1. Having your children fall asleep before putting them to bed.
I was speaking with a dad the other day and he shared how he loved feeding his daughter a bottle and having her fall asleep in his arms. I get it – it really is a wonderful feeling but this will not teach children how to fall asleep on their own. They really need to learn how to go to sleep without your help, in their own crib or bed. You can still help them get ready for bed with lots of cuddles, reading a story and singing lullabies but when it comes to closing their eyes and going to sleep, they are going to sleep much better and longer without being put to sleep first. As adults, we all go to bed awake and manage to fall asleep on our own – and it is no different for children. They need to have the opportunity to fall asleep independently. Once they do, they will no longer need you to come and tend to them during the night either, as they will be quite happy to do it themselves!
2. Inconsistent bedtime routine.
The bedtime routine is so important! Parents often have a bedtime routine but when sleep problems arise it usually has to do with inconsistencies within the routine, such as a later than usual bedtime or skipping the routine all together. Remember that the bedtime routine is helpful with allowing children some time to wind down from the day. It also sends a clear message to the brain that it’s time to move into night time and sleep mode. If there are disruptions within the bedtime routine, this will keep their body and mind quite stimulated from the day’s activities, making it harder to fall and stay asleep!
There are definitely other factors that can contribute to children not sleeping well, but these are the two major ones that typically require significant changes when I work with families to help solve their children's sleep challenges.