Healthy Sleep Habits = Happy Child
Whatever the age of your baby or child, they need plenty of sleep to help them be healthy and happy. Parents need their sleep too, so establishing a regular bedtime routine is really important. Young babies tend to sleep when they need it, and as they get older they should develop their own regular sleep pattern, but problems can occur if your baby won’t sleep. Here are 5 tips for healthy sleep habits and a happy child – and they are equally relevant for younger babies and toddlers too.
1. Know when your child is tired
Often your baby or child won’t sleep simply because they have become overtired. Learn the signs that your child is beginning to tire – such as grumpiness, drowsiness or a lack of interest in people and toys. If your child regularly experiences difficulty getting to sleep try bringing bedtime forward as they may be too tired to settle.
2. Introduce a bedtime routine
By introducing a routine when your baby is quite small you can help them develop healthy sleep habits and learn when it’s bedtime and what to expect. Start with activities such as a bath, change of clothes, feed and cuddle. Some people find baby massage is a useful thing to try at bedtime, as it relaxes your baby and helps them to settle. As your child gets older keep the routine but add extra activities, such as brushing their teeth, reading a story or singing a song. Wherever possible be consistent with the routine and the time your child goes to bed.
3. Create a relaxing environment
If you child or baby won’t sleep it could be because they are not comfortable. Keep the bedroom temperature cool (but not cold), close the curtains and turn off the lights – or use a dimmer switch or night light if your child doesn’t like the dark. In contrast, in the morning open the curtains to let plenty of light in, and keep the house warm and bright – this will help your baby learn the difference between night and day.
4. Make some noise!
Babies and children can sleep through noise, so don’t feel that your house needs to be silent at bedtime. Remember that your baby spent nine months in the womb hearing everything that was going on around them. You may even find that being able to hear the sounds of people moving around, the hoover or the TV can be reassuring as your child knows you are nearby if they need you. “Womb music”, lullabies or white noise can also help a baby to settle, while an older child may like to listen to nursery rhymes or a story before they sleep.
5. Be consistent – and realistic
There are as many different sleep methods as there are baby experts, be consistent and stick with it for at least a couple of weeks. Your baby needs to know what to expect from bedtime and if you chop and change their routine they are more likely to become unsettled, which will cause even greater issues with sleeping. Above all else, be realistic. All babies are different, so don’t measure your baby against another, and if something doesn’t seem to be working as well as you expected, don’t give up hope – your baby will settle into a good sleep pattern in their own time.
Follow these tips and you’ll help your child develop healthy sleep habits and be a happy child!