Sleep Problems and Routines
Sleep is essential to a child for growth and keeping healthy and just like adults, a poor night’s sleep can leave your little one irritable and in a bad mood all day. Worse than that, missing sleep regularly can cause problems with memory, concentration and learning. Sleep problems are common and the best thing you can do to help your family is establish a good bedtime routine. Promoting that crucial rest for them and giving yourself some much needed time off in the process!
Take some time and make a list of what will work for your family. A typical bedtime routine could be as follows
- Bath and pyjamas on
- Drink of milk or small banana
- Teeth brushed
- Story time and cuddle
- Tuck into bed and lights off
It’s worth making sure your child has been able to burn off some energy before their bath and avoid technology such as TV or tablets for an hour before, try some educational toys instead. Try to start the routine at the same time each night and make sure their room is dark, quiet and not too hot or cold. Find a goodnight word or sentence such as “Love you, goodnight” and make this the last thing you say as you tuck them in each night. This routine will soon become a trigger for sleep and their body will come to expect it.
Waking Through the Night
Waking is a normal part of the sleep cycle and both adults and children wake up throughout the night and usually go straight back to sleep. Problems arise when going back to sleep requires mum or dad to be present. Rocking to sleep, cuddling to sleep, sitting by the door and creeping out or taking them into your own bed are all common examples of what a baby or toddler might expect when they wake up. If you are happy to do this then it isn’t a problem at all so enjoy those cuddles. However if you are not happy with this arrangement try some of these tips.
- Introduce a teddy or doll to cuddle up to
- Tuck them back in bed using the same goodnight words from your routine
- Reward them for sleeping well with a sticker chart or treat to earn
- Use a nightlight if they find the dark scary or follow these tips on dealing with nightmares.
- Leave water near their bed and encourage them to sip some and then lie back down
Consistency is the key here so make a promise with yourself that you will stick to it for a few weeks, set a date to reassess and be proud of any improvements made along the way.
Waking Too Early
Early morning starts are an expected part of having children and what’s too early for some adults may not be too early for a child. However if they are waking so early that they are obviously over tired then it’s a wise move to tackle this problem head on.
- Explain about the importance of sleep and what benefits it brings
- Invest in a Gro-clock, a great invention that displays a moon when it is time to sleep and a sun when it is time to get up so your child knows it’s time to start their day. Set the clock to display the sun at their usual wake-up time and then gradually adjust it over a few weeks until they are rising at the time you want instead.
- Reward successful nights with a chart for stickers and lots of praise
- Look for any obvious causes such as them being too cold or noise from the central heating disturbing their sleep.
Remember that you are not alone and sleep problems are one of the main issues parents face in those early years. Set up a good routine and make sure you get enough sleep yourself so you can enjoy your family without dreading bedtime.
Tags: parenting advice, routines, sleep, sleeping problems
Categorised in: parenting advice
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer