You know how great you feel after a good nights sleep… You smile more, you have the energy to take on the day with enthusiasm, and you cope better if things don’t go well. Isn’t that what we want for our children too? Whilst we can’t make children sleep, we can create an environment that is conducive to sleep.
A good nights sleep assists the growth and development of a healthier body, a better concentration and attention span, improved strength and co-ordination, and more emotional balance.
A good nights sleep also makes the next day better for both parents and children!
It is important to establish good sleep routines early in a baby’s life, so that they quickly learn ‘how’ to go to sleep. It is even easier for the child to learn this, when the adults are consistent with the routine – regardless of whether it is Mum or Dad who are preparing the child for bed. When you follow the same routine each night, you establish a pattern in the child which gets them ready for sleep. Does it mean they will be happy about it – no, not necessarily! But, who is the one who knows how much sleep children need, and what they will be like without it… You! Young children generally do not know when they are tired. It’s rare for a child to say “Yes” when asked “Do you want to go to bed?” As adults we are the responsible ones!
- Bath time
- Drink of milk
- Cleaning Teeth
- Change nappy, or take your child to the toilet
- Gentle singing, cuddles, reading stories
- Settle the child for the night, and tuck them in
- Favourite soft toy or teddy to cuddle in bed
- Talk quietly. Some children like to have their heads stroked
- Tell them how much you love (yes, even if it’s been a challenging day!)
- Say goodnight
- Leave the room promptly
The following is a guideline provided by the ‘Parents as Teachers’ organisation. The recommendations are, in a 24 hour period:
Newborns need 16 – 20 hours;
At 4 weeks they need 14 – 18hrs;
Babies 6-8 weeks need about 15-16 hours;
At 2-3 months they need 12-15hrs;
At 4-9 months they need11-15hrs;
At 9-18 months they need 11 -14hrs;
Toddlers 18months – 3years need 13hours;
Children 3-5years need 11-13hrs.
Obviously some will be daytime sleeps and then the evening sleep.
- Have a dream sleep team – you and your partner take turns settling or resettling the baby/toddler. This also conveys the message to the child that both parents are saying it’s time for sleep..
- Stay calm – if you show stress or anger, the child picks up on it, and then becomes more stressed himself.
- Overtiredness makes it harder to fall asleep. Play quieter, calmer games in the lead up to the bed-time routine. Turn the TV off.
- No TV in the child’s room.
- The bed is for sleep – not the lounge in front of the TV. Whilst many parents say their children settle for sleep in front of the TV, the reality is, that their brains are being stimulated by the information they are seeing and hearing, and so their body won’t rest as well during the sleep.
Children who don’t get adequate sleep are not only grumpy and easily upset the next day, they are less able to function well, and to process new information.
Good sleep = a better day tomorrow.
Calm and Consistent is the key!
Happy Sleep Times!
Image by katrinket via Flickr