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My child was sleeping well and now she isn’t….

I have received many calls from worried parents and some previous clients telling me that their child was a good sleeper and now she is not.  The next question is almost always, what happened and how do we fix it?  I fully understand the concern and frustration that comes along with a change in a child’s sleep but the good news is there is usually a reason why it occurred and it usually can be fixed.

First let’s look into the “why” part of this situation.  Developmental milestones such as, sitting, standing, crawling, walking, and sometimes teething can be the cause for a change in sleeping habits.  Age can also be the culprit, as your child ages her sleep needs will change.  Is she getting close in age to needing to drop a nap or stop napping completely?  Illness and travel are also two big events that will sabotage a little one’s slumber.  Transitioning from a crib to a bed is a huge change especially if the child isn’t ready for the move.   Also it is very normal for your child especially toddler to just test the boundaries because that is what toddlers are suppose to do.  Finally life transitions, which can include a large number of things from moving into a different house or bedroom, stresses in the family, changes to the daily schedule and the list can go on.  We are all creatures of habit and with young children it is no different.  They like predictability, they actually thrive with it.  Young children and babies rely on and are most content with structure and routine.

So now that we have figured out the why, how do we fix it?  Well it depends on what is going on but the one thing that will definitely help your little one begin sleeping better is consistency from you.  Of course if your child is sick, tend to her needs, give her what she needs, see a physician if necessary, then when she is well again go back to the sleep routine that you had before.

If you went on a trip and the sleeping arrangements were different then at home, go right back to the way they were before you left on your trip.   If you child is old enough, talk to them about it while you are on your trip and tell them when you get home the sleeping situation will return to normal.

If your baby has just learned to sit, stand, crawl or walk, give her lots of practice with her new skill during the day.  She has learned something new give her ample chances to explore and master her newfound talent….during waking hours.

If your child is making the transition to a bed, make sure she is ready. I recommend waiting to make the move when your child is closer to 3 years old.  At that age they are able to understand the responsibility and safety that comes with being in a bed.

Whatever the change is, be patient and compassionate.  Try to understand what is going on from your child’s perspective and how this might be feeling for her.  If she is old enough, talk to her about it.   Then stay consistent, your response and action will be your children’s guide to how they should respond and act.

About the author

Shannon Glenn

Shannon Glenn is the owner and founder of Sleep Well Children Consulting and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Specialist. She is dedicated to helping parents assist their children and babies in developing healthy sleep habits. With a B.A. in Psychology, Shannon has worked extensively with children and their families for over 15 years in a variety of settings.  She has been offering sleep solutions for over six years.  

Why didn’t we try this sooner?! As we speak he is sound asleep in his crib – and has been since 7:15 pm.

Karianne Wanggaard

Sleep Well Sleep Specialists

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Working with Shannon, I went from 2-3 wake ups every night to 1 or 0. She aligned the plan with my preferred sleep cycle. She was always coaching, never judging. Shannon was great, I have referred MANY people to her! That's the best testament to her work that I can give.

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