Getting your child to sleep through the night is one of the most valuable things you can do for them. Not only will it help with their growth, but it’ll also allow them to maintain healthy sleep habits when they become adults.
However, not everyone is lucky to have a child that sleeps for a straight 8 to 9 hours. For some of us, we have a kid who doesn’t want to sleep on time, can’t sleep, or they wake up frequently in the middle of the night. There are several reasons for this:
- Your child is afraid of sleeping alone or sleeping in the dark
- Your child has been having nightmares
- Your child is worried and stressed because of school or chores around the house
- Your child is having difficulty coping with big changes (divorce, moving to a new place, death of a loved one, illness)
- Your child’s bedroom is uncomfortable
- Your child is hungry or needs to use the toilet
- Your child has poor sleep associations like needing the TV on to fall asleep or for their backs to be rubbed until they fall asleep
If your kid doesn’t have any of these but they’re still having problems sleeping, it might be time to see a doctor who specializes in sleep. But until then, you can do several things yourself to help your child get better sleep.
1. Get them tired
During the day, make it a point to have your child do some physical activities whether it’s playing fetch with the dog, biking, doing chores--anything to get their body moving. This is good for their health and it will get them tired enough at night that it’ll be easy to fall asleep.
2. Limit naps
You’ll want to keep your child’s nap times early and short. Younger kids need longer naps but beyond five years old, they don’t really need to nap for more than 20 minutes. Schedule these naps early in the afternoon so there is still a lot of time during the day for them to expel that extra energy.
3. Make their bedroom environment comfortable
As an adult, you always try to make your bedroom more comfortable so you get good sleep. Kids need that too! Check their mattress to see whether it’s too soft or too firm. Is it spacious enough for them to sleep comfortably? Maybe there’s too many toys jammed in there. How about the temperature? It should neither be too hot nor too cold. If your child is afraid of the dark, you can install a bedside lamp so they feel secure in their bed.
4. Avoid stimulating activities
An hour before bedtime, you’ll want to avoid engaging your child in activities that are too stimulating such as playing video games, watching TV, or using the phone. This will make it difficult to sleep so keep these items away from them when it’s almost time for bed.
5. Create a bedtime routine
A bedtime routine will help prep your child for sleep. Before bed, you can bathe them, help them brush their teeth, read them a bedtime story, offer a light snack (no one likes to sleep with a rumbling tummy), etc. There are plenty to choose from, the key is to keep them short and consistent.
6. Avoid sugar
Sugar is one of your worst enemies when it comes to your child’s sleep. It can cause them to be hyperactive, thus making it difficult to put them to sleep. Be aware of the meals you serve during dinner, making sure that it’s not too high in sugar, especially the artificial kind. Instead, limit their sugar to healthy ones like fruit.
Now onto you. What has been the main reason why your child can’t sleep? Which of these tips will you try first? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.