8 Ways To Help Your Child Get A Good Night’s Sleep

SLEEP. It’s a topic which dominates every new mum’s conversation and even those with toddlers, preschoolers and older children can be found swapping tips on how to get their little humans to sleep better.

Sleep plays a significant role in brain development and the brain’s ability to function on a day-today basis. When children don’t get enough sleep, they find it much harder to concentrate, focus or learn and are more likely to display behavior problems at school. They can also struggle to control their emotions and become forgetful, irritable and prone to being clumsy and making mistakes.

By setting and maintaining good sleep habits, you can help your child to fall asleep, stay asleep and awake feeling rested and refreshed.

harry-sleeping

Here are some tips to get you started:

1# Set a bedtime and awaking time

When you establish a set time for bedtime and a set time for waking up, you “set” your child’s biological clock so that it functions smoothly. Most children need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep each night, but there’s a lot of variability in sleep needs and patterns. Aim for an early bedtime. Young children respond best with a bedtime between 6.30-7.30pm and will sleep better and longer when they go to bed early. Once you know how much sleep your child needs and what time they go to bed, it’s simple math to set an awaking time.

2# Build and maintain a consistent bedtime routine

A bedtime routine is the best way to ensure that your child gets enough sleep. Routines create security and are especially important for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. A consistent, peaceful bedtime routine allows your child to transition from the motion of the day to the tranquil state of sleep. Doing specific things in a specific order before bed, such as bath time, tooth-brushing, story time and singing lullabies, signal to your child what’s coming next and helps them feel more relaxed. There are no hard-and-fast rules for bedtime, and every child is different, so what’s important is to build a bedtime routine that works for your family. 

3# Reduce screen time

Research has shown that the light from a television screen, tablet or computer monitor can interfere with the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is an important piece of sleep-wake cycles. When melatonin levels are at their highest, most people are sleepy and ready for bed. Just one hour of TV or video games before bed can mess with that enough to keep your child up an extra two hours and disrupt sleep throughout the night.

4# Create a cozy sleep environment

While a stuffed animal can make it easier for your child to sleep, too many toys can make it harder. Soft sheets, a comfortable mattress, black-out blinds, controlled room temperature, warm blankets and relative quiet can help your child differentiate between day and night, making it easier for them to fall asleep.

5# Provide healthy and nutritious bedtime snacks

Foods can affect energy level and sleepiness. Carbohydrates can have a calming effect on the body, while foods high in protein or sugar generate alertness, particularly when eaten alone. A few ideas for pre-bed snacks are: wholegrain crackers and cheese, peanut butter sandwich, oatmeal with bananas, or yogurt and granola.

#6 Keep your child active during the day

Many children don’t get enough daily physical activity. Too much TV watching and a lack of activity prevents good sleep. Children who get ample daily exercise fall asleep more quickly, sleep better, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed.

Avoid activity in the hour before bedtime though, since exercise is stimulating – they’ll be jumping on the bed instead of sleeping in it!

#7 Provide protection from fears

Instead of dismissing bedtime fears, address them. If simple reassurance doesn’t work, you can try buying a special toy to stand guard at night, using a night light or spraying the room with “monster spray” before bed. 

#8 Make bedtime special

When children feel loved, they tend to settle down and relax more. A predictable bedtime routine that includes cuddling up with you for a story, a lullaby or a chat is likely to calm your little one and help them drift off to dreamland more peacefully.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to help your child to get a good night’s sleep?

*Collaborative post with Emma's Diary
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16 Comments

    • 22 September, 2016 / 9:52 am

      Mine are the same, once they’re asleep they’re out for the whole night but it’s getting them to sleep that is often the difficult part. Especially as they share a room because they just giggle and chat away to each other. I’ve definitely got stricter with the bedtime routine since Riley started school though! xx

    • 22 September, 2016 / 9:53 am

      Blackout blinds are a mama’s best friend, especially over the summer months! xx

  1. 21 September, 2016 / 10:36 pm

    Good tips. My own personal one is that children have sleep cycles, so particularly with a baby, if you miss one cycle it can be hard to get them to sleep until the start of the next one. And lack of sleep produces a stress hormone which makes it harder to sleep.

    • 22 September, 2016 / 9:54 am

      Wow…I did not know that about the lack of sleep producing a stress hormone! That’s interesting! xx

  2. 21 September, 2016 / 10:42 pm

    Lots of great tips there, we’ve just got back into a bedtime routine following a summer of ‘whenever’ bedtimes.

    • 22 September, 2016 / 9:56 am

      I think we always ease off with the bedtime routine over summer holidays don’t we? Although with Riley starting school this month, i made a conscious effort to get both boys back in a routine a couple of weeks before the holidays were over! xx

    • 22 September, 2016 / 9:58 am

      Thanks lovely. I think some parents believe that ignoring fears will make them go away but i’ve found it has the opposite effect with my two, so i prefer to tackle them head on!xx

  3. 22 September, 2016 / 10:23 am

    I think having a routine is key, kids know what to expect that way. I also think lavender scents and lighting makes a big difference too x

    • 23 September, 2016 / 11:20 pm

      I totally forgot all about lavender, i’ve got a mist spray that i use on my pillows but i always forget to spray it in their room! xx

  4. 26 September, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    Great tips and I totally agree.
    My girls have a bedtime routine and we tend to keep to the same time each night

    • 27 September, 2016 / 8:51 pm

      Same here, i’ve started keeping the boys to the same time every night as well. I find it works much better for us that way. xx

  5. 28 September, 2016 / 10:44 am

    Ah sleep, elusive sleep!! Great post hun with fab tips. We’ve been pretty Gina Ford about a sleeping routine since they were little so on the whole they’re pretty good. They just wake at 6 something full of beans!! x

    • 1 October, 2016 / 11:56 pm

      Seriously…. how do kids always manage to do that? Mine also wake at 6 every morning without fail completely full of beans and bouncing off the walls. lol xx

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