How do you help parents that are desperate for sleep?
By the time they speak to you, they may have exhausted every avenue and frankly, you don’t have any thing else to offer. You feeling at a loss to help them end sleep debt because sleep is so important to overall health.
As a registered nurse juggling nightshift in a neonatal special care unit and my toddler refusing to settle, the lack of sleep was impacting not only my health but also on my quality of time spent with my son.
There had to be a better way that wasn’t stressful for us!
Fortunately, there was! And he still sleeps a regular 11 to 12 hours every night!
When I developed Nigh’ Nigh’ Sleepy Head® I thought I had
just written a nice lullaby but it turned out to be so much more, that it prompted a change in career.
Developing a music therapy approach to improve infant/child sleep patterns gives parents the opportunity to engage with their child and offer best mental health support to impact positive behavioral change, enhance self-regulation and lead to independent sleep without stress.
3 R’s to Sleep Success
Bedtime is the same time EVERY night.
Bath time and Pyjama’s: Getting kids into Pj’s can be a challenge. We developed Sleepy Head TED to make the bedtime routine fun and positive for kids and easier for parents. Children love helping TED get into his PJs and especially love that he ‘gives’ cuddles too! Attend to teeth, toilet, feed/milk drink, and a short bedtime story. Imagination is beginning to develop so not too animated, stimulating or scary…remember you’re helping kids to wind down.
Be guided by moods! Especially overtired, overwhelmed, crying, unhappy or unwell kids need a shorter routine. Getting them settled quickly is key to preventing an even longer settling phase.
This is a vital part of the three-step process where babies and toddlers are nurtured, filling their ‘emotional’ cup to help them feel safe and know they are loved. Get ready to re-connect.
Your toddler and Sleepy Head Ted, pacifier (dummy) or ‘blankie’ are tucked up in bed – if this is when you used to kiss them goodnight and leave the room, now is the time their anxiety can start. Spend a few moments to focus on allaying their stress and reconditioning them to feel safe and secure. Have a cuddle, rock or pat them, lay beside them and be present …
Start the Nigh ’Nigh’ Sleepy Head® Lullaby Sleep Music
Re-connection begins …
Softly sing along with the lyrics, gently patting or stroking in time with the music. Some parents nurse their child or lay beside them. It’s a personal choice but keep in mind their needs can change…Patting might be ok tonight, but next time they prefer a cuddle. Eye contact is also ok, but avoid conversation and just focus on the task of re-connecting with the music as your support aide.
We strongly encourage parents to sing the lyrics as research shows brainwave synchronicity and the experience is creating a neural roadmap of pleasant experiences that make for great mental health outcomes now and later!
Parents are often at a loss to explain why their baby or toddler won’tsleep when they follow a great routine, spend hours re-connecting, and often unwillingly co-sleep sacrificing their relationship and their own sleep.
The Nigh’ Nigh’ music therapy approach to sleep is a game changer for kids that just can’t relax.
Watch for the cues.
Muscle relaxation, yawning, closing eyes are signs that a transitional process can begin, soon. But, If they are not lying down at this point, ease them into a sleeping position, keeping up the patting, singing or humming. They need to know you are still there; they are not yet in a deep enough state for you to stop.
Let the Lullaby guide you.
As the vocals begin to transition into the instrumental part, you transition too. Soften your singing, start a soft hum. As the music becomes slower and softer, pat softer, and slower to the rhythm. The trick is to gradually stop what you are doing. If the child re-awakens, return to singing, patting, rocking. The rhythmic melody remains, to guide you and this phase gets shorter as they become accustomed to achieving a state of relaxation.
Get ready to leave the room.
When you are no longer patting, stroking or singing and your toddler is settled, breathing deeply, quietly leave the room. We recommend NOT closing their door, as this is isolating and fearful to many children.
The Lullaby will gently fade out to the end with no sudden stop to make them stir. Some children carry a lot of stressful sleep ‘baggage’ so a repeat play may be needed in the initial process of behavioral changes. It will get quicker and easier!
Many children require sleep support so making it part of a gentle nurturing process that avoids stress means the goal of improving sleep debt can be achieved quickly. This neurological sleep roadmap is a lifetime asset for better health.
The majority of parents can use the Nigh’ Nigh’ Sleepy Head® music therapy approach to settling without support, but sometimes some expert guidance is needed.
Deb is a registered nurse and Safe Sleep Space infant/child music therapy sleep consultant.
Sleep Well, Live Life!