Helping Your Child Sleep

Last month we asked: Have you discovered ways to make bedtime easier or to help your child sleep through the night?

Our readers offer tips for helping your child sleep.

When my daughter came home from China at the age of 11 months, she slept wonderfully in her crib. Then, two months after her homecoming, we spent a week at the shore. When we came home, everything changed. She was suddenly terrified of being left alone. I knew I’d reached a low point when, during one desperate nap time, I crawled into the crib with her so that I could ease myself away when she’d dozed off!

Finally, we removed one side of her crib and moved it into our room, against the edge of our bed. We could lie down with her at bedtime and, when she woke during the night, just reach over and pat her. We all started sleeping better.

Sarah Hopkins, Pennsylvania

Our daughter used to have nightmares, so I started a nightly ritual. The children would bring their pillows and we would go outside and “shake out the bad dreams.” With my daughter in control of chasing these bad dreams away, they eased up very quickly!

An Adoptive Families Reader, California

My girls had a lot of trouble sleeping if they took in too much new information right before going to sleep. We always sit with them for a half an hour or so before bedtime and watch one of their videos. We found that if it was a video we had seen many times, there wouldn’t be a problem. But if it was a new video, they would have sleep problems that night. I got the impression that their little minds were working overtime to process the new information.

Robin Hutson, Baltimore, Maryland

We had a terrible time transitioning our son into his “big boy” bed in his brother’s room. We’d bought a bunk bed, thinking that would be great fun. But every bedtime was a disaster. So we started thinking about it: What did he like about his crib that he didn’t like about his bed? Finally, the answer became obvious: He liked the security of being enclosed. So, we made curtains for his lower bunk. Voila! Sleep problem solved. He loves his “tent!”

Lori Jacobson, Loveland, Colorado

Routine, routine, routine! We do the same thing every night so that Jacob knows what to expect. We also have a CD playing lullaby music throughout the night to block outside noises. He also has the same blanket in there every night and at every naptime. We have several stuffed animals that are made of the same material and feel the same in case we can’t find one of them. We have also noticed that if he naps well during the day, then his nighttime routine is much smoother, and he sleeps better during the night. Even though it seems paradoxical, a sleepy child does not sleep well!

Cindy Swatek, Kansas City, Missouri

We have found one routine that works with our toddlers, and we do this every night: bottles and rocking. This was suggested to us by our attachment and bonding therapist, not only as a way to make bedtime easier, but also as a wonderful opportunity to relax and bond and love. My son turned three in January, and my daughter will turn four in March. But both children missed out on that early nurturing in the orphanage. Yes, we are regressing our children a bit, but we are reaping many rewards from it.

Susan Copeland, San Antonio, Texas


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