…well-a well-a well-a huh, tell me more, tell me more…
OK, so we’re not exactly teenagers talking about summer love, but those particular lyrics remind me of a few recent conversations I’ve had with tired parents.
Longer summer days punctuated with increased fussiness, irritability and an epic meltdown or two, followed by unusual nighttime wake-ups…sound familiar?
From a healthy sleep perspective, it’s not at all surprising to see children regress a bit during this time of year. For all the fun that summer allows us to have it can also present its fair share of hurdles, including more hours of daylight, warmer temperatures and less structure to our days.
As a summer lover myself, I understand that adhering to strict sleep schedules can be a drag, but there are still plenty of ways to promote healthy sleep habits for your little ones without missing out on all the fun! Here are a few tips:
Stick to an early bedtime – don’t let more hours of daylight trick you into sliding bedtime to 9pm every night of the week. The ideal bedtime for infants and toddlers is 6pm – 8pm. As you plan get-togethers with friends and family, it’s fine to keep the kids up later on occasion, but once or twice a week should be the max.
Block out the sun – even small, gradual shifts in time and daylight can have a big impact on our ability to sleep. You’ll know the room is dark enough for sleep when you can barely see your outstretched hand. This is the ideal time to invest in room darkening shades!
Adjust nap schedules – if you kept your child up later than usual, watch closely for tired signs the following day. Plan for an earlier nap and an earlier bedtime to make up for lost sleep. For older toddlers who aren’t napping, build in quiet time and consider an earlier bedtime to give them a chance to catch up on the sleep they need.
Keep it cool – the warmer weather can really take it out of us during the day, as well as at night. The ideal temperature for sleep is 68 – 72 degrees. Often, a fan will provide extra comfort as well as an element of white-noise to help facilitate better sleep. Also, try sticking to lightweight cotton pajamas and sleep sacks to help keep your child at a comfortable temperature.
Make sleep count – while car seat, stroller and poolside naps might add a measure of convenience to our summer days, they don’t count toward the solid sleep your child needs. While you don’t need to avoid them altogether, try to make them the exception and not the norm.
Above all else, enjoy the season!!