Toddler Sleep Issues: Getting Him to Sleep in the Summertime

K. Emily Bond
Toddlers & Preschoolers

sleeping toddler
Flickr photo by therapycatguardian
Just call me Sleepless in Seville. When we lived in the United States, I was able to get my son to sleep by 8 p.m. on the dot -- every single night. Without fail! Having read The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley, I set about creating a nighttime sleep routine that was enjoyable for the both of us. We’d pop in some Renee & Jeremy and by track 3 or 4, he would be fast asleep.

Not so in Southern Spain where the sun doesn’t set until after 10 p.m. at the height of summer. Here, culture dictates that keeping your toddler out in the calles until then is the norm.

But this is the the thing: I really liked it when he went to sleep earlier as it enabled me to have a life. I could do things, like have sex.

Given that I’m on the verge of a major sleep (and marital) crisis, I reached out to Pantley personally to clarify a few things about summertime sleep routines. Here’s what she had to say.

How does one create and stick to a nighttime routine in locales with extremely late sunsets?
First, even if the rest of the house is bright, try to keep the bedroom darker with the use of shades or even cardboard covering the windows during the pre-bedtime routine.

Avoid letting your child take excessively long naps at the wrong times.

The noises of the house can prevent a child from sleeping … use a radio set to a classical music or talk show station, or a white-noise machine to mask outside noises.
Schedule playtime in the afternoon or early evening outside when you can. When you can’t get outside keep the play area brightly lit. You may even want to invest in a natural sunlight lamp which emits a yellow sun-like glow. Then lower the lights in the house the hour before bedtime to help cue your child’s system that sleep time is coming.
How does one maintain sleep routines during the summer?
The key is to select and maintain a consistent bedtime and awaking time seven days a week. Changing the schedule each day will likely prevent you from finding success at getting a reasonable bedtime working for you. Even if your summer bedtime is different that your winter bedtime the consistency will help keep things working well.
Is it ever okay to just let him cry it out?
It’s a disturbing myth that you only have two choices when it comes to sleep problems -- be a sleep-deprived martyr or use the quick fix of letting your child cry it out.

The truth is that letting a child cry it out is neither easy nor quick. And, even more important, there are a wide variety of effective gentle approaches to helping a child sleep better that don’t include crying. So if you can avoid making your child cry to achieve better sleep, than why wouldn’t you?
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to invest some serious time into following Elizabeth’s advice. In the meantime, I’m always eager to hear what other moms have to say about managing their own children’s sleep issues. So, moms … let’s hear it.

Yours truly,

Sleepless …


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