I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

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Entries in cosleeping (2)

Monday
Jun112012

Children's Books That Help Kids Sleep

From the first day at a new daycare to the first night in a new bedroom, early childhood is full of new (read: scary) experiences. Local bookstores and libraries have come to my family’s rescue on many such occasions. We’ve used books to prep our kids for nearly every big event: first airplane ride, first visit to the dentist, first day of school. For some reason, learning about a new experience in the context of something familiar and comforting—being read to by a parent—calms kids down and makes “firsts” less frightening.

The same principle applies to sleep. Sharing stories about common sleep challenges helps kids feel less alone, transforming prickly problems into fun experiences in family problem-solving. As an added bonus, many children’s books offer creative solutions for common sleep challenges, from helping kids stay in bed all night long to conquering nighttime fears.

So if your kiddos have sleep woes, why not take a literary approach? Here are five books that can help you tackle tough sleep challenges while sneaking in a little extra reading time with kids—a double-win for the whole family.

For bad bedtimes, try:

The Sleep Fairy by Janie Peterson

The Tooth Fairy may be magical, but she can’t help kids stay in bed at night. Enter The Sleep Fairy, a book by child development specialist Janie Peterson. In this award-winning book, the whimsical storyline taps into kids’ magical inner world with a charming story of a Sleep Fairy who visits and bestows treats on sleeping children.

 

 

To help kids sleep in their own bed, try:

Mommy, I Want to Sleep In Your Bed! By Harriet Ziefert

Many young kids will relate to the title of this book. The story of a puppy family coaxing a young son to stay in his own bed all night is illustrated with bright mixed-media images depicting the setting sun and snoozing animals. It’s no longer in print, but you can find it at libraries or buy an affordable used copy.

 

 

 

For nighttime fears, try:

I Sleep In My Own Bed by Glenn Wright

Sometimes kids resist sleeping in their bedrooms because of nighttime fears—monsters, spiders, or the ubiquitous boogeyman. This book takes kids on a journey of all the places they wouldn’t sleep, and wraps up by showing them that their own bed is indeed the perfect place to curl up and drift off.

 

 

 

When moving to a toddler bed, try:

Big Enough for a Bed by Apple Jordan

Even the youngest of toddlers recognizes Elmo—mine did, long before they saw him on TV. It must be in kids’ DNA. This cute book helps kids with the transition from a crib to a big-kid-bed with familiar characters, colorful pictures, and a sweetly simple storyline.

 

 

 

For bedwetting, try:

Sammy the Elephant & Mr. Camel: A Story to Help Children Overcome Bedwetting by Joyce C. Mills and Richard J. Crowley

In this inspiring story, Sammy the Elephant struggles to carry buckets of water. His friend Mr. Camel offers him sage encouragement and advice, and Sammy learns to trust in himself and his ability. He’s put to the test when his town catches fire, and he learns that he has the skills he needs.  Along with an appealing story and illustrations, this expertly-written book also includes practical advice for parents.

 

There are plenty of other great sleeptime-books out there. What are some of your family’s favorites?

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Tuesday
Sep202011

Ask Malia: Stop the Bed Hop

I plan to use my new blog to answer some of the sleep questions I receive from parents. Here's one question that comes up often (and I have a four-year-old of my own, so I can relate).

Surprise! Me again!

Malia, My four-year-old son keeps waking up scared at night, and wants to stay in my bed. He sometimes just climbs right in. If I keep taking him back to his own bed, he continues to wake up throughout the night. Any suggestions on how to handle this? Thank you!

Becky

Becky, this is a situation that many—if not most—parents find themselves in at some point. Rest assured, it’s fixable! But before you work on the actual behavior, ensure that overtiredness or environmental issues aren’t contributing to his waking. Is his bedtime age-appropriate, his routine consistent and soothing, and his room dark, quiet, and cool? If so, move on to correcting the behavior.

He is persisting in this behavior because his actions are being rewarded. In this case, I don’t think that sleeping in your bed is the reward; he really just wants to get out of his room and interact with you. So to nip this habit in the bud, you need to minimize the rewards he receives when he leaves his room at night.

To do this, take him back to his room swiftly when he wakes. Avoid engaging him in conversation. In fact, try to avoid having him leave his room at all. You can place a bell on his door—or even loop a bell collar made for cats around his doorknob—to alert you when he leaves his room. There are special door alarms made for this purpose as well. (I’m not paid to endorse them, by the way. But for some kids, traipsing through the house at night is a significant safety issue, so these alarms can come in very handy for parents.)

He may protest going back to his room and try to leave again. (P.S. This is where many parents give up and give in.) In this case, I recommend that a parent remain with him in his room until he is sleeping. You might balk at this part, I know. But it is easier to "wean" a child off having you in his room, than it is to get him out of your room if he takes to sleeping in your bed.

Once he is consistently remaining in his room after you take him back there at night, gradually shave minutes off the time you are spending in his room. Soon, you will be able to just take him back into his room and leave. Soon thereafter, he will accept that he will not get the "reward" of getting out of his room and stop trying to leave. If you are very consistent, I would expect good results within a week.

When things get back on track, don't slip back into old habits. Make a general household rule that any nighttime parenting or nighttime reassurance that needs to occur will happen in the child’s bedroom, not yours.

Thanks for the question!