Good sleep habits are essential for children. Most parents would agree that sleeping habits in children indirectly affect their moods and behaviour.
But did you know that it can also affect their health?
When kids get adequate amount of sleep, they may have a lower risk of becoming obese, developing Diabetes as well as fewer attention issues and learning problems.
Sleeping plays the same important role in a child’s development as exercising and nutrition. Experts believe that sleep allows the brain to flush out disease-causing toxins.
It can be particularly valuable for grade-schoolers to get enough sleep. Studies have found that grade-schoolers with poor sleeping patterns acquired poor scores on mental tests when they’ve reached adolescence.
Have a look at these helpful tips for establishing better sleeping patterns in your toddler.
10 Tips for better toddler sleep habits
Establish a bedtime routine
Establishing a routine from a young age can provide a good foundation for good sleeping patterns for years to come. Whatever your night time routine, try not to steer away from it and be consistent.
By winding down the action before bedtime, giving your toddler a nice warm bath followed by reading is a great way to end your day.
Put you child down to sleep when he is sleepy but not yet asleep, as this will encourage him to fall asleep on his own.
Limit electronic stimulants an hour before bedtime
Avoid watching TV, playing games on the tablet or on the computer at least an hour before bedtime. Electronic screen activities can interfere with your child’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Watching TV is stimulating but not relaxing.
Rather set this time aside for a little bonding time by asking them how their day was and maybe read a bedtime story. There are healthy benefits associated with teaching your child a love of books and reading from a young age. When your child has other siblings, this could be the perfect opportunity for a bit of catching up and one-on-one time. Make bedtime special by providing your toddler with choices like picking the bedtime story or a pair of pajamas.
Create a relaxing environment for sleeping
Ensure that the room’s temperature is not too hot or stuffy, as this may prevent your child from having a peaceful night’s sleep. Ideally, the room should be quiet, cool and have dim light for an ambient and restful atmosphere.
Consider natural remedies as sleep aids
Despite your best efforts, your child might need an extra nudge to help them fall asleep. Consider using natural and safe homeopathic remedies, specifically formulated to induce a state of drowsiness as part of your night time routine.
Provide comfort items
Kids often have an item such as a favourite soft toy or blankie to provide them with comfort and to help them fall asleep. Toddlers don’t like change and prefer familiar routines. If they are used to falling asleep with their favourite soft toy since they were a tiny baby, then it’s best to keep things unchanged.
Avoid caffeine before bedtime
This doesn’t necessary mean keeping your child from drinking coffee before bedtime. Certain foods and drinks contain caffeine. Most chocolates, fizzy drinks and even bottled teas contain caffeine. Rather consider a healthy fruit as a snack before bedtime.
Be alert about your child’s sleeping behaviour
Even though there are a prescribed amount of sleep for children during different age groups, your child’s need for sleep may vary according to his individual needs.
Some kids may be fine with eight hours of sleep while other may require ten hours of sleep.
Signs of sleep deprivation include crankiness, hyperactivity and concentration or memory problems. If you notice any concerning signs, you might need to adjust the bedtime routine. Consider taking your child to bed an hour earlier, be firm and consistent. It might be problematic in the beginning, but soon enough your child will get used to his new routine and you will reap the long-term benefits of an established bed time routine.
Regular day routines
Just like night time routines, it is important to stick to a regular day routine as well.
- Your toddler thrives on good routines, so make sure you implement day time habits and routines.
- Stick to a regular nap schedule, even during weekends if possible.
- Have your toddler eat regular meals and provide snacks during the day.
Prevent napping for too long
Try to limit the daytime naps for no more than three hours. Also, avoid children sleeping until after four in the afternoon, as they may not be ready to go to bed when it is bed time at night.
How much sleep is enough for my child?
Not every child is the same, but this is the suggested guideline for the amount of sleep for different age groups:
- Up to two months: 5 to 18 hours of sleep
- Three to twelve months : 5 to 14 hours of sleep
- One to three years of age: 12 to 14 hours of sleep
- Three to five years of age: 11 to 13 hours of sleep
- Five to twelve years of age: 10 to 11 hours of sleep
Developing and following a regular bedtime routine for your child from a young age will teach them to fall asleep and stay asleep. It will be beneficial if you allow your child to sleep in his own bed from when he is a baby. Safe sleep practices for infants under a year old require them to sleep on their backs in their own beds. If your child is used to sleeping in your bed, it might be difficult to get them to sleep in their own beds when they get older. It’s much easier to teach him to sleep along from when he is at a younger age.
It will be frustrating at first, but you must be consistent and persistent for it to work and you will safe yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.
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