Guest Post: 3 Easy Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Better Today
Guest article from Ashley Bell, pediatric sleep consultant at littlebellsleepsolutions.com
From birth on, sleep is a topic that every parent has questions about. The newborn stage can leave you wondering if you’re really cut out for this parenting thing (don’t worry…you are). Once you get past the newborn hurdle, you assume your baby’s sleep will improve. Then you hit the dreaded 4-month regression! When your child becomes a toddler, you are sure that these sleep issues will resolve any day now. Unfortunately, there are common sleep issues that need more attention and cannot be solved in one night. However, there are three simple things you can do today to help your child start sleeping better right away!
1. Use a sound machine. Make turning it on a part of your bedtime routine and leave it on the whole time your child is sleeping. We sleep in cycles. Each cycle starts in light sleep, transitions into deep sleep, and then back into light sleep again. Ambient noises can wake even a great sleeper when he’s in a light stage of sleep. Creaky floors, lawn mowers, siblings, and pets are examples of things that could wake up your child before he’s gotten enough rest. A sound machine is a great way to block out all of these sounds.
Use static sounds, such as white, brown, or pink noise, instead of changing ones like lullabies and nature sounds. Don’t worry about dependency on the sound machine. Many of them are portable if you travel and it is the easiest dependency to break if you want to at any point (simply decrease the volume a notch every few nights until it’s no longer needed). A sound machine can even help adults, so try one for yourself too.
2. Make the room as dark as possible. Light tells the brain that it is time to be awake. You want your child’s brain to get the message to sleep when it is time to do so. Therefore, you want his room to be as dark as possible. Blackout curtains are usually not enough; they let in a lot of sunlight on the top and sides. My favorite product to fix this problem is BlackoutEZ (affiliate link). This is a window cover that you can customize to the exact size of your window. It uses Velcro to attach the cover to the window frame, so there is literally no light coming in. When you do want natural light, it can be taken down in seconds and easily put back up when needed. If you don’t mind the look, a black contractor’s trash bag and some painters’ tape can have a similar effect.
A night light is also not necessary. Fear of the dark is not usually a factor until age 3 or so. If your child does express a fear of the dark, or you feel a night light is necessary in case you need to go in, follow these tips:
- use a very dim night light.
- place the night light behind something, like a dresser, so your child only sees the glow around it, not a bright light.
- use a night light that can be turned on and off and only have it on when needed.
Also, don’t forget about the light (and sound, for that matter) that can come in at the bottom of your child’s door. A simple draft stopper can solve that problem quickly.
3. Use a solid bedtime routine. Babies and small children aren’t able to tell time and therefore rely on routines to help them know when bedtime is coming. The exact length and details of the routine aren’t quite as important. The essential part of a bedtime routine is that it is followed in the same order every night. The repetition will let your child know that it is time to wind down and get ready for sleep. Even newborn babies can benefit from a very simple bedtime routine.
Sleep is sleep. Although you don’t need as long of a routine for naps, you should definitely still have one. Not all parts of your bedtime routine will be applicable to a nap, such as changing into pajamas or brushing teeth. A naptime routine should just be the parts of it that make sense to do during the day. Here are examples of great bedtime and naptime routines:
Bedtime: bath or wash up, brush teeth, change into pajamas and sleep sack, read a story, turn on sound machine, hugs and kisses, lights out.
Naptime: put on sleep sack, read a story, turn on sound machine, hugs and kisses, lights out.
Photo via Pixabay
Implement these three tips today and your child will be sleeping better right away!