So, you’re little one goes off to stay at someone’s house for the evening, you’re full of emotions; guilt for leaving them for the night, anxious because they don’t sleep through, nervous for how they will settle in a new surrounding. You have a night out, you didn’t enjoy yourself as you would usually as your adrenaline was running high worrying only to find you rush to pick them up first thing and OMG?! They slept through the whole night? No wake up? No crying? You’re left wondering how does that happen?!
Let me tell you; your baby is so in love with you, you have grown a special bond and spent all of your time with them since they were born. They feel so reassured by you that when they know you are around they want you! This is not a bad thing; they have learnt that if you put them to bed each night when they wake they are wanting your attention and comfort. What you need to be mindful of is how you respond to those night wakings.
Be aware of how you are responding to your child in the night. When they wake how are you entering the room? Are you very engaging? Do you put a light on? Do you immediately pick them up? These things may sound very small but believe me, when a child reaches their toddling years they learn behaviours and they will continue to behave in any way if they know it gets them a result; in this case it is your attention. I am not saying do not offer your comfort in the night! Children need reassurance and it is important you attend to their needs. The way you reassure them needs to be the exact same each time. Settle them back down in their sleep space, always talk in a whisper, use minimal words so as not to create conversation, don’t use a bright light, and have a night light if it is absolutely necessary. If your child is ramped up cuddle them or pick them up but make sure you put them back in their sleep space when they have calmed. You may end up doing this 20 or even 30 times in one night BUT what you are teaching your child is that you are there, you haven’t gone but it is night time and that means sleep time. At night time you are bland and boring not giving them anything that will drive them to stay up and crave your attention.
So, if your child sleeps through when they stay out at someone else’s house don’t be too upset. It highlights their ease and comfort with you. They won’t get that same affection from anyone else, you are unique to them. Look carefully at your approach and how you handle the wake up and lastly respond consistently! Don’t give in on the 29th time of settling them back to sleep, by doing this you are teaching them that for as long as they show their behaviour you will give in eventually and this will only drive the child to dig their heals in more to hold out for what they want from you. As you continue to respond in a bland and consistent way they will eventually learn that you are there but they are getting nothing from the wake up. It will be hardest in the beginning but it will pay off.
Laura, Babbaboo Sleep.
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