Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sleep Questions Answered

Hello Parents! I talked to Dr. Sarah Zallek and got the rest of your questions on sleep issues with kids answered. I learned a lot in the process!

1. My question for this story is what happens when kids start giving up their nap? This definitely changes sleep patterns etc. My awesome sleepers now challenge me regularly! Kari Kelly

Dr. Zallek:"It depends on how old the child is, but naps in a child of 5 or under are appropriate in some children. A child who needs a nap and doesn't get one may be irritable and restless in the evening. You have to look at why they are giving up naps. Are they giving up naps because they are truly alert during the day and don't need a nap?"

"If it is time for the child to give up naps, the parent might need to change the time the kids go to sleep or get up. It is really different with each family. If the child is restless, they may still need a nap or need to change the bedtime routine. You need to put the child to sleep when the child starts rubbing his eyes and getting cranky. Don't put them to sleep when they are still wide awake."

2. Hi Jen! We are into our 3rd week of having sleep trouble with our 16month old dtr. She was a wonderful sleeper 3 wks ago. For bed we would have a bath, read 2 books, sing a song, and put her into her crib sleepy. She would cry 30 secs and then be asleep often until 7AM the next day. Now she will do her bedtime routine willingly but when put into her crib she cries. She has a pacifier at bedtime and blanket which she throws both out of the crib knowing we will come in to give these back to her.

We have tried the going back into the room every 5 min, letting her cry (for an entire hour at times of course after checking on her, not picking her up and telling her night night), and now are staying in her room until she falls asleep. She then will wake at all different hours of the night and we go through all of this again. So we all are suffering of being very tired during the day. Thankfully her mood during the day is very happy like before but at night it is a different story. Any tips or references??? Thanks a lot, Jen!Jill

Dr. Sarah Zallek: "What's happening is there's something that triggered her to know parents or mom will go back into the room. It is almost certainly a behavioral problem. They need to figure out how to reward what they want. Right now the child is getting rewarded for bad behavior. Instead, give the child lots of praise, lots of love for staying in the crib. Don't keep rewarding for bad behavior. Give not a lot of love and holding when she goes to bed or when she wakes up. Do a withdrawal of the emotional part.

Jen: Should this parent take away the binky? "It depends on the relationship with the binky. This is a common problem. It is behavioral on the child's part? It will go on a long time if parent's don't do something differently. At 16 months she might understand well enough, I will only give these back to you once. She can't go in and shower reward on this child. Having a husband go in instead consistently may do the trick. Just have them do it in a matter of fact way, neutral not emotional, not angry, not loving. When she's quiet, reward by saying good girl, good baby when she doesn't cry out."

3. Can you ask Dr Zalleck the best way to get a nine month old child to sleep in their own bed and to sleep through the night? Do you let them cry it out? Will the answers and your interview with the Dr be on the website to all to read?We have tried the sound machine, music and everything. We are open to any suggestions-thanks a lot!Thanks,lindsay

Dr. Zallek: The rules of the road are to put her to bed in the crib when she is awake and sleepy. Do the same routine each night. If the baby fusses, calm her down with as little as necessary, maybe just a voice or a pat, pat. If they have to pick her up, okay, but reward her that she is being good when she calms down. The trick is to calm their (the baby) nerves to let them know their parent is there when they need it, but not give them too much love. The comfort will develop. It's a fine line between letting them know you're there and rewarding them for bad behavior.

Also, don't let the child fall asleep on your bed or on the couch. Be consistent. Get out of the room as soon as she calms down. Just one time of letting the baby sleep somewhere other than the crib will break the cycle and you will have to start over. Just one "yes" will make the baby know they can get rewarded for bad behavior.

With an older child, punishment doesn't work. Negative is not as effective as positive reinforcement. Most of the time, parents are not all that consistent. Eventually the bad behavior will extinquish, don't give up. It might take awhile. Reward good behavior.

4. Hi 2 year old grandchild is still sleeping with her can they get her to sleep in her own bed? I'm sure others have this same problem and thought you could ask Dr. Zalleck this question for us... thanks...Grandma Wilson

Dr. Zallek:"If the parents are happy co-sleeping with the baby, that's up to them. If the parents are invested in making a change, consistent rewards is what they need. (that's what we mentioned above.) If there are any sleep issues, get the kid out of the bed."

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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Maria said...

Not give too much love? Come on. Perhaps the child is acting out because she is not getting the attention she wants while she is awake during the day and withdrawing affection will only increase the negative behavior. I realize the Doc is trying to give advice with very limited information, but encouraging a family to withdraw emotionally and not give too much love is a little extreme.

SallyN said...

Amen Maria. It actually took me a few attempts to get all the way through this post w/o cringing. Actually, I still cringed, but managed to make it all the way through.

Nighttime parenting challenges and sleep resistance are very close to my heart (though I wish they weren't! lol) so I recognize that I'm reading this with bias.

It's just so easy for information to be misinterpreted or misunderstood when conducted online, especially without a 'give-and-take' component.

For any parent having challenges at night, I highly recommend anything by Dr. William Sears (and family) as well as Elizabeth Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution".

Maria said...

I am also a big fan of Pentley's No Cry Sleep Solution Books. There is one for younger children and one for older (toddler aged). said...

The sleep fairy book has worked for our older child. He slept two weeks straight and then we stopped doing the sleep fairy thing and he started waking up again. I hope we will eventually be able to stop buying him toys to get him to sleep, but if that's what it takes, so be it!

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