Pediatric Interactions is a LLC partner. This post is part of their partnership with Little Lake County. Written by Lindsey Fry, MA, CCC-SLP/L and co-founder of WeeBits and mom of two kids. All thoughts and opinions belong to the author.
As a parent have you ever been asked,
“So, is your baby sleeping through the night yet?”
“Is (insert child’s name here) a good sleeper?”
Ugggg! Seriously, why do people, complete strangers even, think that these are appropriate questions to ask an exhausted looking parent? Unless you’re handing me a WARM coffee, maybe, don’t talk to me at all. Sometimes it’s easier just to respond, “yes!” and smile and move on, when you really want to say, “No! And as a matter of fact, my toddler isn’t sleeping through the night most of the time either!”
Tips and Tricks for Healthy Sleep Habits
What can we do to help create good sleep habits early that will support our kids “sleeping through the night” when it’s developmentally appropriate? Here are a few tips and trick to support healthy sleep habits:
Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can be one of the best things you can do for your child. Activities that may be included in your nightly routine could include: taking a bath, brushing teeth, having a snack, bottle or nursing, listening to quiet music, reading a story, going to the bathroom, etc. This routine helps your child calm down prior to going to sleep and lets them know that it’s almost bedtime.
Know How Much Sleep Your Child Should Be Getting For His/her Age:
Making sure that your child is getting enough sleep for his/her age is important for not only preventing crabby kiddos, but also ensuring your child is getting enough sleep to support his/her growth and development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends putting infants to sleep on their back on a firm surface, such as a crib or bassinet, room sharing until at least six months of age, and not having anything in the crib with your baby to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Other recommendations to help prevent SIDS include: breastfeeding, using a pacifier, avoiding overdressing your baby causing overheating and avoiding commercial products marketed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Make sure that your child isn’t hungry when they go to bed. While eating a heavy meal within 1-2 hours of bedtime is not recommended, try offering a light snack. Also, avoid caffeinated beverages or foods that may contain caffeine during the afternoon or evening (or ever!).
Consider the Sleeping Environment:
How the environment is set up can help (or hinder) your child’s sleep. Make sure the room is dark and at a comfortable temperature. Some children respond well to using “sound machines” to help them fall and stay asleep. Avoid screen time (e.g., television, iPad, phone) prior to bedtime as his can be alerting to the brain, not calming.
Help Your Child Help Them Self:
The ultimate goal is to have your child be able to fall asleep without you. To do this we need to help our child to be able to soothe themselves and be able to fall asleep on their own. Putting your infant down “sleepy” but not asleep can help them learn to fall asleep on their own and be able to fall back asleep if they wake up later. With older kids, it is important to minimize interaction when night wakings occur so they don’t think this is “playtime.”
Here’s the thing, all kids sleep through the night eventually. I don’t talk to many parents with older kids that are still up (multiple times) each night. If you’re like me (I have an infant and a toddler at home), you look longingly at these parents and begin to daydream what it might be like to get an uninterrupted night of sleep. Heck! I would settle for 5-6 straight hours! And while it doesn’t feel like it now, you too will one day sleep through the night and so will your kids.
For more information check out these resources visit www.WeeBitsforFamilies.org
Pediatric Interactions is a Speech and Language Clinic located in Grayslake and McHenry that supports independence and self-esteem using creative therapy approaches. Pediatric Interventions provides FREE developmental screenings, individual and group therapy, classes, workshops and other resources to help children better communicate.
WeeBits is a non-profit organization bringing awareness and guidance to those families with infants/toddlers who fall outside the boundaries of existing child developmental programs.
Karp, Harvey. The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids from Birth to 5 Years. New York: William Morrow, 2013. Print.
Waldburger, Jennifer, and Jill Spivack. The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep through the Night. London: Vermilion, 2008. Print.
Weissbluth, Macr. Healthy Sleep Habits. New York: Ballantine, 2015. Print.