Written by Diane Pawsey, the Family Sleep Consultant For babies, daytime naps are the key to a good night's sleep Sleep deprivation has been proven to affect children in many ways. Poor physical development, lack of concentration and behavioural issues are just a few of the side effects. If your baby isn't sleeping through the night, or maybe refusing to take day time naps, try some of these tips from Diane Pawsey, The Family Sleep Consultant.
1) Establish a routine
Developing good sleep associations is vital to establishing a routine. A bedtime routine should take no longer than half an hour or your child will forget where you are going. They need to follow a sequence of steps each night, to trigger the association to bedtime. Place your baby in their cot awake as this will allow them to self-settle, one of the most valuable tools a child can learn.
2) Set the mood and keep things calm
Dimming the lighting at bedtime, using a blackout blind in the summer months, will help your child to wind down ready for sleep. For toddlers and older children, minimise distractions by keeping toys to a minimum in your child's bedroom. Toys are too exciting, and may be distracting. Make their room somewhere relaxing and peaceful and it will be easier for them to have a good night’s sleep.
3) Tired babies don't settle
For babies, daytime naps are the key to a good night’s sleep. If your child doesn't sleep during the day, he will go to bed only to wake a few hours later feeling exhausted and unable to settle. Let your baby sleep as much as they need during the day - don't fall into the trap of thinking they won't sleep during the night. The opposite is true!
4) Don't rush in
When your baby wakes after a short nap or in the middle of the night, hold back. Not rushing in will allow your baby time to self-settle. If you do go to them quickly every time they wake, they may develop the habit of calling to you whenever they wake up.
5) Wrap them up
Swaddling is the perfect way to help your baby feel secure - it reminds them of being inside the womb. Wrapping them up in a swaddle blanket not only gives them a virtual hug, it also reduces the startle reflex, which can wake them up.
6) Breathe easy
If your baby has a cold, try raising the head of the cot up a couple of inches. This will open up their airways and help them have a restful night. This can also help babies suffering with acid reflux.
Diane Pawsey has over 24 years’ experience working with children and their families and, as the Family Sleep Consultant, she specialises in helping them to establish healthy sleeping habits. With a gentle and caring approach, she works with the whole family to give you the tools and confidence to implement your own, tailor-made sleep plan. For more information, contact Diane on 07807 006167 or visit www.familysleepconsultant.co.uk.