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    Sleep Blog from Little Dreams

    Sleep Blog from Little Dreams

    Hannah Double is a local baby and child sleep consultant who owns and runs Little Dreams Devon and Cornwall. In this month’s guest blog, she has written up her 5 very top tips for parents to help their little ones drift away peacefully every night:

    1. Early bedtime

    Don’t be afraid to use an early bedtime if your child needs one! Perhaps they’ve had a long day at nursery, they have recently nap transitioned, they are unwell, or they’ve had a poor nap day. The earliest we would recommend is 6pm. If your child needs an early bedtime, it shouldn’t cause an early wake up.

    Sometimes children can be hyperactive at bedtime – this is often a sign of overtiredness or ‘second wind’. An overtired child will get a release of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline. This can make it a challenge for them to fall asleep once popped into their sleeping space. It is very common to see this where siblings are being put to bed at the same time – but may in fact, need different bedtimes. If you are solo parenting, check out my blog.

    Hint - take a look at your child’s awake windows. For example, a 2.5 year old may need to be awake for 5-6 hours from their last nap (if they are still napping) whereas a 6-7 month old may need to be awake 2.5-3 hours from their last nap.

    1. Be Consistent

    If sleep has become unsustainable and you decide to make some changes, be consistent for 2-3 weeks. This will help your child to establish their new sleep habits. Be consistent across all naps, bedtimes, and wake ups!

    It is also vital that you are on the same page as your partner! We want to avoid one parent to become the ‘soft option’. For example, both parents should read the same number of books at bedtime, every night.

    1. Give choices

    I thought this would be a good tip following on from tip 2! Although I recommend being consistent, it is still important to give our children choices! For example, “do you want to wear the red pyjamas or the yellow pyjamas? “Or before bath time “do you want to play with a jigsaw or bricks?”. Offering choices can help to prevent bedtime struggles and guides your child gently towards positive decision making. 

    1. Sleep props

    What are sleep props? Sleep props are anything that your child is reliant upon in order to fall asleep. This could include patting, feeding, dummy, rocking, and so on!

    If your child’s sleep has become unsustainable (for example, short naps and frequent wake ups), you may want to slowly encourage them to fall asleep independently without any sleep props. This will encourage them to link more sleep cycles independently.

    There are various ways to do this whilst meeting all of your child’s physical and emotional needs. It doesn’t have to be ‘cry it out’ (or bedsharing – if this is no longer working for you).

    1. Calm bedroom

    It is very important to have a calm, positive environment in the bedroom. Firstly, avoid sending your child to their bedroom due to behaviour reasons. This isn’t a tip about behaviour and discipline, but rather to simply emphasize that we want the bedroom to be a place that your child associates with positive feelings. You know your child best, but you may want to limit the number of toys on their bed, this will help to associate this space with relaxation and sleep. We also want to ensure we are not overstimulating the senses – consider avoiding mobiles above cots, fairy lights during the night (tip - they can be used on a timer as a wake-up alarm instead), and vivid posters. Make use of soft dim light bulbs, blackout curtains and blinds, and consider using a white noise speaker. If your child gets anxious at night, take a look at your child’s bedroom at bedtime (after light’s out) – does anything cast unsettling shadows? Do any of the cuddlies or toys look frightening? You could make some subtle changes the next day, such as, introducing a toy box.

    By implementing even just a couple of these tips, I truly hope I have helped you make some positive changes for your child’s bedtime! -Hannah

     

    If you would like one-on-one, bespoke support with your little one’s sleep, you can email Hannah at hannah@littledreamsdevonandcornwall.com or drop her a message here.

     

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