No situation is too challenging. Leave your sleep problem in the comments. Let's all get a good night's sleep, finally.
I have a 17-month-old that is very inconsistent with night
sleep and naps. He goes to bed awake and wakes up at least once every night—but
usually more. I am still nursing and that is usually how he goes back to sleep.
At night, he sleeps anywhere from 9 to12 hours, and his naps are typically an
hour long. Any suggestions on how to make his sleep times more consistent...and
fewer wake ups?
The good news: You're 90 percent there! You're already
practicing the No. 1 most important sleep habit, which is putting your child into bed awake. When kids do this,
they feel confident and in charge of their own "stuff" and find their special
ways to self soothe in their cozy beds. The other pivotal habit is keeping a
regular bedtime (at this age, 7 p.m. is a good one), because the internal clock
likes regularity and the more consistent you are with bedtime, the more drowsy
your child becomes as that time approaches. Here's an example of a good
schedule for a 17-month-old:
Wake up time 6 a.m.
Naptime 11:30 a.m. (If napping twice, then 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.)
Bedtime 7 p.m. (If napping twice, 7:30 p.m.)
In terms of nursing at night, your 17-month-old doesn't
really need to eat during the night. But he may legitimately be hungry, because
his body is used to it. And while waking up to feed once per night isn't much of an
interruption in sleep for either of you, it does tend to regress to multiple
times, which breaks up your sleep and his.
That means you'd need to wean
the feeding very gradually. Go into his room when he wakes for that feeding and
feed him slightly less every night (you'll find our specific weaning guidelines
in "The Happy Sleeper," chapter 4). The
key is to put him back in his crib awake, just like you did at bedtime. And
just like at bedtime, remember he's got all his self-soothing abilities to fall
asleep—he can do it.
Once you're down to about one minute of nursing, you can
stop the feeding all together. If he has trouble going to the usual
self-soothing tricks he knows so well from your great bedtime practices, the
book also walks you through how to respond and let him know you're there, but
not take back over the role of soothing (nursing to sleep) in the night. He's
capable, and you're all ready for a full night of much-needed sleep, so you can
be available and enjoy each other to the fullest during the day.