I will be the first to tell you that my babies did not sleep through the night. It wasn’t a thing. My first child literally did not sleep more then 2-3 hours at a time until he was 3 years old- literally. Then my 2nd babe came along and same story, he did not sleep through the night until he was 3 years old. And yes there was some overlap here with 2 in diapers. So my husband and I usually felt like sleep deprived zombies wondering if we would ever sleep again.
Baby #3 came along- same song, third verse repeated. But this song included more medical problems… So Little Miss A is still figuring out where to sleep between catching colds, breathing treatments, resuscitations, and RSV. It seems like whenever we get sleep training into a winning streak, this lady baby catches another cold and then she stops breathing on me again.
However there is balance in life, and the good thing is that my husband and I have figured out a routine that keeps our boys in bed and sleeping through the night. So that’s a win!
This routine has taken years and I’m sure I’ve written about it before. But it has changed over time based on our kid’s likes, wants and needs. Finding a routine that works can take time, but it can be a key to success in helping kids sleep well.
And here’s an interesting bit of information, many people with autism have a difficult time sleeping. Many parents struggle for YEARS trying to find sleep in their home. Some families try medications, weighted blankets and bedding, locking doors, putting up gates, taking out lightbulbs, dragging mattresses to different bedrooms, and working on constantly tweaking bedtime routines.
I mean, early on before any diagnosis we had a VHS tape of the Little Mermaid that we would play over and over to keep our first born quiet during the night because he just didn’t seem to need sleep. So many times I would hear that movie end, drag myself out of bed, hold down the rewind button, press play, kiss my son on his head and pray he would let me drag myself back to bed soon.
Then once my son Mr. C came along, we soon changed the movie to Toy story 3. And no, I didn’t have nocturnal vampire babies. Once these kids reached 2 they didn’t need naps either 🤪
So our current bedtime routine starts with giving the kids a heads up that bedtime is coming soon. There is a few warnings- 20min, 10min, and usually 2min heads up. This lets Mr. L finish up whatever he’s doing. This helps our autistic son (and his siblings get the benefits) of being given time to prepare for the transition of daytime routines, to bedtime.
Then my husband or I turn on a reading lamp, fan, and star projector on the ceiling. My son, Mr. L likes to grab a snack, a glass of milk, and then changes into his pjs. My husband and I then take turns reading to the kids while the kids get their wiggles out, take turns using the restroom, set their bedding how they like it and argue with the dog. We usually read for an hour to two hours based on how interested the kids are in what we are reading and how tired everyone is. My autistic son sleeps in a sleeping bag with a blanket on top of it and the other 2 have a mix of bedding they like to use.
You’re right, that is a LONG time to be reading! But we mix up picture books, add good night prayer in there, add some early reader books, some kid friendly religious ones and then we finish with a chapter book. And this seems to be the current trick to helping the kids decompress and then relax in bed until they drift off to dream land. After reading, if anyone is still awake I sing the goodnight song, kiss little ones, and then the reading light gets turned off.
For now this routine works for our boys and when our daughter is healthy she seems to be getting better at staying in her bed most nights.
Is this routine long? You bet! Are we desperate/ I mean… good parents? Also heck yes 🤪 But like I said, sleep doesn’t always come easy to those on the spectrum. Mr. L works hard at school and days can be filled with a lot of stimulation and right now this seems to help everyone recharge. So we will do it again tonight and probably tomorrow night too.