Co-sleeping for confident sleepers: Kees (5y), Rik (4y), Isa (2y)
Playing can be exhausting!
My name is Riekie and my kids are Kees (5,5 y), Rik (nearly 4 y) and Isa (nearly 2). They have become confident sleepers through co-sleeping and our accepting that we cannot control their sleep.
About my children: Kees is usually rather quiet but he has his very active moments. He is a very smart kid, who wants and can do a lot (we are talking to the school about possibly skipping a year).
Rik is a busy little 'clown'. He’s always being silly and can show a real temper. He has some medical issues for which we are arranging and obtaining medical help. Rik is a very social child.
Isa, our youngest, seems to be a combination of her two brothers. She is just as smart and quick as her oldest brother Kees. She is very social as well and also has a real temper. In general she’s a rather calm and relaxed child.
About crying at bedtime: I am absolutely against that.
My personal top tip: accept that your children do not necessarily sleep like you want them to. Never mind the clock, and at any time soothe them when they cry and listen to them when they wake up. Kids do not understand why they must be sleeping all alone in this scary dark room while he’s parents are sleeping safely together.
Also, they do not understand why you do not want to be there for them at night. If you listen to them at night, comfort and understand them (we take the kids to our bed when they wake up) then they will grow up knowing that you will always be there for them. That gives them a strong feeling of being safe and that is what young children need.
In my experience, each child will start sleeping through the night all by itself at a certain point. Mine are a bit late with that (around the age of four).
Our full sleep stories: I am talking about my kids when aged between 0 and 4 years old.
Kees has always really needed us to be there when going to sleep. He wanted us to stay with him and hold his hand. Then he dozed off quietly.
He used to wake up regularly at night and then we either joined him in his bed (if our bed was already crowded with the younger ones) or took him to our bed.
Shortly before he turned 4, he started to sleep through the night all by himself. Going to sleep alone was about half a year later. Now he is a very regular sleeper: goes to bed at half past seven and wakes up at seven in the morning.
Rik, nearly 4 years old, does not sleep through the night yet. He does not go to sleep by himself but falls asleep on the sofa downstairs.
This has become a habit due to his medical problems. On most nights, he wakes up at least once. He then continues the night in our bed. Sometimes he wakes up once more after that and needs us for a few moments.
Isa, nearly 2 years old now, does not sleep through the night either (of course). She wakes up regularly, about 4 or 5 times a night.
She starts in her own bed and then continues in our bed. Isa feeds with me and then quickly sleeps again. She doesn’t fall asleep by herself but always while feeding. This works the same at naptime.
Both Kees and Isa do not need a lot of sleep and stopped napping quite young. Isa does a nap from time to time but never longer than half an hour.
Regarding how we 'tackle' sleep: I have tried everything with Kees, from letting him cry it out to the ‘five minutes method’ to I don’t know what. Each method worked for a little while to then stop after two weeks or a month.
In the end, we simply accepted that he sleeps as he does/. That he needs us and that we are also mother and father during the night. He has no ON/OFF button. We also stick to this now with the youngest two.
Update January 2009: our kids are now a few years older - Isa is six now - and they have all become good, confident sleepers. Isa is our greatest sleepyhead. She also has a great gift to sleep anywhere, in any position ...