Whether you are a first time parent or seasoned, one anxious thought that might cross a parent’s mind is that of sleep-and how much (or not) you will get of it. As a seasoned parent of three boys, I sure wish I had some helpful tips when I felt pretty clueless with our first! Especially in the area of sleep and knowing what were good and not so helpful sleep habits.
I used sleep training with my second and third sons. Having done that and recently becoming a certified sleep consultant, I have learned so much! Here are some of the biggest tips I have learned:
Whether the child sleeps in their own room or shares with Mom and Dad, I have learned that darkness helps with melatonin, the hormone that brings on sleep. The darker the room (the more it resembles night) the better. If there is light it triggers serotonin, the wake hormone. It also helps to have a white noise machine (I’ve personally found it helps block outside noise, too! Like dogs barking or even storms sometimes). Also consider the temperature in the room – if you might think the room is a bit chilly, consider dressing the child a bit warmer than you think. Especially during our hot Summer months, lightweight clothes/sleep sack/blanket is optimal. If your child is waking up sweaty, they are too warm.
Sleepy Time Routine
I am a firm believer in routine and predictability. We formed a routine that we would do for both bedtime at night as well as a shorter version for naptime during the day. It generally consisted of bath, PJ’s, books, maybe some soft music or lullabies/singing and bed (in a dim lit room). I think the predictability of that routine helped my kids realize that sleep was coming. Limit screen time and caffeine two hours before sleep.
As a first time parent I hadn’t realized that there were certain ages that babies and kids just go through different physical and developmental spurts. The more you tire them out, the more wake time you can give them to practice their skills (crawling, walking, cruising furniture, etc) the less likely they will “practice” in bed. They do naturally also go through sleep regressions, at different points. It can all just be part of a developmental phase.
Not for small babies but perhaps beginning when they are around a year old, a child can begin with a “lovey”. This can be a favorite blanket or a small stuffed animal. Having a lovey can bring a child comfort and help them drift off to sleep. Just be sure to have two of them in case one needs washed or gets lost 😉
I think the most general, important tip of all is CONSISTENCY. This was a term I heard over and over about through sleep training and my sleep certification class. Try to keep place, times, and any sleep routines and such the same. A lot of children thrive with predictability.
There you have it – I hope you have found some of these tips to be beneficial to your family!