After you have gotten your little one sleeping well, you may still experience the occasional “test night”, and this can happen with any age group. It might manifest as suddenly protesting a bedtime or naptime when there is no explanation for the behaviour. It could also be a child that suddenly starts to wake up again in the night for no obvious reason. The most important thing is to remain CONSISTENT and stick to the usual rules. So for a night waking you would hang back and wait 10 minutes before responding in order to give them a chance to fall back to sleep. If they protest at bedtime or naptime, put them down awake like normal and then leave the room. Check on them in 10 minute intervals, but don’t give in and use an old prop like nursing or rocking to get them to sleep. That becomes a slippery slope, and the behaviour will either continue or get worse. Be firm, and do not give in, they will revert back to sleeping well once they see that the boundaries haven’t changed.
Teething is often blamed for sleep issues, but in fact, a child who has been taught self-soothing skills seldom has their sleep disrupted by teething. If we allow teething to become an excuse for poor sleep, that could go on for up to 2 years! Give them lots of cuddles and attention during the day, and when they are cutting teeth offer pain relief options before naps or at bedtime. When children are in a deep sleep, teething will not cause them to wake up.
The only exception to the sleep rules is when they are sick – if this is the case, and they cry in the night, do not wait the 10 minutes. Respond to them immediately and check their diaper, take their temperature if they feel warm, suction out their nose if needed, and give them Tylenol or medication if necessary. It’s ok to give them extra comfort and cuddles, but the key is to comfort them, not to interfere with their sleep skills. After some extra hugs and kisses, and comfort measures, put them back down awake so that they can fall back to sleep themselves. When they are sick, they need the most sleep!