Hi, Kim West, The Sleep Lady and in this vlog, I’m going to answer this parent’s question: “My 16-month-old goes to bed but wakes up after an hour or so and wants to play. How do I help her realize it’s time to sleep?” It almost sounds like your daughter is acting like she’s taking a nap and she’s ready to rock and roll and do some playing. Knowing that, here are some of the common questions I want you to look at:
Is She Well-Napped?
Remember that a 16-month-old needs 11 ¼ hours of sleep at night and approximately 2 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of sleep over the course of two naps. It’s possible to do this in one nap, although I want you to be careful. I don’t really want you to transition her to one nap until she’s sleeping through the night because that will cause her to be further nap-deprived her, which in turn will cause more night awakenings.
Use an Age-Appropriate Bedtime
If you’re already firmly there with her nap schedule, and have been for several months, then go ahead with one nap and make sure bedtime is between 7 and 7:30 p.m., period. Make sure that she’s wide awake when you put her into her crib. This means that you have the comforting bedtime routine (whatever you normally do whether it’s any kind of feeding, snack, bath, book, then kisses in to bed) where the light is on and then in to bed, light off, and an “I love you.”
If you notice that when you start to do this, putting her down more awake causes her to cry, then go ahead and stay with her. You can sit next to the crib. Follow the rules of The Shuffle as outlined in my book and my courses. Basically, you’re slowly going to move your way out of the room over the next couple of weeks and of course, you’re going to respond consistently with each awakening at night.
If you find that when she wakes up at that 1 or 2-hour mark, and she wants to play, sitting by the crib may be too stimulating. If she’s trying to engage you and play with you, then I would first start by just closing my eyes, encouraging her to lie down by saying, “Shh shh, night, night.” Basically, not a playful response from you. If that seems like too much, then go ahead and either move your chair further away from the crib (and again close your eyes and respond intermittently, verbally) or lie in the floor and say, “Shh, night, night.” And then eventually, you can move to the door after a couple of nights. Again, don’t do anything to reinforce the awakening or give her the message that it’s worth staying up or that you are going to get her out and play with her. You’ve got to be consistent at each awakening for long enough until she starts to learn the skill of putting herself to sleep and back to sleep.
Video filmed by In Focus Studios