Sleep is everything! It is essential for our bodies and minds to function. Getting the hang of a good sleep routine for your infant/toddler can benefit the whole family with more restful nights.
Once your infant grows beyond their newborn baby days, you can support a natural sleep schedule by starting a soothing activity like a bath, story, massage or song within an hour of bedtime.
Day and Night
To help ease your infant into your sleeping pattern, help create the right environment for wakeful and sleeping times. Put your infant in a bright or sunny room during waking hours and make sure their room is dark during sleeping hours.
As your child becomes a toddler, make sure to establish a bedtime. This can serve as a guide, because there is no doubt your child will want to stay up later to play games and just be around you.
Just as important for a toddler as for an infant, the bedtime routine can be critical. Set the tone by quieting the household; turn down music, turn off screens, dim the lights. Perhaps a calming bath and a select number of stories, a kiss and a hug and then…”stay in bed, close your eyes and go to sleep.”
Make sure your child’s bedroom is dark, cool, and comfortable. Keep any blinking and lighted toys off or in a toy bin. If your toddler likes to swaddle up and feel the weight of a blanket, make sure you’re using lighter blankets and pajamas to avoid a sweaty wake-up in the middle of the night. Make sure they have their own bed. It’s not uncommon for a toddler to get out of bed multiple times during a night, especially early on. Return them to their own bed in a silent yet comforting manner.
The biggest obstacle to getting kids to sleep is often parents and our lack of consistency. Once you’ve established a bedtime routine, stick to it! A routine can offer comfort and soothing as well as a head’s up to your child that it’s time for them to wind down and rest.
Remember to stay calm and keep in mind that all children are different and so is their sleep routine. You may find that one child really struggles to calm down; and may need more flexibility at bedtime. If that’s the case consider letting them choose to read a book or sing a song. Regardless, stick to the plan and keep bedtime as a matter of fact, not a game, but a time for rest. Tell your child they need rest to wake up feeling healthy, happy, and strong. And as an added bonus you will too!
Sleep is critical for our bodies and minds to develop physically and emotionally. Lack of sleep and proper rest can cause frustration for everyone. If your child, and family, is struggling with inconsistent sleep and it’s having a negative effect it might be time to call your health care provider or pediatrician. Medication should not be given to children to induce sleep – but other support is available.
Talk to your health care provider or your Healthy Futures nurse if you have questions.