1. Love, Nurture, Cuddles & Acceptance: Make sure that your child has lots of love and nurture during the day. Try to avoid only giving your child cuddles when they’re upset. They need to have lots and lots of cuddles when they’re happy and content as well. And then they’re much less likely to come looking for that physical contact with you during the night time.
So make sure that cuddles kiss, massage touch, and positivity a part of your everyday family life.
2. Realistic Expectations: Make sure that your expectations of your child’s sleep are normal. Lots of people think that their children should be sleeping better than they do and some children do sleep particularly well or badly.
So try not to compare your child with other children around you. If your child’s sleep is not actually bothering you then it’s not a problem. It’s only a problem if it’s a problem for you. So know what’s normal and that will hopefully reassure you.
3. Good Nutrition: Make sure that the food that your child is eating is good for them, is balanced and that they’re eating a rainbow diet and that they’re not suffering from any food and tolerances or allergies. Because allergies are a really common cause of sleep disturbance and in fact, gray bags under the eyes in small children is a sign of a food intolerance or sensitivity, it’s not actually a sign of tiredness.
So if your child is windy bloated has tummy aches or cramps has skin problems has respiratory problems like frequent coughs and colds then do consider whether your child might have an allergy.
And also know what foods are good to eat right before sleep and what foods will actually not help sleep at all.
4. Plenty of Exercises and Outdoor Time: Make sure that your child has plenty of exercises and outdoor time. They need to have lots and lots of fun outside in the fresh air because that exposes them to the right sort of light and it also wears them out physically.
So make sure that your child has plenty of time every single day outdoors in the mud. So find a local park find somewhere where they can run around.
If your child isn’t walking yet it’s still really important to let them roll around outside or crawl or just be exposed to the fresh air.
5. A Positive and Consistent Bedtime Routine: Make sure that your child has a really positive loving and consistent bedtime routine every single day and before every single sleep. So make your nap-time pre-sleep ritual the same as your bedtime pre-sleep ritual. So it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it’s calming and nurturing and peaceful. But do the same things in the same order every single time.
So it might be a massage it might be a story it might be getting into bedtime clothes, it might be dimming all the lights or having a soft song. It doesn’t really matter do what works for your family but does the same things every single time. So that your child begins to know what’s coming next and they can predict it and that will help to anchor their day and make them feel more secure about falling asleep.
6. Set and Keep Boundaries: Make sure that you set and keep boundaries. So this is particularly important for toddlers. They they are learning to explore the world around them and this is really really scary if they don’t know where the limits are.
So these boundaries should be loving and age-appropriate and consistent without the need for harsh Discipline or punitive punishments. But they should be loving and respectful and in your family foster a culture of acceptance mutual respect and forgiveness.
And if you can understand that within the context of your child’s developmental awareness and maturity, then you’ll be able to handle boundaries during the day time.
And if your child understands the boundaries during the day time they will also understand that you mean what you say about bedtime boundaries and in middle of the night boundaries as well.
7. Early Bedtime: Tip number seven is going for an early bedtime. Lots of children get really tired and cranky and hyperactive towards the end of the day and if you can nip that in the bud before they get overtired. Then you’re much more likely to have a peaceful and gentle bedtime routine with your child falling gently into sleep rather than passing out after a period of hyperactivity from pure exhaustion.
So go for maybe half an hour earlier. If your child’s bedtime is after eight o’clock and they’re under five years old try just moving that forward by fifteen minutes and see what difference it makes. Try moving it forward another 15 minutes after another few days and see if it helps a little bit more.
Most parents are worried that if they put their child to bed earlier they will wake up earlier but usually, the opposite is true.
8. Don’t Skip Naps: If your child is under the age of two and a half and you’re not sure if they need a nap then give them a nap. Sometimes it will make their bedtime a little bit later but if you give them a daytime nap it will prevent over tiredness which will stop your bedtime becoming a nightmare.
So even if your child just needs half an hour late morning or in the middle of the day if there are toddler then don’t skip that nap. Because otherwise, you run the risk of your child being cranky and irritable hyperactive and overtired at bedtime. And know what’s normal for your naps for children of different ages.
So, in general, a child under the age of 8 months will probably still need three naps a day and if your child is under about 15 months and they definitely still need two naps a day.
And most children aren’t ready to drop the last nap which is usually the lunchtime nap until they’re about two to two-and-a-half years old.
9. Record a Pattern: Record a pattern of your child’s nighttime waking. So record when they go to sleep how long it takes them to fall asleep when they wake up and what do you do when your child wakes up and see if you can record a pattern.
So you can be your own sleep coach. If you can work out a pattern of how your child behaves and then gently begin to wean them off whatever it takes to get them to fall asleep.
10. Avoid Screens 1-2 Hours Before Sleep: Avoid screens for an hour or two before sleep. Screens, in general, aren’t great for children under the age of about five or six and for all of us. They reduce our natural ability to produce the sleep cycle hormone melatonin.
So it’s a good idea to avoid screens in general but definitely avoid them for the two hours before bedtime. So that’s computers TVs iPads iPhones smartphones night lights sound and light projectors in the bedroom and grow clocks.
So avoid all of those things to keep your child’s natural sleep rhythm hormones high.