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Jul 12 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: Getting the Twins to Sleep

By at 9:52 am

Why sleep when we can play with each other?

Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com

Dear Batya,

My husband and I have almost-10-month-old twins. They wake up repeatedly during the night. Often it’s easy to soothe them back to sleep. But sometimes one (or both) of them is just wide awake at 4am and it’s really hard to get them back to sleep. They start off the night around 8:30pm in their cribs. If someone wakes up before we are in bed, we rock him or her back to sleep and put them back in the crib. If they wake up after we are in bed, we just bring them into bed with us (we have a king size bed for this purpose). That used to solve the problem and they slept solidly the rest of the night. But more and more they are waking up even once they are in bed with us. I don’t know why and I don’t know how to get them back to sleep. We are not willing to let them cry (beyond a little kvetching), so that is off the table as a strategy.

Dear Ana,

Sounds like you have a tag team over there! It seems they are both waking so frequently at night due to the fact that they simply don’t know how to settle themselves to sleep. You can never spoil a baby, and all you can do is love them to pieces, but when push comes to shove they need to learn how to self-soothe in order for them to improve in their sleep habits.

You need to first ensure they’re not overtired by bedtime, and on a decent routine during the day that allows you to predict when their bodies are actually regulated to sleeping for the night.  Below is a sample schedule that may help you:

7:00 – Wake and Breast milk or Formula
9:00 – Breakfast
10:00 or 10:30 – Morning Nap (at least 1 hour)
11:00 – Breast milk or Formula plus snack
1:00 – Lunch
2:00 or 2:30 – Early Afternoon Nap (at least 1 hour)
3:00 – Breast milk or Formula plus snack
5:00 – Dinner
6:15 – Begin bedtime routine, including Breast milk or Formula
7:00 –Bedtime (aim to have them both asleep by this time)

After ensuring their bodies are regulated, you can then move onto actually TEACHING them how to sleep. When working with multiples, it’s best if you can separate them so they don’t wake each other up. After a few weeks of their sleep improving, you can then move them back into the same room and allow them to get used to each other again.

Place each one in their crib/room at bedtime. Sit there with them for as long as it takes for them to fall asleep. They see you, hear you, and can even touch you to know that you’re there, but give them the secure, loving, but firm message that they need to learn to sleep on their own. Some protesting will be involved, but they will never feel alone or abandoned because you are right there with them! After 3-5 days, you can slowly become less involved in helping them fall asleep until you’re able to simply kiss and cuddle them, put them in their cribs, do your routine, and leave the room to let them drift off on their own.  It’ll probably take about 2 weeks of hard work…but it’ll be worth it!

Jul 5 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: The Napless 2-Year-Old

By at 10:09 am

What, your toddler doesn't go to sleep with a smile on her face? Talk to Batya.

Sleep. It’s the problem that plagues all parents. We’re not getting enough of it because our children aren’t getting enough of it. Help is on its way! Israeli sleep coach Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com.

Dear Batya,

Our 2-year-old seems to be in the phase where she is having difficulties falling asleep at night when she naps during the day. We tried taking away her naps completely, but after four days- she was exhausted and had caught a cold. The only benefit was she went to bed at 7 and slept until the next morning. Now, she naps, goes to bed most nights at 9:30 p.m. and still wakes up at 6:30 a.m. It just doesn’t seem like  enough sleep for a little one. Or for our little one. We would appreciate an earlier bed time so that she is better rested, but she just won’t fall asleep. I’m starting to believe 2-year-olds don’t sleep. Any thoughts?

Dear Gaela,

Each child is different in her own individual way, and especially in her sleep needs.  There are children who stop taking naps as early as 2 years of age and some who still need one at 4 years old.  Statistically, however, most children stop napping in the afternoon at around 2½-3 years old. A telltale sign that a child is ready to give up naps is when she starts sleeping less at night—which is precisely what is happening with her.  Instead of eliminating her nap cold turkey, however, I would recommend readjusting her sleep cycle by simply decreasing the amount of sleep she gets during the day.  If, for example, her nap is normally 2 hours, try shortening it to 1 hour or 1.5 hours.  By doing this, the lost sleep from the day will transfer to the night, and she will begin fighting bedtime less and sleeping longer.

Additionally, early rising with toddlers is most commonly caused by over-tiredness, so you should definitely aim for an earlier bedtime. Generally, most children her age need approximately 4-5 hours between waking from the nap and bedtime itself so ensure you space it out correctly.

Stick with these two ideas for at least week and then readjust accordingly – but don’t rush her and ensure that you follow her cues…you can most definitely get her back on track!

Jun 28 2011

Batya the Sleep Coach: The Baby Who Wouldn’t Sleep

By at 9:02 am

When you've got this instead of sleep, it's time to talk to Batya.

Sleep. It’s the problem that plagues all parents. Help is on its way!  Israeli sleep coach, Batya Sherizen is taking questions from Kveller readers. Send your problems to info@kveller.com.

Dear Batya,

My 7 month old has been sleeping through the night (seriously, 10-12 hours!) for 5 months (I know, hooray…how can I possibly have a sleep question?). For the last week, she gets very sleepy while I am nursing her between 8:45 PM and 9:30 PM but when I go put her in the crib, she bolts up, wide awake. She’s been going down more like 11:00 PM. I don’t mind the later bedtime, the problem is that she then wakes at about the same time (8:30 AM) and is cranky in the morning. She will nap, sometimes too well. I wake her up so that she doesn’t go too far in naps and completely destroys bedtime.

She did get her first tooth this week but nothing else has really changed. How can I get my easy to bed baby back?

Dear Lori Beth,

Regressions like this can be typical sometimes, but you want to ensure that the problem doesn’t escalate further. If she isn’t falling asleep until 11 pm, and still waking early at 8:30, this is due to the fact that she is overtired. The first step to solving this problem is to introduce an earlier bedtime. She is probably fighting bedtime so much simply because she is overtired, so I would recommend the goal of her sleeping no later than 8 pm.

If she needs an extended routine or wind-down process to help her relax, that’s fine.  That means starting the nursing before bed no later than 7:30ish to ensure she is asleep by 8.  Also, as you’ve realized, you don’t want her naps too close to bedtime which could interfere with her ability to wind-down at that time. If you want her sleeping by 8 pm, ensure that her last nap doesn’t extend past 4-4:30, latest. This will also help her settle to sleep in a way that allows her body to naturally acclimate.

Good luck!

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