Sleep Hygiene for Babies and Children
Who Wakes You Up?
No matter how old your children are it is likely that they could cause sleepless nights. Sleep Hygiene are habits that are essential to healthy minds and healthy bodies, for both you and your kids.
The greatest gift that you can give your newborn is the ability to soothe himself and go to sleep. Though it is easier to say than to do, the truth is, if you start, from day 1, the newborn will get into the habit of going to sleep easily. Use these guidelines to establish good sleep hygiene.
1. The environment should be soothing and comfy.
2.Ambient conditions in terms of heat, light and noise are best.
3. Set a sleep/wake pattern in terms of times that the newborn should be in their cradle or crib. They will quickly accommodate to the situation, if you let them. A few minutes of crying at the very beginning will allow them to be good sleepers…which is a gift that lasts a lifetime!
“It is the Best of Times and It is the Worst of Times”
Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
If there is one thing I would like to emphasize from a psychological point of view, it is how very important bedtime is.
The 30 minutes before a child goes to sleep is the sweet spot of the day. Their defenses are down and, given the right opportunity, they are ready, willing and able to share their innermost feelings, their fears, their conflicts and their love.
Kids Need Bedtime Rituals
The key to a calm bedtime lies in planning. Parents need to create a reasonable time plan for the evening. Ideally there should be enough time for dinner, a bath, and 15-30 minutes of reading and relaxing time with a parent.
Spending some special time with each child before they go to sleep is essential. It helps you bond, it allows you to be in touch with your child’s inner core, and gives you the opportunity to teach your children how to cope.
Listening to your child before they nod off to sleep is the sweet spot of the day. This is the best way to give your child a sense of security and trust.
Sleep Hygiene for Kids
Preparing for the Next Day
Children, like adults, often worry about the next day. In order to reduce stress, have a list (can be pictures) which sequences night time responsibilities. For example, pack the backpack, get notes signed, take a bath, feed fish.
Ask your child if there is anything on his mind, and make a list so he is not worried about forgetting something. “Empty your backpack” which is explained in Why Kids Don’t Want to Sleep section.
It is helpful to have the same bedtime each night and to wake up the same time each morning. This rhythm is helpful to a child’s mind and body. Be sure to give your child enough time to sleep, enough time to wake up, and enough time to do their evening and morning routines.
Parents need to have a positive feeling towards bedtime. Parents should not be cranky, tense or distracted because children will mirror these emotions.
The hour before a child is actually asleep needs to be a calm and relaxing time.
Kids, even more than adults, need to decrease their state of alertness. Just like a plane coming in for a landing, a child needs to slow down his nervous system.
The hour before bedtime should be one in which lights are low, activity and sound are minimized.
Is Bedtime the Worst Time in Your House?
The Chaotic House
Some families are over-extended. Just like some spend more money than they earn, some families commit themselves to more activities than they have time for.
When this happens, it seems like there is not enough time in the day, and the traffic jam is at its worst at the end of the day a/k/a bedtime!
In order to protect bedtime and sleep, parents must re-think their day, and consider putting their family on a diet – a diet that subtracts activities. Like food, there are certain activities that are like protein. Consider sleep to be an essential vitamin for brain and body health.