Establishing a Sleep Routine
Establishing a sleep routine for your baby can often be challenging and frustrating at times for new parents. I learned the hard way with my first as there was a lot of patting, rubbing and rocking. I decided to get it right with my second! I think it helped that he loved to sleep (and still does today at 31!). I would nurse him, change his diaper and then gently place him in his bassinet while he was still awake. He really did learn to self soothe and it seemed painless… it becomes so much harder the older they get! See below for some great tips on how to get your children to sleep from our partners at Wholeplay!
Tips for getting young children to sleep
Whether you call it formal sleep training or not, there are several helpful strategies parents can use to set their young children up for success when it comes to sleep:
• Allow young children to self-soothe. Generally speaking, it is easier to do this when parents give children the opportunity to self-soothe as early as possible.
That means beginning when children are infants!
• Put young children to sleep sleepy, but awake. Again this has to do with teaching them how to self-soothe as soon as they appear ready. Although young children may desperately want their parents present while they fall asleep, it actually leads to more disrupted sleep in the long run.
• Set up a consistent bedtime routine involving relaxing, low stimulation activities.
This may include a small snack, bath time, brushing teeth, story time and bed.
This process will begin to relax your child and allow them to wind down from the day’s activities, preparing their body for rest.
• During bedtime, avoid having toys or electronics accessible to your child. This includes having the television on. Watching television close to bedtime is associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, and anxiety around sleep, and poor-inadequate sleep, which leads to mood swings, behaviour problems and an inability to concentrate in school.
• When using any formal sleep training method, be consistent in carrying it out.
Sleep problems can be made worse if the sleep training method being used is not used consistently. For this reason, it is important to select a sleep training method that parents feel comfortable with before implementing it.
• Do not allow young children to nap “on the go” on a regular basis. Make sure naps occur at consistent times throughout the day and occur in a quiet, sleep-inducing environment.
• Create a stress-free sleep environment for your young child. When parents become stressed out about their young children’s sleep, young children pick up on it, which in turn, interferes with their ability to sleep.
• Don’t change your child’s sleep routine unless/until it stops working. When/if it stops working is may be a sign that your child has outgrown the particular sleep approach that you’re using and is ready for an approach that is less intrusive.
Again, the older a child is, the less intervention they need from their parents.
• Know your child and follow her sleep cues. Every child is unique and therefore requires her own set of strategies for getting to sleep. For example, some kids require little to no stimulation while others need stimulation in order to feel sleepy. Some kids need a lot of proximity to their caregivers while others may be disrupted by proximity to their caregivers.