Poor sleep can be extremely detrimental – to both parents and children. We turn to sleep trainer Arti Newman for her top tips on how to take back control.
Whether you have a baby you can’t settle at bedtime or a toddler who arrives at your bedside at intervals throughout the night, sleep problems can be extremely difficult to tackle and, ironically, it’s far harder to take control when you are sleep deprived. But sleep is the cornerstone of children’s development (and parent’s sanity). So, if you have tried everything and yet are still relying on caffeine and humour to prop you up throughout the day, then these practical tips just might help.
Arti’s Top Tips for a Restful Night
- Avoid sweet and sugary foods and drinks 2 hours before bedtime.
- It’s very important to have a bedtime routine as children respond well to this. For instance: bath, stories and bed. This will encourage children to start relaxing and switch from play mode to relax mode.
- Once you start the bedtime routine, turn the lights down. This will help them to start relaxing, often children can get over stimulated during bath time and find it difficult to calm down thereafter.
- Be consistent with your bed time rules. This will not give them a chance to make excuses before bedtime.
- Children over 2-years-old often try to use delay tactics to prolong bedtime. One more story, I need water, I need a tissue, etc. It’s important to set boundaries for bedtime. If it’s two stories you must stick to that. Make sure there is a beaker of water by their bedside, so there’s no opportunity for excuses.
- If there is more than one person (Daddy, grandparents or nannies) involved in the bedtime routine everyone should follow the same approach otherwise it gives them mixed messages and they will play up.
- Night lights…. Some children develop fear of the dark sooner than others. It’s absolutely fine to have a very dim night lamp. Light is a stimulant though so make sure it’s not lighting up the room.
- If your child wakes at night and needs your attention, be consistent with them. Avoid eye contact and any conversation if possible. Do not get cross as this will just make matters worse. A gentle reassurance by stroking the head and may be ‘shhhh’ so they know it’s time to go to sleep. Simply guide them back to bed if they are walking around.
- If you are transitioning your toddler from a cot to a toddler bed, make it sound positive – how grown up they are – and ensure a stair gate is in place by the bedroom door. This way you don’t close the door completely but you still have control so they don’t wander about during the night.
- Good sleeping should not be rewarded. During the sleep training process it’s important to do so, but as a general rule sleeping is a necessity and hence children do not need to be praised for sleeping through the night. It’s normal! You should also avoid emphasising any poor sleep habits as this could be an attention seeking scenario and they will continue to do it because it’s working.