SLEEP ANGELS to Help your child sleep like a baby
Sleep. That’s all I need to say really. It’s talked about and sought after by parents and children alike. When someone asks about your child, one of the first questions is "Does he sleep through the night yet?”. Certainly, when you are woken up in the small hours, the quality of your child’s sleep comes quickly to mind!
It’s not just parents that think it’s hard work when their children have trouble sleeping. It’s hard for children too; it’s just that there are no statistics for how children feel about it.
In DREAM you will find tips directly related to your child's age. The Sleep Angels outlined here intend to help you know about the choices that are out there, so you can try what you feel is the best choice for your baby (and you). They wish to help new parents who might be looking to learn whatever they can, as well as more experienced parents who are looking for some additional ‘tricks’ if the usual approach isn’t working quite right.
The Sleep Angels will help you enter the 'sleeping zone' with as much positive energy as you can, which means not feeling guilty or a failure if you go through difficulties in trying to get your little one to sleep.
As always the most important thing to remember is that you know your child best, and therefore what will work with her habits, personality, likes and dislikes.
Also, notice what is going on for you… Research points out that parents’ mood and children’s sleep impact one another. It makes a lot of sense, of course, that with better sleep and easier bedtime, parents are less likely to feel tense, frustrated, fatigued and depressed. They will therefore in turn be calmer at bedtime and more easily able to tune into the child’s emotions, helping the child settle down to sleep.
Hopefully these science based sleep angels provide some tips to give you some more choices and help everyone feel positive around bedtime.
Practical guidance for parents
Our practical guidance is based in science. Here are 5 sleep angels you can try with your child to encourage positive restful sleep for all.
1. Get to know your child’s sleepy signs.
- Catch the sleepy signs before overtiredness occurs. When overtired, infants get more grizzly, and babies and toddlers will find it difficult to fall asleep.
- For infants, put them down as soon as you can after seeing the signs which may include yawning (simple but true), rubbing eyes, losing interest in interaction, or crying.
- For babies and toddlers, sleepy signs may include getting more clingy or grizzly, more easily frustrated, or becoming more active (look out for that one!)
- Start calming things down and begin your positive bedtime routine (and avoid TV just before bed).
2. Create a bedtime routine
- A consistent, calming routine encourages positive sleep habits in children
- Easy does it; all you need is three steps that are positive and calming for your child and for you (e.g. bath, massage, story).
- It can be beneficial to keep the routine to no more than 20-30 minutes, depending on your child’s age and when you notice she is ripe for bed.
3. Help your child learn about daytime and night time
- The learning can start early, although you won’t see any real consistency in your baby’s pattern until 3 months at the earliest.
- Learning can include exposure to more activity and light during the day; dim and quiet atmosphere in the evening; massage; night-time breast milk (if you are breast feeding).
- With your toddler, continue helping him calm things down before bed
4. Ensure a safe and soothing sleeping area
- This includes ensuring the right temperature and lighting, correct sleeping position (on the back), and comfortable clothing.
- The bed needs a firm mattress and no duvet or pillow until age 1.
5. Help your child learn to self-soothe
- Self-soothing can be a lovely habit for your child to learn, as and when it feels right for you and seems right for your child.
- White noise can be helpful from infancy, and comfort objects can help aid sleep from 6 months onwards.