Helping your child to fall asleep and stay asleep is a challenge for most parents. Every child is different so it requires some flexibility to find the patterns that will work for your family. Experiment with a combination of these techniques as you put together your own formula for success.
Steps to Take During the Day
1. Seek out natural light. Even though we're surrounded with electric lights, our bodies are still attuned to the sun. Open the curtains to give your child exposure to morning light and spend at least a half hour outdoors during each day. You get far more lux from natural daylight even on a dull day in Scotland than a specially made sun lamp.
2. Engage in physical activity. Regular exercise promotes restful sleep at any age. Encourage sports, games, and playtime. Ride bikes or throw a ball around in the backyard.
3. Maintain a sensible schedule. It's harder to come to a complete stop when you've been rushing around all day. Pace yourselves. Regular eating patterns will also reduce the demand for nighttime snacks.
4. Take naps. Evening hours may be the only time working parents can spend with their kids. Dozing in the afternoon can compensate for slightly later bedtimes, if you need to have an earlier bedtime (Seven or 8pm) then dropping nap from 2.5/3 is recommended. See this blog about how to drop the nap
5. Reduce environmental irritants. Chemicals and allergens often interfere with sleep. Select natural bedding and sleep wear. Clear away dust and pet dander.
Steps to Take at Night
1. Set a consistent bedtime. Aim to have your child go to bed and rise at the same time every day. Stick to a similar schedule on weekends and holidays, do bear in mind that we can only sleep so many hours in a 24 hour period and most 6-24 months need an opportunity of between 10 to 11 hours at night (this does not mean sleeping through just an opportunity for 10-11 hours of night) and from 2-5 years the day nap shortens dramatically and usually from 2.5/3 is dropped completely.
2. Provide advance notice. Older children will understand a warning that it's 10 minutes until lights out. Babies start responding to cues like running bath water and putting on pajamas.
3. Turn off the TV. Artificial light stimulates our brains. Give your kids a curfew to turn off all devices a couple of hours before bed.
4. Read bedtime stories. Story time creates a great transition for sleep and a lot of happy memories. It will also instill a love for learning.
5. Develop other bedtime rituals. Warm baths and soft music add up to a soothing atmosphere. Throw in a teddy bear or stuffed bunny for overnight company.
6. Play white noise. Any monotonous sound hastens sleep. Turn on a fan or play a recording of the ocean.
7. Be silly. This will sound counter intuitive but I almost always recommend some silly, high energy play for older toddlers and pre-school children after tea but prior to the bedtime routine starting, just 10-20 minutes of this can help get all the energy out and children feel connected to their parents resulting in bedtimes going smoother.
8. Get children to help. My favorite is asking the children to help with the evening routine of clearing away the dishes, making packed lunches and setting out clothes for the next day, once this is done think about playing cards or a board game.
Steps Especially Designed For Babies
1. Swaddle them. Sleep sacks and tightly wrapped blankets comfort babies. Make it snug enough to hold their arms and legs still.
2. Massage them. Gentle touching puts your baby at ease and draws you closer together. Take a class or watch a video for instructions.
3. Burp them. When babies cry, they swallow air. Gas builds up and makes them cry more. A soft thump on the back will break the cycle.
4. Move them. Even adults tend to doze off more easily when they're riding in a car. Help recreate the motion in the womb for your baby by rocking them in your arms or in a chair or in a baby carrier. I love the 5 S from .
5. See an IBCLC. A lactation consultant can check for feeding issues with bottle or breast if your baby wakes up frequently (less than every 2 hours all night type thing) and shows signs of distress, your lactation consultant can check feeding position, latch, complete an oral assessment, check poo, weight gain and much more.