Establishing healthy sleep habits for your child
As most parents of young children know, if a child is not getting enough sleep it can have an impact throughout the day. The problem is if your child isn’t getting enough sleep, how can you establish better sleep habits?
Pediatricians will tell you that perhaps the biggest thing you can do to help your child establish a healthy sleep habit is to help them establish a routine. Creating a routine that you stick to strictly will help form good sleep habits for your child. Routines will help your child’s internal system know when to fall asleep and when to wake up, while moving these times erratically will hinder your child’s good sleep habits.
Children who don't get the recommended amount of sleep based on their age can suffer problems ranging from being in a foul mood to a weakened immune system or a lack of growth. Find out more about the negative impacts of too little sleep in this How Much Sleep Should Your Child Be Getting? infographic.
It’s not just about the times, however. Establishing a routine including events that occur before bedtime will help you child relax before bed. A bath, a book or other quiet activities can help sooth your child before it is time to sleep.
It’s also possible that you’re the problem. If your child only seems to fall asleep in conjunction with your proximity, when they wake up in the middle of the night, this will no longer be available to them to help them get back to sleep. If this is a problem with your child then you may want to consider slowing changing the routine so you are no longer a part of the last part of the bedtime routine.
Adjusting the sleep environment
- The sleeping room should not be the same room used for playtime.
- The room should be dark, but not pitch black.
- Make sure the child gets sufficient daytime exercise
- Establish a regular schedule
- White noise, such as that provided by a fan or dehumidifier, may be helpful
Of course, if none of your solutions seem to work, you should absolutely contact your pediatrician to seek their advice. Many hospitals have so-called “Sleep Centers” like the one at Swedish Medical Center where Seattle pediatricians can help evaluate your child’s sleep habits and make sure there isn’t a deeper issue at work with their sleep behaviors.