If your child is struggling with sleep, more than likely you have done some late night googling on ways to get them to dreamland. There is no doubt a lot of information out there, and even more opinions about the correct way of doing things. While, every child is different, here are a few ideas of things that you can try tonight.
1. Keep it Dark!
Light, natural or artificial, sends a message to our brains that it’s daytime, and not time to sleep. Melatonin production is triggered by darkness, so start turning down the lights an hour before you plan to put baby down. (Especially electronic screens, which emit a blue light that is particularly harmful to baby’s shut-down process.)
For babies who wake up early, invest in some blackout blinds. You can get a decent set for under $30, and I’ve had many parents tell me it’s the best money they ever spent.
2. Turn down the heat
Everyone sleeps best when they’re warm and snuggly inside of a cool environment. A warm night time onesie and a cool nursery, somewhere around 65°F and 70°F (18°C – 21°C) is the best way to ensure that baby remains comfortable through the night.
3. Keep it boring
I know we all love the look of a cute, elegant mobile over the top of our baby’s crib, or the sounds of the little faux-aquarium with the little plastic light-up fish, but even though they may seem soothing to us, they can be a real source of fascination for your little one, which is great! Just not when they’re trying to sleep. To a baby, they can be the equivalent of a big budget action movie, so keep visual stimulation away from the crib.
A white noise machine can help to block out any outside noise that might prematurely wake your baby, and a yellow night light can keep toddlers from getting spooked by the darkness, but other than that, the more boring your child’s bedroom is, the better they’ll sleep.
4. Be predictable
"When you do anything in a consistent manner, you are making yourself predictable and therefore easier to trust".
A well-planned, consistent bedtime routine is conducive to a good night’s sleep, no matter what your age, but particularly with babies. Once their bodies and brains start to recognize the signals that indicate an upcoming bedtime, they will start preparing to pack it in for the evening as soon as that first step begins.
Their energy levels will start to wind down, melatonin production will kick in, and muscles will start to relax, so by the time you’re giving them a goodnight kiss, their system should be all set for a long, restorative sleep.
Teaching your child great sleep skills isn’t a one-night and done deal . It takes some time, a lot of repetition, and plenty of consistency on the part of the parents, but for those of you who are desperate for just a little bit of relief, these tips should help you and your little one get a few more hours of shut-eye, starting right now.
You can work on the rest of it once you’ve had a little rest, and as always, if you are looking for more support… don’t hesitate to reach out.