Every parent knows the value of a good night’s sleep and how it directly impacts on your health. With rare exception, most moms and dads have experienced the exhaustion that comes with getting a baby to sleep. Uninterrupted sleep is the ultimate goal. This, however, is no easy feat. For some, 8 straight hours of sleep has become a myth, joining the realm of unicorns and pixie dust.
If you’re a parent battling to develop some sort of sleep routine for your child, chances are you have walked the walk, and tried almost everything under the sun. There is no “one size fits all” solution to this real and pressing problem. Each child is unique and responds differently to their environment.
Time to apply a layered approach and tackle this challenge from every angle. What works for one child may not work for the next, so it’s up to you to find that perfect combination of sleep hacks that send your little one off to dreamland, at a reasonable hour, and for an acceptable period of time. Heres how.
First things first, ensure you’ve ruled out any major issues by visiting your pediatrician. If your child wakes repeatedly, but there is clearly nothing physically wrong with them, then you’re at the right place.
Next, know that just because your child does not sleep like an angel, does not mean you are doing anything wrong. First-time parents don’t have the luxury of reflecting on past child-rearing experience. However, families with more than one child can attest to the fact that no two children are alike, including their sleep patterns.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and sleep training can be a slow process, but rest assured, when you find the recipe for a good night’s sleep, it will be worth the time you’ve invested. You can learn more about toddler sleep regression on WellWorthLiving.
Is Your Child a Hot or Cold Sleeper?
Temperature is an easy factor to solve. You will know if your child sleeps hot or not. If they do, a common issue is that they kick off their sheets and then wake in the night feeling cold. The solution is to pick out, not just the right comforter, but the right mattress. This will ensure they don’t overheat, discard all their blankets and then wake up in shivers.
If you battle to keep their covers on at all, an AC or heater to regulate the room temperature may be a good idea. Dress your child in PJ’s that suit the climate and then test the AC over a few nights to find the perfect balance. And while we’re discussing the air, an air purifier is also beneficial to remove pollutants from the air. If your child battles with allergies, it will significantly reduce the number of contaminants in the air they breath.
Implement Relaxing Routines
Children find security in things they can identify and understand. A routine that is predictable helps them relax in their environment and brings calm. Depending on their age, they may still nap during the day. Naps are important to ensure children do not over run and crash as they do when they’re overtired.
The night time routine is our key focus, because if they sleep well, so do you. As bedtime nears, have a set schedule that you follow so your child is able to understand that bedtime is near. If you make it a slow, effortless process, they go with it and have time to get used to the idea.
As an example, first, ensure they are well fed at dinner time. Next, pop them in a soothing, warm bath. Lavender oil helps to further relax the body and mind, getting it ready for sleep. Add a few drops to their bath water. After bath time, maybe a short session of cartoons or free play in a dimly lit room to help their melatonin levels rise and let sleepiness set in. Finally, brush teeth and read a book in bed.
Children can sense if they are being hurried, so where possible, relax and go with it. It can be frustrating, especially if you have other things you need to do, but in building this routine, you need to be present and let it take as long as it takes.
Use Relaxation Aids
We already covered lavender oil as an aid to calm the body, but there are several techniques you can use for children. A favorite toy or blanket to cuddle with; playing soft music; night lights or even a bottle can do the trick. Weighted blankets have also proved very successful in creating a soothing cocoon in which to sleep.
Test out a few options and see which best helps to calm and relax your little one.
Co-sleeping or Bed-sharing as it is also known, continues to receive much controversial attention. There are many for it and many against, but for the purpose of this article, we are highlighting that you need to do what works best for you.
Having a child in your bed can be very disruptive, and breaking the habit down the line can be challenging, but if its the only sleep you get, go with it.
Have an exit strategy in the back of your mind. This may include you sleeping in their room for a period so they get used to the space. For Toddlers, a trundle bed is a great way to be close by while having them in their own bed. You can easily roll out the bed when it’s needed.
Reward system works exceptionally well for slightly older kids. Star charts that are proudly displayed and result in a treat after a few nights of sleeping in their own bed, work magic.
Eat The Right Food
The right food, in the right quantities for your child’s age and size will make bedtime much easier. If they go to bed too full, they can battle with indigestion, and the wrong foods can result in trapped wind, which will have you up until its out. Reduce sugar where possible, especially before bedtime, and replace it with healthy snacks like fruit.
Too little food and they wake up hungry. This may all seem overly obvious, but in the collection of items that need attention when having a child, it is easily overlooked.
Ask for Help
Family and friends are an important support system that you can and should tap into. If the baby isn’t sleeping, then you aren’t sleeping either, and tired, frazzled nerves can perpetuate the problem.
Give grandparents or friends a call, that’s what they’re there for. Have them watch the kids while you catch up on some rest. Even if you’re nervous about having your baby more than 5 meters away from you, get them to babysit in the next room.
There is no shortage of sleep advice available online. These sleep hacks form the foundation of a workable sleep training routine. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied by parents who emphatically state your child’s problem is one thing or the other. It’s a personal process, and one you can master.
You are the best person to help your child, and yourself, find restful sleep. You know them best and understand what soothes them and what causes them distress. With that knowledge and love, you’ll soon be sleeping soundly and working on the next milestone in their precious little lives.