by Cynthia Parker-M ED.
Children need their sleep for healthy growth. A newborn needs up to 18 hours of sleep per day (including naps) while a five year old still need up to 11 hours per day. Developing healthy sleep habits is therefore so important and should begin in infancy. In return, children will be healthier and happier. Here are some quick tips to help you establish healthy sleep routines with your child.
- Create a comforting and consistent bedtime routine. This could be a soothing bath or a few minutes snuggling while reading a story. Whatever it is, the benefits are two-fold; first children will begin to anticipate that it is bedtime soon and second; children will begin to relax with this activity.
- Choose an appropriate bedtime. You want your child to be tired but not over tired. Over-tired children cannot effectively self-sooth and children who are not tired will only become bored.
- Support self-soothing. For each child this may be different. For young infants, it may be a sucking a thumb or a pacifier. For an older child, it may be having a special lovey. Giving your child the opportunity to embrace these techniques is important. This does not mean to allow your child to cry it out. This means to allow your child a few minutes at a time to work through their discomfort, checking in and offering reassurance and following through on your routine.
- Avoid silence. Children who are used to some level of noise (even nap time music) will learn to sleep deeper and longer. Little noises will not interrupt a good night sleep.
The routine you establish with your child is personal. For some children, this may take a bit of time. Your consistency and warm reassurance will result in a great night’s sleep for not only your child but for YOU as well.