The battle for sleep seemingly starts the minute our children are placed in our arms! As our children age, the struggle can get even harder. But there’s hope – even during challenging sleep times like when Day Light Savings ends. We’ve got some great ideas that will make putting your little one on the path to dreamland easy and even enjoyable too.
Get The Wiggles Out
While it may seem counterintuitive, getting good exercise is a vital part of good sleep. And really, it does make sense; a body that has been moving is ready to rest. Children need a minimum of 60 minutes a day of moderate exercise. Be sure that their bodies are moving enough that they are tired when it’s time for bed. Check out these fun dances from Go Noodle to get little bodies moving!
Set Up a Routine – and Stick With It
Creating a bedtime routine from an early age is not only helpful for your child to understand when it’s bedtime, but also for their brains to understand that it’s time for bed. Establish a bedtime, and then build in a routine prior to that time. Create a sequence of events that are performed the same way at the same time every night – consistency is the key. An example of a routine would be:
- Family time playing a game or going for a walk
- Reading books (predetermine how many books!)
- Quiet time together – sing a lullaby, talk quietly about the day
- Lights out
Turn the Lights Off
Our bodies are wired to take in light – in any form – as sunlight, or time when we should be awake. Turning down lights to dim the room, closing curtains, and turning off all screens at least 45 minutes before bedtime is a must. In addition, be cautious about other sources of light are in the room. Clocks, nightlights, even slivers of light coming through the curtains can be distracting. Aim for red light for any light sources. Red light allows the eye to adjust easily, making it easier to return to sleep.
Check the Temp
Checking the temperature of your child’s room can make a big difference for sleeping. In addition to the room temperature, how warm or cool is their bedding? How about their pajamas? If your child is waking at a consistent time every night, check their room. Is it too hot or cold? Making small adjustments like adding a fan, turning up the air, putting on cooler or warmer clothes can help keep little bodies comfortable and asleep.
We often overlook the sounds in a room. Typically we point to a room being too loud, but the opposite can be true too. A room that is quiet enough to hear a pin drop means even the smallest sound can disturb a sleeping child. Adding a fan or a sound machine can be helpful to create a consistent, noise-canceling effect.
In addition, start using lower voices once the bedtime routine starts. Quiet voices are a trigger to calming the mind and body.
It’s never too early to start establishing good sleeping habits. Around 4-5 months old, infants can begin to understand the bedtime routine. Establishing a consistent routine is key for healthy sleep habits in older kids.
It’s also important to start the bedtime routine earlier in the evening as well. Give yourself plenty of time to work through the routine at a comfortable pace, and one that actually allows your child to begin to prepare for sleep.
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