Posted on 19. April 2017 by
If only there really was a sleep fairy that could visit my daughter at night, sprinkle special fairy dust over her to keep her asleep and bring her a chocolate in the morning!
This is one of the many tactics my husband and I have tried in an attempt to get some much needed shuteye and to avoid looking like complete zombies when we get to work. To be fair, our daughter Amelie hasn’t always been a bad sleeper. From the age of three months to 18 months she slept through the night without a single peep. I think a lot of this was down to luck and being able to self-soothe by sucking her thumb. Then at 18 months teething struck and it all fell apart. And the bad sleeping seems to have continued on and off up to her current age of three and a half.
One of the issues we have faced for a while is getting her to go to sleep unaided. Amelie always wants to read a long list of books before she goes to sleep. We battle with her to turn the light off but after buying her a Teletubbies torch at Christmas that seems to have helped. So we read a couple of books using the torch in the hope the dark setting will help her drop off to sleep. The problem is we end up stuck there as she doesn’t want us to leave the room.
We had some success for a few months where we used numerous excuses to leave the room (going to get her water, changing into our PJs etc, going to the toilet) and occasionally this worked. After hiding for 10 minutes she would finally have fallen asleep.
But now she’s older she’s become wise to that one. So one of my friend’s suggested using the sleep fairy technique and a reward chart. At first Amelie was intrigued by the sleep fairy and the prospect of the sleep fairy bringing her a treat in the morning if she slept through the night. But after a while she decided she wanted to anger the sleep fairy and not do what she wanted. I thought I must have the only child who wants to rebel against the sleep fairy and her treats!
Recently we’ve reverted back to using the reward chart together with the sleep fairy technique. After promising Amelie I would take her to see Trolls at the cinema if she earned four stars, she slept through for three nights in a row. Clearly this shows how crafty she is and that she is more than capable of sleeping through!
I’ve also started burning lavender oil in her room in an attempt to keep her calm and relaxed in the run up to bedtime. It seemed to work the first night as she slept from 8pm right though to 7.10am which is a record for her. But the next night was a different story.
As I’ve found sleep patterns vary from child to child so the best advice I can give you is to be patient, be prepared to try lots of different techniques and don’t be afraid to ask your friends and health visitor for advice, as well as reading tips online.
By Melanie Dayasena-Lowe, aged 36