You’ll find that the most common sleep problems you’ll encounter are caused by your child’s behaviour. These can include:
- Not wanting to get into their bed, and then not staying in their own bed
- Not settling into a peaceful sleep
- Waking up constantly throughout the night – and waking you up in the process!
- Waking too early
- Not getting enough sleep
Remember, it is natural for your child to wake throughout the night. The problems arise however when they are unable to self-soothe and put themselves back to sleep.
What can you do?
Consistency is key! Setting a regular bedtime is important to ensure your child gets the optimum amount and the best quality sleep they need. This time should not vary by more than an hour – even on holidays or weekends. This goes with wake up times, they should remain consistent too.
Set a bedtime routine
When they know that bedtime is at the same time every day, they can anticipate sleep. In the lead up to this time their body will subconsciously begin preparing to rest. To assist with this you should create a 30-60 minute bedtime routine consisting of quiet activities. These can include:
- A warm bath – There are bedtime bath washes that utilise the restful scent of lavender and other essential oils to get your child in the mood for bedtime
- A drink or small snack – Sleeping on an empty stomach is uncomfortable, and thirst or hunger gives your small human an excuse to get up out of bed
- A soothing song or story
- Getting tucked in with a special blanket or toy – Rest will become associated with this object, and eventually the sight or feel of this special toy or blanket will inspire sleepiness.
- A goodnight kiss and then lights out
Don’t make it too complicated, just stick to it every night! There should be no TV, computers, caffeine or stimulating games in this time before bed.
Create your little ones Sleep Haven
As with adults, a child’s bedroom should be their sleep haven. Ensure that their bedroom is quiet and dark. If they need a night light, use one, just ensure it’s dim. If the shadows these lights cast are frightening, make sure you take the time to lay with them and explain what each shadow is before you leave to relieve their anxiety.
Their bedroom should be a positive place for sleep and relaxation. To keep it this way don’t use it as a place of punishment and try to keep electronic screens out of their rooms. Needing the TV to go to sleep is a bad habit that you don’t want them to develop, and can also make it harder to keep tabs on what they’re viewing. If they need white noise, try quiet soothing music rather than the chatter of the TV.
At the end of the bedtime routine make sure you say goodnight, turn the lights out and leave the room. If this is the first time you’re doing this with your child, make sure you explain to them what’s happening. It’s important to be firm but reassuring at this time. It will usually take your little one 15-20 minutes to fall asleep, try to avoid doing things around their room during this time.
If they keep getting up out of bed to find you, consistency is essential. Take them back to their beds and tell them to go sleep. Each time they get up to find you, take them back to bed and repeat. Try to be as boring as possible.
If this still doesn’t work, you may need to review their daytime activities. Make sure that they are napping appropriately for their age, and ensure they are getting enough exercise and sun during the day.
Remember that the first few times you try to enact this it may be frustrating to you and your child but to make it work long term, you must remain firm and calm. Keep it consistent. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.