Sleep is precious. You know this all too well if you’re a parent with little ones! As parents we do everything we can to help our children fall asleep, stay asleep, get good quality sleep and most importantly that they sleeping safely. Whether you are first time mom with a newborn or a mom of a 3 year old with every excuse in the book as to why he can’t go to sleep, here’s a few simple sleep tips that have helped our family create healthy sleep habits in our kids.
1. Set A Bedtime Routine
Children thrive with structure in their life. Establishing a simple bedtime routine from an early age helps your baby learns to recognize when it’s time to wind down and sleep for the night. There is something comforting about having the same, expected routine every night. You can keep it simple or involved as you prefer. For my infants I would dress them in pajamas, nurse, read a book, sing a song while cuddling and then lay them down for the night in their zippered swaddler. As my son grew older we replaced nursing with eating a nutritious and filling bed snack such as oatmeal or banana and glass of milk to keep him full until morning. Be clear and firm about what is allowed and not allowed at bedtime. My son knows that we read only 2 books and then we sing a few songs. After we say goodnight getting out of bed is not allowed. Having the same routine helps him know what’s expected, and that he can’t get away with multiple excuses for new things every night for the sake of delaying bedtime.
2. Create a Safe Environment
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to ensure your children are sleeping safely. This checklist from Secure Beginnings is a great place to start in creating a safe sleeping area for your children by taking precautions to help reduce the risk of SIDS.
Secure Beginnings is a company dedicated to sleep safety. Their innovative SafeSleep Breath-Through Crib Mattress allows your baby to breathe and receive fresh air even if they have rolled face down in the middle of the night!
This is the only completely breath-through crib mattress which allows air to flow right through the mattress making it breathable and preventing an infant from over-heating which can also be a risk for SIDS. These mattresses fit any standard size crib and available in mini sizes which fit mini cribs or pack ‘n plays which allow you to create a safe sleeping environment even when you are away from home.
I love that entire mattress sleeping surface is also machine washable! The sleeping surface can be removed from the wood frame and extra surfaces may be purchased which makes for convenient bed changes in the middle of the night when accidents happen.
There are several different colors to choose from making it easy to find one that matches your crib and nursery decor. To order one for yourself and learn more about the how the SafeSleep Breathe-Through Crib Mattress works and the thorough scientific testing that went into creating it, visit their website Securebeginnings.com.
3. Create a Calm Environment
Choose decor that is calm and soothing. Keep toys and clutter to a minimum. If possible have a play room else where and keep the bedroom for sleeping and quiet time. If toys must be kept in the child’s room, make sure it’s clean and (somewhat) orderly before tucking them into bed so that distractions are kept to a minimum. Clean up time could even be part of the bedtime routine! Other ideas include, room darkening curtains, a small CD player with soothing music or a subtile night light for a comforting glow.
4. Be active during the day
I see a huge difference in my 3 year old son’s behavior and sleep based on how active we were that day. Get outside and let them run off steam. Children are made to MOVE! Find creative ways to let them burn energy. Go for walks, dance to some music, get a mini trampoline, have a play date at the park. Also, limit screen time which makes for a more sedentary life style. There have been many studies done showing the negative effect screens have on our sleep so avoid screen time right before bed. I know from experience that bedtime is more of a struggle on the days we’ve spent too much time inside with little activity.
5. Keep It Cool
Image Credit: Secure Beginnings
It’s been proven that people sleep better when temperatures are cooler. From what I’ve read it seems that ideal temperatures for sleeping (even for little ones) are between 65-70 degrees. Use a fan to create gentle air circulation and be careful not to over bundle! A room thermometer is a great tool for monitoring your child’s room temperature. The airy breathe-through design of Secure Beginning’s crib mattresses will also help your child stay cool all night long especially on those hot summer nights.
More Resources for Sleep Tips
If you are really struggling with a child who has been sleeping poorly for some time you may need to reach out to a sleep consultant for help. There are many great resources out there. The Baby Sleep Site has some helpful free articles, sample sleep schedules and resources that were helpful to me in creating sleep routines and figuring out how much sleep my child should be getting at a given age. You can also find helpful sleep tips and safety advice by following Secure Beginning’s blog and Sleepwellbaby.ca offers a free 15 minute phone consultation for those who need some help from an expert!
Being proactive to set your little ones up for a good night of sleep by creating the right environment, having a set routine and making sure they get the physical activity they need can go a long way to easing the bedtime struggles. Choosing high quality products such as Secure Beginnings completely breath-through crib mattress will give you as the parent a greater peace of mind (which leads to better sleep for you!) knowing your babies are sleeping as safely as possible.
I’d love to hear, what sleep tips do you have that help your child sleep better?
Karen and her husband of 7 years have one active but very sweet toddler boy and a happy baby girl. She loves being mommy, spending quality time with friends and family, traveling and trying new things.