One of the most popular topics of discussion relating to young children is sleep issues. So many parents and grandparents are worried about their child or grandchild’s sleep. Because it’s one of my favorite topics to help families with, I’ve developed a support program specifically around sleeping.
Some of the areas I discuss with parents in my Nighty Night, Sleep Tight Program include:
- The child’s sleeping environment
- The child’s bedtime and nap time routines
- The sleep/wake schedule (amount of sleep required at various ages)
- How to promote good sleep habits and the importance of sleep
- The concerns parents have about their child’s sleep – and also their own!
- Individual sleep plan for the child/family
- Self-regulation and self-soothing strategies
Many children, regardless of their abilities, have some form of sleep difficulties during the first 5 years of life. Starting off with good, healthy sleep habits early on can help you avoid bigger sleep issues down the road and since sleep is the #1 correlation with healthy brain development it is important to help your child develop good habits early on.
Most parents soothe and relax their young infants to sleep, but helping your baby learn to relax and fall asleep without your help will ensure they can put themselves back to sleep when they do wake up during the night so everyone can get much needed sleep during the night and feel refreshed and restored in the morning and throughout the day. How can you tell if your child is getting enough sleep? Ask yourself: Are they cranky or sleepy when they wake up? Do they seem affected by lack of sleep during the day? Do they appear hyperactive or “over-tired?”
Establishing bedtime routines leading up to sleep are very helpful. Putting your infant or child in their crib or bed before he or she is asleep is especially helpful. You don’t want your child to connect falling asleep with being fed, rocked or sung to while in your arms because that is what they will expect and require upon night time wakeups and later bedtimes. Putting them to bed drowsy will help them learn. Most infants can sleep through the night without awaking when they are about 6 months old. Developing a regular bedtime and wakeup time can be very effective with helping your child get enough rest. Reducing over-stimulating activities before bedtime, particularly active play or TV/Screen time, can help decrease sleep problems. However, any type of aerobic activity during the later afternoon can aid in sleep.
The important thing to keep in mind is that your child can adjust to whatever you set up for them. Are you establishing what helps you and your child gain a better night’s sleep or are they controlling what you do? Remember, if you need help, I’m a phone call or email away and I’d be honored to hear your story and help you out! You don’t have to do this alone – don’t wait another night if you are ready for some solid guidance, answers and support. I’m here to help, but the first step is yours. 😀