My in-laws were recently here visiting us in Japan, which meant it was time for another round of our son sleeping in our room again. My husband and I had a whole plan of action ready to go. He would sleep in the pack n’ play in our room.
This seemed like a great idea, but I was secretly dreading it. I know some parents are great at co-sleeping and room sharing. I’m the opposite. I’m not good at it at all.
It’s one of those areas I wish I were so much more patient as a parent. You know? I wish that I was cool with our son laying in our bed poking my eyes out and kicking me in the face. Hardy har har. But the truth is both my husband and I last about 2 minutes flat before we’ve had enough.
So room sharing and pack n’ play it was.
Our first night.
So here we were on our first night of room sharing, and it was not going well. I was actually really surprised by this. I went through our son’s normal bedtime routine, using our printable routine cards and easing him into the whole idea. And then, I laid him down the same way I always do, said goodnight, and exited the room. Nothing new. The only change was a new location and a new bed—the pack n’ play.
What happened next…
The child was mad, hysterical, and completely beside himself. I decided to give it a few minutes to see if he would settle himself. No go.
After a bit of time, my husband and I finally decided to just bring him back out into the living room to chill for a bit. Normally, we wouldn’t do that but since he was so ramped up, our little boy clearly needed a cooling off period.
30 minutes later we went through a modified bedtime routine and laid him back down.
Oh the CRIES. He was still very unhappy about all of this. So I decided it was time to pull out all the stops and use the one trick I knew would work.
The one simple trick…
I went back to his room, turned on this weird but awesome gummy bear light, and picked him up again. I gave him a big giant hug, put his head to my shoulder, and sat us down together on my bed.
And then I started with the deep breathing..
In and out.
In and out.
Taking my own multiple deep breaths in a row, my sweet boy started to take his own deep breaths.
I took a deep breath.
Then he took a deep breath.
In and out.
In and out.
This isn’t something that I coach or tell him to do. All I do is take deep breaths myself, and then he follows. You see, deep breathing is just like yawning. It’s contagious! And it’s a completely subconscious cause and effect rhythm that you can fall into with your child.
When hugging or cuddling in a way that is natural for you and your child, the deep breathing becomes contagious between you. All you have to do is start the rhythm and your child will pick up on it. This technique is something you can use at any age. I’ve actually used it since birth.
10 minutes later…
Normally, we don’t spend this long deep breathing together, but this was a special circumstance. By now, we were 10 minutes into the deep breathing and he was practically melted into my body. I laid him down back in the pack n’ play, keeping my hand firmly placed on his back to help him know I was right there. I told him I would stay with him until he fell asleep. And before I knew it, he was snuggled in tight and nearly asleep.
The next night…
I simply opted to start right off the bat with the deep breathing routine. After 5-10 minutes of deep breathing in a hugging position, I again laid him down, keeping my hand on his back. I again told him I would stay until he fell asleep. After a bit, I removed my hand and just sat outside the pack n’ play. Total time invested? Only about 15 minutes longer than his normal bedtime routine. Sweet boy.
The night after that…
5 minutes worth of deep breathing and he was practically jumping out of my arms to get in that pack n’play. It was too sweet for words.
Why deep breathing actually works with kids.
The effect of deep breathing helps slow both your own heart rate and your child’s heart rate, which allows the body to relax and slow down. You can literally feel your heart rate slow down, your mind get quieter, and your whole body physically relax. You can literally feel your child’s heart rate slow down, as they start to relax and melt right into you. This is why I always do the deep breathing in a hugging position. It washes over you and your child like a calming, relaxing sleepytime medicine.
I often use this technique with my sweet little boy and wonder, “Is it really that simple?”
When all of parenting feels so overly complicated and stressful, it’s pretty amazing that something like deep breathing is the fix to a bedtime issue.
sometimes kids just need their moms,
and a big giant hug,
and a few deep breaths to go along with it.
Print this free toddler sleep help checklist.
This post comes with a free printable checklist to help your little ones sleep. I always have the hardest time remembering all these ideas. This printable simplifies it!
Here is a sneak preview…
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable, plus join my weekly newsletter! Just click here to download and subscribe.
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Check things off as you go and don’t forget a thing!
Want more on parenting?
- Dear Moms of Toddlers
- 3 Mom Tricks to Help Kids Stay in Bed
- The Real Reason Kids Never Want to Go to Sleep
- 10 Genius Sleep Hacks for Tired Moms
What’s your best tip for helping kids fall asleep fast? Let’s chat in the comments!
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