5 Tips to Help Your Child Create Good Sleep Habits
Tip 1: Create a clear separation between "day" and "night"
When you bring your new born baby home, you find that your baby is almost always sleeping. New born infants can sleep up to 16 hours in a 24 hour cycle or sometimes even more. This is because your little baby’s body and his brain really need all that sleep for growth and development. However many parents find that their baby is more awake at night compared to the day. This leads to very exhausted new parents who are totally not prepared for this side of parenting.
This phenomenon occurs because babies are not born with developed internal clock. This means your little baby’s body is not able to distinguish between day time and night time like adults or older babies and children do. Generally most babies pass this stage by 4 months of age. Parents can however help this process and help their children fall into a pattern much sooner.Exposing your child to some sunlight (not direct sun light), keeping level of activity higher during the day and keeping the room darker and calmer at night. Experts suggest that taking your baby outside during the day to enjoy fresh air and light will help to set the circadian rhythms and help them to sleep better at night.When your baby wakes up at night for a feed, keep the lights dim and conversations or activities to a minimum. Avoid any playful talk or activities like you may have during the day. Your baby will soon learn to distinguish that day time is for fun and night time is boring.
Tip 2: Make your child’s sleep a priority Sleep is a very important factor in the growth and development of your child. Parents assume that babies and young children will fall asleep when they are sleepy and be in control of their sleep needs. However this is not true. Like most other aspects of a young baby’s life, your child needs your help in creating healthy sleep habits. Creating an age appropriate schedule and routine for your baby will go a long way in helping him/her sleep better.Many first time parents make the common mistake of expecting their babies to adjust to their life style. While this may seem possible in the first few days or sometimes weeks, it soon starts to cause problems. While your child will make many adjustments to fit into your way of life, parents must make the adjustments required to allow a child to rest and sleep on time. A well rested child is always a happy child.
Tip 3: Predictability Babies love routines. They love to have some level of predictability. This applies to their sleep and sleep methods. Inconsistencies with how you put your child to sleep at bedtime and with your responses to your child’s wakening is generally one of the root causes of disturbed sleep among babies and children. Creating an age appropriate schedule and routine and following it daily for all of your child’s sleep will help your child know what to expect and will thereby help him to settle into it much more easily.
Tip 4: Sleep Cues Some babies get cranky, some start rubbing their eyes, some start pulling their ears, some may even get hyper active, some others may become very quiet….these are all sleep cues! Different babies do different things to show that they are tired and ready for bed. This is a great time to quickly take your child to bed. These sleep cues may only last a short while after which your child may get his second wind. Once you miss out on this sleep window you may find that you child takes much longer to fall asleep and may stay asleep for a shorter duration.
Tip 5: Consistency and Patience Whenever you introduce any changes to your child’s sleep patterns or methods, be patient to see results. Changes don’t happen overnight! Patience coupled with consistency is the formula to success.