Things about Children’s Sleep that Parents Should Know

By:Ariba Khaliq, Onlymyhealth Editorial Team,Date:May 12, 2014

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As a parent you must know a few things about children and sleep. Learn those facts here.
  • 1

    It is Difficult to Put a Child to Sleep

    You’re rocking, walking, or nursing your baby and her eyelids droop as she begins to nod off in your arms. Her eyes close completely, but her eyelids continue to flutter and her breathing is still irregular. Her hands and limbs are flexed, and she may startle, twitch, and show fleeting smiles, called “sleep grins.” Just as you bend over to deposit your “sleeping” baby in her crib so you can creep quietly away, she awakens and cries. Babies need to be parented to sleep, not just put to sleep. Some babies can be put down while drowsy yet still awake and drift others need parental help by being rocked or nursed to sleep. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

  • 2

    Extinction

    The parent is advised to put the child to bed and ignore the child’s response. It is very effective and has not been shown to cause harm. However, many parents find it difficult. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

     

  • 3

    Graduated extinction

    This is extinction with periodic parental checks. The interval between checking-in should increase nightly. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

     

  • 4

    Self-soothing

    The idea here is to put the child to bed when groggy, not after they have fallen asleep in your arms or on the couch. By doing this, it helps the child to develop techniques for falling asleep. It also discourages the very bad habit of associating the parents’ presence with falling asleep. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

     

  • 5

    Positive Bedtime Routines

    The intent is to make bedtime a positive, enjoyable time for the child. Such things as taking a bath, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas, followed by a bedtime story can work wonders. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

     

  • 6

    Develop a Regular Sleep/Wake Schedule

    Children and adolescents should have a consistent schedule. I urge parents to learn how many hours of sleep your child needs at that age and work backwards from wake time. Try to avoid no more than one hour’s difference on non-school nights. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

     

  • 7

    Avoid Caffeine

    Children should avoid any caffeine-containing product after noon. Soda, coffee, chocolate, and iced tea are prime examples. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

     

  • 8

    Sleep Environment

    Most studies show children sleep better in cool environments. Temperatures of 65° to 70° are recommended. Televisions and video games should be eliminated. Most studies show increased sleep problems and lighter sleep in children with televisions in the bedroom. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

  • 9

    Naps

    Make sure that the number and duration of naps is appropriate for your child’s age. Note that after the age of five, most children do not require naps. However, each child is different, so there is no hard and fast rule here. We do know that naps too close to bedtime can interfere with the ability to fall asleep. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

     

  • 10

    Avoid Pre-Bedtime Roughhousing

    This serves to increase the production of stress hormones, as well as increase the core body temperature. Both of these can inhibit the ability to fall sleep. Image Courtesy: Getty

     

     

  • 11

    Avoid Bedtime Snacks, Especially Those High in Sugar

    These snacks can cause a sudden burst in energy — the last thing you want when your child is trying to go to sleep. Image Courtesy: Getty

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