Here's today's question from newsanchormom.com reader Julie:
"Our three year old drags out the bedtime routine, always asking for one more drink, to use the potty one more time, etc. She will cry when we leave the room, saying she "has problems falling asleep by herself" and comes up with more excuses, periodically calling for us. Throughout the night, she wakes up 1-2 times and needs help getting back to sleep.
Any advice on keeping the bedtime routine moving and convincing her that she can fall asleep on her own, both at bedtime and during the night? She falls asleep for naps with no problems, usually within a couple of minutes. We have tried moving her bedtime both earlier and later, with no success. I'm really concerned that she is not getting enough sleep at night and that she is establishing poor sleep habits, not to mention that we are tired :("
Pediatric sleep specialist Dr. Sarah Zallek says Julie's problem is very common. She recommends getting the book, "The Sleep Fairy" by Janie Peterson. It's a story that mimics the idea of the tooth fairy. It helps you set limits for your child and puts the burden on the fairy instead of the parent. It also encourages positive re-enforcement for good behavior instead of punishment for bad behavior.
Dr. Zallek said, "Each night you read the story "The Sleep Fairy." And if the child stays in bed, sleeps all night and gets up in the morning, without calling out for drinks or books, if they do that, the sleep fairy leaves a tiny little something under their pillow as a reward."
We are trying this at my house. We haven't bought the book because it is sold out everywhere, but we are going to order it on-line. We told my four-year-old the basic story concept and he did sleep one night. He got a plastic fishing pole with little plastic fish to catch. It cost a dollar. He has been showing it to his friends all week and telling them the sleep fairy left it for him. Too cute! Lets hope it continues to work!