Having children who refuse to take naps, fight you at bedtime, wake up constantly in the night or wake before dawn can be one of the most soul destroying parts of parenting.
You know your child is tired because they’re cranky, they are crying a lot more and their tantrums are more frequent, so you think they should just sleep right? Wrong?
Sometimes your best efforts make no difference and even keeping them awake later at night doesn’t make them sleep longer in the mornings.
Tip: Got children who wake up at the crack of dawn? Here are 5 tips on how to survive early risers.
There is no magic bullet because each child is different. The best approach is for parents to do all that they can to encourage sleep and then accept they can’t ever fully control their children’s circadian rhythms or sleep-wake cycle.
4 facts about your child’s circadian rhythm:
1. It is regulated by light and dark and these rhythms take time to develop, resulting in the irregular sleep schedules of newborns.
2. The rhythms begin to develop at about six weeks, and by three to six months most infants have a regular sleep-wake cycle.
3. By the age of two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake and overall, a child will spend 40 percent of his or her childhood asleep.
4. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development.
Your questions answered by experts at the Sleep Health Foundation
What can I do to get my child into bed at the right time?
- Set up a bedtime routine, stick to it each night and be consistent with it, this helps your child’s body and mind to get ready for bed.
- They will go to sleep more easily if they go to bed at about the same time each night and more likely to wake at about the same time each morning.
- Parents must always be ready to be firm if their child acts up around bedtime.
What is a good bedtime routine?
- It is best to start with a 30-to-60 minutes of quiet time, so no screens or anything stimulating.
- Can include a bath or shower, pyjamas, a drink, cleaning teeth, a toilet visit, a bedtime story, a goodnight kiss and then lights out as parents leave the bedroom.
- Put limits on what you let your child do here and don’t them stall for time.
- Make sure that lights are out at an appropriate time to give your child the sleep they need.
What can I do to encourage sleep?
- Make sure that your child prepares for bed in a way that helps them relax and feel ready for sleep.
- You want their bedroom to be a relaxing place with no screens or bright lights.
- Make sure there are no noises that disturb your child’s sleep such as loud TV noise.
- Teach your child some breathing or relaxation tips to help them switch off their thinking after lights out, get them to think of a dream they want to have.
- Quiet time with no technology before bed time will help as might soft quiet music.
- Ensure your child is not going to bed too early or too late as both make it hard to settle into sleep.
- Get aware of when your child gets sleepy in the evening this lets you know the sleep processes are starting to kick in. From this you can work out when the best time to go to bed is.
- Remember as they grow their switch on for sleep will be a bit later so make their bedtime later too.
- Try not to let your child fall asleep with you in the room; they need to learn to fall asleep without you present.
If like me you’re battling children who don’t love sleep and wake at ridiculously early times, it might help to hear that parents of teenagers have told me that eventually it will swing the other way and we won’t be able to get them out of bed!
In the meantime, try these 5 budget beauty tips to make it look like you’ve had a full night’s sleep.