Being a new parent can bring lots of fresh challenges to your life, one of the biggest of these is trying to get your child to sleep. It’s easy to get confused, as there are so many different guidelines and techniques from all those baby books you bought, all the websites, and of course the plethora of advice given by your family and friends.
Being exposed to so many different ideas can get very confusing, especially when they all claim to hold the key to restful sleep.
As part of our #ChildSleepMonth, we thought we would trawl through tried and tested techniques, and ask real-life parenting bloggers for their experiences through the good times, and the bad.
We all know sleep is crucial to a child’s well-being and development, and a lack of sleep can cause issues with behaviour, such as irritableness or hyperactivity – not to mention a very stressful home environment.
So the first step is to establish how long your child needs to be sleeping, which is relative to their age group. The NHS have collated a fantastic guide on this, as recommended by the Millpond Child’s Sleep Clinic.
But what else is there to know?
Stick to your routine
A child’s body, much like that of an adult’s, works on a regular body clock, and if this is disturbed, the consequences could be catastrophic for not only your child’s sleep, but also the length of your patience.
“Routine is key: dinner, play, bath, story & milk and then ‘good night words’. [It] also helps if they’re active during the day.”
“Routine is the key, so they know what to expect, e.g. bath then book then drink and toilet and finally bed for sleeping.”
Try if you can to make this routine enjoyable, so that your children will be less keen to stray from it. Reading to your children before bed is a great, fun way for them to learn and spend time with you.
Create the final countdown
Nothing is worse than surprising a young child with a sudden bedtime, as going to bed should be a soothing, relaxing time and it should not be upsetting. Begin the countdown an hour before bed and note the time every fifteen minutes or so to keep your child up to date with how long they have left.
Keep calm and carry on
Sometimes when you’ve had a tough day, it’s hard not to get into a sour mood. At the same time however, it is important that you do not take it out on your children.
If they’re misbehaving, keep collected and create a calm environment to resolve the situation. When the day is coming to an end, try to lower the lighting a little, turn the television down and let the senses slow before bedtime.
Avoid televisions in their bedroom
Although many older children now have televisions in their rooms, if your child is below the age of eleven or twelve, it is best to keep their bedrooms sleep orientated.
Televisions work only to keep children awake and stimulated, things which aren’t great for sleep. In addition to this, smartphones and other electronic gadgets also help keep children awake, so keeping them out of reach before bedtime is important.
One of the worst mindsets that you can introduce to bedtime, is that of ‘you versus them’. If you can, try and work together as a team, as this is important for when you are changing a new sleeping routine for your children, which may happen when your children start, or go back to school.
If your child happens to be really young, you could use a picture chart to bring them into the new routine.
Do you have any tips of the trade that you would like to share with us? Leave a comment below to let us know!