Even before children are born they are affecting your sleep patterns. Did you get a good night’s sleep in your third trimester? After both my boys were born all I wanted to do was sleep for a week. Little did I know that sleep is for the weak and that lack of sleep theirs and mine was something that I was going to learn to live with for years to come.
Getting Kids to Sleep
I didn’t have more than seven hours of sleep in one stretch until my boys were eleven months old and even now (they are ten and nine) unbroken nights sometimes happen. I often wondered if it would have been easier just to pop a single mattress in place of the cot at the side of the bed and have them sleep there!
I have one child whose head hits the pillow and pow he is asleep, but he is an early riser and it up with the larks each and every morning. The other finds it really hard to get to sleep and sleep walks, sleep talks and sometimes even finds his way in to our bed sometimes too. Yes, both the boys have been treated the same, I am not going to lie and some nights I have been left wanting to tear my hair out over sleep troubles and will admit that I am not the nicest person in the work when I have not had a good night’s restorative sleep.
So in conjunction with Mattressman I asked other people who have been though kids that don’t sleep what their tips would be and if you take one thing away from this, then please let it be that other people are going through and have also been through lots of sleepless nights too.
Tips for encouraging babies to sleep
I am going to prefix this to say that I am not of the opinion that babies are supposed to sleep through the night. They have tiny tummies and need regular feeding. But I remember the feeling that all I did was feed, wind and then settle Maxi before just shutting my eyes and starting the routine all over again!
Kate from Crafts on Sea knows that feeling and suggests downloading a white noise app or using a free one on Youtube.
Jenny suggests a warm bath before bedtime and using a lavender infused lotion.
Therapy Fun Zone shares that a routine is really important for children and babies as does Orleana from Snotty Noses, but she also has the brilliant suggestion of singing the same song and saying the say thing “night night sleepy head, I love you” as it teaches them that sleep is the next step
Tips for encouraging sleep for Toddlers
In my opinion the toddler and preschooler stage is even more challenging that the baby stage! Sometimes it can feel as though you are fighting a losing battle, but the one thing you need to remember during this time is CONSISTENCY.
Becky from Emotionally Healthy kids suggests that affirmations are a great way to to aid your child – she has 50 good night wishes and that means something perfect for each evening
Gude from Hodge Podge Craft recommends absolut darkness and has even resorted to taping a blackout blind to a window in the past. (We used these as they fit to the edge of the window UK link/US link).
Kate from Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids has a great message when she says to allow plenty of time. She says “Children need to feel connected and loved not rushed and abandoned when being put to bed. Read them stories, sing them lullabies or tell them stories from your childhood. Rub their back if they enjoy that and sit with them just a moment longer than planned. Then, when you are going to leave, let them know and give them a little time to process (about 30 secs) before actually leaving. If they fuss, tell them you understand that they don’t want you to go but that you will come back and check on them in 5 minutes. Then leave and go back when it’s time”
Kid World Citizen advises not to make bedtime a chore. To have a solid routine with the right dose of silliness and giving kids LOTS of choices. “Pink or purple pjs?” “Sip of milk or water?” “This book or this book? “1, 2, or 3 books?” “You brush teeth or mommy helps?” “Hug teddy or kitty?” “Nightlight on or off?” “Carry you or piggy back or walk to bed? And then finally kisses and to bed.
Katie from Pick any two reminds us of the need to prioritise naps, overtired children have a hard time self settling.
Nightmares and fear of the dark can happen at this age. Firstly acknowledge their fear and try one our our tried and tested methods of helping stop nightmares.
Helping older children to get to sleep
The sleep issue doesn’t just automatically improve as your kids get older. My children are ten and nine and yes Maxi goes to sleep easily, but Mini has always had issues and still does (He takes after me). But Mini is learning techniques to window and help him get to sleep.
Firstly, keep screens out of the bedroom and encourage no screens for at least an hour before bed. Studies have shown that the light emitted from screens affects the body’s rhythms.