Babies and sleep. It’s a mystery. Just kidding. Honestly, some babies are better at it than others. One thing that’s for sure is that babies crave routines.
But babies aren’t the only ones who crave routines. Older children and adults can benefit from a few simple sleep tips and tricks.
Sleep Tips and Tricks
Try as hard as you can to be consistent with your current sleep routine. Consistency is crucial to getting deeper, restful sleep. If you don’t have a set routine, here are a few ideas on how to create and stick to one:
- Keep it simple. Whether you call it “night night” or “beddy-bye time” make sure that you don’t overcomplicate the routine. Whether you have a newborn or a toddler, it’s never too early or too late to start a routine. An example routine for a newborn might be bathtime, clean diaper, followed by a relaxing massage using some Llama Lotion, then some Chest Rub to calm the little babe (and help with any congestion), maybe some reading and nurse/bottle. Everyone is different, find what works best for you and your kiddo.
- Digital decrease. No digital time at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. The light emitted from tv, digital devices, or screens tricks the brain into thinking it is still daytime, which keeps them awake. This one is hard. Kind of the “do as I say, not as I do” example. If you are watching tv or playing on your phone prior to bed, your kiddo is going to follow suit. We all love a good movie night before bed, but make that the special occasion (Friday Blockbuster night anyone?). Try some other activities. Help your kiddos with their homework, play in the backyard, work on a puzzle together, or read a good book!
Here’s a good tip if you have a hard time limiting screen time:
Kids don’t really like surprises. They say they do, but they don’t. Maybe I should say, they only like good surprises. So, when you quickly grab the iPad from their grasp expecting them to happily get ready for bed, don’t be surprised when they revolt and go into meltdown mode. Instead, before you give them the iPad or device, set the expectation that they will be able to have a set amount of tech time. Once it’s done, they are expected to willingly abide by your rules. This may take some retraining but it does work. So, set the rules and the expectations and stick to them.
- No sugars, sweets or stimulants. This can be a wide array of products to avoid. The last thing you want to do is set your child up for sleep failure. Giving them high-calorie or high-sugary products before bed is going to jumpstart their metabolism and metabolism means energy. You don’t need energy just before bed. If they insist they will surely fade away during the night if they don’t eat something, opt for a healthy snack. Healthy eating is key to sleep health.
- Exercise. Kids have energy, lots and lots of energy. Make sure your kids get enough active time during the day. If you are decreasing your digital time, you’ve just opened up some time to exercise. Ever tried kid’s yoga? Mindfulness, relaxation, and some good muscle work! If yoga isn’t your thing, what about a walk around the neighborhood? Or some good old fashioned horseplay around the house. Just not too close to bedtime or you will get the kids hyper.
Sleep Training For Your Baby
Now this section is more for babies that are having trouble sleeping. There are many different methods of sleep training, and it is up to you as parents to figure out which one works best for you and your child. While we don’t explicitly recommend any one way, here are some ways the AAP has studied and highlights.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports and recognizes behavioral techniques in helping infants learn to sleep. Two different sleep-training methods, the “Controlled Comforting” and the “Camping Out” methods were specially recognized in a recent study evaluating the longer effects of sleep training. Sleep training helps teach the child to self-soothe, which means they can go back to sleep without mama or daddy helping.
The “Controlled Comforting” method includes laying them down in bed, saying goodnight, and allowing them to fall asleep on their own. If they cry, leave them for a few minutes then go back in and reassure them. After you leave the room, wait a little longer to go back in. If your baby takes a binky then you can give that to them, reassure them, then leave the room. “Put simply, when you use controlled crying, you resist the urge to immediately pick up your child when she cries. This helps her to move on from depending on you to rock, sing, stroke or feed her to sleep – to being able to self-soothe.”
The “camping out” method involves you, the parent, laying or sitting next to your baby’s crib/bed and gently patting or stroking your baby to sleep. Once they are asleep then you can leave the room. One reference states, “Camping out is a way of dealing with persistent settling and waking problems in babies and young children. It can also help with older children who are having problems getting to sleep, particularly if they feel anxious or frightened.”
The Key To Good Sleep
Consistency. Start a routine and stick with it, until it’s time for a change. As your child grows older, their routine will change as well.
To better sleep!