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Children's bedtimes and sleep problems: read Professor Tanya Byron's answers to your questions

(168 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 05-Apr-13 12:55:05

We're delighted that consultant clinical psychologist Prof Tanya Byron is our webchat guest on Monday evening to answer your questions about children's sleep - how much they need at different ages, how you can stop bedtimes turning into a battle, and how can you encourage your children to sleep through the night.

Tanya is leading the Bedtime Live team on Channel Four on Tuesday evenings at 8pm, trying to provide parents with techniques to get under-10s into bed by 9pm and to get teens into good sleep habits.

You've already been discussing her warnings about the effects of sleep deprivation on children's development on this thread.

So, whether your children will be soundly asleep or deploying endless delaying tactics at 9pm on Monday, do come and put your question about children's sleep to Tanya.

You can find out more here about Bedtime Live and the topics it has covered so far. The next prog (Tues 9 April, 8pm) will look at the effect of lack of sleep on first-time fathers.

toomuchpink Mon 08-Apr-13 20:51:14

Do some children need different amonts of sleep?
I have non identical twin girls now 19mths. DT1 (touch wood) goes to sleep without any problem around 7.15pm. She generally naps longer in the day, sleeps later and gets grumpier if short on sleep compared to DT2. DT2 is in the habit of wailing after she is put down and this often continues until my oldest DD1 (4) has her stories finished and lights out around 8pm. DT2 is first up and often shows little sign of needing her afternoon nap - although will have it without too much protest most days.
All suggestions welcome.

mattaz Mon 08-Apr-13 20:52:20

Hello Tanya,

I have a 2.8 year old (good sleeper when she eventually goes off) and a 16 month old son. They have to share a room as we have 2 bed and he was in with us until only a month ago where we bit the bullet and put them the room together.

Our main problem is he can’t self settle and needs to be pushed in a pushchair and carried up asleep at night. Whatever time it is. Occasionally his dummy will work and a few pats on his back but rarely and this is only the early evening wakes.
He tends to wake once around 10.30pm.
The issue we have is his sister wakes briefly early hours and calls for us which then wakes him so we have to push him in a pushchair. Sometimes he refuses to sleep unless he has a bottle but this is just comfort and he wont fall asleep with it. We have watered it down but it doesn't prevent his need for it, He has no day bottles now just bedtime.

They both have a good routine, 6.30pm-06.00am. Day naps in his pushchair and he has a comfort blanket.
He has been intolerant to cows milk which since giving soya his night waking has improved greatly.

How can we sleep train him with a sibling in the room too? He has potential to be a good sleeper will potentially sleep through but once awoken by his sister we cant manage to get him off without aid and leaving him to cry will in turn disturb my oldest (which i don’t like to do to be honest anyway).

Thanks!! Please help we need a sibling friendly technique!!

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 08-Apr-13 20:57:22

Hey everyone,

Tanya's online now, and selflessly missing the wall-to-wallThatcher coverage on the BBC to come and advise you on your sleep woes. Thanks, Tanya, and over to you ....

DrTanyaByron Mon 08-Apr-13 21:00:20

Hello mumsnetters! So nice to be with you thank you for welcoming me into your community. Starting with a nice one with a compliment up front - sorry if shallow! But thanks for your generous comments about BEDTIME LIVE which still has 2 shows to go tomorrow and next Tuesday 8 - 9 C4.

Your question re DH who can sleep through kids crying at night..... We are covering that on the programme tomorrow night and have done experiment which will answer you!

Can I ask for questions to be very brief and bullet point ish then I can read fast and answer many.

Jcee Mon 08-Apr-13 21:00:43

DD (3.3) goes to bed with no problems however she wakes up throughout the night for various spurious reasons - duvet fallen off, lost teddy, an owl in the bedroom hmm, needs a drink, something moving her curtains about etc etc.

So last night I was up with her at 1, 3 and 4. we've tried warmer pjs in case shes cold, wedging the duvet down so she can't kick it off, making sure she's not hungry/thirsty before bed, turning her nightlight off after she's gone to sleep etc but to no avail and she has rarely slept through since she was small.

When i get up in response to her shouts/cries, she settles very quickly and usually just needs encouraging to lie back down and her covers rearranging and is always asleep again in minutes. However I'm not and so i'm knackered and to be honest I'd rather not have to get out of bed 3 or 4 times a night for a few minutes in the first place.

Any suggestions? thanks

Sparklingbrook Mon 08-Apr-13 21:01:08

Hi Tanya. teens-are they programmed to stay up late and sleep in?

mummybare Mon 08-Apr-13 21:01:44

Hi Tanya!


SocialGrace Mon 08-Apr-13 21:01:48

Hello Tanya,
I was very big fan of The House of Tiny Tearaways; are there any plans to bring this back? I studied it whilst pregnant and I taught me all I know grin

After lights out, DD, aged 5, likes to call out for this and that e.g.more water, a particular soft toy, trips to the loo, duvet fallen off the bed etc etc to get us trotting too and fro into her room after lights out. Should we humour her, or just tell her to go to sleep, which sometimes leads to an argument and tears....

Thanks in advance smile

DrTanyaByron Mon 08-Apr-13 21:03:16

Kids do show individual differences but when you have twins that can be hard so my respect and sympathy. Have you thought of doing DT2 stories and settling later than DT 1? A lack of daytime nap may mean she overtired and so agitated at sleep time. Try to train her into a nap by sitting by her cot to reassure her. It may be that when she learns to feel more settled in cot she can fall asleep byerself.

UnderwaterBasketWeaving Mon 08-Apr-13 21:03:16

Hello! to rehash mine:

Toddler night waking: possible night terrors & sleep walking? What can we do?

DrTanyaByron Mon 08-Apr-13 21:05:25

At her age it might be that she relies on you to be present for her to fall asleep. In effect you are her SLEEP ASSOCIATION and so in order to break this you need to go in, sssshhh but very little interaction so as to not reinforce her waking behaviour.

DrTanyaByron Mon 08-Apr-13 21:05:43


Hi Tanya. teens-are they programmed to stay up late and sleep in?

CreatureRetorts Mon 08-Apr-13 21:06:30

What bedtime battles do you have with your children Tanya?

How would you cope with two sharing a room with different bedtimes? 1 year old at 7 and 3 year old at 8pm?

When should children stop napping?

CreatureRetorts Mon 08-Apr-13 21:07:28

Yes please to more house of tiny tearaways!

cheesethief Mon 08-Apr-13 21:07:52

How can I get my nearly 5 year old to stay in her bed? She wakes up and sneaks in mine every night, it doesn't bother me too much but she can be tired and grumpy during the day. She doesn't respond to rewards and says she gets frightened.

DrTanyaByron Mon 08-Apr-13 21:08:55

Yes, in teenage due to the hormonal changes of puberty, the circadian rhythms change and teens sleep later and wake later. There is plenty of evidence to show that schools that open and close an hour later show better results from teens because they are working within their circadian rhythms (ie their natural body clock controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain) . We covered this in BEDTIME LIVE last week so watch it on 4OD as the experiment we did with Profs from Oxford Uni are fascinating.

However watch out for technology late into the night as this interrupts sleep and make sure they get at least 9 hours a night.

Sparklingbrook Mon 08-Apr-13 21:09:22

Thank you.

motherofvikings Mon 08-Apr-13 21:09:27

Thanks Tanya! I've sky+ tomorrow's bedtime live so I can find out if my DH is simply a sleepy freak of nature! smile

Cuddlydragon Mon 08-Apr-13 21:09:45

Hi Tanya,

My 9 month old has always gone down awake, settled himself, slept really well for 2 good naps ( 1-2 hrs each) every day. Settles brilliantly at 7pm bedtime and sleeps peacefully til 11 and has a bottle ( he needs it due to patchy weight gain). This feed and nappy change takes less than 20 mins and he goes right back down til 3.30.

Every night at around 3.30am he cries and rarely settles himself. If we go through and pat his chest (max 30 secs) he goes right back to sleep, but if we don't, he cries himself right awake and takes much longer to settle. Same again at 5.30am. I've no idea what to do. He's not hungry or wet.

Help! I'm knackered!

CutePuppy Mon 08-Apr-13 21:10:49


Can I just say I love your work? Love the new show and love love loved tiny tearaways!

Off topic, but any hints for pre teen back chat?


mastercookie Mon 08-Apr-13 21:11:09

my 2 year old has never slept properly since birth, he probably has two naps a week and getting about 6-8hrs at night (broken sleep) he goes too sleep on his own fine but he wakes up several times a night. some nights im sure he has night terrors he's also an early riser and hyperactive all day long what else can i do to help him get more sleep as im so tired myself

DrTanyaByron Mon 08-Apr-13 21:11:39


What bedtime battles do you have with your children Tanya?

How would you cope with two sharing a room with different bedtimes? 1 year old at 7 and 3 year old at 8pm?

When should children stop napping?

Mine are 15 and 18 so the battle is getting them up in the morning! But tbh I was RUBBISH with my eldest my DD and although had written books had to ask a colleague to talk me through it - heart over ruling head!

You can do diff bedtimes if you sleep train the youngest so they are sound asleep and most kids will sleep through sibling noise.

Naps finish when about 3-4 but all kids different.

Shellwedance Mon 08-Apr-13 21:11:43

To summarise my problem DD, 6 mths never sleeps more than 3 hours, now waking every 2 and will only settle with a breast feed and / or co sleep.

What method of sleep training would you suggest? She can self settle with a dummy for daytime naps.

mattaz Mon 08-Apr-13 21:12:36

hi!! Thanks Tanya,
to make mine more bullet point then!

16 month old Sharing a room with a sibling 2.8yrs.

Please help with self settling a 16 month old without an aid.
He wont unless we push in a pushchair (!!) but he shares with this sibling.

She wakes him in the night and we cant get him back off without the pushchair.

There doesn't seem to be much advice around about self settling with another toddler in the room.

please help!!

Badvoc Mon 08-Apr-13 21:12:37

I have 2 early wakers aged 9 and 4.
6am every morning.
(This is better than it was - ds1 used to wake up at 4-5 prior to him starting reception!)
What can I do to encourage them to stay in bed longer?
I have tried drinks, books etc...
I am pretty tired.

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