From newborns to fussy primary schoolers, trying to get your child to bed is every parent’s worst nightmare. We racked the brains of some top children’s sleep experts for their tips on creating a healthy kids’ sleep routine for your little one.
Why adopt a sleep routine?
Advanced Holistic Baby and Child Sleep Specialist Amanda Bude from Groovy Babies explains that a routine is important for children because “it directly impacts mental and physical development. These rhythms influence patterns of sleeping, waking, rest, activity, hunger, eating and fluctuations in body temperature and hormones. These cycles need to be in harmony if we are to have a sense of well-being and our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep is closely linked to the timing of these cycles. That is why children thrive if they have regular routines and consistency as this helps to regulate their body clock and helps with sleeping.”
Keep the 5 elements of healthy sleep in mind
Account for these 5 elements to keep your little one sleeping soundly throughout the night:
- Sleep Duration: Understand that their required sleep duration will vary during the day and night due to their immature circadian rhythms.
- Sleep Consolidation: Follow your child’s natural sleep rhythm.
- Sleep Schedule: Eliminate distracting environmental factors that will throw your child’s sleep schedule off track
- Sleep Regularity: Stick to a regular bedtime, and remember that there’s no such thing as a ‘standard' bedtime for kids.
Keep them comfortable
Your baby or child’s comfort is absolutely key to how well they can sleep. Co-founder of Owlet Baby Care Jacob Colvin provides some easy ways to ensure your little one is completely comfortable before bed:
- “Encourage your baby to feed well. Sleeping after a short feed may result in them not settling or waking too early and snack feeding will become a habit.
- Hold your baby upright over your shoulder for a few minutes. This position helps babies relax and brings up any wind and will provide reassurance to settle down.
- Wrap baby firmly with their hands away from their face. If not swaddled, they will keep themselves awake by flapping their hands around.
- Play some music in your baby’s room, this helps your baby switch off from other stimuli and also stops them feeling alone and vulnerable.”
Manage the situation if they wake up
Many parents have the bad habit of rushing to their child’s bedside as soon as they hear them wake up and cry. Instead, Liliana Amaro from Zzleepmybaby suggests waiting a few minutes before intervening:
“If a baby has been nursed or rocked to sleep at bedtime since birth, it's not surprising that they wouldn't know how to fall asleep independently. The good news is that many babies can figure out how to get back to sleep within just a few minutes of waking up in the night! If your child continues to fuss or cry for more than a few minutes, you'll want to go in and offer some comfort, but it's important to let your child do the work of falling back to sleep. You can speak softly to your child and do some gentle rubbing or patting, but you should avoid picking your child up and rocking or nursing back to sleep.”
Visit the Zzleepmybaby Facebook page for more great tips.
By teaching your child to fall back to sleep on their own, you can better set them up for an ongoing, healthy sleep schedule.