Sleep is one of our most basic human needs. So why does it seem like the little humans in our lives are sometimes so determined against it?
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From babies who need a little help learning to close their eyes, to toddlers who need positive reminders of the beauty of the letter ZZZ, to signs that your teen was up too late to send texting and Tik Tok-ing, we share some of our top tips to make sure your kids enjoy their beauty rest.
1. Know how much sleep your child needs
First of all. Start by knowing how much sleep your child needs. As with so many things in their early years, the number of hours your children will need to sleep will change over time. Set a consistent bedtime by starting by knowing when your child should wake up the next day and counting down, based on recommended sleep times.
2. Sleep training for babies
By the age of 4 months, your baby should be ready for sleep training. This means that their sleep-wake cycles will start to be more regular and they will be ready to learn how to fall asleep on their own.
For babies, sleep training means learning to self-soothe. For parents, that means more sleep for you! (To finish!)
3. Tackle sleep regressions
Thus, your baby falls asleep alone, in his crib and spends the night. You win!
Except that… suddenly not so much.
Its good. Sleep regressions are common. Babies’ ability to sleep deeply and for long periods of time can go through cycles. This is normal, especially as your toddler grows and works on new milestones, like talking and walking. Stick to your routine and that too will pass.
4. Help your toddler to bed and stay there
The early years are behind you. Your little one has upgraded to a big kid’s bed and, well, things aren’t going so well. All that newfound freedom means they need one more glass of water. Another good night kiss. One more story.
We have what you need. From sleep fairies to stickers, use consistent routines and heaps of positive reinforcement to help your toddler fall asleep and stay there.
5. Know the signs that they need more sleep
Even with your best intentions, many children don’t get as much sleep as they should. Studies indicate that about a third of children do not get enough sleep. Exhaustion doesn’t always feel like yawns and naps. This can mean more tantrums for toddlers and difficulties in school for older children and teens.
Whether they’re too young to tell you they’re tired or too old to admit it, you can spot the signs of burnout in your children.
6. Don’t grab melatonin right away
All the signs point to a sleep-deprived child? Start by working on his behavior before achieve melatonin. Although not necessarily wrong for kids, melatonin doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by your body to help calm you down and prepare you for sleep. And while it can be used effectively (with dosage advice from a health care provider), it’s not recommended to be your first line of defense.
7. Don’t forget your sleep too!
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth saying it again (and again!). You are more than a parent. You are a person with your own needs. And that means your sleep is important too. (How else are you going to approach that morning meeting, prepare dinner, and transport the children safely to their various activities?)
When it comes to staying healthy, sleep is on par with healthy eating and exercise. Taking care of yourself will help ensure that you can take care of your children and set a good example for them to turn a blind eye too!
Sweet dreams, family!