How Development Affects Sleep

By Jodi Breitkreuz

February 26, 2019

We’ve all been there. Parenting; just when we think we’ve got them figured out they change things on us. A few weeks ago, my boys (identical twins who were two in November) went on nap strike. No change to the routine, no illness, nothing obviously wrong. So, what the heck?! I would put them down to nap every day after lunch and they would fart around for 2 hours, or one would sleep and the other one would fart around. My girlfriends would say “maybe they’re dropping their nap”. NOOOOOO! I would sit and watch the monitor thinking, “I’m a sleep coach, what is going on?” So, I took a breath and reminded myself what I tell my clients.

One, even if they don’t sleep, they’re resting. Two, never jump to making changes without giving it some time. Three, what stage are they in, what are they learning? I stayed consistent and sure enough, one morning they got up and all of a sudden, they were stringing together full sentences! Of course! They were in a very serious verbal phase. Within a few days they were back to napping for 2-3 hours.

As a Mom and a sleep coach I try to focus on nighttime sleep. Naps are important but they tend to eb and flow more than nighttime sleep. If bedtime is consistent and you’re getting your little one up around the same time every morning naps should come. When your little one is still having 2-3 naps a day watch for their sleep cues; rubbing their eyes, yawning, etc. Follow their lead. Once they’re down to one nap a day you’ll have it built into their daily routine.

When your little one is coming up on achieving a milestone (rolling, crawling, walking, talking) their sleep may become disturbed. You may not even realize that that’s the problem because it usually occurs prior to them accomplishing the milestone. A few days later when your little one has achieved their goal, you may put two and two together. We call this disturbance a sleep regression. They usually last about a week but can sometimes last 3 weeks. Which is why I suggest giving sleep disturbances some time. Stay consistent and see where you are in a week or two. I also suggest helping them practice their skills during play time. That way by the time they are settled to bed they’re so pooped that they use that time to sleep, not practice.

So, the next time your little one has some noticeable sleep disturbances, don’t panic. Give them some time to work through what they’re learning. Sit back and analyze what they’ve been working so hard on during the day. Help them practice during play time. Stay consistent. You got this mama!

If you ever need help with sleep, we’re here to help!

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