Sleep is one of those things we take for granted until we become parents and then suddenly you realize you wish you had slept more before welcoming your precious little one.
“Although casually regarded as a consequence of pregnancy or postpartum, there is emerging evidence to suggest that women with significant sleep disturbance, characterized by insomnia symptoms and/or poor sleep quality, are more likely to report an increase in depressive symptomatology or develop postpartum depression (PPD).” (Okun, 2015).
So in order to help you and your little one(s) get the best sleep possible, I’ve put together a list of my top 3 ways to help your child sleep better.
- A Consistent Routine
There is no better advice that I can give you than encouraging you to have a consistent, flexible routine for you and your little one(s). Routines do not need to be rigid. A young child’s brain is still undergoing major development, especially the part of the brain that is able to plan ahead and make predictions about the future. A routine helps kids practice making these simple predictions, as well as understand concepts such as “before and after.” A regular schedule fosters responsibility and independence because they have done the same activities many times before in the same environment.
This is particularly helpful in the future for potty training, transitioning to school, etc,. because your child will have an established sense of independence and will adjust when new challenges arise.
This may seem overwhelming but even the smallest routine can make a big difference. Here are a few examples:
- Make feeding times predictable, every 3-4 hours during the day for our infants and establish feeding times for our toddlers, which will also help reduce picky eating from happening in the future!
- Have a bedtime routine, even if it’s singing a song or reading a book. 3. Talk to your toddler, especially those over 3, about any changes that may be occurring to their typical schedule so they can be prepared. Children do need to learn
how to be flexible and deal with minor changes and talking with them is the best way to help learn this skill.
- Set up your sleep environment for success.
Calm, dark, and cool is the magic formula for creating a sleep environment that will encourage solid sleep for you and your little one.
Cool It: Best temperature for sleeping is: 69-72 degrees. Be sure to not overdress your little one for bed, as our bodies need a drop in temperature in order to fall asleep. One way to help control your little one’s body temperature is using a sleep sack instead of a blanket, which often gets thrown off in the night as little ones squirm around their cribs.
Darken the room: Darkness drives the release of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone. For those toddlers around the age of 2 who may begin to express fears of darkness, a soft glowing nightlight, like this Hatch Baby Rest, is perfect to ease fears while still promoting sleep.
Use a sound machine: The point of white noise is to block out distracting outside noises and to help one feel relaxed and sleep more soundly. For babies and young children it is a vital part of their sleep environment, as it helps set the stage for a successful and healthy sleep atmosphere. It is important you find the right sound for your child and even yourself. I always say for babies and children, to find a true white noise, so you know there are not any breaks or gaps in the white noise. If you use music, lullabies or some type of other noise, it can interfere with the sleep patterns, so I choose to stick with regular types of white noise as listed above. The Marpac Dohm sound machine is my all time favorite white noise machine.
- Ensuring your child is getting the right amount of sleep.
Babies and children require a great amount of sleep during the day and night, as sleep plays a vital role in growth, development, and cognitive functions. Children are undergoing developments at a more intense rate than adults, therefore, they require more sleep. This is largely why newborns, infants, and toddlers require naps during the day, as naps are foundational to forming complete and healthy sleep patterns and habits. Most little ones continue to need a daily nap until the age of 4-5, and even then rest (or quiet) time does a world of good for our quickly growing little ones.
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Serenity Sleepers is committed to helping families develop peaceful sleepers using only the safest, healthiest and most gentle approaches that are based on the proper sleep science. Kelley Thompson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, mom of 3, former elementary school teacher, and a born and raised Nashville native. Kelley uses methods that are unique and individualized taking a variety of approaches to help families sleep peacefully.
Okun, Michele. 2015. Sleep and postpartum depression. Curr Opin Psychiatry: Nov;28(6):490-6. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000206.