THE SLEEP PUZZLE: 10 TIPS TO HELP PIECE IT ALL TOGETHER
Helping children learn to love sleep is like building a puzzle. Parents know what they want the big picture to look like, but taking a trial-and-error approach to get there can be frustrating. While Sleep Pea can offer extensive guidance and support for sleep-weary parents, the following ten tips will help create a solid foundation from which to begin.
- CHOOSE AN EARLY BEDTIME
The ideal bedtime for infants and toddlers is between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. There will be days when sticking to an early bedtime simply won’t work, but make it an exception and not the norm.
- CUT THE CLUTTER
Infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to overstimulation. To help create a peaceful, distraction-free and safe place for your baby to sleep, remove mobiles, electronic toys, blankets and stuffed animals from the crib. Opt for a white or solid-color crib sheet, as opposed to one with bright or busy patterns.
- DARKEN THE ROOM
You want enough darkness that you can just make out an object in front of you. If your blinds or window coverings aren’t doing the trick, consider black-out shades or even adhering a black plastic yard waste bag to the window frame.
- KEEP IT COOL
Sleep is safest and most comfortable when the temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees. Many baby monitors are equipped with accurate temperature readings, or you can purchase an indoor room thermometer to help keeps tabs on any fluctuations.
- MAKE IT QUIET
Keeping noise levels low, especially when your child has an early bedtime, is difficult. Avoid shushing family members only to be outdone by a wailing fire truck siren by adding a white noise machine to your child’s room. Free white noise apps are also an option, but ensure the device itself doesn’t create an added distraction.
- CREATE A SIMPLE, CALMING ROUTINE
Fifteen minutes before bedtime, turn down (or off) TVs, music and toys with lights and sounds. Consider giving your child a short bath, followed by pajamas, a quiet book or soft snuggles. If you have older children, now is a good time to offer them a choice of quiet, engaging activities.
- USE NIGHTTIME DIAPERS AND BARRIER CREAM
To avoid added stress over wet or soiled diapers and how that might be affecting your child’s sleep, use a 12-hour nighttime diaper coupled with a barrier cream or ointment to help prevent diaper rash.
- RELAX AND ENJOY
Since infants and children pick up on emotional cues from their caregivers, use bedtime as an opportunity to change the pace of your day. By relaxing and enjoying these precious minutes, bedtime will become a welcome, enjoyable experience for you and your child.
- ENSURE EVERYONE IS ON THE SAME PAGE
A consistent approach is key to helping children fall into a routine. Make sure you, your partner and any caregivers discuss your approach to sleep and openly address any questions or concerns. By being on the same page and presenting a united front, you’ll avoid sending mixed signals that are simply unfair to your child.
- FIND HELP IF YOU NEED IT
While you certainly understand your child better than anyone else, there is no shame in asking for additional support and guidance when it comes to giving the gift of sleep. If you’re struggling with developing and maintaining healthy sleep habits for your child, Sleep Pea would love to help!