Children and Sleep

Many children have trouble sleeping and it can often be frustrating for parents who are trying to establish good sleeping habits. There is however several things you can do to help your child get a good night’s sleep. Many parents tuck their children in, only to find they are back sitting in the living room the next minute refusing to go to bed. This happens to many parents with young children and it is no mean feat to overcome a young child’s wants.

Ways to encourage your child to sleep

  • Encourage your child to sleep alone by gradually leaving them to sleep on their own when tired. They will grow used to this and not desire your companionship quite so much when trying to sleep.
  • Try to establish a bedtime routine to ensure your child sleeps better. Giving your child a bath can help to soothe him/her to sleep and can be a sign that bedtime is next on the horizon.
  • Try to stay calm but also make sure your point is getting across. Remember, no means no. Persevere by putting your child to bed and they should soon realise that no tantrum or crying is going to change your mind.
  • Tell your child he/she can choose a bedtime story or song to help them feel in control when going to bed.
  • Make sure that you give your child positive reinforcement if they do sleep in their own bed. The promise of treats like their favourite toy may help but stay away from sugary snacks before bed.
  • Give your child hugs and kisses and encourage him/her rather than taking a negative approach.

Bedtime routine for children

Establishing a good bedtime routine can help your child to recognise it is night time and that it is time to go to sleep, which will help your child get a good night’s sleep. The following tips can help you to establish a good bedtime routine:

  • Let your child indulge in an activity such as dancing to help any excess energy they may be harbouring.
  • Give your child a nice warm bath to help calm and relax them.
  • Brush your children’s teeth and get them ready for bed.
  • Try reading a bedtime story to your child chosen by them.
  • Have a chat with your child about the day to make them feel comforted.
  • Sing a nursery rhyme to your child.
  • Say goodnight to your child.
  • Leave a night light on if your child desires it.

These steps can help encourage your child to fall asleep, but it must be stressed that is very important to establish a routine for bedtime.

Children’s sleep and naps

Many children have naps during the day, by the time your child is one years old they are likely to have two naps a day. The number of naps may decrease as they get older, and it is not true that preventing your child from having a nap during the day helps them to sleep better at night. This can in fact lead to your child being more irritable and less likely to settle down to sleep later on.

Factors likely to keep children awake:

There are many reasons why children may find it difficult getting to sleep, as described below:

  • Common cold
  • Separation anxiety
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of the dark
  • Nightmares
  • Being over stimulated
  • Teething
  • Dummies

When children experience colds, coughs or are generally unwell they may be less likely to want to sleep. Try to give them affection and persevere in trying to help your child get to sleep alone. Nightmares can often be the cause of waking up in the night, but try to reassure them that you are only next door and that there is nothing to worry about before you leave them. If your child has a fear of the dark then try to acquire a night light or keep the room well lit to help your child get used to sleeping on their own. Teething is another irritable cause of sleepless nights, but there readily purchasable pain-relief options such as Bonjela or you can see your doctor if the problem persists.

Guide to Sleeping for Mother and Baby:

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