Teaching your child good sleeping habits from a young age will help create a lifetime of restful nights’ sleep. Kids need plenty of Z’s to rest and restore their growing minds and bodies but many will experience sleeping problems like resisting going to bed or waking up throughout the night. To help your little one fall asleep, stay asleep and establish healthy and long-lasting sleeping habits try the tips below.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule – Your child’s bedtime and wake-up time should be about the same every day to help establish a natural sleep-wake cycle and avoid bedtime battles. As a general guide, toddlers (1-3 years) need 12-14 hours of sleep each day, pre-schoolers (3-5 years) need 11-13 hours and school aged children (5-10 years) need 10-11 hours to function at their best.1
- Plan quiet time before bed – Turn off the TV, video games and computer and set aside an hour of quiet time before bed. Start with a trip to the bathroom for your little one to wash, use the toilet and brush their teeth, followed by soothing or bonding activities like story time, listening to quiet music or chatting about the day.
- Make sure their bedroom environment is favourable to sleeping – A sleep-friendly bedroom should be quiet, comfortable, dark and without a TV or computer. Eliminate unnecessary clutter, add a soothing colour scheme and comfortable bedding to make your child feel nice and cosy. Use a dim nightlight if your child is afraid of the dark, make sure there is sufficient airflow and allow a soft toy or special blanket for comfort. You could also sprinkle a few drops of lavender or rose oil on their pillow or use a relaxing natural room mist to help reduce those sleepless nights. Experts also suggest that you use the bedroom for quiet time and sleeping only and not for time-outs or punishment when they misbehave as the bedroom needs to be associated with positive feelings.
- Avoid sugar or caffeine later in the day – Avoid giving your child caffeine-containing products (energy drinks, chocolate ice-tea and cola beverages) or sugar-laden treats later in the day as they may contribute to sleeping problems. A warm glass of milk before bedtime is an age-old sleep remedy and may help your little night owl relax and drift off to dreamland.
- Get outdoors for some family exercise – Incorporating physical activity every day may help kids sleep better at night. Exercising together can be fun for everyone and could include walking the dog, going to the playground, bouncing on a trampoline or playing backyard cricket.