Sleep is an essential part of any child’s growth. However, establishing a healthy sleep routine for your children can be exhausting, especially if you’re dealing with infants and toddlers. Poor sleeping habits aren’t issues that only come with adulthood.
Your kids may not be getting enough sleep if they have difficulty waking up in the morning, experience quick mood changes, show a lack of coordination, or just look exhausted.
In this post, we explore some things parents can do to overcome poor sleeping habits and help your child enjoy a good night's sleep.
Keep Them Active During the Day
If you have school-age children at home, you need to get them moving. Having 60 minutes of activity can help them sleep better at night. You can take them go to a park to play, walk the dog together, bike ride through a low-traffic scenic area or do some other activity that will keep them moving.
Give the Right Foods Before Bedtime
Sugary items and caffeine release a burst of energy that quickly fades. or caffeine makes your kids hyper, and they may have trouble falling asleep. Avoid giving your children sugary or caffeinated foods before bedtime, instead, opt for healthier and nutritionally-balanced foods at the end of the day.
Ensure that your children eat their meals at a reasonable time and have the right amount. That’s because feeling too full or hungry can make it uncomfortable for your child to fall asleep. Feed them with a healthy breakfast in the morning to kickstart their system at the right time.
Create a Consistent Sleep Routine That Includes a Personalized Bedtime and Wake-up Time
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that school-going children require at least 9-10 hours of sleep every night. These needs may vary as each child is different and may have varying sleep needs. Creating a routine is vital for preschoolers, toddlers, and infants.
It’s best to keep the activities after dinner limited. That means having little playtime, brushing teeth, reading a bedtime story, and going to bed. You should focus on ensuring that the routine is relaxing and comforting.
Set up bedtime to ensure your kids are getting enough rest throughout the night. Your sleep routine should also have a set wake-up time based on the time your children go to bed and their sleep needs. Be consistent with the time as this reduces stress for you as a parent when preparing them for school.
Avoid Naps Close to Bedtime
Children will require naps depending on their age and developmental needs. Avoid prolonged naps too close to bedtime. Naturally, they make it more difficult for children to fall asleep when it’s bedtime.
Quiet Time Before Bedtime
Find out if the environment in your child’s bedroom is conducive for a good night’s sleep. Having a noisy or well-lit room can interfere with your kid’s sleeping habits. Things like computer screens, TVs, tablets, and phones emit blue light that can distract and suppress melatonin levels. The result is delayed sleep.
Ensure that all the screens are switched off at night. Turn off the phones and tablets an hour before bedtime. For younger children, you can have a firm-warm-colored night light instead of a bright-colored one. Get blackout blinds on the windows and ensure the atmosphere is relaxed and calm.
Instill Good Sleep Hygiene
You can create a conducive sleep environment by instilling good sleep hygiene. That involves having a warm, calming bath an hour or two before bedtime. A bath raises the body temperature and causes one to feel sleepy. You can include their favorite doll or blanket for younger kids to help them feel secure and comfortable.
Watch What You Say
You need to watch your wording if your child is having poor sleep habits or is overstimulated. You’ll often tell your child to go to bed directly, and this can seem like a command. Most children won’t react to commands nicely, and this may cause them to be anxious. If you notice that your child is reluctant to sleep and doesn’t respond well to sleep time, try to be calm and avoid being direct. Use words like night time for bedtime and rest time for nap time. Your child will respond better when you use softer language.
Be Consistent With the Routine
If you’re struggling to keep up with a sleep routine, feeding your kids with the wrong things, or not practicing good sleep hygiene, you may have difficulty getting your children to sleep through the night. It’s essential to stick to a daily routine, except for holidays and occasions like birthdays.
Model Healthy Sleep Habits
You need to practice what you preach when trying to establish a healthy sleep routine for your children. You’ll notice that kids are good at emulating what adults do and will follow suit if their parents also follow healthy sleep behaviors. Some older kids will question your rules if you have poor sleeping habits.
Address Sleep Troubles
A child with trouble breathing during sleep, stalls when going to bed, snores, and breathes heavily while sleeping are all issues that need to be addressed. You may also notice that your child seems sleepy, tired, and cranky during the day. Talk to your doctor about these concerns, and he/she will help you come up with a solution or recommend the best treatment options available.
Children will always come up with a reason as to why they can’t go to bed. They might want to drink water, read one more book, or enjoy some cuddle time. However, you need to realize that these are delay tactics. Be firm and set limits. Start by establishing a consistent bedtime routine and incorporate some of these requests in the routine. Doing this will help create a calming and relaxing environment for your kids to drift off to sleep. Help them understand that once they are in bed, they have to stay in bed.