QUESTION:

I have more and more parents say that their children from baby on up are not sleeping at night. Do you have any webinars that may be coming up or other information? I would be willing to buy books or whatever, but I’m checking with you first!

GWEN’S ANSWER:

I see the no-sleeping trend as well! We have a webinar titled Sleep and the Developing Brain by Lori Benson Adams if you’re interested. In addition, here is what I have to offer:

  • I am a firm believer in teaching babies to put themselves to sleep from day one. I know this is somewhat controversial, but I have three well-adjusted teenagers who were allowed to “cry it out” for reasonable amounts of time. I’ve also seen many other kids raised this way who are all good sleepers (and still well-bonded with their parents!) for life.
  • If parents miss the early window (before 3 months of age) of teaching babies to put themselves to sleep, it can be very challenging to teach that skill later. I am a fan of the “Supernanny” and do believe her approach works in most cases: basically remaining firm and emotion-free while taking them back to their beds each time they get up and so on. You can still find her show online and recommend it to parents!
  • We know a certain amount of dopamine (neurochemical) is needed to fall asleep at night, but it’s easily depleted by stress and anxiety. Therefore, implementation of a sensory program to keep the child modulated throughout the entire day (not just right before bedtime) often helps.
  • Recommend that the child only goes into his bedroom for sleep. A lot of kids are spending a lot of time on their personal devices (iPads, etc.) in their rooms. The brain needs to know the bed is for sleeping only.
  • Keep kids away from devices and television for at least an hour prior to bedtime.
  • Iron deficiency can cause sleep issues in children. Recommend an iron level test. Alternatively, Flintstones daily vitamins have iron in them and can seldom hurt anyone!
  • For kids who actively seek proprioceptive input during the day, weighted blankets or compression sheets are often helpful.
  • Integrate calming sensory activities into the getting-ready-for-bed routine. These are helpful for everyone, even kids who don’t have a true sensory processing disorder. If you are using BrainWorks, these are the red and yellow arrow activities.

I hope that helps! Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Best Wishes,
Gwen