Sleep Tips for Your Children
What to do?
- Set a regular time for bed each night and stick to it. Some children need more time to wind down from the activities of the day. If a childís usual bedtime is 8:00 with lights out at 8:30, parents can move the bedtime to 7:30 and allow the childís brain more time to calm down.
- Use a simple, regular bedtime routine. It should not last too long and should take place primarily in the room where the child will sleep. It may include a few simple, quiet activities, such as a light snack, bath, cuddling, saying goodnight, and a story or lullaby. The kinds of activities in the routine will depend on the childís age.
- Focus on Relaxing Rather Than on Falling Asleep. A child can no more will himself to fall asleep than an adult can.
- Avoid feeding children big meals close to bedtime.
- Avoid giving children anything with caffeine less than six hours before bedtime.
- Set the bedroom temperature so that it's comfortable Ė not too warm and not too cold.
- Make sure the bedroom is dark. If necessary, use a small nightlight. Use light to your advantage. Keep lights dim in the evening as bedtime approaches. In the morning, get your child into bright light, and, if possible, take them outside. Light helps signal the brain into the right sleep-wake cycle.
- Create a sleep diary, this can help with any problems that might arise.
- Keep the noise level low.
What not to do?
Don't automatically assume your child needs more or less sleep. Some children actually need more, not less, sleep than other children.
Donít worry if your child is not getting the recommended amount of sleep for his or her age. For example, most children between the ages of one and three need ten or twelve hours of sleep each day, but some children may sleep only nine hours a day.
Never soothe your child to sleep by putting them to bed with a bottle of juice, milk or formula. Water is okay. Anything other than water in the bottle can cause baby bottle tooth decay. Feed or nurse your baby, and then put them down to sleep.
Donít give your child foods and drinks with caffeine in them, like hot chocolate, tea, cola, chocolate, etc. Even caffeine earlier in the day could disrupt your childís sleep cycle.
Don't let your child watch more than one to two hours of TV during the day, and don't let them watch TV at bedtime at all. TV viewing at bedtime has been linked to poor sleep.
This is great resouce for children and sleep: www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/sleep.htm