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Growing Babies and Big Kid Beds

Q: My 2½-year-old just moved to a big kid bed. He was a great sleeper in the crib, but now he wakes up several times at night and wanders in his room and through the house in the middle of the night. I am worried that he is not getting enough good sleep and, more importantly, I’m worried about his safety. Help!

A : Moving into a big kid bed can come with a new set of challenges even for the soundest sleepers.

One of the best gifts we can give our children is to encourage our child to self-soothe and fall asleep on his own. By establishing a nighttime routine of bath, books, light music, and lights out, parents show that there is predictability in the evening hours, offering comfort and security to little ones. Parents should not give in to pleas of one more book or lie down with me since our little ones will look for that new routine nightly.

If the little one hops out of bed as soon as you close the door or even after you go to sleep, without emotion, hold his hand and lead him back into bed. Explain to him in short, concise terms that it is bedtime, and he must rest. It may take a few times, but don’t ever let him see you sweat! Stay calm and matter-of-fact, and that should help.

You may want to place a baby gate at his door to ensure that he will stay safe at night inside his room, as well as removing breakables from bookshelves and dressers. Also, at 2½, your little guy may need to shorten an afternoon nap to make going to bed more successful at night. But most importantly, allow your little one to feel in control of the night by selecting his books, turning on his nightlight and choosing a special stuffed animal to join him.

Q: My 7-month-old isn’t sitting up on her own, crawling, or rolling over with any regularity. Should I be worried?

A: Watching baby grow during her first year can feel a bit like a contest as parents wait to witness baby’s first smiles, first sounds, and first steps. These events should not be thought of as a race but as a first look at your little one’s individuality.

Parents need to keep in mind that sitting, crawling and rolling all require strong neck, shoulder and stomach muscles. With the Back to Sleep campaign, most babies under six months are on their backs most of the day and all of the night. Without much tummy time, little ones have not had the opportunity to strengthen these muscles. Parents need to make sure baby gets plenty of play time to practice larger muscle movements, such as reaching for toys, while remaining on her tummy. Weight distribution is another important factor in motor development. If baby is a bit chubby or top-heavy, parents should recognize that these body types need even more strength to maintain good balance. Also, baby’s temperament may play a large part when considering muscle development. If baby becomes more frustrated in compromising positions, she may be more inclined to move faster and try new things.

Baby will develop at her own rate, and parents can do their part to encourage healthy play time and sleep routines, as well as understanding baby’s temperament. If your worries still persist, never hesitate to contact your pediatrician.

Michelle Johnston has worked with parents and caregivers as a family educator with Commonwealth Parenting for eighteen years. She is the mom of four.
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