by Lisa Henley
If your child loves to stay up late or continually can’t sleep past a certain hour, you know it’s time to teach your child to sleep. Children absolutely must have the right amount of sleep to properly function emotionally, physically, and mentally. And when they sleep well, so will you!
Starting at an early age is critical. This is true even though their sleeping habits will change with age. It’ll create a self-care mindset that’ll make it important to them to sleep enough, regardless of their actual routine. That can be powerful in an increasingly cluttered and complex world, with many studies claiming that children have sleep problems and don’t get enough rest to maintain good energy and health levels.
So how can you teach your child to sleep? Here are a few quick tips recommended by the National Sleep Association:
Have your child avoid sugary foods and caffeine. These are stimulants that can interfere with sleep while causing hard crashes later, especially in smaller children.
Create a cutoff time for stimulating activities, as this will help relax your child and get her ready for bed.
Don’t let your child fall asleep wherever she is. Get her to bed when she’s drowsy or tired, since then she’ll already be there and will learn to associate her bed with the only place to sleep. She’ll start going there on her own when sleepy.
Start a consistent bedtime routine, but be sure to ease your child into that routine slowly. The best way to teach your child to sleep is to make sure this routine is regular.
Sleep Tips for Newborns and Babies
On average, newborns sleep between 10 and 18 hours a day, only waking when they need to eat. Newborns are likely to sleep in short increments because they need food more often.
At this stage, there is no reason to teach your baby to sleep; just let her sleep. As your baby gets older, you can look for small and helpful ways to form good sleep habits. It’s ideal to do it over time this way, vs. as one big intervention. After all, how hard would it be for you to change over night?
Sleep Tips for Toddlers and Preschoolers
On average, most toddlers sleep around 12 to 14 hours a day. A 1- to 3-hour nap is also common for this age group. Give your child that rest, but, don’t schedule this or any other nap too close to bedtime, as this will keep her up later.
Be warned. This is the stage in which your child will likely start asserting her own will. You’ll need to be more vigilant in helping her keep to a sleeping routine, being as creative as possible to make sleeping the most desirable option.
One way is to have the same prep routine each night. That means her teeth must be brushed, clothes changed, and toys put away by the same time each night. And doing al of that naturally sets the stage for sleeping. Voila!
Whatever you choose, keep testing things. Sometimes it can seem impossible to teach your child to sleep, but rest assured that there’s a mix that’ll work like magic for your child.
Click here for more great tips on how to get your child to sleep and put an end to the stress and frustration of sleepless nights for you and your child for good