As with any new skill, there are ways as parents; we can support our children while they are on the learning curve. Here are seven ways you can help your child develop the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep with ease.
- Eliminate Sleep Props - Children, after four months, need to learn to fall asleep on their own without any external props. What is a sleep prop? A sleep prop is anything external that a child uses to help fall asleep that doesn’t remain consistent overnight. The most common props are feeding, rocking, laying on mommy, daddy or a caregiver, pacifier, bottle, etc.
- Be Consistent - Whatever is happening at one sleep situation needs to be happening at all sleep situations to send a clear message about what is expected.
- Institute an Early Bedtime - Early bedtimes are best to ensure that children do not become overtired. When a child is overtired, it becomes more challenging to settle down and fall asleep. When sleep does come, a child is a lot more restless with more tossing and turning and more night-time waking. Bedtime should happen between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 pm.
- Establish a Routine- A bedtime routine is something you can start at a very early age. It’s a good habit to get into and it is an excellent cue to the body and the mind that it is time to settle down and get ready for sleep.
Sample Bedtime Routine
6:45 pm. Bath time
6:55 pm. Pajamas/Brush Teeth
7:00 pm. Read a Story
7:05 pm. Feeding
7:25 pm. Burping/Cuddle/Sing a song
7:30 pm. Into bed
- Keep it Cool - In order to fall asleep, our body temperature needs to lower by about 2 degrees. To facilitate this process, the ideal room temperature should be 68 to 72° F
- Avoid Screen Time and Bright Lights Before Bedtime - Turn off screens at least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. Dim lights after dinner and avoid overhead lights in the room, use lamps instead.
- Preserve Naps and Bedtime - Skipping naps, and late bedtime will affect the next 24-hour cycle. Don’t let anyone tell you that naps are not necessary, or that skipping naps will help your baby sleep longer at night.
I hope these tips help your little one -- and you -- get the sleep you both need to be your best - physically, mentally, and emotionally. Be patient as your child masters this skill; learning to sleep independently can require a lot of practice. However, the hard work will pay off as once your child learns to sleep well; it is a skill that will last a lifetime. Kelly Murray Certified Sleep Consultant
About the author: Kelly Murray specializes in helping sleep-deprived families worldwide obtain the restful sleep they so desperately need. Her approach is gentle, non-judgmental, and customized to fit the child’s temperament and mom and dad’s parenting style. To learn more or book a free 15-Minute Discovery Call, visit www.kellymurraysleep.com.GET A FREE EBOOK : 7 Easy Ways to Support Your Baby’s Learning Today