Every child is different, but that doesn’t mean they can’t all have a great night’s sleep. According to Alanna McGinn of Good Night Sleep Site, a few simple steps can quickly lead to better rest for everyone.
Consistency is key
Keep wake times and bedtimes consistent throughout the week. It helps set day-night rhythm in babies, but regular hours should be followed with older children as well. Your child doesn’t know the difference between Monday morning and Saturday morning, so stay consistent on weekends too.
Mellow things out
Try to avoid over-stimulation and social interaction at night. Create the appropriate atmosphere in your baby’s room by speaking in hushed tones, and when you check on them, keep it “brief and boring.”
Make your child’s environment conducive to sleep. Their bedroom should be cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. But using a nightlight is fine.
Routines are the best route to bedtime
A bedtime routine should be followed consistently. If you do bath time, brushing teeth, and reading a story, try to do it that way every night. This will help prepare your little one for sleep.
Don’t do it for them
Put your child to bed drowsy but not asleep. You want them to learn how to fall asleep on their own. Try not to rush to their side at the first sign of stirring. You may be surprised that they resettle on their own.
Sleep begets sleep
Naptime is one of the most important factors in establishing healthy sleep at night. Babies and children up to four years of age need a lot of sleep. The better rested a child is during the day the more accepting and expecting they will be of sleep at night. If no limits and routine are set during the day, you can’t expect there to be any at night. Working on a consistent nap schedule and long restorative naps are just as important as working on sleeping through the night.
Avoid sleep associations
Rocking or having your child sleep in their car seat may help in the beginning, but you risk creating sleep associations for your child that can become a crutch.
But a bedtime friend is okay
Sometimes children feel safer and more secure with a comfort item like a blankie. If they are old enough let them choose the item themselves. For babies, use only one item and choose a firm small stuffed animal rather than a big soft one.