How to sleep through the ages

How to sleep through the ages

As parents, we are all too aware of the effects of not getting enough sleep, on us, and on our children. Never in our lives have we ever focussed on sleep as much as in the early years of a child’s life!

Children need a lot of sleep but why? And how do we get it?

Our entire bodily system relies on and functions better with sleep. Our immune, endocrine, muscular systems, memory consolidation and emotional regulation are all reliant on sleep. When children are little, all of these systems are growing rapidly. Hence the importance of sleep.

There are children that will cope without sleep but the ongoing effects of this are detrimental in the long term. Like all the other amazing things we do for our children we want to ensure that as the big people and safe guidance systems in their lives that we prioritise sleep.

As your childcare educators know, routine helps them and our children get through the day. Routines help our children to feel safe, and to be able to predict what comes next. At night time when we are all tired and the day is coming to an end, routine helps us as well as our children. Finding what works for you and your family is important to play around with it, your routine can change and our children will cope with these changes if we as parents feel safe and in charge of these changes.

Babies

Babies need lots of sleep, but their sleep cycles are short. From as early as 6 weeks, parents can start to have cues that guide babies into knowing when it is sleep time. Changing nappies, gentle voices, a wrap and a song can all help a baby and a parent relax and enjoy the fact that sleep is coming.

Connection is key for all babies, so lots of touch and gentle reassurance is important. As a baby gets older, their sleep cycles will start to lengthen. Now that you know your baby a bit better and they have figured out feeding and being in the world, we can start to guide them into a bit more of a routine. A routine that works for you and your baby.

At 6 months a baby will be looking for stimulation, so having a sleep space that is separate from the main living area, if possible, may help a baby realise that it is sleep time.

Toddlers

Toddlers are learning to engage in the world on their terms! This will often involve increased communication through words, noise and tantrums! All very normal, but sleep time is where a parent wants to try and get off the communication merry go round. Being present but limiting talk to calm down gentle responses, will help your little one know that it is bedtime. Slowing down and softening our voices can help them to know that we are getting ready for sleep.

Overcome sleep challenges with Embrace Parenting

We also want to enable our kids to know they can do this. They are amazing and can sleep! We want to believe in them. Stories, songs, and touch may help your little one to know that it is sleep time.

Older children

The lead up to bedtime is definitely important for our older children. Fresh air and a release of energy are vital for kids of all ages. All of that running around feels good and can even alter our brain chemicals.

As we all know, children are world-class negotiators so if they think they can stay up for longer with you or to read more of their book, then they will absolutely try this. As parents, it is our job to try and guide them onto the next step, with great routines and consistency. This as we have talked about previously makes them feel safe.

Aiming for decreasing screen time at least an hour before bedtime is ideal. Allowing our brains to regulate and start to slow down. Reading, quiet music, or songs, cleaning teeth and even meditation may help your child to relax into a good sleep.

With over 20 years of experience as a registered nurse, Louise Donnelly is the founder of Embrace Parenting. Her focus is to help families feel more connected and confident in raising their children. Celebrating the uniqueness of each child to ensure so that they feel loved and support always. Growing up to be resilient people in the future.With a strong background at Children’s Hospital in Camerdown and Westmead, a Masters in Nursing (Paediatrics), a Diploma in Chid Health – Louise works to provide guidance and reassurance on the parentings journey. Visit Embrace Parenting to find out more. 

Sleep can be a challenge but we do hope that some of these tips give you something to add to your parenting tool kit. If you would like to find out more about our service you can book a tour or send us a message.


Written by Louise Donnelly
Registered Nurse RN BN (Paeds) Dip.Child Health, Embrace Parenting

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