise without ample sleep? No. You aren’t as sharp as you should be, nor as patient as you need to be with children. Everybody needs good sleeping habits to ensure mom and dad are also getting some shut eye, as well as their precious children. We have made our share of mistakes. You get to learn from all of ours.
Great sleep is a dream come true for everybody!