As parents, we’re well aware of the importance of sleep in a child’s development. On a smaller scale, we also notice how on edge and whiny they can get when they don’t sleep enough. It is, therefore, our job to provide them with enough quality sleep, and there are things we can do to make that happen.
Stick to a pre-set bedtime and waking time
If you want your child to get enough sleep, you need to establish some sort of schedule. This means that you should have them in and out of bed at approximately the same time every day, including the weekend. If you let them stay up late or sleep longer on Saturdays and Sundays, they might have trouble falling asleep at their normal bedtime during the week. If you normally have them in bed by 9 o’clock, it’s ok if they go to bed at 9:15, but try to be as punctual as possible. Also, if you want them up by 7 in the morning, don’t let them sleep later than 7:30 at the weekend.
Create a bedtime routine
If your child is playing one minute, and the next you want them in bed, you’ll probably fail. That’s why it would be a good idea to create a routine for them, so that they have a certain transition from playtime to bedtime. The routine should be simple, but consistent – like putting their toys away, brushing their teeth and putting their pajamas on. If you stick to these activities and in the same order every night, they will associate them with bedtime, which will automatically make them more tired as soon as they start doing them. Of course, this means that they will be more willing to go to bed in the first place and it will make it easier for them to fall asleep.
Create a healthy and relaxing sleeping environment
Your child’sbedroom should be a warm and special place, one they like being in. Avoid sending them to their room as punishment, because they will then perceive bedtime as sort of a punishment, too, which will make them resist going to bed. Make sure their room is clean, without dust and damp air, especially if your child suffers from allergies or any other respiratory issues. Air the room out regularly and get an efficient air purifier for allergies to ease their breathing during the night and make them more comfortable while sleeping.
Avoid too much food before bed
Don’t let them eat too much of anything before going to bed, but be especially careful with sweets, high-fat foods and foods containing caffeine. Their evening meals shouldn’t be large and they shouldn’t have them too close to bedtime. Just like you determine the time to go to bed, have them eat dinner at the same time every evening, too. Also, don’t let them drink too much water or milk before sleeping, since it may keep them awake longer, wake them up during the night to go to the bathroom, or they could even wet their bed. If a glass of milk or water is a part of their evening routine, maybe you could serve it in a smaller glass. And if they want a late night snack, keep it small and healthy to avoid any problems while falling asleep.
Calm your child down
If you can, accompany your child to their bedroom when they go to bed. Read them a story they like, but nothing too exciting or overstimulating. Sing them a lullaby, cuddle with them or simply talk to them in a quiet, soothing voice. Dim the lights while doing this, so that it’s easier to switch them off when you leave your child’s room. Instead of letting them watch TV before bed, play them some calming music or let them tell you what they liked best about their day.
These tips may sound simple and doable, but don’t be surprised or thrown back if they don’t work from the start or aren’t immediately effective. Be patient. All good habits take time to form, including your child’s sleep-related ones.
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