Every parent will agree that if there’s one thing worse than sleep-deprivation, it’s having to deal with a sleep-deprived child at the same time. Sleep expert and co-founder of the world’s most advanced sleep aid ‘Glow Dreaming’, Aloni Benau, shares his top five tips for helping your children get some much-needed shut-eye (so that you can do the same).
“I think I can confidently say that nearly all parents will face a period where their children won’t sleep through the night,” says Aloni. “For some, it will come early in the child’s life, for others a little later, maybe even in their teens. It can last from days to months, and sometimes even years.”
The results are the same: exhausted, irritable and even depressed parents, and grumpy children unable to concentrate. In extreme cases, the lack of sleep can drive a family to their breaking point.
1. Know how much sleep is needed
While children’s needs may vary slightly, the rule of thumb outlined by the key health bodies are a good guide. This guideline should include naps:
- Infants (3-11 months): 14-15 hours
- Toddlers: 12-14 hours
- Preschoolers: 11-13 hours
- School-age children: 10-11 hours
2. Establish healthy sleep habits
By 4 months old, your baby should be getting most of their sleep at night with three daytime naps. You should notice a more established day-night cycle, and this is the perfect time to establish a sleep routine. Babies and children crave consistency, so by creating a schedule with regular nap times and a set bedtime you can develop very healthy sleep habits. When putting a baby to bed try and make sure it’s while they are drowsy and not when they are fully asleep. Babies need to learn to soothe themselves to sleep so they’re not always relying on you to do it.
3. Set a bedtime ritual
Setting a routine helps your child understand it is time for bed. This routine will help trigger the feeling of general fatigue. Humans of all ages are creatures of habit and regular triggers will help induce certain feelings. Many parents rely on the three B’s for babies: bath, book, and bottle. Feel free to create your own bedtime routine as long as it’s something that relaxes them and prepares them for sleep.
4. Feeling full
Naturally, when your baby is full they will sleep longer and better. When trying to get a baby to sleep, it’s best to breastfeed or give them a bottle before putting them down (always awake, it is best not to let them fall asleep while feeding). For older kids, though, be careful about what you feed them right before bedtime. It is best not to give them fruit juice or sweets after 3 pm if they suffer from sleep issues.
5. To nap or not to nap
Many parents believe that if their child doesn’t nap well during the day, they’ll simply make up that sleep at night. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. A bad nap usually means a bad night’s sleep. A child who is cranky and overtired will have difficulty getting to sleep and might wake up several times throughout the night. Specialists usually recommend at least one nap each day in the child’s own crib or bed — not in the car seat or stroller. It’s the best way to ensure they get a good quality rest.
“Of course, these 5 tips have simplified what can be a very difficult issue,” says Aloni. “Life can get busy and sometimes following these 5 steps can be a challenge. The world we live in has made sleep harder to attain than ever before but with the right behaviours and tools it doesn’t have to be beyond your grasp. Utilising the right tools can take the pressure and stress out of bedtime and which is the first step in creating a better quality of life for both parent and child.”