7 TIPS ON HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO SLEEP

Baby to sleep

The Bedtime Challenge

Bedtime is a very important part of each day’s routine but getting the child to sleep can be frustrating for both child and parent.  Many parents regularly dread it when it’s time to put their children to bed… the struggle it can be, and it can be very confronting when being challenged by your beautiful, adorable young child who seems to object vociferously as soon as you mention the words “it’s time for bed”, no matter how tired they might be. When a child is overtired, or sleep deprived in any way, it can be very challenging for both parent and child.

The bedroom should be a positive, happy place where children love to be, a room that’s welcoming, restful and somewhere to sleep peacefully but bedtime can be a very frustrating time for many parents, as both parents and children can all be tired.  However, there are solutions to this commonly asked question… “How do I get a baby to sleep”?

To solve this common parental dilemma, we need to take a closer look at a few different aspects regarding what should happen prior to bedtime.  One of the main aspects of preparing a child for bed is your language and your tone of voice.    

Seven tips for preparing your child for bed…

Getting your child to sleep

TIP 1 The Room

A child’s bedroom should be an environment that is a warm, positive, safe place.  It needs to be inviting… where children can enjoy playing, reading or just relaxing and where they can fall asleep happily each day.

It should never be used in a negative way as a place for them to be sent to because they were rude, naughty or being punished for something.  If a child misbehaves, their bedroom is definitely not a place to be sent to.  

Tip. 2 Your Tone of Voice

A parent’s language and tone of voice around every phrase should always send positive messages, especially before the bedtime routine.

If a child is sent to their bedroom by their parent using words such as “Go to bed now” or “There are no stories tonight” or “You’re going straight to bed”, in a negative, angry tone of voice, these phrases send strong negative messages to a child around the process of going to bed, their bedroom and themselves.

Negative phrases send conflicting messages and only make a child feel confused and unhappy, especially at the end of their day when it should be a happy time of closeness and good feelings about themselves.  It can cause a lot of harm to a child’s overall self-esteem and a child’s health and wellbeing.

TIP 3. Allow Time

Don’t over-schedule your day, as children can become over-tired.  Super-busy, stressful days, packed with after-school activities can create havoc with babies, and young children. When parents are over-tired and stressed, this can lead to rushed bedtime routines and cause a child’s regular sleep pattern to be out of kilter.

TIP. 4 Have a Routine

Children love routine.  Establish a regular wind-down routine.  Children start to wind down in late afternoons as usually the day has been full of play time.  Their bodies are slowing and they can get irritable quickly.  They may not process information as easily, and life gets out of balance.

Slow-down routines such as enjoying reading books, watching limited screen time, or helping in the kitchen, help establish a child’s wind-down time as an enjoyable time of the day… for both child and parent.

TIP 5 Plan Ahead

Organise the evening meal to be eaten early, say around 5pm.  This takes forward planning. Children love to assist, helping in the preparations, if old enough.  Children are much more likely to eat food that they have helped prepare.  The evening meal should be a time when, as a family, you talk about what’s happened over the school day etc and it’s a great time to reflect on and discuss any issues that your children may be concerned about.  Children will open up on what’s bothering them if they feel valued and listened too.

Tip. 6 Have a Check List

Establish a BEDTIME ROUTINE CHART for after the evening meal… Children love routines, they look forward to it and it helps make them feel secure.

Give adequate warning time that the impending bedtime routine is approaching.  The wind-down time is needed to precede the bedtime routine so that children will cooperate and have enough time to put their activities away.  This might be 5-10 mins.  Wind-down time allows children to wind down from the activities of the day, as it’s important for them to transition the brain into their sleep-time mode.  It helps prepare the mind and body for sleep.

Headings for the Bedtime Chart…

Bath, Pyjamas, Teeth, Story Book Time, Potty or Night Diaper, Lights out or a soft night light, Singing songs, Hugs and Kisses

Tip. 7 The Surroundings

The room should be quiet and one that promotes relaxation.  The sleeping environment needs to be completely dark to promote deep sleep for a child to feel rested.  Darkened or block-out shades or blinds enable good sleep.  The ideal sleeping room temperature should be around 18 – 21 degrees Celsius or 65 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep for a baby, toddler or child.  Soft music can aid sleep, but for 5 – 10 mins only.  Children need to drift off to sleep by themselves, preferably without the aid of soft music or white noise. Children need to be able to sleep hearing the general running household noises.  Otherwise it can create a very light sleeper, lead to insomnia or difficulties in the future in not being able to get a deep sleep or have a proper sleep cycle.

It’s important that parents, during bedtime winddown times, use quiet, more soft tones of voice.  This allows little ones’ minds and bodies to settle quietly, giving them a feeling of being loved and cared for.

Read the personal story of one parent’s experience in successfully establishing a bedtime routine

A New Baby in the Home

newborn baby

Shortcuts to coping with the demands of the arrival of a new baby

New baby in the Home

Exciting as it is, we can all feel out of our depth with the arrival of a new baby and becoming a parent for the very first time.

You may have read the theory, watched videos, chatted with family and friends but if you haven’t spent much time around babies, tiny infants can overwhelm you and provide you with a reality check.

Being able to cope with the demands of a new baby means parents need lots of sleep, rest and need to eat properly.  Remember, as new parents you will always benefit from the practical tips, insights and the little pearls of wisdom other parents who have already been there.

Feeding, sleeping patterns, and bathing a newborn can have their challenges. It’s important that a baby gets the right amount of sleep for its development.  A newborn baby needs to sleep about four hours at a time before it wakes and needs changing, feeding, then putting back down to sleep.  

Ten Tips to Help You Cope

Always take care of yourself first, as babies need you to be healthy and able to take proper care of them.

Before a new baby arrives, prepare meals in advance for busy times. When making meals, cook for two nights instead of the one or freeze for another time.  Rearrange your normal daily routine eg, cook your main meal in the morning instead of at night, as well as other chores.

The correct amount of sleep for yourself is paramount to your baby’s health and development.

If it’s the only child, you should sleep when they sleep as your rest is also important.

If you have other children to cope with, you should also sleep when they sleep.

Don’t be a martyr and try to do everything as you did before, recognize that a new baby can be stressful.

Allow time for your partner and other children.

Be aware of your baby’s safety at all times.  Don’t leave your baby where they may fall or hurt themselves or be unsupervised by others, or with animals.

Avoid loud noises around your baby as a baby needs a reasonable amount of quietness.

Never be afraid to ask for assistance from your health worker as they have the training, knowledge and experience to answer your concerns or questions in all areas of infancy and young children, even if it’s for reassurance.

As new parents or bringing another baby into the home your approach should be that of inclusiveness.  Model good communication skills, where parents demonstrate love and support, closely listening to and understanding each child’s needs.

Another baby arrives

Prepare older children for the expected arrival of a new baby, helping them to understand the new dynamics it will bring to the family.  Show them some pictures of themselves when they were little.  Read stories about new babies, how they grow, cry, and need special looking after.  Children need to feel that they also can assist by watching, helping to bath them and hold them when they are asleep.  Even though children don’t fully understand how the family dynamics will change, they need to know that they too, have an important role to play by being involved and this makes them feel important.  Reassure your children that you will need lots of help from them.  Explain beforehand that the new baby will need lots of sleep, feeding and the changing of their nappies.  Other children need lots of love and cuddles from their parents which demonstrates that they too are as important as the new baby.

As new parents we need to be prepared for the many challenges and situations that a newborn baby will present as normal everyday routines are disrupted.