Helping your child to fall asleep and stay asleep is a challenge for most parents. Every child is different so it requires some flexibility to find the patterns that will work for your family. Experiment with a combination of these techniques as you put together your own formula for success.
Steps to Take During the Day
1. Get out in the natural light
Even though we’re surrounded by electric lights, our bodies are still attuned to the sun. Open the curtains to give your child exposure to morning light and spend at least a half-hour outdoors during each day.
2. Do some physical activity
Regular exercise promotes restful sleep at any age. Encourage sports, games, and playtime. Ride bikes or throw a ball around in the backyard
3. Keep a sensible schedule
It’s harder to come to a complete stop when you’ve been rushing around all day. Pace yourselves. Regular eating patterns will also reduce the demand for nighttime snacks.
4. Take naps if needed
Evening hours may be the only time working parents can spend with their kids. Dozing in the afternoon can compensate for slightly later bedtimes.
5. Cut back on environmental irritants
Chemicals and allergens often interfere with sleep. Select natural bedding and sleepwear. Clear away dust and pet dander.
Steps to Take at Night
1. Keep a consistent bedtime
Aim to have your child go to bed and rise at the same time every day. Stick to a similar schedule on weekends and holidays.
2. Give children advance notice
Older children will understand a warning that it’s 10 minutes until lights out. Setting a timer can be useful for this purpose. Babies start responding to cues like running bath water and putting on pyjamas.
3. Turn the TV off two hours before bedtime
Artificial light stimulates our brains and can keep us awake for longer. Give your kids a curfew to turn off all devices a couple of hours before bed.
4. Share bedtime stories
Story time creates a great transition for sleep and a lot of happy memories. It will also instill a love for learning.
5. Develop bedtime rituals
Warm baths and soft music add up to a soothing atmosphere. Throw in a teddy bear or stuffed bunny for overnight company.
6. Play white noise
Any monotonous sound hastens sleep. Turn on a fan or play a recording of the ocean.
Warmth is also conducive to happy dreams. Give your child flannel sheets to snuggle in. Bedroom temperatures of about 70 degrees with 50% humidity are usually ideal.
Steps Especially Designed For Babies
1. Try baby massage
Gentle touching puts your baby at ease and draws you closer together. Take a class or watch a video for instructions.
2. Check if the baby needs to be burped
When babies cry, they swallow air. Gas builds up and makes them cry more. A soft thump on the back will break the cycle.
3. Move them
Even adults tend to doze off more easily when they’re riding in a car. Help recreate the motion in the womb for your baby by rocking them in your arms or in a chair. If you put them on top of a running dryer, be sure to hold them in place.
4. See your doctor
Your doctor can check for medical causes if your baby wakes up frequently and shows signs of distress. Two common issues are allergies and a condition called gastroesophageal reflux which is like heartburn. Otherwise, most sleep disturbances are natural and will pass in time.
Get your child off to an early start with good sleep habits and a positive attitude about bedtime. Your whole family will enjoy better rest and better health.