Getting a toddler or young child to sleep can be a challenge for any parent, so it’s no surprise that nine out of ten newly adoptive parents claim their biggest issue the first year after adoption is getting their child to sleep. Your child may be struggling with feelings of abandonment or loss, which can be more pronounced at bed time.
Children tend to feel the most vulnerable and alone at night, and it can take time for your child to adjust to sleeping in their new home. If sleeping issues become prolonged, you may need to seek professional help to understand how the events of your child’s life prior to their placement with you is affecting their ability to sleep at night. Some children suffer from sensory integration dysfunction, where they are sensitive to movement, temperature, noise, light, or even texture. This means the slightest movement or sound could push your child over the edge and upset them, preventing them from falling asleep. Children who have trouble transitioning from one activity to the next may also struggle with sleep at night.
Here are some tips to help your child sleep.
Parenting Tips to Help Your Child Sleep at Night
Create a bedtime routine that is consistent and relaxing for your child. A warm bath, dressing in cozy pajamas, story time, and calming music are all great activities to get in the habit of doing with your child in the evening. Help your child come to understand that bedtime is a fun and relaxing time at the end of a long day
Children — particularly adoptive children — need your reassurance of love and to know you’re just across the hall should they need you. A night light can help give your child security, especially if they’re afraid of the dark. Leaving the door open just enough to let a sliver of light pass through or soft music playing can also help your child feel secure and less lonely. It will take time for your child to feel comfortable enough to sleep alone, but if you practice the same routine at bedtime, they should be able to adjust in time
A blanket or favorite stuffed animal can go a long way with helping your child feel secure and get to sleep. A familiar object loved by your child will help them feel comfortable in their bed.
Always comfort your child should they wake in the middle of the night, but also help them get resettled and back to sleep. They need to understand nighttime isn’t playtime. This can throw off the bedtime routine you’ve created for them.
If there are deep-rooted issues of separation and loss your child is struggling with, get professional help. There is only so much a bedtime routine can do for a hurting child. The sooner you can help your child work through their issues, the sooner they’ll adapt to sleeping in their new home.
Adapting your child to a bedtime routine will usually help them adjust to sleeping at night, but always seek professional help if you sense your child has more serious issues to work through before they will feel secure enough to sleep soundly in their new home.